I understand bands keeping it going when significant members leave (you know, singers, main songwriters, etc.) From a financial aspect, you stand to make more money touring as an already established band name than trying a different one. In particular, when the singer leaves it tends to change the whole dynamic of the band. Not to say the band is no longer worth listening to, just that it’s become a different animal. I can rattle off several bands right off the top of my head currently doing this: Warrant, Quiet Riot, Great White, and now Autograph. In the case of the first two bands, the singers are dead so it stands to reason that in order for the band to carry on they would have to find someone new. In the case of the last two mentioned, both singers are still alive and well, but for whatever reason, they or the other band members aren’t interested in playing together anymore. Shit happens, and like has been stated by multiple bands over the years that a band is like a marriage, and like a marriage, issues arise thus ending the marriage/band. I get it- oftentimes a band is full of egotistical musicians (and I mean egotistical in as positive a way as possible. Frankly, you have to have a bit of an ego in order to be a great performer, I believe) so there is bound to be some dysfunction along the way. Sometimes resolvable sometimes not. Sometimes a band change is a good thing. I stand firm on my belief that Van Halen became an even better band with Hagar. I know that’s not a popular belief, but that’s where I stand. Can the same be said for Autograph?
Steve Plunkett, the voice and main writer of the great hard rock band Autograph, is no longer with them. Outside of their classic “Turn Up the Radio” Autograph were not a band that necessarily tore up the charts, but they always maintained a pretty good fan base over the years, and those first three albums are classics within their own right. Catchy hooks, tongue-in-cheek humor, and an unabashed love of music, they became a key band that popped up on various 80’s hard rock compilations over the years, with the aforementioned song becoming a rallying cry for us fans of their melodic music. In 2003 Plunkett formed a new band and released his last album under that name, and it was not a bad album. Plunkett, for whatever reason, is no longer a part of the Autograph, thus bringing in Simon Daniels to take over vocals. Daniels sounds nothing at all like Steve, whose voice has always been very distinct. Avoiding trying to follow the same path as say Journey or Foreigner (using singers that are, in large parts, carbon copies,) it was a daring risk. However, like the case with Warrant and Quiet Riot, for example, Autograph no longer sounds like the same band. Sure there are moments where musically the band comes very close to capturing that classic vibe, like with “You Are Us, We Are You” and “Ready To Get Down,” but most of the time it sounds like a totally different band. Is that a bad thing? Here’s my take on it: if you buy Get Off Your Ass in hopes of it sounding like Sign In Please or That’s the Stuff, then you’ve wasted your money. It simply doesn’t stand up to those. Honestly, though, I really like this album, It’s hard to think of it in terms of being an Autograph album, but it’s still pretty catchy. Tracks like “Get Off Your Ass,” “Every Generation,” and “Meet Me Half Way” are great rocking tunes that bring up that old 80’s hard rock nostalgia…it just doesn’t sound like Autograph.
Now that I think about it, I’ve said a whole lot when I could’ve simply said this: Autograph’s Get Off Your Ass is a great album unless you’re expecting it to sound like the classic Autograph sound, in which case it sucks. Some bands are very brave to carry on like this, and some make it work for them. Warrant sounds nothing at all like Warrant with Robert Mason, but they’ve made some good music. I think the new Autograph will follow in the same boat. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it is a great collection of catchy songs. My only complaint is I wish the production were a bit more dynamic as the album seems a little flat, but the songs are good enough to work through that. I’m definitely curious to see where they go next, and that’s what a band should do, leave you wanting more.
Written by: Chris Martin