Album Reviews

Airrace – Untold Stories Review

Released by: Frontiers Music Srl

Release Date: 10 August 2018

Genre: Album Oriented Rock

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Adam Payne:  Vocals

Laurie Mansworth:  Guitar

Rocky Newton: Bass

Linda Kelsey Foster: Keyboards

Dhani Mansworth: Drums

Track Listing:

1.    Running Out Of Time

2.    Innocent

3.    Eyes Like Ice

4.    Different But The Same

5.    New Skin

6.    Lost

7.    Love Is Love

8.    Men From The Boys

9.    Summer Rain

10.    Come With Us

11.    Here It Comes

Hailed as a pioneering band within the UK’s AOR scene. Airrace is perhaps best known for introducing Jason Bonham, son of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, to the rock world. This is the first time I’m hearing about this excellent AOR band. And I can’t help thinking that if they had made it to the US airwaves during the 80’s, they may well have been a force to reckon with. Unfortunately, despite securing supporting roles for the likes of AC/DC and Queen, the band broke up during 1985, three short years after its formation. Or so it seemed…

In 2009 the band reunited for the 25th-anniversary re-issue of their 1984 LP Shaft of Light. With new vigour, the band took to the road as well. A new bassist and drummer joined the fold, the band soon had a new album, “Back to the Start”, to offer by 2011. Founding member and bandleader Laurie Mansworth said “We had a great time making this record, and we are very happy with the results. I feel this album captures the Airrace sound and is closer to how we sound live than the first album. We are also very excited about working with our new label Frontiers who have been very supportive throughout the making of Back to the Start”.

Clearly, the Frontiers label had faith in Airrace’s ability to produce a fantastic album, as the band has recently been re-signed with the label. Their forthcoming album “Untold Stories”, is arguably AOR at its finest. Discussing the latest album, Mansworth stated: “We had a great time making the record. It’s not typically Airrace, with a lot of the material being more 70’s influenced. There is also a much wider spectrum between light and shade in the writing. I have always liked a wide range of different musical styles, from ELO to Led Zep, and when writing these songs I incorporated many of my influences from over the years.” Listening to the album, you certainly can hear the fingerprints of the band’s influences. But they come across fresh, filtered through the spectrum of their own infectious musical style.

The lead track, “Running Out of Time”, opens with a melodic piano intro which builds into a sophisticated and layered track. It allows you to remember why this type of music was so good during the 80’s. And AOR still holds up perfectly well to this day. Adam’s superb vocals and the band’s tight performance are only made better by the quality of the production. This song will be stunning live.

Full of energetic vocals, layered guitars, synths, as well as rhythmic bass and drums drive the songs along. “Innocent”, “New Skin”, and “Love is Love”is classic feel-good rock songs. These tracks present a mature rock sound rooted in classic 80’s style while remaining contemporary and relevant for today’s radio audiences. They will certainly be favourites for sure.

In “Eyes Like Ice” the band uses foreboding synths which give way to crunchy guitar and a discordant rhythm. This sets an unsettling tone for the song. Adam’s evocative vocals form a dark tapestry that draws you down into the darkness of the song.

“Differing But the Same” and “Men From the Boys” have blistering grooves which will get your feet stomping and fists pumping when they’re performed live. With a dirty blues vibe that wouldn’t be out of place from bands like Deep Purple, Europe, or even T.Rex, these may well be my two favourite tracks on the album.

“Lost” is one of two ballads on the album. Acoustically driven, this is the track that you really hear the influence of ELO on everything from the writing to the musical style and to the production of this gorgeous song.

“Summer Rain” is the second ballad, and is a heavier offering than “Lost”. Mansworth described it as: “a song for the summer. I wanted to write something upbeat with a positive feel, as there is far too much doom and gloom around at the moment. This song will hopefully take you on a sunny day and lift your spirit.”

And finally, that brings us to the closing tracks of the album – “Come With Us” and “Here It Comes”. These are strong classic rock offerings, with elements of Zeppelin and classic Whitesnake about them. They bring an excellent album to the perfect close. Upon reflecting about the album, Airrace did indeed have further stories to tell. They have done so in a spectacular way. It just leaves me musing about what could have been without the gaps in this talented band’s career. However, sometimes, time and distance make for the best discoveries. It certainly shows in the quality of the writing and the production of this album, Untold Stories. May this be the beginning of a renaissance for the Cambridge band and a sign of the good things to come.

Written by: Erik De’Viking

Ratings: 9/10

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