Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Stratus, the band that was already a partially formed Praying Mantis, featured the Troy brothers, as you might expect, with a pre Uriah Heep Bernie Shaw on vocals, which you might not.
Despite 1984's relatively primitive recording technology, 'Throwing Shapes' sounds remarkably clean and remarkably textured. Once again proving that rock album longevity derives almost entirely from good songwriting and musicianship.
The band's sound was some distance from NWOBHM. Peppered with pomp keyboard touches and poppy tunes, it leaned more toward AOR than Metal.
It wasn't a world beating sound, but you could hear a band with flair and ambition in abundance, whose influences emanated from the other side of the Atlantic.
This 9 track album opens with 3 perfectly formed rock songs, carefully crafted and cleverly self contained. It would be unfair to be critical of opener 'Back Street Lover's clichéd title and lyrical content. Yes, it's typical of the album, but to be honest, it's typical of most rock songs of the era.
The song sails in on an ocean of keyboards and picks up on some neat fretwork flourishes and special FX, striving (successfully) to create a dramatic framework for the song. Bernie Shaw's unmistakeable vocals and studied style do much to give this song the sense of conviction it needs.
The bright, invigorating 'Gimme Something' showcases the band's compact harmonies, while 'Even If It Takes' goes a step further, diving confidently into the cross currents of AOR and Pomp rock.
Inevitably, track 4, the piano led 'Give Me One More Chance' is a ballad. Shaw's vocals, uplifting axe soloing and the song's majestic sweep work a treat. British eighties' AOR at its absolute best.
Elsewhere, 'Never Say No' nods its head respectfully to NWOBHM, the pacey 'Run For Your Life' maintains side 2 momentum and 'Enough Is Enough' revisits the band's flirtation with North American Pomp Rock.
Good stuff. Maybe not addictive, but loveable just the same.
Written by Brian
Monday, October 20, 2008