Sunday, March 1, 2009

Alaska - The Pack (Vinyl Rip)

Alaska was a British symphonic hard rock band led by Bernie Marsden and featuring Robert Hawthorn (vocals), Brian Badham (bass, piano), and John Marter (drums). They made two albums, Heart of the Storm (1984) and The Pack (1985), then broke up. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

Details : 1985, Bronze, LP

My reason for buying this was simply to check out just what guitarist Bernie Marsden did next after his departure from Whitesnake. This album was actually the second and final studio release from the four piece band but there’s enough here to tell he still had some prime blues-rock music within him although it does sound on occasions that the band were looking for a hit single too. The over-polished, smooth cover of Kim Carnes’ ballad “Miss You Tonight” is the most obvious hit-hunt. Owing a fair bit to “Drive” by The Cars its actually the only certainty I’d skip if this were on cd.

Positively though, there are four or five very decent blues-rockers on here, all of which you feel could have been candidates for inclusion on a Whitesnake album if Coverdale had decided to stick with the British flavoured sound rather than look for wider spread acceptance. “The Thing” has the nice soft acoustic start before building into a Zeppelin tinged rocker and its side one companion “Help Yourself” could also, with a bit of work on the chorus perhaps, have graced any early ‘Snake album. The final three offerings of side two are also in the classic blues-rock vein. Bass guitarist/piano player Brian Badhams solo composition “Woman Like You” offers a couple of all too brief solo spots reminding of why Marsden is a respected if un-celebrated guitarist whilst the punchy “Schoolgirl” and the excellent “Love Man” reminiscent “S.O.S.” both improve on that, the final track at last offering space for Marsden to really stretch out a bit and shine.

A different direction is taken with the other tracks. “Where Did They Go” has a more American flavoured AOR feel due in a large way to guest saxophonist Billy Paul taking the lead solo. More surprisingly, although perhaps not given the mid-eighties release, a couple of tracks have more in common with the pomp rockers Magnum. “Run With The Pack” isn’t a Bad Company cover but is more like a Bryan Adams number with hints of “Back Street Kid”, whilst the synthesiser and big chorus opener “I Really Want To Know” is pure Clarkin/Catley country.

In vinyl format especially you can’t help but notice the cover art. Credited to one “Gary Marsh at Clock This Ltd” he must have given many seconds to considering the band name and thinking “I’m seeing a snow covered scene here”. Fortunately the music is better.

British Hard Rock unit that was the phoenix which rose from the ashes of Bernie Marsden's short-lived S.O.S. band. In the studio and on record Robert Hawthorn's vocals contrasted subtly with the former Whitesnake man's famous blues influenced guitar style. Taking more of an AOR direction, they made two solid rock albums, 'Heart Of The Storm' (1984) and 'The Pack' (1985), then sadly broke up

Alaska are

Brian Badhams - Bass Guitat/Piano
Bernie Marsden - Guitars
Robert Hawthorn - Vocals
John Martyr - Drums

Very Special Guests:-

Don Airey - Piano andSynthesiser
Billy Paul - Saxophone on Where Did They GO?( Bonnyville Blues)

Backing Voices
The all new Oosley Brothers of Loftus Road - The hawthorns and Chetwode

All tracks recorded in Berkshire and

the Clock Studios in the City of London

Bray sessions recorded by Srewart Eales

Clock sessions recorded by Nick Cathcart-Jones

Final supermix by Stuart Epps atThe Sol in Berkshire assisted by Steve Privett



sleeve design: Gary Marsh at CLOCK THIS LTD


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