Bob Catley - The Tower
|Label: Now & Then Records/Frontiers Records |
Producers: Gary Hughes
Total Playing Time: 57:57 mins:secs
Review date: 6 Nov 1998
|Web site: http://web.ukonline/co.uk/nowandthen.records/nowthen.htm, http://www.hard-rain.demon.co.uk
|Verdict: Take Magnum's "On A Storyteller's Night" and Ten's "The Name Of The Rose", merge them together, with the balance in Magnum's favour, what do you get - Bob Catley's "The Tower".|
|I remember that from the very first moment that I learned about this album being recorded, I was excited. Never mind the latest Harem Scarem album released earlier this year, this is the album that I've been waiting for all 1998.|
So what was that combination that got me so excited - Bob Catley on vocals, Gary Hughes writing, keyboards, bass & production, Vinny Burns on guitar and Greg Morgan on drums. I sure most of you will recognise the names, but for the few readers who've been on another planet over the last while - Bob is the voice behind Magnum & Hard Rain and Gary, Vinny & Greg are all in Ten.
Listen to any Ten album and you'll hear Magnum-isms galore. I assume that Bob is one of Gary's heroes. Give Gary the chance to write songs for and record an album with the man himself and he must have been one very happy rocker. My one reservation about the project was that it might end up sounding like a Ten album, but with Bob on vocals.
Instead we have an album that combines the best of Ten & Magnum, and indeed could be considered a worthy follow-up to Magnum albums like "On A Storyteller's Night" or "Wings Of Heaven". I think both sides were inspired by each other to lift their game & produce a truly phenomenal result.
The album starts in typical Ten fashion with a long intro & big pomp rock number, "Dreams", which merges into second track, "Scream". Scream has a piano driven introduction for a couple of verses before it gets going. A big keyboard/synth riff carries this along in true Magnum style. Far Away is a semi-ballad that evokes memories of early Magnum and has a huge chorus. Deep Winter's acoustic guitar & piano slow the pace. Sit back and listen to just how good Bob sounds on this album. Fire & Ice rocks and could be described as the "Just Like An Arrow" of the album.
Gary Hughes has indeed done his research well. Madrigal perfectly captures the Medieval feel of early Magnum cira 11th Hour. I like it, but the Ten trait of sounding like it could do with a bit more 'colour' to keep up the interest, is on display. One of the great things about either Ten or Magnum/Hard Rain is their ability to come up with a great AOR tune, here we've got "Steel". The title track, "The Tower", is the album's epic production. A mixture of Ten & Magnum. The difficult task of following "The Tower" is given to "Fear Of The Dark". This "Storyteller's Night" sounding track doesn't have any problems. Give a vocalist a solo album and what does he do ? Finish it with an instrumental. Still, it gives you time to reflect on just how good Bob Catley sounds on his first solo album.
So does the album live up to my high expectations of it. Yes, it does. I guess it is fairly awe-inspiring. Great performances from all concerned. In the midst of heaping praise upon Bob for his vocals and Gary for the song-writing, let's not forget about Vinny Burns who scorches his way through the album & Greg Morgan who lays down a very solid foundation from which the other can launch themselves.
Take Magnum's "On A Storyteller's Night" and Ten's "The Name Of The Rose", merge them together, with the balance in Magnum's favour, what do you get - Bob Catley's "The Tower".
My album of 1998 ? There are still a couple of months to go, but it is the leading contender at the moment. It is funny that with all the new music I'm discovering by being on the WWW, a man that I first heard when I was just starting to get into rock music, should suddenly jump up & blow me away.