FIRST SIGNAL - review added 13th August 2010
Album Review: First Signal (self-titled) (2010)
For fans of: Hard Rock... and Harry Hess
First Signal - Harry Hess on lead and background vocals, Darren Smith on background vocals, Dennis Ward on bass, background vocals, and guitars, Chris Schmidt on drums, Michael Klein on guitars, and Eric Ragno on keyboards - is a new studio project that not only carries on from where Harry's band Harem Scarem stopped, but introduces a host of new elements to bring his sound to a new audience.
The main reasoning behind the project is combining the awesome vocal stylings of Harry and the production skills of Dennis. A team of songwriters was brought in to create the songs for the record, which surprises me as Harry isn't exactly a bad writer himself. The guys used include brothers Tom and James Martin (Khymera, Sunstorm, House of Lords), Erik Martensson (W.E.T., Eclipse), Ronny Milianowicz (Saint Deamon), Robert Sall (W.E.T., Work of Art), Mark Baker (Signal, House of Lords) and many more besides.
The resulting sound is fairly typical of the numerous Frontiers Records studio projects - i.e. you probably already know if you're going to like this or not. It's all about inoffensive melodious rock, big choruses, catchy hooks and well defined individual performances. What it lacks in rough-edged character it makes up for by being smooth and memorable. The album isn't as good as the best Harem Scarem records, but it's certainly better than the worst ones. And, yes, Harry sounds really, really great. As he always does.
Best moments? Nothing on the album is exactly poor - far from it - but the rocking opener 'This City', the powerful ballad 'Crazy', the retro-tinged 'Goodbye To The Good Times', the very Harem-Scarem sounding 'Feels Like Love This Time', the magnificent 'Yesterdays Rain', and the groovily hard hitting 'Naked Desire' are a few percentage points ahead.
Overall, First Signal's debut album is excellent, if a little too perfect for it's own good. It definitely misses the character of the finest Harem Scarem releases, but for a pure demonstration of catchy song creation, this is in a league of its own.
Check out... All of it.