BERT HEERINK - review added 21st September 2009
Album Review: Better Yet... (2009)
For fans of: Hard Rock... and Disney singers
They say first impressions are everything, but I doubt that more and more every day. The first time I heard a song from this album I thought it was soooooo rubbish. How wrong I was. The song I heard, 'All Fired Up' is indeed a bit cack, but there are so many excellent tracks on the rest of Better Yet... it barely seems to matter.
Bert Heerink is the former singer with long defunct band Vandenberg. Since their demise in the mid 80's he hasn't done a great deal in the world of rock. He lent his voice to the Dutch version of The Lion King soundtrack with Phil Collins but, until his recent appearance on the 2nd Voices Of Rock album, he has kept a low profile.
Better Yet... sees him coming back in a big way. Featured on the album are, amongst others, guitarists Steve Lukather and Steve Vai, plus keyboard player Ken Hensley. The writing line-up is even more impressive. Harry Hess, Jeff Silbar, Tony Martin, Carlton Engel, Bob Daisley and Russ Ballard all feature. The production by Michael Voss isn't exactly low-rent either!
The sound is bright and crisp with a leaning towards the spunky high adrenaline end of the scale. Bert's voice takes a bit of getting used to. He isn't classically brilliant, but there's something very likeable in what he does. He has a friendly tone and could probably make a track by GWAR sound inoffensive. This isn't rock music to head bang and mosh to but, for a feel good sound, it's up there with the year's best.
Opening track 'Panic Attack' is a fun effort with a surprisingly modern sound. It's a track that, if it was recorded by a band like Bon Jovi, it would storm the charts. This version probably won't. Shame; it deserves to. 'April' is a pleasant mid-paced balled with an amiable chorus. It lacks an ounce or two of fire, but it's hard to knock. 'Whose Side Are You On?' starts with a pure 80's synth sound before morphing into a smooth-as-butter rocker with lovely harmonies and, whisper it, a few hints of grit on the outer edges.
The ballad 'Falling Down' works well and, again, has a big-ass chorus with hints of modern chart material. 'Love Is Like Heaven' is another ballad, maybe a touch rockier and louder, but it's still a very enjoyable listen. 'All Fired Up' is, as previously mentioned, not the best. It's one of those songs you'll find yourself singing hours later, but not because you like it.
'Can't Make Me' is a middle of the road ear tickler, 'Restless Heart' is a gnarlier entry with a great epic vibe. We like. 'Precious' (not a reference to Lord Of The Rings, we assume) is back to likeable middle of the road excellence, whilst final track 'Significance' is a moody track that hints at a concoction of old Peter Gabriel, Toto and classic 70's rock.
This is a good album. It isn't perfect - it's way too nice for it's own good and simply doesn't have enough oomph behind it - but there's plenty here to listen to again and again. Bert Heerink may have been out of the rock spotlight for 20 years, but I suspect he's here to stay now.
Check out... Bert singing with Vandenberg all those years ago (on YouTube). Is that Roger Daltrey I see?!