Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Street Legal - Thunderdome
(Frontiers/Now & Then)

Man, every so often someone figures out how to sidestep the half-dozen clichˇs that make up a genre, and for most of Thunderdome, Norway's Street Legal do just that, within (but without) this thing we call somewhat awkwardly melodic AOR hard rock. Or what they do is move them around like a bewildering shellgame. Occasionally, they all show up like the slots, resulting in Kerrap! like Calling For You. But the second you want to hurl this across the room, Street Legal draws you back hypnotically with some of the best tracks this genre has offered in a decade. Their hook is an odd, one-of-a-kind chemistry that results from three things colliding nicely thanks: an extremely juiced guitar sound, smoky roots rock Sykes rock vocals and harmonies, and most importantly, this sly, tasteful dip into the Thin Lizzy gene pool. Less important but recurring and fresh is the slight trace of Coverdale, not to mention the symphonic marriage of all these sounds under the banner of very lively production. Far and away regal, soaring and damn near the saviours of hard rock would be the highly artful and uplifting title track, very Lizzy-esque, truly bloodied Monsters Of Rock British rock 'n' roll, as well as the Van Halen saunter of Folly Town (it's got a Johnny, so there's the Lizzy AND the Diamond Dave) and fave on the whole thing (this song will get 100 plays before I file this damn thing!) Wrong Side Of Town. Man, Thunderdome is worth it for this one track alone. It's like one of the top five Thin Lizzy songs ever tapped on the shoulder by Phil Mogg, and then it kicks up a chorus that is several floors up on your best emotional high. Damn. Brilliant. But back on earth, there's maybe a little too much stylistic variation here, and too many sap ballads. Frustratingly, this is the first band like this in a long time I can really believe in, and they've left me with half an album, that half of which will be absolutely worn out over the course of the next month.
Rating 7.5

Fair Warning - 4
(Frontiers/Now & Then)

One of the big fishies in a small, somewhat snickerable pond, Fair Warning have a fervent following somewhat like Royal Hunt's. But it's in a sickly sweet AOR direction, which I must admit, doesn't float my boat like it used to when I was sensitive. One hears much Bon Jovi here, Dokken, Danger Danger, but really screechy come recording time, awful tight, high-strung drums, vocals from Tommy Heart that are celebrated, but really, like fifty other high guys, and much dated keyboard work. The production however, though annoying, is brave and quite distinctive, and the two guitar attack allows for a fair bit of pomp class shred. I dunno, I've still got a bit of a soft spot for these guys because it actually sounds a bit like the under-rated cult band Zeno, from which two of Fair Warning's hair dudes hail. I guess you gotta applaud the Queeny nitrous oxide exuberance of the thing, but like I say, a little pretty for my tastes.
Rating 6.5

Hard Reviews Page 3