Air Raid - Freedom Ring

ExplorerExplorer England
edited July 25 in Year-2021

It's now some 40 years since the Eddie Kramer produced debut, and this superb follow up is most welcome.

Air Raid - Freedom Ring

ARTIST: Air Raid
ALBUM: Freedom Ring
LABEL: Arthur Offen Music
SERIAL: N/A
YEAR: 2021

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Flag USA
LINEUP: Arthur Offen - piano, bass, vocals, orchestral arrangements, keyboards, guitars * Rick Hinkle - electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel, tenor guitar, ukelele, keyboards * Jimmy Porter – drums

Additional Musicians: Susan Bennett - vocals on Tracks 2, 6, and 7 * Spencer Kirkpatrick -} acoustic guitars on Tracks 1, 7

TRACK LISTING: 01 Air Raid * 02 Let Your Freedom Ring * 03 Island Song * 04 Derby Day * 05 A Place In The Northland * 06 a. Lost Horizon b. Black Ship Landing, c. Walk The Streets A God, d. A Bridge Of Gates, e. The Incantation, f. A Hundred Years Or More * 07 The Silvering

WEBLINKS: Site Link | FB Page

RATING: Score=95%

Background

A year can be a long time in the music business, but 40 years? Well that seems like an eternity. That's how long we've had to wait for the follow-up to the supreme Air Raid debut that appeared back in 1981. Not that lead vocalist and Air Raid main man Arthur Offen has been idle during that time.

He's managed on occasion alongside his Air Raid colleague Rick Hinkle to produce the three album triptych under the Flag ....err, flag, and a glorious solo album 'Seven Wonders' in 2017.

This album has, like so many recently had a difficult birth due to the ongoing worldwide situation. Recording started back in 2019 with a view to releasing it in the summer of 2020 it had to inevitably be delayed, but as the saying goes 'all good things come to those that wait', and believe me the wait has been well worth it.

The Songs

It's safe to say that if you loved the first Air Raid album and the subsequent releases under the Flag and Arthur Offen monikers, you won’t be disappointed with this.

The pomp and circumstance is still there in all its splendour with Arthur Offen's grand keyboard work taking, for the most part, centre stage as well as some quite thrilling guitar work from Rick Hinkle to compliment the keyboards perfectly.

'Air Raid', a song I’m reliably informed that dates back to 1973 is a guitar focused number with Arthur's earnest vocals leading the way, and there's still time and space for the keyboards to shine as the song gives way to 'Let The Freedom Ring', which like the opening track has its feet firmly planted in the melodic rock camp, it's a joyful song urging the listener to 'Rise Up and Break the Chains', and there's a cracking guitar solo to end the song, showing that these guys can still rock out.

'Island Song' is a quite majestic piece with keys and guitar in perfect harmony, while 'Derby Day' is probably the most straightforward number on show yet is a strident piece with a real southern rock flavour to it courtesy of some fiery guitar work.

'A Place In The Northland' with its wonderfully OTT trumpet like fanfare opening leads us into a stately piece of glorious pomp with once more the guitar and keyboards duelling for the listeners attention.

We now come to the album centrepiece 'Lost Horizon' a sprawling 19-minute pomp/prog beauty. Broken down into 6 parts, we are taken on an amazing/intriguing adventure.

The title and song theme comes from the novel of the same name by James Hilton, which initially involved a World War II plane escaping the Nazi's in Algeria, and becoming lost and landing in Tibet, where the crew are rescued by people who reveal their city which we have come to know as Shangri La.

But to give the story more of a science fiction/other worldly feel, the time period has been changed to some point in the distant future, and of course with a story such as this, the music to accompany it is suitably grand, and throughout it holds the attention with its lush instrumentation and lyrics that really captivate the listener, it swoops and darts, but never loses itsp cohesiveness. Arthur Offen here also demonstrates his quite unique vision and his storytelling is a joy to behold.

'The Silvering' closes the album with yet another uplifting message of hope, with instruments and vocals in glorious unison.

In Summary

Time, it seems has in no way dampened the energy and enthusiasm for all involved. Arthur Offen and the assembled cast have managed to produce a quite glorious AOR/Pomp/Prog epic. It's fresh, and full of vitality, and I've not encountered an album for some time that is so rich in its pure storytelling.

Alongside the recent Dennis DeYoung , and Styx releases, this album has given this wizened old hack a reason to be cheerful, and resurrected some hope in that we are seeing a renaissance in the classic AOR/ melodic rock sounds of that time period so beloved by us all here at Glory Daze.

Streaming Links

Amazon Music Unlimited
Apple Music
Spotify

Video

Let Your Freedom Ring


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