Hitchcock, Toby - 2011 Mercury's Down

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ARTIST: Hitchcock, Toby
ALBUM: Mercury's Down
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2011

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image image

LINEUP: Toby Hitchcock - vocals * Erik Martensson - all instruments, production

TRACK LISTING: 01 Strong Enough * 02 This Is The Moment * 03 How To Stop * 04 Let Go * 05 One Day I'll Stop Loving You * 06 I Should Have Said * 07 If It's To Be * 08 Just Say Goodbye * 09 Summer Nights In Cabo * 10 Tear Down The Baricades * 11 A Different Drum * 12 Mercury Down

RATING: image



It astounds me that the melodic rock and AOR community still fawn over Steve Perry nearly 15 years after his self imposed move away from public view.

Come on people, get with the 21st century, he ain't coming back anytime soon, so let's move onto the next vocal king of the genre - one Toby Hitchcock.

As we all know, Hitchcock is one part of the predominant duo of Pride Of Lions alongside former Survivor and Ides Of March alumni Jim Peterik.

I'm sure I don't need to preach to the converted here, just read all the reviews of both bands to get a handle.

What is fascinating for me (and I'm sure many others too), is Hitchcock's very first solo CD 'Mercury's Down' which is an absolute bolter. Who would've thought that Hitchcock's low key entry into the world of melodic rock some ten years ago, as an introduced friend of Peterik's daughter would eventually lead to this killer set of tunes.

Let's not forget the other key guy here who contributes to this fantastic release. Erik Martensson, of Eclipse and W.E.T fame. In fact, the sum total number of participants on this album is two. No more, no less. Astounding.

The Songs

'Mercury's Down' contains twelve gems, and these have been on repeat play for a few weeks now.

'Strong Enough' is literally a strong and tough entrance, the swirling pitch shifting guitars introducing this song haven't been this dominant since Eddie Van Halen's MXR fuelled madness on 'Unchained' from VH's 1981's 'Fair Warning' platter. The lead guitar from Martensson also impressed, for a moment I thought it was Kee Marcello doing the honours.

'This Is The Moment' is the album's first single, and a good choice I would suggest. It contains power, depth, subtlety and a super chorus, guaranteed to catch an appreciative ear.

For me the first true killer track comes in the shape of 'How To Stop'. Toby's emotive voice holds up until we reach a simply brilliant chorus. I've been humming this track for days.

'Let Go' is not too far behind in quality, again with a chorus to die for, some impassioned vocals fused with some guitar and keyboard recipe mixing.

The next killer track without doubt is 'I Should Have Said', which combines shades of dark and light in the same vein as last years very good First Signal album.

The chorus easily finds its way into a Harem Scarem-First Signal melting pot without too much trouble, a wickedly good tune, and one I'm sure Harry Hess wouldn't mind taking some of the credit for.

With a hint of Pride Of Lions in the mix, 'If It's To Be' surges along on a bright and uptempo melodic tide, add to that the gorgeous 'Summer Nights In Cabo'.

'Just Say Goodbye' and 'Tear Down The Barricades' are a couple of heavier tunes, the latter in particular recreates a John Sykes and Blue Murder like vibe, the manner in which Martensson replicates Sykes guitar lines and ideas is staggeringly good. Where's the Patent Police?.

Changing tack yet again, 'A Different Drum' marches to the beat of 80's era Queensryche, and reminds me just how classy Geoff Tate and co were back then compared to the current day dross.

Finishing off with a lyrical tale of a cold climate pointed at today's weather warnings, 'Mercury's Down' might suggest coolness in the air but believe me, this song is red hot!

In Summary

The songs here are sheer class. No filler.

The sometimes brutal approach and execution of these songs is far beyond the lighter than lite material of Pride Of Lions, so much so it makes you wonder what Toby would sound like singing for a heavy metal band.

Martensson's star is definitely on the rise too, his arrangements and production is a real step up in quality, and kudos to Frontiers for finally putting together a big-sounding release on a small budget and to perhaps shatter the notion that their product was always on the dodgy side of the cutting room floor.

Deffo in the top 5 albums of 2011 for mine. As for all you pining Perry fans, hop off the old bandwagon and get carried away on the Hitchcock Express. My first 10-10 for three years and deservedly so.

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