Stan Bush And Barrage - 1998 Heaven

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited March 23 in year-1998

ARTIST: Stan Bush And Barrage
ALBUM: Heaven
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 1998
CD REISSUE: 2001, Nippon Crown (Japan), CRCL-4559

LINEUP: Stan Bush - vocals * Jack Ponti - guitar, keyboards * Brett Walker, Randy Cantor, Kevin Dukes, Don Kirkpatrick, Rocket Richotte - guitar * Jeff Silverman, Rick Seratte, Brett Tuggle - keyboards * Mike Seifrit - bass * Greg Bissonette, Jack White - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hard To Find An Easy Way * 02 Cross That Line * 03 Didn't I * 04 Joanna * 05 Beginners Luck * 06 Heaven * 07 Promises * 08 Dreamin' * 09 Love Don't Come Easy * 10 My Fathers Son



Stan Bush is well featured here at GDM. There is a treasure trove of material that he recorded during the 90's that we've reviewed plus a bunch of stuff that we haven't. Mostly his releases have been under his own name as solo affairs, though there are two that warrant special attention; and those are the two Stan Bush & Barrage albums.

The first from 1987 is a well recognised and much-adored affair, while the second 1998's Heaven' sort of flowed under the bridge back in the day, no doubt due to the prevailing popularity (or unpopularity as it were) of melodic rock.

'Heaven' really should be better appreciated as it contains a wealth of strong players, some of whom have played with Stan since the early 80's.

Also added to the credits is Brett Walker, himself a standout performer and songwriter with an association to that closet classic AOR outfit Person To Person. Other contributors include peers such as Randy Cantor and Jack Ponti.

The Songs

Walker's contribution is immediate with the familiar 'Hard To Find An Easy Way' kicking off the album. This track Walker has included on his own 1994 album 'Nevertheless' plus of course it was on those Person To Person demos prior to that though it must be pointed that the track is actually a Bush and Walker co-write.

A nice synth sequence precedes 'Cross That Line' and turns into an 80's pop rocker that is easily reminiscent of Bush's past work. 'Didn't I' continues this theme with gang-vocals joining on in the choruses.

Taking a tougher stance, 'Joanna' features heavier guitar lines and bigger drums in the vein of one-off 1981 wonders Riff Raff. Flip-siding to a ballad, 'Beginner's Luck' is an electric piano affair not quite in the David Foster masterclass, but has 'soundtrack' written all over it.

Back to the racy AOR style that Bush is remembered for, 'Heaven' is one of the best tracks here, a surefire winner in our beloved sub-genre. 'Promises' sounds like another remnant from the 80's with tinkly keys, popping bass and stinging guitar lines. I like what I'm hearing on 'Dreamin' too, the production seems fuller while the structure is typical of the AOR genre.

'Love Don't Come Easy' is the second ballad, with an emphasis of acoustic guitars less so piano. It's more of a power-ballad as it picks up intensity during the chorus and solo sections. The closer 'My Father's Son' is an upbeat acoustic/electric hybrid with an organic feel.

In Summary

'Heaven' was one of the first albums to be released by Italian label Frontiers back in 1998, and Bush continued to be a mainstay for them over the next few years. When compared to the 1987 Barrage album, 'Heaven' would probably sit marginally behind it as far as the pecking order of popularity is concerned, but I think it's still a good disc particularly in terms of the overall quality of releases during 1998.

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