Reviews Brief: Pinnacle Point, Alcatrazz, At The Movies

DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
edited December 2020 in year-2020

These bite sized reviews assumes that the reader knows how to use a search engine, and to find additional information like videos, audio snippets, web links, social media pages etc.

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Pinnacle Point - Symphony Of Mind

Escape Music Ltd.
Sophomore release for the Proggy-influenced Melodic Rock band co-led by American singer Jerome Mazza and Danish guitarist Torben Enevoldsen (Fate), with ex-Zon Howard Helm on keys, violinist Valeria Pozharitskaya, Rich Ayala on guitars, bassist Takeaki Itoh, drummer Mark Prator and John F. Rodgers on piano completing the lineup.

The sound achieved is pristine, one of the warmest I have heard in a long time while Mazza's technical performance is superb, he's a dead ringer for Steve Walsh. In fact, all individual performances are top notch, with a special mention to the drumming.

Best songs to these ears are the melodic hard rock of 'Weight Of The World' in which I detect a Rainbow flavor, and 'Never Surrender' with its superb chorus; followed by the one-two of the opening instrumental 'Ascent To The Point' and the proggy 'So Alive'. All in the first half of the recording, and I like it when they go for the melodies and a more personal style.

That said, the influence of Kansas, especially their classic era, is overwhelming. That's not a bad thing per se, but for me the problem is the lack of enduring melodies. I could hear the shadows of 'The Wall' (the Kansas song) in a good deal of the songs that start promisingly but fall short in the end. In addition to that, the performance lacks a certain 'feeling' to it, which made the hour-plus album laborious to listen to.

Score=60%


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Alcatrazz - Born Innocent

Silver Lining Music
Fourth studio album for Graham Bonnet's brainchild and their first after a staggering thirty-four year hiatus from the studio.

With original bassist and keyboardist Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo respectively (both of New England fame) and shredder resident guitarist Joe Stump on board, a list of illustrious guests grace the recording, namely Chris Impelliteri, Nozomu Wakai, the late Bob Kulick, Dario Mollo, Don Van Stavern, Jeff Waters, D. Kendall Jones and one Steve Vai who wrote the song 'Dirty Like The City', though he does not play.

Most of the songs are Metal in essence, with Bonnet's pipes (an acquired taste for some) in fine form. Few privileged ones keep this stamina at 72 years old. The frantic neoclassical metal of the title track, the power metal of first single 'Polar Bear' and the hints at Euro power metal of 'Finn McCool' are nothing short of energizing and superb. 'London 1666' and its dynamic riff is also remarkable.

It is true that the album drops in quality for its second half with inferior songs like 'The Wound Is Open' and the lengthy 'Warth Lane'. However, the fast-paced 'Paper Flags' and the emotional Beatles-inspired 'For Tony' are satisfying. A fine return for the band that once included guitar heroes Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai successively in their lineup.

Score=70%


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At The Movies - The Movie Hits Of The 80's (The Soundtrack Of Your Life - Vol. 1)

Self Released
Two quality projects around cover songs cheered us up during the COVID-19 pandemic. One was Sammy Hagar & The Circle with their lockdown home sessions, and the other At The Movies. The latter started an independent campaign for a vinyl and CD release whose first run is now closed and sold out.

Pretty Maids buddies Chris Laney, Allan Sorensen and Morten Sandager with the help of fellow musicians recorded and released videos of ten movie soundtracks from the 80's over the course of ten weeks, plus one eleventh bonus track. All are compiled in this album. Bjorn Speed Strid (The Night Flight Orchestra) and the sweet Linnea Vikstrom Egg share lead vocals on several songs.

These covers are fun after fun, with beefed up versions of 'Maniac' (Flashdance), 'A View To A Kill' (James Bond 007 - A View To A Kill), '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life' (Dirty Dancing) and 'We Don't Need Another Hero' (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), the latter with guests Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss), as the best achievements, with a sound that recalls Brother Firetribe.

They've also spoiled me with their versions of the main song to one of my favorite movies ever, 'The Power Of Love' (from Back To The Future) and one of the most gorgeous melodies ever created to these ears, 'The Neverending Story' (The Neverending Story). The remaining covers are also top notch. Highly recommended.

Score=90%


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Comments

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    Thanks for the " At The Movies" review, I was interested in this one.
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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    My pleasure, glad it helps, Chris.

    Not usually sold on covers albums, this year's Jorn release didn't pick my interest; but this one is fresh, with plenty of guitars and parping keys as well.

    A couple more great versions here are 'St. Elmo’s Fire', a bit overdone with many other versions but here the vocal delivery is brilliant; and the bonus track 'Far From Over'(originally by Frank Stallone, from Staying Alive), where Bjorn and Linnea make a fantastic vocal duet.

    You can find more information on their campaign at this link:
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/at-the-movies--2/#/

    They have a second volume planned, this time on 90's hits covers.

    Of course you can check all covers in their YT channel:
    http://youtube.com/c/AtTheMoviesOfficial
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    I'm with you guys with the At The Movies album. Just checked out the YT vids and they are great fun and great versions. That's a purchase for sure! Thanks for the review.
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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    Right up my alley too!
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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    Wasn't overly sold on the new Alcatrazz. I found the sound to be little raw for my liking.
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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    edited August 2020
    Other than watching the YouTube video of Pinnacle Point I haven't really given the album a good listen. I think I might have to now as I like Kansas but I'm not that thrilled with the guitar work of Enevoldsen.
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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    I think Enevoldsen is not noodling that much here. Thing is, apart from that song 'Weight Of The World' where they really shine, most of the songs sound like an inferior Kansas and I could hear no soul in the performance. Of course Mazza is a great singer, but too much taken from Steve Walsh here with little bits of Steve Perry. I liked the last Kansas album, released around the same time, much more. Maybe other ears have a different opinion.
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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    At The Movies CD now available at AOR Heaven.
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    richardbrichardb Poole, Dorset
    I liked the Pinnacle Point album and there's no doubt Jerome Mazza has a terrific set of pipes. However I agree that whilst the musicianship is outstanding (and good to see Howard Helm in action) the songs do lack a certain memorability. The Kansas influence is ever present though it just isn't as good as the 'Absence of presence' which is quite simply superb..
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