Martin, Eric - 2004 Destroy All Monsters

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ARTIST: Martin, Eric
ALBUM: Destroy All Monsters
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 174
YEAR: 2004

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Vocals - Eric Martin * Guitars - David Simon-Baker, Jeff Watson, Chris Wilson, Pat Gilles, Andre Pessis, Eric Martin * Bass - Mark Chole, John Wuopio, John McDill, Kenny Gradney * Drums - Denise Martin, Tommy Rickard, Richie Hayward * Keyboards - Billy Payne * Strings - Andre Pessis * Flamenco Guitar - Don Soledad

TRACK LISTING: 01 What's The Worst That Can Happen * 02 Kansas * 03 I Woke Up Late * 04 Janie Won't Open * 05 Where Are You * 06 You're Too Good For Him *07 Living In Black And White * 08 Something There * 09 What If * 10 I Can Die Now * 11 Burnin' My Mind

Background

The beginning of 2004 seems to have a very Mr Big flavour in the Now & Then/ Frontiers camp. Feeling like a ying to compliment the yang of the Mr Big tribute album, comes 'Destroy All Monsters', another selection of songs from their one-time front man.

Before we delve into the music on offer, I'd just like to pass comment quickly about the sleeve artwork. This is one of the best sleeves I've seen on a Frontiers release for a while. It really looks like thought has gone into it. I like the surrealistic element, it reminds me of all those old Storm Thoergerson/Hypgnosis oddities from the 70's. Great stuff.

The Songs

'Save It For A Rainy Day' is an up tempo rocker in the spirit of the old Eric Martin Band. Eric is in fine vocal form, perhaps a little edgy - but despite the right musical ingredients all being present, it comes across as being a little too tried and tested.

'Kansas', which follows, works better for me, though I can imagine its jaunty quality may annoy the hell out of some of you. Imagine if you will, 'Lazy Sunday Afternoon' by the Small Faces with a hard rock slant and without the English humour. A world away from classic Mr Big, for sure, but Eric pulls it off with charm and even makes the oft used 'we're not in Kansas any more' line sound fresh.

'I Woke Up 2 Late' has a very pleasing guitar riff during the verses and then really kicks in with a good time spirit for the chorus. If I didn't know any better, I'd think was an unused song from way back when, but like most of the other songs on this album, does not really deliver anything new from Eric, and it's mostly stuff you've heard him perform better in years gone by.

'Janie Won't Open' is classic. A great guitar riff meets a superb vocal for a very infectious chorus, guaranteed to please the most critical listeners. Back in the day when melodic rock stars were signed to major labels and released singles, this would have been a hit for sure. If I can't shift the chorus out of my head soon, I think I'll go mental.

'You're Too Good For Him' marks the first ballad here and despite other lacking moments, Eric still delivers when it comes to the softer stuff. His voice is still easily recognisable and has worn well over the years, but the real star here has to be Don Soledad, whose flamenco work adds a really nice quality to what could've been just another ordinary song of lurrve.

'Living In Black & White' is slightly harder, but is well placed on the album as it's still soft around the edges. Sadly, though, even though there nothing technically wrong with the song, apart from Eric's vocal, there isn't much to leave a lasting impression.

'Something There', like 'Janie Won't Open' has the right ingredients to make it work and is another one of those tracks which, in days gone by, may have made for a decent single. It's again the tried and tested formula for hard rock with absolutely no surprises, but comes with Eric on top form; I had to smile when I heard him sing the line 'I'm just a sucker for a pretty face, I'm stupid, I can't help it'.

A nod back to Eric's past glory and a self-depreciating humour. It's moments like this which tell me Eric's still got what it takes - he's just not using it so often, especially when you consider the last four songs on the album are instantly forgettable.

Closing the album is a cover of the old Bread song, 'If'. Most of you will remember that the original version was [to quote Edmund Blackadder] 'as wet as a fish's wet bits'. Well, Eric's re-vamped hard rock version doesn't have much of that cringe-worthy soppiness, as he and his chums have chosen to play it at manic speed, with a full on rock tilt. If you thought his cover of 'Stop In The Name Of Love' was terrible, you definitely never want to hear this, it's truly appalling. I imagine even Telly Savalas can now rest easy for his musical crimes.

In Summary

Apart from a few obvious stand out moments, 'Destroy All Monsters' doesn't quite hit the mark, despite trying really hard. Most of you will be better off sticking with your old copies of 'Sucker For A Pretty Face' and 'I'm Only Fooling Myself'.


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