707 - 2004 The Bridge

ALBUM: The Bridge
LABEL: MTM Classix
SERIAL: 0681-110
YEAR: 2004

LINEUP: Phil Bryant - vocals, bass * Kevin Russell - guitars * Tod Howarth - keyboards, guitars * Jim McClarty - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Leacher * 02 Hungry For Your Love * 03 You're Al I Need * 04 Want Your Love * 05 Sirens Of The Sea * 06 Message From A Friend * 07 Love You Til I Die * 08 Head Over Heels * 09 Walking Out * 10 Couldn't Be Better * 11 The Bridge * 12 The Waiting Game * 13 The Girl With The Broken Heart * 14 Perfect Lies


So here it is after all this time - we've heard rumours for years that an unreleased 707 gem was lurking out there somewhere, and they've proved true, as revealed in a recent interview we did with Kevin Russell. 'The Bridge' was recorded in 1982, followed closely by the 'Megaforce' album later that same year.

Having played this album several times before writing this, there seems to be a fusion of styles, combining the pomp rock of the debut with the more straight-ahead 80's AOR sounds we were to encounter with 'Megaforce'. Considering Kevin Russell's enthusiasm for this album, together with the fact that Roadmaster/Fortress producer John Stronach was at the controls, my hopes were very high. And I wasn't disappointed..

The Songs

'Leader' - is one powerhouse of an opening track, combining a fierce AOR riff with Styxian acoustic textures, the meeting point between pomp rock and straight-ahead AOR is pretty much defined here. Harmonies abound as the tempo changes come and go, kinda makes you want to reach for that treasured 'Fortress' vinyl and a strong cup of coffee.

'Hungry For Your Love' - brings on a more basic down home type of rock complete with honky tonk piano and attitude aplenty, entertaining for sure.

'You're All I Need' - brings us right back to anthem AOR territory, and one has to wonder what the record company execs were smoking when they 'didn't hear a single'.. all the hallmarks of a radio classic are here, momentum, a killer hook, soaring vocals and passionate performance all within a commercially accessible framework, think Journey and early 80's Survivor.

'Want Your Love' - carries on in the same tradition, showcasing great songwriting in the way the vocals weave around the chord changes, not unlike Le Roux or Foreigner.

'Sirens Of The Sea' - is a little different and certainly brings on the pomp rock as it's title suggests it should - compelling and melodic.

'Message From A Friend' - is pure AOR class, another clear candidate for radio classic status. It's powerful yet unhurried in it's simplicity, bringing Harlequin's 'Innocence' to mind.

'Love You 'Til I Die' - changes lanes into a bluesier tempo and atmosphere, while losing none of that AOR melody, pretty close to the late 70's Journey sound in many ways.

'Head Over Heels' - is a riff rocker of some note, something like AOR meets AC/DC. The liner notes hint at the AC/DC type sound on this one, and you better believe it - still unmistakably 707 though.

'Walking Out' - emerges at midtempo and turns out to be a real winner through simplicity and a classy hook, the kind of track that gets better the more you hear it.

'Couldn't Be Better' - follows a similar path, great chord changes and rewarding vocals to keep you coming back.

'The Bridge' - the title track closes the official album in a brief flurry of instrumental pomp rock, even bordering on progressive, and at times pretty fierce. A testament to the level of musicianship and confidence in 707 at the time, and a good reflection of their varied influences. Special mention must be made of Howarth's pyrotechnics on the keyboards, think Gregg Giuffria on jet fuel.

It doesn't end here though. There are 3 bonus tracks which were among the first recorded for inclusion on the album:

'The Waiting Game' - operates at midtempo and high melody, employing a great call and response chorus that won't leave your head in a hurry - great AOR song.

'The Girl With The Broken Heart' - brings REO Speedwagon to mind, being a ballad of sheer class and restraint. The similarity is especially strong in the lyrics though, musically a little more laid back.

'Perfect Lies' - is yet another potential radio classic that never got it's chance - big hooks and cascading harmonies everywhere, something like Kiss at their most AOR with a sidecar of Henry Small era Prism, it's a great way to close out one helluva AOR disc.

In Summary

It must be said that comparing songs to other bands' work doesn't dilute the originality of the material under review, the great AOR bands manage to evoke several comparisons without ever losing that special identity that is all their own. 707 is clearly one of those bands, making this release not only an essential piece of the 707 catalogue, but an unmissable piece of the story of classic AOR.

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