Stan Bush - 2014 The Ultimate

edited November 2020 in year-2014

ARTIST: Stan Bush
ALBUM: The Ultimate
LABEL: Melodic Rock Records
YEAR: 2014

LINEUP: Stan Bush - vocals * Holger Fath - guitars, bass, keyboards, drums * Tom Walsh, Craig Yamek - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Something To Believe * 02 The Ultimate * 03 Heat Of The Battle * 04 Love Again * 05 Stand In The Fire * 06 Unstoppable * 07 Thunder In Your Heart * 08 The Journey * 09 The Memory Of You * 10 If I'm Not Lovin' You * 11 The Touch (Power Mix)

RATING: image


Stan Bush has enjoyed a recording career of over 30 years. Unlike many others who have been around that long, however, he seems to be getting better with age.

Each of his albums this century has been an improvement over the prior one. And the last two, with which he collaborated with Holger Fath, were particularly excellent.

Fath is again onboard with duties as producer, multi-instrumentalist, and co-writer. Bush has brought in a couple of other songwriters with long histories to help him out. Lenny Macaluso and Curt Cuomo. You know what to expect - does this album deliver?

The Songs

Stan Bush has a few specialties, and the 'yearning for love' song is one of them.

'Something To Believe' starts the album off in that vein, the mellow opening strains evolving into a nice uptempo piece that channels vintage Journey in places.

Another specialty, of course, is the anthem. Title track 'The Ultimate' is a typical uplifting song that few have ever done as well as Bush.

'Heat Of The Battle' was recorded as a non-album single in 2010 - good to hear it on here. It's another soundtrack-like anthem about rising to the challenge. I believe he can write songs like this in his sleep.

Now it is ballad time, and 'Love Again' is a good one. This one compares very favorably with similar great songs from 30 years ago.

You have to hear the opening to 'Stand In The Fire' to believe it. As you can easily surmise from the title, it is another anthem. But it raises the stakes even more. Really, someone in Hollywood needs to listen to this, as it is begging for an action movie. The interplay between guitar and keyboard is quite wonderful. This may sound crazy, but I can totally hear Loverboy doing this song 30 years ago. Classic.

Hard to follow a song like that, but lead single 'Unstoppable' holds its own. This was written shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. It's a shame that this song likely won't become a Memorial Day or Independence Day staple in the U.S. Hopefully someone will discover it.

'Thunder In Your Heart', of course, is a remake of the tune written by Macaluso and performed by John Farnham for the 1986 movie 'RAD' about BMX bicycle racing. Lionville recorded this on their debut album in 2011. Bush's version stays truer to the original than does Lionville's, but this is a great song regardless of who performs it.

I have one son who graduates high school in a year (and a second son one year behind), and 'The Journey' is the type of song you can imagine being played at graduation while a video shows highlights of all the students.

After four straight anthemic tunes, we get two straight heartbreak songs. 'The Memory Of You' is a haunting-type piece, while 'If I'm Not Loving You' is a slow ballad. Both are excellent songs that are reminiscent of his earlier work.

The album ends with yet another version of 'The Touch'. This is the 'Power Mix', and it was released as a single in 2012. I'm not sure the world needs another version of this song, as this is the third straight album that contains one. But it doesn't sound out of place, although it's not an improvement over the version on last album 'Dream The Dream'.

In Summary

I'm a guy who doesn't mind at all if a favourite artist puts out an album where the new songs sound like the old songs. Heck, I think the second Boston album was every bit as good as the first one.

Bush obviously has a formula that works for those of us who enjoy anthems and relationship songs delivered with a smooth and polished AOR sound.

I'm finding it very difficult to find fault with this album. You could say that he plays it safe and doesn't do anything new or different. And there are some similarities musically and lyrically between some of the songs ('down to the wire' and 'moment of truth' each come up in a couple of songs).

I'm not gonna knock him for that, though, as these songs are just too darn good. Bush is not a kid - he's 60 - and his voice sounds as good as ever.

Production is top-notch too, this album sounds really good. I don't seem to have any problem playing this one over and over, so I'm quite sure this will be one of those go-to albums for me.

If you're a fan of Stan, you'll definitely want to rush out and get this. You can count on this being in my top ten for the year.

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