Lake - 1986 So What

Geir AamoGeir Aamo Norway
edited August 2 in year-1986


ALBUM: So What
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 831 164-1 (LP), 831 164-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: James Hopkins-Harrison - vocals * Bernd Gertig - lead guitars, vocals * Achim Oppermann - guitars, keyboards, vocals * Thomas Bauer - keyboards, alto saxophone, vocals * Josef Kappl - bass, vocals * Dieter Ahrendt - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Midnight * 02 So What * 03 My Emotions * 04 Thick And Thin * 05 Children Of War * 06 Inside To Outside * 07 Feel You In My Arms * 08 Voice In The Wind * 09 Big Brother * 10 Laura * 11 Don't Play Around


'So What' would prove to be the final Lake album, not counting the compilation 'In The Midnight' and various later collections.

In contrast to its predecessor 'Voices', 'So What', however, saw the band returning to a more conventional rock sound.

To deal with the bad news first, I find that several of the songs have good parts, but are let down by other bits of the song, i.e. a not too distinct chorus when the verse is actually pretty good etc. (The title track, 'So What', being a prime example of this.)

In terms of production values, the mid-80's are, in hindsight, not my favourite era, either - too many somewhat harsh sounding digital synths and percussive sounds.

'So What' (the album) suffers partially from this, but they deserve credit for using a real drummer, even if his drums are heavily gated and compressed!

The Songs

The guitars are actually quite beefy at times, as well as put to fairly effective use on several occasions, meaning I'm likely to forgive them a somewhat cheesy overdrive/distortion sound, too.

All in all, the guitars match the rest of the production well. It's also interesting that the synth/sequencing work on 'Inside to Outside' seems to have laid much of the groundwork for Lady Violet's extremely successful modern day version of the song - save for that incessant modern dance beat, the two versions aren't that different.

In addition to the mercilessly catchy 'Inside To Outside', I like the crunch of the uptempo opener 'In The Midnight' - ditto goes for the somewhat darker 'Big Brother' - possibly my favourite on the album.

On the quieter side, 'Voice In The Wind' goes nowhere, but does so in a nice way!

The balladic 'Laura' also showcases the band's ear for a good melody, and is a good choice for a closing song.

In Summary

I should add that much of the criticism I level at 'So What' (the album), might as well be directed towards the general era.

Lake would have been equally lost if they continued in their 70's style as with the musical path they chose.

I remember feeling that even very early '80s records sounded hopelessly dated at the time. It would take the music business well into the 90's to go retro soundwise.

Conclusively, despite its flaws, 'So What' remains a very listenable album. Not something I'd spend a lot of money on tracking through Gemm or Ebay, but worth picking up if you can find it at a reasonable price.

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