Q5 - 1986 When The Mirror Cracks

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986


ALBUM: When The Mirror Cracks
LABEL: Music For Nations (UK), Squawk (Nth America)
SERIAL: MFN 64, 832 728-1
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2000, High Vaultage, HV-1033


LINEUP: Johnathan K - vocals * Floyd Rose - guitars * Rick Pierce - guitars * Evan Sheeley - bass, keyboards * Gary Thompson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Livin' On The Borderline * 02 Your Tears (Will Follow Me) * 03 Never Gonna Love Again * 04 Stand By Me * 05 When The Mirror Cracks * 06 Runaway * 07 In The Rain * 08 I Can't Wait * 09 Cold Heart * 10 Let Go


Q5 were a Seattle based outfit that released a cracking hard rock album back in 1985 called 'Steel The Light'. Licensed to UK indie Music For Nations from their own independent label Albatross, that album won many friends back in the day.

It's hard and heavy sound, hastened by the inclusion of guitar legend Floyd Rose (the man behind the whammy bar of the same name) went some way to making Q5 the talk of the town during that year.

However, all the good work was underdone by what many would consider to be a totally different sophomore release the following year.

It's not quite clear who suggested the band should take drop the hard as nails approach and move to a keyboard laced/AOR one instead.

Sure, a lot of bands were going down the AOR path back in 1986, and for those who succeeded, they either had great songs or a great producer to carry it off. In Q5's case, they had good songs but the production sounds as if too much 'pokery jiggery' was attempted in the studio.

Now signed to the Polygram subsidiary Squawk Records, 'When The Mirror Cracks' was produced by guitarist and co-leader Floyd Rose, and for those in the know, the album was dabbled with from pillar to post.

Whatever the intentions were at the start, they were completely different at the end.

The Songs

The (then) modern sounding and synth filled opener 'Livin' on the Borderline' would be a shock to all metal fans wanting to cash in on a second run from Q5.

To further upset the apple-cart would be the blatant AOR of 'Your Tears (Will Follow Me)'. An ok track if you are an AORster, but metal fans would probably have turned their noses up at it!

'Never Gonna Love Again' is a power ballad with an interesting twist of lyrics.. nothing to do love and romance whatsoever.. aparently.

By now, any credibility accrued on 'Steel The Light' is truly lost on 'Stand By Me' - a keyboard filled tune that seems to be so out of character for the band. What's going on?

Q5 attempt to save their bacon with the metal blast of the title track 'When The Mirror Cracks', aah this is so much better!

Things are spoiled once again for the studio/synth experiment 'Runaway'. Seems like Floyd pulled out all the toys for this song.

'In The Rain' is a mid-paced rocker with a stuttering arrangement, and it's great to hear a fiery solo, but it sounds like it is suffocated under the mix!

In among the keyboard effects, 'I Can't Wait' is a great track waiting to break out, and despite the irony of the song-title, 'Cold Heart' is a warm sounding track with a happy sounding vibe.

Like the title track, 'Let Go' as the album closer returns to the melodic metal we all came to love on their debut album. Pity they couldn't obtain consistency across the rest of the album.

In Summary

Despite landing a new album for Polygram/Squawk, the label wanted more new material - and real soon!

The band, readying to hit the road suddenly found themselves back in the studio/rehearsals! After much gnashing of teeth, Q5 presented new material to the label only to be spurned.

Some members by this stage, had had enough, and quit. Jonathan K and Rick Pierce would resurrect themselves with the hard-hitting band Nightshade during the early 90's.

As for this album, a few years later, both Q5 albums would be released as a 2 on 1 CD courtesy of Music For Nations (CD MFN 64) - it has since become a hard CD to track down.

Such a shame, this band had true potential, but a combination of factors ensured the band dropped the ball very early on in the piece. But tell me what band hasn't?

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