The greatest AOR band ever to come out of Scotland. STRANGEWAYS were the unforgettable AOR heroes of the eighties. Ask any AOR fan to name a few AOR bands from the 80s and be sure that all of them will say the name of STRANGEWAYS. They managed to release three wonderful AOR albums back in the 80s. These albums have now been re-issued separately on CD by the English Recordlabel Hangdog Records. Their second and third album have already been available on CD ever since they got released, but the last couple of years they somehow were hard to get, so these two re-issues are as interesting as the re-issue of their debut which never got released on CD until now. The debut album of STRANGEWAYS was released in 1986 and this original counted 10 tracks. This re-issue contains 11 tracks, because added is the bonustrack Streets on fire, an unreleased STRANGEWAYS song from the same period as this debut was recorded.
Notable are the names behind the recordings, because being a new band in 1986 and having guys like Bob Ludwig and Kevin Elson (EUROPE, JOURNEY, NIGHT RANGER) working on your debut album is not a bad case at all. Anyway, the debut of STRANGEWAYS contained some great piece of pure American oriented AOR with many keys and harmonyvocals. The band was clearly influenced by AOR bands such as LOVERBOY, FOREIGNER, NIGHT RANGER and JOURNEY that were topping the charts in the USA at the same time.
On the other hand many new British bands tried to play in this AOR style, so it was not that unusual. Similar British AOR bands such as FM, SHY, AIRRACE, GRAND PRIX, PEROUX... had released wonderful records, so why not a Scottish AOR band. And the debut album was indeed a great AOR album that could easily compete with the British and American AOR scene back in 1986. There are a lot of Classic 80s AOR rockers on the debut of STRANGEWAYS.
My favourites are The kid needs love (classy 80s uptempo AOR/Radiorock like QWEST), Hold back your love (superb classic 80s AOR like early SHY/FM), Power play (pompous AOR like PROPHET meets EUROPE), Breakin down the barrier (JOURNEY influenced midtempo AOR), Now its gone (brilliant hookladen uptempo AOR with an 80s LOVERBOY beat, Mike Reno styled lead/harmony vocals and hooklines like the first FM records) and the amazing More than promises (brilliant AOR chorus). The only weaker song on the debut album was Cry out.
The album bursts out
with its superb AOR sounds and if youre into
todays AOR you should know your classics from the 80s,
because an album like this made what AOR is today the day.
Listening to a record like this, you can easily admit that the
80s AOR was so much better than todays AOR. STRANGEWAYS had
released a classic AOR record, but like many other similar albums
it didnt get the response it deserved. Bands like JOURNEY,
SURVIVOR, NIGHT RANGER, FOREIGNER got away and scored major hits,
but STRANGEWAYS only got its attention in the AOR scene. Happily,
the band didnt broke up after the debut record like so many
other AOR bands did. STRANGEWAYS released their follow-up
Native songs one-year later, but the AOR style had
changed due to the change of lead vocalist.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
The follow-up to the classic debut album of the Scottish AOR band STRANGEWAYS was titled 'Native sons' and was released back in 1987. The band had changed their lead vocalist. The American session-vocalist TERRY BROCK was the new lead vocalist of a Scottish band. And this guy was sounding very much like STEVE PERRY of JOURNEY and also the music was very close to the classic JOURNEY AOR sound of albums like 'Frontiers' and 'Escape', but also like 'Raised on radio'.
In fact, this Scottish AOR band sounded more like JOURNEY than any other American AOR band that played this style. That didn't mean this album was a simple JOURNEY copy and there was nothing left for the band to feature their own skills, because 'Native sons' is a first-class huge AOR album. The 10 songs on the album are close to what I should call 'Classic AOR'. Although the production was not done by one of the famous AOR producers, it still sounded crystal clear perfectly done by JOHN PUNTER.
If you like JOURNEY, you just can't ignore this 2nd release of STRANGEWAYS, because the AOR is up there with their American friends. The first 5 songs are all Classic AOR songs in the best JOURNEY tradition. "Dance with somebody" and "Where do we go from here" are the uptempo AOR rocker. "Only a fool" and "So far away" are the superb midtempo 80s AOR songs, while "Goodnight L.A." is a beautiful AOR ballad that is so close to JOURNEY. This ballad could have easily been a number one hit in The States, because it sounds so perfect. Nowadays a guy like HUGO is making these kind of AOR ballads and the fans love it, not knowing that 12 years ago a band like STRANGEWAYS did it so much better on their album 'Native sons'.
Anyway, the second part is a little less classic AOR than the first part, because the songs "Stand up and shout", "Shake the seven" and "Never going to lose it" are just nice (bit funky) AOR songs that again sound like JOURNEY (more in the STEVE PERRY ruled times). Still the songs "Empty streets" (uptempo AOR) and "Face to face" (beautiful semi AOR ballad) are lovely songs that can not be missed by any AOR fan. Fans of JOURNEY should have got this CD at home, if not, get it right away, because the English Recordlabel HANGDOG RECORDS has re-released the CD. Visit their site at: http://www.hangdog.co.uk
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
WALK IN THE FIRE-STRANGEWAYS
The third album of Scottish AOR heroes STRANGEWAYS was released in 1989. The album was less JOURNEY based than the previous record. Still the JOURNEY reference can be made in songs like "Love lies dying" (hello 'Raised on radio'!!!), "Talk to me" and "After the hurt is gone". But listening to the beginning of the record, you can hear a more own AOR/Melodic rocksound in fantastic songs such as "Where are they now" and "Danger in your eyes". Though my favourite tracks are "Love lies dying" (superb semi AOR ballad), "Every time you cry" (midtempo AOR), "Into the night" (midtempo AOR like JOURNEY meets STARSHIP) and closing track "After the hurt is gone" which is a beautiful semi AOR ballad like JOURNEY circa 'Raised on radio'.
This third release is the best record STRANGEWAYS ever did. If you really want to hear an album that can compete with albums like JOURNEY ('Raised on radio'), FM ('Indiscreet'), STARSHIP ('Knee deep in the hoopla') and MICHAEL BOLTON ('Michael Bolton' - 1983), then look no further because this third CD of STRANGEWAYS is yours. It is now not hard to get anymore, because the English Recordlabel HANGDOG RECORDS re-released the CD.
This label also released the two comeback albums of the band that were released in the mid 90s, but as we all know the musicstyle had dramatically changed from pure 80s AOR (like JOURNEY) into 70s oriented calmer Progressive Pop/Rock (like PINK FLOYD). So, get these first 3 Classic AOR CDs of the band and forget about anything they did in the 90s. A shame the band changed their musicstyle so much on their comeback album 'And the horse'.
We can only hope the
band will go out and record a new record that is in the style of
their first 3 albums, because the Classic AOR presented on these
albums was so good and loved by so many AOR fans, it would be a
shame if the band never would record new stuff in this style.
What remain are these 3 classics and we can always enjoy them now
and in the future, no matter what happens.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)