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(75:38, JAM Recordings)
TRACK LIST: 1. Jeremy: My Heart's on Fire 5:40 2. The Gravelberrys: Wonder Where You Are Tonight 3:21 3. The Mayflowers: Get Over Time 4:21 4. DM3: Foolish 3:28 5. The Grip Weeds: Strange Bird 3:01 6. Greg Pope: Fall Into Your Arms 2:05 7. Lolas: Popism 1:15 8. Daniel Wylie: Make Love to the World 3:17 9. The Suns: Dream About Nothing 2:29 10. Marc Carroll: Love Will Rule Our Hearts 2:04 11. The Records: That Girl Is Emily 5:02 12. Dropkick: Only for Yourself 3:05 13. The Junipers: Gordie Can't Swim 3:31 14. Paisley and Charlie: Sebastian 4:39 15. Seth Swirsky: Movie Set 3:05 16. Nigel Clark: Tears 2:08 17. Cosmic Rough Riders: The Pain Inside 3:23 18. The Tangerines: Don't Get Lonely 2:44 19. The Kubes: She's a Monkey 2:17 20. The Temponauts: She's an Animal 3:33 21. The Primary 5: What Am I Supposed To Do? 3:01 22. Nelson Bragg: Tell Me I'm Wrong 3:38 23: Starry Eyed and Laughing: Strangers All Over Again 3:37 24. The Shambles: Love Is All Around 0:54 LINEUP: Various artists, as listed
Prolusion. The US label JAM Records is the recording company of JEREMY (Jeremy Morris), which he uses to release his own material, productions from other artists and the occasional various artists kind of CDs. "Hearts on Fire: Sweet Relief II" is a case of the latter, and this 2010 production is the second album in a series where the money raised by the sale of the CD will go towards financial aid to victims of natural disasters.
Analysis. While only consisting of a single CD, the disc in question is one that covers the material of 24 different artists. Which gives you quite a lot of different material to wrap your head around, at least when you're accustomed to progressive rock, a genre more well known for songs in the more than 5 minutes long category rather than the 3 minute range which is the case here. Three minutes or thereabouts was the typical length for pop singles back in the day, and this is an album filled with just that: this is pop music of a kind that at least sounds like it was made back in the day. Power pop is the name of the genre covered at length and in depth on this production, a type of music that has its stylistic roots firmly cemented in many of the classic popular (and some not all that popular) bands that made pop-rock in the late 60's and early 70's. As I don't know all that much about this niche in contemporary music, I'll shy away from trying to explain in more detail a subject I don't know all that much about. What I'm rather certain of is that this album will be something of a treasure trove for those who enjoy music of that specific kind, as the variety is great within the aforementioned context, and even while I personally didn't find all the compositions exciting, those with a deeper interest than me in this kind of music will enjoy even the songs that didn't come across as all that inspiring for me, as it is easy to tell that many of the artists contributing material to this CD are high quality acts. Quite a few bands did mange to catch my attention, which perhaps says something about the quality of these songs. Lolas' Popism is one such case, a short, charming affair with great hooks, although a song that also gave me instant associations to the old classic Living After Midnight by the metal band Judas Priest. The beefy riffs and psychedelic guitar soloing of The Suns’ Dream About Nothing is another song that merits a mention, and The Shambles documents that it is indeed possible to make a good pop song lasting less than a minute with Love Is All Around. Among all the entries of pleasant tracks and quality compositions, a few really impressed me as well. Jeremy Morris' own My Heart’s on Fire being one of those, and The Mayflowers’ Get Over Time another entry in that department. The former is a compelling power pop song with nice psychedelic elements and a strong chorus section, Jeremy at his very best, the latter a darker toned affair with more of a driving, classic rock feel to it. Marc Carrol's Love Will Rule Our Hearts charmed me with its staccato, light toned guitar riffs in a Rush kind of way, sporting clever vocals, a harder edged overall sound and some nice, delicate psychedelic guitar details at the appropriate time. The Record's That Girl Is Emily impressed on a different level, with perhaps more of an AOR touch to the sound and structure, performed with excellence and clever psychedelic flavoring. All in all, this is a strong collection of material by artists exploring different varieties of the music described as power pop, a collection that documents that this is also a style that has room for a multitude of different sounds and atmospheres. From ballad oriented escapades with piano and Mellotron as the principal instruments to tight, harder edged pieces that touch upon hard rock in intensity, the latter a rare feature and probably a borderland one within this general context. The common denominators throughout is that all the songs feature vocals, all of them are fairly short, and all of them can directly or indirectly trace their stylistic roots at least 40 years back in time and then to mainstream-oriented music with a psychedelic touch.
Conclusion. Avid fans of progressive rock won't find all that much that will be of interest on this charity sampler, in case that isn't already obvious. Fans of power pop will find this CD to be quite a splendid collection of material however, a fine collection of accessible, melodic pop-rock with subtle psychedelic elements that can trace its stylistic origins back to bands such as The Beatles and The Who.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 4, 2014
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