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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » Departure - 2003 Corporate Wheel
Departure - 2003 Corporate Wheel

ARTIST: Departure
ALBUM: Corporate Wheel
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2003


LINEUP: Timothy Lewis - vocals * Mike Walsh - guitars * John O'Connell - keyboards * Mike Beres - bass * Duey Ribestello - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Listen To What I Say * 02 Corporate Wheel * 03 Sacrifice * 04 Time * 05 Down On My Knees * 06 Every Man * 07 Giving Me A Reason * 08 Comin' My Way * 09 Fallin' From The Sky * 10 Hallowed Ground * 11 Look In Your Eyes

Perhaps the flagship band for the Escape Music label are the New Jersey based outfit Departure. All of their albums have been released on the UK label, and by the sounds of things, these guys still have a lot to offer music wise. Many personnel changes have occurred since 1998's debut, but the mainstays throughout have been guitarist and producer Mike Walsh plus keyboardist John O'Connell. The band also showcase new singer Timothy Lewis, who steps into a pair of shoes previously held by Kenny Michaels and Dave Baldwin. Vocally, it's easy to see a direct resemblance to the likes of Hugo and Kevin Chalfant for instance. Musically Departure have embellished their sound as time and experience tends to do to a band, and though not as flighty as that wonderful debut, there are heaps of great melodic moments, capped off by a BIG production which should give the home stereo a good workout.

The Songs
You may have heard some of the MP3 Soundbytes of these tunes elsewhere on the Internet, and good as they are, the real deal is where it's at. The opening brace of songs make an immediate impact, and knowing how fussy the average melodic rock AOR fan is (don't complain.. I know you are!), you'll be appeased this time around I'm sure. The fantastic 'Listen To What I Say' will surely have you dropping your jaw in disbelief - a perfect vehicle for guitar/keyboard interplay. The title track 'Corporate Wheel' is a strident effort which sees comparisons to The Storm and Faith Nation - big keyboards again a feature. Third track in, 'Sacrifice' is a mid-tempo burner, featuring some Dann Huff like guitar tones throughout, while the keyboards swirl around majestically. 'Time' is the main ballad, and would fit right at home on any Hugo CD. Again the Faith Nation similarity rears its head on 'Down On My Knees', the organ-driven blasts through the middle take us back to the glory-days! Moving into the second half of the album, the consistency is maintained on 'Every Man', a beautiful mid-tempo workout complete with superb chorus and The Storm like melodies. It was hard to avoid singing along with 'Giving Me A Reason' - that damn chorus was so catchy, and hearing those keys accompanying me in the background. well.. I just about.. you don't wanna know! A couple of tracks washed over me toward the end - 'Fallin' From The Sky' and 'Hallowed Ground', but thankfully they finish off strongly with the anthemic 'Look In Your Eyes', inclusive of weather effects, swirling keys, and an atmospheric (excuse the pun) guitar line.

In Summary
I gotta say, I just love bands who get the guitar/keyboard interplay thing happening, as is the case with Departure. Some might complain the mix is not quite right (too loud in places, or one dominates the other). For me personally, not being a professional producer and all, it sounds perfectly fine by me. The acquisition of Timothy Lewis lands this band squarely in the center of the melodic rock universe without question, and in fact, gives Departure more credibility than ever. Sure the Journey, Hugo and The Storm comparisons are an easy target for critics of the band, but hey, they are the same critics who throught melodic rock and AOR was dead and buried 20 years ago! Not so, we live on! Again, another excellent slice of melodic rock, which will have committed fans of the band queuing up with the credit card.

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Departure - 2003 Corporate Wheel
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Tags: Departure 
#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 02:21:56
Solid 3rd release from the American band. New vocalist Timothy Lewis is another Steve Perry/ Hugo soundalike, so with that in mind i think you know where the bands sound comes from. I prefered the debut album a little more, but this is an improvement on 'Open Your Mind' and generally is a good quality, well played slice of melodic rock.
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