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Hobbit - 2001 Rockin' The Shire

ARTIST: Hobbit
ALBUM: Rockin' The Shire
LABEL: Independent
YEAR: 2001


LINEUP: Gene Fields - vocals, guitars * Paul 'Turk' Henry - bass, vocals * Richard Hill - lead guitar, keyboards * Rusty Honeycutt, Keith Young - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rockin' * 02 Paradise * 03 Don't Say No * 04 Holiday * 05 Listen To Your Heart * 06 Changes * 07 Too Long Without You * 08 Television * 09 Join The Celebration * 10 Take Your Chances * 11 Lay Down * 12 Burn The Bridge * 13 Through The Looking Glass * 14 No Dout No Expectations


It's mid November and there's one thing I know for sure - the disc of the year has just arrived. That's right folks, at the proverbial eleventh hour comes the second installment of Hobbit's reissuing/remastering campaign entitled 'Rockin' The Shire'. For the most part, these tracks represent the next batch of recordings after the 'Two Feet Tall' phase, focusing on the early to mid 80's but still including a 70's track here and there. With this release, Hobbit are proving that they were and still are more than just a decent band that never got the big break. Their status as true AOR icons is fully entrenched. Now it's time to leave this mundane world behind for a while and take a journey into the very heart of the Shire .

The Songs
Opening up is the appropriately titled 'Rockin', a Survivor flavoured monster of a title track, where Turk has centre stage belting out some scorching vocals and the most incredible bass work this side of Rush. 'Paradise' keeps the uptempo trend going, with Gene's aggressive vocal delivery. 'Don't Say No' is a pure AOR gem in the 80's tradition - melodic keys, layered vocals and all the right chord changes. Next up is 'Holiday', which brings us into more acoustic laid back territory. Angelic vocals from Gene and some inventive keys to augment the ethereal melody. 'Listen To Your Heart' and 'Changes' embody the midtempo AOR dream come true ... massive hooks, keys everywhere and a pair of anthem choruses to rival the best of the genre - yes, they're that damn good! At this point Turk returns to the vocal mike to deliver 'Too Long Without You', a stunning ballad, chilling indeed. 'Television', which ushered in the band's 'third age' with Tony Marsh handling guitar duties and Timo Elliston on keys, brings out the more humorous side of the band, but take note - this is no throwaway novelty track, positively surging out of the gates with hooks and melodies everywhere. First Age Hobbit classic 'Join The Celebration' makes it's appearance in a swirl of percussive inventiveness from Rusty Honeycutt, tempo changes and overall melodies reminiscent of the symphonic rock genre. 'Take Your Chances' ushers in the 'live at Bag End' segment with easy melodic grace. This is one of the five purest examples of classic AOR I've ever heard. A perfect vehicle for Gene's angelic vocals. 'Lay Down' does exactly that, an irresistible groove with the kind of smooth vocals you'll hear on any Dakota chorus. 'Burn The Bridge' returns us to acoustic territory for a majestic display of subtle melody, while 'Through The Looking Glass' brings on the semi acoustic mid tempo pomp AOR in a big way. Closing off precedings is 'No Doubt And No Expectations', showcasing not only Rusty's drumming chops, but also the fluidity of Richard Hill's guitar efforts, a constant factor throughout this disc.

In Summary
So there you have it, fourteen tracks and not a throwaway in sight. I can honestly say that nobody's AOR collection is up to scratch until this essential slice of AOR is contained within. Look out for it at some of the decent online stores listed below.

Related Articles
Hobbit - 1999 Two Feet Tall
Hobbit - 2001 Rockin' The Shire
Hobbit - 2003 All For The One
Hobbit - 2003 All For One Interview Part 1
Hobbit - 2003 All For One Interview Part 2
Hobbit - 2003 All For One Interview Part 3
Hobbit - 2003 All For One Interview Part 4
Hobbit - 2008 Lost And Found

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#1 | swazi on December 22 2011 15:35:38
Very nice review, if I may say so, and a great disc!

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