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Articles Home » 2000 Articles » Sign, The - 2000 Signs Of Life
 
Sign, The - 2000 Signs Of Life


THE SIGN - SIGNS OF LIFE (2000, FRONTIERS)
Terry Brock - vocals
Randy Jackson - guitars, vocals
Mark Mangold - keyboards
Billy Greer - bass
Bobby Rondinelli - drums


Background
Perhaps the first sign of a supergroup in the year 2000 takes shape with this conglomerate of musicians who are literally a who's who of the melodic rock scene. I won't bother with introductions. If you're reading this review you'll more than likely know who these guys are and where they've come from. The merger brings together a melting pot of sounds, most notably Kansas (Steve Morse era), Zebra and Journey. The songs are split between Brock and Jackson, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out which songs sound better vocally. The Brock ones obviously. However, some of the tunes where Randy does sing, they're not too bad.

The Songs
The opener 'I'm Alive' is a classic example. Kansas all the way! The mid section and the keyboard solo's from Mangold are an absolute ripper! What a fantastic and bombastic way to open the album. The follow up 'Crossed The Line' has a glorious guitar strut to it, similar to the best moments from Bob Kulick's Skull project. However those keyboards kick in again, adding the frills to an already rich track. The track 'Aryon' is based on the album's theme of a girl growing up and facing todays pressures and temptations. After a slow and moody start, it builds into a strident rocker. Some of the tracks veer right into Jackson's Zebra/China Rain camp, mostly 'All Your Life' and the out of phase 'Stranded' which to me dosen't quite fit the flow of the album. However, there are a couple of awesome ballads .. 'I Will Be There For You' sees Terry singing up to his best Strangeways form while the keyboard tinklings embellish like icing on a cake. Then there's 'Forever Again' which has some nice slide guitar cutting through the layers of vocal harmonies. 'Nothing But A Heartache' is typically nice melodic AOR, with parping keys similar to Franke And The Knockouts circa 'Makin' The Point'. Likewise 'Desperate Heart' sounds like I was transported back in time to 1980 listening to Journey's 'Anyway You Want It'. Tell me those verses are so similar, close to a rip off if you ask me.., but hey I love it..

In Summary
Yep, this is an album you can pull to bits, with it's contrasting styles and all the talent to burn. Sometimes with too many cooks in the kitchen the final product does indeed get burned, and on some tracks I feel they have been overcooked. However, when listening to tracks like 'I'm Alive' and 'Crossed The Line' it all pales into insignificance. The Sign are representative of a bygone era in melodic rock/pomp, and I for one am glad to see these rock soldiers standing at the forefront of the new millennium showing the way for others.

Track Listing:
01 I'm Alive
02 Crossed The Line
03 Aryon
04 Forever Again
05 Stranded
06 All Your Life
07 The Wait
08 I Will Be There For You
09 Nothing But A Heartache
10 Wine
11 Desperate Heart
12 Signs Of Life

Related Articles:

Sign, The - 2000 Signs Of Life


Sign, The - 2004 The Second Sign


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Comments
#1 | Jez on June 14 2008 17:08:04
Oh boy, what do we have here. an AOR fans wet dream, keys from heaven by Mark Mangold, superb guitars from Zebra's Randy Jackson and a whole heap of good tunes. check out the opening track I'm alive for further proof. Would have been even better with a top class production job, but, heh. you can't have everything.
#2 | roadrunner158 on March 11 2011 11:48:04
I just listened to it again after a couple of years of abstinence. A classic case of "what could have been". In my opinion, this CD is an all-time classic as far as the songs and the individual performances are concerned. However, the production is so sub-par (awful drum sound, muddy mix, even some clipping with the b/vox) that I can hardly listen to it. Yes, you can't have everything, but this production quality is inexcuseable...really a shame.
#3 | swazi on May 30 2012 17:22:59
Yes, the production is really awful, but most of the songs are fantastic. Maybe it should be reissued with better production. Wouldn't that be something ?
 
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