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Strangeways - 1985 Strangeways



ARTIST: Strangeways
ALBUM: Strangeways
LABEL: Bonaire
SERIAL: 207 417
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 2001, Hangdog Records (UK) * 2006, Majestic Rock, MAJCD069 * 2011, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY098

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Tony Liddell - vocals * Ian Stewart - guitars, vocals * David Stewart - bass, vocals * Dave Drummond - drums, vocals * Alan Thomson - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Kid Needs Love * 02 Hold Back Your Love * 03 Close To The Edge * 04 Heartbreak Zone * 05 Cry Out * 06 Power Play * 07 Breakin' Down The Barriers * 08 Now It's Gone * 09 More Than Promises * 10 Hold Tight


Background
Scottish legends Strangeways started off their climb to AOR cult-fandom with this debut release from 1985. I say Scottish, but in heritage only, as by this stage of their brief career, most of their time had been spent away from Scotland. Formed from the ashes of Glasgow band China White, the band's major force is guitarist Ian Stewart, who also doubles as the principal songwriter. A deal was signed with the Canadian Bonaire Group (home for prog band Saga), while the band went off to Switzerland to record the debut album with producer Kevin Elson (Journey, Shooting Star) in tow.


The Songs
Strangeways were about a year ahead of the hair-metal explosion, with the likes of Bon Jovi and Europe competing for trans-atlantic honors during 1986. Though this album was highlighted in the same year, it was over-shadowed by other material out there at the same time. Despite that, there is some strong material to be heard: songs such as 'Hold Back Your Love', 'Close To The Edge' and the wonderful 'Break Down The Barriers'. Just below that tier, you can include numbers like the rollicking 'Power Play', 'The Kid Needs Love' and 'Now Its Gone' - the latter sounding like fellow UK rockers Outside Edge. Elsewhere, the band are less AOR and decidedly heavier on tracks such as 'Cry Out' and the closer 'Hold Tight'. This was an excellent start for the band - demonstrating their ability as a British act, however it did not sell as much as they would've hoped. This was in part due to their support gigs where the audience weren't familiar with the material, while the album was better known offshore, as was the case with most melodic rock having to be imported into the UK at the time.


In Summary
Not long after this release, Tony Liddell was replaced by the superior Atlanta based singer Terry Brock, an unknown singer at the time, but one who the Strangeways guys knew through the industry, and who was the 'one guy' the band really wanted. His vocal performances on Strangeways' subsequent albums is now stuff of legend. 'Strangeways' the album is still a favourite among many today, including it would seem, ex Winger guitarist Reb Beach! As we all know, the strength of this album would be eclipsed by the next pair 'Native Sons' and 'Walk In The Fire' - both of these taking on a pristine quality, whereas this one feels slightly heavy-handed in comparison. All three albums are absolute essentials in the AOR scheme of things! As for their 90's material.. Umm best left unsaid I think.. However, you can pick this album up as a CD reissue, refer the list above.


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Comments
#1 | george_the_jack on June 02 2008 16:51:30
Classy stuff here.A very good debut but -IMO-nothing really could predict the milestones that was meant to follow...
#2 | Jez on June 13 2008 10:53:54
I always loved David Stewarts bass playing on all of the Strangeways albums, very funky in places. I remember that my first impression was of the consistency of the songs on this, as they All feature a mega hook in the choruses. For a debut album, this is superb, although the best was to come with the phenomenal 'Native Sons' & 'Walk In The Fire' releases
#3 | jeffduran on October 13 2008 09:40:37
Another killer AOR release.....Nothing would predict the CRAP that would follow 1989's 'Walk In The Fire'!
#4 | aor-fm on February 04 2009 17:50:56
Great album, slightly different feel, to the following classics, but still a gem, nevertheless. And at this stage they were 100% Jock, which makes this probably one of the best albums from an all Jock band.Pure mad magic, ya rocket!
#5 | george_the_jack on May 14 2011 00:15:36
Those 'Majestic Rock Records' issues...Hm...Poor.Wish I had the Hangdog and RCA versions of the band's CDs.
#6 | gdazegod on May 14 2011 01:25:06
I have an inkling that this will get a proper RC reissue..
#7 | george_the_jack on May 14 2011 01:32:31
Oh, this would be great George! I'll have to sell my 'Majestic' copy when that time comes.
#8 | Eric on May 14 2011 12:32:17
I always liked the stylish cover art...
#9 | gdazegod on August 23 2011 08:28:50
The 2011 Rock Candy reissue includes 5 bonus tracks, all demos:

11 All The Wrong Reasons
12 Hold On
13 Close To The Edge
14 Breakin' Down The Barriers
15 Streets Of Fire
#10 | george_the_jack on December 12 2011 01:04:28
Time to sell my (not that) "majestic" copies of the first three Strangeways records and replace them with the RC ones.
 
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