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Vital Signs - 2002 Vital Signs

David Notary - vocals
Jimmy Z - guitars, vocals
Danny Pasternak - keyboards
Mitch Northon - bass, vocals
Doug Freedman - drums, percussion

It's the mid-eighties. We're in the heart of San Francisco's Bay Area. Bands like Starship, Y&T, Huey Lewis And The News and Night Ranger are all the rage. On the next tier down we had bands like The View, Roulette, Eddie And The Tide, and Vital Signs. Vital who? I hear you say? Well these guys camped out in AORLand as if they owned the damned place! Swaggering with all the right moves and sounds. Perhaps the perfect AOR sound for the era. Certainly, many years after their heyday, they still sound great. So what's in a comeback? Thanks go to the erstwhile pair of Mags Soderkvist (Atenzia) and Georg Siegl (AOR Heaven) for bringing this band out of the woodwork. For all the AOR trainspotters out there, Vital Signs came to attention for many of us, on the 'Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure' soundtrack. The track 'The Boys And Girls Are Doing It' was the second track on the album, and the band even did a video for it. But despite interest from A&M Records and Atlantic, the band were overlooked as the musical climate began to change. The band members put Vital Signs on hold, and sure enough, more than ten years passed before the dust was blown off the covers, and renewed interest in the band saw the heart monitor tick into overdrive. A good move, because this album is fantastic stuff and takes us back to a time when this music ruled the roost. Musically, we're looking at a hybrid of bands such as Surgin and Artica. The keyboard work gives it a glossy feel on top of the razor sharp riffing provided by Jimmy Z. Just the sort of recipe AOR fans crave.

The Songs
We get underway with the Surgin 'When Midnight Comes' styled AOR of 'Secret Lover'. An awesome start. Though the song-title is rather hackneyed, 'Bang Bang' chugs away with intent. On this one, David Notary's vocals lie somewhere between Russell Arcara and Joseph Lee Wood. An interesting mix I hear you say, but the comparison is justified. 'Second Chance' takes on a booming rhythm section, the chorus and solo sections stand out too. Like the title, 'Don't Come Running' is very racy through the middle, subdued during the verses. This one has reminders of the late great Urgent. The staggered and punctuated arangement that is 'Eye On You' has you humming along to some of those tracks last heard on The VU's one-off album 'Phoneix Rising'. The album contains a solitary ballad in the shape of 'One Step Behind', the keyboards and soulful vocals rising above the mix. You just gotta love those fanciful synth bursts on 'Ticket To Love', a track synonomous with all things AOR. And if you thought that was good, check out the fabulous 'I'm Not Gonna Wait'.

In Summary
Who knows what would've happened to this lot back in the days of MTV and poodle permed hairstyles. If this album saw the light of day in 1982 or 1984, then, their career might've taken a completely different path. And who knows what is in store for the Vital Signs camp now. If a new album turns up every two or three years, then I'd be a happy man. As the current musical climate suggests, a band like this could do well on the classic rock stations across the USA. Here's hoping there is some more life left coming out of the Bay Area once again!


Track Listing
01 Secret Lover
02 Bang Bang
03 Second Chance
04 Don't Come Running
05 Eye On You
06 One Step Behind
07 Ticket To Love
08 Stranger
09 I'm Not Gonna Wait
10 Play To Win

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#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 01:58:18
Quality is quality, and this has it by the bucketload. Another of those albums recorded way before it was released as with the excellent Under Fire & Network releases. Just be thankful that someone had the wise idea of finally releasing this one, as it has a worthy place with the others in your collection.

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