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After Hours - 1988 Take Off

ARTIST: After Hours
ALBUM: Take Off
LABEL: FM Revolver
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2010, AOR Heaven, AOR Heaven Classix 0002


LINEUP: John Francis - vocals * Tim Payne - guitars * Martin Walls - bass * Mark Addison - drums * Andy Nye - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love Attack * 02 Better Late Than Never * 03 Stay By My Side * 04 Take Off * 05 The Game * 06 Another Lonely Night * 07 Paint It Black * 08 Without You

One of the better UK melodic rock album of the late 80's came from After Hours, a band who had their origins in Southampton, hardly a city synonymous with classic AOR! Known as XS before they changed monikers, the lineup that appeared on their debut was a far cry from the bands earliest version with Francis, Payne and Walls all joining as part of the bands overhaul and subsequent name change. Moving in the same vintage direction as fellow countrymen Baby Tuckoo, Tobruk, FM and late 80's Whitesnake guaranteed success on a musical level, but not sales wise. Crucially the band managed to apply a decidedly American tinge to their sound which helped set them apart from other UK acts that usually failed to grasp simple AOR guidelines ie a memorable chorus.

The Songs
'Love Attack' sets the stage immediately with overflowing synthesizers stabbing right in the heart, the melody based on pure raunch and Francis' gutsy Coverdale vocal work which gives the impression of David Reece and Rob Armitage combined. The Baby Tuckoo comparisons are unavoidable for 'Better Late Than Never' which would have fit like a glove on Tuckoo's 'Force Majeure. The backing vocals are stunning I must admit, and this exceeds much of the best US AOR of the same period. I'm not fond of the weak ballad 'Stay By My Side', rather forced and overwrought with no standout melody lines. The title track is the opposite, with its keen sense of urgency, mainly felt in the interplay between all concerned, Francis' vocals tough as any heard in the genre, setting him aside as more than a Coverdale clone. The key track and a recommended hear for AOR purists. Another winner is 'The Game', with FM overtones in the synth department, parping like no ones business, with a hook for the ages. I hear traces of Charlie in 'Another Lonely Night', but the sound is far heavier guitar wise, which doesn't deter from this fact melodically. The cover of the Rolling Stones 'Paint It Black' is given a radical late 80's AOR update, which means abundant keyboards but essentially the same song as you would expect. The Charlie notions come back again as 'Without You' is surely an outcast from Charlie's self titled 1983 classic! Is Terry Thomas' name on this somewhere? Professionally handled, a melodic ballad which fires on all cylinders.

In Summary
Almost flawless, this is an album which deserves more recognition than it has, which is just about zero from what I can decipher. Amidst a flurry of personnel changes the band somehow forced out one more recording, 1989's self titled album which reportedly only saw life as a cassette release in Germany! A sad outcome if there ever was. For fans of UK melodic rock this is a crucial stop if you weren't aware previously of its existence. It proves the UK could outshine anyone on any given day.

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#1 | dangerzone on August 26 2015 20:00:10
I'm often surprised at the absence of comments for this British AOR classic. Some of the tracks on offer here are astounding, especially the chorus of 'Without You' and the harmonies.

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