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Articles Home » 2005 Articles » 8084 - 2005 The Last Great Train
8084 - 2005 The Last Great Train

ARTIST: 8084
ALBUM: The Last Great Train
YEAR: 2005


LINEUP: Randy Smith - vocals, guitars * Andre Maquera - guitars * Gary Spaulding - drums * Roy Brown - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Breath * 02 Alright * 03 The Last Great Train * 04 Shopping List * 05 Sometimes * 06 Without U * 07 Home * 08 Come 2 Me * 09 I Know * 10 When I Think Of You * 11 All That I Need * 12 Guitsophrenic * 13 Thank You



This long standing US AOR act have miraculously been intact since the early 80's having featured here at Glory Daze previously in an interview with Randy Smith in 2003 by our own Richard Baldwyn (see below 'Related Articles'), which is a fine introduction to the band and their lengthy history. That interview saw the band in the recording stages for this album, which by all accounts seems to have been a labour of love, with six years passing between studio releases. In those intervening years the band has drastically altered their sound, leaving behind AOR and moving towards the modern rock favoured by contemporary acts like Train, Matchbox 20 and the Goo Goo Dolls, that Smith mentioned in his interview three years ago. Incidentally, all these bands sprang to mind before I had the chance to read the interview. This updated approach might not please AOR traditionalists, but as the band is eager to point out, they've matured and in doing so have softened their sound to rather alarming corporate rock standards. This album also marks the debut of bassist Brown.

The Songs
Smith admitted the sound would be different for 'Last Great Train' and he stuck true to that statement. Out go soaring melodies. Out go the keyboards. Out goes the AOR melody. In are melancholic vocals and lyrics. In are pop influenced jangly guitar riffs. 'Breath' sets the tone immediately with all these features. The guitar work lacks raw bite and although melodic to a degree the result feels perhaps forced. 'Alright' is pure pop, the type of easy going fare that seems to permeate current US radio, and I can't help but make comparisons to Train and Bon Jovi at their lightest. The electronic effects of 'Shopping List' are a radical u-turn as are the vocals which have a snotty Green Day delivery. 'Somtimes' is the closest to the spirit of old, intricate harmonies and heavier guitar work on occasion, the most listenable track on offer. 'I Know' flirts with distorted riffing, giving it a hint of melodic worth but the acoustic ballad 'When I Think Of You' would be pure 80's if not for the modern stylings that keep it from classic territory. Elsewhere 'All That I Need' continues the inoffensive and formatted 'new' direction, which contains none of the imagination of AOR, instead bland melodies and faceless structures. 'Guitsophrenic' is an instrumental that toys with a fusion tangent or two, and easily the best guitar work of the CD. Album ender 'Thank You' once again sums up 8084's new portfolio, pop rock for the current rock scene, with little sting, music for unadventurous souls, the same people who no doubt savour U2!

In Summary
For those who relish this genre this might be a compulsory listen. Those who came to admire 8084 for their AOR output will instead have their guts turned inside out. The band still describes themselves as AOR in their bio, but who are they fooling? I often wonder how bands can change to this extreme degree, even if six years passed between new music. It might be the sound of commercial radio in today's environment, but that doesn't mean it's good does it? And while brief flashes of 8084's past are on show, they aren't obvious and pure enough to warrant AOR fans to bother here. It's for a different audience, a mainstream one that wouldn't dare venture outside their safe confines. If that's who 8084 are hoping to attract I wish them success. I'll just wait for the return to normalcy.

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