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Blue Rain - 1996 Just The Beginning

ARTIST: Blue Rain
ALBUM: Just The Beginning
LABEL: Blue Rain
YEAR: 1996


LINEUP: Brent Millsop - vocals * J. Eric Menge - guitars * Andy Hayes - keyboards * Daniel V. Monaghan - guitars * Brian Johnson - bass * Chris Lakey - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Escape * 02 Sometimes * 03 What You Must Be Thinking * 04 Not So Far Away * 05 Don't Want To Say Goodbye * 06 You're The One * 07 Time Doesn't Fade * 08 Dreams

Recently, I came across an old 'AOR Classics' fanzine and found a review of 'Just the Beginning'. Then I checked out 'Heavy Harmonies' and was shocked by the current eBay price for this disc. The memories came flooding back since I had sent the reviewer a copy of the CD after stumbling across the band by accident 10 years ago. Blue Rain was guitarist Eric Menge and his cousin- vocalist Brent Millsop and were based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Millsop was a fixture on the Minneapolis Christian AOR scene joining Faith Nation and later, pre- The Brave (remember their debut 'Battle Cries'?) band Reign of Kings. While neither project worked out, Millsop found himself in Ottawa, Ontario Canada recording with Christian band Siloam, handling vocal duties on the bands second album 'Dying to Live' released on Ocean Records. Returning to Minneapolis for various reasons, Millsop joined up with Menge and 'Just the Beginning' was born.

The Songs
Right from the start this album screams 'where's the production?' Everyone related to Blue Rain knew the album sounded poor by 1996 standards, but really the material overrides any sound issues in the end and this is a fun listen. Both Millsop (who bore a striking resemblance to Steve Perry by the way) and Menge were big Journey fans at the time and comparisons to 'Escape' and Toto are obvious with plenty of ballads and rockers. There is not a bad track here and highlights include 'Escape' (again- Journey anyone?), 'Don't Want to Say Goodbye' and the closing power ballad 'Dreams'.

In Summary
'Just the Beginning' was pressed in 500 copies and most were given to friends and family before the AOR press of the day latched on to the album. After the disc was recorded, Millsop would re-join Faith Nation, only to be replaced (again) a few months later by The Brave vocalist- James Salter who originally replaced Millsop in Reign of Kings, recording Faith Nation's 'Ordinary People' which was released on the Minneapolis based Oarfin Records and later, Song Haus Records in the US with larger distribution and in Japan on Marquee/ Avalon with bonus tracks written by none other than Blue Rain guitarist - Eric Menge. Millsop recorded a third album with Siloam called 'Croak' which came closer to Pearl Jam and was nothing to get worked up about. Just the beginning? Unfortunately a second CD was not to be, but a nicer slice of 90's indie AOR you will not find, and its fun to see the interest in this disc all these years later. Having said this I do not have copies of the disc to sell! You are on your own locating a copy of this Minnesota AOR gem and happy hunting, but watch out for our Moose, Bear and Wolves!

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