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Caroline Blue - 2005 Slave To The Hourglass

ARTIST: Caroline Blue
ALBUM: Slave To The Hourglass
LABEL: WWJ Records
YEAR: 2005
SPONSOR: Caroline Blue


LINEUP: Wayne M Johnson - guitar, vocals * Jamie Criscione - bass * Dave Victory - drums * Mike Merrifield - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Slave To The Hourglass * 02 Mine, Mine, Mine * 03 Hard Life * 04 Queen Of Pleasure * 05 Too Late * 06 Inertia (Hidden Track) * 07 Stuffed Fun (Hidden Track)



The first thing that must be noted about this Syracuse, New York hard rock act is that none of the performers on this album were in the lineup at the time of this mini cd's release, and for that matter neither were the replacements 'Metal' J Morey (drums) and Billy Pierce (bass). The current lineup is: Johnson, Azriel Mordecai on bass and Carmen Giocondo ('Temp') behind the drum kit. Johnson is the founder and leader and the bio suggests Caroline Blue moves in the same territory as Kiss, Motley Crue and 'early' Judas Priest, which sadly cannot be taken at face value. The band has been through some desperate periods with the countless lineup changes but with this their first official release, the band is reportedly at work on their actual full length debut.

The Songs
At only seven tracks this is a brief listen, but certainly introduces the hard rock world to Caroline Blue's attempts to rediscover the magic of ye olde 80's days of yore. The tracks were written during the 1989 to 1994 timeframe which suggests Johnson has been sitting on them for an extended period. The title cut revisits the well worn theme of doing the nine to five gig and wasting your life, which Johnson probably felt like most of us as he worked at K-Mart for fifteen 'long' years. The opening riff put Gary Moore's 'Nuclear Attack' in my mind, and Johnson's Paul Stanley vocal delivery is ostensibly a tribute to one of his heroes. Reworking the dated songs a decade plus later takes away some of their original charm I'm willing to bet, and this track is an unremarkable piece of hard rock. 'Mine, Mine, Mine' treads familiar early 90's ground, lyrics concerning boulevards and much worn riffs, with not a trace of Motley Crue anywhere. 'Hard Life' sees more Stanley impersonation, plus the then obligatory lyrical theme of a young girl being eaten up by the big city and resorting to prostitution to make ends meet....'Queen Of Pleasure' is even more throwaway, an ode to a porn star, musically trying hard to be raunchy and sleazy, but simply derivative. At this point the bands capacity to cite early Judas Priest as a component of their sound is mystifying and almost laughable. Melody levels are slight, the main fault of 'Too Late' featuring Johnson's lack of harmony in his vocal work. 'Inertia' is an acoustic instrumental where the Priest comparisons are supposed to surface, but in reality this could have been made up as it went along, such is the repetitiveness of the guitar work which at four minutes seems pointless.

In Summary
With luck the album soon to follow will be a marked improvement on this set, which really doesn't set anything on fire, a mediocre display at best, with the songs too old and showing it. With age perhaps Johnson has finetuned his songwriting and incorporated more of a melodic edge to the bands sound with more of an indivualistic style other than the well worn direction of 'Slave..'. While it could be a lot worse the band shouldn't be so hasty to compare themselves to legends they resemble not one iota. Hard Rock fans of the late 80's might want to hear this, but don't expect a miracle.

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