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Articles Home » 2007 Articles » Isom - 2007 Hearts On Fire
Isom - 2007 Hearts On Fire

ALBUM: Hearts On Fire
LABEL: Retrospect Records
YEAR: 2007


LINEUP: Mark Isom - lead vocals * Joe Chiechi - guitars * Randy Isom - bass * Rick Bottari - keyboards * Eddie Driscol - drums

Guests: Bob Hatton - guitars * Richie Cerniglia - guitars * Zaul Zonnana - bass, vocals * Anthony Lamontara - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Your Eyes * 02 Heartbreak * 03 The Last Goodbye * 04 Ready To Rumble * 05 Hearts On Fire * 06 Love Affair * 07 Summertime * 08 Stay * 09 Late At Night *10 Danger Zone * 11 Hold Back

Disc 2 - DVD (Live in New York 1987) 01 Hearts On Fire * 02 Tonight * 03 Lonely * 04 Your Eyes * 05 Shame, Shame, Shame * 06 Heart Break * 07 It's You * 08 Love Affair * 09 Danger Zone


There's not a lot out there on recent Retrospect Records signing Isom. What we can tell you is that 'Hearts On Fire' is a collection of 80's based material from this New York based outfit revolving around singer Mark Isom. This outfit seems to have had similar raps on them in much the same way that L.A's Freelance did - in terms of being unsigned, and a participant in that hazy late 80's arena called the AOR Underground. In fact, there is a musical similarity, but for Isom you can tack on the likes of Aviator, House Of Lords and Treat as well. An impressive amalgam of influences - no wonder Retrospect were interested! As you can see from the line-ups above, there are two. It's uncertain whether two line-ups recorded two different sets of songs, of whether one line-up made the recordings while the other appeared live on the DVD (which comes with this 2 disc set). Perhaps someone can clarify.. You'll also notice that Aviator's Richie Cerniglia is in the line-up. Instant street credibility in my books!

The Songs
As mentioned, these tunes are sourced from the 80's - 1987 to be exact. Trainspotters may have noticed some of these tracks put up as samples on the Heavy Harmonies Forum a few months back - a taster and a teaser of things to come. Mostly, it's clean AOR, and though there are a load of guitars in the mix, it's the keyboards which sends this album over the top. Highlights for me include the sensational 'Summer Time' with its huge parping keys, the title track 'Hearts On Fire' - a track with pumping bass lines and memorable choruses. 'Love Affair' is a bright sounding track, with a sheen through it reminding me of Tyketto in places. The mid-tempo affair of 'Heart Break' is strong on atmosphere and rides on the back of another strong chorus. As you would expect from the song-title, 'Ready To Rumble' is a riff-happy affair, which is executed in the same vein as Swedish rockers Treat. Mark sounds so similar to Robert Ernlund here, you'd swear it was Robert singing. 'Late At Night' is a fantastic track arrangement wise, but it is let down by some quality issues with the sound. 'Danger Zone' moves at a slower pace, and again despite the excellence of the song structure, the sound quality suffers - obviously due to the source material used. The closer 'Hold Back' is another AOR anthem, imagine Treat doing full-on AOR in an American style rather than Swedish, and this is what it would sound like.

In Summary
It is apparent that these tracks have been bought out of the vaults from yesteryear, and mostly a good job has been done to bring them up to a 2007 standard, but know also that some tracks suffer from a quality inconsistency, particularly tracks 8 through 11 - but don't let that put you off, as these were originally demos and not on any major label release. Mark Isom is not a name that is well known in traditional AOR circles (probably with the exception of AOR trainspotters), and that is a shame. Mark has appeared elsewhere, on the 1995 Monster album 'Through The Eyes Of The World' (Long Island Records), that band also featuring ex members of Malice and Black N Blue. This 'Hearts On Fire' platter comes as a two-part disc, the first is an audio CD, the second is a DVD of a live performance back in the day. Certainly great value for money, and also great to hear a legend from the underground having his moment in the sun, even if it is twenty years later!

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#1 | jefflynnefan on December 19 2007 05:09:43
Danger Zone sounds killer!
#2 | RetrospectRecords on December 20 2007 07:32:06
Thanks for an extremely fair and balanced, not to mention ACCURATE review of this lost treasure. For the record, the band that appears on the dvd is the top line-up you have listed.
I hope many of the readers will venture over to R.R. and check out this very cool release. clapmusic
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