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Articles Home » 1989 Articles » White Heart - 1989 Freedom
 
White Heart - 1989 Freedom



ARTIST: White Heart
ALBUM: Freedom
LABEL: Sparrow
SERIAL: SPD 1194
YEAR: 1989

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Rick Florian - vocals * Billy Smiley, Gordon Kennedy - guitars * Mark Gersmehl - keyboards * Tommy Sims - bass * Chris McHugh - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Bye Bye Babylon * 02 Sing Your Freedom * 03 Let The Kingdom Come * 04 Over Me * 05 Eighth Wonder * 06 Power Tools * 07 Invitation * 08 The River Will Flow * 09 Set The Bridge On Fire * 10 Let It Go * 11 I'll Meet You There

WEBLINKS: www.whiteheart.com


Background
'Freedom' was my first introduction to this group, I remember buying this one evening in Torquay on a holiday. Although this was followed by the near perfect 'Tales Of Wonder' and 'Highlands' while 'Powerhouse' gets a highly recommended mention, 'Freedom', released in 1989 still remains my favourite output from the group. I would still recommend this album to be a great starting point to listen to white drenched songs of melodic supremacy. Side 1 is the complete AOR dream selection, while Side 2 never gets close, it still contains some fine songs. I feel my concentration on the first 5 songs is due to me only having this on vinyl, and like many albums I am guilty of not playing the second side as often as the first. Confession over.


The Songs
'Bye Bye Babylon' is a first driven AOR melodic number which provides a prophecy of what can be found on this album. White Heart are individually great musicians and when they play in unison they become one of the most underrated AOR groups. They cut through, what can be the lyrical nightmare that many Christian groups get tied up in knots with. The opening 'Sing Your Freedom' we find vocalist Rick Florian in the same league of Mark/Marcie Free, he has such a golden melodic voice. This tune is a real fist pumping, adrenalin fuelled, melodic anthem cut with a mystic instrumental and sub parts that complete a joyous end, it even manages to finish with a U2 guitar riff and an attempt of a Bono vocal, stemming from the 'Joshua Tree' era. This really shows that White Heart were never just a normal run of the mill band, although more recent releases took then into more murky waters. 'Let The Kingdom Come' is majestic, it begins in a very subdued way, with a real classic Genesis feel to it, then just builds as the first time the keyboards hit the right note and forms into a piece of music rather than the normal verse-chorus-verse format. It reaches early Rainbow proportions. 'Over Me' is my all time favourite White Heart song, and could well be in my best ever top 5 tunes. It begins in the same field of Mr Mister, John Farnham and Southern Sons. Not as bombastic as previous tunes but refined, elegant, the verse and chorus are so delicate even timid. When you think they couldn't get any more wimpy they can, this is shown by the delicious 'Eighth Wonder', calling on Allies and Sweet Comfort Band in similarities. Rick Florian performance is so sharp, it could peel the skin off an apple with no breaks. His voice contains power, feeling and more importantly and so rare, emotion.

So, we move onto the unappreciated side 2, the other child, the Prince Edmund to the Prince Harry, (you'll understand if you have ever watched the first series of Black Adder), the Manchester City to the Manchester United. 'Power Tools' is quite an interesting track, actually more of a rock song with clever phasing, timings and contains bags of variety a little reminiscent of Triumph, the playing is excellent. 'Invitation' begins with a Christian version of Winger, especially with those power chords overlaid with dusky vocals and lyrics provided in a stop-start fashion. Of all the Christian bands I have heard, I always felt White Heart were the most professional and if any of them were going to make the jump to the mainstream (although what one persons' mainstream may be another persons' obscure CD) I would had expected White Heart to be the one. 'The River Will Follow' has some more U2 jangling guitars and has Mark Gersmehl providing the vocals, they have a more 'earthy' feel, like a softer Michael Stanley, the song itself is a more sedate and similar to Steven Curtis Chapman, who also appears on the album. It does however have the tendency to out stay its welcome. 'Let It Go' is next and we are back on track, with Rick back in the driving seat. A very much more upbeat track and has the returning Mr Mister influence especially with the synths appearing later in the song. 'I'll Meet You There' is the first bonafide ballad which has a passing resemblance to Richard Marx.


In Summary
When we discuss classic AOR I do think that White Heart don't get the true recognition they deserve. When was the last time a White Heart track was played on melodic rock radio station or one of their albums mentioned in a listeners play list. I don't come out of it smelling of roses either, I purchased 1995's 'Inside' and my love affair ended, even losing touch and not even realizing that this was followed up in 1997 with 'Redemption'. I feel it's time I got acquainted again and hope you do too.


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Comments
#1 | rkbluez on December 11 2008 11:37:41
Whiteheart...great band...to me they were like a Christian version of Toto...they had the chops and songs and released some of my favorite heavy AOR albums in the 80's to early 90's.

My favorite CD by them would have to be Power House because of it's harder edge and massive tracks like the title track that rock as hard as anything melodic back then with killer guitar solo's that wouldn't be out of place on any of the classic albums back then.

The best CD's by Whiteheart to pick up IMO are Freedom, Power House, Tales Of Wonder and Highlands all heavy AOR masterpieces of the highest order...if you like Toto then chances are you'll love Whiteheart.
 
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