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Articles Home » 2009 Articles » Top Johnny - 2009 Top Johnny
Top Johnny - 2009 Top Johnny

ARTIST: Top Johnny
ALBUM: Top Johnny
LABEL: Starbrite Productions
SERIAL: CD 111108
YEAR: 2009
SPONSOR: Gabor @ Starbrite Productions


LINEUP: T.J Star - vocals, guitars, synths, drums * Izzy Slater - lead guitar, backing vocals * Karo - bass, backing vocals * Hitman - drums, vocals, guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Bad Boy (For Loving You) * 02 Bustin' Loose * 03 Your Love Is Killing Me * 04 Keep It Real * 05 Out Of Control * 06 Love You Like An Animal * 07 The Edge (Is Where The Action Is) * 08 Feel So Alive * 09 My X-Tasy * 10 This Time * 11 We Are Live * 12 Ready 4 U



It's not often we venture over to the French Canadian capital of the world - Montreal, for a geek at a hard rock band. Sure, this town might be the home of Aldo Nova, Frank Marino, Lara Fabian and a few other hitherto minor lights and unknowns. Now we can chuck in the name Top Johnny. 'Top who'? I hear you ask? Well I was gonna say the same, but after having this CD in my hot little hands over the last two weeks I can proudly proclaim that I am 'all the wiser'. This band have been making waves on both sides of the St Lawrence, and it won't be too long before they cause a stir in the Great Lakes area and beyond, and possibly over the Transatlantic if European audiences know what's good for them! This quartet, featuring three men and a female bassist are steeped in the hair metal groove with a few ounces of sweet melody to sugar up the cause. Not enough to go diabetic on, as there are too many traces of ferrite and iron ore in the mix to keep things steely hard. And with that in mind, you can cast your mind back to mid 80's Motley Crue, a dash of Saints And Sinners (yep, Rick Hughes would be pleased with the plug), plus a bit of Extreme and a nod to the current day hard rock of Infernophonic. The band know how to mix up rock and modern funk to make it interesting. This is in fact, the band's second audio outing, with 'Kick It', a 7 track affair from 2005 preceding this CD.

The Songs
Let's seek out the keepers on this album.. For starters, the edgy hard rock of 'Feels So Alive' has a commercial slant which is not a true representation of Top Johnny, as they rock harder than this. A better indication of their intent can be heard on 'Out Of Control', a darker stab at rock delivered with a few hints of melody by way of background synths. You can add 'My X-Tasy' with its big guitars galloping across the speakers! 'This Time' melds blistering rock with a sort of white mans rap. The concept might sound a bit dodgy, but IMO, it works a treat. The same goes for 'We Are Live'. Surely its origins go back to the 80's. The chugging guitar lines, street wise lyrics and attitude indicate this band have a point of difference. 'Keep It Real' is a thematic mix of 70's disco and hard rock. Could it be Paul Sabu in disguise? Hmm.. it could be, the sound is definitely varied, but not wimp-out. Loads of tough sounding guitar with Karo doing her best funky bass lines.

In Summary
Certainly Top Johnny have the means to rock out in a big way, and their live performances are probably where they operate at their best. I don't think they have translated their live potential or energy into the studio, and I feel the CD has turned out far too homogenized for their liking. The band straddle different styles with ease, and have this penchant for playing funky styles in a crossover way, but they don't have a definitive identity that a listener can lock onto immediately and say 'oh, I know those guys.. that's Top Johnny!'. Musically though, the personnel here are very talented, and I was quite taken with their playing ability and chops. In the meantime, the band have their basic building blocks in place, it's just a case of putting them together to build the complete package. Kudos to the band's management for the excellent PR pack - the best I've seen in a long long time. Well done Gabor!

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