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Articles Home » 1989 Articles » Roq Royale - 1989 Roq Royale
Roq Royale - 1989 Roq Royale

ARTIST: Roq Royale
ALBUM: Unreleased
LABEL: Unreleased
YEAR: 1989


LINEUP: Nathan Shaffer - vocals * Mike Prince - keyboards * Billy Cannon - guitars * Jean Paul Tantet - bass * John Merritt - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Never Felt Like This * 02 Nuthin' Last Forever * 03 Walkaway * 04 Too Young To Die * 05 60's Kid * 06 Find It Out The Hard Way * 07 The Children Will Dance * 08 All Alone In Hollywood * 09 If I Were King

There a few albums that remain unreleased, but have a sort of 'legend of the underground' status attached to it. Gravedanger and Black Bambi are two bands that spring to mind - add Roq Royale to the list. Just about everything about this band is a tad mysterious. What is known, is that the band was the combination of two key members: Nathan Shaffer, previously with Chicago based pop rockers Gambler (remember their two albums 'Teenage Magic' and 'Love And Other Crimes') and Mike Prince, the keyboardist from hard rock legends Legs Diamond. It is my understanding that the band were formed in Los Angeles during the 1987/88 period, after Prince had departed the Mark II version of Legs Diamond. The band were also made up of other musicians in the L.A area. Of course, what is interesting with Roq Royale is that they were signed by Atlantic Records, and stitched up with producer Roy Thomas Baker. For whatever reason, the album was recorded and presented to the label, though it seems Doug Morris at Atlantic was not happy with some parts of the recording, and despite some attempted remixes (by Arif Mardin no less) to satisfy the label, they passed on it, being shunted off to Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records instead, who still left the recordings on the shelf - indefinitely. Not surprisingly, personnel departures then caused the fracturing of the band. Some twenty years later we get to hear these tracks, and to my ears it sounds like a mix of Legs Diamond (obviously) and Autograph. Shaffer's vocals sound similar to former Uriah Heep vocalist Pete Goalby. I'm not sure at what stage these tracks are, because in some places they sound very professional, while on other songs they sound like rough demos.

The Songs
The lead off track 'Too Young To Die' is a great intro, full of keyboards and strident guitars, reminding me of Autograph in places, the chorus in particular has a few shout-outs, while the bridge has a very symphonic feel to it. '60's Kid' is kinda nostalgic in places, not too dissimilar to early Shooting Star's material. Back to Autograph land we go with 'Never Felt Like This', the guitar/keyboard interplay chucking a few pointers out to Steve Lynch and Steve Isham. 'Walk Away' you'll recall comes from Legs Diamond 'Out On Bail' era, this version is comparable, with big sounding guitars and excellent harmony vocals. 'Nuthin' Lasts Forever' is a punchy effort, pointing to a band like Under Fire (the band featuring Cary Sharaf and Jimmy Waldo). The ballad 'Alone In Hollywood' tries hard to be melodramatic, but it's all over the place musically. We get symphonic passages, saxophone bursts, powerful vocals from Shaffer, but no guitars! What's up there? 'The Children Will Dance' returns to their streamlined format of melodic rock but it's on another Legs Diamond cover 'Find It Out The Hard Way' where they strike a rich vein of form. They continue on with the powerful 'If i Were King', where guitarist Billy Cannon fires off a few salvos (every pun intended!). The band also recorded a track called 'Tempted', which is a cover by the British band Squeeze, but was not on the tracks I had available.

In Summary
Roq Royale certainly could pen a decent tune or two, it's a shame that this didn't come out officially, but who knows, it may have died a death at the box office, as 1989 was a rather congested year for melodic hard rock releases. I guess we'll never know. In the 'where are they now' stakes.. Nathan Shaffer has a new project due out shortly called The Resurrection. He is currently in Europe, the new album scheduled for a summer release. Mike Prince as far as I know is still in the mix with Legs Diamond. John Merritt currently drums for L.A based gothic hard rockers Dame Fortune, Billy Cannon is playing in a family band Loose Cannons and was also playing in local Encino based rockers The Kim Dart Band while Jean Paul Tantet (not Tante, as has been recorded on other websites) who I have been in touch with since this review was posted, is alive and well living and working out of Ventura County L.A. Roq Royale are a legend of the underground. Let's hope we've put a few mysteries to bed with this review, and we look forward to see what Mr Shaffer can offer up with The Resurrection. Watch this space!

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#1 | jmrush on May 01 2009 15:15:50
Is there a way to get a copy of this?
#2 | KelvHellrazer on May 04 2009 17:01:45
George Derek Oliver should relese this, theres a Gambler song on here as well
#3 | gdazegod on May 05 2009 00:46:28
Kelv, I doubt that he will..
#4 | Jez on July 25 2012 20:28:32
Out now on the AOR Classix label and a good little album it is too, although the Squeeze 'Tempted' cover is awful.
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