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Hunter - 2009 L.A Crossfire

ARTIST: Hunter (USA)
ALBUM: L.A Crossfire
LABEL: Retrospect Records
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Stephen Hunter - vocals * Michael Taris - guitars * Dave Acaisha - bass, backing vocals * Brook Hansen - keyboards * Vinnie Silver - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Never Surrender * 02 L.A. Crossfire * 03 What Comes Around Goes Around * 04 One More Night On The Road * 05 Break Down The Walls * 06 Long Nights * 07 The Last Gunslinger * 08 Now That I Found You * 09 Where Do We Go From Here * 10 Hang On * 11 Don't Put Out The Fire * 12 Long Nights (original version) * 13 Hunters In The Night (Live)



I dunno how Retrospect Records finds these yesteryear gems.. How many more items like these are sitting in someone's studio or tape collection? Not to say that this Los Angeles band Hunter were complete unknowns, because the band members did have reasonable profiles and contacts in the HM industry at the time, particularly the founder of the band Brook Hansen and original lead guitarist Bart Walsh, plus original lead singer - the late Clyde Holly, who is well known to us through his deeds with the band Biloxi. It would take an enormous amount of paper to write about the history of this band and their comings and goings, so to suffice tearing down the Amazon rainforest, I'll leave that task up to you - the reader, by using your trusty Google Search tool. What is known is that the band recruited Bobby Kimball from Toto to assist with producing a whole bunch of tracks, which remained unreleased until 2009, and put together as part of this collection called 'L.A Crossfire'. Keyboard laced AOR is the name of the game here, with Giuffria and House Of Lords probably the closest comparisons that can be made. Hunter also feature huge vocal harmonies, and the final result could've been spectacular if not for the overall retrograde production which knocks this back a bit - understandably so considering the origins of the source material.

The Songs
Quite a few tracks to select from here - thirteen in total. The musicianship is of the highest order, Michael Taris (who was a student of Bart Walsh) plays in a similar style to Kee Marchello, which means loads of flash and tight playing. The keyboards are simply great, and if you like players such as Gregg Giuffria, Roger Scott Craig, Charlie Calv (Shotgun Symphony) and Lewis Sego (Faith Nation), then Brook Hansen is in the same league. You do have to give the songs a real good listen, and try not to imagine that these are contemporary 2009 songs, because they were recorded back in the mid 80's. 'Never Surrender' is a great opener, big choruses, very AOR. 'What Comes Around Goes Around' also has many layered parts which reminds me heavily of Minnesota's finest Faith Nation at their best. The ballad 'One More Night On The Road' didn't set my candle alight, moving onto 'Break Down The Walls', Stephen Hunter sounds as if he's been taking vocal lessons from Kimball, his rough-edge voice is full of power and gruffness, matching the music. A much smoother version of AOR is presented on 'Long Nights' with the familiar vocal of the much missed Clyde Holly shining through. I had to fast-forward through the labored 'The Last Gunslinger' which I didn't enjoy, thankfully the ballad 'Now That I Found You' is much better - though it could be any number of L.A bands aching for a hit during the hair metal 80's. Check out the full parping keyboards on 'Hang On', Brook Hansen's fingers must be bloody sore after playing that intro, the rest of the song is pretty good too.. Gregg Giuffria should receive royalties for this! haha! There are some huge vocals on 'Don't Put Out The Fire', one of the better tracks on the album, again with Clyde Holly doing the honors. The band include the original version of 'Long Nights', I think I prefer this version actually, because it's far rockier and edgier, without the edges smoothed off it. For something a little different, Hunter present a live track called 'Hunters In The Night', which though raw and live, has some great ideas, coming off like a rip-snorting version of Toto during their 'Isolation' era, though the guitar solo is very metal oriented.

In Summary
Retrospect Records should be commended for putting this out, so too should Brook Hansen who by all accounts was the main instigator from the Hunter side of the fence. A couple of songs don't quite hit the mark, but overall, Hunter had some great songs which deserved to be heard, and even though it's been nearly 25 years in the making, you really can't deny them the opportunity of having them heard at long last.

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