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Dark Horse - 1981 Dark Horse

ARTIST: Dark Horse
ALBUM: Dark Horse
LABEL: Madhatter
YEAR: 1981


LINEUP: Jerry Confer - lead and backing vocals, guitars * Scott Johnson - lead and backing vocals, harmony and backing guitars * Al Larnder - keyboards, guitars, backing vocals * Bruce Ervay - bass * John McGuire - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 I Can't Believe It * 02 Waiting On You * 03 The Heat * 04 You Said Goodbye * 05 Late For My Life * 06 Take My Hand * 07 The Sailor Song

Dark Horse were an American band, who originated from the Buffalo area of New York - so I believe. Releasing a one off independent LP back in 1981, the band are into a late 70's style of pomp rock. Think bands such as Bluebeard, The Biz and early Axe. They do occasionally go off on alternative tangents throughout, but things always keep gravitating back to the pomp sound courtesy of some fancy keyboards and hot guitars. The original LP was packaged with a thick cardboard sleeve, which probably means that it could've been sent through the US Postal Service 'as is'!

The Songs
There's only seven tracks here, clocking in at just on a half an hour. 'I Can't Believe It' strangely enough starts out as a power pop/new wave track, but things get real interesting by the time we reach the bridge/solo sections. There is a load of keyboard and the guitar solo is simply sensational! 'Waiting On You' opens up with some heartily AOR approved wurlitzer keys, the mid section and verses all smell heavily of early 80's AOR, and again the keyboard work from Al Larnder is OTT pomp! 'The Heat' has a jangly 70's sound, it's got every sub-genre of rock covered within its 3.50 minute time frame I reckon. Harmony vocals abound on 'You Said Goodbye', and despite its near pop disposition, again the fanciful keys and racy guitars bring it all back to pomp territory. Some coarse guitarwork prevails on 'Late For My Life', and mostly, this is perhaps Dark Horse's heaviest moment. The guitar work from Confer and Johnson is fantastic! However things really get super interesting with the incredible pomp of 'Take My Hand', complete with organs (a la Boston), synths and pumping bass. This track is worth the price of admission alone! The finale 'Sailors Song' is a slower paced track, with great intensity, with that lovely organ sound provided by Al Larnder and some killer guitar work yet again.

In Summary
This album was reviewed in Issue 9 of AOR Classics, but the reviewer Barrie Kirtley only gave it a lukewarm reception. Dark Horse deserve far more than this though, and even if it's only a one-off seven track effort, it's well worth the hunt in tracking down, if only to hear the magnificent 'Take My Hand'. Woah!

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#1 | stranger on January 04 2010 19:56:41
As a frequent but silent reader of GD I hope it's not too bold of me to ask if a link to the tracks of this album can be made available?
#2 | gdazegod on January 07 2010 00:11:18
Members only..

#3 | super80boy on April 08 2014 21:18:14
This is an exceedingly rare private pressing and always commands big money in the dealer and online marketplace. It's a fantastic album for such a limited independent offering and there's a reason why it commands $$$. These guys had heaps of talent and probably put on a great live show. The reviewer and review are spot on, this album is well worth tracking down for pomp collectors.
#4 | richardb on April 15 2014 20:28:08
Good to see this one covered here. A minor pomp classic indeed - the rather stark album cover giving no clue as to what aural delights lurk within it's grooves.

Your review prompted me to dig out my dusty vinyl copy and give it an airing George..


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