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Mecca - 2002 Mecca



ARTIST: Mecca
ALBUM: Mecca
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 110
YEAR: 2002

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Joe Vana, Fergie Fredericksen - vocals * Mike Aquino - guitars * David Hungate - bass * Jimmy Nichols - keyboards * Shannon Forrest - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Velocitized * 02 Without You * 03 Can't Stop Love * 04 Silence Of The Heart * 05 You Still Shock Me * 06 Mecca * 07 Wishing Well * 08 Close That Gap * 09 Blinded By Emotion * 10 Falling Down


Background
Well now, here's a collective of AOR luminaries to get the purists hot under the collar. Among others, we have the stellar vocal talents of Fergie Fredericksen (Trillion, Le Roux, Toto), bass work from David Hungate (Toto) and songwriting via Jim Peterik (Survivor). This project has been in the works for a long while and expectations are high as the release date (22/04/02) approaches. Is all the excitement justified?


The Songs
'Velocitized' gets us underway with a raunchy riffing outburst, continuing into the strongest Fergie vocal since his 1984 Toto album 'Isolation'. A rabble rousing anthemic chorus delivers the knockout punch. Next up is 'Without You', and the problem with this album immediately becomes apparent.. here we find Joe Vana on lead vocals, in fact he sings all the even numbered tracks while Fergie handles all the odd numbers. While Joe's voice is pleasant enough, it's just nowhere near the crisp intensity of Fergie's delivery. The song is a stop start affair with stabbing guitar and a smooth chorus, not too bad. 'Can't Stop Love' flies in on a breeze of acoustic guitar, developing into a workmanlike power ballad with Joe and Fergie trading lead vocals, not such a good idea because the different between them is cruelly exposed here. Despite this, the track builds well into a big AOR chorus and, in the words of our GDAZE Editor, 'only just gets a pass mark'. 'Silence Of The Heart' had me wondering if the Hothouse Flowers had invaded the CD player although an inherent smoothness comes across to make up for the insipid vocals. 'You Still Shock Me' is much better, a busy shuffle beat like Jeff Porcaro at his best, with provocative verse vocals and urgent clarity in the chorus from Fergie. The title track 'Mecca' is up next, rumbling into life courtesy of a polyrhythm beat identical to Toto's 'I Will Remember', helped out by a slightly better vocal from Joe. 'Wishing Well' sounds like 'Hydra' era Toto but with Fergie on vocals, great to hear guitar and piano weaving around a slowish power ballad by numbers, not terrible but fairly limp and weak on the vocal side. 'Blinded By Emotion' harkens back to the more powerful side of early 80's West Coast, good structure and chord progressions, with Fergie's vocals right up front and a good thing too, since it's his last appearance on the album. 'Falling Down' closes precedings in catchy midtempo fashion, sporting a strong enough hook and some 'adequate' vocals.


In Summary
This is by no means a bad album, so a fair amount of excitement and anticipation is justified, but consider this: It's come to light that Fergie had to pull out of some live shows with Mecca due to other commitments. Hopefully this implies work being done on the next Le Roux disc (as per our recent interview with Leon Medica Jnr).. now that would make my year.


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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on February 23 2010 15:51:41
Thanks to englandashes for finding an old printed version of this review from 2002. Originally I did remove it from our database but after 8 years in the wilderness, it's time to be reinstated. I've snuck it back in as if were 2002 all over again, and given it a hypothetical read count, thinking that might be about how many people would've read it - if it had been online! lol! violin
#2 | jeffrey343 on February 24 2010 14:55:29
I think this is a pretty decent album - definitely a forerunner to Pride Of Lions. It kept popping up on a 'recommended' list on Amazon for me, so I eventually got it. Folks were comparing it to the usual suspects (Survivor, Foreigner, Journey). It's not in that league, but it's a pleasant-enough listen. I don't have any issues with Joe's vocals; I think both he and Fergie sound fine.
 
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