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Brock, Terry - 2010 Diamond Blue

ARTIST: Brock, Terry
ALBUM: Diamond Blue
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2010


LINEUP: Terry Brock - vocals, guitar * Mike Slamer - guitars, bass, keyboards * Andy Bigan - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Diamond Blue * 02 It's You * 03 Jessie's Gone * 04 No More Mr Nice Guy * 05 The Rain * 06 Broken * 07 Face In The Crowd * 08 Why * 09 Too Young * 10 A Soldier Falls * 11 Face The Night


2010 has been a very busy year for one of AOR's favourite singers: Terry Brock. We've seen him involved with Giant, the reformed Strangeways, and let's not forget his second solo album 'Diamond Blue'. It's taken a break of Def Leppard and Boston like proportions, but a second album after nine years ('Back To Eden' was released in 2001) would have most fans grumpy as hell for a new release, but we should remind ourselves that Terry has made numerous appearances over the decade, so it's not as if he's been missing in action. Heavily involved in 'Diamond Blue' is guitarist/producer Mike Slamer. Without question, Slamer is one of my favourite guitarists, but upon listening to this album, I found it hard to differentiate between any of his past projects, particularly Steelhouse Lane, Slamer and Seventh Key. The lines of distinction are very fuzzy, and even though I would have hoped for some tonal differences on the album, it's as if Slamer has played through the same guitar rack and effects settings from his other projects. I know that probably isn't the case, but still, as I said, the dividing lines are very fuzzy.

The Songs
The point of difference is obviously the vocals, and if you were to focus on this solely, then that's where the real treasure lies. Leading off with the title track, 'Diamond Blue' is as crisp and clear as the songtitle implies, and even with the Def Leppard styled pre-chorus rearing its head, Brock can be forgiven, as this is a good pre-cursor of things to come. 'It's You' is not as immediate to my ears, the insistent guitar theme/motif dominating from pole position, much better is the true AOR of 'Jessie's Gone', which sees Slamer hold back the thick riffs in favour of a layered approach, and it works a treat. Coupled with Brock's sensitive vocal, this track is a winner. 'No More Mr Nice Guy' is to 'Diamond Blue' what 'Sin City' was to Seventh Key's 'The Raging Fire', fiery guitar work and similar attitude. One of the better ballads I've heard this year would be 'The Rain', it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that Brock can de-assemble a song like this and turn it inside out to suit.. 'Broken' is delivered at a slower tempo, and compares well to the material found on Slamer's 2006 album. Cranking up the tempo, but putting a big acoustic wash over it is 'Face In The Crowd', this is the sort of song that typifies Brock's solo material I feel, more so than the previous songs that have gone before. 'Why' has a stripped back sound mostly, and the song didn't do a lot for me upon my first listen, but Slamer's guitar solo probably saved it from a premature death. 'Too Young' is the anthemic rocker on the album, uptempo, melodic, and ballsy, one of the better tracks here. 'A Soldier Falls' is the second ballad, and not a touch on the previous one unfortunately. It's melancholic, and even though the sentiment is sincere, I felt empty listening to it. The album finishes with the third and final ballad 'Face The Night'. It's mostly a piano and acoustic guitar accompaniment, and sees Brock's voice in fine form, though the song itself didn't do a lot for me.

In Summary
'Diamond Blue' is a reasonable album, but is let down by a few issues. I think it would've been better for Terry to assemble a team that bought different attributes to the project. The familiarity of the Slamer/Brock duo probably needed to be dispensed with, as it will probably result in over exposure on new/forthcoming projects which may be a deterrent for some. There is still room for existing artists to try something different rather than driving the same old road. I was hoping for Terry to discover new ground with 'Diamond Blue', new styles, new approaches to making music perhaps, but it was not to be. I had to laugh reading on some forums when this album first came out.. 'album of the year', 10 out 10'.. Amazing how time (even just a few months after it's release) makes you realise that the hype is not always matched by the end product. And I guess moving on to Brock's latest involvement: Strangeways, where that last statement will ring true yet again.

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#1 | george_the_jack on October 18 2010 11:52:36
Totally agree with u George! It's a rather let down to me as well.I was expecting a lot more due to SLamer/Brock duet but this has nowhere met my expectations.A pity.One of those albums you just put it playing in the background while you are surfing the net,writing,drawing,chatting....Nothing more.
#2 | jeffrey343 on October 18 2010 16:35:57
I think this is quite good and would give it a 9. Brock sounds great, Slamer is Slamer, the songs are strong, and the production is great. It's not the best of the year, but it will end up solidly in my top ten.

However, I go agree with both Georges about several issues. Not so much the songs that didn't do much for George T, as I do like them all. But I do think this album needs a little more variety in the way it was produced. A few minor changes in several songs could have turned this from very good to excellent. Not too much variety, but just some touches like a different guitar tone, more keyboards, some minor stylistic differences here and there. I think some of these songs sound kinda like demos - well-polished demos to be sure, but missing the finishing touches.

And I would like at least one absolutely killer song on here. Although there is nothing wrong IMO with any of these tunes, the album is missing that play-over-and-over song, the one that makes you crank the radio each time it come on (OK, none of these will be on any radio near me - how about crank the iPod when it comes up in shuffle mode). The Steelhouse Lane albums had a few, the Seventh Key albums had a few, the 2006 Slamer album had one. I really like 'Jessie's Gone' and 'Too Young', but they don't leap to the very top of the heap when I think of the best songs of the year.

But I do want to reiterate that this is a very good effort. If you like the Slamer album or the Seventh Key albums, you'll like this too. I think it is better than the Giant album from earlier this year. I'll have to wait to see what I think of the new Strangeways album. This will be in my regular rotation. But to agree with GTJ's comment, this will be one I listen to more when I'm in a more semi-mellow-harder-AOR mood than when I really wanna rock.
#3 | george_the_jack on October 18 2010 22:34:32
Yep Jeff.It's not a bad effort but it isn't a cracker as well.Agree that has nothing to compare with the 2 Seventh Key releases,both Steelhouse lane albums or Slamer's Nowhere Land.Agree as well that it's slightly better than new Giant which I found it boring and eventually faded out quickly from my playlists.We're expecting a lot more from such great musicians.Aren't we?
#4 | jeffrey343 on October 19 2010 17:39:31
Well, I do think I like this better than you or George T. And I also think it compares pretty well with those other ones - not that far behind. It is most similar to "Nowhere Land", slightly more commercial. I guess I wish it was more commercial than it is - several of the songs lend themselves to a more commercial sound (ala Steelhouse Lane) than a Slamer / Seventh Key sound. But I can definitely live with this, even if it not quite as awesome as I hoped. The fact that I'm quibbling over items other than vocal pitch / weak production / inane lyrics puts this ahead of a lot of new stuff.

Speaking of those Steelhouse Lane albums, I'm surprised they haven't been reviewed here. Obviously they've been referenced in a few places. I'll admit that the 90's passed me by for the most part in this genre, but I haven't heard anything from 1992 on that I like any better than their two albums.
#5 | swazi on May 22 2012 13:53:37
For me this disc was one of my top 5 releases in 2010. Definitely a 9/10 from me as well.

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