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Roadmaster - 1980 Fortress



ARTIST: Roadmaster
ALBUM: Fortress
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: SRM-1-3814
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2012, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY149
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Stephan MacNally - vocals * Rick Benick - guitars * Toby Myers - bass * Michael Read - keyboards * Bobby Johns - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ride The Wind Away * 02 I Didn't Notice * 03 You Make Me Feel Alright * 04 Too Long, Too Long * 05 New York New York * 06 Someday * 07 Satisfied Woman * 08 Anothers Ones Running * 09 Stay With Me Through The Night


Background
Every AOR fanatic comes to the realisation that there's far more to the classic late seventies/early eighties era than the handful of household names we all know (Boston, Toto etc). On your search for the less famous but equally brilliant AOR heroes, you'll discover some outstanding bands, but your eventual destination, along with Hobbit, is Roadmaster. The album we're concerning ourselves with here is their fourth album 'Fortress', the last of their initial career. For this record they shed some of the involved pomp tendencies of previous albums, and concentrated on the kind of crisp and melodic AOR that would provide the soundtrack for the eighties.


The Songs
'Ride The Wind Away' is brimming with class and momentum, with a melody that's so simple and fluid it's no wonder this one was a concert favourite. 'I Didn't Notice' rocks slightly harder without losing anything in the melody department, while 'You Make Me Feel Alright' is a lesson on how to really nail a harmonised power ballad chorus. 'Too Long Too Long' swings into Aerosmith territory and reveals to us what they could have sounded like with more talent and less drugs. 'New York New York' (no, not the Sinatra one!) is built on a hook somewhat like Kiss at their catchiest, with yet another flowing and emotionally charged chorus. 'Someday' is up next, and if a more perfect AOR anthem exists, I haven't heard it yet. From the opening flourish of keys right through to those otherworldly layered vocals in the closing chorus, you're exposed to a catalogue of what eighties AOR was going to sound like when other bands caught up. 'Satisfied Woman' is on the frenetic side with surprisingly little melody on offer, but 'Another One's Running' immediately soothes any ruffled feathers through majestic use of melody, and the kind of post chorus bridge usually reserved for AOR dreams. 'Stay With Me Through The Night' is almost as good, and would have been a standout track on most other albums in 1980 - clearly a worthy closing track. Special mention must be made of the incredible lead vocals courtesy of the much missed Stephan MacNally, not only on this album but throughout Roadmaster's career.


In Summary
This record should have been multi platinum, but various factors prevented that, not least of which was the incredibly bland album cover - even the classic Roadmaster logo fell by the wayside. Still, that shouldn't stop any of us from rushing out to buy it when it's eventually released on CD. Come to think of it, all four should be on the shopping list - for heaven's sake, will some reissue company with vision please get into gear and release these already'? It's about time Indiana's finest got their due.


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Comments
#1 | rostoned on April 10 2008 17:53:26
bought a 2nd hand vinyl copy of this today in a tiny hard rock/metal/aor store here in Milan (5 euro) on the strength of this review only, since everywhere else it's always dismissed as a bad one....lebrad if this ain't good am gonna kill ya! pissed
#2 | gdazegod on April 10 2008 20:27:22
It's more radio rock oriented than pomp/AOR.
#3 | reyno-roxx on April 11 2008 17:09:14
I always thought the production let it down (should've gone with a proper producer rather than a couple of comedians) but it's still light years away from most of the stuff released in the name of melodic rock in the 21st Century!
#4 | Eric on April 11 2008 17:23:22
Flo & Eddie were also part of The Turtles- one of the better pop bands of the 1960's ('Happy Together') although I ditto your feelings on the production for the album- not the best sound.
#5 | sabace on July 29 2008 15:44:45
I love this band, but can't decide which is my fave lp, they
are all great . Love Stephens's vocals! R.I.P
#6 | gdazegod on March 17 2012 10:18:44
Now out on CD. Thank you Derek!
#7 | tompa on October 12 2013 16:46:18
Yes, the production is not worthy of a band with pomprock leanings. But even so you can't keep a good song down and 'Fortress' has many of those.
#8 | super80boy on November 03 2013 15:46:17
This was the second of their albums I've acquired on vinyl. Killer late 70's/early 80's AOR sounds emanate. Not a bad song on the album, although 'Satisfied Woman' does switch things up considerably after the stellar 'Someday'. At least they throw in some variety.
#9 | reyno-roxx on December 29 2015 21:06:49
When I was putting the liner notes together I was briefly in contact with Flo and Eddie, but they declined to be interviewed because the band members had also declined or just not responded for requests to be interviewed. Thank God for Smash for the background and George for permission to use his Toby Myers quotes.
#10 | gdazegod on December 29 2015 21:33:17
Need to go back and given this another listen.
#11 | richardb on January 01 2016 20:46:33
My favourite Roadmaster album, even though there's less pomp and more straight ahead AOR than on 'Sweet music' and 'Hey world'. Every track's a winner, though ditto the comments about the production...
 
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