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Articles Home » 1995 Articles » Mara - 1995 Mara
Mara - 1995 Mara

LABEL: Long Island Records
YEAR: 1995


LINEUP: Jason Aronoff - guitars * Chris Munday - bass, backing vocals * Jim Questa - keyboards, backing vocals * Todd Farler - drums, percussion * Marty Farris - lead vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Promises Made To Be Broken * 02 Change Of Heart * 03 Once In My Lifetime * 04 Broken Dreams * 05 Sherry * 06 Heaven's Door * 07 Lights Of The City * 08 Ask Me Why

I probably never give this album as much attention as I gave 'Poetry And Motion'. One reason is that I do remember buying a clutch of Long Island Records releases through the post, all with the back inserts missing (all competing for air time), so in some respect playing this now is like discovering the album for the very first time (nearly broke out in Lou Gramm style there for a minute) and how many of us can say we still have albums in our respected collections unplayed! The logo on the album seems to have been influenced by a heart monitor line and if you look closely instead of just being a plain blue cover there lies an impression of a Greek God submerged (I'll spare you any Euro jokes here.. being an accountant, I would say they are not 'material' to the review). Maybe one of the more thought out Long Island covers, remember Stonewall Weekend? Not knocking LIR, lots of respect to them, especially with the classic Gold selection they released. Just 8 tracks on offer and this was made available to the public on the back of 'Poetry & Motion' issued previously. Originally a cassette demo only, titled 'Breaking The Silence', the CD version has a couple of extra tracks, but again the shortness is nothing to complain about when they are of this quality.

The Songs
It is chocks away with 'Promises Made To Be Broken', helicopter hovering overhead and flying into swirling keyboards straight away, impressive. Coming across as a diet version of Tour De Force and Icon, this is a perfect pomp tune and that's forgetting the near AOR perfection of the song title. Marty Farris provides a graceful delivery, slightly high pitched and collides in a melodic chemical combustion with the keyboard strain.

'Change Of Heart' opens with the distinct impression of Geoff Tate and sorry to be predictable, but Shotgun Symphony slips into the picture again. Just imagine if Mara and these boys toured together, what a double header, I'm already signed up for wanting Mara to reform.

'Once In A Lifetime', again another title which feels like the guys have swallowed the AOR dictionary of song titles, just as well as this is more dreamy, a relaxed persona, manicured verses echoing of Roadmaster and Trillion, before a rush of adrenalin has them settling into a westcoast groove. Yes Steely Dan style, with a touch of prog.. dearie me, I'm amazed that it works!

'Broken Dreams' has a cathedral staged opening which then mellows to more pastoral passages. A structured chorus harping back to the good times of Joshua, Prophet and early Message. Just another beauty of a track, as fresh as the smell of newly cut grass, or a summer rain shower.

'Sherry' has that familiar Mara opening with chugging guitars, clear parping keyboards last seen on any Alien or Bad Habit album. Farris really cuts it vocally, he manages to seize the feeling and the technical ability to sing and harmonize rather than just 'talking' the lyrics.

So instead of blasting open 'Heaven's Door' they quietly prise it open with a westcoast ballad, surely not, but yes it is a ballad plus saxophone! And they succeed. Pleasant mutterings, maybe safe but an interesting angle by using the saxophone, I suppose if it is good enough for Foreigner, why not, but Mara use it in a more seductive pose rather than a blaring statement of intent.

Pomp hedonism with the frankly excellent 'Lights Of The City', that opening dut dut keyboard momently has you thinking of Michael Bolton opening from any of his perfect first and second albums under that chosen moniker, where is my white jump suit, this is manna from heaven. Incredible tune which hits the sweet spot so many times, this stuff is the greenbelt countryside of pomp and therefore should be protected.

The keyboard frenzy carries on to the last track being 'Ask Me Why' but it is Aronoff playing the part of the main culprit of showing amazing musical talent, he stamps his authority with some mean riffing and clinical soloing. When such a fuss is made of the likes of Melidian which although I like, did lack somewhat in the vocal department, even with my rose tinted glasses, I feel that Mara had it all, great songs, great vocals and an impressionable keyboard sound.

In Summary
In their time they actually played with the likes of Survivor, Shooting Star, RTZ, Foreigner and even Marillion, as part of their 'Clutching At Straws' tour. What stopped them getting that major break, I don't know but maybe due to being around at a time that the music world seemed to undergone austerity measures of melodic rock, is the probable cause. Hat's off to Jason Aronoff for allowing Jim Questa and his keyboards such a raised platform to perform and take the album really by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. Over the course of writing articles these two albums I would acknowledge the help of Jim Questa with much if not all the background information. To finish with, if you throw any melodic rock album up into the heavens maybe 3 or 4 good songs would fall down like stars, with these two a meteor shower falls down from the nights sky. Excellent.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 19 2011 00:32:18
In Chris's summary, he talks about 'these two albums'. The other is 'Poetry And Motion', which is nearly complete for a review article. Will be posted asap.
#2 | gdazegod on November 19 2011 00:33:45
Yes, the cover is quite clever. You have to look at it from a distance to see the submerged figure lying on a diagonal angle.
#3 | gdazegod on November 20 2011 02:52:42
Khalil Turk was a huge fan of this band, hence why he went out of his way to release this on his then record label Long Island.
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