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Parr, John - 2012 The Mission

ARTIST: Parr, John
ALBUM: The Mission
LABEL: John Parr Music Ltd
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: John Parr - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Big Bad Silverado * 02 Enlisted Man * 03 The Boy I Left Behind * 04 Come Out Fighting * 05 Soldiers Wife * 06 Boots On The Ground * 07 Military Man * 08 A Few Good Men * 09 Fightin' Girl * 10 At The Cathedral * 11 Fly Boys Fly * 12 M4 Practice * 13 Bound By The Thread Of The Flag * 14 Comin' Home



After years of dormancy in the U.S. and only ever remembered for 'St Elmo's Fire' and not his dozens of classic AOR tracks, John Parr seems to have a concerted effort to make a resurgence as of late. Last year he reworked 'St Elmo' into a paean to then Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, which resulted in a worthy buzz. Continuing in this vein, Parr's new self-released album pays homage to the U.S. military. As a member of the U.S. Army I can certainly appreciate the sentiment and Parr claims because America gave him his success, this is his way of giving back. He's certainly been busy advocating the cause so my hat is off to him. Musically this finds Parr in fine form, a continuation of his 80's output and a classy tribute to the military Parr is championing. It's almost as if he was never gone, such is the quality of material here.

The Songs
There's nothing complicated about this album at all, just a set of straight-ahead rock tracks, a sensible move indeed. 'Big, Bad Silverado' boasts some muscular arrangements, definitely with one foot in the late 80's. Parr's ability to pen a huge chorus is still evident also, a great opener. 'Enlisted Man' has a touch of modern Bon Jovi about it, but miles ahead of those hacks overall, far more melodic and gritty. 'The Boy I Left Behind' is Parr's ballad for the Vietnam vets, a suitably touching track based entirely on acoustic guitar, with Parr's familiar vocals still in fine fettle. Parr hits melodic heights with 'Come out Fightin' a song which originally appeared on his 1992 album 'Man With A Vision'. Think of Parr's vintage work like 'Restless Heart' and you'll know where this lies. This is the AOR John Parr of old and it's the highlight of the album by a mile. A wise choice by Parr to revive it. 'Soldiers Wife' is a somber ballad which would bring a tear or two to the eyes of those at a deployment departure ceremony and again this is steeped in 80's AOR, with some classic synths threatening to break free. More upbeat is 'Boots On The Ground' an acoustic ditty with a cadence led vocal by Parr, with references to the 82'nd Airborne Division. It's lighthearted and fun, bringing memories of early morning Army runs back to me! Featuring more acoustic work is 'Military Man', which has a type of country tinge to it, a patriotic piece which is far superior to overblown artists like Toby Keith.. and this is coming from an Englishman too! Parr dedicates 'A Few Good Men' to the Marines, another stirring anthem with all manner of 80's type musical interludes. Parr is at the top of his game here and this belongs on the soundtrack to an action film from 1989. 'Fightin' Girl' is another great, basic hard rock outing, but 'At The Cathedral' returns to the acoustic theme, this one dedicated to the British Army. The Air Force gets a tribute also, 'Open Skies (Fly Boys Fly)' soaring as you'd expect with a victorious hook, another one for traditional Parr enthusiasts. 'M4 Practice' overdoes the acoustic direction a bit, with a type of Southern flavour to it. There's more patriotic fare with 'Bound By The Thread Of The Flag', another slow acoustic track with excellent vocals from Parr. Sensibly Parr saves a rocker for last, 'Comin Home' a memorable track I can certainly relate to with more shades of Parr's best 80's work.

In Summary
This is a brilliant album from Parr, as good as anything he has previously recorded. What I find most admirable are his efforts to understand the military and how well he's presented it here. It's accurate and true to life and one of the best tributes I've ever had the fortune to hear. Clearly the time Parr spent with the military on his tours paid off and I think anyone who has been in the situations Parr presents here would be moved by it. For AOR fans it's also a welcome treat, as the man has lost nothing in the passing of time. This one deserves to be heard and I highly recommend the return of a true AOR great.

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