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Articles Home » 1992 Articles » Norum, John - 1992 Face The Truth
Norum, John - 1992 Face The Truth

ARTIST: Norum, John
ALBUM: Face The Truth
SERIAL: EPC 469441 2
YEAR: 1992
CD REISSUE: 1995, Shrapnel, SH-1073


LINEUP: John Norum - guitars, vocals * Glenn Hughes - vocals * Peter Baltes - bass * Hempo - drums

Special Guests: Joey Tempest - vocals * Billy White - rhythm guitar on 'Time Will Find The Answer' * John Schreiner - keyboards * Andy Lorber - backing vocals * Mickey Dee - drums on 'Distant Voices'

TRACK LISTING: 01 Face The Truth * 02 Night Buzz * 03 In Your Eyes * 04 Opium Trail * 05 We Will Be Strong * 06 Good Man Shining * 07 Time Will Find The Answer * 08 Counting On Your Love * 09 Endica * 10 Still The Night * 11 Distant Voices


The early 90's was a desperate time, few lights shone on the darkened grunge filled horizon, no sunlight shimmering, just rain. Scanning the cd trays at that time at your local record store was a depressing business; you would be hard pressed to find something to spend your money on. Record companies acted like cartels by putting a collective halt on anything that sounded remotely melodic or smelt the faintest whiff of hairspray. Few rays of hope could be found, but deep down some musicians managed to keep recording and releasing albums that remained true to their values, probably at the behest of record companies who had signed these artists on multi album deals thinking these musicians would continue to be cash cows, how foolish were the man in suits, the public can be so fickle and swap genres just as fast as Peter Odemwingie switches allegiances and not surprisingly, football agents. Are the General Public the best connoisseurs of music? (and the Tories want to put it into the hands of us to vote to decide if we should be in or out of Europe?) go to your local charity shop and see how the manufactured pop group's albums are nestling with the overcoats and playstation2 games. John Norum was one artist who kept the flame alive, and although Glenn Hughes is hot property in 2013, that probably wasn't the case 20 odd years ago. This shows he was well onto the road to recovery (more than can be said for his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers), he is a fighter and reigns supreme on 7 of the songs here.

The Songs
The title track is a steamer, if this was buried and dug up in 20,000 years then it provides the DNA for the melodic rock tribe, no need for difficult hieroglyphics that needs the best minds to decipher. Straight forward rocking, standard harmonies and verses, Hughes hollers just as we need him to. Sometimes though, melodic rock can get itself into trouble of its own making because while 'Night Buzz' has its moments, it's just the non-sensical meaning of the song that disappoints, night buzz? What the hell, sound of overhead power lines? However 'In Your Eyes' is the type of song that got swept away in the grim of Seattle. It's a shame because this is perfect for re-engerzing the melodic rock scene. It wouldn't be a Norum album without a tribute to the great Thin Lizzy, and as usual it's a very fine acknowledgment, with 'Opium Trail'. Next up sees the engagement of Joey Tempest. Is it worthwhile? Oh yes, together with a storming promotional video, 'We Will Be Strong' is Europe under a different name. Plain and simple melodic, fist pumping pop song, while obviously in a more melodic direction of the album, it is a welcome inclusion. A quick Scandinavian flick arrives in 'Good Man Shining' which is more in common with Black Country Communion, which poses the question if Joe Bonamassa has not got the time to tour, would John Norum make an equal replacement? Many of the songs contain elements of John Norum initial association with Don Dokken, that produced the 1990 'Up From The Ashes', (after listening to this a couple of days ago, my memory was right in the conclusion that it hardly set the world on fire, and that's coming from me who loved the first four Dokken albums) not in terms of songs, but more the musicians that appeared on that album, up pops Peter Baltes (Accept) and Micky Dee (Motorhead), but the guy who has a hand in lot of the writing is Billy White. I seemed to remember Frontiers magazine raving uncontrollably about old Bill, with his album, 'Illusionation', I brought it, played it and sold it. If the songs contained there was anything like 'Time Will Find An Answer' I might had made the wrong decision, as this is a very good tune, of course with Gary Moore elements. A previous Glenn Hughes employer, are we going round in circles here, melodic rock has always been quite incestuous. This tune is a long and winding journey across the Yorkshire Moors or maybe the fields of Ireland, beautifully paced scenery and enough remoteness blended in, for your able to breathe freshly melodic sounds and lose those stresses.

'Counting On Your Love' is a melodic snarl and possibly dates back to 1987. As Goran Edman takes a writing credit. One of the most interesting aspects of this album is right at the end, being a version of the Hughes/Thrall song 'Still The Night', first featured on the first of the Phenomena series of albums, from 1984. It wasn't until the Rock Candy re-issue of the epic album did it appear as a bonus track, taken from the never released 'HT2'. The Hughes/Norum version is also great, although anyone would be hard pushed to make a complete balls up, simply a great song, this time with an emphasis on a more hard rock style plus some whizzers of keyboards although not as much on the white ivories as featured on the Phenomena version, exceptionally melodic. I wonder how long we will have to wait for 'HT2', especially as it was hinted on the Rock Candy version that it was going to happen. Going off (not for the first time) on a tangent and an interesting footnote to this tune, is that in a recent article that appeared in Classic Rock magazine, Joey picked the version by Phenomena in his top ten of melodic tracks to hear. By his own admission it was a constant appearance during touring in the 80's and we can gather obviously runs quite deep in the psyche of all of the Europe members. I also found it interesting in that Joey also included the likes of Touch with 'Black Star' and the excellent Balance with 'In For The Count', he certainly is a connoisseur and knows his stuff, well done Mr Tempest, please drop in when you are next in the Rushden area to enjoy an evening of listening pleasure, I'm suitably impressed. We should not forget the melodic thrash of 'Distant Voices', snap on tools at the ready to construct early Europe vibe, rabid guitar solos of a yesteryear that Malmsteen once stood for, when Yngwie would work with proper vocalists, Edman, Soto, Turner et al.. the list is endless, so why sing yourself?

In Summary
Of course Glenn Hughes takes a starring role and credit to him for taking the opportunity. Norum is perfect, a great songwriter, singer and obviously gracious enough to understand the introduction of Hughes may have taken the emphasis off him personally, but never to the detriment of the songs and the whole album, rather than massaging his own ego. The old duo of Tempest and Norum blaze through to provide the best single, the best pairing to originate from Sweden, since Benny and Bjorn.

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#1 | rkbluez on February 17 2013 23:11:12
Get the import version of this it's all studio...the Shrapnel version isn't as good...rather have the all studio's great stuff.
#2 | AOR Lee on February 20 2013 04:39:10
Entertaining review as always, makes you want to hear the album ... and hasn't that always been the main point ?
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