CD REISSUE: 1993, MCA (Japan), MCVM-351
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Lou Nadeau - vocals * John Albani - guitars * Chris Brockway - bass * Gerald O'Brien - keyboards * Gary McCracken - drums, simmons drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Run For Cover * 02 Soldier Of Fortune * 03 I'll Never Run Away * 04 See No Evil * 05 Bare Knuckler * 06 Don't Lose That Feeling * 07 Unsung Hero * 08 Don't Stop Me Now * 09 There Was A Time * 10 Castles In The Sky
Well what can I say about this one then? Absolute corker! Starting out as a Toronto outfit named Telleman
(should've kept the name guys), they ended up with this horrible handle Wrabit. Just as well the music is superb AOR from a time when Canadian acts ruled supreme. Following on from their acclaimed debut 'Wrough And Wready' (or just s/t depending which album you've got), 'Tracks' is a vast improvement (and that's on the back of a superb debut in any case!!), with a more dynamic lineup, superb songs, and the talented Paul Gross at the production helm. I loved that debut, don't get me wrong, but this blows it out of the water. There were some line-ups changes. Keyboardist Les Paulhus makes way for Gerald O'Brien, who is a bit of a prog meister player, and was involved with other Canadian acts beyond Wrabit, plus former Max Webster
alumni Gary McCracken takes over from Scott Jefferson Steck on drums. The addition of Simmons drums is a unique sound to Wrabit's musical arsenal. Many people who have commented on the album in various forums in the intervening years have complained about them. For me, I don't think it's detrimental at all, just another instrument to be used. What is noticeable, is that Lou Nadeau is an absolutely amazing vocalist, perhaps criminally ignored in 1982, but certainly not in the years following, where his stocks have risen among the melodic rock critics. Though he might have ended up as a Tom Jones
tribute act, he is certainly well admired by many in our favourite sub-genre, most noticeably Peter Sundell of Sweden pomp grandmasters Grand Illusion
Having played these songs ad nauseum during the 80's, the tracks on 'Tracks' (excuse the pun), reads like a photo album of my life during 1982 and 1983. The album kicks off with all guns blazing on 'Run For Cover', with guitars and keyboards duelling all over the show. McCracken also adds to the rollicking entertainment with some fine drum work, but it's the vocals of Nadeau that are the star of the show. The epic 'Soldier Of Fortune' follows on in grand style, ebb and flow passages and some amazing vocal harmonies. John Albani really does shine on this one. Turn it up loud!! The first ballad 'I'll Never Run Away' is clothed in swathes of beautiful piano and keyboard lines. the mid-section guitar solo from Albani soars into hyperspace. It's followed by the brooding 'See No Evil', with the classic line 'only time will tell if the victory bell will toll, born against once more the greatest story ever told'
. John Albani's guitar solo is immense. I'm sure he's using a Boss Octaver pedal to get such deep tones. The pugilist song 'Bareknuckler' is another to feature some fiery playing from Albani, his punch-drunk solo is one for the ages. Listen to his fluid finger work. Onto Side two. The radio friendly 'Don't Lose That Feeling' is a dose of mid-tempo magnificence, and I remember this song permeating my senses immeasurably during 1982. 'Unsung Hero' is a tougher track, and sees the band pushing the boundaries in terms of their limitations. Brockway and McCracken provide a solid foundation.. 'he's here today.. he's gone tomorrow with the sun, sign of the age, the unsung hero..'
. The brief but totally AOR keyboard solo from O'Brien melts the soul. The defining ballad moment on 'Tracks' is 'Don't Stop Me Now'. It's majestic for sure, just about a near throwaway, but Lou Nadeau gives it a polish like a Memphis shoe-shine boy, and the sax solo from Arrows
sax player Earl Seymour is icing on the cake. However the defining moment for me on this album is the eternal classic 'There Was A Time'. An absolute stunner of real class. The keyboard solo from Gerald O'Brien is as good as it gets.. sensational. The closer 'Castles In The Sky' has a progressive vibe, a drawn out affair, but not without some exciting moments... 'defending castles in the sky, I've been fighting for so long, never a child was born to cry, wipe his tears away his life will be soon be won'..
A really great album, and one I played for years on end - it ended up being my best friend for decades, even until this day - timeless in fact. This got a Japanese release on CD back in 1993 and didn't hang around in the marketplace for very long. An extremely difficult disc to find now, but this is one essential slab of melodic rock to own. Let it be said that all Wrabit releases are essential acquisitions for the Wrabit fan.
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