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VFX - 1993 The Next Step




ARTIST: VFX
ALBUM: The Next Step
LABEL: Metalogic
SERIAL: MM-1123
YEAR: 1993

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Michael O'Mara - vocals * Jonathan Hayes, Ervin Williams - guitars * Scott Wilson - bass * Bobby Nellis - drums * Loren Gold - keyboards, piano * William Riley - keyboards * Lili Haydn - violin * Tim Wieden Keller - banjo * Jill Carr, Bettina Holli - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Electric Eye * 02 Big Bad Love * 03 Draw The Line * 04 Delirious * 05 Cajun Shrimp * 06 Love Enough * 07 Look At Me * 08 One Take Blues * 09 Living For Rock N Roll * 10 Hello World * 11 I'm Alive * 12 I Never Knew * 13 Who Cares * 14 Big Band Bop * 15 All I See * 16 Keep It Together * 17 Another Point Of View


Background
Los Angeles based VFX were a band I first read about in the fanzine AOR Classics during the 1993 year. For the life of me, I could never work this lot out, Michael O'Mara and his team releasing an off-the-wall set of songs that confused the heck out of me back then, and continues to do so today. There's no denying that O'Mara is an accomplished vocalist, but the wide-ranging styles of music on offer makes it difficult to lock onto. It's like he's thrown up 17 clay-pigeons all at once expecting the listener to knock them all out in one go. Not possible I'm afraid. VFX operate at the more technical and complex end of the melodic spectrum. If bands like BFE, Giraffe, Kevin Gilbert, Toy Matinee, or perhaps even Third Matinee appeal to your offbeat senses, then VFX warrant an investigation on your part. Not helping the reviewers task is the sheer number of songs here (17). Far too many for the casual listener to digest in one sitting.


The Songs
As can be expected, I'll only highlight a handful of songs. If you have this album, then you can investigate at your leisure. We'll move beyond the short intro-lude 'Electric Eye' directly seguing to 'Big Bad Love'. This one comes at you from a manic and twisted angle. Not sure whether I got it.. 'Draw The Line' seems to have been a favourite from comments picked up by other listeners elsewhere. Yes, I can hear why, as this has all the elements that die-hard AORsters look for. Good use of keyboards, plus O'Mara sounds pretty decent here. 'Delirious' has solid moments too, then it's onto the crazy interlude 'Cajun Shrimp' which sounds like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies! WTF? I kinda liked 'Look At Me' with its jangly west-coast sound a la Venice. VFX have a go at the blues next, courtesy of 'One-Take Blues'. Nothing unique here, before moving onto some fast paced hair rock for 'Living For Rock N Roll'. Another interlude next, the crackly 1940's jazz radio sound of 'Hello World', another WTF moment.. lol! O'Mara returns to the present with the rather tasty 'I'm Alive', veering into a melodic progressive back-alley as if by accident. 'Who Cares' is a loud and raucous rocker, a bit brash, but not half as mad as (another) interlude 'Big Band Bop' which is all over the place. The album finishes with 'Another Point Of View', which again is played in a crossover AOR/prog style, like Canadian band Jester who were alive and well during this same timeframe.


In Summary
I'm not quite sure what the lads at AOR Classics were thinking when they reviewed this CD back in the day. A few drams of whiskey perhaps going down the hatch and impairing one's senses? It seems there was a 1988 self-titled LP release by VFX. I don't have any other details, apart from the fact that it's a 6-track affair and what the album cover looked like (refer the Rate Your Music website). As a result, There's only a handful of songs that stick on 'The Next Step', and even that's a hard ask! Consider yourself forewarned.


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Comments

#1 | richardb on September 11 2013 08:33:51
Agree with you George bit of a mixed bag this one.

I rate the 6 track self-titled affair as the more superior offering.

Smile
#2 | Eric on September 12 2013 17:21:58
There were a few albums AOR Classics rated highly that just didn't deserve the praise but musical taste is always subjective and we probably fall into that here at GD with certain bands/ albums. That said, this album is definitly IMHO a fair to poor effort.

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