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Lake - 2014 Wings Of Freedom

ALBUM: Wings Of Freedom
LABEL: Mad As Hell Productions
YEAR: 2014


LINEUP: Ian Cussick - lead vocals * Alex Conti - guitar, vocals * Jens Skwirblies - keyboards * Mickie Stickdorn - drums * Holger Trull - bass * Jim Hopkins-Harrison - vocals on Nightbirds

TRACK LISTING: 01 Passionate Eyes * 02 Sylvia * 03 Die Just A Little * 04 Stone Crazy * 05 Nightbirds * 06 Ted Nugent And The Gunner's Blues * 07 Gin And Tonic * 08 Nineteen Sixties Man * 09 Freewheeling * 10 Wings Of Freedom



This German band have been around a very long time, and have featured regularly here at GDM over the years. The lights went out on Lake's most successful phase in 1986, with sporadic recordings being a rare thing over the next two decades. In fact, their first proper return was in 2005, capped off by the release of 'The Blast Of Silence'. Alex Conti has been the mainstay of the band for many a year, and with Lake's original bassist Ian Cussick returning to the fold (a successful Scots born solo artist in his right), the new version of the band is sounding better than ever. The material for 'Wings Of Freedom' originates from a set of 2012 recordings under the name 'Freedom', but the band had legal issues with then lead singer Lloyd Anderson; the album was subsequently withdrawn. It resulted in the delay, with some tracks being re-recorded.

The Songs
Conti provides much of the action here, as the band find some form early on. 'Passionate Eyes' reminds me of Little River Band during their late 70's era (a la 'Dimantina Cocktail'); the lead guitar work from Conti really gives this one a lift toward the end. The near six minute 'Sylvia' starts out as a beautiful ballad backdrop. The pace doesn't lift a great deal throughout, but the whole thing is super melodic nonetheless. Conti brings out thw wah-wah pedal for 'Die Just A Little', perhaps my choice for best track on the album, as it hankers a bit closer to that AOR theme the band is best remembered for. 'Stone Crazy' is another track that hints at a late 70's sound, organs and a funky approach makes this one so. 'Nightbirds' features former singer, the late Jim Hopkins-Harrison on vocals, a piano and acoustic guitar piece mostly that rocks up on the chorus. You gotta love the humour on 'Ted Nugent And The Gunner's Blues', a tribute song of sorts to the wildman of rock. 'Gin And Tonic' is a slow cruiser, the sort of track a bloke like Peter Mayer would take to in a heartbeat. You gotta enjoy the hick blues rock of 'Nineteen Sixties Man', a breezy number that's a bit tongue in cheek. 'Freewheeling' with a Toto like shuffle beat but instead comes off like a Chris Rea piece. Finishing up, 'Wings Of Freedom' is one of the replacement songs from the original 2012 material. Cussick sounds great here, an up-tempo beat mostly, with some Carlos Santana like guitar-work from Alex Conti.

In Summary
The music here is prime-time Lake, but the whole thing is given energy and sonic incision by Alex Conti's guitar solos. Without them, I think the album would have faded into a melodic wash without much contrast and counterpoint. The band have released this album on Conti's record label Mad As Hell Records, the label also releasing the 2014 live set 'Wings Of Freedom Tour - Spring 2014'. Both are easily available from the links on the Lake website. Go to it I say!

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#1 | rkbluez on December 02 2014 00:12:45
Totally agree George Conti's guitar solo's make this album much better than it would of been without them...without the solo's it would just be some good laid back classic rock but missing something...the guitar solo's in every song lift it up and take it to a better place and also help hold your interest...they give it a little needed punch...and it turns out to be a very cool album.
#2 | swazi on July 30 2015 22:34:20
I recommend another review:
Lake - The Blast of Silence (2006). Very good in my opinion.

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