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Articles Home » 2015 Articles » FM (UK) - 2015 Heroes And Villains
FM (UK) - 2015 Heroes And Villains

ALBUM: Heroes And Villains
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2015


LINEUP: Steve Overland - lead vocals * Jim Kirkpatrick - guitar * Merv Goldsworthy - bass * Jem Davis - keyboards * Pete Jupp - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Digging Up The Dirt * 02 You're The Best Thing About Me * 03 Life Is A Highway * 04 Fire And Rain * 05 Incredible * 06 Call On Me * 07 Cold Hearted * 08 Shape I'm In * 09 Big Brother * 10 Some Days I Only Wanna Rock And Roll * 11 I Want You * 12 Walking With Angels



FM is one of the legacy bands from the 80s who has managed to stay relevant to this day. Well, as relevant as a band in this genre can be. But they've kept a steady lineup, delivered three albums since 2010 (I'm counting 'Rockville' / 'Rockville II' as a double album), and put on several concerts. That's pretty steady work. For this 2015 release, they have switched to the major label in the melodic rock scene - yes, Frontiers Records. While I sure appreciate all that Frontiers brings to the table, they have been accused of having a large number of artists and albums that have a very similar sound. My hope for this album was that Frontiers would tell the guys 'You know what to do - don't change a thing.' Glad to say it looks like Frontiers took what my advice would have been had they asked me.

The Songs
You'd be forgiven if the beginning of 'Digging Up The Dirt' made you think you were listening to a Bad Company album from the Brian Howe era. This is definitely the way to start proceedings. I can't see any of you guys not liking this song. It's basically Don Henley's 'Dirty Laundry' all over again in subject matter. Next up, 'You're The Best Thing About Me' is a fun uptempo song with some nice keyboard touches. It has a good bit of the sound from the two 'Rockville' albums, kinda like a late 70's sound mixed in with a contemporary vibe. 'Life Is A Highway' is not a remake of the Tom Cochrane classic, but it is a similar song, and similarly great. One of Steve Overland's other projects is a group called Shadowman. If you are not familiar with them, 'Fire & Rain' should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. I wonder whether that song was intended for that outfit, such is the similarity in style. Ballad time - we get 'Incredible', a song that could be a radio hit in a better musical environment. 'Call On Me' is another good well-crafted and enjoyable rocker. You should remember 'Cold Hearted' from last year's 'Futurama EP' - live album hybrid. It has something that is missing from a lot of modern music - a really cool guitar riff. Just when you start to think that all the cool guitar riffs have been used, it's good to hear one that is integral to the song. And to have a song good enough to open an album appear in this spot in the album speaks to both the quality and sequencing of the songs. Following that is the fine 'Shape I'm In', similar to what we heard two songs before. In the nine spot is what may be the highlight of the album for me (and that's saying something). 'Big Brother' is similar to the album opener, a brooding song about how hard it is to escape the feeling that someone is watching your every move. We're back to that fun sound - what I've been calling hints of that late 70s sound - with 'Somedays I Only Want To Rock & Roll'. And it is a fun sound, perfect for the soundtrack for the upcoming summer (at least in my hemisphere). Another really fun track is 'I Want You'. Man, this could have been big in the 80s. It does sound like something you've heard before, so don't be surprised if you get a sense of déjà vu with this one. I hear Robert Palmer's 'Addicted To Love' in the verse and a huge dose of Joan Jett's 'I Hate Myself For Loving You' in the chorus. That's a good combination. The album ends on a mellow note, with acoustic guitars driving the gentle ballad 'Walking With Angels'.

In Summary
If you enjoyed the 'Rockville' albums two years ago, then I am sure you'll eat this up. Even if you found them to be hit or miss, I'm betting you'll find this to be more hit. Again, it's not what they were doing in the 80's, but it's where they are now, and where they are now is a pretty darn good place near the top of the melodic rock scene. This reminds me so much of those great AOR bands that perhaps didn't have a true signature sound but could put together albums with superb songs that flowed together just right. Dakota and Shooting Star come to mind, among others. Safe to say this will be way up there in my top ten for the year.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on May 23 2015 16:28:41
The best album FM have released since 'indiscreet'. Saw them live a couple of weeks ago and they were fantastic (as always).
#2 | george_the_jack on May 24 2015 12:28:43
Is this so good? I might need to check it after all..

Never cared for anything they have released since the first 2 albums (and especially the mighty Indiscreet). I have seen them live twice and they are indeed very good but FM in the 80's have seriously nothing to do with the band they have been transformed into ever since.
#3 | jeffrey343 on May 24 2015 13:48:32
GTJ - I think the harder-edged songs are comparable to what was on 'Tough It Out'. While this album is still more similar to their recent output, I think overall it might have more appeal to those who really want a return to their 80's sound.
#4 | Jez on February 02 2016 12:52:18
This really is a good album and definitely their best since they got back together. It's trademark FM with no real surprises along the way, but there are some really cracking tunes featured and it also features a production that sounds a million dollars too. Good to see this band going from strength to strength
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