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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » Sembello, Michael - 2003 The Lost Years
Sembello, Michael - 2003 The Lost Years

ARTIST: Sembello, Michael
ALBUM: The Lost Years
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2003
SPONSOR: Riot Oz Distribution


LINEUP: Michael Sembello - vocals, guitars, bass, drums * Jennifer Batten - guitars * Nate Hall - bass * Vinnie Colaiuta - drums * Ellis Hall - percussion * Timothy Drury, Brian O'Doherty, Randy Waldman - keyboards * Jeff Paris - vocal duet (track 2)

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love Doesn't Live Here Anymore * 02 Tear Down The Walls * 03 The Winter Of Our Love * 04 Black Rain * 05 Heavy Weather * 06 One Planet, One People * 07 Maniac (New Version) * 08 The Life Of My Broken Heart * 09 Where Are We Now * 10 Rub The Stone * 11 Voodoo (Bonus Track) * 12 What You Really Want (Bonus Track) * 13 Burn It Up (Bonus Track)


When this was released mid 2003, I was thinking this was gonna be an offbeat collection of tunes that would be of next to no interest whatsoever. Boy, was I wrong. Though we get the occasional lapse, there are more good songs suited to all the AORsters out there rather than duds. Some of the reviews I've read weren't that good, but I suppose when a pure HM site reviews it and is expecting to hear Iron Maiden or Nine Inch Nails, that is to be expected from them (idiots!), even with the appearance of guitar goddess Jennifer Batten to heavy things up a bit. Other AOR type sites are so wide off the mark, they are off the page! As per the album title, the tracks cut across many years of Sembello activity, as far back as the 'Bossa Nova Hotel' era circa 1983 right through to the mystical sounding 'Backwards In Time' era in the late 90's. The music represented on the album reflect the diverse styles Sembello is involved with. Full on hard rock, right down to the semi-new age/mystic groove material of recent years. A bit of a contrast I know, but Sembello has worked with some heavy hitters in the industry, and because he's been out of the recording loop as a solo artist for a wee while (production side of it he's been as 'busy as'), it is nice to hear some recent reworked stuff from him.

The Songs
Lets review the material that will appeal to the hard rockers among you. The opening pair of 'Love Doesn't Live Here Anymore' and 'Tear Down The Walls' are surely rip-snorters. The latter featuring some off-the-wall soloing from Ms Batten, to the point of being unholy and scary! The former is a Rick Springfield type ditty, straight outta 1985. The highlight for me is the extreme AOR of 'What You Really Want'. Listening to this one, I can imagine Portrait labelmates Balance meeting Aldo Nova somewhere in the dim dark days of 1982. Woah! The other tune worth mentioning is the smooth but deeply atmospheric 'Black Rain'. The pulsing bass lines and modern arrangement fit the bill perfectly. 'Voodoo' on the other hand whilst retaining the rock edge also has that groove thing happening. Janet Jackson could cover this with ease I would think! The jazz fusion arrangement of Sembello's hit single 'Maniac' is so different, that it is uniquely cool (some would hate the new rendition.. I on the other hand like jazz styles, so it appeals to me). Imagine Alfie Zappacosta doing a duet with George Benson on this one, and there you'll have it! Meanwhile, 'Heavy Weather' and 'One Planet One People' which sit side by side on the CD, touch on Sembello's preference for that R&B/Groove thing, crossed with his other preference of world music. The formula is replicated on 'Rub The Stone'. It's good, but the stark contrast with the rockier stuff might leave rockers slightly confused, and that very issue has been touched on by many other reviewers. On the other hand, 'Where Are We Now' did absolutely nothing for me, though the final bonus track 'Burn It Up' is a deadringer for Sembello's classic 'Bossa Nova Hotel' sound, straight outta 1983 and a contender for the charts if 'Maniac' didn't happen to do so well!

In Summary
The 'lost years' it certainly may have been, but the sheer variety of material onboard may have punters curiously wanting to check out his back catalogue, given the quality on hand with this CD. A word of thanks to the chaps at Frontiers for having the courage to put this out during 2003. An interesting disc all the same, and from my perspective, not the write-off many supposed 'experts' elsewhere on the Net were implying.

Related Articles
Sembello, Michael - 1983 Bossa Nova Hotel
Sembello, Michael - 2003 The Lost Years

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