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Tangier - 1985 Tangier

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ARTIST: Tangier
ALBUM: Tangier
LABEL: Wolfe
SERIAL: BH 00001
YEAR: 1985


LINEUP: Bill Matson – vocals * Doug Gordon – guitar * Rocco Mazzella – guitar * Mike Kost – bass * Mark Hopkins – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Paradise * 02 Get Away * 03 Look What You've Done * 04 Call Me Up * 05 In City * 06 Bijou Starlite * 07 One More Time * 08 Tangier * 09 Lately I Don't Know


WEBLINKS: | Tangier FB Page

Tangier started as a band in Philadelphia around 1984 when Doug Gordon, a blues-influenced guitarist and songwriter, joined forces with Dead End Kids's singer Bill Mattson. Guitarist Rocco Mazzella, who had previously played with Mattson in a late 70's Philly band called Enforcer, entered the band at the singer's suggestion. The opposing forces of Gordon's hard-blues background and Mazzella's pop influences would be clearly reflected in the songwriting. Mazzella, who passed away in 2000, is credited with the band's name after the Moroccan city. The album was independently released on Wolfe Records, a label created by Tangier's manager Brian Kushner. Producer Robert Leese is unknown to me, however the most well-known Bob Clearmountain gets a mention in the Special Thanks list. On a side note, Wolfe Records also released Britny Fox's first demo 'In America' in 1987.

The Songs
This is classy melodic rock and AOR without any of the blues-rock and southern leanings that would be the trademark of Tangier's two following releases. The overall sound is rough, almost like an improved demo but the quality of the material more than make up for it. Mattson's chops are near to the likes of Paul Rodgers and David Coverdale. Blackfoot's Rick Medlocke and Michael Stanley can be added to the mix as well. I might be off on this, but I do hear some mid-80s Michael Bolton vocal inflections. And prospectively for a 1985 recording, I can throw in Matti Alfonzetti's-fronted Jagged Edge as a comparison. Warm and melodic in the softer passages, Mattson is a whiskey-throated tenor when he approaches the upper register. Main songwriters are guitarists Gordon and Mazzella. Gordon's influences range from Cream and Free to Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. Mazzella's roots seem to be more pop-oriented. Hence, we have layers of chorus-soaked clean guitar arpeggios -sometimes sounding like keyboards, blended with overdriven guitars and resulting in a unique, nice melodic overall sound.

'Paradise' starts not far from Journey's 'Only The Young', clean guitars upfront and soaring vocals in an ideal melodic rocker for a sunny trip. 'Get Away' slightly slows the tempo and features chugging guitars, vocal harmonies and a good bridge. Mattson is a dead ringer for David Coverdale in the last bars of the song. 'Look What You've Done' could have easily fit in Blackfoot's 'Siogo', it has a good overdriven riff, a catchy chorus and a Thin Lizzy-like guitar solo. 'Call Me Up' is a tender ballad driven by Mattson emotional singing and soft, clean arpeggios. 'In City' speeds up the tempo in a satisfying melodic rocker. 'Bijou Starlite' sounds like Boston would have sounded right before 'Third Stage', especially with regards to the guitar licks and feedback effect. It seems as if a few chords had been taken off 'Rock 'n' Roll Band' as well. The guitar solo is breathtaking here, impassioned. A killer song indeed. 'One More Time' keeps the hard rock sound and is fully overdriven, the heavier song of the album with Mattson singing at the top of his voice. The title track is a more romantic affair but with its fair share of chugging guitars. The chorus here is so fresh it really makes you feel like …comin' home as Mattson sings. Album closer 'Lately I Don't Know' is a midtempo melodic rocker that tends to be a little repetitive in the choruses and is the less appealing song to me; however it is far from being a bad song due to Mattson's strong performance.

In Summary
Besides its unpolished production, Tangier's 1985 independent debut will please mid 80's melodic rock fans with quality songs and a very unique singer and overall sound. I would call it a real diamond in the rough, only letdown by the aforementioned production issues. Tangier disbanded around 1986/7 and reunited with only Mattson and Gordon from this lineup for 1989's 'Four Winds', leaving the AOR and melodic rock behind in favour of a more bluesy/southern rock sound.

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