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Big Smile - 2001 Going Vertical


BIG SMILE - GOING VERTICAL (2001, PACT)
Phil Habib - vocals
Anesti Karantakis - guitars
Chris Brockway - bass, keyboards
Thomas Concan - drums


Background
After doing an interview with Chris Brockway at the end of 1999, I was starting to wonder whether the boys with the big smile would actually get around to releasing 'Going Vertical'. Well, we're finally underway.. 'good things take time' is the old adage. And so it is with Big Smile's second album. Still very much a vehicle for singer Phil Habib, with strong support from Chris Brockway, who brings all his years of experience with the likes of Wrabit, Lee Aaron and Worrall to the table. So, lets cut to the chase and get right to it. Musically they have elements of other eighties/nineties flavoured artists from Canada. There are bits of GNP (Gilmour Negus Project), Zappacosta, World On Edge, and Frozen Ghost to name a few. If you think along those lines, then add Habib's vocal style which is a deadringer for Dennis De Young (or Michael Sweet for that matter) then you've held that thought real well. It might seem like a strange brew, but it works. For the most part, it's mid paced, and meshes in styles that are straight ahead rock, jazz fusion, and even progressive elements. Saga/GNP drummer Steve Negus also adds his two cents worth in the form of musical assistance.

The Songs
Of the songs then.. 'Coming To You' could quite easily have slotted in on the GNP 'Danger Zone' album such is the similarity. 'Look Out Down Below' is a real belter, which skips along at a good clip with Karantakis' guitar working up a bit of a sweat along the way. Even faster is the title track 'Going Vertical', which sort of moves at the same speed as Deep Purple's 'Burn'. 'Runaway Eyes' again uses Saga and GNP as a reference point, with parping keys competing for audio space with Habib's Styx like warblings. 'Sound The Alarm' is straight ahead rock which harks back to some of Rodger Hodgson's solo material, though not as pompous. One of the better tracks is the atmospheric 'Dark Side' which has a some neat Bazouki solo's through it that Steve Howe would be pleased to hear. In fact it borders on GTR territory though only just. 'Smile Big' is a jazz/blues workout which sounds ominously like something Alfie Zappacosta would be comfortable belting out in a Club or two!

In Summary
Now, 'Going Vertical' is not strictly an AOR album, let alone a true melodic rock album. It's much more than that. It fuses so many styles and influences that trying to pigeon hole it is impossible. I'm sure that's the way Phil Habib and Chris Brockway would want it, as it has so much cross-appeal to many audiences. In the meantime, you'll find Big Smile somewhere between airborne, and with their feet firmly on the ground.

Sponsor: Chris Brockway

Track Listing:
01 Everything Must Change
02 Coming To You
03 High Road
04 Short Of Angels
05 Look Out Down Below
06 Going Vertical
07 Runaway Eyes
08 Sound Of The Alarm
09 Dark Side
10 Smile Big
11 We Have Love

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