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Airrace - 1984 Shaft Of Light



ARTIST: Airrace
ALBUM: Shaft Of Light
LABEL: Atco
SERIAL: 790219-1
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2003, Wounded Bird (USA), WOU 219 * 2009, Rock Candy Records, CANDY061

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Keith Murrell - vocals * Laurie Mansworth - guitars * Toby Sadler - keyboards, bass * Jim Reid - bass, guitars * Jason Bonham - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 I Don't Care * 02 Promise To Call * 03 First One Over The Line * 04 Open Your Eyes * 05 Not Really Me * 06 Brief Encounter * 07 Caught In The Game * 08 Do You Want My Love Again * 09 Didn't Wanna Lose Ya * 10 All I'm Asking

WEBLINKS: www.myspace.com/airraceband


Background
Back in 1984 this Airrace album was considered a breakthrough AOR album in British music circles, as finally good 'ol Blighty' had something to compete against the likes of Foreigner, Journey etc. However, in retrospect the band probably ended up sounding more like an imitation of their heroes rather than something earth shatteringly new or original. One thing in their favour, despite the fact that they were a British band, they secured a US record label and the services of Beau Hill (Mr Fiona Flanagan to you) as their producer. A great lineup though: the fantastic vocals of Keith Murrell has seen him make a living as a singer up to the present day, while Mansworth came from the UK band More, and Jason Bonham of course is the son of ..


The Songs
There are some excellent moments onboard, including the album opener 'I Don't Care' with it's punchy keyboards, and 'Promise To Call' which moves in a direction like early eighties Whitesnake. 'First One Over The Line' has Foreigner tendencies, while the pomp attack comes to the fore on 'Caught In The Game'. We get a straight ahead rocker in 'Do You Want My Love Again' though the keyboard melodies through the chorus are quite nice. The last two 'Didn't Wanna Lose Ya' and 'All I'm Asking' are also worthwhile.


In Summary
Overall, the album is a thoroughly pleasant workout, though perhaps not reaching the dizzy heights that a lot of AOR aficionados had put on this album from yesteryear. Still very much a collectors item, 'Shaft Of Light' was touted for a CD re-release at the end of 1999 though this did not come about unfortunately. However, it has since seen the light of day via reissue label Wounded Bird Records during 2003, and Rock Candy Records during 2009, while the band itself returned to the scene after 2009's Firefest Festival, along with a brand new CD in 2011 called 'Back To The Start'.


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Comments
#1 | Jez on June 13 2008 09:40:20
Another great Brit AOR cd to go along with the many that were put out in the golden age of AOR. Keith Murrell in particular shines on this disc -a really good vocal performance. I really like most of the tracks on this one, with only the last 2 being what i would call filler. Choice cuts for me are 'Promise To Call, 'First One Over The Line' and 'Brief Encounter' with Murrells terrific vocal
#2 | reyno-roxx on June 30 2008 12:02:39
A great album. They were really good live as well.
#3 | rostoned on December 27 2008 01:18:36
Good album but IMHO way overrated, I find just a very very few really memorable songs here ('Caught In The Game' probably is the gem) while the rest of the writing is frankly by numbers and Murrell's vocals doesn't sound so terrific to me ears. Overall I agree with George's review.

Curious to hear Jason Bonham recently labelling Airrace as "...Foreigner wannabes..."

Would have liked to see them live to understand if Beau Hill job in this case was a plus or minus for them, I certainly like his tasty and rich production here but it remains to be seen if the band live was a harder and bluesier unit ( à la 'Promise To Call' which sounds suspiciously like Bad Company and which is another peak) than the mixed bag represented here.
#4 | george_the_jack on September 16 2009 00:56:05
Can't wait to see this band (at last) live in this year's Firefest!
#5 | jeffrey343 on September 29 2011 17:58:51
I didn't get this until a couple of years ago, and I didn't play it over and over again like I have other stuff. But I've been playing a lot more the past few weeks - I guess I'm trying an experiment to see whether some of the 80's albums that are highly regarded by most of you are as good to me as the ones I played endlessly back then. And I do think that this would be up there if I had gotten this back in 1984. Not sure exactly when this came out in '84, but it would have been either the last half of my high-school senior year or my first semester of college. If I had copied this to a cassette with another good album on the other side, it would have gotten played a lot in my college years and would be burned into my memory. I never heard any of these songs on radio or MTV.

I do think this is quite good stuff. It stacks up very well with all the other great music I have from that very important year in my life. Wish I'd found it then...
#6 | rkbluez on July 10 2012 11:35:57
Great album made even better by the Rock Candy version...so melodic but with balls to spare...was one of my favorite disc's back when it first came out...never got bored of hearing it...sad that they never really got more recognition for this excellent album.
 
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