Πέμπτη, 2 Ιουλίου 2009

Trevor Rabin - Wolf


With his third solo album, Wolf, Trevor Rabin broke barriers, realizing a pinnacle of creative expression in pop music that successfully bridged firmly established formalist rock structures with a unique brand of post-Bruckner romanticism.
Heh heh sorry, I just had to open with that. Okay, bullshit aside. Wolf would be Rabin's final solo album prior to hooking up with Chris Squire and forming Cinema, which would eventually morph into 80s Yes. It continues the generic hard rock/AOR formula of his previous albums. It is probably the strongest of the three, though like that means much of anything. The recruitment is also impressive, though one can't help but be somewhat perplexed that such vets as Jack Bruce and Manfred Mann were on board to lend their support to this kind of material, not to mention that the associate producer of this album is — make sure you're not drinking coffee near the computer screen as you read this — Ray Davies.
With an album like Wolf, you have to abandon approaching this album from any vantage point other than that of AOR, or else of course you'll be sorely disappointed. I look upon AOR, or 'melodic rock' for the more charitable among us, like that big glooping heap of Velveeta that gets thrown on the cheesesteaks down on South Street in Philadelphia: you know on sight that it ain't good for you, but you still can't resist indulging. As I see it, the key to a successful AOR tune lies pretty much in the catchiness of the chorus. Rabin seems to have an understanding of placing all the eggs in the chorus hook, as he did little to invest in the verses of these songs. In terms of chorus power, I would have to admit that "Open Ended," "Heard You Cry Wolf," "Do Ya Do Ya," and the big, dumb bluesy wobble of "Take Me to a Party" draw at least a little blood out of the turnip.
Really, though, I find that as I'm writing this, I want to talk about the silly song titles more than the actual music. "Looking for a Lady – (Wolfman)"... now that is a title that you just can't beat. Just looking at it, with the parentheses placed after the dash and all, really cracks me up. I wonder if Jim "I'm Gonna Love Her Both of Us" Steinman helped Trevor out coming up with that one, maybe in between stints with Meatloaf? It bugs me, however, that it's "Heard You Cry Wolf" instead of the much more befitting "Heard Ya Cry Wolf" (to be align more with "Do Ya Do Ya Want Me"... c'mon, Trevor, consistency is important!). Or maybe even "Heard Ya Cry – (Wolf)." Okay, I'll stop now, don't mind me.
In summary, if you are generous, I'd say you have about half an album's degrees of freedom to work with here as a guilty pleasure; disposable but fun hard rock songs that say 'It is now safe to turn off your brain.' Once you've spent those degrees of freedom, however, your reaction to the remaining tracks will be either one of total ambivalence or "Wow, this really sucks." Sure, I guess you could be impressed at the way "Looking for a Lady" predicts Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" while at the same time swiping from Foreigner. But try listening to such craptastic entries as "She's Easy" or "Stop Turn" and not kicking the neighbor's dog.
Many Yes fans credit Rabin with 'single-handedly resuscitating' the band by penning "Owner of a Lonely Heart." Well, maybe if they listen to his first three solo albums, they might also come away with the view that Squire, Anderson, and Trevor Horn also rescued him from Aldo Nova also-ran oblivion.

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