Rock Reviews - Classic. AOR. Prog. Metal.
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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back.
Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P).
He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!
Firstly my apologies to DF themselves as
this bugger should have been done a few weeks ago!
Anyway, Dante Fox is one of those bands
that seem to have stuck around now for quite some time. I don’t want them to
take this next comment detrimentally, only I wonder sometimes why bands
continue to record, when it doesn’t seem as if the next break is on the
horizon. If it were me, I’d be pissed off playing support to bands they are as
equally as good at if not better, yet the next big advance in venue etc never
seems to happen for them. I suppose it because they love what they are doing
and that’s spreading the good word of the AOR gods to the relatively small
masses, but dedicated masses.
I caught them recently at HRH AOR and from
my first viewing a few years back, they have improved immensely. A few mates
have commented that Sue Willets always seemed a bit lacking in the frontwoman
department, but I have to admit I found her engaging and with a good sense of
humor, but more importantly, what a set of pipes.
Also with Tim Manford on guitar they have a
guitarist who can trade licks with the best of the genre. In the good ‘ol 70s
and 80s, it wasn’t unknown for bands to release an album (sometimes 2) every
12-18months. This kind of activity makes Dante Fox Positively comatose in their
output, with this, ‘Lost Mans Ground’, being only their fourth release in yonks
(1 yonk = 4 years). Thankfully they are from the ‘who gives a fuck about the
timescale, let the music do the talking’ school of production.
Dante Fox have drafted in some well know
AOR monsters – The Stephen Fry of AOR…Alessandro Del Vecchio on Harmony BVs (
the bloke is everywhere!), Eric Ragno, again another workaholic on keyboards
(is there anyone he hasn’t worked with?)
Weighing in at an 1980s length of
40mins-ish, and one of those is a radio edit and another a live track, ‘Lost
Mans Ground’ is a definite advance over the previous albums. Short, sweet, and
polished – and I’m not talking about Eric Ragno, Dante Fox have gone for the
jugular on this one. Opener ‘Who Stole The Innocence’ which, if it were a stick
of rock, it would have Dio’s classic ‘Rainbow In The Dark‘ running right thru
the middle of it. That’s not a bad point of reference I can tell you.‘Go Where Your Heart Is’ as another slice of
Grade A quality AOR, with Sue’s voice, supremely confident and powerful. I
could only hit those high notes if I was thrown from the highest tower of the
Kingdom! ‘Secrets’ sees the gang taking the foot off the gas for the obligatory
ballad, and highlights how far Sue and Tim have come as a songwriting
partnership. ‘I Cant Sleep’ is a rather nice surprise, a re-recorded classic
from the debut back in 1996, and as stated, shows their progression this time
The ‘killer’ on ‘Lost Mans Ground’ is the
title track, an absolute stonker (that means very good to the non locals), a
cross between early Ten, and the best that the 80s had to offer in Rainbow, Dio
and the like. It’s a change from their usual style, but a bloody good change!
More of this next time, as it’s a cracker. After such a good song, ‘This World’
could be seen as a bit of an anti climax to finish upon. Its not a bad song –
its just that ‘LMG’ is soooo good. The album finishes ona live version of ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ from
2007’s Under The Seven Skies, an acoustic version with Tony Mills wading in
with backing vocals. For good measure a radio edit of ‘Lost Man’s Ground’ is
included, but I’d just stick to the longer, superior version if I were you.
So I’m a little behind the times, about 6
weeks for me, and 9 months since it was originally released. But don’t let that
stop you from giving it a listen, it’s a cracker!
This is a self financed CD, with production
qualities on a par with a label owned one. Miss out on this at your peril. Hard
working musicians need your money for the next one, and hopefully it will be
before 2019! Otherwise I will be forced to advertise on TV for a ‘Oxfam’ £2 a
month for starving AOR musician appeal.
SCORE - 85/100
1.Who Stole The Innocence
2.Go Where Your Heart Is
4.I Can’t Sleep
5.Lost Man’s Ground
7.Goodbye To Yesterday (Live
acoustic / String version)
8.Lost Man’s Ground (Radio Edit)
Sue Willetts - Lead Vocals
Tim Manford - Guitar, Vocals, Bass on 3
Andy Perfect - Drums
Alan Mills - Bass
Eric Ragno - Keyboards
Roman Wieckowski - Keyboards on 7
Alessandro Del Vecchio - Harmony Vocals
Tony Mills - Backing Vocals on 7