Friday, March 30, 2007

Shaw-Blades: Influence

Shaw-Blades: Influence

There seems to have been a glut of cover albums released in the past few years by any number of bands and the latest comes from members of both Styx and Night Ranger. Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades first played together in Damn Yankees and since then have gone on to write songs for the who’s who of the music industry as well as releasing their 1995 album, Hallucination. For the most part, cover albums are generally interesting for the first five minutes and then you realize that you’re listening to mostly uninspired renditions of songs that you never really liked in the first place. Influence isn’t like that…It’s not like that at all. To my great surprise, Influence is actually a really, really good album.

The track listing of Influence is eclectic, encompassing everyone from Simon and Garfunkel through the Mamas and the Papas all the way to Yes. The arrangements also are eclectic, preserving the spirit of the original songs but allowing Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades to make them their own. A very much electric version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic I Am A Rock is a perfect example of this.

An obvious highlight of Influence has to be their outstanding cover of Your Move by Yes. Presented independently from its usual partner, I’ve Seen All Good People, Your Move is an inspired version of the Yes original. The Shaw-Blades version faithfully preserves the vocal harmonies and the musical arrangement of the original while the Tommy Shaw driven vocal performance makes this rendition shine

The simple fact is that most of Influence’s eleven tracks shine. The album is chock full of some great classic rock and roll songs, some more familiar than others but all made current by the talents of Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades. This is one cover album I’ll be listening to for a while…actually, I’m listening to it right now.

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