Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life
Joe Lynn Turner is undeniably a familiar staple of melodic rock. Having fronted Rainbow, Mother's Army, Yngwie Malmsteen's band, Sunstorm, Hughes/Turner, Deep Purple, guested on quite a number of tribute discs and multi singer affairs (Brazen Abbot, Vitalij Kuprij), plus many others and a slew of solo albums, it would be a difficult task to be an AOR fan and have missed him entirely at this point. For awhile, he was simply everywhere.

"Second Hand Life" is his tenth solo album and the closest return to the "Rescue You" format that he has had yet, atleast where solo discs are concerned. "Holy Man", "Slam" and "JLT" erred on the blues side, but "The Usual Suspects" in 2005 brought his music back to the melodic roots. This is taken even further by mixing in some of the softer elements off of the Sunstorm project and really coaxing those vibrant choruses out of their shells. "Second Hand Life" turns out to be a monster of a melodic rock disc that woos fans of the genre simply by featuring great tunes and a spectacular voice.

Speaking of voice, JLT's is one of the most recognizable in the field of album oriented rock. From ultra smooth to roaring rock and swaggering blues, he can handle it all with pizazz and professionalism. The soul is always the focal point of his performance, so nothing ever comes off half hearted or lacking in the vital area of raw emotion. Turner never fails to impress on anything he gives his whole hearted effort to. The musicians supporting him are of equal talent, although not as well known as others he has worked with in the past. Karl Cochran on guitars and bass, Gary Corbett handling the keys, and ex-Damn Yankees drummer Michael Cartellone handling the percussion duties.

"Love is Life" is a nice entry track that is melodic rock in nature. The chorus just pops right out and has a super catchy sound. This could easily have been tailored for Journey, it just has that overall feel. The guitars have a little more hard rockin' kick in their punchy riffs though.

"Got Me Where You Want Me" like a mouse caught in a trap. This was written for American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. Since Hicks parted ways with this style of music, the track became available and Turner leaped at the chance to record it. Bluesy soft rock that toes the line at being a ballad but doesn't quite make the leap. Free flowing on a smooth wave of keys and building guitars leading into a slinky chorus. An age old tale here, and a predictable outcome. You fell into love unexpected and just can't fall out. You can't help yourself or bottle your emotions and its bordering on obsession. The obsession theme is picked up again later on in the album, too.

"Second Hand Life", the title track is the first of several songs that came out of the Deep Purple writing sessions and the first real grabber of the disc. Apparently alot of great material was just pushed to the wayside when the followup to "Slaves and Masters" failed to materialize. The core concept of the song: be who you want to be without accepting the inevitable 'second hand life' passed down from your family, is a strong one indeed. A hard lesson to learn, and even harder one to put to reality. A darker, tough feel lays underneath, hinting at the song's true origins as being a product of the "Slaves and Masters" era.

"In Your Eyes" is the first of two really killer ballads. This one has the dial set to 'magic' and never veers off that course. Everything pulls together for a bright song that is crushingly tender and cuddly. Even the guitar licks make you want to light a fire and get closer to the one you currently favor with romantic attentions. Sweetly bursting with those inner celebratory feelings of "in love" when a relationship is going right. Keyboard layers abound, creating a layered 80s feel that hints at his past times as lead singer for Rainbow and the tail end of their run when melody was running high.

"Blood Red Sky" is a love tragedy, and about time too. The disc seems a little too cozy for comfort until this track is given closer inspection. Its a Romeo+Juliet story painted with a huge chorus and the colours of the Mediterranean. The lyrics paint a story that was inspired by Turner's time in Turkey and the life changing inspiration behind its conception shows. The song just explodes in quality and leaves a chorus that keeps circling in your head like a broken record missing its power button long after the disc has been put away. Great stuff all around and a guitar hero's track to take note of. Bristling on electrified riffs from JLT's guitarist, Karl Cochran (Ace Frehley), it makes the track feel fresh but familiar, capturing the mystical side of the JLT-Rainbow sound ("Fire Dance", "Eyes of Fire").

"Stroke of Midnight" was written back in the Deep Purple days but never made it to final release. Here the song is bursting with that 70s, organ heavy vibe and just burns in a haze of purple hued blues rock. Its a Cinderella story of sorts - atleast the part where everything changes after midnight. The private life of a real person, who after the sun goes down turns into the testosterone fueled male fantasy: a stripper.

"Over the Top" simply rocks. The main riff is a sizzler and a moment to gear up for. This is about one person that just always goes "over the top" - so to speak - by using wild exaggerations to spice their life, much to the annoyance and frustration of those around them. We've all known that person or been that person at times so this hits home with just the right amount of personal touch.

"Cruel" was another Purple bomb that never exploded but has been shopped around as a live track when JLT was touring with his own band. The chorus has been jacked up to bigger, more bombastic purp-portions and it just glistens as a solid rocker. Joe Lynn's voice soars on the chorus, spreading the word out "cruel" like a dagger taken to the chest. The verses that follow, ache in the same love broken fashion. A song that pours forth its tattered passion.

"Sweet Obsession" also has past roots in decades gone. It was written for Bon Jovi in the 80s and was recorded by Bonfire and even became a hit. That title pretty much says it all. A great song then, and nothing has changed here. It has a perfect catchy sound that is an instant melodic grabber, and keeps you held in its throes throughout by slamming one addictive verse, bridge, and chorus - after another.

"Love is On Our Side" claims that love can change the world. And maybe, just maybe it can. This is a big ballad-esque song that comes at the perfect saving point of the album. Everything for a good long run has been uptempo, bluesy or ballsy and then this track sneaks in and dims the light down low. Silky vocals and an uplifting theme that runs on the cheesy side, but an acceptable level of cheddar that just makes you grin. A nice way to shut down the album.

Unfortunately most people will never get a chance to hear "Two Lights", it being a bonus song and all for the European markets, limiting its audience. That's sad, because its one of the finer pieces culled for the disc. An AOR semi ballad that has style and substance all wrapped around a great melodic flow. Extremely classy and driven to perfection by Joe Lynn Turner's heart stripping, soul seeking performance and delicate layered keys from Gary Corbett.

As JLT's solo albums go, this is a real winner. In some eyes it may even topple the near perfect 1985 masterpiece, "Rescue You". However good "Second Hand Life" is, with its insightful lyrics, nice assortment of sounds that fit Turner like a glove, and gushing lush harmonies, it still doesn't come close to "Rescue You". That was a different album still, and made in a different time period. Yet, this one stands on its own and proudly sits beside "The Usual Suspects" as a solid, memorable entry into the Joe Lynn universe and an album that deserves to be replayed for years to come. He gambled at rolling the dice in favor of a more melodic cd, something the fans have been clamoring for since "Rescue You" and even more recently (and with louder volume and dogging persistence) after the sentimental taste of Sunstorm. That risk at bowing to the needs of his fanbase has paid off big time. A huge album filled up with AOR goodies riding on the high of honest emotions. Tougher than you may expect, and less fluff. "Life" truly rocks out. Even with most songs being dusted off forgotten ditties out of the archives, this is one that must not be missed by fans of JLT or the genre in general.

Written by Alanna
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
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Comment by Dark Lord (Member) - Tuesday, January 29, 2008
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Comments: 33
Ratings: 89
Great album, it's really good to hear such music in 2007, takes u back straight to Rainbow era :d

Posted by Dark Lord
Tuesday, January 29, 2008










Review by Alanna

Released by
Frontiers Records - 2007

Tracklisting
Your Love Is Life
Got Me Where You Want Me
Second Hand Life
In Your Eyes
Blood Red Sky
Stroke Of Midnight
Off The Hook
Over The Top
Cruel
Sweet Obsession
Love Is On Our Side
Two Lights

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Style
Melodic rock

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Joe Lynn Turner - Official Website

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