Los Angeles - Los Angeles
The voice behind Los Angeles may be frighteningly familiar to those who keep a keen eye trained on the world of power metal as well as the smoother grooves of AOR. Michele Luppi has been the pipes for Vision Divine, taking over the lead where Fabio (Rhapsody) left off. His voice is strong, and surprisingly tender here. Since screams and over-the-top performances dominate his style for Divine, it's startling to hear him thriving in such a melodic atmosphere. Los Angeles could be described as a who's who of AOR greats, a jaggernaut of the genre if you will, disguised behind an unrecognizable band moniker and an album that will likely sell ten copies and then fade from existence. BUT the talent here is plentiful, with both Fabrizio Grossi's and Tommy Denander's influence behind the scenes and an appearance by the sometimes reclusive keyboard maestro, Gregg Giuffria. Songs have been penned by poodle haired pop prince Richard Marx and Jeff Paris. Los Angeles ends up being a tribute to the music lost to another decade, yet still beloved enough to have influential fans that keep it alive on life support in the here and now.

The AOR intentions are spelled out perfectly with the opener of "I Will Carry You". Big vocal melodies, a huge chorus, softer parts that let the verses slink out with a shimmery silkiness, and spritzes of keyboards and guitars to accent everything else that is swirling around in the musical backdrop. A sweet way to start the album, setting standards and establishing pace. Giuffria's single appearance can be heard here as well and its unmistakably Giuffria, there's no doubting that keyboard tickling. Chill out with the slick smooth groove of "I Must Be Blind", that soars with the absolutely pristine, heart felt vocals of Luppi, as it captures the catchiness of Starship and sails by with equal ability. The sweetly heart shaped love song of "Thanks to You" is sticky saccharine and breezes by. "Edge of Forever" incorporates a wistful guitar riff that accompanies the chill inducing vocals, both of which are layered over a structure of sheer AOR beauty. "Last Chance" has an honest, deep vocal and guitars that squeal along in agreement. It also happens to be a cover of a Night Ranger track. "Run" has a progressive "lite" edginess that keeps the album sounding fresh, yet remaining in a comfortable low key tempo. An absolute blaster of lovey dove proportions, "When You Think Of Me" comes out as a lighter-in-the-air arena ballad that recalls the pompous power of melodic rockers Firehouse.

"One More Try" has that Denander sound carefully sprinkled throughout. A little on the programmed side, but it delivers where slick vocals and equally nice choruses are demanded. "The Other Side" has a soft Journey-ish side, more music that oozes melodic goodness and showers the listener in its sentimental side, but whips up a fine chorus too. "Caroline" dials it down to even slower pacing, coming across as a true 80s style "power" ballad. The counter vocals that echo back to the lead are breathtaking and the perfect counterpoint to showcase the range of Luppi's voice. "Measure of a Man" is more of the same. Lovely, pretty music that etches out its melodic trappings clearly. It seems too familiar at times, but is still a nice song that ends the Los Angeles outing on a downy soft note. It just lacks that marketable remarkability that many of these other songs have in overflowing abundance.

Los Angeles is an album that was created from the get-go as a vehicle to present Luppi's voice in the most flattering shades possible. Of course it has a familiarity to it, given the presence of Denander's guitar and Fabrizio's production, both of which have very distinct stamps to their work. One would think the blending of the two AOR masterminds would result in something incredible, and indeed, here it does. Don't overlook the disc simply because the name doesn't ring a bell. This European honed AOR at its near finest moment. Fresh and bold enough to feel "new" but painted in enough hues of the golden days of rock's proud yesteryear to lend it a perfect balance between past and present.

Written by Alanna
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
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Review by Alanna

Released by
Frontiers - 2007

1. I Will Carry You
2. I Must Be Blind
3. Thanks To You
4. Edge of Forever
5. Last Chance
6. Run
7. When You Think Of Me
8. One More Try
9. The Other Side
10. Caroline
11. Measure Of A Man

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