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FM – Indiscreet 30

Indiscreet 30
by Devin C. Baker at 22 February 2017, 7:39 PM

No other way to begin here, but with the following caveat: this is not a Metal album. About this there shall be no disagreement. No lengthy threads, wherein manhood and parentage are questioned, shall ensue in the debate of the Metalness of this record; for it has none. Your woefully out-of-touch auntie knows that this album is not Metal…at all.

So what is it? This, friends, is that scarcely-encountered, near-mythological beast of a bygone era, a thing that was called “AOR” (Album Oriented Rock), which was something that squares listened to after Prog died in the late-70s and early 80s, while the edgy folk were pogoing to Punk and such; think NIGHT RANGER, LOVERBOY, TOTO and you’ll get the gist - basically guitars with a safe crunch, some nouveau-sounding synths, and generic, cliché lyrics about girls, hearts, the city and the night.

Specifically, we're dealing with “Indiscreet 30” by Britain's FM, who were serious contenders in their field back in the 80s. This is a complete re-recording of their debut, “Indiscreet”, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of that album's release. I'll leave the whys and wherefores of this redux to their biographer, but suffice to say they continue to have a following - their original career did produce five LPs, some compilations and live albums, and they've been re-active for ten productive years, even hitting the UK rock album charts in 2013 – so there would seem to have been some demand. It finds itself under review among Metal by virtue of some tangential Metal associations, notably: IRON MAIDEN covered the lead-off track “That Girl” as a b-side to “Stranger In A Strange Land” via friendship with Ade Smith; vocalist Steve Overland and brother/sometime FM bandmate Chris Overland also co-wrote “Shot In The Dark”, a hit for Ozzy Osbourne (an FM rendition appears here as a bonus); and a later album took a more Hard-rock direction under QUEENSRŸCHE/DOKKEN producer Neil Kernon.

There's a lo-fi charm to the 30-year-old recordings of these songs that is decidedly missing from the update. All the glossy polish and compression of contemporary “loudness” production certainly brings a new flavuor to this collection, but they're so deeply rooted in 80s Pop-Rock sensibilities, that it ultimately comes off a bit disconnected. One can imagine this same material in the hands of some canny, hip youngsters, winking at the campy “80s-ness” of it, layering on the synthwave textures with an ironic nod - and I think I'd like that album better. Time and again “Indiscreet 30” feels like an homage, a pastiche of styles intended to evoke the time period of the original - a little SURVIVOR here, a dash of JOURNEY there, the vocals often a Lou Gramm echo. Something about the production shortcomings of the original unifies it, gives it a distinct identity.

I hate to come down hard on “Indiscreet 30”, because it's clearly not aimed at me. The recording is rich and full, and I bet fans of the original will love hearing versions of these songs that shake the floor a little. Jim Kirkpatrick is a crack guitarist, dropping tasteful, smooth leads throughout, and keyboardist Jem Davis nails the lush 80s synth patches of original synth-man Didge Digital. However, whether or not it's Metal is really immaterial, the real question is whether this, in and of itself, can stand on its own as an album. I will have to say no, unfortunately. Re-mixing and re-mastering the original 80s artifact might have been one thing, but to re-do the whole shebang essentially bar-for-bar without bringing anything new to the table but huge production values makes this a fans-only release, at least by my estimation…

…and Ozzy made that song his own for life - that's only reinforced by the version included here.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 4
Memorability: 4
Production: 7

2 Star Rating

  1. That Girl
  2. Other Side Of Midnight
  3. Love Lies Dying
  4. I Belong To The Night
  5. American Girls
  6. Hotwired
  7. Face To Face
  8. Frozen Heart
  9. Heart Of The Matter
  10. Let Love Be The Leader*
  11. Running On Empty*
  12. Rainbow's End*
  13. Shot In The Dark*
  14. Bad That's Good In You*
  15. Love & Hate*
  16. That Girl (Acoustic)*
         (*Bonus Tracks)
Steve Overland – Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
Merv Goldsworthy - Bass, Backing Vocals
Pete Jupp - Drums, Backing Vocals
Jem Davis – Keyboards
Jim Kirkpatrick - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Music SRL


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