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Phenomena - The Complete Works (CD)

Phenomena
The Complete Works
by Grigoris Chronis at 16 February 2007, 4:46 PM

Just judging by the names mentioned in the titanic 'lineup' list, this release stands alone as an (at least) 'must-hear' status. The first three PHENOMENA albums, now re-issued in this beautiful (yet 'incomplete') multi-digipack release, give you the chance to see how melody, inspiration and musicianship tied up in one years ago. Tom Galley, thanks for reminding us of some long forgotten facts!
Who the hell is Tom Galley? Brother of ex-WHITESNAKE axeman (in their 'classic' lineup) Mel Galley (also in Trapeze), producer Tom Galley started the multi-media PHENOMENA project in 1982. Co-developed by project director and co-producer Wilfried Rimensberger PHENOMENA featured the gathering of some of the most renowned musicians (of each time) in the Hard Rock/Metal scene for the making of three albums ('till 2006's Psychophantasy comeback?) from 1985 to 1992. Musically based to the 'classic' British Hard Rock formulas of the late 70s/early 80s, but marking an added 'fantasy' dimension,  the PHENOMENA project inserted some key-Media strategic planning in the forms of PHENOMENA musical show, PHENOMENA action-adventure movies and a relative computer game. No mention should be needed for the (then) unknown but promising artists that achieved recognition via this project. So:
I - The recordings started out in 1983 and John Thomas (ex-BUDGIE) marks some excellent chords/melodies in this debut album, while Cozy Powell (RIP) and Glenn Hughes stand in parallel as extraordinaire compatriots to a set of mostly mid-tempo tunes featuring some wonderful semi-digital (back then) keys (call me Don Airey)! A fantastic production sums it up to where the term 'Melodic Rock' derives from the last years.
II - Dream Runner - The tremendous voice of Ray Gillen (BLACK SABBATH, BADLANDS) is the 'top ace' in the follow-up in 1987. On the BMG/RCA label now (Bronze was responsible for the debut release). Passionate, 'sharp' and delicate, Gillen was accompanied by the notable participation of men like e.g. (again) Glenn Hughes, John Wetton (ASIA, KING CRIMSON) and Scott Gorham (THIN LIZZY). II was a step forward for PHENOMENA in the direction of grand sales in the European, American and Japanese market. Featuring the grand successful Did It All for Love single, this album is now considered to be an (in general) 'Rock classic' effort. Splenidid keys, great singing, (again) harmonic chords and the result was overwhelming for PHENOMENA.
III - Inner Vision - The album was released in 1992 and is even one step beyond the supremacy of II - Dream Runner in terms of AOR-ism but less 'British' than the two predecessors! With top artists like Scott Gorham and Brian May in the (now 'poor') project's ranks, Keith Murell (MAMAS BOYS, AIRRACE, almost in FOREIGNER too) proved to be the closing chapter for the time. The reason for the limited lineup was Galley's idea to handle a more 'normal band' status, so as to tour for the promotion of all the albums. Some 'trivia' info speaks for the will of Freddy Mercury himself willing to do some back-up singing for the album (1,000,000 copies gone gone gone, now…) but did not manage to, eventually.
In terms of packaging, the info could be more 'rich' - even if only a 48-page booklet would be essential, in the end of the day - but this is not a crucial drawback for this combo. PHENOMENA was not only a 'British AOR' project, as said by many. This gathering, the songs exposed, the media relevance, the impact of these three recordings in the (then) monolithic Rock/Metal industry was phenomenal. If only - as said, again - the contractual/personal differences were not that unsurpassed, maybe this legacy would be capable enough of carrying on to the new 'flat' world order. You like melodic Hard Rock (anytime, anywhere)? Sink your teeth into this!

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
I - Kiss Of Fire
I - Still The Night
I - Dance With The Devil
I - Phoenix Rising
I - Believe
I - Who's Watching You
I - Hell On Wings
I - Twilight Zone
I - Phenomena
I - Still The Night (bonus track)
I - Karma (bonus track)
I - Coming Back Strong (bonus track)
I - Assassins Of The Night (bonus track)
I - Phoenix Rising (bonus track)
II - Stop
II - Surrender
II - Did It All For Love
II - Hearts On Fire
II - Juke Box
II - Double 6, 55, 44
II - No Retreat, No Surrender
II - Move You Lose
II - Emotion Mama
II - It Must Be Love
II - Did It All For Love (bonus track)
II - Forever (bonus track)
III - Rock House
III - Banzi
III - What About Love
III - Into The Fire
III - A Whole Lot Of Love
III - Secret Of Love
III - If You Want To Rock
III - How Much Do You Love Me
III - Shape It Up   
III - Rock My Soul
III - No Retreat, No Surrender (bonus track)
III - Scalpel And Heart (bonus track)
Lineup:
Glenn Hughes (I,II), Ray Gillen (II), John Wetton (II), Max Bacon (II), Keith Murell (III) - Vocals
Mel Galley (I,II), John Thomas (I), Kyoji Yamamoto (II), Scott Gorham (II,III), Brian May (III) - Guitars
Neil Murray (I,II), Neil Sturgis (II) - Bass
O'Ryan (III) - Bass & Vocals
Don Airey (I), Richard Bailey (I), Robin Smith (I), Leif Johansen (II,III) - Keyboards
Cozy Powell (I, II), Ted McKenna (I), Michael Sturgis (II,III), Toshihiro Niimi (II) - Drums
Pete Green (I), Alison McGinnis (I), Paul Robbins (I) - Backing Vocals
Rick Saunders (I) - Fiddle
Neil Willars (I) - Boy Soloist
Record Label: Escape
     


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