There’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time – somewhere in the depth of my vinyl collection lies “How Long” the 1989 album issued by the original incarnation of the Michael Thompson Band. Frontiers re-issued this album a few years ago with bonus tracks which subsequently lead to the release of this all new album.

Michael Thompson was honoured as “Distinguished Alumni” of the Berklee School of Music back in 2001 to reflect his contribution to the music industry through session work as a guitarist throughout the 1990’s where he played with the likes of Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, Babyface and many others.

For this album he has returned to the feel of “How Long” with an album of classic period AOR songs. Joining Michael is Larry King (not the US chat show host!!) from Soleil Moon, Alan Berliant on bass and Khari Parker on drums. For a connection back to the 80’s the album revisits “Can’t Miss”, the hit single from “How Long”.

The overall feel of the album brings to mind that of up tempo Toto mixed with the classic Giant of “Last of the Runaways” and that is not a bad thing. Production throughout is superb with the Larry King’s powerful vocals given room to shine alongside the blistering guitar work from Michael Thompson – even the slower songs such as “Future Past”,  “Break Me Down” and “Gypsy Rose” feature some cracking guitar solos.

Opener “High Times” is a full-on rocker and an excellent way to kick off the album. The mixture of slower numbers together with the more lively numbers soon leads through to the closing pair of “Can’t Miss 2012” and “Fight For Your Life” which leave you on a high and thinking maybe one more play…

Highly enjoyable listen – I’ll have to dig out that vinyl and revisit “How Long” now…

Phil Berisford