DEPARTURECorporate Wheel (Escape Music 2003)
This is the third album by the band formed by guitarist/keyboard player
Mike Walsh. The rest of the band is made-up of vocalist Timothy Lewis, who
replaces Dave Baldwin from the last album, John O’Connell on keyboards, Mike
Beres on bass and drummer Duey Ribestello.
The opening two tracks are awesome! ‘Listen to What I Say’ has a glorious
hook and harmonies - bringing to mind all the best that is AOR! ‘Corporate
Wheel’ has another hookline that stays in your head long after listening and
is very Journey/Hugo in its style. But the band and vocalist are no Journey
clones, having their own style and melding keyboards and guitars to great
effect. Vocalist Timothy Lewis is the band’s secret weapon, sounding similar
to Hugo, Steve Perry and Shy’s Tony Mills in places. He shines again on the
ballad ‘Time’, with lush keyboards and strumming acoustic guitar – an album
highlight after the opening couplet of songs. ‘Down On My Knees’ features
some Styx-like organ and song arrangements coupled with tasty rhythm guitar
- it doesn’t get much better than this!
Other highlights include the uptempo ‘Giving Me A Reason’, the slow
burning ‘Comin’s My Way’ and the epic ballad ‘Look In Your Eyes’. The latter
again has sublime harmonies with the band again combining guitars and
keyboards well to create a lush backdrop.
Already 2003 has seen some great releases - Arena, Karnataka, Kansas -
add this to your shopping list. There have been very few decent AOR albums
in recent years and thankfully this album is a beauty. For all fans of prime
time Journey, Hugo, Styx, Survivor, Shy - you can’t go wrong with this one!
Review by Jason Ritchie