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FM ‘Long Time No See’ (Escape Music ESM086 2003)

A triple CD set of one of the finest British AOR bands. FM called it a day back in the late 90’s but are back again, with a new album due later this year, also on Escape. Joining vocalist Steve Overland, bass player Merv Goldsworthy and drummer Pete Jupp on the new album will be ex-Asia/Ultravox/Ten guitarist Vinnie Burns. But before that you can whet your appetite with this release.

Disc one is entitled ‘Paraphernalia’ and rounds-up rare tracks and re-recorded classics. This CD saw the light of day in Japan a little while ago. Highlights are plenty, but pick of the bunch are, ‘I’ll Be There’ which is a glorious ballad featuring plenty of harmonies and a soulful vocal from Steve Overland, ‘Promised Land’ which follows a similar path and the up tempo pop rock of ‘Finish What You Started’, complete with a blistering guitar solo midway through. Re-recorded numbers (all done in 1998) are ‘Frozen Heart’, ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Burning My Heart Down’. ‘Frozen Heart’ stands out with its bigger production than the original.

1992’s ‘Aphrodisiac’ album is on disc two, where the band (now with guitarist Andy Barnett and less keyboard player Didge Digital) added more blues and soul to their AOR sound. A very underrated album at the time, with vocalist Steve Overland really excelling himself, none more so than on ‘Breathe Fire, with its full on rock sound. Lots of guitar backed by subtle keyboards, which take a more backseat role than on previous albums. FM come into their own on the slow burner songs like ‘Closer To Heaven’, starting acoustically and building up to the choruses nicely. ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Rivers Run Dry’ also stand out on the CD as well. Two bonus tracks for good measure as well, ‘Chinese Whispers’ and an acoustic version of ‘Closer To Heaven’.

A live concert form London’s Astoria makes up the third disc in the set. All the FM classics are here - ‘American Girls’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Face To Face’ and ‘The Other Side Of Midnight’. You also get a rollicking cover of Rod Stewart’s ‘Hot Legs’. A great live set and hopefully the band will be out touring again soon!

FM fans will love this release, including an informative booklet and some very dodgy hairstyles on the inner CD sleeves! Along with Thunder, one of the better melodic rock bands to emerge from the UK in the past decade. Well worth your money.

Website

****

Review by Jason Ritchie

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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