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R.A.W. ‘First ’ (MTM Records) (2004)

I have to admit that the name R.A.W. didnít ring any bells and thereís a good reason for that. The band was originally named PUMP, and under that name signed a contract with EMI Sweden. In 1995 they released their first single "First Time Love" which made it to the Swedish charts. Things didnít seem to work out with EMI Sweden and the members of the band decided to make a fresh start by changing their name to R.A.W. The first official release under the new name was their single "Donít Tell me Lies" and a few months later followed their debut album "First" which Iím holding in my hands.

Things are pretty simple here. If you are a Bon Jovi fan you are going to love this album. The founding members of the band, Bo (Vocals) and Anders (Bass) Lindmark seem to be quite big admirers of the multi-platinum Hard Rocker from New Jersey.

The formula they used for the creation of this album is well tested and also quite successful. Your song needs to be based on a nice Hard Rock riff like the one in "Ran Out Of Love". Then you add deep, passionate vocals and if you manage to have a well-structured rhythm section, the success is almost guaranteed. Micke Larson is a really good guitar player. His compositions are quite impressive in almost every song. His opening guitar theme in "50/50" reminded me of Joe Satriani, before the band vocals transformed the song into a typical 80ís American Hard Rock song, of the likes of Poison. "Turn Back Time" and "Donít Tell Me Lies" are both quite enjoyable and easygoing songs. The first ballad of the album is "Michelle", a nice melodic song with acoustic guitar, and something tells me that this is a song dedicated to the daughter of one of the members of the band.

The album continues with the Hard Rock melodies of "Why Stop", the Rock níRoll attitude of "T.G.I.F" and the nice groovy riffs of "Golddiggers" before "Touch Of Love", the second ballad of the album, makes itís appearance. "Touch Of Love" with its gospel tune is a really enjoyable song, and also features a female vocalist with a really good voice whoís name unfortunately I couldnít trace.

You need more proof as to how much the band sounds like Bon Jovi? Just listen to "Too Hot To Handle", a song with great band vocals and well-played guitars (Paul, youíre going to love this one mate!)."Since Youíve been Gone" is another catchy tune and "First Time Love" is a beautiful song with acoustic guitars which will bring a sweet and melodic ending to this album.

This MTM re-release features two bonus tracks "It Just Came Down" and "I Believe", both nice melodic songs with the latter being the third composition featuring acoustic guitars.R.A.Wís debut album represents the Hard Rock spirit of the 80ís, and is just as good as any release of that era. It is an ideal album for anyone who enjoys listening to Bon Jovi and the best thing to play in your car if you have a long-hour drive ahead of you.

****

Review by John Stefanis

***** 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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