VON GROOVE Von Groove Z Records (2006)
With no new Von Groove product for a number of years now, on the eve of their return to the UK for this year’s Z Records festival, the label have reissued the Canadian melodic rockers’ first, best-known, album from 1992.
Opener ‘once is not enough’ is a class anthem that filled the dancefloor in the heyday of Maximes in Wigan and is one of four tracks on the album produced by the legendary Ritchie Zito. One of the others, House of Dreams, with echoes of fellow countrymen Triumph, is probably the stand out track on the album. The heavier numbers, though immaculately played and sung, generally lack a spark of originality to separate them from the myriad hair metal bands of that time. However what distinguishes this album are a trio of superb ballads- Once in a lifetime, Arianne and Love keeps bringing me home- with acoustic guitars providing the perfect foil to Michael Shotton’s excellent voice, in the mould of Tyketto and Nelson. Each of them could have broken Von Groove into the big time, but for the fact that the album came out just as grunge was changing everything.
The reissue also adds two rawer bonus tracks, Soldier of Fortune and King of the World, recorded live. More could have been done with the presentation however; there are no additional sleeve notes to place the album in context and the original artwork seems to have been rather grainily scanned in.
For fans of Firehouse, Hardline and ‘Back for the attack’ era Dokken, this is still worth checking out for the excellent half dozen or so tunes on offer.
Review by Andy Nathan