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HOWARD LEESE Secret Weapon Frontiers (2009)

Howard Leese

The title of Howard Leese's debut solo album reflects the self-deprecating nature of one of rock's most respected, if under appreciated names. He spent over 20 years in Heart, where he played most of the lead guitar solos, contrary to what you may gather from seeing the rather more telegenic Wilson sisters on the videos, and most recently has been a member of Paul Rodgers' touring band.

He has enlisted a number of big names and the ever present Joe Lynn Turner turns opener Alive Again (with stylistic similarities to Wanted Dead or Alive) and third track Hot to Cold into hard rocking songs with an air of Bad Company, Foreigner and Gamma. However the bluesy rockers such as South Summit, reminiscent of Robin Trower, are balanced out by no less than five instrumentals, mostly fairly dreamy, losing the momentum.

Paul Rodgers turns in a typically silky vocal performance on Heal The Broken Hearted, while Jimi Jamison takes a turn on The Vine, and it sounds like a Survivor ballad.

Therein perhaps lies the problem with the album - the very versatility and restraint that makes Howard Leese such a respected musician also means he lacks a firm identity of his own to put his stamp on proceedings. But followers of bluesy rock will still find much to enjoy here.


Review by Andy Nathan

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***** 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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