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Never Say Never
4.0 stars

So here it is… And only slightly longer than it took for the new GUNS ‘N ROSES album to be finished! Seriously though, “Never Say Never” is the album ALIAS recorded back in 1992 to follow up the classic AOR self-titled debut but it just never saw the light of day. Until now that is, so I guess that is why you never do say never!

If you are at all familiar with this band that featured the combined forces of members of HEART and Canadian AORsters SHERIFF then you probably know exactly what to expect. Truth be told though this release is probably a bit more “metallic” and rocking than the debut as the band most likely were drawing on the influences of the music world circa 1992. Now I certainly aren’t talking METALLICA here, but compared to their debut, it has little bit more of an edge overall.

The record opens with “Woman Enough” which has a bit of a “cock rock” approach with its subject matter. It’s actually a bit of surprise to hear a track like this from ALIAS but it retains just enough class to make the grade. Surprisingly enough this a track that appeared on the James Christian (HOUSE OF LORDS) album “Rude Awakening” back in 1994. “XTCOI” is up next with a similar feel and overall the opening two tracks remind me of the (Mitch) MALLOY “88” disc. Not a bad thing at all but a little more in the vein of run of the mill melodic rock if you will.

Things turn up a notch with “How Much Longer Is Forever” as this sounds more like prime ALIAS but with that aforementioned edge. The guitars are solid, as are the vocals of Freddy Curci. Make no mistake; it’s easy to see this album was recorded years ago, as I don’t know too many bands (except maybe Sweden’s H.E.A.T.) that can come up with music sounding like this today. But as long as you understand what your listening to (ie: an archive release) it’s quite enjoyable as the production is superb and huge just like you remember in the good ole days!

“Give Me A Reason To Stay” is the first ballad of the album and its acoustic guitars accompanied by string arrangements have a bit of a BEATLESflair. It’s not your traditional “hair band ballad” but a little more left of center and pretty cool.

“Wild Wild One” brings the mid-80’s AOR sound back on track with melodic vocals from Curci and the big “chanting” sing-along background vocals. It’s not anything you haven’t heard before but again it is done with enough class that a lesser band may not be able to pull off as well.

“Pleasure And Pain” is another track that appeared on the James ChristianRude Awakening” album. It’s a great mellow track with its acoustic undertones but the electric solo is supercharged with emotion and it makes for a great song overall. The same goes for “The Warden” as this is another Christian-recorded tune. It’s a bluesy number with some southern acoustic guitar sounds featured throughout. Again, it’s something I am a bit surprised to hear from a band like ALIAS but it adds depth to the group’s sound and it’s always good to throw the listener a curve ball to keep their attention I say!

“Bare Necessity” comes full circle, as it’s a classic AOR track with its great hook and sing-along chorus. It’s a highlight so far for sure, as is the next track “All I Want Is You”. It’s a slower/mid-tempo tune with some more of the aforementioned Mitch Malloy nuances, especially in the vocals of Curci.

It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that the disc features 16 tracks (17 if you include the European bonus track-which is the copy I have for review) so there is a lot of material to cover here.

“Call Of The Wild” comes off as a little paint-by-numbers with its rocking “shuffle” feel accentuated with horns. It’s not bad but just a little typical. Some points should be given for a nice little guitar solo on this one though.

“Diamonds” is a beautiful acoustic piece that highlights Curci’s smooth vocals. It’s minimalist in its approach but works wonderfully as it’s primarily just an acoustic guitar and Curci .

You could be forgiven in thinking you're hearing ALIAS cover QUEEN’s “We Will Rock You” on “Play Me Song” as it opens with that familiar drum beat. The song never quite reaches the heights of the QUEEN classic but then again I don’t think it was intended to. Still I feel it could have been a major influence when the band penned the tune. “We Want It All” continues to throw in a bit of QUEEN subtleties as its mixed again with those Mitch Malloy sounds I’ve already mentioned a couple times.

“Perfect World” is a song that the band featured on the 1991 soundtrack album for “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead”. The Glen Burtnick-penned tune is a solid track and one of the better ones on the record. It’s one of those songs where the chorus just stays with you for a while after hearing it.

The band takes a stab at the JON BON JOVI-esque solo style with “Into The Fire” as it’s a song that resembles something off the “Blaze Of Glory” disc. It’s a tune with Cowboy-themed lyrics that I didn’t care much for the vocals in the beginning but Curci finishes up strong on it for sure.

The album ends with “Who Do You Think You Are” and it sounds like something of a leftover track as the drums have a totally different sound from the previous material. Not a bad song but it actually sounds like something that could have been a demo pre-dating the debut. It just has that type of a feel to me.

As mentioned earlier the European version on Angelmilk Records features an exclusive bonus track. “Call Me” was a b-side from the debut disc and it’s a cool tune sounding almost like the great HONEYMOON SUITE.

All in all, this is a great release to finally see the light of day. Some AOR freaks out there can now finally replace an inferior sounding bootleg that has been making the rounds for years. And others who have never heard the boot but were a fan of the classic debut can now add a nice collection of tunes to sit alongside that first record. So mark March 20, 2009 on your calendar and remember to always “Never Say Never” when it comes to ALIAS!

Band Lineup:
  • Freddy Curci – Vocals
  • Steve DeMarchi – Guitars
  • Marco Mendoza – Bass
  • Larry Aberman – Drums
  • Robert O’Hearn – Keyboards
  • Dennis DeMarchi – Keyboards


Track Listing:
  1. Woman Enough
  2. XTCOI
  3. How Much Longer Is Forever
  4. Give Me A Reason
  5. Wild Wild One
  6. Pleasure And Pain
  7. The Warden
  8. Bare Necessity
  9. All I Want Is You
  10. Call Of The Wild
  11. Diamonds
  12. Play Me A Song
  13. We Want It All
  14. Perfect World
  15. Into The Fire
  16. Who Do You Think You Are
  17. Call Me (European bonus track)


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