American Tears had originally operated as a trio, and it wasn’t until the band was re-vamped for ‘Powerhouse’, and in particular Craig Brooks augmented the line-up, that the band began to look like the finished article, hinting at future glories.
Written by: Richard B
ARTIST: American Tears
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Craig Brooks – guitars, vocals * Mark Mangold – keyboards, vocals * Glenn Kithcart – drums, percussion * Kirk Powers – bass, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Slow Train * 02 Promise To Be Free * 03 Listen (Can You Feel It) * 04 Lookin’ For Love * 05 Can’t Keep From Cryin’ * 06 Don’t Give It Away * 07 Say You’ll Stay * 08 Last Chance For Love * 09 Born To Love
‘Powerhouse’ was the final and most satisfying of American Tears trio of 70’s albums principally because it was a prototype of the late, great, sorely lamented Touch. As most of our readers are no doubt aware, Touch‘s debut is a defining moment of 80’s Pomp/AOR which is still universally feted by the melodic rock community many years after it’s original release.
American Tears debut ‘Branded Bad’ and it’s follow up ‘Tear Gas’ were rather turgid examples of early 1970’s progressive rock, which like a trip to the dentist are best avoided. Whereas fine wine or whiskey improves with the passage of time, the same cannot be said for these albums.
They’re best left languishing in the mid 1970’s where they belong. American Tears had originally operated as a trio, and it wasn’t until the band was re-vamped for ‘Powerhouse’, and in particular Craig Brooks augmented the line-up, that American Tears began to look like the finished article, hinting at future glories.
Opener ‘Slow Train’ kicks off proceedings, being fairly indicative of mid/late 1970’s hard rock and if you’ll pardon the pun, chugs along in a fairly pedestrian manner. It’s a pleasant enough listen, though hardly earth shattering, the sheer quality of the vocal harmonies between Messr’s Brooks, Mangold and Powers, elevating it to above average status.
The ballad ‘Jesse Please’ evokes comparison with ‘Love Don’t Fail Me Now’ from Touch‘s debut, but if I’m being honest it lacks the crescendo of biting guitar and vocal pyrotechnics displayed by Craig Brooks on the latter.
‘Listen Can You Feel It’, however does not disappoint and is one of the best tracks on offer here. Weighing in at a hefty 7 minutes plus, it is slightly different in arrangement from the revamped Touch version however no less effective as a result.
The subdued melancholic opening evolving into the kind of guitar/keyboard fuelled romp all Touch fans know and love. Side one closer ‘Lookin’ For Love’ is full of late 1970’s period charm exhibiting some nice guitar runs from Craig Brooks and oodles of atmospheric keyboards from Mark Mangold.
Side two opens on a promising note with ‘Can’t Keep From Cryin’ – the keyboard intro is lifted straight from the Angel song book and the song has a suitably overblown pompous chorus. This proves to be a false dawn though when followed by the uninspiring ‘Don’t Give It Away’ – ‘plodding’ rather than ‘exhilarating’ is the first adjective that springs to mind.
The hard driving ‘Say You’ll Stay’ is infinitely better, it’s polished harmonies contrasting nicely with the rough and ready guitar. Finally we’re ‘treated’ (please note the use of irony here) to the original version of ‘Last Chance For Love’, which is laboured at best, the band sound like they performed this whilst under the influence of heavy sedation. Even allowing for the passage of time, it still fares badly alongside the turbo-charged Touch version.
I was always a big fan of Craig Brooks rough’n’ready guitar sound which was the perfect foil for Mark Mangold’s keyboard pyrotechnics. Brooks was also highly adept at trading lead and harmony vocals with Mangold and for these reasons it was a match made in (AOR) heaven. I don’t think Mark Mangold was ever able to reproduce the same chemistry again, even with Al Fritsch in Drive She Said.
With ‘Powerhouse’ It’s therefore interesting to hear the fledging Brooks/Mangold partnership before it blossomed several years later. However, I suspect this album’s appeal is limited to die-hard Touch fans who no doubt already have the CD re-release in their collections.
American Tears on Video
Last Chance For Love
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