Longtime AOR veteran Stan Bush delivers his fourteenth album and a goodie it is too, though his persistent use of the term ‘dream’ will have many wondering why?
Written by: Dave T
ARTIST: Stan Bush
ALBUM: Dare To Dream
LABEL: L.A. Records
CD INFO: Discogs Info List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Stan Bush – vocals * Holger Fath – guitar, bass, keyboards * Craig Yamek – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Born To Fight * 02 Dare To Dream * 03 The Times Of Your Life * 04 A Dream Of Love * 05 The 80’s * 06 Live And Breathe * 07 Heat Of Attack * 08 Dream Big * 09 True Believer * 10 Never Give Up * 11 Home
Fourteenth solo album from the Orlando, Fla.-born, longtime LA resident AOR ace Stan Bush. His impressive resume includes an Emmy award on the Best Original Song category for his track ‘Til I Was Loved By You’ in 1997, his song ‘Capture The Dream’ featured in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and of course his pièce de résistance: ‘The Touch’.
‘The Touch’ featured in 1986’s ‘Transformers: The Movie’ as well as in 2018’s ‘Bumblebee’, the latest film on that saga. In 2014, Bush was inducted into the Transformers Hall Of Fame. That song was also featured in the movie ‘Boogie Nights’ and in the series ‘Chuck’, ‘American Dad’, and ‘The Goldbergs’, as well as in the video games ‘Guitar Hero’ and ‘Saints Row IV’.
Let’s not forget his outstanding releases, the self-titled solo album from 1983 and 1987’s ‘Stan Bush & Barrage’; both reviewed here at Glorydazemusic.
Bush’s music and lyrics usually convey a sense of forward-thinking attitude, hope and dreams. This album is no exception, just take a look at the song titles. Production at first seemed as a little subdued. However, after a few listens you realize the drums sound like real drums, the guitars and vocals are placed where they should be and the sound is bright and punchy without unnecessary compression.
Then, there’s Stan’s voice. Customary, with age comes the loss of vocal harmonics. At 67, if the singer lost anything in that field he more than offsets it with clarity, perfect tuning and power. The songs are everything an AOR fan can ask for, minus a few duds I’ll expand upon in the review. One are the lyrics, slightly repetitive regarding subjects, like fighting for one’s life. (Note: there’s even a mention to the ‘Danger Zone’ on ‘True Believer’).
For ‘Born To Fight’, Bush teams up once again with composer Lenny Macaluso (‘The Touch’). The result is one of the hits of the album to these ears, along with ‘The 80’s’. An epic, tailor-made for soundtrack song, AOR galloping included. No doubts why it was chosen for Netflix’s Anime series.
The title track pleases with its classic midtempo AOR approach while the reflective ‘The Times Of Your Life’ includes a trademark-Bush, superb refrain. The power ballad ‘A Dream Of Love’ follows, borrowing Foreigner‘s ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ vibe in the synths. Yet, a very good song.
‘The 80’s’ has hit written all over it, and while the guitar arpeggios, power chords and pieces of the chorus have many points in common with Def Leppard‘s ‘Animal’, it really captures the 80’s spirit as only few songs can these days. Where most bands would sound forced when trying to achieve that, Bush sounds absolutely natural.
‘Live And Breathe’ is a piano ballad in which the singer’s delivery is astonishing. Few privileged can sing with such passion. ‘Heat Of Attack’ openly borrows the verses and bits of Survivor‘s ‘Burning Heart’ riff. Another good epic, soundtrack kind of song. Unfortunately, the resemblance with Rocky IV’s OST main song is too much for me.
No signs of wear near the end of the album as the synth-driven, vintage 80’s song ‘Dream Big’ is remarkable. ‘True Believer’ revives the early Foreigner formula of staccato keys and crunchy guitars. The power of Bush’s voice and his inflections are magnificent.
The catchy ‘Never Give Up’ brought to my mind both Tina Turner‘s ‘The Best’ and mid 80’s, synth-heavy Van Halen. Finally, the introspective acoustic ‘Home’ rounds off the album.
Look no further than ‘Dare To Dream’ to keep your spirits high in this 2020, for it delivers a much-needed message of hope surrounded by the kind of music we all love: classic AOR with capital letters.
No fillers here, only a few borrowed ideas and the fact that it sticks to a well-known formula without daring to risk (yes, pun intended) prevent me from giving it a higher rating. In the end, let’s not intellectualize, but enjoy instead the music of the one and only Stan Bush, that’s as good as it gets for the purist AOR fan.
Born To Fight