Scottish legends Strangeways started off their climb to AOR cult-fandom with this debut release from 1985.
Written by: gdmonline
SERIAL: 207 417
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Scotland
LINEUP: Tony Liddell – vocals * Ian Stewart – guitars, vocals * David Stewart – bass, vocals * Dave Drummond – drums, vocals * Alan Thomson – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Kid Needs Love * 02 Hold Back Your Love * 03 Close To The Edge * 04 Heartbreak Zone * 05 Cry Out * 06 Power Play * 07 Breakin’ Down The Barriers * 08 Now It’s Gone * 09 More Than Promises * 10 Hold Tight
Scottish legends Strangeways started off their climb to AOR cult-fandom with this debut release from 1985. I say Scottish, but in heritage only, as by this stage of their brief career, most of their time had been spent away from Scotland. Formed from the ashes of Glasgow band China White, the band’s major force is guitarist Ian Stewart.
Stewart also doubles as the principal songwriter. A deal was signed with the Canadian Bonaire Group (home for prog band Saga), while the band went off to Switzerland to record the debut album with producer Kevin Elson (Journey, Shooting Star) in tow.
Strangeways were about a year ahead of the hair-metal explosion, with the likes of Bon Jovi and Europe competing for trans-atlantic honors during 1986. Though this album was highlighted in the same year, it was over-shadowed by other material out there at the same time. Despite that, there is some strong material to be heard.
Songs such as ‘Hold Back Your Love’, ‘Close To The Edge’ and the wonderful ‘Break Down The Barriers’. Just below that tier, you can include numbers like the rollicking ‘Power Play’, ‘The Kid Needs Love’ and ‘Now Its Gone’, the latter sounding like fellow UK rockers Outside Edge. Elsewhere, the band are less AOR and decidedly heavier on tracks such as ‘Cry Out’ and the closer ‘Hold Tight’.
This was an excellent start for the band, demonstrating their ability as a British act, however it did not sell as much as they would’ve hoped. This was in part due to their support gigs where the audience weren’t familiar with the material, while the album was better known offshore, as was the case with most melodic rock having to be imported into the UK at the time.
Not long after this release, Tony Liddell was replaced by the superior Atlanta based singer Terry Brock, an unknown singer at the time, but one who the Strangeways guys knew through the industry, and who was the ‘one guy’ the band really wanted. His vocal performances on Strangeways’ subsequent albums is now stuff of legend. ‘Strangeways’ the album is still a favourite among many today, including it would seem, Winger guitarist Reb Beach!
As we all know, the strength of this album would be eclipsed by the next pair ‘Native Sons’ and ‘Walk In The Fire’, both of these taking on a pristine quality, whereas this one feels slightly heavy-handed in comparison. All three albums are absolute essentials in the AOR scheme of things! As for their 90’s material, Umm best left unsaid I think, However, you can pick all three Strangeways albums from the 80’s era via Rock Candy Records.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
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