November In Metal, Part II: Jimi Jamison and Issa
Stand up! Believe It! “The Voice” is back with a new record and holy 80’s hell, it’s fantastic. If you don’t recognize the name, Jimi Jamison was the lead singer of Target, Cobra and is mostly known for his work with Survivor taking over the duties from Dave Bickler starting with 1984’s Vital Signs. He went solo in 1991 releasing a couple albums before doing work with other artists and touring quite a bit. His last two records were collaborations with Survivor guitarist Jim Peterik and then one with Bobby Kimball from Toto.
You never really know what you’re going to get with a new album from a classic ’80s AOR rocker. The majority of time they haven’t reinvented themselves, which is fine. But more often than not, they end up putting together an album of three really catchy tunes that would have been hits in 1986 and then 9 filler tracks. It’s increasingly rare these days to have an artist like Jimi Jamison stick to their roots and still crank out an album that rocks with the best of them, but here we are with Never Too Late.
The album is 11 tunes of pure ’80s hard rock and power ballads like you loved back in the day. Certainly not a coincidence with the title at all, one listen to “Street Survivor” will bring you back to “High On You” or “Burning Heart” and have you searching for the headband, fingerless leather gloves and too tight stone washed jeans.
Jamison’s rightfully went overseas to find his current band, made up of a bunch of Swedes, the most prominent being guitarist and songwriter Erik Mårtensson, who has a huge influence on keeping the sound vintage and yet still very much exciting. But really, it still all comes down to Jamison’s voice with may very well be the perfect tone for melodic AOR. It always was great and it still is at the age of 61. He rocks out on tunes like “Everybody’s Got A Broken Heart” and the title track, but what is an AOR record if the power ballads aren’t stellar? One listen to the epic “The Air I Breathe” will easily tell you that this a record you need to hear. It’s probably the best new arena rock ballad that you’ve heard in many years.
What you really need to do, it pop this in the rotation right behind Songs for the End of the World by Rick Springfield and spend a day hearing what it’s like to hear two fantastic musicians making some of the best music of their career. This is without a doubt, Jimi Jamison’s best overall work. Absolutely irresistible.
Speaking of melodic rock, there’s Issa. I don’t know much about this woman other than the fact that she’s Norwegian and the press release says she’s been compared to Celine Dion and Avril Lavigne. That should have been enough to make me throw this in the garbage but I’m glad I didn’t. Can’t Stop has nothing to do with either of those two artists, thankfully. It’s actually an album of AOR covers. And to her credit, she didn’t pick tunes by say…oh…Survivor and Journey. Instead Issa chose nuggets that you have to dig deep in the crate to find. Songs from Regatta, 21 Guns, Blvd, King Kobra and others on albums that you either can’t find these days or will locate ten copies for a quarter at your local thrift store. It’s totally okay though because she pulled the gems out from these groups.
You might have heard some of these if you were heavily into AOR back in day. Then again, you might also think you’ve heard everyone of them as they all fit the semi-generic formula to make a great arena ready rock song. And despite being an ’80s head myself, I’m only familiar with about half the tracks but I’m pretty certain based on those half that he and her band haven’t done a heck of a lot with the arrangements, pretty much staying very true to the originals just with better production. And it’s cool hearing tunes like “If You Ever Fall” and Regatta’s “Wherever You Run” sung by a powerful voiced female. She’s also wearing a lace top with short shorts on the cover and is honestly, pretty damn sexy. That doesn’t hurt things at all for me.
As I said, I know nothing else from this woman other than this record but she should stick with what she’s doing here. Even if she can’t write a song that sounds like these, she’s chosen rare enough tunes that she could release the AOR versions of those damn Songbook records and make a nice career out of this.
Original by Aviator