AOR - The Secrets of L.A.

AOR The Secrets of L.A. cover
The Secrets of L.A.
Rubicon Music
Frédéric Slama is a bit of a joker... not only is he serially releasing albums of sometimes questionable quality (ie Chasing Violets) mostly based on the singers good looks, rather than purely their abilities, but here he actually repackages a number of cuts from that album along with a few more resign from a who’s who of the scene of modern melodic rock just for a quick cash in. Obviously most of the singers do a decent job, over, Slama’s simple melodies and Spartan orchestrations that are quite derivative. While the players, are all too, handpicked, seasoned west-coast superstars, the production leaves something to be desired.
Onto the song, I am not sure, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard “Deep Whirlpool” someplace before, but I am not sure quite where. Some Frontiers album maybe? Fergie Frederiksen, formerly of Toto and many other bands fame, makes light work of this one, and it’s quite enjoyable, if not a little trite.
“Stage Struck” featuring the “all arounder” Jeff Scott Soto, has all this weird, bizarrely intonated words that seem to be a Slama, trademark, (in a bad way!). The chorus, is almost ok, and Jeff's voice, even if it sounds a little rough is still quite enjoyable... but this ain’t quite a highlight.
“Secrets in the Shadows” features Alien’s Jim Jidhed and is a Chasing Violet’s redux tune. Obviously even if the song was written with a female vocalist in mind – it has been reworked and Jim, fits quite nicely.
“Back to San Francisco” features Chicago’s Bill Champlin?! And is silky and smooth, without tiring... again it tends to remind of something… it’s one enjoyable – summery tune, this one, that actually brought to my mind a recent Houston tune.
“Out of the Past” with Bob Harris, is probably the most – out there, borderline vocal track, with the takes not standing up to close scrutiny, but it does have some character of its own, sounding a bit like a totally stoned, Phil Collins track… cheeky
On “The Name of the Game” Robin Beck is being the absolute, usual, goddess, she usually is. Making the song sound 10 times better than it actually is, without even trying.
“Web of Lies” features Malmsteen alumnus and all-rounder Goran Edman who’s quite respected, this is another “Chasing Violets” remade tune, that Edman makes a very fair version of. In addition he manages to intonate the words correctly even if they are originally pretty awkwardly written in the meters by keeping the backing vocals going so that the cover up the leads, so he can end both at the same time and intonate correctly! Bravo!
“Hollow Triumph” sees Mikael Erlandsson from Last Autumn’s Dream assuming vocal duties and while he’s pretty damn good, the intonation issue rears its ugly head once more! Oh, that too is a “Chasing Violets” song.
Bob Harris seems to be either a good friend or to have been doing 2 for 1s, since he’s also on “The Main Attraction” yet another “Violets” tune, which gets remade. Since he seems to have the widest difference in range from the girls singing the tunes the song is not only slightly dropped, it also sounds quite underwhelming, while it’s not such a bad tune after all.
“Voices in the Wind” has Tamara Champlin singing and is a little bit like Dolly Parton, but in a bad way...
The Japanese edition features two bonus tracks. Yet another Violets remake, “I Owe It to Myself” with vocals by Manu Esteve, from Hardreams which starts on quite high gear but gets puffy pretty quick...
“The Price to Pay” with Houston’s Hank Erix putting in a really inspired and fitting performance, which really fits the style.
The whole albums is really “old rope”, a mishmash, with a few highlights, that seems more like a quick cash in, more than a genuine inspired album. I think most of those songs were wasted on Chasing Violets in the first place, so then Slama, thought, he should not waste them altogether, but still, that’s bad thinking...
If you’re following all those AOR projects and don’t mind some noodle, occasionally good but occasionally second rate west-coast flavored AOR, featuring a shitload of big names, go ahead... be my guest, it’s principally better than the Chasing Violets albums – which it largely rehashes, but that’s not really saying much does it?