Tony Mills - Beyond the Law

Tony Mills Beyond the Law cover
Tony Mills
Beyond the Law
Battlegod Productions
Tony Mills was the vocalist of British rockers Shy, for quite a while, was one of the founders of Siam and sung for Serpentine for a few years, substituted for the other Tony (Harnell that is) in TNT over a number of albums that unfortunately did little in the way of maintaining their legacy (not due to his singing however) and has had about half a dozen or so albums since the early 00s.
This is his last album, as a solo artist, since he has to take a bow from performing due to health complications. In for the ride are guys like Tommy Denander (Alice Cooper) and Patrick McKenna (Shy), as well as some lesser known session players.
The entire album is themed around crime and mafiossos, so lyrics and such follow those lines… a bit of an unlikely subject for AOR/MR, but it is what it is.
Opener “The Westside” is a mid-tempo number in the vain of mid period TNT, but other than a nice solo and a cool chorus, it suffers a little.
“Beyond the Law” is heavier and a little faster, with nice elements, but the whole crime/noir theme feels like a double-edged sword. Legs Diamond did this sort of thing fine – ie “Fugitive”… but this ain’t as menacing and exactly that overt reliance on melody and prog feel seem to be counteract all the cool things about it.
“Running Guns” feels like a mid-tempo AOR with a superb chorus, but doesn’t seem to get the rest of its ducks in order, despite a tasteful solo by Denander.
On “F.B.I”, which is much faster, almost everything seems to fall into place, other than a specific verse that sticks out like a sore thumb. Also the line “you got a record – but it’s not on the radio”… my god, I felt several of my brain-cells committing ritualistic suicide, after I heard that one… if not for the groovy hard-hitting chorus that follows it up, I would have really hollered out in despair.
“Black Sedan” is a lot better and gets close to where it should be but gets no proverbial cigar.
“We Sold your City” is AOR that gets heavier around the chorus, but its chorus misses the mark, instead having a pre-chorus that does the heavy lifting. Overall however, it just feels like a mishmash.
“Crackin’ Foxy” can’t decide if it’s flashy hi-tec LA AOR or if it wants to walk the more bluesy melodic rock avenue. The fake “police dispatches” also don’t aid its cause.
“Bonnie’s Farewell” opens with some nice sax. Mills refrains from breaking into his highest notes immediately on this one, he doesn’t even use his entire range and he’s thus able to deliver a song with great emotional scope, perfectly. Along with “F.B.I” one of the songs that really immediately “worked” for me.
“Code of Silence” has this riff that’s reminiscent of Oldfield’s “Shadow on the Wall” but diversifies itself sufficiently in the vocal melodies department, without however becoming superbly memorable at any point.
“Gunfire”, which closes the album, has some keys reminiscent of “Spotlight Kid” during its buildup, but a chorus that’s more reminiscent of Ten. It’s faster pace and overall melody help it to be more memorable than most of what’s on offer on the album. I am not the biggest fan of the choral section it has, but otherwise it’s OK.
It’s unfortunate that Tony’s career is coming to a close in such an abrupt way, but his recent diagnosis with a terminal disease, really meant that things could not have turned out, much differently. With all the issues that plague its creation the album unfortunately is unable to reach the heights of some of Tony’s previous and more illustrious efforts, but the guy’s determination to finish it, is quite remarkable and commendable. It overall sounds like a mix between mid-era Legs Diamond and TNT… and in a way it signifies the end; Tony’s determination to not leave anything unfinished and the fact that he sung while in pain, deserves only respect and admiration. Sad to see such a good guy go…
PS: It’s with great sadness that we heard of Tony’s untimely passing, due to complications from pancreatic cancer. RIP…