AOR with guts in here and the voice of Mardones…classic!… Shamely he didn’t have the recognition he deserved and went onto the shadow of other singers in the same vein. If you have not heard the power of Benny Mardones, it is not too late. This die hard rocker and electric balladeer launches musical lightning bolts that truly exemplify the spine-tingling live performances that are his trademark.
The self-titled album, or “the blue album” as it is referred to by Benny’s fans, marks his debut on Curb records. Released in 1989 filled with keyboards, great guitars, superb melodies, catchy sing along choruses that you will never get tired of singin’ them, and that unique voice Mardones had. The crisp sound and detailed musical arrangement allows listener to feel the emotion and passion behind each and every song.
The line up consisted by Jeff Porcaro (Toto, Tommy Denander, Richard Marx, Robin Beck) on drums, Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Gregg Rolie) and Duane Evans on guitars, bassist John Pierce (Steve Lukather, Corey Hart, Tommy Shaw, Jaime Kyle) and the legendary Mark Mangold on keyboards. With the help of Mark Mangold, Mark Spiro and Robert Tepper nothing can go wrong.
This album is a virtual world’s best rollercoaster taking you for more than just “a little ride”. Be prepared to turn the volume up with most of these songs, like “We’ve Got to Run” and the power driven “Close to the Flame” shows Benny in rare rocker form….Yeah, he’s got the long hair and raspy voice…but Benny is more of a balladeer than a rock.
The melodies of these songs will travel you back to a time when music like this dominated throughout the world with its harmonies and catchy choruses. One of the best song in this album is “How Could You Love Me” as musically and vocally it is one of the most complete songs you will ever listen to. If you have ever listened to a song just to hear one instruments piece in a song, the sax is done so well it will beckon you to play it over and over. The keyboards and vocals are so complimentary in this song and throughout the album. In other songs, take for instance “I Never Really Loved You at All”, Benny let’s you relax by taking the slamming drums and rocking guitars out of the song, but the full force of his lion’s roar voice, and a commanding sense of passion remain.
Benny defines passion in his music, for those that need a working definition. It just so happens that the man has an incredible voice to do so with, as can be heard on his biggest hit “Into the Night” a very popular adult contemporary cult classic all these years later. Not many people realize, however, that the 1989 version is more than just a re-release. It’s a little different “sounding” than the original 1980 version. The 1989 version has more of a “wall” sound in the instrumentation that I don’t care for as much as the more melodic sound of the 1980 version.
Either way, the song is more than just a silly love song. There’s an element of unrelenting pain in Mardones’ voice that can only be explained after listening to the song. I love the way the song builds, from a soft ballad, to almost screaming in pain. Unique tune. A classic in its own sense. “For a Little Ride”, “I’ll Be Good to You”, “If You Loved Me”, “Never Far Away” and “Run to You”, are all meek love songs backed by hollow guitar and keyboards, having memorable and catchy chorus with many harmony backing vocals. Mardones’ voice does come off as enchanting and smooth, carrying highs and beefing up the choruses with grace.
When you do set aside enough time to hear this album through, you won’t want to stop, not even for a bathroom break. A killer melodic rock record that worth a place to everyone’s collection.
Benny Mardones – Vocals
Jeff Porcaro – Drums
John Pierce – Bass
Dave Amato – Guitar
Duane Evans – Guitar
Mark Mangold – Keyboards
Alex Acuña – Percussion
Dennis Belfield – Bass
Ron Bloom – Guitar
Gary Falcone – Backing vocals
Al Fritsch – Guitars, backing vocals
Claude Gaudette – Keyboards
Ron Krasinski – Drums
Bobby Martin – Organ, saxophone
Michael Thompson – Guitar
1. I Never Really Loved You at All
2. For a Little Ride
3. How Could You Love Me
4. Into the Night
5. We’ve Got to Run
6. I’ll Be Good to You
7. If You Loved Me
8. Never Far Away
9. Close to the Flame
10. Run to You
Review by http://melodic-hardrock.com