Simply put, this album is one of the very best discs that has ever been made in the AOR music category. During the late seventies and early eighties the American rock scene was bursting with deliciously ambitious talent, none more so than New York based quintet Touch.
Touch were a rock band formed in 1978, led by Mark Mangold (songwriter and keyboards), Glen Kithcart (drums) and Craig Brooks (guitars), which had all previously beel in the band America Tears. The line up was completed by bassist Doug Howard.
Their single, “Don’t You Know What Love Is” only reached #69 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song was played heavily on AOR stations in the USA at the end of the 70s, and reached the #1 spot on the Melody Maker chart in Great Britain. Touch were the first band to play at the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington racetrack in 1980. Focusing on supremely crafted songs with huge hooks, luscious vocals and razor sharp arrangements, the band’s debut album immediately struck a chord with fans and critics alike. With such rich talent on display it was hardly surprising to find that the band courted by some of the biggest powers in the indusrty including Deep Purple manager Bruce Payne, and Atlantic Records sister label Atco, with whom the band eventually signed in 1980. Produced by renowned
English producer Tim Friese Greene, the Touch album caused a sensation amongst fans of the genre being hailed as in instant classic and a record that would go on to become a touchstone for AOR in general.
Their sound can be described as power rock, with well crafted songwriting and plenty of soaring harmony vocals by Brooks suited perfectly with Mangold’s striking keyboards. As I already mention the whole album is a big highlight but I’ll focus on some tracks that have intrigued me, started from the opener “Don’t You Know What Love Is” their trademark signature which later Drive She Said covered on their debut release of 1989 under the name of “Don’t You Know”. The song was the anthem of this record and garnered most of the AOR aiplay feature great goldy harmony vocals, electrifying guitars, symphonic keyboards and a catchy chorus to die for, plus the keyboard overkill “When the Spirit Moves You” that quickly followed in its footsteps. Angelic multi vocals, tons of keys, a goldy melody thoughout and a huge chorus will
leave you speechless. Other killers include the majestic keyboard opus of “So High”, that easily could have been hit, and an out and out rocker, “Black Star”, which gives the band an extra dimension. I’ll stand little more on the epic “So High”, because except the ultra fantastic keys (check the key solo in the middle) there is an incredible and catchy chorus that will makes you fly in the clouds. How did they manage to create such an anthem who ranks up there with the finest STYX-ian moments. I can say that this is propably one of the ultimate pomp tunes I ever heard. Of course we must not forget the powerful that power ballad “Yes (You Need to Rock N’ Roll)”, which strays into the maudlin or overly sentimental and the high rolling “Take It Back” serves up a feast of tasty keyboards, but the guitar work here is exemplary with fantastic soloing.
What I love about this album is its ingenuous and unashamed belief in itself. The debut is the best or at least one of the best pomp rock albums ever released without a doubt. This record has everything that a fan of this type of music would ever want. I would recommend it to anybody even though many would be discouraged by the label AOR. A MUST!!!
Craig Brooks – Vocals, guitar
Mark Mangold – Vocals, keyboards
Doug Howard – Vocals, bass
Glenn Kithcart – Drums
01. Don’t You Know What Love Is
02. When The Spirit Moves You
03. Love Don’t Fail Me
04. Black Star
05. There’s A Light
06. Take It Back [1989 Bonus Track] 07. So High
08. Last Chance For Love
09. Yes (You Need To Rock ‘N Roll)
10. Listen (Can You Feel It)
Review by http://melodic-hardrock.com