Pride Of Lions, purveyors of high quality AOR that transports the listener back to the 80’s, where playing a keytar wasn’t only considered the norm, but positively frowned upon if a music video didn’t feature one, are back with their fifth album. Led by Jim Peterik (of Survivor fame) and Toby Hitchcock, Pride Of Lions have proved countless times that they are indeed a band, as it’s the same players on ‘Fearless’ as it was way back in 2003 on the self titled debut. I consider Peterik a kindred spirit, even though we’ve never met. We were both struck down in the 80’s by the terrible affliction of wearing comedy sized glasses so massive that they had to be a joke. Fast forward a few decades, the glasses have got smaller, the hair shorter (and in Peterik’s case, purple), but the love of a great melody and a song with a hook is still as strong as ever.
Pride Of Lions’ current single ‘All I See Is You’ opens the album up with a jaunty keyboard/violin intro that has seen comparisons made to Kansas. I’d say that it’s more Bruce Springsteen in spirit than the band that gave the world ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and ‘Dust In The Wind’. In my opinion, the violin helps create a real E Street vibe. The song is a perfect example of two vocal styles meshing together, as both Peterik and Hitchcock mix it up in different ways. Peterik lower in tone, and Hitchcock hitting the high notes. An AOR version of death growls and clean vocals, it certainly is not, but it sure works. ‘All I See Is You’ doesn’t pretend to be anything but an unashamed feel-good anthem, and it carries it off in style. ‘The Tell’ is very Foreigner inspired, as Hitchcock goes full ‘Lou Gramm’. ‘Silent Music’ is another flashback to the days when Foreigner topped the charts worldwide.
Foreigner and Journey might get all the plaudits as pioneers of AOR, but Survivor weren’t merely bit part players. Survivor feature in my top five AOR songs of all time, which is good going, considering that the other four places all belong to Journey! Not, however, for either of the Rocky songs, but for ‘I Can’t Hold Back’ from the ‘Vital Signs’ album. Jimi Jamieson is much missed and his sad death robbed the genre of a vocalist of immense talent. There’s a great deal of ‘Vital Signs’ on ‘Fearless’. The title track itself would not look out of place on the 1984 masterpiece. A sizzling guitar riff blasts out, before the song settles down to a galloping pace. “Take the highest ground, stand and fight, you gotta be harder you gotta be tougher…you gotta be fearless!”… Pride Of Lions for the Rocky 10 soundtrack anyone?
This is, of course, an AOR album, so there have to be some love songs. ‘Everlasting Love’, and ‘The Light In Your Eyes’, are there for the good times. When it all turns to shit, there is ‘The Silence Says It All’. Hitchcock is on fire on the latter… literally on fire… singing perhaps the best he has in his career. He puts in a flawless, hair-raising performance. ‘Unmasking The Mystery’ is a tad sugary for my taste, but repeated plays have seen the song begin to grow on me. Sentimentality seems inherent with the passing of time.
Fearless is available now through Frontiers Music
Review: Dave Stott