PHENOMENA – II: Dream Runner

Ariola 1987 / Cherry Red 2018

PHENOMENA - II: Dream Runner

PHENOMENA –
II: Dream Runner

Sweet escapism into nightmare in search of tinseltown acceptance – with fallen heroes and unsung angels.

Given its strong melodic focus, “Phenomena” – the self-titled debut of Tom Galley’s sci-fi project might have lacked commercial appeal in some quarters, yet his attempt to harness variety on the album’s follow-up resulted in the concept’s further diffusion. Still heavy, rather than theatrical, there’s a lot of pleasant moments, and pandering to pleasure doesn’t always amount to something destined to stand the test of time. Instead of inhabiting different roles, four lead vocalists eroded the record’s overall solidity, but brought their personality to individual songs which provides most of the vigor on the saga’s second chapter.

All the pieces on display seem to be custom-made for a certain pair of pipes, as demonstrated by “Did It All For Love” which John Wetton leads to glory with support from Scott Gorham and Mel Galley’s guitars and the voice of Max Bacon who steps into spotlight on a couple of other tracks, including the majestic finale “It Must Be Love” – both singers projecting ASIA and GTR shadows onto the respective cuts. It’s Ray Gillen, though, that shines the brightest, in the blaze of Kyoji Yamamoto’s six strings, on “Stop!” and “No Retreat, No Surrender”: the two hard-edged impressive answers to Glenn Hughes‘ blistering performance on “Surrender” – only the period bombast, grounded with Neil Murray‘s bass, is firmly set on many a number here, dousing “Double 6, 55, 44…” and “Hearts On Fire” in AOR-standard infectious bleakness.

“Jukebox” falling on the right side of the same streamlined formula and “Move – You Lose!” raging again its own polish spice up the flow don’t create enough tension to break the mold, yet “Dream Runner” remains a moving, if very uneven, experience.

****

January 27, 2019

Category(s): Reissues
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