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Stranger In This Town Review: Hey, Mister, can you tell me what this world's about?

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  #1  
Old 11-29-2008, 06:54 PM
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Default Stranger In This Town Review: Hey, Mister, can you tell me what this world's about?

Without further ado, lets jump straight into Stranger In This Town!

Hey Mister, can you tell me what this world’s about? Stranger In This Town review

At the beginning of the 90s, while Jon was busy drawing his music inspiration from the likes of Elton John and Jeff Beck, Richie decided to embrace his biggest musical influence: the blues. Richie’s blues influence had only been glimpsed in the band’s work, most notably on I’ll Be There For You, but it was on this album that Richie really unleashed his inner bluesman. Enlisting Dave and Tico, as well as Randy Jackson, who also performed on Blaze Of Glory, on bass on One Light Burning; and writing with Dave, members of Richie’s old band Shark Frenzy, and appropriating one song written originally as a Bon Jovi song; Richie set about unleashing his musical vision.

It’s not hard to see who Richie’s biggest influence was for this album: quite apart from the fact that Richie’s vocal and guitar style are pure Eric Clapton, the man himself guests on the guitar solo of Mr Bluesman, a song which is arguably about him. Elsewhere, there are songs about loneliness (the title track, Church Of Desire, One Light Burning), lost love (Father Time, Rosie), and reflections on life (One Light Burning, Ballad Of Youth, The Answer). Although there are some lighter songs (Mr Bluesman, River Of Love), all in all it’s an emotional set. It was at the beginning of the 90s that Richie was dating Cher, and while I don’t know the status of their relationship during the recording of Strange, I do think it’s unlikely to be a coincidence that in 1991 Richie came out with this album, while Cher released an album entitled Love Hurts. While Jon was hiding behind a character in order to get his emotions out on Blaze Of Glory, Richie’s here seem sometimes more real, more raw.

This album showed how good a songwriter and musician Richie really is, and proved that he didn’t need Jon in order to shine. Of particular revelation is his voice, possessed of every bit as much power, depth, maturity and range as Jon’s, but in a different way; in many songs moving effortlessly from a low bluesy growl to the higher register more familiar to fans of the band. And freed from the conventions of Bon Jovi, Richie’s songwriting and guitar work soared into magnificent new territory.

Listening to both this album and Blaze Of Glory, you can see how Keep The Faith could not really have been any other album than the one it was: rawer, leaner, and harder edged than the 80s material. Stranger In This Town showed that Richie was not just a hired hand hanging on to Jon’s coattails, instead it showed him as a valuable songwriter, guitarist, musician and vocalist – which of course we all knew anyway, but this album cemented that fact.
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You can take the cards that they deal ya
And you can just pretend it's all over
BUT NOT ME!!!

Last edited by Captain Walrus; 12-01-2008 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 11-29-2008, 07:04 PM
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Great introduction, Walrus. This album is absolutely fantastic, same as Blaze Of Glory, and I'm looking forward to reading more.
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Old 11-29-2008, 07:07 PM
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Brilliant review.
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Old 12-01-2008, 03:31 PM
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Track by track:

“Turn down the lights, Light a candle …. Welcome ….”

Rest In Peace / Church Of Desire – Like Ride Cowboy Ride and Stick To Your Guns, I prefer to rate these together, mainly because Rest In Peace seems to act more as an intro piece for the entire album. Rest In Peace is a very slow burning ode to being apart from someone. Comprised purely of guitars, vocals and a very slight synth effect; it sounds like it has been recorded by a lone man in a cavernous room, with an echoing effect on Richie’s voice and guitar. The use of multilayering different guitar effects in order to create a non-traditional version of the “wall of sound” is very effective, and the song is the first showcase for Richie’s incredible blues voice. However, although this is a very atmospheric piece, I find it difficult to call it a complete song, as it really features little use of the dynamics that make up most songs, and instead comes across as a bit of a one-dimensional drone. But purely as an introduction piece to both the album generally and Church Of Desire specifically, it succeeds in capturing the listener’s attention, making them wonder what is to come.

Church Of Desire beings immediately after Rest In Peace’s conclusion, the synthesiser track flowing between the two songs flawlessly. From here, the intro is made up of a number of blues licks and chords from Richie, continuing after the bassline and drums have begun. Then, with a screeching lick from the electric guitar, and a spine-tingling “Woah yeah!” from Richie, the song proper begins. Richie shows here that he is just as adept at Jon as using his voice dynamically: employing a more introspective, subdued vocal style for the verses, while making the choruses and pre-choruses soar (and really unleashing his inner rock beast for the last “Lonely street” of the song). Right from the off you can tell that this album is going to be a very different beast from Bon Jovi (or at least the Bon Jovi that had existed until then: the minimal use of synthesisers is a dead giveaway, as is the depth and maturity on show here, both lyrically and stylistically. Most notable perhaps is that this song doesn’t feature any of the sort of guitar riffs that most Bon Jovi songs featured; instead the guitar work is a series of licks, fills, solos and chords, all performed by Richie and using different guitar effects. It’s clear that, although Bon Jovi songs featured fantastic guitar work, this is more a guitar album than any of the Bon Jovi albums. Ending with a searing electric guitar solo, which fades down into a lighter tone which seems to unravel before disappearing completely; this song is a fantastic way to show what this album is about, and like Miracle on Blaze Of Glory, marks a contrast to the Bon Jovi material.

4/5 for both songs together
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Sometimes you can just lay down
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You can take the cards that they deal ya
And you can just pretend it's all over
BUT NOT ME!!!

Last edited by Captain Walrus; 12-01-2008 at 09:44 PM..
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Old 12-01-2008, 08:08 PM
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Great start Walrus. I love Stranger, and am looking forward to the rest of your review.
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:28 PM
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I agree with Crushgen24/88!!

Awersome start Walrus(told you millions of times before love your reviews)

Out of the whole Bon Jovi/Jon/Richie Discography this is my fave album.
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:35 PM
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This is one of my all time fav albums and It has actually caught some attention when played in my office at work and turned a few into Richie fans as well, who were no BJ fans at all.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:43 PM
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I'm hoping to carry on with this reviewing malarkey soon, while I am unemployed seems as good a time as ever!
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Sometimes you can just lay down
You can play the game
You can take the cards that they deal ya
And you can just pretend it's all over
BUT NOT ME!!!
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:33 PM
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Man, how come no one harasses you for to finish your reviews?!
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldsausage View Post
Man, how come no one harasses you for to finish your reviews?!
Cos I don't build it up as the event of the century, making a thread for a gig review before the gig has even taken place
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Sometimes you can just lay down
You can play the game
You can take the cards that they deal ya
And you can just pretend it's all over
BUT NOT ME!!!
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