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Despite the b-grade album cover (I thought it was from the early/mid 90s – horrible!), and it’s rather modern date – this is a solid album, with Dee proving he’s still as committed to real rock n roll as ever, and continues to brandish an excellent voice. After the continuing personal and label problems which plagued the commercially successful and internationally famous Twisted Sister in the late 80s, Dee opted for another project, this time with a change in musical direction. It seems the late 80s AOR heyday spawned a number of blues-rock driven bands – with Tangier, Firehouse and of course Badlands taking this direction to the top in this period, another one of these bands was Desperado – a solid, professional, and skilled songwriting blues-rock outfit which Dee would continue with intermittently over the next couple decades.
This album sounds far less commercial than Twisted Sister did around the time of the breakup. Though bluesy, rocky, and often with hooks, it feels like Dee and co doing what they want to do, rather than a commercial endeavor (see: ‘Love is for Suckers’). Dee writes awesome, soulful, semi-ballads and hard rockers, coming across as genuine, and well-seasoned. The modern date of this release is not a downfall either – with not only the music having a solid early 90s aspect to it, but also modern production work giving it a thick, full sound. Drums are heavy and crisp, while bass and guitar are enveloping. It’s a good mix of tunes, from the sentimental power (semi) ballads ‘Ride Thru the Storm’ and ‘Calling for You’, rebellious cowboy rockers like ‘See You at Sunrise’ and ‘The Maverick’, and generally catchy, hook oriented blues rockers like ‘Gone Bad’, where the band proves its ability to craft memorable, singalong cutters with obvious veteranism.
A very cool album, in-fact, it’s the best blues rock I’ve heard since Tangier in the late 80s and George Lynch’s solo effort Lynch Mob in the early 90s. What comes across is vivid realization of veteran songwriting talent – cool structures, hooks and great vocal harmonies, and just a feeling of genuine honesty and truthfulness in the music. No gimmicks, no chart ambitions, just bona fide hard rock written for the sheer thrill of it. Dee’s voice is great – solid and clear, with some skillful pitch changes throughout. If you’re a big fan of Dee or Twisted Sister, do yourself a favour and check out Desperado. Fans of 80s bluesy AOR such as Firehouse would be even more advised to check out it. Surprisingly strong.
What we got here is the 1998 album from Dee's band Desperado, right after Twisted Sister. And it includes no one else than legendary Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr! And there's more: Bernie Tormé, who is more famous among hard rock fans than metal heads but nevermind. An all star line-up we got here but this album sounds like nothing you'd expect from ex-Twisted Sister and Iron Maiden members. An maybe that's why this one slipped under the radar.
Yes, it's rather sleezy and yes it does rock for about half the album. But this band does not sound like Twisted Sister, not even their most slick 'Love Is For Suckers'-era. No, in terms of heaviness it falls right between the last two Twisted Sister albums but at the same time sounds totally different (Apart from Dee's vocals obviously) Desperado also does sound nothing like Iron Maiden. Clive keeps it extremely basic here. Even Bernie Tormé does not feel the need to excel. No, Desperado play what the name suggest, metalized rock with an incidental country edge, steel guitars and all. Anyone remember Cinderella? This is a heavier one and since Dee wrote the music, a lot more catchy chorusses all around!
There are no fast songs here except for "Emaheeva". The rest is mid paced at most. But because the changes of pace between real slow and mid pace are balanced and executed well, it doesn't drag. And there's even an epic ballad, over 7 minutes long, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" never gets tedious nor does it sound too sleezy. The band even manages to make the Tom Waits classic "Heart of Saturday Night" sound like a real country-ish rock song. We got two of my fave rock artists (Snider&Burr) covering my favorite non-metal artist, what else could I wish for? Nothing indeed!
Lesser songs? unfortunately a few. "The Maverick" is rather generic. And the clean guitars on "Calling for You" are too obviously 'borrowed' from Led Zeppelin. But as a whole "Calling for You" is also one of the worst songs here. Another ballad, but this time just too sleezy, crappy and not very memorable. Objectively speaking this album clearly sounds like a band still searching for their definate sound. Cohesion is often lost but would this have been released in 1988 itself with good promotion, some songs might actually have become really big hits and the band could've continued to evolve and crystalize their sound.
So in the end we have a pretty nice album here, mostly consisting of decent 'background' rock with a few (4 or 5) real stand-out songs to make it worth tracking down if you're into eighties rock and glam. Highlights: "Hang 'em High", "There's No Angels Here", "Emaheeva" and "Heart of Saturday Night"