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This is a sorely underrated album that gave those of us wanting more Malmsteen and Graham Bonnet one more album. Being a teenager at the time, I found this album by chance at a record store and noticed Bonnet on the back. This was the day of no internet or anyway to easily find out what was coming out or when or who was involved. In the 1980s, you combed the record bins looking for something that looked like it rocked, period. Granted, when I bought it I had no idea what an "Impellitteri" was or what the heck it was really all about.
The bottom line with this disc for me has always been Graham Bonnet. Even compared to Alcatrazz and his other work, in my opinion he rips vocally with more power than ever before on this disc. Plus you got guitar work way above and beyond the average CD of 1988. Someone else compared this to a Malmsteen sound-alike, and I will tell you for any metalhead back in the 1980s, anyone close to that quality was greatly, greatly appreciated.
No singer sounds like Graham Bonnet before or after. It's the power of Bruce Dickinson, but in a much more traditional rock singer style, yet with an edge or harshness that guaranteed it had edge and girls didn't like it. In 1988, the powers that be were pushing Nelson, Warrant, and Cinderella all over the place, so this CD was the kick ass version of those bands. Not to mention at this point Malmsteen had started rocking less and noodling way too much.
1988 was not a great year for metal and this CD got a lot of play in my Cutlass Supreme and it never got its due. After reading the one mediocre review for this album, it really deserves more. Graham Bonnet's voice here has a level of power and slight gravel that gives it a metal edge like no other CD out there, except System X, of course. You need to play it cranked up and appreciate this hidden gem of 1988. It's truly an essential disc.
So this was the first Impellitteri full length. I must say that after listening to it I was kind of impressed that there was more than just one type of song on here, and oddly enough at this point Chris hadn't completely settled into his formula but that doesn't change the fact this is still a pretty unexciting album.
I'm not going to bother saying too much about Pat Torpey and Chuck Wright here (drums and bass respectively) because as you could probably guess they don't really do anything of note here. Torpey adequately supplies the arena type drum beats that fuel catchy mid paced tunes like the title track, Secret Lover, and the slower paced Leviathan but other then that he's not that exceptional. Wright is occasionally audible but doesn't do much other than follow the guitars. No, as usual the real stars of the show are Chris Impellitteri and Graham Bonnet. Frankly, I prefer Bonnet's voice over Rob Rock's which helps this album a bit and unlike other Impellitteri albums like "Screaming Symphony" or "Grin and Bear It" this one actually has a decent number of stand out songs. Despite that however, it's still not really a success.
Chris himself sounds more like Yngwie here then at any other point really. Now obviously he still sounds like Yngwie, but over the years he's developed a little bit more of his own approach to an often used style, which you don't really notice too much on this album with a few exceptions. His solo in "Goodnight and Goodbye" is quite an epic one, and delivers all the speed picking glory that has become his trademark but in a nicely structured fashion. Outside of that one, and his solos in "White and Perfect", "Leviathan", and some of the lead work in the remake of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" he just sounds like Malmsteen.
I mentioned earlier that his album is a bit less formulaic than a lot of the later albums, and when you listen to the album all the way you can definitely see why. The title track has a pre chorus section that is melodically and thematically quite different than what Chris usually writes, and in the great "White and Perfect" we get some atypical lyrics and a more varied structure. There are even some tempo changes which is quite a shocker. In fact, when I listen to "White and Perfect", "Leviathan", "Tonight I Fly", and the title track I find it hard to believe that I'm giving it a somewhat low rating but that's because those are the only real highlights. I like all those songs quite a bit, and "Tonight I Fly" has one of the best choruses Impellitteri's ever done, but the rest of the album is just very unremarkable.
A lot of what hurts this album besides it's derivative nature, is the ordering of the songs. There's no reason to do a cover of "Since You've Been Gone" with Graham Bonnet on vocals in the first place, but it really changes the mood when it comes right after the title track. It doesn't really belong in this album, and when "Secret Lover" comes right after it for some reason it always strikes me as very abrupt and unnatural. Also, the album should have ended with "White and Perfect" and not even bother with "Playing With Fire" which is a very forgettable instrumental. You gotta end on the good stuff guys, don't you know that?
Anyways, as you can tell this is a fairly good album but it's not anything special. Just listen to the aforementioned highlights and you'll have all you need from this album (except the solo from "Goodnight and Goodbye" which is far better then the actual song).