Friday, February 21, 2020

Black Swan- Shake The World (Frontiers Records)

Image result for black swan album cover 

   I interviewed bassist Jeff Pilson last year and he told me Frontiers Records had asked him to put together and produce some of their newer projects. Black Swan is one of the first and features Robin McAuley on vocals, Reb Beach on guitar, Jeff on bass and Matt Starr on drums. This is not your normal Frontiers cut and paste project, there's real history here. Jeff played on the last McAuley Schenker album and was best man at Robin's wedding, Robin's twin boys are the 2 kids pictured on the booklet for the Lynch/Pilson Wicked Underground album. Reb played on Dokken's Erase The Slate with Jeff. Matt played with Robin in Vegas as part of the Raiding The Rock Vault show. The band recorded the album at Jeff's studio under his stewardship.

   Robin has also never really been involved in something like this, a supergroup if you want to call it that. Reb hasn't done a project for Frontiers since The Mob in the early 2000s. Jeff is a class act, you know anything he gets involved in will have quality written all over it. So having lived with the album what does it actually sound like? It sounds like MSG, a little bit. Dokken, a little bit. Winger, a little bit. Reb's guitar tone on this at times is very different from what you hear on a Winger album especially on Big Disaster and Johnny Came Marching. It's great to hear a different aspect to his playing so late in his career.

   Wisely Frontiers left the band alone to write the album and from what I've been told are ecstatic with the result. This really is it's own entity and at times is a little darker and more modern sounding then expected. Sure the likes of Make It There have that 80s sound, it's Black Swan's version of John Waite's Missing You and Sacred Place is the other big ballad but then there's brooding stuff like She's On To Us and Long Road To Nowhere. Unless We Change and Shake The World are great up tempo rockers and the album closes with the piano led Divided/United that is very Beatles sounding.

  It's a grower of an album for sure and hats off to the 4 guys for coming up with something that doesn't sound jaded and dated. Robin told me he feels it's the best vocal performance he's ever performed on an album, he might be right and he still sounds great for someone approaching 70. This album is brilliant, man I would love to hear some of this live. With Revolution Saints, Dirty Shirley and now this Frontiers are off to a strong start in 2020.


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