NOTORIOUS – Radio Silence [rec. ’85] (2010)
Robin George is one of those ‘nearly men’, both in the sense that he has collaborated with some of the biggest names in rock and metal (Phil Lynott, Glenn Hughes, John Wetton, Magnum, Robert Plant, David Byron) and also in the sense that a lot of the projects he’s been involved with, nearly got an album released.
In recent years an indie UK label have made it one of their goals to collaborate with George to allow much of this hidden and unreleased material to see the light of day.
The latest in this line (december 2010) comes in the shape of “Radio Silence” by Notorious, which was the name for George’s collaboration with the at the time just departed lead singer from NWOBHM legends Diamond Head, Sean Harris. George had produced the song ‘Sweet & Innocent’ on the Head’s classic ‘Lightning To The Nations’ album, so when Harris departed the band it didn’t take long for the pair to pool their talents and record the quick fire set of 15 songs that make up “Radio Silence”.
The record company executives wanted a more polished, pristine sound. As is often the way, the many recording sessions in countless studios emasculated the duo’s original sound, resulting in a stillborn version of the album.
This more radio friendly version was released finally in 1990 as a self-titled ‘Notorious’ including 10 tracks only.
25 years on from the original sessions, George and Harris have now the opportunity to let the world experience their original vision, with the release of that first recording.
The style of “Radio Silence” was a direct attempt to hit the mainstream and the majority of the tracks are simply tailor made for 80’s rock radio.
Quite unfamiliar territory for Harris then whose raspy vocals are some way removed from his days with Diamond Head as here he goes for an altogether more clean cut approach.
George’s sturdy, sinuous melodies, frequently set to thunderous riffs and wailing axes are perfect for Harris’s dynamic, dominant vocals.
The title track “Radio Silence” inherits George’s Tech AOR sound, while the magnificent ‘The S’Walk’ might easily have been the prototype for INXS’s funk/groove/rock recordings that filled dance floors and dominated Top Forties in the eighties and nineties.
By the time you get to third track, ‘Arianne’, a commercial poprock monster of a song – eerily echoing Lloyd Cole – you wonder why the executives ever thought any of this needed fixing.
“You Need More” is an upbeat / midtempo up there with the best from the hairy royalty of its decade, in the John Waite / Babys / Bad English style.
The sweet, wordy “Better The Devil You Know” has an air of innocent wonder, full of jangling guitars and ‘oohing, aahing’ background vocals, borrowed from the fresh, immediate pop of the sixties, and there won’t be many whose pulse isn’t quickened by “It’s Energy” booming, arena friendly hook.
The sudden swing to the thumping rock’n’soul of ‘Do Like A Man’ demonstrates this duo’s versatility, sounding a lot like The Power Station on this track.
“I Believe In You” showcases Harris’ soft spot, a silky, strings-wrapped blues.
I must admit that prefer the more polished re-recordings / mix / production of the album released in 1990.
But this original version (all tracks are pretty different to the ’90s ones) showcases the initial concept by the artists, including the complete 1985 sessions, with 6 songs previously unpublished.
More raw, straight up and immediate sound. Some tracks are pre-production demos and you can even hear some tape noise.
Robin George is a very good guitarist and Harris brings more commercial sheen to his delivery than his previous work had ever suggested, with the mix of commercial rock&pop, AOR, funk and eighties synth, being an obvious attempt to gain some chart success.
Back in the days when singles were all important there are around five songs here that could effortlessly have graced the Top 40 on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Radio Silence” is a further interesting chapter in the colourful story of Robin George’s vast and eclectic musical journey and for that alone, it is well worth a listen.
01 – Radio Silence
02 – The S’Walk
03 – Arianne
04 – You Need More
05 – Better The Devil You Know (prev. unreleased)
06 – Do Like A Man (prev. unreleased)
07 – Losing You
08 – It’s Energy (prev. unreleased)
09 – The Game’s Up (prev. unreleased)
10 – Eyes Of The World
11 – I Believe In You
12 – Touch
13 – Soul On Fire (prev. unreleased)
14 – Love Fades
15 – Good Times (prev. unreleased)
Sean Harris : Vocals
Robin George : Guitars, Bass
Glenn Hughes : Backing Vocals
Rest of personnel : unlisted
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!