GRAND PRIX – Samurai [Rock Candy remaster]
Originally formed back in the late seventies as Paris, GRAND PRIX was from the start a different beast in the UK scene.
Their melody-rich blend of guitars and pomp-fueled keys were much more in tune with what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic than anything remotely British or European sounding.
Following time spent on the live circuit they came to the attention of RCA who signed them up … on condition they changed their name to Grand Prix.
Their tenure with RCA produced two albums – their eponymous debut with original vocalist Bernie Shaw (now of Uriah Heep) was particularly memorable – but it will be for their swansong “Samurai” that the band are best remembered.
Shaw was dropped in favour of Robin McAuley (later to achieve international fame with Michael Schenker), and perhaps the superb singer was the catalyst for the band to record one of the most memorable pompous AOR Melodic Rock albums of its day.
“Samurai” showcased a newfound maturity in the songwriting department and a glossier sound aimed squarely at the American market.
From the moment crescendo-driven opener “Give Me What’s Mine” kicked in it was clear that Grand Prix had evolved into a band with a truly international pedigree and then some.
Boasting more hooks than most rock&pop bands could muster, tracks like the smouldering power ballad “Here We Go Again”, rabble rousing “Freedom”, the swaggering “Countdown To Zero” and shimmering title track “Samurai” were a bold revelation, affirmation that the UK finally had a serious contender to the likes of Styx, Journey and Foreigner.
That the band never went on to achieve fame and fortune (indeed, they split soon after the album was released) is once again testament to the ineptitude of the clueless executives who ran the record industry at the time.
Lovingly rescued from the vaults, “Samurai” is brilliantly remastered by the ever dependable Jon Astley and presented with all the usual Rock Candy Records trimmings.
Great packaging with extensive sleeve notes about the making of the album and a couple of previously unreleased live bonus tracks taken from their Reading Festival appearance in ’82.
“Samurai” is a prime example of British Pomp infused AOR at its best, and as such is utterly indispensable in your collection.
01 – Give Me What’s Mine
02 – Shout
03 – 50/50
04 – Here We Go Again
05 – Countdown To Zero
06 – Somewhere Tonight
07 – High Time
08 – Never Before
09 – Freedom
10 – Samurai
11 – Keep On Believing (Live) (Bonus Track)
12 – Feels Good (Live) (Bonus Track)
Robin McAuley – lead vocals
Michael O’Donoghue – guitar, backing vocals
Phil Lanzon – keyboards, backing vocals
Ralph Hood – bass, backing vocals
Andy Berne – drums, percussion
BUY IT !