AIRRACE – Untold Stories [Japanese Edition +1] (2018)
One of the UK’s pioneering AOR acts, AIRRACE were originally formed in 1982 and have now re-signed to the Frontiers Music label for their brand new album “Untold Stories“. The CD will be released next month, but in Japan tomorrow July 25th with a bonus track.
Known in Melodic Hard Rock / AOR circles for being the band that saw the musical debut of drummer Jason Bonham, Airrace was the brainchild of former More guitarist Laurie Mansworth.
Following the acclaimed 1984 release of their debut album, ’Shaft Of Light’, the band supported rock titans such as Queen, AC/DC and Meat Loaf, but they had crash-landed by the summer of 1985.
It took a 25th anniversary reissue of the record to reunite the group (with a slightly amended line-up), and they eventually issued a second album, ‘Back To The Start’, via Frontiers in 2011.
According to Laurie Mansworth, this would be “not typically Airrace, with a lot of the material being more classic rock influenced. There is also a much wider spectrum between light and shade in the writing.”
Well, someone tell Laurie that these ‘influences’, in his hands, are morphed into classic Melodic rock / AOR of the highest order.
Songs like opener ‘Running Out Of Time’ are pure British 1985 midtempo AOR music filled with parping keys and lots of harmony vocals, and then “Innocent” is uptempo melodic rock that seems taken from Virginia Wolf second album. Awesome stuff.
This 2018 version of Airrace doesn’t include original vocalist Keith Murrell – if you ask me, one of the finest and more underrated singers from the ’80s British scene. But don’t worry, Mansworth recruited former SERPENTINE lead vocalist Adam Payne, and man, the guy can sing.
We already heard as advance the single “Eyes Like Ice”, a wonderful slice of classic ’80s Airrace with that ‘mysterious’ keyboards, and in ‘Different But The Same’ appears some of the classic rock anticipated, some kind of Whitesnake meets Zeppelin, but much more melodious.
With ‘New Skin’ we are back to midtempo AOR (love the guitar here), ‘Lost’ adds some acoustics for a ballad that brings to mind House Of Lords, while ‘Love Is Love’ is melodic rock tune with an updated sound.
“Summer Rain” is a feel good tune with a a catchy melody, perhaps the most commercial track on the album, ‘Men From The Boys’ is groovy rocker with some Snakecharmer on it, ‘Come With Us’ returns to driving melodic rock with a great pulse, and for the end another AORish melody comes with an ’80s feel, classic keys and smooth vocals.
The Japanese bonus track is an acoustic version of ‘Men From The Boys’, and not the typical reworking, this one really sound different in the half of the running time.
Laurie Mansworth is not only a talented composer and guitarist, the man also has the Seventies / Eighties ADN into his musical mind, and all show up with “Untold Stories”. New singer Adam Payne fits like a glove, and the rest of the guys (including Rocky Newton of Lionheart fame) are stupendous.
The CD is a very complete compendium of the last 4 decades in British rock music, focused in the ’80s of course.
There’s some kind on ‘unique’ feeling from the Eighties that only Airrace can achieve, and this is a plus in this terrific CD.
One of the albums of the year for me folks.
01 – Running Out Of Time
02 – Innocent
03 – Eyes Like Ice
04 – Different But The Same
05 – New Skin
06 – Lost
07 – Love Is Love
08 – Men From The Boys
09 – Summer Rain
10 – Come With Us
11 – Here It Comes
12 – Men From The Boys (Acoustic) (Japan Bonus Track)
Adam Payne – Vocals
Laurie Mansworth – Guitar
Rocky Newton – Bass
Dhani Mansworth – Drums
Linda Kelsey Foster – Keyboards