VON GROOVE – Von Groove +2 [Z Records remastered]
In my opinion, this is the last great Melodic Hard Rock album appeared in the early Nineties before the grunge ruined it all; the self-titled debut from Canadians VON GROOVE. After many years out of print, British label Z-Records is reissuing this killer record in a remastered form plus 2 bonus tracks.
The trio came together as a merger of two parts centered around singer / drummer Mike Shotton (now in LRS together with LaVerdi / Ramos). On one hand Shotton was working with guitarist Mladen as part of Triumph’s ‘Edge Of Excess’ album, and on the other, involved with bass player Matt Gerrard on the Regatta (another great Canadian act) album.
So to combine the two songwriting ventures he bought the two parties together, and the chemistry proved to be a volatile cocktail of musical dynamite.
The result was what true Melodic Hard Rock is all about; hooky riffs, monster choruses and soaring vocals all immaculately played, arranged and produced.
Apart from talented Richie Zito giving a hand behind the desk, we find some terrific cats playing here, such as Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Hardline) on drums or AOR angel Tommy Funderburk doing harmony vocals.
By this stage in his career, Zito had obviously learn’t how to get his fingers dirty with harder rockin’ bands after working with the likes of Tyketto or Heart. And laboring alongside a trio of guys who knew what they wanted in the studio, the Von Groove album had some positives right from the very outset.
With powerful tracks such as the outrageous opener “Once Is Not Enough”, “Better Than Ever”, “Can’t Get Too Much” and “All The Way” we’re getting a musical treat: turn these up loud!
“Once Is Not Enough” it’s just to die for… a class anthem in its own right. Other of the cuts also produced by Zito, “House Of Dreams”, has echoes of fellow countrymen Triumph, and it’s another stand out track on the album.
You don’t get any respite with “Sweet Pain” and “Slave To Sin”, however what distinguishes Von Groove’s debut are a trio of superb power ballads; “Once In A Lifetime”, “Arianne” and “Love Keeps Bringing Me Home” with acoustic guitars providing the perfect foil to Michael Shotton’s excellent voice in the mould of Tyketto and Nelson.
Each of them could have broken Von Groove into the big time, especially “Once In A Lifetime”, easily among the Top 10 best power ballads of all time.
Von Groove’s first album is a Must Have in every Melodic Hard Rocker’s house, alongside Bad English, Tyketto, Bon Jovi, Giant or Damn Yankees classics.
This Z Records remastered reissue also adds two bonus tracks originally appeared in the Japanese version; “Soldier Of Fortune” and “King Of The World”, the latter recorded in a hot live take.
01 – Once Is Not Enough
02 – Better Than Ever
03 – Can’t Get Too Much
04 – Once In A Lifetime
05 – Every Beat Of My Heart
06 – House Of Dreams
07 – C’Mon, C’Mon
08 – All The Way Down
09 – Arianne
10 – Slave To Sin
11 – Love Keeps Bringing Me Home
12 – Smaug
13 – Sweet Pain
14 – Soldier Of Fortune
15 – King Of Your World
Michael Shotton – lead & backgound vocals, drums, live cymbals
Matthew Gerrard – bass, keyboards, backgound vocals
Mladen – guitars, mandolin, background vocals
Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Hardline) – drums
Norman Arnold – percussion
Scott Humphrey – keyboards
Tommy Funderburk, Al Langlade, Grant Cummings, John Metherell, Steve McPhail – background vocals
Produced by Von Groove & Richie Zito
BUY IT !