IF ONLY – No Bed Of Roses [Rock Candy remaster +5] (2019)
One of the most representative albums from the classy female fronted AOR / Melodic Rock golden era has been remastered by Rock Candy Records “No Bed Of Roses“, by IF ONLY, featuring superb vocalist Tina Egan. The reissue includes 5 bonus tracks where also the great Jackie Bodimead appears delivering her tremendous vocal pipes.
Formed in 1988 and driven by guitarist and talented songwriter Greg Hart (ex Moritz, and who later went on to form Cats In Space), the band was fronted by singer Jackie Bodimead who had built up a solid reputation as a member of both Girlschool and Rock Goddess, two of the most successful and well known of the all female British hard rock bands.
Jackie’s voice lent the material a world class sheen that quickly attracted industry attention, led by former Yes and then Asia keyboard player Geoff Downes who signed them to his boutique label and set about producing their debut album.
Hart recruited his band mates from his previous group Moritz, including Ian Edwards on bass, Andy Stewart on keyboards and Andy Elphick on drums. Alongside them they added hot shot guitarist Martin Chaisson (UFO, Waysted).
The band got a break when a “chance hearing” of their working demo’s fell on the ears of Asia/Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes, who insisted on meeting the band. He was stunned by the quality of songs and performance, thinking it was a “big shot” USA band looking for a UK release.
Geoff refused to believe IF ONLY were an English group: “No UK band can play AOR in that style, they must be from America!”
With Geoff at the helm, the band recorded the album, however, nearing completion, Jackie decided to leave the band. The project was put on hiatus until 1991, when band was told about this amazing female singer from London ready to set the world alight, Tina Egan. She was invited to join IF ONLY and be given the arduous task of re-recording the entire vocals on the album.
Tina roared her way into the studio and with a voice of blood and thunder, she set about stamping her mark on the tracks.
To spice things up, Tina brought in a few of her own tracks for the album, one in particular was the excellent “Long Way From Home”.
Sadly, the musical times started to change by 1991, leaving the melodic delicacies of IF ONLY stranded and killing all hope of scoring a meaningful release.
Time, however, has done nothing but enhance the band’s music and here we present tracks from both vocalists, confirming that this record, with either singer, is indeed a buried treasure.
What we have is a classic slice of ’80s melodic rock / AOR which would have put the willies up many a US counterpart. It’s actually as good as any other girly bands output from the Eighties like Vixen, Witness etc.
It has all the songwriting hallmarks of the awesome Moritz album but for me.
Opener ‘Loaded Gun’ is one of the finest melodic rock tracks you’ll witness in many a year, and if it was penned and performed by New Jersey era Bon Jovi you wouldn’t be in the least surprised. Great vocals, catchy chorus, huge riffs, it has all of what a great song should be.
Other notable highlights include ‘Tumblin’ Dice’, an acoustic/electric belter. ‘If Love Could Last Forever’, which Egan comes over a little Stevie Nicks, before the chorus kicks in with, and I can only assume it’s Bonimead’s BV’s sounding exactly like a certain Cher.
Title track ‘No Bed of Roses’ is a song that Cher wished she’d have performed, and conjures up the style of songs that Michael Bolton would have penned before he went all soft on us.
The song that Egan brought to the table was ‘Long Way From Home’ which opens with a Bad Company riff which picks the pace up after a couple of minutes into this belting mid section. One of the best songs on the album methinks, before the dramatic piano led last track ‘Man Against The World’.
The bonus tracks predominantly belong to Bonimead’s tenure. To be honest, with Bonimead or Egan fronting the band, success should have come by the truck load.
Bonimead has this vibrato to her voice (like Cher) and her vocals fit they style of IF ONLY just as well as Egan’s and they round off the album very nicely indeed. It’s a shame she bailed really.
Long after its original release the bad luck still dogged the band, when their jewel in the crown, Tina Egan passed away in 1999. Tina, God bless ya, wherever you are. Your time with us was limited, but you crammed more quality into one album than many can in a lifetime.
So, ‘’If Only’’ indeed! Never has a band been so aptly and unfortunately named. But this album deserves to be grabbed by the lot of us and given the credit it deserves.
If you love female fronted rock bands – read Romeo’s Daughter, Saraya, Vixen, etc, then you need to listen to IF ONLY’s long lost classic. They shoulda been huge….
01 – Loaded Gun
02 – Tumblin’ Dice
03 – If Love Could Last Forever
04 – I’m No Angel
05 – No Bed of Roses
06 – Easy Lay
07 – Rock and a Hard Place
08 – Red Hot Heaven
09 – Ghost of You
10 – Forever My Love
11 – Long Way from Home
12 – Man Against the World
13 – All Over
14 – Stand Like a Stone
15 – Don’t Let Go
16 – Shotdown
17 – Tight Jeans (Live)
Tina Egan – lead vocals on tracks 1-12 and 17
Jackie Bodimead – lead vocals on tracks 13-16
Greg Hart – guitars, keyboards
Nobby Styles – guitars
Judit Armstrong – keyboards, synths
Ian Edwards – bass, keyboards
Andy Elphick – drums, percussion