SURVIVOR – Reach [Japan Edition +1] Out Of Print
After 18 years since their last studio album Too Hot To Sleep, SURVIVOR came back with “Reach“. By this time, Frankie Sullivan was the only original member, as Jim Peterik left the band in 1996. Following the release of this album singer Jimi Jamison left SURVIVOR as well, though he subsequently reunited with them in 2012. Ultimately, this turned out to be his final album with the band, due to his death in 2014.
Some of the material here originates from a period from 1993 to 1996 when SURVIVOR recorded demos for an unreleased album that can be heard on the ”Fire Makes Steel” bootleg.
This Japanese Edition of “Reach” includes an exclusive bonus track, and it’s out of print now.
It really should be no surprise that ”Reach” has a different vibe than the bands past work and their last studio album Too Hot To Sleep. After all, that album came some 18 years ago and I think since then the band has grown and matured into a new found comfort that is reflected on this disc.
Survivor fans have grown up too and I think there will definitely be some that find this album a perfect fit for them in this day and age.
For the most part, ”Reach” has a different vibe as past SURVIVOR records. This is something new. I think it requires a slight change of outlook by the listener to get the most out of it. If you are looking to rock harder, then perhaps this is not the right record for the moment.
”Reach” finds Survivor in a mellower mood and a lot more reflective. It is a different mood than past records and sees the band trying a couple of new tricks, such as allowing guitarist Frankie Sullivan a chance at lead vocals and featuring acoustic guitars more prominently than I can ever recall.
I think the material featured on the record is largely pretty good and will keep Survivor fans happy. The songs themselves are mostly impressive and stand up in their own right. But put them together in the scheme of an album and the similarities in mid-tempo pacing becomes obvious and I also don’t think the track sequencing is quite right.
Also going against the guys here is the fact they have one of the strongest back catalogue’s in melodic rock history.
I say that as a huge compliment, but at the same time, how many artists could really satisfy the demand and expectation for a new album after an 18 year wait, given the strength of past records?
A near impossible task for just about any band, but the guys put in their best effort.
Title track ‘Reach’ sets the album up for a flying start – a mid-tempo melodic rocker with a classic SURVIVOR verse which sees the great Jimi Jamison controlling the song’s melody with his voice. The chorus is instantly memorable, and a nice balance of keyboards and acoustic and electric guitars drives the song.
‘Fire Makes Steel’ sees Frankie switch to a harder edge guitar sound and a darker overall mood. This is one of the more famous SURVIVOR cuts from the early 90s sessions. It has aged pretty well and fits in fine here, offering a flurry of guitars and another strong chorus. It has a similar vibe as the opening track, but rather with Frankie Sullivan on lead vocal. Frankie’s voice isn’t as strong as Jimi’s and is perhaps an octave higher. The song itself is very pleasant. Easy on the ears, strong chorus and a nice melodic hook.
Jimi returns for what is the first of two very strong ballads. ‘Seconds Away’ isn’t a typical Survivor power ballad and nor is the track that follows ‘One More Chance’. Both are sultry and moody ballads with strong sentimental lyrics and emotional vocals.
Jimi’s voice alters a little here – I think he has concentrated on capturing the emotional aspect of the song rather than perfecting a usually smooth vocal. While rough around the edges, ‘One More Chance’ certainly gets my attention as a very fine ballad.
‘Gimmie The Word’ starts pretty slow, yet the track itself isn’t a ballad. Rather, it is a subtle rocker with a strong lead guitar presence, but a restrained tempo and a dark and moody vibe. Keyboards are right back in the mix and Jimi’s voice is again raspier and less polished than we have come to expect from him.
‘I Don’t’ represents how Survivor has changed in this new century. This track could have been a hard rocker with an anthem chorus, but instead it is driven by a flurry of acoustic guitars – which do sound impressive – along with a more restrained and sweet vocal. The chorus and tempo rise, but not as far as they might have done on the past. It’s as if the band keep a lid on things going too over the top.
‘Half Of My Heart’ is mid-tempo poppy AOR ballad and again signifies a mellower new approach from the band. A fine tune with some soulful guitar playing all over it.
‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ is the surprise of the album for me. This track typifies everything I love about SURVIVOR – a nice uptempo pace, a melodic verse, bridge then a monster chorus with some big harmony vocals. The twist here is that it’s Frankie Sullivan on lead vocals.
‘Don’t Give Up’ keeps the tempo moving, which is a definite plus. Jimi’s back in control and delivers a good vocal part. The chorus may not be as instant as the last song or the title track, but it does offer a taste of classic style SURVIVOR.
As bonus track, this Japanese CD edition includes ‘Seconds Away (Alternate Mix)’, one of the best reack on the album and this version will result even better for many.
”Reach” offers some great new SURVIVOR tunes, showcasing a little different approach and sound production than in the ’80s, but being definetly SURVIVOR. A little more reflective than in the past, ”Reach” certainly offers some soulful melodic rock.
This is an album that I have been loving more and more over the years, and cosidering it’s the last record SURVIVOR has done to date, it’s some kind of a treasure.
Ｋ Ｉ Ｎ Ｇ Ｒ Ｅ Ｃ Ｏ Ｒ Ｄ Ｓ ＪＡＰＡＮ ～ 【KICP-1142】
01 – Reach
02 – Fire Makes Steel
03 – Nevertheless
04 – Seconds Away
05 – One More Chance
06 – Give Me The Word
07 – Rhythm Of Your Heart
08 – I Don’t
09 – Half Of My Heart
10 – Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
11 – Don’t Give Up
12 – Home
JAPAN BONUS TRACK:
13 – Seconds Away (Alternate Mix)
Jimi Jamison – lead and backing vocals
Frankie Sullivan – lead vocals (3, 10), guitars, backing vocals
Chris Grove – keyboards
Barry Dunaway – bass guitar
Marc Droubay – drums
Kim Bullard – keyboards, bass and programming (4)
Randy Riley – bass guitar (2, 4, 6)
Mark Christian – bass guitar (4, 9)
Out Of Print