DRIVE – iDefi [Limited Edition 500 copies] (2018) out of print
“iDefi“, the material that should have made up Houston based rockers DRIVE’s third album, finally was release by 20th Century Music working very closely with the band remaining members. “iDefi” is a tribute to DRIVE’s founder guitarist Rick Chavez who passed away last year, and vocalist David Taylor who died after a fatal car accident in 2009.
The album includes 15 unreleased songs with both Taylor and Chavez taking the lead on vocals, limited to 500 copies.
Drive was a five-piece band formed on the North side of Houston, Texas by guitarist / songwriter Rick Chavez. They released two albums, Characters In Time (1988) and Diablero (1992).
The band initially came together in the early ’80s when its original members were barely out of high school. After making a name for themselves in their home state of Texas they move to Los Angeles which was quickly becoming the epicenter of the US rock music scene.
The band took to the world famous Sunset Strip and quickly made a name for themselves and signed on with Rob Gordon and Vince Hans of LA’s Flash Management. After winning a radio contest with their song “I Need The Nights,” Drive landed on the KNAC Radio Best Of The West compilation released by Rampage Records, the hard rock division of Rhino Records.
Impressed with their intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics and signature sound, Rampage Records executive Bob Cahill signed the band, and in July 1988 Drive released their debut LP, Characters In Time.
The album received rave reviews from the industry’s hard rock press, including the coveted 5 “K” rating from Kerrang! Magazine. The album also received airplay from hard rock stations around the country as the band toured across the USA.
At the beginning of the next decade, Zoo Records’ Lou Maglia made the Rampage owners an offer they couldn’t refuse and purchased the band’s contract. In 1992 Drive released the sonically advanced Diablero.
Sadly, a shake-up at the label along with the dawn of the metal-killing “grunge” scene left the album without much of a push, and although Chavez had already written and recorded demo tapes for what was to be the band’s third album titled “iDefi”, the recording was put on hold and the band members moved back to Texas.
Now, as a tribute to Rick Chavez and David Earl Taylor these recordings finally see the light of day.
“iDefi” (meaning “I Defy”) are mostly revolving around a hard rock sound from the early ’90s, with a certain edge at places close to classic US metal.
The band experimented a bit here, and some of the songs have a slightly provessive approach. Like the previous Drive albums, “iDefi” main strengths are the high, powerful vocals from David Taylor, the flashy guitar work and the driving rhythms.
The first two songs were originally intended for the Diablero album, but they didn’t make it to the final release by Zoo Entertainment. “Inherit The Wind” is a real treat, and captures the spirit of the band very well. From the soaring harmony chorus, to the stellar guitar solo and blistering drums, there are plenty of great moments on this track. “Insanity” is a mid-tempo song with an uplifting chorus and a crafty, noodling solo.
The next two songs, “Otra Vez” (“Once Again”) and “Pandilla” (“Gang”) are sung in Spanish. (The English versions originally appeared on Diablero). “Otra Vez” is more or less a ballad, while “Pandilla” features some acoustic flamenco guitar accents that give way to a blistering electric lead guitar.
“U12B” follows with a compelling vocal, while “U Or Me” is a driving track that would probably have found a place on Diablero. “Under The Spanish Sun” begins with an acoustic interlude before turning into a forceful, emotional track. Taylor’s vocal is spectacular on this standout track.
Title track “IDEFI” follows with a fat riff from Chavez and a shattering wail from Taylor. There’s a reason the album is named after this bluesy rocker. Take a listen to Rick Chavez’s solo on this song.
“Woman” is a rough around the edges demo, and feels like a proper remix would bring this midtempo anthem to another level. “Not Yet” and “Enemy Wind” are huge, successful songs that harken back to the band’s glory days, and with a little polish, could easily have been on the band’s debut album.
The last two tracks are quite different, but demonstrate the range Drive had. “Me And My Carnal”, with its Latin-flavored guitar and percussion, sounds like something Santana might release. “Fool” reminds me of Led Zeppelin in parts. Both songs feature Rick Chavez on lead vocals.
The recording quality of the material on “iDefi” varies, there’s polished tracks and some raw demos, but it’s so good to have these unreleased songs available after all these years.
Drive never make it big, but this is a cult band and were very good, so longtime fans will definitely need to add this to their collections, and it does make a pretty good introduction for those who missed the band the first time around (especially since their two albums remain out of print).
Kudos to 20th Century Music for getting these tunes out of the vault.
I – Inherit the Wind
II – Insanity
III – Otra Vez
IV – Pandilla
V – U12B
VI – U or Me
VII – Under The Spanish Sun
VIII – IDEFI
IX – Woman
X – Not Yet
XI – Enemy Wind
XII – Me and My Carnal
XIII – Fool
David Earl Taylor – lead vocals
Rick Chavez – guitars, lead vocals
Mercy Valdez – guitar
Mike Conde – guitar
Michael Anthony Guerrero – bass
Michael Ribeiro – bass
Valentin San Miguel – drums
Carlos Cervantes – drums