STEPHEN CRANE & DUANE SCIACQUA – Big Guns [1985 / Previously Unreleased] (2021)
“Big Guns“ is the second STEPHEN CRANE album, who was able to stir up the scene with his debut “Kicks“ in 1984. The follow-up “Big Guns“ was planned as a real band effort but once again for various (business) reasons the album was shelved.
Now AOR Heaven Records has rescued the album from obscurity and made it available after more than three decades. Re-evaluation has give the album credibility that it did not receive first time round and this then led to the discovery of, apparently, lost tapes featuring music planned for the second release that never happened.
A pity really as this is a very well crafted American AOR album very similar to the work put out at that time by SURVIVOR, TOTO, FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS or even HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS. After all these years, “Big Guns” still speaks with a strong voice to the hearts of fans of the genre with ten excellent songs.
The sound quality is top notch. Sciacqua eventually found, remastered and even made some re-recording edits to the music which now brings us to the release of the second and long overdue album under the banner STEPHEN CRANE & DUANE SCIACQUA.
”Big Guns” saw a change of personnel within the band and was more of a group affair and was put together by Stephen Crane and guitarist Duane Sciacqua who was subsequently promoted to co-name on the album credits and they brought in Johnny Burnett, Paul Daniel and Matt MacKelvie to bring their songs to life.
As with Kicks, ”Big Guns” is very much an album of its time and is so typical of that big, glossy sound of the ’80s and features some brilliant AOR tunes that really do deserve to be heard.
Again, they are very much in Toto, Survivor or Mr. Mister territory but there is a harder sound to the band with hints of John Farnham and even Sammy Hagar about the album which makes it far less of a curiosity and more of an album that deserves a little time and attention spending on it.
The record is full of tracks that surely would have charted in the ’80s with Combat Zone being typical of what is on offer here and is very favourably compared to much of what was happening in the charts around that time.
So surrender yourself to “Gangland” (a great and powerful work from bass guitar and drums can be heard, along with a great chorus), “Crazy in Love” (the melodic and elegant aesthetics used on this one creates a great ambience for the guitars, with excellent riffs and arrangements), “Bad Girls” (the vocals are amazing).
More great tunes appear on “Waiting for the Night” (the melodic appeal used on this one could put it on a soundtrack of any film of those days), “Love for Sale” (that shares the same elements from the previous one), “Touch of Magic” (a charming and elegant ballad, based on vocals, pianos and clean chords), and…well, from this point on, the best thing to do is to listen to all the songs. All of them are really good.
If you have a vested interest in ’80s AOR then you simply have to give this fine album a listen, it’s the least that we can do given that the tapes have been hidden in a box for so many years and it makes you wonder what could have happened with a more sympathetic record label.
You’ve seen it first at 0dayrox
01 – Gangland
02 – Crazy in Love
03 – Bad Girls
04 – Waiting for the Night
05 – Love for Sale
06 – Touch of Magic
07 – Tell Me What You Want
08 – Combat Zone
09 – I Won’t Tell on You
10 – Bad Reputation
Lead Vocals – Stephen Crane
Guitar – Duane Sciacqua
Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Matt MacKelvie
Bass – Johnny Burnett
Drums – Paul Daniel