US AOR heroes Fortune are one of those Chimeric eighties hard rock acts; almost mythical, they released a couple of not-acclaimed-by-many-people-at-all albums through the late seventies to the mid eighties, only to be stymied by the usual combination of record label incompetence, a changing musical landscape and sheer bad luck.
And of course, they are back in 2019, like so many others enticed by the smell of the nostalgia market green… But are they worth a punt, or should they be automatically consigned to the American never-wheres State Fair circuit forthwith?
In answer to my own question I’d have to say the former. Although there’s nothing here to match the soaring hard rock majesty of Dearborn Station from that long-lost eighties opus, there’s an awful lot to enjoy here if you’ve ever owned, or wanted to own, a pair of cowboy boots and a pastel-shaded dustcoat.
Vocalist Larry Greene has a classic AOR voice; reminiscent of Kansas man John Elefante at times, especially on the pompously heroic Shelter of the Night, at others giving off a whiff of Giuffria/Dirty White Boy alumnus David Glen Eisley. But whatever or whoever his voice makes you think of, you’ll be loving it every time he opens his mouth.
Freedom Road features a dramatic verse buildup before exploding into the sort of chorus Van Hagar might have fancied a pop at, accompanied by some frankly outstanding guitar work from Richard Fortune, who peppers every song with superbly tasteful solos and licks, much like Survivor’s Frankie Sullivan in his prime. This Survivor analogy is extended rather more obviously on the lighter-waving ballad Heart of Stone, which surely would have been a massive hit in 1986 if sung by Jimi Jamison…
To be honest I’ve been more than a little underwhelmed by most new music that masquerades under the ‘AOR’ banner for a little while now; Fortune have changed all that in just the time it took to listen to this masterful piece of hard rock; These lads have shot a direct line back to the glory days of the genre, and if you’ve ever found yourself listening to one of your fave old albums thinking ‘why can’t they make ‘em like this anymore?’ then this just might be the album for you. Essential stuff!
Fortune’s II is released by Frontiers Music on April 26th.