Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sunblind Lion - Above & Beyond (1978)

Some AOR for calm Tuesday evening ;) More info & buy CDs here

Sunblind Lion is a pretty obscure band, hailing from Wisconsin (US), as not many people are aware of the band. This is a bid of a shame, as they released 3 fine albums in the late 70's with classic POMP tunes.

Their first release, called OBSERVER, saw daylight in '76 and is filled with pure POMP in the same style as their contemporaries STARCASTLE did. Even the lyrics are like STARCASTLE, as S.L also sometimes likes to sing about wind, sun, seasons and that kind of stuff. The albums kicks off with Ride the wind, an uptempo pomp-song with a great Hammond solo in the middle. Next tracks, Cat Eyes (bit like EMPEROR) and Jamaican Holiday are bit average but the rest of the album is all very listenable.
Especially Games of the lonely (like first JAUGERNAUT) and the epic Spring Essence (STARCASTLE all the way), this song is build up out of 3 parts (Dawn - Storm - Sunset), has a long intrumental passage in the middle including many keys. Last track to offer is again an epic, the titletrack, and has an oriental sounding chorus, but again very pompeus with many keys and harmony vocals. Great debut, only the production is a bit a spoil-spot but the music makes that good.
Two years later they relaesed their second album called Above and Beyond. First thing that attracts the attention is that there was an almost complete line-up change. Only the main songwriter, guitarplayer and vocalist Keith Abler and Dave Steffen (also guitars) survived from the debut line-up. Also this time, the production was much better and there were no weak songs. Like JAUGERNAUT during their second release (Take 'em there), there're still pomp traces left but the songs have a more down to earth appraoch. Still they like to sing about the wind as the firsttrack to offer is called Sing out the wind, and this is the weakest song on the album, although, please don't misunderstand me, is very nice !
Things start really rolling with 4 classic tunes in row. Especially The bottom is a long way down ( now I know where JAUGERNAUT got their style), the up tempo PILOT 1407 (GROUNSTAR like), the Promise of Adam (catchy songs with nice hooks and lyrics) and last but not least the final song on the A-side Hurry World, with great lead keys, reminding very much like Love I do from JAUGERNAUT. Blood from the sting on the B side has haunting keys all over and is the best song to offer (in my humble opinion), a really chicken skin song ! Although it's hard to choose the best song on this fine album, because the last song, The king and his parlaiment, is also very good. This epic song starts up heavy, big drums on a militarist rhythm but ends smoothly with great harmony vocals, synths, acoustic guitars and even cello's on the backgound. Great song.
In '80 they released a live album. I haven't heard it yet, but it's in the post and maybe I'll tell you about some other time. All their albums were released through HOMEGROWN REC. and are also available on CD. For further details, please check out the site: http://www.excel.net/~kabler/

Latest news on the band is that they're back together and did some succesfull live shows this summer. There are also plans for recording new material upcoming winter, so stay tuned as the LION isn't death yet, to be continued ....

(This story was made by Willy Vanbuel)

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