Album Review: Canadian Rockers HAREM SCAREM are BACK with “UNITED”

One of my most anticipated releases of the year is here and I’m thrilled to finally have it! The expectations were high but let me tell you something – Harem Scarem met 100% of them and went way beyond that with “United”. This is definitely going to be a very strong year for Frontiers Records and this album right here is one of the reasons why!

Harem Scarem surely went a long way since their solid (but highly underrated, often forgotten) self-titled debut. The 1991 release spawned fantastic rockers, including “Slowly Slipping Away” and of course one of the saddest rock ballads in history (and the reason why I became a fan of HS), “Honestly”.

harem scarem united 2017 big.jpgAfter an impressive stream of good albums, compilations, live releases and a lengthy rockstar career, the band called it quits in 2008. That wasn’t the end of it, though. Thankfully, vocalist Harry Hess and guitarist Pete Lesperance pulled their acts together and went back in the studio. To mark their near-30th anniversary and of course, for the love of rock music, Harem Scarem put out their 14th studio album, suitably named “United”.

I’m already referring to Harem Scarem as melodic rock Gods and “United” just solidified their position as such. The album is stunning! The first time I played it, I felt like I was taking a walk in a melodic rock paradise and every song was a breath of fresh, highly energizing air.

The masterful production qualities of “United” (courtesy of Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance, of course) are just one small part of why this album turned out so great. “United” is certainly not in shortage of brilliant hooks, powerful choruses and don’t even get me started on the magnificent guitar riffs.  

The upbeat opening track has all the right elements to knock your socks off. This sing-along treasure is just the beginning of the fiery punch this album is! The second track, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” is my personal favorite… and how can it not be! The entire song is one world-spinning experience, flavoured by the smashing backing vocals of Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen). The intriguing journey doesn’t end there, though. The album doesn’t lose momentum – the mid and ending parts are as fascinating as the first tracks. “Gravity” and “Sinking Ship” are pure energy, synthesized in 4-minute songs. Where is my ballad? There it is, finally – track number 5 is the unbelievable “One of Life’s Mysteries”. Just when I thought it’s been a while since I heard a decent rock ballad, these guys pull out a song like this one…how can I not love them? “Bite The Bullet” is also a song to check out – it’s a very appealing modern-style rock tune. “The Sky is Falling” and “Things I Know” are a couple of the other creative, harmony-teemed sensations on “United”.

Final verdict: “United” might as well be one of the greatest melodic rock releases so far this year. I am recommending it to everyone who thinks that the genre went down years ago. It didn’t! As long as we have Harem Scarem and long partnerships like Hess-Lesperance, things will be alright!


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

One of Life’s Mysteries

United


Reference:

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

10 Rock Ballad Compilation Albums for All Ballad Lovers Out There

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I love rock ballads…please don’t tell me you were actually surprised to read that….!?

I’ve told the story before but it all started with Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” and it developed into one huge obsession with power ballads and we got to the point where I can actually list rock ballad compilation albums without even blinking… It’s just my thing, I guess. I have accumulated a number of ballad compilation albums (digitally and physically) and I decided to share some of those releases which I find the most appealing and worthy of possessing. Some of the following I don’t actually own because they are merely impossible to find BUT it’s easy to re-create them if you already own the band’s discography. Ultimately, my list can also give you some ideas or make you check out some of those bands’ beautiful ballad songs (I recommend all).

I would like to finish by saying that it’s high time Def Leppard released a ballad album! (please please please)

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Gary Moore – Ballads & Blues 1982–1994

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I just had to kick things off with this absolute masterpiece and the album that introduced me to and made me a fan of Gary Moore. Where do I even begin? “Still Got the Blues (For You)”, “Always Gonna Love You”, “Story of the Blues”, “Midnight Blues” and so on – those are just some of the precious soul-crushing and world-spinning soulful romantic pieces you can find on that album. Every time I talk about compilation albums, I start the discussion with this one. On top of it all, Ballads & Blues 1982-1994 contains three unreleased ballads which are definitely a worthy addition to Gary’s classics.


Harem Scarem – Ballads

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Maybe you didn’t expect to see this totally underrated band on my list but you know that I’m always rooting for the less-known but highly deserving rock bands out there. The Canadian hard rockers Harem Scarem won me with the astonishing ballad “Honestly” which of course is on this compilation album and of course became the reason why I put this album here…This Japanese release was out in 1999 and it also contained a couple of unreleased before surprises in it, in addition to the well-known classics.


Thunder – Ballads

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This rock jewel is one of my favorite ballad compilations of all time and that’s mainly because it’s by Thunder – one of those hard rock bands which have a very very special place in my hard. The ballad compilation album was released in 2003 and nowadays it seems like it’s impossible to find it but I haven’t given up just yet. “Love Walked In”, “Until My Dying Day”, “A Better Man” and many more gems from Thunder’s classic and not-so-classic days of rock can be heard on that CD.


Whitesnake – Best Ballads…

The masters of hard rock, Whitesnake, lead by none other than the man whose voice can send you to heaven, David Coverdale released a couple of (unofficial) ballad compilation albums from Russia, Ukraine, UK and other European countries. Ultimately, timeless rock classics like “Don’t Fade Away”, “Is This Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and of course my favorite Whitesnake song, “Looking for Love” are on all of them. Don’t hesitate to get it if you come across it. So far, I’ve seen those releases only on Ebay, unfortunately.


Scorpions – Gold Ballads

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“Gold Ballads” by Scorpions was released in 1984 in Europe only. The 5-song compilation features Scorpions’ best romantic tunes, including the timeless “Still Loving You” and “Holiday”. I should mention that in 2003, they released a new ballad CD, simply titled “Ballads” (only in Singapore, though as they have a massive fanbase there) which is another worthy piece.


Eric Clapton – Ballads

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This compilation was released in 2003 in Japan only but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands on it (especially if you are a die-hard fan like me). The breathtaking compilation features some of Clapton’s most outstanding, tear-jerking ballads, including “Tears in Heaven”, “Miss You”, “Old Love” and “Layla” ( of course ). It’s one of my favorite ballad albums of all time and it’s such a pity that I don’t have it in my CD collection (yet).


Toto – Best Ballads

toto best balads

Toto are the kings of ballads and I’m thankful that we had this awesome release, where all of their beautiful, soul-touching masterpieces gathered together. The compilation features some of my favorite melodic rock ballads of all time, including “I’ll Be Over You”, “Mama”, “Rosanna” and the saddest song in history, “I Won’t Hold You Back”. “Best Ballads” was originally released in 1995 and it contains 17 songs. In 2003, they released “Love Songs” – yet another worthy record full of love and heartbreak.


Nazareth – the Ballad Album

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The 10 song CD titled “The Ballad Album” by Nazareth was released in 1985 only in Germany. This golden piece of music features some of Nazareth (and some of the greatest of all time) rock ballads, including “Love Hurts”, “Dream On”, “Where Are You Now”, “Games” and more. I love playing this compilation, it’s so atmospheric.


REO Speedwagon – The Ballads

reo

In 1999, REO Speedwagon released a ballad compilation album with a long list of their previous, well-known classics and a couple of surprises which unfortunately couldn’t make that big of a fuss back then. It was a ballad that got me into REO Speedwagon. Yes, of course I’m talking about that special song, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” which is undoubtedly one of the most instantly recognizable melodic rock song out there and of course, the favorite ballad of all the softies out there. In addition to their beloved hit, “The Ballads” features “Keep On Loving You”, “Take It on The Run” and “Here with Me”.


Various – The Very Best of Power Rock Ballads [3CD Box Set]

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I’m finishing my list with a compilation treasure I found years ago, titled “The Very Best of Power Ballads”. There are hundreds of similar compilations, featuring identical, evergreen hits but If I have to recommend a worthy assortment of rock ballads, it has to be this one. “The Very Best of Power Ballads” was released in 2005 as a 3CD box set with a total of 50 mind-blowing songs.  You have all the classics – Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Queen’s “We are the Champions”, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, etc. Not only that but you also get to enjoy Jefferson Airplane, Whitesnake, John Waite, Cher, REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones and many more.


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~