Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Albums - Ge­off Bar­ton

Melodic melt­down.

Swe­den’s Hous­ton tick all the right AOR boxes, but for some rea­son they have yet to be fully em­braced by a scep­ti­cal melodic-rock com­mu­nity. Maybe the prob­lem is that they (well, he to be pre­cise, the band be­ing a ve­hi­cle for singer Hank Erix) are too know­ing. Their ap­proach to the genre is rev­er­en­tial, al­most pro­fes­so­rial, which is mis­taken by some as be­ing AOR-by-num­bers.

A case in point is III’s open­ing track, Cold As Ice. It bor­rows its ti­tle from a For­eigner song and opens with the ar­che­typal lyric ‘My eyes were aching/My hands were shak­ing/My mind was break­ing’. Top marks straight­away. But mean­while, in the Jeff Scott Soto fan club sus­pi­cions re­main. Are Hous­ton scrupu­lously fol­low­ing a blue­print, or do they sim­ply know their AOR onions? The de­bate con­tin­ues to rage – po­litely.

On this side of the fence, and to con­tinue the ‘know­ing’ theme, all we can hear is mu­sic that’s as buoy­ant as Sib Hashian’s hairdo and as dap­per as Dennis DeYoung’s waist­coat. From the sub­lime sin­gle Dangerous Love, via the teary To Be With You to the shim­mer­ing West Coast vibe of In­ter­state Life, we’re lovin’ ev­ery minute of it.

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