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Chain Reaction

Electric Playground

Review by Gary Hill

This hard rocking album sits fairly firmly in the territory of classic rock. It’s a strong disc, but perhaps a bit lacking in terms of production. It’s not that it’s bad, but just feels a bit flat. That is pretty much throughout, but some tracks come close to surpassing that assessment.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Shallow Valor

If this had a bit more crunch built into it you’d probably find it to be heavy metal. As it is, it’s vaguely bluesy hard rock that’s quite tasty. The production feels a bit flat, but the music is good.

White Room
Yes, this is a cover of the Cream song. For my money it’s a good one. It might lose a little of the charm of the original, but it makes up for it with a somewhat more modern sound. The vocals, as one might guess, seem in a lower key than those on the original. There’s a bit of flange on the guitar solo here and rather than try to copy Clapton (might be a futile effort) this seems to break new ground and bring a new flavor to the piece. The recording here doesn’t seem as flat.
Burnin' Midnight Oil
Although the production seems to suffer a bit here, this classic sounding rocker has a killer guitar solo. In fact, that segment is what really brings this up above the level of average. I wouldn’t say we’ve got a blockbuster here, but that guitar solo section (and the energized rocker after) are definitely in the very good range.
The Party Principle
This is cool. The production is a bit better here. The cut feels very much like a fusion number, but yet there’s still plenty of that classic rock vibe, too. It’s another strong piece and I’d peg it as a highlight here. 
If You Only Knew
Bass starts things off here. The sound is again better. In fact the production on this track is amongst the best on the album. The track is basically a ballad, but it’s got some energy to it. There are some hints of country music here. The guitar solo section takes it into a progressive rock vein, though. It’s quite a soaring segment.
Honey Child
A straightforward rocker, this one is bluesy, high energy and very cool. The production here feels a bit flat, but the smoking guitar soloing really makes that not matter at all. 
Where’s the Beauty
A harder rocker, the production here is a bit of a distraction. Still, the song structure which sits somewhere between metal and progressive rock makes up for that. The soaring, wandering guitar solo section definitely qualifies as prog.
Star Spangled Banner
You can compare this rocking guitar solo to the Jimi Hendrix version. In fact, it reminds me a lot of that one. The production is better here, but I’m not sure this was the best choice to use as a disc closer.
 
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