This new album by excellent melodic rockers Harem Scarem is a re-recording of their 1993 studio opus called 'Mood Swings', but with the added bonus of containing three extra new songs on the end.
Lita Ford once told me: "You take something that's already painted green, then you paint it green again, it's still green. Maybe a different shade of green, but it's still green. But if you take an album and remix it, then you're rearranging the puzzle, the pieces of the puzzle and it becomes a different picture."
In this case, it's a re-recording with the added incentive of throwing in three brand new tracks, so is it any good or is it still green?
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According to these Canadian rockers, the original release of 'Mood Swings' was a career-defining release, and they're here to celebrate its twentieth anniversary and why not. Their last studio album was called 'Hope' and surfaced back in 2008 when the band announced that they were calling it a day. But with all good things, you just can't keep 'em down for long.
The songs sound as cool as they did the first time around, incorporating lush, polished production values which only enhance the harmonic vocals which weave their magic spell.
'Saviors Never Cry' just like 1993 gets the ball rolling followed by 'No Justice' which rises out of any cynicism like the proverbial phoenix. Def Leppard-isms naturally surface here and there, like the beginning of 'Stranger Than Love' but doesn't distract from the fine song that it is, and then 'Change Comes Around' creeps into view with a swagger that defies its appeal.
'Jealousy' sparkles within its coat of melodic funk tendencies as the momentum carries us on to 'Sentimental Blvd' which looms mightily with a large chorus. Listening to this makes me want to reach for my copy of 'Weight Of The World' which I highly recommend, another fine album by Harem Scarem.
The pleasant instrumental called 'Mandy' floats by without turning any heads and then it's time for 'Empty Promises' which prowls with dark intention. 'If There Was A Time' is introduced with a gentle touch on the piano keys and soars into the blue yonder on air currents made of chocolate. It's very sweet indeed if I do say so myself.
A short track called 'Just Like I Planned' accompanied by the prominent strums of an acoustic guitar lead our ears into the final track that has been re-recorded which is called 'Had Enough'. The guitar doodling at the start is a little reminiscent of something that Steve Vai may have recorded for his 'Passion & Warfare' album, but instead of such a predictable unfolding, it boldly blossoms into an average Harem Scarem Melodic rocker.
The three new additions to 'Mood Swings II' are unanimously Harem Scarem in sound, and showcase different sides to the band. 'World Gone To Pieces' is a smooth melodic song with one of those yummy choruses the band can pull out of the bag, encompassing those goose-bump harmonies and seducing the ears.
'Anarchy' on the other hand begins with a tasty riff prior to vocalist Harry Hess sounding moody with those gravelly vocals. There's a lovely change in tempo as the harmony vocals dance on your ears before the song goes through the gearbox and we're heading to the end.
Track number 14 is the book-end to 'Mood Swings II' and goes by the title of 'Brighter Day'. It glides along like a lazy, hazy Sunday afternoon before injecting some urgency into the chorus.
To summarise, the concept of this album is rather annoying and suffers with déjà vu too much as you go through hearing these songs all over again. On the other side of the coin, if you're unfamiliar with the band or this album in particular, then it's a feast of classy melodic rock which should appeal to latter era Def Leppard fans.
The three bonus tracks would have been great additions to a brand new E.P. or album if they were so inclined, but maybe time was against them? Enjoying the final three added bonus songs makes you yearn for a complete new release, which might have been intentional and part of their master plan? To conclude, it is both green and good.
Harry Hess: Lead Vocals
Pete Lesperance: Guitars, bass
Creighton Doane: Drums
Darren Smith: background vocals and lead vocals on Sentimental Blvd.
1. Saviors Never Cry
2. No Justice
3. Stranger Than Love
4. Change Comes Around
6. Sentimental Blvd
8. Empty Promises
9. If There Was A Time
10. Just Like I Planned
11. Had Enough
12. World Gone To Pieces
14. Brighter Day