David Reece and Bangalore Choir released their debut album On Target in 1992, having been courted by all the major US record labels. Even David Coverdale refused to have them on tour with Whitesnake when he heard David’s voice. But now the band are back, and their explosive fourth album Center Mass has just been released, coupled with their epic performance from Hamburg last September.
Bangalore Choir – Center Mass (Global Rock Records)
Release Date: Out Now
Interview: Steve Ritchie
On Target was released the same week as Nirvana’s Nevermind. We have covered that history here at MetalTalk already, but the explosion of grunge caused the cancellation of the band’s record deal. With Cadence in 2010 and Metaphor in 2012, plus an epic show at Firefest, the Bangalore Choir bandwagon briefly re-ignited.
That Firefest performance was on the three-disc boxset covering their earlier albums, and a version of On Target was released last year, wonderfully remastered from the old tapes. Both versions had almost caused me issues travelling by train before when I was so lost in the music I almost missed stops.
“My sincere apologies,” David smiles. “If I can make somebody miss a train with my music, I guess that’s a good sign.”
The Hamburg show was the catalyst for the Center Mass. “A record company guy was at the Hamburg Show,” David says, “He said, ‘You gotta do it again.’ I was a little bit hesitant because they really wanted to fire up and try to rekindle On Target, and that is a tough task. But, I think I relatively succeeded in some of the songs. Trying to go back in time 30-plus years was not easy. But I’m proud of it. It’s a great body of work, and I have a great band.”
Center Mass, from the opening riff of the first track Spirit Rider, had me totally sucked in. The sound is edgier than On Target, but the spirit of those early Bangalore Choir days is still there. It is obvious the new guys understand the history.
“I have to give a shout-out to those guys,” David says. “Niccolò Savinelli [guitarist] and his brother [drummer] Nello [Giovanni Nello Savinelli]. Nello is playing with Iron Allies now. Sadly Francesco [Jovino] had to bow out due to personal reasons with family, and we were in kind of a crux. Nello came and did some gigs with us in Bulgaria a few weeks ago. But I gave a shout-out to the brothers and Ricardo [Ric Demarosi], who is the bassist. They live literally in my village. The studio that Ricardo owns is 15 minutes from my house. So rehearsing all those songs, they kind of got it.
What’s really extraordinary about those guys is that they came up in the ’90s. This music kind of flitted it off, but they pour their heart and soul into rehearsal and preparation for shows. They really study each part, and I’ll go to rehearsal, and I’ll do the set, but they’ve already been there doing the set two times prior to me going there. And then when I leave, I go, what are you guys gonna do? They go, we’re gonna sit around and run it a couple more times. Nothing but respect. Those guys are total pros.”
Straight away on Spirit Rider, you can feel the signature dual guitar solos, a great pre-chorus and a banging great riff under the ripping solos. It’s a really cool opening.
“Christian Tolle and I wrote that together,” David says. “He and I have done some stuff before, and I reached out to him because he was a big BC fan. He wrote the riff, and then I just started putting pen to paper and that popped out. I think Ricardo wrote the middle part for it.”
Original member Ian Mayo wrote Back 2 U with David. “Getting the original guys together, impossible as most of them have retired,” David said, “or moved on. I’ve also got Jimi Bell from Autograph on the track, who wrote a song with me, played solos and the great Mario Percudani. He and I wrote Back To Life, Without You, Heat Of The Night and Blame It On Me.”
I love the opening to Back To Life. It really has a ’90s feel, but without being dated. And with another great melody and wonderful riff. David says Johnny Gioeli was originally offered the track. “He didn’t feel it,” David says. “Mario said, I have this riff that Johnny wasn’t too excited about. Let me play it for you. And I went, that’s it. There are a couple of guys guesting on guitars, but Niccolò, I wanted him to show his prowess as a guitar player doing the solos and most of the stuff. But, yeah, Back To Life is a good one.”
I Just Want To Love You is the classic ballad on the album. “That one was co-written with Martin Kronberg,” David says. “Martin and I are writing songs now, possibly for a follow-up Bangalore record or another Reece/Kronberg album. We’ve scratched the surface. We’ve got six songs recorded. I don’t know where it’s going, but Martin is another one that I have to give a shout-out to. He’s a great songwriter.”
The run of memorable songs continues. Blame It On Me is an acoustic gem, Heat Of The Night has another fantastic riff, while Downtime With The Devil is a down-tuned stomper with David stretching his voice wonderfully on the opening scream. Without You is one which will sound really awesome live.
If The Good Die Young Part 2 takes over from Part One, featured in On Target. You must check out both parts. If you were expecting Part Two to be a ballad continuation, then think again. Bangalore Choir have channelled their inner Queen backing vocals into what is a rock stomper. It’s a cracking track that tails the album nicely, with an exquisite version of Nazareth’s Love Hurts to close.
David says that January shows have been booked, and shows with Blaze Bayley in Sweden, plus other Swedish shows and Denmark too. The band are working with a booking agent, so more dates will follow.
This is a great album with a great lineup. Bangalore Choir are a band that is seriously underrated, and were it not for Nirvana, they would have had a sparkling career. The back catalogue is a must-catch-on experience.
Just listen to the Italian job on the eight tracks from Hamburg on Disc Two, and this becomes a must-see lineup. David looks well. Having lived in Italy for some time, the tomato and pasta lifestyle seems to suit him well. “I’m working on it,” he says, “alcohol-free like we said before. Trying to take care of the body and the voice, which is all one. So I appreciate it. I do the best I can.”
His best makes me almost miss trains, with my in-ears blasting out, not paying attention. I’ve had people looking funny at me when accidentally singing chorus backing vocals up the escalators too. There are not many bands that can do that.