Album Reviews
Band: Culver Kingz

Title: This Time

Label: Escape Music

Ok chaps, what have the following artistes got in common? Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Bryan Adams, Motley Crue, Quincy Jones and Madonna? NO? Well, each of these and MANY more have had multi-instrumentalist Michael Thompson and vocalist Billy Trudel, aka Culver Kingz, backing them up one way or another over the years, and since this duo met in 1983, it was always on the cards that they'd get it together properly and release something of their own, hence 'This Time', which has elements of said stars and others rubbing off them and getting in the feel of this album.  

What most Rock fans will think of it is anyone's guess, but if you tend to have a guilty pleasure with the West Coast/AOR scene, then you'll be hooked as soon as 'Chains Get Broken' enters the fray with its gliding riffage and easy-going harmonies, hints of 80's Stevie Winwood swaying on through the track now and then, especially on the vocal side, also being a huge influence on 'Dirty Secrets', where all that's needed is seeing Trudel wearing one of those jackets with the sleeves rolled up to show the different coloured cuffs! And I should know, I was guilty as charged back then!! The skip-along keys that dominate the happy-go-lucky 'Better Days' bellow out 'Whoops Now', the 1995 hit for Janet Jackson, yet this duo have taken this song and slipped in a more subtle touch on the guitars to keep that edge to it that Ms. Jackson didn't on her happy tune, so in keeping with the guitar side of things, up pops the exotic acoustic-led 'Eyes Of Barbados', think Ricky Martin meets 'La Isla Bonita'-Madonna and hey presto, the hips begin a-swayin'!

The Quincy Jones effect comes into play on the sultry (dare I say?) R&B influenced 'Wan Chai Girl', where Thompson's past work with N sync, Michael Jackson and said Jones has obviously caught up with him, as this track ups the groove-o-meter to 11, not what you'd expect to hear reviewing a supposed 'Rock' album, but take note, there's a hell of a guitar solo near the end that would make even the Rockiest of you out there sit up and say 'Hello, what's this here, then'!! Following on in a similar vein is the choppy, laid back 'R&B Love Song', early Justin Timberlake/Mariah Carey in content, and one definitely to be played as you're cruising down the ...erm...A167 (again!) with your 'Boo's', hood down, gale messing your hair up no end, the smell of cow sh....you get my drift!! A cool, cool song for the Summer! 'This Time' eases you into a world of lazy, hazy sunrise moments of pure pleasure, similar to that which the Isley Brothers gave on their smash 1974 hit 'Summer Breeze', whereas 'Don't Take This Love' jingle jangles it's way via the guitar on a wave of a chill out session for the listener, not really getting out of first gear, but hey ma-a-an, yo-yoh, enjoy the moment, dude!

It could be that all this easy listening R&B music is wearing thin for (mainly) a Rock fan, but 'Forever' just begins to sound a wee like the previous couple of tracks, (late 80's/early 90's T.O.T.P. anyone?), so there's eventually some kind of respite with the return of the Winwood sounding blues-based 'Coming Home Soon', in fact, Vintage Trouble springs to mind the longer the song goes on, as they have recently dabbled with ballads such as this on their last album. Talking of ballads, the album comes to it's fruition on the shimmering guitared 'You're Not Alone', this time a more modern sounding track a la Maroon 5 style, again not quite building up to anything over first gear, but this time it does have a spark about it that means it doesn't really have to, even if the riff that comes along in spurts gives a little lease of' oomph' without spoiling the moment, and not taking away the fact that this (for me) is the best song on the album, which as a whole, is as diverse an album as you'll hear for the rest of the year or even perhaps the next! Explore it with an open mind, it's a grower.

 

Review by: Robb Baldwin

 

Tracklisting:

1.  Chains Get Broken
2.  Dirty Secret
3.  Better Days
4.  Eyes Of Barbados
5.  Wan Chai Girl
6.  R&B Love Song
7.  This Time
8.  Don't Take This Love
9.  Forever
10. Coming Home Soon  
11. You're Not Alone

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