Seven - 7 (2014/Escape Music)
Here’s another band to be resurrected from the deep past of forgotten and obscured AOR bands. We’re talking of Seven, the South African-British cult AOR act that only ever released two singles back in the day before disbanding and falling into obscurity. In a way, the Seven story is very much similar to that of British collegues United Nations, who 29 years after their sole album The First Move decided to re-unite and re-record the album, releasing it under the name 2014. Of course, Seven never had an album in the first place, but contrary to United Nations they were on a major label (Polydor) and on the verge of a wider breakthrough. They had the looks, the hooks and the sounds to make it big but unfortunately by 1990 their brand of melodic keyboard-laden AOR was quickly going out of fashion and the band found themselves dropped. It is only through the initiative of Khalil Turk of Escape Music that the band was put back together
and now 24 years later the debut Seven album is finally released!
As implied above, this is an album entirely made up of re-recorded ‘old’ material that has been given a modern boost in form of an updated production. When compared to some of the old recordings the guitar sound has definitely been beefed up, giving the songs more of that modern melodic rock feel contrary to the pure AOR sounds of the early singles and demos. I personally prefer the latter, but with material this good these are really secondary issues and I think these songs works well in a little heavier setting as well.
7 has by some people been called “the greatest AOR album in 15 years” and while I perhaps wouldn’t go that far it’s definitely top drawer AOR and a must have for any fan of the genre. It encapsulates pretty much everything that made U.K. AOR and bands like FM, Strangeways and Shy so great: big keys, unforgettable choruses and a voice to die for. (I still can’t get over the fact that singer Mick Devine originally started out in the band as a drummer!). There’s also American influences: opener Shoot To Thrill is probably the best song Foreigner never wrote. What a way to start an album! Elsewhere, stuff like Strangers, Still and Thru The Night are all compulsory listening for every AOR fan and without question some of the best songs released in the genre this year. Had this stuff been released in 1984 instead of 2014 it would have skyrocketed the charts. But the song perhaps best defining the Seven sound has to be Inside Love, one of the band’s singles and a track which could almost serve as a blueprint for the perfect AOR song, with brilliant hooklines and those heavenly keys everywhere. Mick Devine’s voice hasn’t aged one day which becomes well evident if you play the old and new version back to back.
So there you have it. The boys have really done a great job here, re-recording these old tunes to produce what will certainly be one of the most essential AOR purchases of the year 2014. According to Devine, there could even possibly be new music and live shows in the pipeline as well. I certainly wouldn’t say no to that! But for now, just buy the album, sit back and enjoy the excellence.
Bob Wheeler - s/t
Fury - s/t