Place Vendome

PLACE VENDOME – Thunder In The Distance

Place Vendome - Thunder in the DistanceFrontiers is an Italian record company that signs everything with a 80’s melodic hard rock / AOR sound and many are the reformed bands from that era that has been able to release records thanks to Frontiers as no other record company wanted to touch them.  In later years when that sound has made a come back, Frontiers has had some big success with bands such as Journey and Whitesnake, which I think is really cool. Frontiers also start their own little musical projects, often hiring song writers and studio musicians and a big name to sing the lot. Projects like that usually pass me by unnoticed, but sometimes they catch my eye for one reason or the other. One of those projects is First Signal which had Harry Hess of Harem Scarem fame to sing on that project’s  self titled debut and only album to date. That album was released 2010 and it was a brilliant piece of work. Another one of those projects that got my attention is Place Vendome. The project got started back in 2005 when Frontiers boss Serafino Perugino approached bass player and song writer Dennis Ward (Pink Cream ’69) and ex-Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske to take part in the project. Both accepted and the self titled debut was more or less written by Ward, who also produced the whole thing. Never a big PInk Cream ’69 fan myself, I got interested when I heard that Kiske, a favourite singer of mine, was back in action. To me, Helloween lost everything when Kiske left and has never been the same since and Kiske’s own solo albums and his Supared project left a whole lot to be desired. Somehow I got it in my head that to sing melodic rock and AOR would be perfect for Kiske’s voice. And boy, was I right. The album was full of great songs with big hooks and melodies to die for and Kiske’s voice fit the whole thing like a glove.

The project turned out so well that they decided on a sequel back in 2009 – the even better Streets Of Fire. This time, Dennis Ward didn’t participate in the song writing and was only involved as a producer, so the songs were flying in from all over the place and names such as Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Robert Säll (Work Of Art) and Torsti Spoof (Leverage) and with the same line up of musicians on both albums, this little project started to look like a band, even though Place Vendome never played live. The reception for that album was even better, so it didn’t take a genius to count out that a third album would be recorded in the future, probably the near one. Again, the song writers are totally different from its predecessor. This time Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline) took the largest responsibility in that department, but with some contributions from people like Brett Jones, Sören Cronquist (Sunstorm), Thomas Vikström (Therion) and Tommy Denander (Impera), with Ward taking the helm at the producers’ chair once more. What impresses me with this project is that they have managed to keep the Place Vendome sound with all the song writers involved. Not that they are re-inventing the wheel here or anything like that, but with all these people involved, it wouldn’t be weird at all if the material were a bit sprawling, but it isn’t. And for the third time in a row, it is the same line up except for that drummer Kosta Zafiriou had been replaced with Dirk Bruinenberg. Other members except for Kiske and Ward (who also handles the bass) are Uwe Reitenauer on guitars and Gunther Werno on keyboards.

The album kicks off with first single “Talk To Me”, a very good early 80’s sounding AOR track that is catchy enough for a hit, “Power Of Music” is a brilliant song that has all the recognisable Place Vendome melodies, “Lost In Paradise” is a real killer, so catchy with big hit potential – this is AOR heaven – and “Can’t Rain Forever” is just amazing – that half ballad alone could have shipped this album platinum, had it been released in 1988. Both the title track and “My Heart’s Dying” are fantastic memorable tunes – AOR at its best. Now, all would be hunky dory in AOR heaven, had all the songs held the same quality as the six tunes mentioned here. However, they doesn’t, I’m sad to report. But I need to stress that none of the seven songs not mentioned here are bad. There isn’t one bad track on this album, but the problem is that in contrast to the last album, this one loses its momentum when the album has ended because frankly, too many of the songs aren’t memorable enough. Sure, you’ll like them while listening to them, but as soon as the song has faded – gone. That said, I still think this is a very good album and I wouldn’t go as far as calling the songs fillers and the album sits pretty safe in my iPod. Also, all the arrangements are awesome and the production is clean and slick, just like a melodic rock / AOR production should be. It’s also a pleasure to hear Michael Kiske sing music like this – his voice is made for this, I think and it fits him lots better than any power metal out there. The only thing that’s missing to call this a band, if that is what they want to do, is to go out and play live. It would also be cool if Kiske himself would participate with the song writing. Projects like these feels much more authentic when there’s some kind of band feeling involved. For lovers of AOR and melodic rock, I would recommend this and the other two Place Vendome albums in a heartbeat.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

1. Talk To Me
2. Power Of Music
3. Broken Wings
4. Lost In Paradise
5. It Can’t Rain Forever
6. Fragile Ground
7. Hold Your Love
8. Never Too Late
9. Heaven Lost
10. My Heart Is Dying
11. Breakout
12. Maybe Tomorrow
13. Thunder In The Distance

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2 comments on “PLACE VENDOME – Thunder In The Distance

    • Yup. Ever heard of this project before? If not, check it out. In my opinion, this kind of music fits Kiske’s voice even better.

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