ROBIN BECK – Underneath

Robin Beck - UnderneathRobin Beck is responsible for one of the finest AOR albums of all time with what many thought was her debut, Trouble Or Nothin’ (1989), but she had actually recorded an album ten years prior to that, Sweet Talk (1979). But it was with Trouble Or Nothin’ Beck became a well-known name, much because of her smash hit single, the Coca Cola commercial ballad “First Time”. A big hit yes, but far, far away from being a top song on that album. I think it’s the dullest song on the album. A re-recorded version of said album was released in 2009 with four new songs on it, a version that is almost just as good as the original. That doesn’t happen very often. But after that killer lesson in AOR and melodic rock, Beck went on a more “mature” and “grown up” line musically with the next three albums (Human Instinct, Can’t Get Off and Wonderland) and abandoned rock music for those years. Those albums weren’t bad, but they sounded both confused and somewhat dull. It wasn’t until 2005 and her uneven “comeback”  album Do You Miss Me that she was back on track musically. If it had anything to do with her marriage to House Of Lords lead singer James Christian, we can only speculate. Since then, Beck has bettered herself with every album and with this one, she’s into album # 10, and this is her best release since Trouble Or Nothin’!

Her last album, The Great Escape (2011) was a great album and I had the feeling that Mrs Beck wouldn’t be satisfied with that and sit back and pat her herself on the back, but to try to make the next album even better. And that’s what she did. In style, the two albums are very similar, but where The Great Escape had its fillers, this one hasn’t. The sound scape is the same as on her last two albums (the other one being Livin’ On A Dream (2007)), very clean and tidy production and that’s about the only negative I can think of here. I would like to keep it neat like that, but with some dirt under the fingernails. Still, the most important thing is that the songs work – and they do work – and then some. The album opens with “Wrecking Ball” and the title says it all really. The song is a knock out, raunchy, catchy as Hell and quite heavy for an AOR rocker. “Ain’t That Just Like Love” is classic Robin Beck, very commercial with a chorus catchier than glue and I smell a hit here, which I also smell on the title track, an amazing ballad that really gets under your skin and won’t leave – this is how it’s done, folks, and in the rockier department we get “Catfight”, an in-your-face rocker and “Change Your Attitude”, a ballsy hard stomper that rocks harder than most songs that Beck has recorded. The mandatory ballad duet with hubby James Christian appears, of course, also on this record, but this time it doesn’t feel as cheesy as usual, but even if it was, it’s still a great song. “Perfect Storm” is a great AOR rocker, “Ya Can’t Fight Love” is another one of those classic, killer Beck – AOR tunes that aims for airplay, “I Swear The Night” is such a soulful and brilliant power ballad and the record ends with “Follow You”, a fantastic and catchy pop-rocker that would be a big hit in a perfect world.

What differs this album from the rest is that it is a bit rougher in sound and some songs rocks away a bit, which is cool. Also, she has worked with different song writers this time, using the support of people like Glen Burtnik (ex Styx) and Fiona, together with the usual suspects, hubby Christian and guitarist Tommy Denander (Impera). James Christian produced the whole she-bang and that might explain why his backing vocals are so high in the mix – a bit too high, to be honest. But the fact that Beck is in her mid 50’s and she still has one of the best voices in rock is nothing short of impressing, I mean she still sings as good as ever and as a guy, I can’t help but notice how beautiful she still is, she looks better than most women half her age. I know I gave her last album an 8/10, so it feels a bit weird to give this one the same rating when this album is better. For every AOR / melodic rock fans, this album is a real no-brainer.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01. Wrecking Ball
02. Ain’t That Just Like Love
03. Sprain
04. Underneath
05. Catfight
06. Check Your Attitude
07. Burnin’ Me Down (feat. James Christian)
08. Perfect Storm
09. Ya Can’t Fight Love
10. I Swear The Nights
11. Follow You

2 comments on “ROBIN BECK – Underneath

  1. This isn’t bad. I do hear a lot of music that sounds like this on the radio already. Canada seems to have a few singers that had a sound like this. I think I’ll have to check out Trouble or Nothin’ though!

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