DRIVE, SHE SAID – Pedal To The Metal

308695Does anybody recognize the situation where you have been recommended a record by a friend and you don’t like it and your friend responds with “but you dig (insert genre of choice), how can you not dig this band”, just like you have to love every single band and album that moves in said territories? Happens quite a lot to me – or at least it used to. This happened to me back in the late 80’s when someone handed me a copy of AOR duo Drive She Said’s self-titled debut album from 1989. The thing is, I didn’t dislike that album per se, but except for the odd song or two it left me underwhelmed. I did tape the album and I kept the cassette and I put it on from time to time just to see if I had changed my mind – that actually happens, but I never became a fan. That also meant that I never bothered to check out the duo’s – that will be Mark Mangold on drums and keyboards and Al Fritsch on lead vocals, guitars and keyboards for your information – follow up from 1991, Drivin’ Wheel, until many, many years later and I can’t say that I have much recollection of that record at all. That also meant that I had no idea that the guys made a third record, Excellerator, in 1992 and that they made a quick reunion in 2003 and released a fourth album, Real Life, the same year, until I started writing this review. That also means that I can’t compare this album to any of those, only to their two first. So it’s pretty fair to say that my expectations for this album aren’t that high, although they’re not very low either – remember, I never thought Drive She Said were crap, they just never got a hold on me, that’s all. As a guy who has some issues with band names, this band name has to be mentioned – Drive, She Said! Why would anyone want to name their band Drive She Said? There probably are some good reasons for that name, reasons I’m clueless of, so until I find out – and if the reason is a good one, my view on the name is that it blows – bad! But what I will do is to listen to this record with an open mind and even if I don’t like it the first time, I will give it at least one more chance. Let’s get down to business then, shall we?

Opener “Touch” have riff that sounds a lot like Europe’s “Cherokee” and so does the keyboard solo. But the song is really good, a pretty typical 80’s AOR pop-rocker, but very catchy and a refrain that sticks. The title tracks is also a good song, but it sounds a bit dated. It could have been a leftover from 1986, really. It’s the same with “In R Blood”, it sounds a bit dated, like we took a leap back to 1987 kind of, but it rocks pretty well, has a big chorus and is catchy as hell. “Said It All” is an AOR ballad that sounds like something Michael Bolton could have come up with in his years right between his great 80’s AOR albums and his more cheesy 90’s weaker stuff. It’s an ok ballad, but it really doesn’t go anywhere. “Writing On The Wall” is a mix between AOR and pop, but it’s easy to hear a big Deep Purple influence in the song, mostly on the Ritchie Blackmore like riff and the very Jon Lord influenced keyboard solo. Great song, maybe the best on the entire album. “Rainbows And Hurricanes” is the opposite – a soft ballad-like pop song that goes nowhere, very mediocre and it actually feels unstructured, like it’s not finished. “Love Will Win In The End” is really good, though. It reminds me of Aldo Nova’s debut album, an album that by many is seen as a true AOR classic. It rocks and it’s catchy and the song is very good. I also find “Rain Of Fire” a real killer. The heavier and rougher side of AOR fits DSS really well and the fact that I find this song reminiscent of Dare’s extremely underrated Blood From Stone (1991) sound wise is only on the plus account.”In Your Arms” is a total 80’s cheese deluxe power ballad where Al duets with Fiona. In sound, this tune is so light weight it could be a Chicago song, but there is a part of me that enjoys this kind of song. It’s not great, but I wouldn’t skip over it either – a good song. “In The Nyte” is a synth based pop song, the kind you could find in the European charts in the mid 80’s with ddrums and all. Needless to say it sounds so dated and for me, this doesn’t work one bit. “Lost In You” is a pop song – pure pop – like it sounded in the mid 80’s. It has a nice and catchy little chorus but this stuff is pretty far from what I dig. The closing track “All I Wanna Do” is a stripped, acoustic ballad that sounds a whole lot like Nelson. I really like Nelson so I dig it – very catchy and uplifting and a nice ending to this record.

To put it simple, if you’re into Drive She Said’s earlier stuff, you’ll probably like this one as well. To my ears, Drive She Said have always been pretty standard AOR that doesn’t move outside of the box at all and a lot of times they’re very predictable. This album sounds exactly like DSS have always sounded, even the production sounds like it could be a shelved album from 1989. Still, there are some really great stuff on this record and despite the many fillers, I find this album a lot better than their two first ones and to be fair to Mangold and Fritsch, there’s no denying the fact that the guys have stayed true to their sound and apparently refuses to change for anyone and anything. The sampled drums, however, are an abomination – those should be prohibited by law, but not a reason not buy this album if this is the kind of stuff that tickles your music nerve. Good, but not great.



1. Touch
2. Pedal To The Metal
3. In ‘R Blood
4. Said It All
5. Writing On The Wall
6. Rainbows And Hurricanes
7. Love Will Win In The End
8. Rain Of Fire
9. In Your Arms
10. I’m The Nyte
11. Lost In You
12. All I Wanna Do