The first time I ever heard anything by – and of – Stan Bush, it wasn’t even him playing. I had bought House Of Lords’ brilliant self-titled debut album from 1988 and it contained the ballad “Love Don’t Lie”, a phenomenal tune and for quite some time I wondered who this S.Bush was, the guy who wrote the song. Even when I found out that S stood for Stan, I was more or less clueless of who he was. Stan Bush released his debut solo album – self-titled – in 1983, but it would take him four years for his next release, another self-titled record under the Stan Bush & Barrage banner. A friend of mine had bought that album and taped it for me. “Love Don’t Lie” was on that album and it was when I heard said album it came to me that this was the S.Bush who wrote that House Of Lords track. Since then, Bush have released one more Barrage album and no less than nine solo albums, out of which one is a compilation album, this one included.
I’m not gonna lie, I have always liked Stan Bush’s music but I have never been a huge fan. I think Stan writes good songs but not good enough to make him a favourite of mine and I do not listen to his records that often. Fact is, I have only ever heard both Barrage albums and two of his solo albums – Every Beat Of My Heart (1993) and Shine (2004) and I still find the debut Barrage album to be his best effort to date. It have been seven years since his last studio effort if we don’t count the compilation album The Ultimate (2014) and what Bush have been up to since then, I’m not that sure of. What I do know is that he has had a few songs on movie soundtracks such as Transformers: The Movie, The Wraith and Sailor Moon and also a song for the Transformers: War For Cybertron video game. What I also do know beforehand is that what we’re given every time Bush releases an album is a whole lot of AOR rockers with shitloads of hooks. A quick look through the track list lets me know that out of the eleven tracks here, four of the songs are previously released which means only seven new tracks, which is kind of cheap after seven years without a new song in sight.
The title track opens the record and it sounds just like I expected. It’s a mid paced soft-ish rocker that borders to a ballad. It’s actually a damn good song with a brilliantly catchy chorus that sticks after the first spin. But a ballad as an opener? Not a good idea, if you ask me. Next up is the first recycled song “Warrior” that was featured in the video game Shadow Warrior 2 in 2016. It’s a huge, hit-laden, muscular AOR rocker in the vein of Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” that sports one of those distinct choruses that you just can’t stop humming days after you heard it, even if you hate the damn thing. I certainly don’t hate it, quite the contrary, I think it’s a brilliant track. Back in 1988 it would have made Bush a platinum seller. The same goes for “Born To Win”, an upbeat, mid 80’s sounding AOR / pop rocker with a refrain to die for. It’s also a song that should go down really well live, a real winner.
Next reboot is an older track called “Never Surrender”, first released on the soundtrack to the movie Kickboxer from 1989. The 80’s sound is very palpable here but even though the tune is 28 years old, it doesn’t sound the least dated. It’s an uptempo AOR / pop tune with a positive message and a positive vibe in the arrangement – a very go-for-the-throat kind of tune. Very good. “The Story Of Love” is a huge power ballad somewhere in between Roxette and House Of Lords and again, a song like this would/could have ruled the charts in 1989 had it been written back then. But it wasn’t. I really like the song even though it’s a bit over the top cheesy. “Live Your Dream” is total 80’s and it reminds me of Bush’s first Barrage record. It’s AOR all the way through and it also brings John Parr – you know, the “St Elmo’s Fire” dude – to mind. The chorus is a real killer and a wet dream for AOR lovers out there. Bloody awesome! The quality dips some with “Break These Chains”. The tune is the long-lost cousin of Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice”, at least the opening. It soon turns into this med-paced AOR rock song, but I lack some punch and even though the chorus is ok, I find the tune quite forgettable.
“The Other Side Of Love” is the next power ballad and it sure brings “Love Don’t Lie” to mind. It’s a little bluesier and contains a brilliant guitar solo and the whole song, both verse and chorus is very memorable. “Dare” is another rerecording. It first appeared in the Netflix series GLOW that premiered earlier this year. It’s an uptempo, punchy AOR rocker with a hard-hitting melody, a blipping 80’s sounding synthesizer and a chorus so catchy it hurts. If you’re a Stan Bush fan, then “The Touch” is hardly news for you. The song first appeared on the debut Barrage album from 1987, but it actually dates back to 1986 when it was featured in the Transformers: The Movie picture. It was first re-recorded in 2013 for the video game Shadow Warrior which means that this is the third rerecording of the song. Why he decided to go with the tune once again, I don’t know, but fact is, it don’t matter much. It’s a great AOR rocker with a chorus more addictive than heroin and it should have been a hit the first time around. Bush closes the album with a soft and stripped ballad with only vocals and keyboards called “The Secret”. It contains a melody that at times reminds me of that “What A Feeling” Flashdance soundtrack song. It’s an ok tune, not bad but oh so forgettable.
The fact that I only “like” the Stan Bush records that I have heard makes it really nice to say that I find this album a really good one. I actually think it’s his best effort to date, but as I said, I have not heard all of his albums. However, this album suffers from the same thing a lot of AOR albums suffers from – a too light weight production. When it comes to this kind of music, I think it’s important to make sure that the sound scape isn’t too soft and thin. And this album lacks bite, balls and attitude. I want my AOR combining brilliant hooks, crazy-catchy choruses and smooth melodies – bring me pink and fluffy, no problem – with loud guitars that bite, heavy drums, pumping bass and attitude because other wise, the cheesiness isn’t that far away. Now, this album isn’t that cheesy but some more bite wouldn’t hurt. Still, Bush have managed to bring along a lot of really good songs, very few fillers and with that you can go a long way. To AOR lovers, this album is recommended.
1. Change The World
3. Born To Win
4. Never Surrender
5. The Story Of Love
6. Live Your Dream
7. Break These Chains
8. The Other Side Of Love
10. The Touch
11. The Secret