JEAN BEAUVOIR – Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1

Here’s a guy that should be bigger than he is considering all the great tunes he have written and co-written throughout the years. I first got to know the name Jean Beauvoir through Kiss, he helped Paul Stanley write great 80’s Kiss gems like “Thrills In The Night”, “Uh! All Night” and “Who Wants To Be Lonely” and as a huge Kiss fan, it was natural to check out Beauvoir’s work that didn’t include Kiss as well. However, I must admit that my ride with Jean has been a bumpy one. His first band The Plasmatics are a band I’m still not familiar with at all. I’m not into Punk at all so I have ignored that band on purpose. And the first time I heard his solo single “Feel The Heat” made me so disappointed that I didn’t bother with any of his solo stuff until much later.

Both Beauvoir’s solo albums Drums Along The Mohawk (1986) and Jacknifed (1988) are pure Pop albums full of synthesizers, drum machines and poor production. Today, I have changed my mind and really love both records, song wise. His 1989 band Voodoo X is still my favorite among Beauvoir’s releases, unfortunately they only released one album, The Awakening – a brilliant record and it’s a shame the band ended pre-maturely. It was quiet until 1993 when he released the self titled album by his new outfit Crown Of Thorns in the middle of Grunge mania. Crown Of Thorns has released six records so far but the debut is still my fave one, not that any of the other releases are bad. The album he released with COT guitarist Micki Free, American Trash (2015), was a good one but made little impact. So now it’s time to sum up his career with remastered oldies, something I’m totally ok with even though a whole new record would have been to prefer.

The album opens with “Faith”, the title track from the 2008 album and the tune is on the heavier side of Melodic Rock. It’s quite punchy and in-your-face and I think it’s a really good song although I think the chorus could have been more direct. I find the verses more catchy than the refrain. “Crown Of Thorns”, another title track follows with a groove and the style lands somewhere between Melodic Rock and Hard Rock and 80’s Kiss comes to mind. A great song that should have been the album’s opener. “Dying For Love” (Crown Of Thorns) is the hit song that never was released as a single, something that have always puzzled me. It’s a big Melodic Rock tune with an amazingly catchy chorus that would most likely had become a hit if had been released in 1987. It’s a fabulous song – release it as a single immediately!

“Feel The Heat” (Drums Along The Mohawk) is a groovy, direct Pop song that swings like crazy. The remastering sure has bettered the song but the way I see it, he should have rerecorded the tune for this album to make it less light-weight and punch it up some. It’s still a great and catchy tune. “Lyin'” (Lost Cathedral, 1998) is a bit more gritty and heavy with a punch. It contains some heavy riffing that even borders to Metal but the pre-chorus goes into AOR territory and its catchiness brings on a chorus that can’t keep what the pre-chorus promised and there it falls a bit flat. A good song that could have been better with a more effective refrain. “Heartbeat” (Breakthrough, 1996) is heavy and slower in pace with a rougher and ballsier outlook than what we’re used from him. It’s a good, meaty and even headbang-friendly rocker with a very distinct refrain that hits where it should.

“The Awakening”, the title track from Voodoo X’s only album is dark and heavy with a sinister, occult vibe that holds a fat and tough riff. It’s plain Hard Rock but rich on both hooks and memorable melodies. This one also benefits from the remastering here – a brilliant tune. “Missing The Young Days” (Drums Along The Mohawk) is again a Pop tune, very melancholic and saddening with a very strong melody. Again, the remaster has bettered the tune and again, it should have been rerecorded for the same reason as “Feel The Heat”. It’s a killer track, though. “Hike It Up” (Crown Of Thorns) is a more straight-forward rocker with a groovy, stompy rhythm and a sing-along-friendly chorus. It’s a good song but it has never been a favorite of mine. It’ll probably work live, though. “Secret Jesus” (Crown Of Thorns) is a lost Melodic Hard Rock gem. It’s a pretty driven and straight-forward track with a brilliant refrain that brings a bit of 80’s Kiss vibe to the table. Maybe not single-material but never the less a killer track.

“Rock Ready” (Faith) is slow, heavy and ballsy with a fist-in-the-air rhythm. It’s a song with a crunchy live feel, a crowd pleasing chorus even though it’s somewhat clichéd lyrically. Still, that doesn’t take away any of the song’s greatness. “The One” (Faith) is an uptempo Pop song on the softer side with a huge AOR vibe and a chorus stickier than honey – another lost hit. Speaking of lost hits, the fact that “Voodoo Queen” (The Awakening) wasn’t a huge hit is one of the big musical mysteries of the world. It’s a dark but groovy 80’s rocker with a somewhat spooky vibe to it and a bit of a tribal rhythm. Also, this arena rocker comes with a chorus that’s insanely catchy that was perfect for a 1989 Rock tune. It’s still a bit thin in sound but still as awesome now as it was back then. Jean closes the album with a big power ballad, “Standing On The Corner For Ya” (Crown Of Thorns). However, this one actually is a rerecording – done in 2017 – and this version is stripped with only a piano, guitar and vocals which gives it a more emotional and melancholic feel. The laid-back approach suits the tune just fine and brings this album to an end in a great way.

Song wise, I can’t find anything (almost) to complain about here. Beauvoir is a bona fide song writer who sure knows a hook when he hears one and as I said, it’s a mystery that the guy isn’t a huge star by now when you think of how many great albums he has released in different constellations. But I still believe that a lot of his records suffers quite the bit from bad production, especially his solo albums and Voodoo X and here it stands pretty clear that a remaster just isn’t enough for some of them even though they’re all bettered by it. I know that rerecordings are a hot cookie and that lots of people hate those but in this case, I think Beauvoir should have done just that. But all that aside, this is still a great collection of songs that I would recommend to all lovers of Melodic Rock and Stadium dito and the fact that this album is a volume one, there clearly is a volume 2 in the works and I do look forward to that.

7/10

Tracklist:

1. Faith
2. Crown Of Thorns
3. Dying For Love
4. Feel The Heat
5. Lyin’
6. Heartbeat
7. The Awakening
8. Missing The Young Days
9. Hike It Uo
10. Secret Jesus
11. Rock Ready
12. The One
13. Voodoo Queen
14. Standing On The Corner For Ya

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