tyketto-2016

TYKETTO – Reach

0005665140_200The year was 1991 and a new band called Tyketto – formed by former Waysted singer Danny Vaughn, guitarist Brooke St James, bassist Jimi Kennedy (who was replaced by Jamie Scott three years later) and drummer Michael Clayton (who changed his last name to Arbeeny in later years) had just released their debut album Don’t Come Easy on the DGC (David Geffen Company) label, a sister label to the hugely successful Geffen Records, who had bands like Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake, Aerosmith and Tesla in their stable. There was a kind of buzz about the band then and when Headbanger’s Ball started to plug the video for their debut single “Forever Young”, we were a large bunch of rockers who truly believed that Tyketto were the next band to make it really big. But 1991 was the last great year for melodic hard rock before grunge killed that scene off. Tyketto never made it big and after the follow-up Strength In Numbers (1994) totally bombed, singer Vaughn jumped the ship. By then, Geffen had already dropped the band and their new label Music For Nations couldn’t do much to break the band. After a weak and unfocused album called Shine in 1996, then fronted by former Tall Stories and future Journey vocalist Steve Augeri, the band called it quits.

Since then, the band have made a few reunions, both in 2004 and 2007, that featured the original line-up, but also one in 2008 and 2010 where St James was replaced by guitarist P.J. Zitarosa. I remember Tyketto playing a really good gig at Sweden Rock Festival in 2010, but back then no new music was being planned, a thing that changed when St James returned in 2012. Frontiers Records, a record label with a mission to reunite and then sign every 80’s / early 90’s melodic rock / AOR band, famous or not, on the planet, signed Tyketto as well and the original line-up released an album called Dig In Deep the same year. I remember being deeply disappointed by that record the first couple of times I listened to it, but it grew on me with each spin until I dug it so much I had to buy the damn thing. However, the album didn’t exactly set the world on fire sales wise and line-up changes did rear its ugly head in the Tyketto camp once more. For the new record, only Vaughn and Arbeeny is left from the original line-up with replacements Chris Green (guitars), Chris Childs (Thunder, bass) and Ged Ryland (keyboards) added to the band. A bit of a bummer, actually, because it was the original line-up that wrote their best albums, as far as I’m concerned. That also means that Tyketto feels like a completely new band today and by that, I’m not really sure what to expect with this record. Well, I knew that we would get melodic rock with AOR twists, but what of the quality now that two original members are gone and three new are added.

First single / video, the title track, opens the album and it starts out like a real energetic AOR-rocker, very much in vein of Tyketto’s debut, but it also has an early Bon Jovi meets Journey vibe. But it softens up a bit when the chorus comes along and it becomes more or less a pop song. It’s good enough but the chorus never takes off the way I had expected. “Big Money” is heavier and more guitar driven and the catchy chorus takes off the way the title track didn’t. It also features a slow-paced middle part that’s really good and a really good solo from Green. They try to kick up some dust with the more hard rock oriented “Kick Like A Mule” – and with the song’s late 70’s vibe and the Deep Purple / Rainbow influence the dust kicking is a success – a damn good song. The first ballad on the album is called “Circle The Wagon” and it is a ballad with a good swing and some amazing hooks and let’s not forget about the brilliant arrangement. Also, Danny Vaughn probably makes his best vocal performance on this song – a total winner! On “I Need It Now”, they have put the guitars a bit higher in the mix and it rocks pretty good. The guitar riff sounds a bit like the riff in Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name”, a riff used a bit too often in melodic rock circles. Still, the song is pretty good, but it never scores a goal, it’s a bit too uneven. “Tearing Down The Sky” revisits “Forever Young”, not like the song is a carbon copy, but they’re built alike. It’s a bit heavier on the guitars but the chorus never reach climax. That doesn’t say that it’s a bad song because it’s not – it’s actually a good one.

Ballad # 2 is called “Letting Go” and it is a semi-acoustic one, at least in the beginning. After the – electric – guitar solo, the song turns into a more power ballad like, big hooks ballad, you know the “lighters up” kind of softy. It’s a really good song and back in the day, this could very well have been a hit. “The Fastest Man Alive” is also more hard rock oriented with an early 90’s blues smelling twang guitar that was kind of popular in 1991 – 1992 or so. It also comes with a slightly funky groove and a really good chorus that catches on pretty fast – as a whole, a great tune. There is  a really fat groove in “Remember My Name”, although it is a mid-tempo rocker. It’s full of really catchy hooks and a brilliant chorus and some great harmonies – very good, indeed. “Sparks Will Fly” is a great mix of melodic rock and plain hard rock. It sure has a big chunk of pop in it which makes me think of their debut – very good. “Scream” is a title used by many – too many – bands, but Tyketto is probably the only band that has put that that title on a ballad – so they get away with it. It’s very bombastic, full of strings and where they keyboard is up front. However, this ballad is more up-tempo and it’s not only the fantastic chorus that sticks, no, every melody here is a sticker – a brilliant tune. They close the album with the album’s – probably – best song, “The Run”. It’s a big, melodic rock groover where the mix of both acoustic and electric guitars are equally high in the mix gives the tune a killer swing. It is uptempo, full of distinct hooks and catchy melodies and the tune hits a home run with first listen.

To sum it up, the album starts out a bit weak, which is a bit worrying, but it gets stronger and stronger along the ride. Production wise, it sounds really good and it lies somewhere between AOR and melodic rock but it leans more towards the latter. There are some rough hard rock edges here and there, but I get the feeling that it’s the debut that is the template for this album sound wise. Where the predecessor was a bit more experimental – something that I know many fans had a hard time swallowing – this one is more along the lines of the two first albums. Still, the production is a bit too nice and smooth – I would have prefered a bit more punch and attitude. That said, this is a good record despite the small flaws that pops up here and there. I still think that Dig In Deep is a bit better and this album doesn’t stand a chance against the superb debut, but I take this one over both Strength In Numbers and Shine. It took me a while to really get Dig In Deep and maybe in a few months I will beg to differ with myself over this review, but for now, I will only go as far as calling this album a really good one.

7/10

Other Tyketto reviews:

Dig In Deep 

Tracklist:

1. Reach
2. Big Money
3. Kick Like A Mule
4. Circle The Wagons
5. I Need It Now
6. Tearing Down The Sky
7. Letting Go
8. The Fastest Man Alive
9. Remember My Name
10. Sparks Will Fly
11. Scream
12. The Run