Saturday, March 14, 2015

Revolution Saints: A Great Album and a Missed Opportunity


When I first heard that Doug Aldrich (Lion, House of Lords, Huricane, Dio, Burning Rain, Whitesnake, Raiding the Rock Vault), Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, Shaw/Blades) and Dean Castronovo (Hardline, Bad English, Journey) were joining forces and releasing a record under the name Revolution Saints, to say I was excited would be an understatement. Perhaps I was a bit too excited. Don't get me wrong, Revolution Saints self-titled debut is an excellent record. In my view, however, it could have been a whole lot better.
Let's start with the good. The songs, top to bottom are fantastic and the musicianship is superb. Doug Aldrich is an absolute beast, only someone made the bright decision to let his best solo languish as a bonus track on the deluxe version, but I'll get more into that later. Jack Blades is solid as a rock, but you'd never know what an great singer he is by listening to this record. Dean Castronovo delivers the vocals in amazing fashion. I was familiar with Dean from his work as a drummer with the likes of Hardline, Bad English and , of course, Journey, but after hearing him sing "Still They Ride" on Journey's "Live in Manila" DVD, I couldn't wait to hear more. Dean gets a shot at lead vocals on Neal Schon's most recent solo record, but he really delivers the goods on Revolution Saints. Arnel Pineda should be watching his back. I also like that Jason Becker has a co-write on "Dream On". Very cool.
Okay so if the album is so awesome, what didn't I like about it? Well, for starters, other than two Blades co-writes on "Turn Back Time" and "Dream On", there are no other writing credits for Blades, Aldrich or Castronovo. Knowing what good writers these guys are, it makes me believe the songs were written before they got involved. More like hired guns on a Alessandro Del Vecchio solo record (Del Vecchio has writing credit on all but one song on the record) than a band. It also bothers me that Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda from Journey were brought to guest on "You're Not Alone" (Pineda) and "Way To The Sun" (Schon). This feels forced and a bit contrived. To me, this no more than a marketing tactic designed to attract Journey fans in hopes of selling more records. While I understand the business side, when you have Aldrich and Castronovo, you don't need Schon and Pineda. The fact that Arnel Pineda has a lead vocal on this record and Jack Blades does not is mind-boggling. At least they were smart enough to record versions of these two songs with Aldrich and Castronovo, but you have to buy the deluxe version to get them. In addition to the extra tracks, the deluxe version also comes with a bonus DVD with a "making-of" documentary and videos for "Turn Back Time" and "Back On My Trail" so it's well worth the cost.
The bottom line is this really is a great record and I highly recommend picking it up (using Amazon link from the Decibel Geek page of course), but, in some ways, it's a missed opportunity. My hope is that these guys can find time to hit the road with this project and then get a chance to do a second record, one that they truly can collaborate on. No outside writers, no guest artists. As good as this record is, given the chance, these guys could make a follow-up that would blow this one out of the water.
Below is the track list. Solid front to back. Del Vecchio is a talented songwriter. Highlights are "Turn Back Time" (Blades co-write and co-lead vocal), "Way To The Sun" (Aldrich Version), and "In the Name Of The Father" (Dean at his absolute best).
Revolution Saints track listing:
01. Back On My Trail
02. Turn Back Time
03. You're Not Alone (feat. Arnel Pineda)
04. Locked Out Of Paradise
05. Way To The Sun (feat. Neal Schon)
06. Dream On
07. Don't Walk Away
08. Here Forever
09. Strangers To This Life
10. Better World 
11. How To Mend A Broken Heart
12. In The Name Of The Father (Fernando's Song)
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
01. You Are Not Alone (Arnel Pineda version)
02. Way To The Sun (Doug Aldrich version)
03. You Are Not Alone (Deen Castronovo version)

For more information visit:

Official video for "Turn Back Time"

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