Briefly, back in the late 1980s, Dare were the darlings of the UK’s FM-friendly scene: their stunning 1988 debut album, ‘Out Of The Silence’, is quite deservedly remembered as a classic of both the genre and the era: spawning two minor hit singles, both it and its follow up, ‘Blood From Stone’, released three years later, threatened to establish the Lancashire band as potential rivals to the likes of Magnum.
However, the fall in the latter album’s sales, coupled with the defection of guitar wunderkind to rivals Ten, the band’s career has stuttered for the past two decades – perhaps partially explaining mainman Darren Wharton’s decision to return to the ranks of Thin Lizzy a couple of years back…
But, now, Dare are back – or, are they? Billed as the band’s seventh studio album, ‘Calm Before The Storm 2’ is, in fact, a complete re-recording of the band’s third album of the same name (minus the final numeral), originally released back in 1998 by the Munich-based indie MTM Records – oh, with the exception of the cover of Lizzy’s ‘Still In Love With You’, which has been replaced by two new tracks. So, what’s the point in an exercise of this nature? Well, whatever, the motives and the back story (and, be assured, PM will tell all soon, as we are scheduled to interview Darren in a few weeks’ time), there is one thing for sure – it’s a damn fine melodic rock album, and one of the best this particular set of ears have embraced in a wee while.
Kicking off with the majestic, soaring ‘Walking On The Water’ – which sees Dare’s sound once more drawing extremely favourable comparisons with Magnum – what is immediately clear is that the band have moved back from the more Celtic-influenced path they had taken on their last clutch of albums very to their classic AOR-tinged roots, with massive melodies and huge, soaring choruses very much to the fore: ‘Rescue Me’, for example, reminds me of a slower, heavier ‘Abandon’. Having said that, there are nods to his past and present employment, as ‘Ashes’ in particular has elements which are very reminiscent of the years he spent with the late, great Phil Lynott.
Wharton’s voice is deeper and raspier than 20 or so years ago – that’s only to be expected – but this makes it even more evocative of the soulful lyrics, while Richie Dew’s guitar work swoops and soars to match the changing musical soundscapes: surprisingly, it’s the ballads, such as the colossal title track, the awesome ‘Ashes’ and the spine-chilling ‘Cold Wind Will Blow’, which work the best, showcasing both Wharton’s emotion-filled vocals and Dew’s musicianship off to their exemplary best.
Sometimes it is worth revisiting your past and rewriting history, in order to open a new chapter… that is just what Dare have succeeded in doing.
- Walk On the Water
- Calm Before The Storm
- Crown Of Thorns
- Silence Of Your Head
- Rescue Me
- Rising Sun
- Cold Wind Will Blow
‘Calm Before The Storm 2’ is released today (Monday October 8th) on Legend Records.