West Coast Pleasure
First, a history. In 99, in Malibu, English bloke and ex-Harlan Cage keyboardist Roger Scott Craig assembled a band of minstrels under the banner of 101 South. His aim - to find a mix of subtle ballad and rousing US rock songs that had been at the heart of the band he had put together in 1996 having left the band Fortune. His project brought together many seasoned and well-travelled veterans of the LA session scene. Joining Craig was the much sought after session vocalist Greg Lynn Hall, guitarist Mike Turner (also ex-Harlan Cage), bassist Chris Julian and drummer Hans Geiger. Roll forward a couple of years and the intro of another ex-Harlan Cage stalwart, the classy Billy Liesegang for their sophomore release "Roll of the Dice".
So to the start of the next decade, 2010 sees "No U-Turn", 101 South’s third offering and their sound and their style is now fully realised. Craig has at hand a great pool of talent to make this album gel into something a little special. Lynn Hall is still the defining sound, Craig performs both keys and vocals, and couple this with the mix of Liesegang, Mike Turner, Ian Bairnson, and a couple of guest vocalists in Scott Cupp and Chris Thompson (who guests on the final track Blue Skies, with the ‘Sax Therapist’ Alan Knoll), and the outcome is an eclectic mix of highly polished, melodic, West Coast ‘smooth as silk’ veneer to the whole thing
Its not an album that will rock your world exactly, but there has to be light and shade in everyone’s life. 101 South do what they do, brilliantly. Its not in your face, the songs are subtle, singable, more background than foreground, but all the same, that is rather enjoyable. Lynn Hall has a great voice and has been compared to the great Lou Gramm, and that IS a complement. I feel he has a bit more Richard Marx about him. Twenty odd years ago ago I would have lapped this style of music up in droves. I'm still very pleased that bands are still trying to stay with that format, but unfortunately I have moved on a bit. That doesn’t mean that this is the wrong album for 101 South, far from it. This is my first dalliance with them, and I will be sure to track down the previous two albums for sure.
Highlights are ’Yesterday Is Gone’, ’All In The Game’ and the damn good, ’Blue Skies’. If you still love your US friendly/melodic/aor/lite rock music with a subtlety and polished craft then look no further than this latest release from 101 South.