Continuing the rock of ages
-- Jimbo's Garage --
|■||Jimbo Mäkeläinen||Drums, keyboards|
|■||Peter James Goodman||Vocals|
Review written by David Hardy.
Well then, ... for the oldest among us, of which I am a part, some will remember the tv-series "Miami Vice" with Don Johnson, that blessed time when hair spray was more important than wearing socks, and where flashy colors were so successful that we almost forgot that they were not natural at all! So, all this to tell you that the famous Don Johnson was also a singer and .. what he did reminds me a lot of what I’ve heard here with Jimbo's Garage.
Then, when we see the name and we say to ourselves "well a group of regular young people, it is odd to hear this type of music and this type of voice,” and then we dig a bit deeper and read the credits to see who’s part of Jimbo’s Garage and there we directly understand why we’re on this 1980s rock trip!
Jimbo’s Garage lineup consists of several highly experienced musicians including drummer/keyboardist Jari "Jimbo" Mäkeläinen (known from his work with Ironcross and Lordi) Vocalists Peter James Goodman (who worked in bands like Conquest and Metal Gods), Taage Laiho (known as part of acts like Altaria & Mad Hatter’s Den) and Maya Liitokivi (known for Deathlike Silence) and on guitar Kari Riihimäki and finally bass Jari Riitala (both of them having released a lot of solo material in the past). So, we are apparently in front of real enthusiasts of a certain age, experiences and taxes included around 50 years, who propose us a back to the future in the Finnish way which will speak in my opinion more to the people of my time than to the millennials.
“Living The Hard Way,” is a rather surprising beginning (for who, like me, jumped into the album without having the business card of the speakers) because this song features a level of synth that I haven’t heard since 1989! We quickly realize the direction Jimbo’s Garage is going with their eponymous debut thanks to the attention-grabbing vocals, the raunchy style, it’s clearly 1980s-1990s inspired hard rock just like it was during that time period. It's nice, it's pleasant, it's mastered, it's hyper melodic, it's a beautiful throwback! Do not come to look for great vocal performances (although!!!) or texts of Rimbaud here, but... just auditory pleasure.
Next up is "Now we're strangers,” a song that could’ve easily been credited to Def Leppard, it feels so much like that legendary rock band. The raw emotion, the beautiful guitar work, topped off with a perfectly constructed guitar solo. The momentum continues with “Dancing with the devil" a catchy song despite its subtle atmosphere. A excellent triple-song combo that already sold me completely on Jimbo’s Garage.
But there’s more. Then comes the intimate, piano-driven tune "Dreamer" and it makes me wonder. For me, the part until 2:32 as well as the bridge instrumentation, are magnificent. But I do have an issue with this: from 2:32 to 3:32 and at the song’s ending the same lyrics just keep on getting repeated. Not that it's bad, but I would’ve like some extra lyrics. But what a voice! After this small break, Jimbo’s Garage relaunches with "Wings" always in the style that reminds us of "Europe" or "Survivor." It’s pro-made from the first to last note. An example of style for generations to come.
"Stranger" begins with a piano ballad that feels familiar to the Scorpions (but with a deeper voice) and, like the aforementioned legends, this “Stranger” tune gradually builds in intensity until its hard rock power explodes by the end. The next song is cover of “Hello” by, of course, Lionel Ritchie. The cover features guest vocals from Maya Liittokivi. So, it's going to make you feel weird, me, anyway, it's like it was the original version! It's really very special because, without taking her out of her time, they take her totally in the universe of the band in a natural way and it matches! She has a great vocal technique and fits very well with the other vocalists featured on this track.
"Echoes" doesn't leave me with an unforgettable memory, it’s a short, acoustic track and a little bit bland, almost unfinished compared to how polished the rest of the material is on Jimbo’s Garage’s debut album. Maybe they lacked the time to properly finish this song or had to record the track without all the necessary personnel. I don’t know.
The problem with this album is that it’s pretty much solely for people who are soaked in this kind of music, metal/rock juice from the end of the 1980s! For me, they should give rock courses at the university! So, what can I say? It's so typical for the era and so well written and performed that there's pretty much nothing to really criticize expect for the defects which are “Echoes” and “Dreamer.” Other than that, it’s all a real pleasure to the ears.
Clearly, I would advise it even to the young people who did not know this time so that they understand what it is that to make music of this time and to make it well! which téciture, which modelling of voice, which plans, which rhythmic, which scales, which type of solo, which effects, in which proportion... Listen and learn!
As I said, fans of "Def Leppard," "Don Johnson," "Europe," "Survivor" will find their happiness and more here in Jimbo’s Garage’s presence! Very clearly mandatory for those who like the style. Completely dispensable for those who expect double pedal, grunt, heavy bass. It's up to you to see where you stand! Personally, I keep it! and I'm happy about it!