Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Henry Lee Summer ~ Way Past Midnight

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: country rock, hard rock
Label: Epic Records
Year: 1991
Home: Indiana

Members: Henry Lee Summer ~ vocals/rhy guitar/keyboards/bass

Tim Pierce, Tony Bowles ~ guitar
Kenny Aronoff ~ drums
John Pierce ~ bass
John Cascella ~ sax/keyboards
Doug Sizemore ~ keyboards

Additional: Danny Miranda, Gene Boccia, Toby Myers ~ bass

Rich Tancredi ~ keyboards
Michael Organ ~ drums
Kenny Greenberg, Danny Torrell, Michael Landau ~ guitar
Kim Fleming, Vicki Hampton, Micky Thomas, John Batdorf, Myrna Matthews, Maxine Waters, Julia Water-Tillman, Joe Turano, Chris Rodriguez, Shaun Murphy, Terry Wood, Jean McClain ~ b. vocals

Guests: Joe Walsh, Al Pitrelli ~ guitar

Robbie Buchanan ~ keyboards
Joe Franco ~ drums
Michael Bolton, Stan Bush ~ b. vocals

There's a growing trend amongst musicians who either charge out the door with a modest hit or are seeking one ... & happen to be unlucky enough to know an L.A. producer ... they become incredibly more commercial & over-produced which kills their individuality along with their career in the eyes of many fans. This is particularly the case of acoustic focused rockers, such as Cheryl Crow, Jewel & Keb Mo who all started as rough coffee house-esque folk rockers like nobody had seen only to be glossed up & lacking future hits. The third album with Epic Records found Mellencamp-esque heartland rocker Henry Lee Summer, famous for his mullet & his 1987 hit "Wish I Had A Girl" following the commercial route to find a bigger audience & in the process becoming less heartland, less HLS & more bland FM friendly rock. Way Past Midnight was essentially the beginning of the end for HLS who'd fall into heavy drug addiction & a complete collapse of his career for many years. Once described as having a "sandpaper voice" & the "homeless man's John Mellencamp" HLS always had a particular at ease passion in his music that made up for his lack of originality. He was always best with homespun ballads with the commercial gloss usually being his weakest moments ... given the poor response to Way Past Midnight the logic behind this observation becomes quickly obvious. It's one thing to sound like John Mellencamp but it's another to sound like Michael Bolton but without the soft croon. But, that's the transition that's occurred here ... considering the album opens up with a song HLS co-wrote with Michael Bolton. The cliche outcome isn't so bad but it's a false high followed by a series of songs demonstrating that Bolton-esque keyboards don't always gel with sandpaper. Many of the songs (i.e. "I Don't Want To Live This Lie", "So Desperately", "Little By Little") end up becoming unrecognizable as part of the HLS catalog. They might be lyrically perfect for HLS but are transformed into sappy overproduced commercial songs. But, for those who can stick through half the album the 'side B' reverts back to the traditional HLS sound with "Anytime For You," "Medicine Man" & "Turn It Up", though none have the memorable flare of "I Wish I Had A Girl". Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around & Fell In Love" & the Rolling Stones Exile-esque "I've Got Teh Fire" are the two best tracks on the album, though few will have the patience to listen that far. On the album are guest guitarists Joe Walsh of the Eagles & Al Pitrelli of Alice Coooper/Megadeth, drummer Joe Franco of Twisted Sister, bassist Danny Miranda of Paul Rodgers & a reunited Queen, plus members of John Mellencamp's band & Los Lobos.




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