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, March 10, 2013

Tony Harnell & Morning Wood ~ Morning Wood

(Click on heading to visit official Tony Harnell website)
Style: covers, acoustic rock, hard rock
Label: Mercury Japan
Year: 1994
Home: New York (defunct)

Members: Tony Harnell ~ vocals
Al Pitrelli ~ guitars
Danny Miranda ~ bass
Chuck Bonfante ~ drums/keyboards

Additional: Gary Corbitt ~ organ
Paul Orofino ~ guitar



Tony Harnell fans probably know the little one off outing MW, though it also gets credit for being the only primarily acoustic album by guitarist Al Pitrelli & the only joint outing of Harnell, Pitrelli, Danny Miranda & Chuck Bonfante, though the quartet would play together in various partial teamings with other bands. If you don't know who these guys they include the vocalist for European hard rockers TNT, the guitarist of Megadeth, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Asia, Alice Cooper, & many more, the bassist of Blue Oyster Cult, Meat Loaf & Queen + Paul Rodgers & the drummer of Saraya, one of the few female fronted 80's rock bands. It's an all star outing with a humble start as a group of guys that met each other through various means & enjoyed playing together & found themselves with some downtime able to play what they wanted & how they wanted. The result is a Japan produced album, released in Europe a few years later, that has found many fans with due cause, along with becoming a minor collector's item for all involved. Recorded live in the studio over a couple weeks except for some overdubbed guitar leads & keyboards it's a very high energy, tight & unpretentious affair helped by the fact that the band had been playing together in regional gigs long before hitting the studio. Like the Doors, Grateful Dead & many other bands the stage came first & the sound of the band was crafted in front of an audience not in rehearsal studios. The studio recorded a short term gig for posterity, never meant for anything long term, that would have been lost to but memory. The album saved MW from being anything but a legend, let alone would bring new listeners long after the gig was over. Lead electric lines are tucked in the mix for texture, not to distract, keeping the essence of how the band originally started - acoustic. The songs are a mix of mostly covers of classic rock hits with a few originals. Though, I would have preferred an all covers album, as the originals are a bit weak in comparison. The 80's rock overly emotive & over-produced ballads don't always sit well beside the folksy slimmed down classics, feeling straight laced & by the book compared to Crosby, Stills & Nash. Even the one 80's cover, "Tonight I'm Falling", originally by TNT, seems a bit out of place next to the 70's grooves. In a different setting the originals would have been more interesting. Of historical note "More Now Than Ever" is one of the few songs on record with lyrics & music penned solely by Pitrelli, or at least all the credit is given to him. It's a sad love song heavy on keyboards with a soaring lead Pitrelli has become known for so well. But, outside of the originals, MW shows melodic rock at its best with interpretations that keep the spirit & the vibe of the originals but have their own touch. MW gives a scaled down more rock oriented kick to many of the covers. Chorus vocals, such as in "Love The One You're With", are now handed completely over to Harnell to sing, thus changing the focus of the songs. It's also great hearing Pitrelli in a mostly acoustic environment throwing out some delightful acoustic leads that fuse well known licks with his own famed style. At this point in his career hearing him with an acoustic guitar didn't happen enough. Listening to the originals & then the covers is a fun way to flesh out the MW experience, though they are all different enough to not need to be compared. Though, Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" in a rock context does sound a bit lifeless compared to the funky heavily textured original ... a reason not to compare & just enjoy.

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