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Monday, May 9, 2011

John Elefante and Mastedon – Revolution of Mind album review

John Elefante and Mastedon – Revolution of Mind album review
Released on: Big 3 Records. Release date: Available now.

John Elefante is a vocalist with just a little pedigree, the man replaced Kansas front-man Steve Walsh, when Walsh decided he wanted a change of scenery and went on to do the Streets project. Streets included ex-City Boy (UK pop / rock band) mainman, Mike Slamer (Who’s since gone onto many other AOR / rock projects), also Billy Greer (Now in Kansas, alongside Walsh again.) and Tim Gehrt.
Editors note: An excellent project too by the way!

Elefante stepped into Kansas in 1982 and the band recorded ‘Vinyl Confessions,’ which in fact was the bands most successful album since ‘Point of Know Return’ and got their first Top 20 hit single in a few years with, ‘Play the Game Tonight.’

1983 spawned ‘Drastic Measures,’ again featuring Elefante on vocals and Kansas began to capture a whole new audience with Elefante and fellow Christian band member in Kerry Livgren with some very strong Christian written material, that musically kept old fans happy, while also reaching a whole new crowd for Kansas.
Another hit single, though not as big as the last, came in ‘Fight Fire With Fire.’
A ‘Greatest Hit’s’ release in 1984 wrapped up Elefante’s last work with Kansas and he went on to develop a strong Christian pop / rock career as a solo artist, after briefly hooking up with Christian rockers Petra.

He did play with other acts, Mastedon and Guardian, before dabbling into the musical field as a producer, even building a popular recording studio in Nashville alongside his brother Dino Elefante.

So now you have some background on the man, let’s move onto his latest release, ‘Revolution of Mind,’ which in fact was already released in Europe through the Frontiers label, under the band name Mastedon, as the band’s third release, hence why it came out over there as ‘3.’

Why this has not been released here before now, beats me. – Actually it did get a low key release late last year. I was only made aware of it’s official release here, around February / March of this year, but it’s a great album and if you’re a fan of his period in Kansas, of course you’ll like it, but I’d go so far as to say if you’re a fan of say Joe Lynn Turner era Rainbow / Deep Purple and even say Boston, then you’ll find a lot here to appeal. I also hear similarities in Elefante’s voice to Turner’s, no bad thing either!

There’s some impressive talent on the album too featuring Dave Amato (Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, Jimmy Barnes) and Kerry Livgren (Kansas, Proto-Kaw) on lead guitars, Anthony Sallee (White Heart, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith) on bass and Dan Needham on drums. John’s brother Dino steps in too, on backing vocals, guitars, etc. John handles all lead vocals, keyboards and some guitar work too.

Opening with the powerful Hammond organ driven title track ‘Revolution of Mind,’ it’s grabs you right from the off, this indeed is a drivin’ track, with perhaps a more commercial sound. Big vocals, loads of melody, nice one!

‘Slay Your Demons’ next has a little mystical sound to it that reminds me at times of Ritchie Blackmore’s material and a serious almost shredding like guitar solo. This is a heavily harmony driven vocal song. Keep it coming …

A haunting guitar intro leads ‘Nowhere Without Your Love’ next and this track is one of those again that remind me of something else that I can’t put my finger on, but it’s a fantastic track that grows into an almost Boston like sound – Think ‘A Man I’ll Never Be.’ – and overall this is an immense track that really, REALLY deserves to be heard by anyone that enjoys melodic rock.

To me, there’s a very Kansas feel to ‘One Day Down By the Lake (See you Real Soon.)' and this one really is an epic, clocking in at over ten minutes! There’s so much to this track so huge kudo’s to John and the band on this, but seriously, the album command complete respect. I love it!
Loads of tempo changes, plenty of light and intriguing interchanges, it’s just great!

A rocking track next in ‘Water Into Wine (Fassa Rokka)’ that even gives reference to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon!’ Why not I guess … Good change of pace to add to the albums variety and nice guitar work once again.

‘Questions (It’s About Time),’ is a little more of a steady paced pop / rock track, once again, the track captures big melodies in the vocal harmonizing.

My previous comments on John’s voice similarities to Joe Lynn Turner come to mind again on ‘You Can’t Take Anything’ next and it’s another very hook laden sound once more. A mid paced track that takes things down in the middle then comes back in again picking up the pace and hints at Foreigner a little here too!

‘Lying’ starts big and then eases back into a steady paced pop rocker and it’s again no complaints here, it just keeps the great material coming!

The Hammond organ is present throughout the album obviously at different levels and perhaps I’m biased, but I love it and it works so well with the material present on the album and this is something that’s all too true on next track ‘The Western World.’
A steady paced number that keeps things in sync with the majority of material on display here.

Final track here is ‘That’s What You Do,’ which sounds a little edgy, yet still melodic of course and rocks at mid pace.
You know at times I’d even go so far as to say John sometimes phrases the vocals a little like Paul Carrick would do in Mike and the Mechanics, so clearly you get the idea that the album overall captures – perhaps – various influences that should really keep your melodic rock fan very happy.

This really is an enjoyable album and for me, it’s the first time I’ve heard John Elefante since his Kansas days, so yes you guessed it, I do recommend this one to melodic rock fans everywhere, although chances are, most already have it!

It’s not out and out catchy, sure some things take a little while, but there’s plenty here that will grow on you and the rest should grab you right away and yes, you can understand why the band picked John to replace Steve Walsh, as their vocal styles are of course often similar.
Good one John, now how about another one along these lines!

Rating: 4 out of 5

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