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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paul Raymond Project – ‘Terms and Conditions Apply’ album review

Paul Raymond Project – ‘Terms and Conditions Apply’ album review
Released on: Hear No Evil/Cherry Red Records. Release date: Available now.
  Paul Raymond has been in the music business for some time, getting his first big break replacing Christine McVie (Then Christine Perfect) in Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack blues band, before moving onto Savoy Brown.
Most rock fans though typically associate the keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist with British rock legends, UFO and to be honest, other associated UFO offshoot bands such as the Michael Schenker Group and Pete Way’s Waysted.
Paul became pretty much a fixture in UFO when he joined the band for their classic ‘Light’s Out’ album released in 1977, although he joined them in 1976.
He stayed with the band until the tail end of 1980, when jumped ship to join former UFO guitarist Michael Schenker, in M.S.G. with a lineup that included the late drumming legend Cozy Powell and he appeared on two M.S.G. albums.
This lasted about two years before he hooked up with Pete Way in Waysted, recording the album ‘Vices.’
He briefly collaborated with Phil Mogg again, with the UFO album ‘Misdemeanor’ released in ’85, in ’89 his first Paul Raymond Project album got a Japan only release with ‘Under The Rising Sun.’ 

A full UFO reunion took place resulting in the ’95 release of the excellent ‘Walk On Water’ album but Paul Raymond’s participation in that didn’t last and in ’97 the Paul Raymond Project released ‘Raw Material.’
Raymond contributed to the 1999 Mogg/Way release ‘Chocolate Box,’ as well as another P.R.P. in ‘Man On A Mission’ was put out the same year, then 2000’s ‘Worlds Apart’ was released by P.R.P.

 In 2003 Paul rejoined the ranks of UFO once more and has remained a constant since then, releasing four studio albums with them to date, the solo release in 2005 ‘Secret Life,’ and then another Paul Raymond Project release in 2008’s ‘Virtual Insanity’ before this latest one, ‘Terms and Conditions Apply.’
This release pulls in a couple of guest players one very important character being Michael Schenker, although I personally think the track he features on is sadly, quite disappointing, but we’ll get to that …
The basic lineup on the album is Paul Raymond – lead vocals / lead and rhythm guitars / keyboards, Andy Simmons – lead and rhythm guitars / keyboards, Mark Coles – bass / backing vocals and Tony Steel – drums / backing vocals.
Opening track, ‘Born and Raised On Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ you know actually reminds me a little of Thunder, kind of Faces / Bad Company like too.
Good old rootsy R ‘n’ B grooving rocker, not too bad a start at all.
Next track ‘End of Life as We Know’ starts with a guitar led intro not unlike say Boston meets Blue Oyster Cult, before getting into a more laid back chug along rocker. A very harmony driven chorus indeed too which is really enjoyable, love the guitar work on this too. Nice stuff!
Ha ha! Paul, I think you have just ripped yourself off on the intro to ‘Deeper Shade of Blue,’ which is akin to the intro of UFO’s ‘Cherry’ or even ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’ but once the acoustic guitar plays it’s part alongside the electric, the track gains its own identity. There’s something about the last couple of minutes, where it becomes a little repetitive, but the song develops an almost E.L.O. like sound to it.
‘C-List Celebrity’ has a kind of punky vibe to it, but also an underlying UFO like feel too for its mid-paced rocker grove.
The more laid back piano driven ‘We Will Be Strong’ has an almost Queen like feel to it throughout and it’s a nice track generally, even some strings become evident around the final third of the song briefly. As the song goes for an epic like finish, it just feels like the mix / production is lacking a little something.
The title track ‘Terms and Conditions Apply,’ is truly a monster track even if only four minutes long, it’s so strong and clearly the standout track of the album for me. It’s brilliantly structured and performed; it really is so well presented that I cannot say enough good about it and when I was first listening to it – before re-reading the press release album details. – I thought Schenker was playing the lead solo, it’s so sweet! Excellent track!
The rockin’ instrumental ‘Whiskey Mac’ isn’t bad at all, but it has that P.R.P. drum / cymbal sound that I’ve heard and really don’t like. I’m quite sure it’s electronic and I hear it in other parts of the album too here and there.
If it wasn’t for the drum sound I would love this track, but the false cymbal sound kills it for me, sorry.
‘Bright Lights’ next has the same drum / cymbal sound … Yuck! Don’t like it, I really don’t.
I generally like the song, that has a very Faces like feel to it and rocks at a mid-pace, but sometime feels a little disjointed in presentation.
OK, to the track that features Michael Schenker, the cover of the Four Tops ‘(Reach Out) I’ll Be There’ and I’m sorry, I love what both Paul Raymond and Michael Schenker have added to both UFO and M.S.G. in the past, but this track, this version is really, really just … Horrible! There, I said it …!
I’m sorry, but I really feel like saying ‘Did Michael hear this, before it was released and he agreed to it?’
There is a certain point about this album that until now I really haven’t mentioned, well OK, I did on the track ‘We Will Be Strong’ and ‘Bright Lights.’
The overall production of the album in some places, is really bad and I know I’m not a producer and far from it but when you listen daily to a lot of music, new and old for pretty much your whole life, you really do start to get a grip on what is sounding good and what’s really not and sadly elements of this release, really do not make it sound consistent.
I would even go so far as to say, there’s possibly at least three or four different producers / engineers behind this release.
What’s sadder still is that there are without doubt some really good, even great songs here, but they don’t come off as good as they could, without a good, solid name producer involved. Huge shame …
Paul, I wish you could get with someone and remix this … Please … :(
Next track ‘Love is Blind’ features another guest on the album, vocalist Reuben Archer (Stampede, Wild Horses, Lautrec) and it’s simply a very laid back ballad and that’s really about all there is to it.

 ‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ kind of starts a little like a Faces groove again, before getting a little Pink Floyd like trippy like space rock.
Now the next three tracks are identified as bonus tracks and I guess I’m not really sure what that means here as the press release doesn’t say there’s a deluxe copy or what so, hey, bonus tracks are a bonus right?!
‘Still The Same’ comes first and it’s a steady kind of mid-paced rocker, not unlike from the post Schenker period UFO.
Then comes ‘Drifting Apart’ which with its twangy guitar gives it an almost country like groove, then it rocks a little more briefly to a more Faces like vibe. There’s a nice little brief sax solo that merges into the guitar solo, both tastefully done.
Closing track here ‘Partners in Crime’ is a chug along type rocker to wrap the album up.
So, to summarize … I really wanted to like this album as I think what Paul adds to UFO and has added to M.S.G. in the past has always been great and without doubt makes his touch very important.
The Paul Raymond Project though, for me just doesn’t seem to flow that well. There are moments of brilliance though – The title track for sure. – and other good spots too, but I think the production sadly lacks consistency and balance.
It really does sound in places like some of this is dare I say, demo quality. Sorry, but I really feel it does ...
There’s no doubting the playing of anyone on here and likewise on the vocals, all good but for songs and final production it very much leaves me for sure, wanting more.
Rating: 3 out of 5

 Paul Raymond Project Lineup 2012