Released on February 14, 2020 (Frontiers Music Srl)
In my section of the Sleaze Roxx Crew Members’ Top Five Albums of 2019 — the best albums according to the motley crew who contribute to this site — I said I was “late to the Crashdïet party.” If I was late to that party, I was so tardy to the Hardline party that I wouldn’t get credit for showing up to class at all! By that, I mean that I was aware of the band. And, their vocalist was on a Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack that my oldest son likes a lot to which I, being the know it all, advised was the singer from Hardline named Johnny Gioeli. But, my knowledge of Hardline was basically just “Hot Cherie” which was played occasionally on the radio in 1992, occasionally on Dee Snider‘s House of Hair broadcasts through the years, and is a regular on Sirius XM‘s Hair Nation. But, when it came to having any of their albums, I just didn’t. I can’t say why. Maybe it is because they broke late to the party themselves. Regardless the reason, “Take A Chance” was put out by Frontiers as a single on YouTube last year for the 2019 album Life. And, on the strength of that song and the fact that I could not stop singing it wherever I went, I bought the album months after it was released.
Why did I not buy more of these guys’ albums sooner? I mean, holy shit! There is not a bad song on that 2019 album and had I bought it before I made my Sleaze Roxx list, it would have cracked my top five. But, I can’t fix that now. What I can do is advise of the goodness that is their live album.
I look at live albums differently than some. I remember my brother-in-law telling me the only AC/DC album he felt he needed was Live from 1992. That is an epic live album, especially the two CD version. But, I have every AC/DC record. And, I wouldn’t want just the live one because it leaves a lot of ground uncovered. That said, I do have the live album for Britny Fox. While less epic, the album has all their hits performed with a lot of vigor. And, even without their original vocalist, I do agree that I don’t need to own their whole catalog however large or small that might be because if I want to hear their best songs, I’ve got good versions of it on disc on the shelf. So, with Life in my library, I thought Life Live would be a good companion to it and a good way to sample the band’s prior albums. Will this be a case like Britny Fox where I don’t go back and buy the studio albums? Probably not. But, it is a good place to start!
It needs to be noted that Johnny Gioeli has actually only gotten better vocally. His voice is seemingly more powerful now than it was on the studio hits I’ve gone back and listened to on YouTube. And, the band’s energy is off the charts. Starting with “Place To Call Home” off the 2019 Life album was a good way to ease me in as a new consumer of the Hardline product. And, it never stopped being great. As I come away, I have to say that my favorite tracks are “Place To Call Home”, “Fever Dreams”, “Rhythm From A Red Car” and “Takin’ Me Down.” Some of the softer songs work as well live and are really well performed with a crowd that seems really into the band. I can’t tell you how many times I mumbled, “Why the hell haven’t I been listening to these guys for years?” as I listened and watched this release.
Speaking of watching, the DVD version is better than the CD. There are a few extra songs thrown in including “Take A Chance” which is not on the CD. If you bought the L.A. Guns‘ Made In Milan CD/DVD from last year, you probably know that it, more or less, is exactly the same thing on both including abrupt entrances to the stage with no real suspense building introduction or anything. This one has nuggets, perhaps even Easter eggs, on the DVD that were clipped out of the CD release likely for the purposes of space. But, the DVD version is worth watching. It comes with the CD. So, you know, watch it and stuff. It should also be noted that Deen Castronovo who fans of Sleaze Roxx might now associate with Revolution Saints joins his former band to play drums on the tracks from Hardline‘s debut album. But, it was a nice surprise to see him on stage and it really makes this a complete collection for the long-time Hardline fan that I wish I was.
Overall, if you are looking for a great live album, you need to have this one. It is better produced than the Quiet Riot live album from last year and the DVD is a more complete, well rounded show than the L.A. Guns live CD/DVD. It has it all. Great vocals, tight musicianship. I mean, these guys have such pop melodies, Jon Bon Jovi should be jealous. But, they didn’t go south on Hard Rock Avenue like the New Jersey boys did.
01. Place To Call Home
02. Takin’ Me Down
03. Dr. Love
04. Where Will We Go From Here
05. Page Of Your Life
06. Life’s A Bitch
07. In The Hands Of Time
08. Take You Home
10. Hot Cherie
11. Fever Dreams
12. Rhythm From A Red Car
Johnny Gioeli – lead vocalist
Alessandro Del Vecchio – keyboardist
Mario Percudani – guitarist
Anna Portalupi – bassist
Marco Di Salvia – drummer
Deen Castronovo – drums
Hardline‘s “Hot Cherie” live video:
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