THE LONDON FOG
Released on August 23, 2019 (Visionary Noise Records)
Jim Crean. Some of you may know him as the long-time frontman for covers band Hair Nation. Some of you may know him from his solo albums, which appear to total six studio records and one greatest hits compilation album. Some of you, like me, may know him as the man who was recruited to sing for Vinnie Vincent for two shows in February 2019 when Robert Fleischman pulled out. Sadly, those two Vinnie Vincent shows never happened and it wasn’t long before the former KISS guitarist presumably turned his back on his long-time friend Carmine Appice by criticizing the latter bringing in a singer that he didn’t approve of (presumably Crean whom he had never met). Anyone who is going to be handling the lead vocals for Vinnie Vincent Invasion material would presumably have to be an excellent singer and I definitely got that confirmation when seeing Crean perform last week with Hair Nation in Buffalo, New York.
That concert along with a message from a Visionary Records executive inquiring about the status of my review of Crean‘s new album The London Fog prompted me to revisit the record. You see, I had already heard the album quite a few times but found myself losing interest each time as the album progressed after the first few songs. Would a little time off between listens of the record make a difference? Apparently not but I can now explain why I feel that the album tails off considerably after the first few songs. It’s actually after the first five songs, which were all written by Crean. In fact, the first six out of seven songs (except for “Let It Go”) are very good. The London Fog starts off with the excellent “Scream Taker” which must have been on a prior Jim Crean solo album since the track is listed on his Greatest Hits release from 2018. When I first heard the song, I thought that it sounded a lot like Ronnie James Dio with the classic mid-tempo power vocal delivery and the lyrics talking about dragons and what not. Eventually, I realized that “Scream Taker” must be Crean‘s tribute to the deceased Ronnie James Dio since the lyrics contain many song names from Dio‘s song repertoire including “Holy Diver”, “Kill The King” and “Stand Up And Shout.”
The London Fog continues its strong start with the additional mid-tempo power rockers “Conflicted” and “Broken.” The latter was featured in a video (see below) which has Hair Nation drummer Colleen Mastrocovo playing the part of Crean‘s girlfriend. I note that Crean had a song titled “Colleen” on a prior record so I suspect that the two have a close relationship / friendship and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, both Mastrocovo and Hair Nation bassist A.D. Zimmer play on a couple of tracks on The London Fog. It appears that Crean has made it a tradition of having many guest musicians on his solo releases because there are tons of artists playing on one to two tracks on the record. The one exception is Hollywood Monsters guitarist Steph Honde who plays guitar on 13 of the 14 album tracks along with some other instruments on certain songs. There is no question that the list of guest musicians is a cool one with former White Lion frontman Mike Tramp, ex-W.A.S.P. members Chris Holmes and Rik Fox, Angel lead vocalist Frank Dimino, the Appice brothers (Carmine and Vinny) and bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake and Dio) amongst others.
I have already mentioned that the first six out of seven songs on The London Fog are very good and its worth repeating before getting into the next seven tracks. The fourth track titled “Aphrodisiac” is a cool one except when it comes to singing along to the chorus. The word “Aphrodisiac” is quite the mouthful. The sixth song “Let It Go” starts off with some atmospheric piano before Crean kicks off the sappy ballad. It’s actually not bad compared to some of the next few tracks but it really kills the momentum of the album. Funny enough, some of the worst tracks on The London Fog are the ones not written by Crean. While it was cool that he got so many guest musicians to play on his latest album, I wonder why he decided to do covers of four songs for his record, especially since he’s been doing covers with Hair Nation for over 20 years. The first cover is the song “Candle” from Freak of Nature and features the song architect Mike Tramp on lead vocals. It’s a slower paced track that falls between a ballad and mid-tempo rocker. Although both Crean and Tramp are listed as singing on the track, I mainly hear Tramp singing on this one. It feels more like a Tramp solo song and I much prefer Tramp‘s White Lion material over his solo outputs. Enough said there.
Another cover is The Beatles sounding “Time Will Let You Know” written by Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander (along with Brian o’doherty) and which apparently appears on Zander‘s solo self-titled album in 1993 and later Cheap Trick‘s live album Silver in 2001. The song is actually pretty good but we’re talking about the fourth quasi-ballad already on The London Fog after “Let It Go”, “Candle” and “1981” so my interest really starts to wane by this point. Things don’t pick up with the slower Rod Stewart cover “Passion.” I am shocked that this song was featured in a video and as the first single as it’s one of the worst songs on the record. You’d think that as an artist singing covers in a band for over 20 years, you’d be releasing one of your own songs from your latest solo album as the first single. Any of the first five tracks off The London Fog would have been a great lead off single and give a better feel of what Crean is capable of from a vocal perspective. No need to say that my interest each time that I listen to The London Fog has almost dissipated by the time that “Passion” (the 11th track) comes up.
The slower covers just keep on coming with Crean‘s cover of Angel‘s “Don’t Take Your Love” which features Frank Dimino on lead vocals. Six quasi-ballads out of 14 tracks! No wonder that The London Fog is not able to retain my interest! The album closes with probably one of the faster paced rocker — “Tears” — which has some good melodies and features former W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes. I wish that Crean had stuck to only the songs that he had written and perhaps only included one out of the six quasi-ballads on The London Fog. This is the classic case where more is less. Crean offers too many songs, goes overboard with way too many slower paced quasi-ballads and it really has ended up backfiring on him.
01. Scream Taker
05. Lady Beware
06. Let It Go
10. Time Will Let You Know
13. Dont’ Take Your Love
Jim Crean – vocals
Mike Tramp – vocals (8)
Frank Dimino – vocals (13)
Steph Honde – guitar (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14), piano (6, 8, 10, 11), keyboards (6, 10, 11), bass (8, 14), strings (10)
Mitch Perry – guitar (2)
Robby Lochner – guitar (3)
Ray Tabano – guitar (12)
Artie Dillon – guitar (12)
Chris Holmes – guitar (14)
Vinny Appice – drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13)
Eric Lebailly – drums (5, 7, 10)
Colleen Mastrocovo – drums (6, 9)
Carmine Appice – drums (11)
Carl Canedy – drums (12)
Dave Pontrello – drums (14)
Rudy Sarzo – bass (1)
A.D. Zimmer – bass (2, 7, 10)
Rik Fox – bass (3, 13)
Barden Courbois – bass (4)
Chris Tristram – bass (5)
Chris Konys – bass (6)
Ronnie Robson – bass (9)
Tony Franklin – bass (11)
Freddie Villano – bass (12)
Produced by Jim Crean and Steve Major
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, December 2019
Jim Crean‘s “Broken” video:
Jim Crean “Broken”(Official Music Video) Jim Crean~Lead & Background Vocals Steph Honde~Guitar Vinny Appice~Drums Rik Fox~Bass Robby Lochner~Lead Guitar Produced by Steve Major & Jim Crean Executive Producer: Steve Susman Director/Editor: Ford Fischer Director Of Photography: Arshum Rouhanian Special Appearances By: Colleen Mastrocovo Dan Kaplan A.D.
Jim Crean‘s “Passion” video:
Jim Crean “Passion”(Official Music Video) Jim Crean~Lead & Background Vocals Steph Honde~Guitar,Piano Carmine Appice~Drums Tony Franklin~Bass Produced by Steve Major & Jim Crean Video Editing:Nick Mastrocovo / Showtime Entertainment Appears on : Jim Crean~The London Fog c 2019 Visionary Noise Records OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.jimcrean.net https://visionarynoise.com/ Contact:Micah Jackson https://www.doubletroubleproductions.net/ Contact:Steve Susman FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Jim.Crean.9/ https://www.facebook.com/jimcrean24