CD Review: Alias “Never Say Never”

alias-200Many of us remember Alias as a one hit wonder from 1990 (“More Than Words Can Say”). Alias formed when Freddy Curci (vocals) re-teamed with Steve DeMarchi (guitars) after their old band’s (Sheriff) hit (“When I’m With You”) experienced a unexpected resurgence and took the top spot on the American charts in 1988 (the tune originally stalled at #61 in the US in 1983).

The self-titled Alias record is now considered a classic in many AOR circles, and I’ll admit it is one of my favorites of the era. I was disappointed that the advent of grunge caused their 1992 follow up release to be shelved. But here we are, 17 years later (!) and, thanks to the folks at Angelmilk Records, the long delayed second Alias record is now available.

I thought “Never Say Never” would sound far too anachronistic – but it is a sonic surprise that holds up quite well to modern AOR artists like Eclipse or Stereoside, and those who are keeping the AOR flame alive, like Jimi Jamison, Tesla, or Journey’s latest incarnation. Freddy Curci is in top form, with his distinctive pipes making almost any song a joy to hear, and Steve DeMarchi is ahead of the curve on where guitar tones were going those days.

“Never Say Never” contains the 13 tracks originally slated for release, plus 4 bonus tracks of hard to find Alias tunes from movie soundtracks or international releases. One word of caution: Freddy Curci fans who have “Dreamer’s Road” may be disappointed that five of the tracks are duplicated – among these are some of the strongest cuts on the record, such as “Give Me A Reason To Stay”, the power ballad “All I Want Is You”, the tender acoustic ballad, “Diamonds”, and two of the bonus tracks, “Perfect World” and “Into the Fire”.

The record is unmistakeably Alias, and it truly is a welcome treat for the ears to hear Freddy Curci’s distinctive vocals complementing the catchy, crunchy riffs of DeMarchi’s guitars. There are plenty of memorable melodies and perfect harmonies, and tunes like “Woman Enough”, “Wild Wild One”, “Bare Necessity”, and “Call Me” fit comfortably with the creme of the crop of Alias’ debut. Fitting for the time, they do slip into silly cock rock mentality for a handful of tracks (“XTCOI”), but luckily this is kept to a minimum.

“Never Say Never” is not only an Alias fan’s dream come true, but should also appeal to any fan of high quality AOR. The record is like finding a lost treasure that you once owned but misplaced and almost forgotten. “Never Say Never” goes beyond bringing the melodic rock of the late 80s back to life – it stirs nostalgic feelings, but also feels strangely contemporary.

For those interested in Freddy Curci , he was involved in a project called Zion recently; our less than thrilled review of that one is here.

iPOD worthy: 1, (4), 5, 6, 8, (9, 11, 14, 15), 17
Tracks in ( ) are duplicates found on Freddy Curci’s “solo” effort, “Dreamer’s Road” (1994).

Alias on MySpace.