“Influence” by Shaw Blades

Artist: Shaw/Blades
Title: “Influence”
Label: VH1 Classic Records
Release Date: 3/6/2007
Genre: Rock
Rating: 4/5

Their names are very well known in the hallowed halls of Rock music history for the numerous and often memorable contributions with Styx, Night Ranger and Damned Yankees. This time around, Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades join forces for an album that presents their fans with music that both inspired and helped to foster their own musical beginnings as well as form a solid foundation on which music would build. Presenting “Influence”, an album of material that reminds you of how special the building blocks of Rock music actually were. You might be saying “oh no, another covers album”, but on this CD are some of the most important songs ever to be recorded. Together the pair presents classics from Simon & Garfunkel, The Zombies, The Mamas & The Papas and many more. Recorded with acoustic guitars, light drums, keyboards and vocals this is bare bones music, and it required nothing more than these ingredients to make it work. Many of the songs are precise renditions and this is found in the “Sounds Of Silence”, “Lucky Man”, and “California Dreamin’” most specifically. My Mother was a fan of all of these bands and as result, I was raised on this stuff and hold it very close to my own heart as some of my very favorite songs despite what I might listen to today. While those favorites were lined out I was also very impressed with the Yes tune “Your Move”, for they hit the same pitch as Jon Anderson straight on, and even slip a little “Give Peace A Chance” (John Lennon) in the chorus. “Time Of The Season” and “Dirty Work” were pleasant additions and really sound as fresh as the time when they were introduced to the world. Tommy and Jack are great singers and finding them doing this stuff in tandem again makes the release a very special piece of music. The pair experiments just a little on the album by delivering a knock down version of “I Am A Rock”. It serves as the heaviest number on the recording and does complete justice to the original.

The guys consider this a labor of love and feel it falls in line with the type of stuff they had long performed in their own bands. Every one of these songs will jog a memory in the listener either who lived through them or who just grew up listening to them because their elders were playing them. The material though historic, does not sound dated and instead finds the guys breathing new life into them for a new generation to appreciate. Find yourself influenced with this one – thanks Tommy and Jack, and oh yeah, thanks Mom for playing good music when I was little.

Track Listing:
1. Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts)
2. Time Of The Season (The Zombies)
3. Your Move (Yes)
4. I Am A Rock (Simon & Garfunkel)
5. Lucky Man (ELP)
6. The Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
7. California Dreamin’ (Mamas & The Papas)
8. On A Carousel (The Hollies)
9. Dirty Work (Steely Dan)
10. For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
11. Dance With Me (Orleans)

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