Friday, April 12, 2013

WAR & PEACE "The Flesh And Blood Sessions"

(C) 2013 Deadline Music

  1. Kill For The Love Of God
  2. Snake Eyes
  3. If I Put My Love In You
  4. I Don't Want To Be Lonely
  5. Nailed To The Cross
  6. Idle Worship
  7. Bringing It On
  8. Raising Cain
  9. What I Hide Behind
  10. Heaven Knows
Jeff Pilson--Vocals, Guitar, Bass (6-9) Keyboards
Randy Hansen--Lead Guitar
Michael Diamond--Bass
Vinny Appice--Drums

Additional Musicians:
Robin McAuley--Vocals on Track 9
Darren Housholder--Lead Guitar on Track 10

That sneaky Jeff Pilson!  He didn't even mention this album coming out when I interviewed him for this site a few weeks ago!  Guess the man can add "secret keeper" to his list of accomplishments, because it seems like he has done just about everything else!

Whether you know him as a member of Dokken, Dio, MSG, Lynch/Pilson, Foreigner, Adler, T&N, or any of the other half-dozen lesser known projects he has worked with, it is most likely you DO know Jeff Pilson if you are at all into melodic hard rock from the 80's to the present.  This album features the material Pilson wrote with Michael Diamond (Legs Diamond) for what would have been the Flesh And Blood album, had that band ever released an album under that name.  As Pilson explains in the liner notes, the first five tracks here were the original Flesh And Blood demo from 1989, and things looked promising for the band.  However, Hansen would leave in 1990 and the band lost the rights to the name Flesh And Blood.  So, rather than sit and stew, Pilson and Company switched monickers to War & Peace, recorded with various versions of the line-up of musicians listed above, and released The Flesh And Blood Sessions.  

Nothing here is going to be world changing, but it is all very good, professionally performed melodic hard rock that fluctuates between radio-friendly fare and edgy, almost angry material.  Take for example the decidedly radio ready "I Don't Want To Be Lonely" which I think would have been a big time radio and video hit had it had more label support.  This track reminds a lot of what Kane Roberts was putting out on his second solo album.  "Idle Worship" is another smooth, melodic number that is very much in line with a lot of Dokken material from the time, and Pilson sounds a lot like Kip Winger in his vocal approach here.  The same can be said of "Bringing It On" which, again, sounds like an angry Winger song from the Pull era of that band.  Very smooth, very polished in its approach, this is a sharp departure from several other cuts, such as the more caustic "Kill For the Love Of God", "Nailed To The Cross", or "Raising Cain", for example.  Now, one could almost speculate there was some sort of spiritual connection here, what with all the religious references such as God, the cross, Cain, worship, and Heaven.  Instead of any kind of Christian themes, however, these songs are rather angry in nature, showing a more biting lyrical approach than anything Dokken had (or has) ever attempted with Pilson in the band.  The music on these songs is also  very edgy at times, giving this project a nice contrast to the more radio friendly numbers mentioned above.

Of particular note to fans of Pilson or War & Peace would be the album's closer, "Heaven Knows".  This track was added to this re-release of the album and is not available on the 1999 version of this project.  Another chunky rocker, this song features Housholder's lead guitar work and showcases where the band was headed with the War & Peace material that would follow.  Pilson's vocals have a particularly metal edge to them on this track which features a big, screaming chorus, solid drumming, and some really nice lead work from Mr. Housholder who was fresh out of the Berklee School of Music at the time.  An excellent tune that makes this the superior version of this package to own.  The production here is much more raw than anything else on this project, which leads me to believe this was also a demo that Pilson cleaned up just a touch before tacking it onto the end of the project.

All in all, a very enjoyable listen that I am glad was given the dust off and re-release.  I would like to have seen more in terms of pictures, lyrics, etc., as none of this is included, but I am guessing there wasn't a huge budget for this project, and the music is what matters in the end.

Rating:  Crank this to very deserving 7.5.  A very well done project that was worth the re-issue!

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