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Steele - Tricks Up My Sleeve

posted 30 Jul 2011, 07:10 by Woody
( Z Records)

Review By Woody

An album written and recorded in the early ‘90’s gets released in Japan in the mid 90’s and finally sees the light of day in 2011! Steele fell afoul of the radical change in the music industry around ‘92 to ‘94 where anything remotely commercial was dropped in favour of a grungier and less polished rock sound. Steele were even offered to remain on their label if they cut their hair, grew beards, wore flannel shirts, and sounded like Alice In Chains!

Steele is fundamentally main-man Jeff “Steele” Zugale, but features performances from Steve Witschel (Bass), Hira Homma (Drums), Joe Fiamingo (Backing Vocals) Ted Poley (Backing Vocals), Irene Wohlman (Bass) and Dave Lewitt (Drums). This album has floated about in limbo for a long time so has been re-mastered and sound-wise, you can’t complain. Album artwork for me isn’t overly important and in the digital download age is something becoming less important for everyone, although I have to say I really like the artwork here and throughout the booklet. I believe this was also done by Jeff Steele, it seems that he’s a man with many talents.

This album is very of its time, but that’s not a bad thing and it’s a shame it never saw the light of day when it had the potential to be a chart botherer. It’s in the vein of many American hair metal bands of the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. It’s a solid album and I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting as some hair metal bands can be a little samey, but this album does stand out amongst the glut of similar releases of that era. It doesn’t sound dated even though its style is evident with every chord. I’m sure fans of Skid Row, Poison, Motley Crue, Warrant, Tuff and that hair metal scene will love this album.

“Tricks Up My Sleeve” kicks off the album with a bang. A fantastic rockin’ tune, which features some great guitar work that will really stick with you. This is a head-banging, air guitar-ing beauty complete with chant along chorus. “Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me” is a Skid Row inspired slice of rock ‘n roll. It’s high energy hair metal full of hooks, a killer track. “700 Miles” has an Americana acoustic ballad style beginning before kicking the guitars in big and chunky. This song has a great feel and some top notch vocals from Mr Steele.

“Flirtin With Fame” has big chunky riffs with a metallic edge. Another awesome guitar riff and strong memorable chorus. “Stay” is an atmospheric metal ballad with a powerful vocal performance on the dark chorus. “Live Forever” is an energetic rocker with an urgent guitar riff and chant-along, Poison-style chorus.

“I’ll Never Cry” has killer guitar riffs and a great pounding energy. The storming chorus on this song will get stuck in your head I assure you. “Only In Your Mind” has some wonderful intricate guitar work. It’s a hair metal ballad evoking Crue and Poison and I adore the guitar work on this track.

“Lead Me Over” is, for me, the weakest song on the album and it failed to grab me with its funky beat and meandering tone. The ballad “Innocence” that closes the album didn’t stick with me and got boring very quickly. So a strong album finishes poorly with the two weakest tracks tacked on at the end.

Melodic Rock with a great hard edged swagger that will make you wanna get your air guitars out and crank em up to 11! I’m sure that had this come out back in the day, it would have been massive as it has hooks everywhere and chant-along choruses. Think Skid Row but more melodic. Steele are scheduled to play at Z Rock 2012 at The Robin in Wolverhampton and after hearing this I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys crank it up at the festival! If you still have a 50 foot perm, a penchant for wearing make-up and a love of hairspray – this one’s for you!

Track Listing: Tricks Up My Sleeve / Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me / 700 Miles / Flirtin’ With Fame / Stay / Live Forever / I’ll Never Cry / Only In Your Mind / Lead Me Over / Innocence

Album Rating: 4/5

Woody’s Essential Track: Tricks Up My Sleeve

Tricks Up My Sleeve is out now and available from all good retailers and