In the mid eighties, Brit John Parr's star rose with dizzying speed in the USA.
He wrote and performed with Tina Turner, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys and Blue Oyster Cult.
He toured with Toto, produced with Mutt Lange, wrote with David Foster. Fame was very much the name of the game.
It culminated in worldwide hit, 'St.Elmo's Fire'
, written for the film of the same name.
Thereafter, it was all slippery downhill slopes, though to be honest, Parr never really lost his footing, he simply learned to manage a career that dipped below the music public's consciousness, and cruised along comfortably with a much lower profile.
Enterprising German label, Membran Music, have now bundled Parr's latter two album releases, 'Man With A Vision'
(1992) and 'Under Parr'
(1996) together, and reissued them as one classy double CD digipack, with the inevitable bonus track.
As a wallow in eighties' drum machine rhythms, muted guitars, synths, electric pianos and massed bgvs - living the soft rock dream - the first CD takes some beating.
Parr's voice, a Bryan Adams / Don Henley hybrid, but without either's defining characteristics is a perfect photofit for songs that arguably take too long to reach something that never happens.
But that's the nature of the beast . . . 'Man With A Vision'
is strewn with syrupy, romanticised sentiments, arena sized verses and inviting, stadium filling hooks. And you soon get sucked in.
The better tracks are co-writes. 'Restless Heart'
, written with the maestro, Harold Faltermeyer for Arnie's 'The Running Man'
movie was an FM
Radio programmer's delight. As were the Bryan Adams-ish 'Everytime'
and the Foreigner-esque, 'This Time'
, songs with just a little more class and elegance that those round about them, both co-writes with Pete (Judas Priest) Goalby.
In popular rock music terms, the years between 92 and 96 were earthshattering. You would maybe have expected the Parr sound to have undergone a major overhaul.
Surprisingly then, there's no huge change here. The sonics are sharper, Parr's voice is pushed upfront and the production indicates that the album's sights have been trained squarely on the pop music charts and late nite radio. But no nods to Nirvana, no ground given to the rock music barbarians at the gates.
Consequently, like many others, Parr found himself a voice in the wilderness, with only diehard eighties' melodic rock fan enjoying dated material like 'Ball And Chain'
, the homeless (and hopelessly out of time) 'Makin Love To Your Answering Machine'
and the faux funk of 'Hours, Minutes And Sex'
(one of very few rock songs to include the words "panty line").
Elsewhere and on a more upbeat note, 'Time'
is an immense ballad, buoyed up on an ocean of strings and a sea of backing vocals. Too little too late though, and certainly not enough to save Parr's last shot in the bigtime. Pity.
Still, few have hit the highs reached by Parr in his prime.
To think he's now touring village halls in the heart of England. Good on him.
Written by Brian
Thursday, June 14, 2007Show all reviews by BrianRatingsBrian: 6/10
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