Review: Carl Dixon – Unbroken

AOR Heaven (November 29th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Carl Dixon is better known as silver throated singer of Canadian melodic rockers Coney Hatch. They were the classic example of critical success and had three magnificent albums in the 1980s. The last of these was the humungous ‘Friction‘, which to this day is still one of my favourite albums. I did see Coney Hatch in 2014 at Firefest to coincide with their comeback album ‘Four‘. However, I must confess, I haven’t really kept up with Carl’s solo career, so I was intrigued to get this one to review.

Opening with ‘Can’t Love a Memory‘, this is a pacey, melodic rocker that illustrates just how much influence Dixon exerted over the Coney Hatch sound. And the man hasn’t lost his voice either! Great start! The intro of keyboards and guitar are reminiscent of Journey for the next number. Called ‘Bowl Me Over‘, once the song kicks in properly it is another riff-lade melodic rocker and I am back in 80s heyday of melodic rock. The clean guitar intro belies the pacey melodic rocker that is ‘Nothing Lasts Forever‘. Lyrically the song is obviously a biographical song about Carl’s days in 80s with Coney Hatch and takes me back to my own days in the 80s with Moritz when I lived in London.

‘Every Step of the Way‘ has an almost contemporary rock intro but then kicks into a great staccato guitar riff with overlayed lead licks. Another well-arranged and executed melodic rocker with great light and shade. There is a harmony vocal intro to ‘Summer Nights‘ but the song doesn’t turn into the poppy summertime melodic rocker I anticipated. Instead what get is a more complexly arranged number which ebbs and flows with a number of changes of beat which work well. Next up is ‘All My Love and Hopes for You‘, which is a ballad. For me this is possibly the weakest song on the album and just doesn’t really get going, albeit there is a pretty catchy chorus. Maybe one that will grow on me with a few more listens.

‘This Isn’t The End‘ opens with an archetypal Coney Hatch guitar riff and continues in that vein and could easily sit on Outa Hand, Coney Hatch’s second album. Another great melodic rocker. Continuing in that vein, ‘Drive Just Drive‘ opens up a like a track from ‘Friction‘ and is another powerful melodic riffing rocker. However, the chorus is a little weak for me compared with the rest of the song. Good none the less! Next song, ‘Roll the Dice‘, just picks up from the last song and delivers another solid slice of melodic rock with some nice guitar work too.

With a sequenced keyboard intro and guitar lick over it, ‘Keep the Faith‘ is more 80s AOR than straight forward melodic rock. Again, this song didn’t quite gel for me until after a couple of listens, but once it did it really grew on me. Last but by no means least, is the title track ‘Unbroken‘. This strangely sounds a little like Eden’s Curse with the guitar playing, especially the harmony guitars. A mid-paced rocker it fittingly brings the album to a close.

This is a great album, but unlikely to make Carl Dixon many new fans. There are some great songs here, but it lacks a little in consistency. However, there are no fillers. If you like Coney Hatch and you are looking for a new fix, then my advice would be to get a hold of this and you won’t be disappointed.

Dixon’s solo debut ‘One’ (1993), appears to have been a pretty obvious move for a man of his standing (at least from the European perspective). Carl, born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario had come to prominence in the early 80s as one of the frontmen for the critically acclaimed Canadian hard rock band Coney Hatch.

However, having released three albums between 1982 and 1985, Dixon had become pretty disillusioned with his career at that point; tired of the many frustrations that being on a major label (who don’t appear to care) brings on a touring band trying to get noticed. Ironically, as has been shown time and again, North American bands often appear to be curiously shielded from any success they may be achieving abroad. In Coney Hatch’s case there was another market out there bursting to embrace them in Europe, if only they’d known about it.

After focussing on songwriting for other artists for a while, eventually switching focus from North America, where Grunge was on the brink, to Europe, especially Germany, where Coney Hatch made a much bigger impact, Carl wouldn’t fully learn about it only until Coney Hatch’ performance at the 2014 edition of Firefest, England.

One’ features fifteen songs, one of them (‘One Good Reason’) a co-write with Brett Walker, another one (‘Taste Of Love’) Aerosmith meets Def Leppard flavored.

Dixon’s first wife Stella ended up adding backing vocals alongside e.g. Mark Santer (Santers) or Mike Shotton (Von Groove). It took a month of recording in four different studios especially focussing on how the guitars sound. The Canadian still is very proud of it and about the fact that people still remember the album.

After being with The Guess Who and April Wine for a while and a horrible car crash in Australia in 2008, he’s back with Coney Hatch leading to the 2013 record ‘Four’ and has released a couple of solo records since. Additionally, he’s having a brand new solo effort by the name of ‘Unbroken’ coming out soon on with he collaborated with Frontline’s Robby Böbel.

After the re-issue of the classic album ‘One‘ in October 2019, November sees the release of the first collaboration between Carl and Robert Boebel, a long-time stalwart on the German music scene with bands like Frontline and Phantom V, among many. The result is the new release, Carl Dixon Unbroken, a powerfully sung and performed album that reaches the heights of AOR Melodic Rock. Memorable hooks, strong melodies, great guitar playing and production, and drumming performed by Mark Santer (Santers) and newcomer Dylan Gowan (Vesperia, Cardinal Street).

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52 years ago in the first summer of love, 1967, a little known act, named Big Brother and the Holding Company, with their ferocious singer, Janis Joplin, took to the stage of what is considered to be the first rock festival, Monterey Pop Festival. This performance astounded crowds and industry folk alike and has gone down in history as one of those magical moments.

Fast forward to 2019 (the 50th anniversary of the second Summer of Love), history is set to repeat one of those ‘had to be there’ moments! Having been taken under the wing of guitar maestro, Myke Gray, Kim Jennett will take to the hallowed grounds of Donnington this June to perform along with Myke, expect to see every jaw dropped and every hand in the air!

The pair started working together in the summer of 2018 and their flourishing partnership looks set for a strong and rewarding endeavour together. Whilst Kim initially started off singing for Myke, he now plays guitar for her in return, such was Mykes enthralment and ore of Kims ability to sing and perform, he wrote her third single especially. Kim’s vocal talents are a formidable force of power and conviction, I dare you to not be astounded!

Already, Kim has supported Black Star Riders, nailed slots at Hard Rock Hell and Winters End Festival, next slots include KK’s Steel Mill then onto Download!

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Thomsen

Thomsen have released a teaser video for their upcoming Unbroken album which will be released on September 19th

 

Line Up
Rene Thomsen – Guitars

Denis Brosowski – Vocals
Ingo Lühring – Bass

Michael Pesin – Guitars

Max Dietzmann – Drums

Guests
Udo Dirkschneider (U.D.O.)

Robert Soeterboek (Ayreon, Star One)

Mathias Don Dieth (U.D.O.)

Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio, Heaven & Hell)

Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Fates Warning, Sebastian Bach, Riot)

David Vincent (Morbid Angel)

Andre Hilgers (Rage, Sinner)

Helge Engelke (Fair Warning, Dreamtide, Thomsen)

www.thomsen-unbroken.de

www.facebook.com/thomsenunbroken