|Musical Style: Melodic Rock||Produced By: Ken Tamplin|
|Record Label: Song Haus||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2003||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 18||Rating: 55%|
|Running Time: 78:46|
It seems as if Ken Tamplin has been around forever. Getting his start in the melodic metal band Joshua in the mid-eighties, he left the group following its European tour in support of Surrender to form Shout, a melodic hard rock outfit that recorded two critically acclaimed albums in It Won't Be Long and In Your Face. A pair of solo albums followed in the early nineties, the incredible An Axe To Grind and Soul Survivor, before Tamplin formed Magdallan with Lanny Cordola (Guiffria, House Of Lords) in 1992 and recorded the groundbreaking release Big Bang. Tamplin's third solo effort, the hard rocking self-titled “green album” from 1993, on the other hand, represents by far and away his finest work of art to date. In The Witness Box, Tamplin's fourth solo release, hit the shelves in 1995, while Shout reunited several years later and released its third album appropriately entitled Shout Back. After being away from the hard music scene for the better part of the past decade, Tamplin returns in 2003 with the guitar driven melodic rock of his fifth solo outing Wake The Nations.
Actually, Wake The Nations officially goes under the title Ken Tamplin AND FRIENDS. And nothing could be more fitting, particularly in light of the number of talented artists who make guest appearances on it: Jeff Scott Soto, Stevie Salas, Richie Kotzen, Marty Friedman, Mattias Eklundh and others lending their talents to help bring out the best in the project. Tamplin has not lost his touch as a vocalist, his voice still coming across with the same warm and full smooth sounding presence. In addition to filling in on rhythm guitar, Tamplin shares lead guitar duties with Howie Simon, Scott Van Zen and many of the previously mentioned guest musicians as well. Glen Sobel (Impellitteri) and Darrell Roberts fill in on drums and bass respectively, while Ed Roth (also Impellitteri) handles the albums keyboard duties.
The production values to Wake The Nations come across with a polished and refined professional sounding feel. Just the right amount of crisp rhythm guitar and fluid lead guitar are combined with a full and heavy low end.
As one would expect, Tamplin is at his best on the albums heavier tracks.
Jeff Scott Soto and Philip Bardowell share lead vocal duties on the commercial hard rocker "The Story Of Love". The song kicks in to a ton of guitar driven momentum that steadily takes it to a chorus with a catchy radio friendly hook. Van Zen and Tamplin contribute a minute of exciting dual lead guitar work to a song pointing to the person of Christ:
Your aim was to show
The world how to love
So you healed the sick and needy
Did we show our gratitude?
Or reveal our attitude?
We nailed You to the cross
This is...the story of love
The melodic hard rocker "We've Jihad Enough" advances through its first verse at a driving mid-tempo pace before it transitions to a chorus drawing attention to a clever play on words:
We've jihad, we've jihad
Haven't we jihad enough
This evil liar, sets heaven on fire
Shedding of innocent blood
I could not have said it better myself. Van Zen punctuates the song from front to back with his fiery lead guitar work.
An upfront mix of crunchy rhythm guitar backed by a punchy bass line propels "Falling Houses" in an energetic manner, the song gaining further impetus as it attains a catchy chorus that ranks among the albums best. Howie Simon steps forward with a minute of flashy lead guitar work.
Taking off fast and heavy, the albums metal influenced title track quickly rushes forward until it culminates for a deep sounding chorus delivered at a powerful upbeat tempo. Tamplin and Van Zen dual on lead guitar throughout a forty-five second instrumental passage. I wish Wake The Nations included a few more guitar driven hard rockers like this.
After a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards carries the bluesy "God In Heaven" forward at a mid-tempo pace, it evenly moves on to a slowly moving chorus with a nice laid back feel. Van Zen's wonderful blues based lead guitar projects a compelling metal edge.
Ranking among the albums heaviest tracks, “Mystery” is driven in up-tempo fashion by an edgy rhythm guitar to a chorus backed by just the right amount of catchy vocal harmonies. Howie Simon steals the show with thirty seconds of terrific lead guitar work.
The straightforward melodic hard rock of "7 Eleven People" immediately begins with its vocal harmony driven chorus before tapering off upon reaching its slowly moving verse portions. Marty Friedman and Reb Beach shine with an abundance of blazing dual lead guitar work. As its title implies, "7 Eleven People" takes a quirky look at modern society through the eyes of a customer at the popular convenience store:
There's a man standin' right in front of me
Buyin' his ticket for the lottery
ATM's and java machines
Cigarettes and remedies
CEO's to common folks, it's such an array
It's all yours 24 hours a day
Am I out of line to suggest that the remainder of the albums material does not hold up quite as well?
For example, I might describe "Saints And Heroes" as average-to-good mid-tempo melodic rock at best, and if it were not for the excellent lead guitar work of Mattias Eklundh, I might pass on the song. Likewise, tracks such as "The Man With A Plan", "Waiting For Your Love" and "Come Together" all feature marginal melody lines while showcasing lead guitar work that is nothing less than incredible.
So where do you draw the line? Is a great guitar solo alone enough to make you want to listen to a song that is otherwise run-of-the-mill from a musical standpoint? In this reviewers opinion the lead guitar is only one piece of the puzzle and that you have to consider the overall quality of the music when evaluating a song.
Furthermore, several tracks on Wake The Nations come across as bland and non-descript and fail to stand the test of time no matter what light you shine them under. For example, I cannot help but think the likes of "Hare Kristians", "Peace On Earth" and "Sing" and others were added to fill space.
The main problem with Wake The Nations is the fact it includes way too much material. As a result of featuring 18 tracks and over 78 minutes of music it becomes, for a lack of better words, a cumbersome listen. The albums better material is great, but the problem is that there is simply not enough of it. I cannot help but think Wake The Nations would hold up better and in the end receive the higher grade if Tamplin had trimmed it to a more efficient 10-12 songs (and cut a lot of filler in the process). My advice? Next time give us an entire album of catchy and upbeat hard rockers along the lines of "The Story Of Love", "Falling Houses", "Wake The Nations" and "Mystery".
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "The Story Of Love" (4:47), "We’ve Jihad Enough" (3:11), "Falling Houses" (5:08), "The Man With A Plan" (5:07), "Hare Kristians" (4:07), "Wake The Nations" (3:56), "God In Heaven" (5:13), "Peace On Earth" (4:17), "Mystery" (4:13) "Cell Phone Freaks" (3:40), "Livin’ Large" (4:41), "7 Eleven People" (3:53), "Saints And Heroes" (3:53), "Waiting For Your Love" (4:21), "Every Day Is Precious" (4:59), "Come Together" (4:04), "Sing" (5:17), "Freedom" (3:52)
Ken Tamplin – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Bass
Howie Simon – Guitars
Scott Van Zen - Guitars
Ed Roth – Keyboards
Daniel Pearson & Darrell Roberts – Bass
Glen Sobel - Drums
Philip Bardowell & Jeff Scott Soto – Lead Vocals
Doug Aldridge, Reb Beach, Mattias Eklundh, Marty Friedman, Richie Kotzen, Pete Lesperance, Ken Marcello, Stevie Salas & Jeff Watson - Guitars
Jorge Ingmar – Drums
Also Reviewed: Shout – It Won’t Be Long
Videos: "The Story Of Love"