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Tyce Album and Concert Review

Posted by:
JimmyG (jimmy.granstrom@gmail.com) 08:24 pm MST 03/17/17

First of all, I'd like to highlight that Tyce's album is a major achievement. Before comparing it with Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion and MeatLoaf, one needs to remember that the total recording cost of Tyce's album is probably less than one minute on "Bat Out Of Hell 2". In that context, Tyce & team have created a fantastic album, which shows great potential for future projects.

On the main CD, my favorite tracks are generally the upbeat songs, especially "Holding Out For A Hero" and "I'm Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us". The tracks which I found the least engaging were "Heaven Can Wait" and "It's All Coming Back To Me Now". These tracks are by no means bad, but I would have preferred a different sound on them. One of best aspects of the CD is Zak Lloyd's stunning synths, although the guitars by Nicky James, Mike Smith and Max Rich are also fabulous. Anyway, I think a more synth-based sound on "Heaven Can Wait" would have made it stand out more compared with previous versions. Now it's a nice track, but it lacks the originality of some of the other album tracks.

In fact, I would have traded "Heaven Can Wait" and "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" for a full rock band recording of one more upbeat song, e.g. "Peel Out", "Ravishing" or "Faster Than The Speed Of Night". I think any of these songs would have sounded awesome in a Zak Lloyd production. In general, I think Tyce's voice and performance style work the best on a lot of the more upbeat tracks. It's no coincidence that he rose to "Stein-fame" with his live performance of "Bat Out Of Hell" at 54 Below. It's in these types of songs that I think he can flex his vocal chords the most. I would have preferred "Hero" to have mostly upbeat tracks, and maybe 2-3 ballads.

On the acoustic CD, "Holding Out For A Hero" and "Anything For Love" are my favorites. Again, these tracks are the ones that differ the most from the feel of the original versions. I've never cared for "Everything Is Permitted" or "More Than You Deserve", but the acoustic versions are nice nonetheless, and IGLHFBOU, IACBTMN and FCOL all sound great in Tyce's acoustic versions. Excellent piano by Zak Lloyd, especially on the breathtakingly beautiful recording of "Hero" (both full band and acoustic version). This is also one of Tyce's finest vocal moments on the album. The quality of the vocals range from good via very good to spell-binding. If I'm not mistaken, vocals were recorded over many months, which may explain some of this variation.

Here are my track-by-track comments:

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO - Definitely the stand-out track on the album. The piano intro is haunting, and the backing tracks compliment Tyce's excellent vocals perfectly. Once the guitars kick in, the adrenaline rush is inevitable. What a rocker! And after about 3 minutes, there's the "through the wind and the chill and the rain". This is one of the best non-Steinman produced parts of a Steinman song I have ever heard. Absolutely awesome!

HEAVEN CAN WAIT - Nice version, but would have preferred a more synth-based arrangement to make it more original compared with previous versions.

I'LL KILL YOU IF YOU DON'T COME BACK - Fantastic intro and synths through the entire song! The whole upbeat part is awesome. "Bless all the girls..." is also really good, but the sound could have been a bit more different than the MeatLoaf version, which was one of my few production highlights on "Deadringer".

LEFT IN THE DARK - Some of the synths, especially in the chorus, are very lovely, but it's difficult to match Jim's original version. Still many great moments in this version!

TOTAL ECLIPSE - Also a highlight on the CD. Excellent production by Zak and great vocals by both Tyce and Alex Nester. Nicky's guitars are also excellent.

IACBTMN - Nice version, but again, I would have preferred a more synth-based arrangement. It's difficult to match the Celine/Steinman and Meat/Raven/Child versions.

IGLHFBOU: The second single! Fantastic intro and synths throughout the entire song. The vocals by Tyce and Alex fit perfectly to the backing tracks. I never liked the song that much when I heard the original version, but now I really like it! This is definitely my favorite version of this song, and I think it sounds much better than the dated original recording.

OBJECTS: Another highlight on the CD. Terrific production and vocals by Tyce and Mia Moravis. The synths are great, although some of them seem a little "bright" considering the heavy topics of the song. I'm a little torn about the "wo-ho-wo-ho" after 4:46. It sounds fantastic, but maybe there's too much of "I've been through bad times but I've moved on" feeling to them? Still undecided about that. Another excellent guitar performance by Nicky and Max on this song.

BRAVER: Superb intro. I had no idea which song was playing the first time I heard the teaser. The rest of the production is also really good, although the "say a prayer" part feels a little rushed. Towards the end of the song, everything comes together beautifully, and the vocals (esp. Alex's raw emotion) and arrangement provides a perfect climax to an excellent album and a brave take on some of the best songs ever written.

Below I also attach my Facebook post about the NYC concert and the great nights with the HERO crew before and after the concert.

Cheers,
Jimmy

----------------

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of seeing two excellent shows in NYC. The first one, Tyce Green's awesome launch concert for his Steinman album "Hero" on Thursday, was a thrill ride and an upgrade compared with his already excellent performances at 54 Below in 2015 and 2016. I also had the pleasure of meeting a lot of the great people behind the album, e.g. Tyce Green, Zak Lloyd, Nicky James, Alex Nester, Alex U'Ren, Van Dean and Mia Moravis.

On Wednesday night, I met up with Hero musicians Zak Lloyd (production/arrangement), Nicky James (co-production) and Alex U'Ren (mixing) for Guinness and gossip. Well, the evening was mostly dominated by Zak's outrageous sense of humor. "Animal House on a cocktail of vodka, steroids and Viagra" won't quiet cut it, but it's the best description I can come up with... ;-)

On Thursday night, I headed over to the Cutting Room for Tyce's show. I was handed a copy of Tyce's album from Van Dean, who's the President of Broadway Records. Their cast recording of "The Color Purple" revival won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, so it's great that Tyce's album could be released on their label.

Alex Nester started off the show with an excellent cover of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing", as well as a couple of very nice original songs of hers. Shortly after that, Tyce and the band entered the stage with an excellent new version of "Braver Than We Are". Two of the other highlights during the evening were "Holding Out For A Hero" and "I'm Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us". It is unfair to compare productions from different eras, but the original 80's productions of these two Steinman songs have not stood the test of time quite as well as most of the other ones. "Hero" in particular is very impressive, especially the "through the wind and the chill and the rain", which didn't quite get the attention it deserved on the original version. In Tyce's version, it stands out as one of the best non-Steinman produced parts of a Steinman song. As for "Both Of Us", I've never been a fan of the song and especially not the non-Steinman production on "Dead ringer". Tyce's version has a darker edge, which I think suits the lyrics better. This is definitely the best production of this song, and I think Tyce's versions of "Hero" and "Both Of Us" are both more appealing to most younger audiences, which was one of the reasons for recording them in the first place. Other highlights during the evening were "Braver" and "Objects", with perfectly balanced backing vocals by Alex Nester and Mia Moravis. Alex also provided terrific vocals for several other songs in the show.

As for "Braver", the intro is superb, and I had no idea which song I was listening to the first time I heard the teaser. I must admit that the "Say the prayer" part is a bit rushed, though. "Braver" has been one of my favorite Steinman songs, ever since I first heard it as "Something Of This Masquerade May Follow" from the 1986 "Confidence Man" recording, later reappearing as "Draussen ist Freiheit" in "Tanz der Vampire" in Vienna in 1997. However, the element that really elevated this song to one of Steinman's greatest for me was the addition of the "Say The Prayer" part in the Stuttgart production in 2000 (I saw the show both in Vienna and Stuttgart). Recording-wise, Karine's original demo is still my favorite version, and it would have been foolish to try to recreate it (like Paul Crook kind of tried to do with Meat's version). Tyce & team did the right thing to do their very own take on "Braver", and it holds up as one of the best non-Steinman produced recordings of a Steinman song, which is a fantastic accomplishment considering the tough challenge from Desmond Child and others who had much greater recording budgets at their disposal. Whether we like it or not, if the songs are to live on, they must be non-Steinman produced in the future. After the show, a few of us (including radio personality Tony Bates) went out for drinks and a meal. A very memorable evening!

URL: Pics from Tyce Concert and hanging out with HERO musicians

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