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On disc: Howard Leese



Secret Weapon - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars


www.howardleese.com







Secrest Weapon

Secret Weapon
(Frontiers - 2009)


The chance you heard Howard Leese play guitar is quite high, even if the name doesn't ring a bell. Howard Leese was Heart's guitar player for 22 years and is playing in The Paul Rodgers Band. Now Mr. Leese who was called the secret weapon is releasing a solo album called Secret Weapon! The album contains instrumentals, but also songs with vocals which are added by different singers. The opening track is Alive Again - parts of the song remind me of Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead Or Alive -, but it's Joe Lynn Turner's voice and also Leese's guitar sound which give the song depth. A very emotional ballad with a quite heavy rock part. At the following track Heal The Broken Hearted his mate Paul Rodgers takes over the microphone. And his voice fits very well to this semi-acoustic rocker. At Hot To Cold Joe Lynn Turner is back, but at this rocker he is joined by Deanna Johnston for a great duet. But it's the guitar play which gets you first! With French Quarter he offers the first instrumental, an interlude with a slightly jazzy touch which features Keith Emerson. On 33 West Street Howard Leese is joined by guitar maker Paul Reed Smith. The song combines rock and jazzy... and some spheric keyboard which reminds me of Asia... I love this one! At The South Summit the first half of the song is without vocals and so the vocals surprise you. Asking for your attention! A beautiful bluesy rocker with wonderful guitar parts. Let the guitar carry you away at Rada's Theme. For The Vine he got Jimi Jamison who released a solo album called Crossroad Moments last year - and if you like his voice and don't know his solo, I recommend to check it out! Another bluesy tune is In These Eyes and make me think of Thunder... Here you hear Keith St. John singing - and partly the guitar sings. This is another highlight on Secret Weapon! Time for another instrumental - Vermillion Border! Wow! At I've Been Leavin' You the blues is back! But also some jazzy elements can be heard and the voice of Andrew Black. The album ends with Somewhere (theme of West Side Story) and the instrumental just makes you spin the album again, coz this melody will haunt you!
Usually I'm not a huge fan of instrumental albums, but at Secret Weapon it's the instrumentals which won me over first! I wouldn't mind, if Howard Leese would do an instrumental album next time! And I guess then it's time for one of the rare 10 stars, but this is close to it! Well done!


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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