Melodic guitar rock recalls '80s hair metal bands
By VAUGHN WATSON
Journal Pop Music Writer
Who he is: Singer-songwriter Phil Vincent
What he plays: Melodic guitar rock. Vincent's influences are The Beatles, and such '80s hair metal bands as Dokken and Whitesnake. "I still love that stuff," he said. "And that's still huge overseas. That's why my stuff is selling so well over there."
Vincent recorded Thunder In The East , his latest album, in a style similar to such rock artists as Trent Reznor and Moby, the techno DJ. He played every instrument -- guitar, keyboard, bass and drums.
"I took about 10 years of piano lessons; I picked up the guitar and drums without formal training," Vincent said. "With rock music, you don't need formal training. It sounds too sterile if you do that."
Because he recorded the songs on his latest album live, rather than piping in digital instrumentation, several of them, such as Friend or Foe , sound like they were recorded at a concert. There's an element of Footloose here, but Into Temptation , with its prophetic keyboard intro, does a good job of capturing the full orchestration and arena-rock vibe of the hair metal bands that Vincent grew up with.
History: Vincent played in a cover band about 10 years ago. He decided in 1996 to go solo. "When I saw the movie The Wedding Singer, I said, 'I don't want that to be me,' " Vincent said. "I'm just making the best of it right now, because it can all be gone in a second."
Recording: Vincent records at night in his basement studio in Cranston. "Usually," he said, "I do most of my writing at night and the loud stuff -- drums, guitars -- on the weekend."
He recently signed with Song Haus Music Group, a label based in Utah. The label is selling Thunder In The East in Europe through AOR Heaven, an Altheim, Germany, distributor. Thunder In The East , released in March, is Vincent's fifth album. He plans to release his sixth, Tragic , in January 2001.
reprinted from Electric Basement.com
Phil Vincent has a special talent for playing all the instruments on his albums, yet sounding like a full band. This continues flawlessly on his latest effort. There is little doubt in my mind that, if you played this for someone not in the know, they'd simply accept this as a full band. Part of it might be the mix. Some of it could be the writing. But ultimately comes down to the fact that Vincent can play solid to excellent on all instruments. His guitar work is fiery (see "Cruel"), his voice is strong (see "Stand Or Fall"), his keys/piano work is spot on ("Where Do We Go From Here"), his percussion is not only well schooled, but invented (see "So Sad").
While some might begin to tag this as a one-man-band-gimmick, they'd be wrong. After all, Phil is, at heart, a songwriter. And for the most part, the disc shines. The hooks and buildups are PURE 80s AOR a la Journey and Foreigner. There is a lot of "Jukebox Hero" and "Cold As Ice" reflection on the rockers. Yet there is more to the disc than even that. There's an acoustic shuffle in "The Hard Way" that slowly crescendos in to a Dokken-esque vocal nuance. Musically, it's hard to peg, but it oscillates between ballad-like and peppy. Not progressive per se, but simply more developed than minimalist AOR. Within this diversity there are still some obvious "singles" in "Long Nights" and the layered "Hard To Say Goodbye." So this is a well-rounded, heavily thought out presentation. While some tracks need growing room, most wreak good time, melodic havoc right off the first spin. Another deep, fully realized disc from one of melodic rock's most promising acts.
- Brian Coles
PHIL VINCENT `Tragic' (Song Haus/AOR Heaven - 55014-2)
Release date: 2001
Tracklist: Stand Or Fall; Where Do We Go From Here?; Cruel; Illusion; So Sad; The Hard Way; Life Is A Game; Matter Of Time; My Life; Long Night; Changing Faces; Hard To Say Goodbye
Playing time: 56:56 min.
Muscians: Phil Vincent (vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums)
Producer: Phil Vincent
Maybe some of you can remember my review about Phil Vincent's last album 'Thunder In The East' Back then my biggest criticisms of his album were the too similar sounding songs and the sterile and monotonous drumsound. Well, it seems that Phil has really learned from his mistakes, as `Tragic' is a great leap forward and none of my former criticisms can be used for this album. The production has finally reached a professional level and the songwriting is much more fluent and varied. The new album features straight up-tempo songs (`;Stand Or Fall';, `;Cruel';, `;Life Is A Game';, `;Hard To Say Goodbye';) as well as powerful mid-tempo tunes (`;So Sad';, `;Matter Of Time';) and rousing ballads (`;Illusion';), but all with the typical songwriting and arrangements of Phil Vincent. So his preference for dense and atmospheric keyboards, soft pianos, powerful guitar riffs and melancholic melody lines is still setting the tones of his AOR/Melodic Rock songs. It's hard to compare the music of Phil Vincent with any other artists, as he has a real unique songwriting, but everyone who still listens to Russ Ballard's `;The Fire Still Burns'; or PLANET P's `;Why Me?'; should take a listen to this album. As appetizers I recommend `;So Sad';, `;My Life'; and `;Hard To Say Goodbye';. Definitely Phil Vincent's best album so far!
Rating: 80 %
Discography: Rising; Life Is A Game; Calm Before The Storm; No Turning Back; Undone (EP); Thunder In The East
Reprinted from MelodicRock.com