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JOE LYNN TURNER - The Usual Suspects CD Review
Submitted By Caroline Walsh on 09/06/08




I must confess, Mr. Joe Lynn Turner has largely escaped my radar as a metal vocalist and performer. While I stick closer to the more hairy side of metal, Mr. Turner dabbles in his own style of pop metal that frankly delivers the goods in a way that makes me embarrassed not to own his entire catalog.

So, a few months back I scored an interview with Mr. Turner and started picking up some odds and ends around the record shops and I now find myself enchanted by his voice and style. But, no album caught my attention more than his latest release titled "The Usual Suspects."

It has become common place for artists to try and get that mainstream acceptance from the public at large by releasing stuff that mirrors whatever is currently "hot" knowing full well that is not what is in their soul. See Aerosmith's "Just Push Play" or Stephen Pearcy's "Feuler" for examples of why established rockers should not venture into a world that is not their own. But "The Usual Suspects" is a shockingly diverse album that does not bend or reach to the current musical climate. In fact, it is exactly the way rock 'n' roll should be - Loud and somewhat aggressive with diverse vocals and excellent musicianship. Pop metal to the core.

Track by track, here's my review of this record.

"Power of Love" has an almost Dokken style rhythm guitar sound at the start mixed with Joe's fantastic high vocals and a melody that frankly grabs you and makes you sing along. There is no denying the greatness of this opening track. It is a sin this isn't on the radio.
Rating: 10/10

"Devil's Door" has a very groovy guitar intro with slightly more tame vocals by Joe until you get to the chorus. The chorus again has a fantastic hook and makes you sing along. Melodic hard rock, pop metal... Whatever you want to call it, this is how all the rockers we know and love should sound in new records!
Rating: 9.5/10

"Jackknife" feels a bit more like Joe's Deep Purple days. Very melodic fast paced rocker with a lot of keyboard involved. Hook pulls you in again and the solo on this is the best on the record. Joe also hits 2 VERY high pitched screams on the song that pump excitement into the song.
Rating: 10/10

"Really Loved" is a very bluesy tune with a lot of different effects and more tame vocals. Great lyrics... Very powerful song and a very strong chorus. This song should be played on a more pop rock station. It has all the glory of classic ballads.
Rating: 9/10

"Rest of My Life" is a very powerful rocker that fits my current relationship perfectly. Fantastic lyrics, good effects, and great melodies. Very well done song that really picks up in the chorus.
Rating: 9.5/10

"Into the Fire" is my favorite track on the CD. It doesn't have as strong of a melody as some of the other songs but the melody is strong... But, for some reason, I find myself hitting the "repeat" button on the CD player with this one. Great vocals, great lyrics, great guitar work, great keyboard effects. This is how it should be.
Rating: 10/10

"Blood Money" just sounds like a rocking title, doesn't it? The song delivers very well with fantastic guitar work. It's one of those songs that starts out good and ends great with a killer guitar solo and a great ending with Joe screaming high pitched at the end which really, again, creates excitement. Very blues rock, but very good. I dig it.
Rating: 9/10

"All Alone" is a good song with fantastic musicianship with a good melody especially with the guitar and keyboard assistance. My only problem with the track is the rest of the album has a very exciting feel and this one is a little more tame. It's hard rock, don't get me wrong. It just is a little tame when put side by side with something like "Blood Money."
Rating: 8.5/10

"Ball and Chain" brings back the blues rock. On this track, Joe really shows how well he can tell a story with his voice and carry a chorus with no fancy effects added or backing vocals. He's a one man quartet! This one even has Joe doing that famed rocking "I just got punched in the gut" style "uh!" sound leading into the chorus. Great vocals, high pitched screaming and even an almost Steven Tyler-like screech (when Tyler could hit those notes) at the end that shocked me.
Retaking: 9.5/10

"Live and Love Again" must piss off Jon and the rest of Bon Jovi when they hear it. It feels like a classic Bon Jovi love song... Great vocals, great lyrics, great chorus. I like it a lot. From tame to a powerful chorus. It's real rock 'n' roll!
Rating: 9.5/10

"Unfinished Bizness" is the last track on the CD and I must agree this is unfinished business! That is to say, I WASN'T DOINE ROCKING OUT YET! Good tune with Joe's screaming vocals and great guitar work. I dig it though I'm somewhat sure I've heard it before... Perhaps because it is considered a "bonus track" it is a cover? Oh well.
Rating: 9/10

Overall Rating: 103.5/110

"Is it really that good?" Yes, it really is. If you're a classic Joe Lynn Turner fan, you'll love this. If you've never heard of Joe Lynn Turner before, this is a hell of a place to start. Pure and real rock 'n' roll with no attempt to be "hip" or "cool." And you know what? I find that damn cool.

Speaking of "finding" and "damn," finding the damn CD is a little difficult. I was lucky enough to pick it up at a rock shop that carried it. But, it is considered an import. So, for us Americans, we have to buy the record through Joe Lynn Turner's official website at www.JoeLynnTurner.com. Amazon.com and BestBuy.com have it listed as well but from experience, BestBuy had me waiting for several weeks claiming it was on "backorder" and finally, after a month, I dropped that order for my second copy and went straight to the source. So, I suggest www.JoeLynnTurner.com to buy the record. Tell them James and Cassie sent you from the Metal Epicenter, www.MetalEpicenter.com.

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