Jim Crean “Velvet Crush” CD review
For those of you out there not familiar with Jim Crean he is an award-winning, Buffalo-based hard rock/metal Lead Vocalist who recently released a full-length original music CD called “Velvet Crush” on the Melodic Revolution Records label. Jim was gracious enough and I was thankful to receive a promo copy of the Velvet Crush CD to feature on my blog. Thank You Jim!
Jim also plays music in the greater Buffalo area with Hair Nation, an 80’s hair metal tribute band. Click on www.jimcrean.net to find where The Jim Crean Band and Hair Nation will be performing next and how to get your copy of “Velvet Crush”.
“Velvet Crush” is Jim’s third solo CD release, he has also appeared on 12 other critically acclaimed CD releases, most notably on KISS, Cheap Trick, Ace Frehley and Enuff Znuff tribute CD releases. Jim’s music can best be described as melodic hard rock with a strong 80’s influence. Strong, catchy hooks, layered vocal harmonies and sharp, crisp, melodic guitar solos. If your into 80’s hard rock music like Poison, Great White, Aerosmith and local favorites Talas than you’ll love Jim Crean’s “Velvet Crush”.
“Velvet Crush” is a CD that highlights Jim Crean’s clean and melodic vocal stylings. Jim was influenced by Phil Naro, Robin Zander and Steven Tyler. Jim pulls all these great influences together and sings in a unique style of his very own. Jim’s vocals dominate these hard rock tracks and they are out front in the musical mix. Jim and Emmy award winning vocalist Phil Naro collaborated on 10 of the 12 tracks on “Velvet Crush”. Phil Naro is a former member of the Buffalo based band Talas and he is a current member of the hard rock band D Drive. All of the musical performances are strong on “Velvet Crush” and the bass guitar has a distorted sound, similar to Billy Sheehan’s signature bass guitar sound. “Velvet Crush” is a unabashed, AOR, commercial rock and roll record.
The opening track “Taste Of Reality” starts off with a groovy, hard rock rhythm track. The lead guitar jumps out of the sonic mix with a cool Hendrix inspired backwards tracked lead guitar solo. The bass has a fuzzy sound which is mixed perfectly as not to over enhance the distorted sound. The vocals, vocal harmonies and guitar solos are sharp, crisp and mixed expertly by Steve Major, who by the way performs most of the guitar, bass and all of the keyboards on “Velvet Crush”. Like all the songs on “Velvet Crush” the chorus is catchy and if you listen to the song more than once like I did, you’ll probably get this song stuck in your head for awhile.
The 2nd track is a cover of the Mitch Perry penned, early 80’s, Talas classic “Crystal Clear”. I applaud Jim’s choice on covering this song. “Crystal Clear” is a great rockin’ song that never hit the mainstream when it was first released way back in ’83 on the Talas live concert record “High Speed On Ice”. Billy Sheehan, Phil Naro, Mitch Perry and Mark Miller performed on the original version. Jim does an excellent job on the vocals and Steve Major also does a great job on lead bass on Jim’s version of “Crystal Clear”. But, you must understand that I cut my rock and roll teeth on Talas, I saw and heard Talas perform this song live, dozens of times in Buffalo. Again, I applaud and appreciate Jim’s version very much, but I prefer the live Talas version. Hopefully “Crystal Clear” will get the mainstream attention it deserves when the hard rock audience hears it on Jim Crean’s “Velvet Crush” CD. (How about a version of “Lone Rock” on the next CD Jim.)
“Make It (A Fine Line Between Love & Hate)” sounds like a song you could’ve heard on FM mainstream radio anytime between, hmm, let’s say 1978 to around ’91. The song has a very top 40ish sound to it, almost like…dare I say…a Richard Marx song. Very polished and well produced. Of course Jim Crean has alot more of a rock edge to his music than Richard Marx ever did, I’m just using that particular name as a reference point to describe the sound and feel of this song. This particular song has the potential for mainstream mass appeal if it’s promoted correctly.
The next song on the CD is one of my favorites on this CD. “My Heart Breaks Down” was written by local legend Billy Sheehan. I’m glad Jim included this song on “Velvet Crush” because I’ve never heard it before. The song has a great, heavy, rock edge to it. Jim’s vocal performance on this track is excellent, one of the best on this CD. By covering this song Jim is once again acknowledging his strong Buffalo roots.
“It Couldn’t Get Any Better” has a hard driving, rockin’ groove. The lyrical content is all about sex. I’m certain the fairer sex will absolutely love this song…in other words, the chicks will dig it.
The 6th track, “Daytime Friends (Nightime Lovers)” is another song about, you guessed it, sex. This song is similar in sound and feel to the 3rd song on this CD. I could be wrong, but the lyrical content and the commercial sound and feel of Jim’s music seems to be geared toward the female rock audience.
“She Goes Down” (She Go Down) is a great rockin’ track. This is my style of hard rock, of course Jim kicks ass on this song. Once again it’s a song about S E X. This song is similar in sound and style to AC/DC and Aerosmith, one of the better songs on “Velvet Crush”.
The 8th song “Never Made It Through” has a loose and sleazy rock groove and feel. The verses sound loose and sloppy like a classic Aerosmith song. Almost like it could fall apart at any second but the song never does. This song is my favorite on the CD. The loosely tight verses lead into a great hook. The chorus is very strong and melodic, a perfect counterpart to the laid back rockin’ groove during the verses. The bass figure is sweet to listen to. Some of the sounds on this track reminded of the Black Crowes/Stones and Whitesnake. Great Song! I’d love to see this song performed live.
The 10th track, “Redlight”, is another hard driving rocker, one of my faves on “Velvet Crush”. The drums on this track are very solid and they carry this song along perfectly. I expected to hear a ripping guitar solo but instead a cool, trippy keyboard part goes down instead. The absence of a guitar solo places more emphasis on the keys and the strong vocals Jim belts out on “Redlight”. Of course, Jim, once again, sings great on “Redlight”. The vocals are aggressive and strong.
The next song, “Colleen” is similar to the 9th track “Melissa”, it’s another love ballad that is dedicated to Jim’s biggest supporter Colleen Mastrocovo. I believe Colleen also plays drums for Hair Nation.
The last song, “Past Tense” is a rockin’ acoustic guitar based song. The acoustic guitar track is great. This is another song that could be a hit if it’s promoted correctly.
CD Credits: Produced by Phil Naro and Steve Major. Jim Crean – Lead Vocals Phil Naro – All Background Vocals/Guitar Steve Major – Guitar/Lead Guitar/Piano/Percussion/Keyboards/Bass Glenn Nash – Drums Stan Miczek – Bass Don Mancuso – Lead Guitar Recorded at Moonraker Studios – Toronto, Backroom Recording Studio – Toronto, Glass Mountain Studio – Toronto, Lady Starlight Studio – Buffalo, DWM Productions – Buffalo and The Porta Plant Studio – Rochester. Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Steve Major. Vocal Engineered by Dan Monroe. CD Art by Ed Unitsky www.edunitsky.com Management Backstage Productions Goto www.jimcrean.net to find out more about Jim Crean.