CD REVIEW: Ivory Tower Project - "Red Hot"
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"a rare find"
"a blast from the 80's"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Ivory Tower Project
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Pop Rock, 70’s 80’s vintage pop
Sounds Like: Foreigner, Glass Tiger, Supertramp, Survivor
Technical Grade: 8/10
Marketability, Commercial Value, Dated Mix & Production
Ivory Tower Project is inspired by the great Classic Rock artists of the 70’s and 80’s. Band members include Regula (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Tony Novarro (guitars, back vocals), Fernando Menendez (drums) including former member Johnny Jace. I Was touched to see the CD itself dedicated to the bands original drummer Sal DiAngelo who recently lost his battle to leukemia.
Logging in at just over 40 minutes, the CD kicks things off with “My Name” a rock driven intro piece that serves up Santana like solo guitar, up-beat vocal melodies against classic 70’s pop like instrumentation. Track 2 “Burning” shifts gears a bit with slow driving rock rhythm, funky bass groove against infectious vocals & catchy chorus from lead singer Regula. Track 3 “Gotcha” could almost pass as a classic Foreigner ditty with it's well place keyboard accents, hooky vocals & hooky chorus. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice a lot of musical variety from Regula & Co. First his band is pretty much right on queue with respect to the early 80’s musical signature. His drummer pushes the natural accents extremely well. Bass guitar slams it home, & sits deep within the pocket when its appropriate. Last but not least Regula delivers some rock solid rhythm guitar playing, while Tony Novarro serves up some impressive solos along the way. The CD offers a rich melodic vocal foundation, & lush layers of instrumentation with things like flute, percussive accents, acoustic guitars & masterful harmonies. I would classify this music as a blast from the eighties, with a classic late 70's psychedelic rock aftertaste. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing musical influences like Foreigner, Glass Tiger, Supertramp Mr. Mister, & Survivor & even Wham. Regula’s vocal style works well within this environment & is in the vein of Lou Gramm (Foreigner) Jami Jamison (Survivor) & even George Michael (Wham). Regula sings a duet with Sharon Wolfe on Track * “I Can’t Tell Him” while Henry Kessler sang lead vocals to 2 tracks: "Guilty (You're The One)" and "Dreamer." Regula clearly takes some vocal risks on the production indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. From melodic “Guilty” & “I Can’t Tell Her” to passionate “You Can See it in My Eyes” & “I Think I fell in love with you” to rocking Way too Late” to grooving “Dreamer” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone.
Overall the Musical Production sounds very 1981-ish, & comes across as being a bit dated. In fact if Regula & Company would have released this music say in the late 70's he would no doubt have a few gold records on the wall. Unfortunately it's 2010 thus making Regula a bit late to the party & obsolete. At the end of the day all the aforementioned affects the overall marketability & commercial value of the production as a whole. Track 8 “Centre Street” with radio Interview though very informative is extremely unorthodox, odd, & would do the CD better justice if replaced with 2 of 3 more tracks.
After spending 40 minutes alone with Mark Regula & Co. it’s hard to find any serious weaknesses with the music itself. Instead as the CD progressed I actually became more & more impressed with it. “Red Hot” is a blast to listen to. For fans of all things 80's & late 70’s it will be a gem & a truly rare find these days. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are short & sweet musical experiences. Last but not least Mark Regula brings to the table his guitar playing virtuoso, impressive songwriting, & amazing vocal sex appeal. Lastly - the playing, writing, and singing abilities of “Ivory Tower Project” are amazing. But the most amazing thing about this project is ironically not the music. My hats of to Mark Regula & his bands for their amazing resolve Ivory Tower Project managed to stay the course through the stormy weather. Guided by their hearts they found the courage to get "Red Hot" completed through fruition. That is something that transcends many things, including words.........................Yep Sal DiAngelo would be very proud indeed.
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