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CD Review: Surrender – Better Late Than Never

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What’s the 4-1-1?
Surrender re-releases their long-lost album that was never released in the first place. Confused? Well, let me clear it up for you. Better Late Than Never was recorded originally between 1987 and 1989. By the time this self-produced and self-financed project was finished and it was time to secure a record deal, the musical landscape had changed. Out were the big hooks and bright rhythms of melodic rock, and in was the down-tuned angst of grunge. Somehow the unreleased material made it’s way onto the internet and was sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars.

The band was totally unaware of this until it was pointed out to them by a fan. Surrender had become a cult classic. Based on what they learned of their apparent underground appeal, Surrender decided to put the album out themselves properly through their website for an affordable price. They even added three bonus tracks that weren’t included on the original album.

Genre
Melodic rock / arena rock / hard rock

The Good
Powerful multi-part vocal harmonies start off “Never” and continue into the catchy chorus. Vocalist Frank Siccoli shows off that he is the consummate melodic rock vocalist when he flexes his pipes. Michael Olszewski lays down a memorable guitar lick that repeats itself throughout “Claire,” as does a warbled keyboard loop. Surrender keeps their odes to women in their life alive with “Nikki.” Crunchy riffs dominate here, and the chorus sung in the round helps enhance the melodies. The keyboard laden power ballad “Feel the Burn” brings the tempo down a bit, but the emotion remains high.

“One Tough City” is a mid-tempo rocker that highlights Siccoli’s vocals and Kenny Hamberg’s drums more than anything else. The song tackles the quality of life issues that all neighborhoods face. “Thought You Should Know” has some meatier riffs mixed with blaring synths and harmonized vocals. I never would have thought there would be another song from the 80s era about a woman named “Carrie.” Europe’s version may have been a bigger hit, but if Surrender’s version was released at the same time, it would have given them a run for the money. The final two tracks, “A New Game” and “Little Asia,” feature a different singer, (Eric Thompson) but still manage to match the quality that Siccoli delivered.

The Bad
They do the a cappella vocal introductions just a bit too much.

The Verdict
I never really followed the melodic rock cult scene. In fact, Surrender found me (does that make me a cult hit?). I must say, for a self-released, self produced, self-financed project, it sure does sound like a lot of money was poured into this project. The quality is top-notch and all the songs are great. Since money was not a factor, that just goes to show how great Surrender are as musicians.

Granted, it’s not material that would fly in today’s musical climate, but it sure would have torn up the charts in the late eighties. If you’re loyal to melodic rock and not one of those drones that follow music trends because the media tells you to like it, then Surrender is right up your alley. Better Late Then Never is a lost melodic treasure that should be put on display for all to enjoy.

Did You Know?
The studio where the music was recorded, Studio 1212, burned down in the fall of 1995.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Originally posted by author at Rock-Is-Life.com

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About George Dionne