CD Review: Fraze Gang – Fraze Gang II

Fraze Gang 2
4.5
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Brighton Rock was one of Canada’s most under-rated melodic rock bands of the hair band era, and despite not having anything new from the band in since 1992, BR alumni Greg Fraser (vocals and guitar) and Stevie Skreebs (bass) are continuing to hold the torch with the band Fraze Gang, which just released its second album Fraze Gang II.

Rounded out by drummer Phil Epp and new guitarist Derek McGowan, Fraze Gang has taken their version of the Brighton Rock sound that was evident on the debut album and turned it into something very separate and much harder from the lighter rock of BR. There’s a bit of an Ace Frehley, Judas Priest and Ratt sound going on on Fraze Gang II, which might be courtesy of former Ratt/Europe and Winger producer Beau Hill, who mixed the album.

Fraze Gang II embraces an 80s sound wrapped around some extremely solid guitar playing from Fraser, who led all those classic Brighton Rock riffs and solos back in the 80s. The rhythm guitars have a nice crunch, but the lead shines through with tasteful and memorable licks. It actually reminds me of the first time I heard the Ace Frehley KISS solo album and discovered just how important a well played guitar is to any song. And now all these years later, Fraser is cranking out solos that sound reminiscent of those classic 70s and 80s solos from Frehley, Jimmy Page and to a certain extent, Tommy Shaw. And in contrast, Fraser has grown into a much more talented and solid player than Frehley ever did. The guitar playing alone is worthy of three of the four and a half stars this album was awarded.

The album standouts include the powerful lead track Saint Or Sinner, In Your Face and the very KISS like Juggernaut. A cover of the 1954 Muddy Waters song I Just Want To Make Love To You rounds out this heavier collection of new music from a group of Canadian melodic rockers that certainly sound like they really believe in what they do.

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