After the break-up of Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1979 with the disastrous final release of Love Beach, Greg Lake was at an uncertain crossroads on what he wanted to do next. He had to decide on where he was going to go as the beginning of the 1980s was about to open the doors for him. He went to Los Angeles and recorded some work with Toto and help from the great guitarist Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy.
Alongside Moore, he brought Tristram Margetts who he worked with on the production level with the short-lived trio, Spontaneous Combustion on Bass, the late Tommy Eyre (Gerry Rafferty, Michael Schenker, and John Marshall) on Keyboards, and Ed McKenna (Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Tear Gas, and Rory Gallagher) on Drums. His first sole self-titled debut album was originally released on the Chrysalis label in 1981.
This is a part of a 2-CD set which contains his first two solo albums including this and Manoeuvers which was released in 1983. Both of them are Re-mastered and approved by Greg Lake himself. There’s a heavier, AOR, and mellowing side to Greg Lake who still carries a bit of the Progressive side on here, but moving away from the ELP sound and getting back to his roots with help from his friends.
From the fast-driven galloping riffs and virtuosity done by Moore in which he thunders through his guitar and McKenna’s drums and Eyre’s organ/synths setting the post-apocalyptic warnings of never coming back of world gone horribly wrong for the Nuclear Attack to a bad girl’s dark side of ruining someone’s life with a killer bluesy groove and AOR synths on the collaboration between Greg and Bob Dylan in which it makes it a very interesting ideas with Love You Too Much, Greg is not fluffing around and he can nails those vocals and shows that he’s got the goods.
He and Moore really have a creative motive on here. You can hear the melodic beauty thrown in on the ballads from the softer sides of Greg with soaring compositions of The Lie, Let Me Love You Once, and It Hurts. Gary Moore’s passages just gives me chills and not just because he’s an excellent guitar player, but the way he just takes it into the hard rock and blues approach and hit those notes as Lake himself shows Moore to head into the higher levels in the compositions.
After the release of his solo debut album, it did well, but the sales didn’t approach on what he wanted to go. Most artist wanted as I’ve mentioned they don’t want to be pigeonholed for being just in a big successful band. For example with Peter Gabriel and Sting, they’ve achieved critical success after leaving both Genesis and The Police. And for Greg Lake, an amazing and talented songwriter, it’s hard to reach through that level to be successful. And as Randy Newman said, “It’s Lonely at the Top.”
Two years later, he released his follow up, his second album entitled, Manoeuvers. There is the both the heavy rocking sounds and the power ballads that are on here. Again, the evidence is there on the first and last five tracks between both Hard and Melodic Rock. Eyre brings forth more of the powerful keyboard elements between the synths and organ followed by the eruptive roars of Moore himself and McKenna’s drumming to follow in their steps.
Not to mention a contribution from Sweet guitarist, Andy Scott with the bitter-touching beauty of Greg’s take of Famous Last Words that resembles a soulful ballad. Here on his second album, it’s an exit from the ELP-era and heading towards into where bands like Asia, Kayak, Genesis, and Styx were heading towards into the early part of the 1980s. There are some amazing moments on here.
Tommy Eyre’s Organ blares into the night as if driving down the highway for I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight. I can hear the styles of Golden Earring’s Moontan-era in the style of Are You Receiving Me? Elsewhere, the acoustic-haunting composition on the struggle of being famous can come with a heavy price with the karma coming towards you with a Slave to Love.
The electronic talking sounds bring the mystery and the essence of Hall & Oates comes to mind of Paralysed while Haunted sees Greg bringing forth of a touch between the late great John Lennon’s lyrical compositions. The bonus tracks on both of the 2-CDs sees Greg at his best.
There’s his take of the R&B classic, You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me as he channels the early sounds of The Beatles as he honors and stays true to the hit, the sessions with Toto and in the style of Private Eyes and Kiss On My List as I’ve mentioned before, Greg channeling Hall & Oates with You’re Good with Love. The walk in the beach and romantic gentle acoustic groove sees Greg capturing the sun going down for Hold Me.
The 20-page booklet features an interview with Greg Lake done by Malcolm Dome and a history about the making of the album. If you are both an ELP and King Crimson fan, you can really delve into the world of Greg’s first two solo albums and understand why he was ahead of his time before joining up with Asia to replace John Wetton and before involving a project with Emerson, Lake, and Powell and then the return of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in the 1990's.
But again, listening to these albums, yet while it may not be his best, it shows how he could have continued on. And yet many years later, Greg Lake himself is still going strong. Alongside with the first two bands, he still keeps the fire’s burning forever and ever and never letting go.