Robin McAuley – Standing On The Edge

Standing On The Edge Album Cover Art

Robin McAuley – Standing On The Edge
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 44:39
Review by Simon Black
8/10

I have to confess that my engagement with Robin McAuley is fairly limited, despite my predilection for the more Melodic end of the Hard Rock world. Somewhere in my vinyl collection is a battered copy of “Perfect Timing” – the original collaboration with Michael Schenker, which at the time I was slightly disappointed in, as it felt that the great axeman was very much in the background. Look at the cover if you don’t believe me, he literally is standing in McAuley’s shadow – or at least the shadow of his rather spectacular mid-80’s bouffant. The fact that during this period the MSG band acronym was physically branded as the McAuley Schenker Group, rather than the Michael Schenker Group probably tells us all we need to know about who was in the driving seat during this period and at the time it felt like a misfire and somewhat passed me by. Time, however, is great at pointing out that actions based on knee jerk teenage reactions are not always the right ones…Although music was about to do a complete body swerve not long after its release and this sort of Melodic Hard Rock rapidly fall out of favour with the major labels, over time it has proven to be a stone cold classic, if not a classic Schenker album. Clearly there were other MSG releases with this line-up, but when you are fighting against, or being pushed to follow the rise of Grunge and everything that followed it, these did not make an impact in the same way.

This is a slightly different direction than McAuley’s Black Swan project and as ever when Serafino Perugino at Frontiers assembles a project, there’s a particular era, ethos and feel that he is trying to capture in amber with an added modern take and “Standing On The Edge” is very much picking up where “Perfect Timing” left off – with deliberate precision. The opening track ‘Thy Will Be Done’, feels like it could have been a B-Side from those 80’s sessions, right down to the dated keyboard arrangements, but what saves it from being a retro footnote is the fact that McAuley’s voice is absolutely on top form and the song-writing beautifully crafted. The rest of the album has a slightly more modern sound to it, so I am taking this opening track for what it was probably intended to be – a message to the listener that this is where the album is starting from, but it’s not where it will finish.

To prove the point, the title track kicks things up a notch significantly with a catchy riff, solid mid-tempo beat and then steps back to let the man show how good a shape his vocal chords are actually in. Generally, there’s some really robust song-writing on here and the eleven tracks stand up quite well, with a bit of a slowdown in the middle as ‘Chosen Few’ feels a bit like a filler, but the power ballad ‘Run Away’, whilst pure Melo-Ballad in tone, is more Gary Hughes than USA 80’s in style, so does not feel dated. The record works because it varies the pace to demonstrate McAuley’s range, rather than going for the tried and tested formula of a record of belters plus a lone ballad or two (the fast and slow share equal billing here), but also because a lot of care has clearly gone into crafting a recording that has its back foot in the 80’s but its front foot forward a few decades. As always with these Frontiers releases the production melds the retro sound as we remember it in our heads with modern recording standards and values. I would be interested to see if this incarnation takes a live turn, or is just a studio project, but either way it works just fine.

‘Standing On The Edge’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Thy Will Be Done
02. Standing On The Edge
03. Late December
04. Do You Remember
05. Say Goodbye
06. Chosen Few
07. Run Away
08. Supposed To Do Now
09. Wanna Take A Ride
10. Like A Ghost
11. Running Out Of Time

LINE-UP:
Robin McAuley – Vocals
Andrea Seveso – Guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Bass, Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Nicholas Papapicco – Drums
Howard Leese – Guitars on ‘Supposed To Do Now’

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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