Album Reviews: Alaska – Heart of the Storm (1984) / The Pack (1985)


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Bernie Marsden left Whitesnake after (or during depending on who you believe) the Saints & Sinners album. That band were never the same again as they lost one of their three main songwriting forces. The fact that Bernie Marsden has never since then played in what you would call a top flight band is one of rock musics biggest mysteries and tragedies. Marsden is undoubtedly one of Britains best exponents of the blues based rock song, co-writing classics such as Here I Go Again and Fool For Your Loving to name but two. Yet he seems to have become one of those forgotten men of rock.

So on to this album, which is after all what I am supposed to be talking about, although I have got a three litre box of Californian red for company which may or may not excuse the rambling depending on your view of such things. I remember being surprised at the time when he resurfaced with this band of little known musicians on the lowly Music for Nations label. The whole feel of the release was as though it had been done on the cheap with the dodgy looking typed lyrics on the inner bag and the uninspired artwork. Musically and vocally the album is competent enough but you just feel that a man who had written Here I Go Again just a couple of years earlier was capable of much much more than this. Vocalist Rob Hawthorne was very much in the mould of a Rod Stewart wannabe and the whole album sounded as though it was geared up as a vehicle for him rather than for Marsden. The single Susie Blue is the best cut by far but overall the album is far too sodden in cheesy keyboards and MOR mediocrity.

 
 
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As with the first Alaska album this ultimately disappoints. Marsden seems best in a twin guitar combo with Micky Moody when playing this type of music and that may be where the problem is with the Alaska releases. This is basically forgettable MOR radio friendly rock and the rating is more to do with respect for Bernie Marsden as a songwriter and guitar player than anything else. In places it is predictable and cheesy, in others it gets your foot tapping. Wondering what ever happened to vocalist Rob Hawthorn I’ve just googled him and all references are to the sky sports football commentator and a character in the soap Hollyoaks !!

All in all its a once every five or ten years album. Sorry Bernie.

© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM July 2007

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About Martin Leedham

Music critic, Horse Racing Tipster, Hapless Dreamer, Defender of the Underdog
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