Various - Power Ballads

Power's quite the eighties thing. I mean, they were around in the seventies but with acts like The Eagles, Peter Frampton and Fleetwood Mac, there was little to differentiate between the more upbeat songs and the ballads. In 1977, all of that began to change with the release of Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell for, whilst there may have been power ballads before Jim Steinman's mix of metal and melancholy, never before was it so clearly defined as it was on tracks like Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) and For Crying Out Loud.

Skipping over the long titles, which is more of a Jim Steinman thing than anything else, power ballads can be defined by being just like the big rock songs but (a) are slower, (b) replace a few of the big major chords with big minor chords and (c) are generally and quite clearly about love rather than death, cars or sex. Then again, either fast or slow, crunchy guitars, big drums and, if a band's feeling daring, piano and strings will be all over your typical power ballad and once free from the studio, two things will indicate its acceptance into the mainstream - lighters will be held aloft when the power ballad is played live and Jeremy Clarkson will insist on it being used to soundtrack footage of a Toyota Avensis on the A406 on Top Gear.

The driving thing is no coincidence what with this being subtitled The Greatest Driving Anthems In The World...Ever! Except that, well, they aren't unless your name is Cletus, you drive a pick-up and your wife and sister are one and the same person. Take track one, side one - Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott's Hero. Power ballad? For sure but driving anthem? Unlikely unless you're easily confused by the concept of sitting still yet moving forward.

As for We Are The Champions, The Best and Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, they really ought to be on an album subtitled The Greatest Anthems For Underperforming Teams To Walk On To A Pitch To In The World...Ever! rather than one that claims to be hold the world's greatest driving anthems. Indeed, such a thing really should open with Radar Love and not rest until All Right Now, Bat Out Of Hell and Born To Be Wild have been heard to pass alongside the miles one travels.

But, title aside, Power Ballads ain't that bad really. There are a fair number of great songs in REM's The One I Love, the aforementioned You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) and Simple Minds' Don't You (Forget About Me) and these are backed up by a whole bunch of good songs too many too mention - look in the column on the left for the full track listing. Best of all are those songs that don't really appear on these sorts of things too often and on hearing them hear, fairly gladden one's heart, such as Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart, REO Speedwagon's Keep On Loving You and Sinead O'Connor's still wonderful Nothing Compares 2 U.

Quite the oddest thing about the album, however, is the cover, which implies, with its sight of Earth above the horizon, that these are driving anthems for some extraterrestrial expedition. Personally, one would hope that by the time we're technically advanced enough to not only reach Mars and colonise it but also to build roads on which to drive, we'll be long past wanting to hear Poison's Every Road Has It's Thorn ever again. Damn sure if I ever get near the Olympus Mons and Poison's what I hear on the car stereo, I'll be packing up and heading back for the safety of Earth before KROQ On Mars gets to its next advertising break.

Taking the album as it stands, you could do better but equally, you could do worse. There are only really a few duff songs on here and despite one's aversion at times of sobriety to songs such as these, it'd be one cold heart that doesn't have a little room left in it for Heart's Alone.



out of 10

Last updated: 24/06/2018 22:19:25

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