Jack Blades / Shaw Blades / Tommy Shaw

Hallucination

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    6
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The only album Styx's Tommy Shaw and Nightranger's Jack Blades made together in their avatar as the short-lived would-be-super duo Shaw Blades. Pity, because Hallucination is a neat little package that recalls, in about equal measure, Styx's radio-friendly balladry and the soaring, melodic powerplay of Damn Yankees, of which group, too, Blades and Shaw were alumni. (In fact, Hallucination is very nearly a Damn Yankees reunion, featuring, as it does, Yankees drummer Michael Cortellone as guest percussionist on some tracks). This is a mainstream pop/rock album in the best way possible, big on hooks and melodies that grab hold first time around and don't let go. Producer Don Gehman (R.E.M., John Mellencamp) crafts a crisp sound, lush with the duo's harmonies and brimming with hints of country rock and the kind of adult contemporary shine that someone like Richard Marx would give his right arm for. No rough edges or surprises here, and damned if Shaw and Blades don't make that sound like a bonus. "My Hallucination" marries throwaway social commentary to a riff that shamelessly rips off Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." "Come to Be My Friend" is Tom Petty gone gloriously pop. And, as befits an album by a band that comprised half of Damn Yankees, the harmonies are gorgeous: check "Blue Continental" and "Don't Talk to Me Anymore." As far as AOR ear candy goes, this is about as good as it gets.

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