In 1969, Alan Merrill was one of the biggest stars that Japanese rock had ever seen, western or otherwise, and three decades later, Merrill recalls those heady days of hysteria with a song that also reminds us why he was so huge. Because he is a fabulous songwriter, with a dramatic grip on melody and a sense of humor, and a storyteller's gift for drawing the listener into anything he puts his voice to.
Twenty songs long and strong, The Face of '69 is a collection of songs that span both his career and his address book. "Always Another Train" presents a virtual supergroup as he hooks up with Steve Winwood and Mick Taylor; "Love Express" draws Rick Derringer into the mix, but of course the album is so much more than a sum of its contributors. The pulsating "Hard Road," with a solid riff and wailing guitar solo, is one early highlight; a gentle cover of Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" is another. And so on. "Slow Down" is taken at Mach ten; "Hang on Sloopy" leaves you airborne with delight; and, when he looks back at "Walk Away Renee," you remember just how much you loved the song in the first place. The face of '69 is still looking good.