Max Bacon's previous solo album dated back to 1995 and has been long deleted. From the Banks of the River Irwell was conceived from the same mold and even salvages a few tracks from the previous CD. Bacon's solo career never really took off, at least on record. What listeners are presented with here is a collection of tracks from various sessions, featuring various backup bands and of varying quality. The first five songs are what makes this album worthwhile. All written by Geoff Downes either for the abandoned second GTR album or for the project he developed with Bacon shortly after the supergroup folded, they feature Downes and GTR bassist Phil Spalding, plus drummer Michael Sturgis and guitarist Scott Gorham. They are solid arena rock songs, tailor-made to Bacon's voice and derived from excellent sounding masters. In contrast, the next six songs are downright painful. They sound like demos (and the master tape of "Hold Me Close" is in pitiful condition). Written or co-written by Bacon, they don't rise above the AOR average, with the exception of "Take No Prisoners," which has a nice chorus. His rendition of Mike Oldfield's "Earth Moving," omitted from the 1989 album by the same title and previously available only on the song's 12" single, will please the fan. The remainder of the disc features a third band on three more songs, rather bland, and a live recording of "Breakout" with Bronz, one of Bacon's first major bands. Despite the very ordinary nature of these songs, From the Banks of the River Irwell would have been enjoyable, but the poor sound quality of some tracks and flaws in the mastering make it an item for completists only.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture