Denny Laine

Reborn

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Reborn is a brilliant album by an erratic and often misdirected artist. It is, actually, quite refreshing in its simplicity, with Laine's vocals surprisingly in good shape. In the late '80s and early '90s, the founding member of the Moody Blues who should never have left Wings had little of his great voice left. He was performing in New England doing covers of previous glories, talking about a musical opera he was writing, and raising a daughter with his girlfriend Helen Grant, daughter of the late Peter Grant, manager of Led Zeppelin. Hearing "Hard Labor" on this disc definitely shows the rebirth the title track acknowledges. The voice is more flawed here than on other tracks, but it works, like a drunken Steve Marriott might sound today had he lived, raspy and sincere. Brian Hines, in his Denny Laine persona, crams choruses he was so good at creating into compact little tunes with great melodies. "Misty Mountain" is a good example -- this pop tune dives right into that sound Laine helped establish. What a shame he didn't come up with songs like this when Paul McCartney generously gave him room to express himself on Wings albums. Laine looks ragged on the park bench photo next to the lyrics to "Misty Mountain," but the ecology-minded musician is at the peak of his powers here, material as strong as "Say You Don't Mind," his composition that Zombie Colin Blunstone hit with. "Fanfare" is a bit more subdued, Laine sounding like a journeyman preacher. He's released a number of lukewarm records, and his failure to stay in the spotlight has made him one of rock's forgotten soldiers. Upon hearing "Blue Lights" (not on this record), executive Don Rubin said to the late Jimmy Miller that he felt Denny Laine was one of the few artists who could come back the way Steve Winwood did in the '80s. This album is evidence that Rubin's comment was quite accurate, but the timing, clearly, was off. "Reborn," the title track, has a definite drive. The sound would be perfect for a reconstituted Traffic or Electric Light Orchestra. Those groups performing "Rollin' Tide" or "In Time" might find themselves vital again, and give a much deserved rebirth to Denny Laine. The vocal and keyboard interplay on Rollin' Tide deserves to be heard by millions of ears.

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