Review Summary: Apparently, there is some talent in the family after all...2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Sylvester Stallone. We all know him. Muscle-bound action star and mumbler extraordinaire, the Italian actor is a sort of poor man’s Schwarzenegger, with similarly poor choice of material and, if possible, even less acting skills. His slurred, mumbled delivery is famous among movie buffs, and many of his films have become B-list classics.
BUT! Did you know Sylvester had a baby brother with a long and profitable musical career to his name? Yes indeed, such a person does exist, and goes by the name of Frank Stallone. Starting out on stereotypical hair-metal group Valentine, he soon embarked on an under-the-radar, but nevertheless steady, solo career, whose first fruit was his self-titled 1984 album.
Now, one would think that being related to such a notorious mumbler wouldn’t exactly help Frankie’s career as a singer. After all, mumbling your words is not exactly a prerequisite when it comes to lending your voice to a record. Fortunately, Frank – whose family resemblance is otherwise striking and undeniable – doesn’t share that particular shortcoming with his brother, being a perfectly competent, if somewhat faceless, singer. Incidentally, the same can be said about his music: it’s competent, eminently listenable, but a little derivative of what was hot at the time. It is also better than anyone could have expected from an album with that
cover, produced by a relative of Sly Stallone’s.
In fact, the most surprising thing about this album is how positively not-awful it is. Sure, the preferred musical style – radio pop/rock – lends itself to quite a large measure of cheesiness, which is present here; but Frank Stallone’s output is no better or worse than that of other similar-sounding artists of the time, such as Bon Jovi (Far From Over
is practically a rewrite of Burning For Love
, off Jovi’s first album), Survivor, Rick Derringer, Aldo Nova or even Van Halen. Additionally, Junior Stallone even manages to craft some instantly pleasing representatives of the genre amidst these ten songs.
already establishes the kind of sound Stallone will follow throughout the album, being a pacey, synth-driven AOR concoction with a decent chorus and functional instrumentation. This kind of sound will guide most of the remaining material, reaching its zenith on cuts such as Far From Over, If We Ever Get Back
and I Do Believe In You
. Elsewhere, tracks like She’s So Popular
and Music Is Magic
slow things down somewhat, while still keeping a sufficient spring in their step. There are even some surprising influences thrown in the mix, such as the Sting overtones on the appealing Darlin’
. Overall, a rather pleasant and perfectly listenable set of pop songs, which even manage to give us an intelligent set of lyrics (on She’s So Popular
However, as would be expected, not everything is perfect. As mentioned, the overall sound of the album is incredibly cheesy, with keyboard frills everywhere and that perennial favorite, electronic percussion. These elements, when combined with the sappy songwriting, often threaten to sink the boat altogether; fortunately, that ends up only happening on the two balladsy tracks toward the end, with Fly Together
’s Disney-movie strings being the main offender. Other than these two tracks, only the Vanilliesque Love Is Like A Light
ranks below-par, with most of the other tracks veering from the listenable to the outright enjoyable.
All in all, then, this record was one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had in recent times. While it undoubtedly won’t be for everybody – it has enough sugar to kill a diabetic – those of you with strong endurance to cheese and a penchant for guilty pleasures will be hard-pressed to find a better fountain in which to quench your thirst. Apparently, there is
some talent in the Stallone family after all…
If We Ever Get Back
Far From Over
She’s So Popular
I Do Believe In You