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Toby Hitchcock - 'Mercury's Down' (frontiers records) 3.5/5

With US proggers Pride of Lions taking a couple of years out, it is inevitable at the solo albums would come crawling out of the wood work - and so we have this effort from vocalist Toby Hitchcock to keep the fans deck happy until the Pride reforms.

First impressions are that Mercury's Down is a tad more commercial than POL. This is less Asia / Mystery and more Toto / Journey so to speak. Not that that is a bad thing on the whole, I'm not adverse to a little stadium AOR once in a while, and as stadium AOR albums go this isn't a bad one.

You have some fantastic rock out tunes on this album, Strong Enough features some guitar work to die for, If It's to Be (It's Up To Me) is a belting feel good anthem in the Journey mode; 'I've got what it takes now, I'll make my own breaks now...' - whilst Just Say Goodbye hits home with all the power and verve of a classic Night Ranger track. And there can be no doubting that Mr Hitchcock has the perfect voice for the genre, he comes over like a pumped up Steve Perry meets Lou Gramm on steroids; supreme power, perfect control and pitch perfect.. All good stuff.

OK there a couple of tracks where where this album sinks towards stadium rock cliche, most noticeably on the  inevitable power ballad One Day I'll Stop Loving You (lighters at the ready people) and on the opening sections of the John Farman-esque A Different Drum. But thankfully those moments are more than off set by tracks such as Tear Down the Barricades and the title track closer.

In short a worthy addition to the canon of AOR must haves

For fans of... Journey, Toto, Survivor, Night Ranger, Loverboy

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