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Michael Thompson Band - 'Future Past' (Frontiers) 4/5

Micheal Thompson is a bit of a legend on the session scene, starting off as the 'house' guitarist for the TV series Fame, hes gone on to be the hired gun of choice for the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart and a whole galaxy of other household names. But he still finds time to record and tour with his own outfit The Michael Thompson Band, and this is MTB's latest album.

Now I'm find this one a bit of a strange one. One the whole its fairly typical west coast stadium AOR, all Toto-U-like big ballads and Journeyesque light weight radio friendly rockers. Stuff that I don't dislike, but stuff I tend to use as wall paper music whilst chilling out reading and doing the house work rather than actively listen too. However there are three factors here that lift this record above the ordinary and have earned it an extra mark. First up we have some excellent song writing, tracks like the anthem Here I Am and the power ballad When You Love Someone are all raised above the bog standard by some first rate arrangements, and some fine attention to detail. Secondly there is the vocals of Larry King, here is a guy with a distinctive voice and someone who knows how to use it dodge cliche, just check out his delivery on Beautiful Mystery, it is indeed stunning.

Finally there is the guitar work or Mr Thompson himself, if you ever wonder why this guy is in so much demand as a session player just skip through this album, every track features guitar work that can only be regarded as superb, it is technically impressive without resorting to show off widdling, sympathetic to the song and compliments the music perfectly. My personal fave section being the rock and blues fueled solo on Gypsy Road, a slice of lead work that sends a shiver right down my spine.

All in this album has a lot to recommend it.

Well worth checking out.

For fans of... Toto, REO Speedwagon, Mecca, The Magnificent etc....

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