Released: 2006, Escape Music/Zink Music
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
The English singer Gary John Barden, maybe mostly known for being a part of MSG, Praying Mantis, Company Of Snakes, Statetrooper, Silver and the co-operation with Gary Moore, is now releasing his second solo album. A bunch of his friends are guesting on the album and THE AGONY AND XTASY is full of the significant blues-influenced old-school hard rock that Mr. Barden is known for.
The main problem with this album is the material; there’s nothing that really grabs you and make you want to hear more, and isn’t that what an album should do? I couldn’t remember what I had heard when the album was over and that’s not a good sign. It feels like Mr. Barden wants too much and can’t really decide what and where he wants to go and do with the music, and that gives a really shattered impression.
There are, however, a few golden picks amongst the otherwise disappointing material and those are “Hot Daze”, “Can’t Stop Dreaming”, “Let Me Down” and “No More Reasons”. All of the above-mentioned tracks are music of the old school hardrock type with a lot of nice guitar-led parts. Gary John Barden does a great job behind the mic, and in some of the songs he added Hammond organ to take the music to another dimension. The production is a standard job and sounds OK but nothing else. In my opinion they could have put a lot more focus on guitar and lead vocals but apparently they didn’t and that makes the production OK, but boring.
A few of the too-many ballads this album gives you are “Wounded”, “In And Out Of Love”, “Change Of Wind”, “Need Some Love”. These songs are nothing other than pure slow ballads with horns and string sections. The thing that saves this album from a complete meltdown is Gary Barden’s voice and if you’re a fan of Gary, I don’t think you’re going to dislike this album.