Released: 2010, FNA Records
For the next few months of the summer of 2010 I’m going to be bring you a series of six (or more) reviews of a great CD reissue campaign by a new, young label FNA Records. My rating reflects the score of the site's guidelines and the appeal to modern fans of heavier genres but if you are a fan of the band and the genre, I would rate this a full-point higher and give it a strong recommendation. Check out the other reviews in the series.
The second in our series of reviews is a new release by an old band, namely, Tora Tora. Back in the late 80s and early 90s there was a whole slew of acts developing a melodic hard rock sound with a distinct southern, blues flavour. Most of these predominately American bands like Soul Kitchen, Blackfish, Sister Whiskey, Wild Horses, Southgang, Tangier, Tattoo Rodeo, Every Mother’s Nightmare all flirted with the big-time. While they were all decent bands out of that pack one of my personal favorites however of that era was Tora Tora.
FNA Records has released a very cool historical over view of the band called Before And After. The ‘Before’ component of this 10-track disc is the very rare debut independent EP called, TO ROCK TO ROLL, initially released (I believe) on cassette in 1987. The first five tracks showcase the band's early work including early versions of the songs that appeared of the major label debut in ‘89. The disc also includes as a bonus the original version of ‘Walkin’ Shoes, the band's first video and single and probably biggest hit. The differences are subtle but it is interesting to hear and compare to the original.
The ‘After’ component are four demo racks from the bands unreleased third album. I had read that the band had a third album in the works but it was never to see the light of day, until now. These are all great songs that would have carried on the band's legacy. I sincerely believe with a bit more luck and/or timing Tora Tora could have been in the same league as Tesla as one of the few bands in that arena that ever truly ‘made it’.
My only minor complaint is the presentation. A great collection like this was a missed opportunity to give a bit of history on the band. We do get some old photos and a pair of smokin’ hot chicks on the cover, but it could have been a bit more. Overall the sound quality is fine for demos and indie recordings. It is a real treat to hear these rare songs on disc. A valuable addition to round out your Tora Tora collection.