Joe Lynn Turner – Second Hand Life (2007, Friday Music)
- Your Love Is Life
- Got Me Where You Want Me
- Second Hand Life
- In Your Eyes
- Blood Red Sky
- Stroke Of Midnight
- Off The Hook
- Over The Top
- Sweet Obsession
- Love Is On Our Side
- Two Lights
- Freedom’s Wings
Joe Lynn Turner – Lead & Background Vocals
Karl Cochran – Guitars, Bass, & Background Vocals
Bob Held – Bass
Michael Cartellone – Drums
Gary Corbett – Keyboards
Producers: Bob Held & Joe Lynn Turner
Total Time – 58:50
Joe Lynn Turner has one of the best voices in the Rock world. Doesn’t matter who you put him up against, JLT has one of the smoothest voices and it keeps getting better album after album. Look at the pedigree: Fandango, Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, and solo…..JLT is as versatile as he is gifted at the mic, everything the guy sings on is professional and very good. Solo album #10, SECOND HAND LIFE, is no exception.
‘Your Love Is Life’ starts the album out on a high note with a melodic rock masterpiece. First, Karl Cochran shines on guitar. He has this great tone that just screams ’80s Melodic Rock. The add Joe’s vocals and it’s a song that could have easily been a huge hit back in the day. It doesn’t sound dated but it has the old school flavor. The harmonies are superb.
Things slow down for ‘Got Me Where You Want Me’ to a bluesy ballad that has excellent vocals by JLT again. You expect the vocals to be top notch from a JLT record but it’s obvious by this song that the musicianship from the backing band is superb. Cartellone adds some meat here with the crashing cymbals and Cochran adds some good subdued lines in. The title track is another good example of Hard Rock done extremely well. The pace is quicker than the previous song and it has more of the same: great vocals and guitars. See a theme here? One has to wonder if Turner just walked into the studio, cranked out the vocal, and walked out. The guy has a golden throat that doesn’t age.
Ballad #2 is ‘In Your Eyes’, one of my favorite songs on the album. Perfect ballad, the best I’ve heard all year. Definitely Rainbow influenced, you can imagine this being on BENT OUT OF SHAPE (1983), and heavy on the vocals. This is a showcase for JLT as the guitar is gently placed in the mix and Gary Corbett plays subtle keyboard lines in and out. This song reminds me of Rock ballads of the early ’80s but, again, the song itself doesn’t come off as dated. Another Rainbow fueled song, ‘Blood Red Sky’, picks up the pace and starts out with a Cochran guitar solo that evokes both Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen…..both crowning collaboration achivements of JLT’s career. I swear I hear parts of Dio-era Rainbow ‘Gates Of Babylon’ in the main guitar riff sometimes but ‘Blood Red Sky’ turns out to be a serious melodic rocker. I think the keyboards give it that Eastern flavor. More huge harmonies here around the chorus. Those who want a reunion of JLT & Ritchie Blackmore need to hear this song.
I like the strut and swagger of ‘Stroke Of Midnight’, it’s another blues based song with a nice main guitar riff and accompanying organ. Karl Cochran really spreads out a bit, doesn’t overplay, and keeps everything tight. There’s a reason why JLT keeps bringing Karl aboard for solo releases, the guy is smooth as silk on guitar and plays well within the song. If you want some faster paced Hard Rock/Metal, bonus track ‘Off The Hook’ delivers. It’s a lot faster than even opener ‘Your Love is Life’ and has a serious main riff and solo that you can imagine Malmsteen shredding. Even with the faster pace, Joe makes it sound effortless, even when he hits the highs. Imagine a faster ‘Death Alley Driver’. This song is from the Japanese version of the album that was released earlier then the U.S., Friday Music added in for the North American release along with two more that we will see at the end of the album.
‘Over The Top’ keeps the faster pace but is a notch below ‘Off The Hook’ speed wise. The guitar tone is heavier and a little slower to fit into the melodic structure and solid backline. The melody and harmony really get you singing right along just like the rest of the songs so far, it’s infectious.
‘Cruel’ is superb! Another example of how a melodic track that leans toward the ’80s style can hold it’s own in 2007. ‘Cruel’ is mid-paced with an almost funky main riff and tons of melody. It’s commercial, it’s radio friendly, it’s solid. Reminds my of the Rainbow classic ‘Street Of Dreams’ a bit. Another ’80s sounding song, ‘Sweet Obsession’, is pure AOR. Kind of like Journey I’d say, maybe even Foreigner, but smoother. I could imagine this all over the radio because it has that hook and melody that defines good AOR. Staying in the same AOR vein, ‘Love Is On Our Side’ has that classic power ballad sound with the big electric guitar intro and underlying riff. Of course there is the big harmony chorus and subtle keyboards that suck you in. The vocal is top notch with JLT putting in the one of the best performances of the album…..that’s a statement because he has been flawless on every song. Great solo by Cochran here as well.
I have the U.S. version on Friday Music so there are two more bunus tracks besides ‘Off The Hook’ – ‘Two Lights’ (European version on Frontiers Records) and ‘Freedom’s Wings’ (recorded specifically for the U.S. release). ‘Two Lights’ is mid-tempo and radio friendly, another AOR release that fits in with the rest of the album tracks. It has that hook that gets you singing along. ‘Freedom’s Wings’ sounds like something the Black Crowes or John Mellencamp would do. It’s bluesy and it has that Crowes vibe but it’s got the signature JLT melody and sound. The harmonies on the chorus could easily be enhanced by a choir, it just all sounds so smooth and easy while rocking out.
An excellent album, no surprise there. Everytime Joe Lynn Turner puts his name on an album, it’s good. I can’t find a weak song on this album, that’s a testament to the quality of the material and the musicians involved. The album is full of top notch Melodic Hard Rock and AOR songs that have a clear link to the glory days of the ’80s without sounding dated. Definitely an album I will consider for Album of the Year and one of the best albums of JLT’s career.