I wasn’t really sure how I would feel about the debut album Relentless from FOUR BY FATE (out now, The End Records) before hearing it. I mean sure, you have a great musical pedigree, what with John Regan (bass), Rob Affuso (drums), Pat Gasperini (lead vocals, guitars), Tod Howarth (lead vocals/guitars/keyboards) and the late, great AJ Pero (who played drums on six tracks before his untimely passing), a veritable Who’s Who of accomplished players and all. But what sounds like a winning team on paper doesn’t always come out that way on record. Oh, and do I REALLY need to rattle of their collective resumes? I should hope not.
No, my biggest concern was due to my good friend, fellow nutjob, and radio host Jim Chinnici (whose show is on Wednesdays at 8pm) He has been shouting from the mountaintops about this group for what feels like forever, so I was like, “Man oh man, if this isn’t good, I’m driving to NY and putting this CD up his ass sideways!” Well, Jim can rest easy because this is a great rock & roll album by seasoned vets who know what they’re doing. There’s no parlor tricks, no gimmicks, just some guys who plugged in and played. And sometimes that’s all you need. It’s also very honest rock, there’s nothing artificial, cold, or sterile. It’s definitely played from the heart.
The years have certainly been kind to Howarth’s voice, especially on “It’s Over Now” an updated version of the song he sang on the 1988 FREHLEY’S COMET album Second Sighting. I hated the song back when I was 16 but I can’t stop playing this version. It just grabbed me and hasn’t let go since. Opener “These Times Are Hard For Lovers” is the kind of tune that you’d expect to hear after you tear the wrapping off a clear tape you just bought at Sam Goody (remember those) and put it in your car’s deck. It’s a cruisin’ tune for sure while “Moonshine” is more of a tear down the highway kind of track. The guitars and vocals work in tandem on the blues-soaked number “Follow Me,” which was definitely an album standout.
Gasperini’s vocal style is different than his counterpart’s, but when he takes lead, like on “Hangin’ On,” his voice fits the music seamlessly. And when the two of them harmonize on “I Give” it’s pure gold. Pero’s drumming on the latter is really something as well. “Levee Breach” and “On My Own” are rockers through and through, and the acoustic-electric “Don’t Know” slows things down just enough, as does closing number “Amber Waves”, an anthem of USA pride if ever there was one. All in all I think the boys in FOUR BY FATE did a very good job with the majority of Relentless. If you want a good collection of no-bullshit rock & roll songs then pick this one up, crack a beer, and enjoy!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Follow Me”, “It’s Over Now”, “These Times Are Hard For Lovers”, “I Give”, “Moonshine”