Black Swan - Shake The World
- Shake The World - Thumping drums and an ominous guitar line break into an uptempo rocker. McAuley’s vocals are strong and catchy here, especially in the chorus. Nice riffage and bass fills throughout. Great bridge, sweet guitar solo. Excellent song, 9/10.
- Big Disaster - More of a midtempo stomper with a pretty catchy vocal line. Energetic bluesy guitar solos, cool bridge. This one’s a bit of a grower, but it probably delivers enough in the end to round it up to an 8/10.
- Johnny Came Marching - A slower bluesy stomper with some great guitar playing. McAuley’s piercing vocal wears out its welcome a bit on the pre-chorus and chorus, and some of the backing vocals are odd. I’m also pretty sure the reporter voice near the end is just Jeff Pilson trying to talk like a reporter, which is kind of low rent. Cool outro otherwise. The music here is great, but some of the vocal choices drag this down to a 7/10.
- Immortal Souls - A bass-driven intro breaks into a bright melodic guitar line. Nice vocal melodies throughout, and a pretty catchy chorus. Solid bridge, nice extended guitar solo. Good stuff, 7/10.
- Make It There - The obligatory sappy power ballad. McAuley sounds good on the verse, but things get cheesier and more perfunctory after that. Nice guitar solo, though. 6/10.
- She’s On To Us - Nice uptempo riffage and some Lynch-esque fills. The verse and chorus are catchy, the pre-chorus less so. Cool guitar solo. The backing vocals on the outro are a little icky. Good stuff overall, 7/10.
- The Rock That Rolled Away - Reb Beach channels late 80s Satriani for the main guitar line. Nice riffage throughout. The verse and pre-chorus vocals are good, but I’m not as sold on the chorus. Solid bridge, great guitar solo. Cool vocal interlude with a great build-up into an awesome extended guitar solo outro. Had a couple of weaker elements earlier on, but finishes super strong. 8/10.
- Long Road To Nowhere - A sweet guitar harmonic intro and soaring guitar lead kick off this uptempo rocker. Strong verse, great pre-chorus, good chorus. Great guitar solo, cool outro. Great stuff, 8/10.
- Sacred Place - A plaintive intro breaks into a lead that borrows heavily from Boston’s “Peace Of Mind”. Great vocal lines throughout. The chorus is a bit of a grower, but it turns into an earworm pretty quickly. Very Lynch-esque solo. Cool interludes, love the outro. Excellent song, 9/10.
- Unless We Change - Strings give way to a busy uptempo riff. Urgent vocals drive the verse and pre-chorus, then the chorus is more melancholy. The backing vocals are a bit icky. Rip-roaring guitar solo! Cool bridge. Great stuff overall, 8/10.
- Divided / United - A catchy piano ballad with electric guitar accompaniment delivers a pretty clear anti-Trump message. Halfway through, an uplifting riff enters and changes gears. The vocals are pretty catchy here, with some sweet guitar soloing. Things deconstruct during the outro. Not sure this totally holds together as a single song, but it has a lot of very good parts. Let’s say 7/10.
Unlike your typical Frontiers supergroup, this collaboration between Robin McAuley (MSG), Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake, Dokken), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner), and Matt Starr (Ace Frehley, Mr. Big) has genuine chemistry, and some real fire in places. Beach tears it up on guitar throughout the album, and McAuley sounds great for the most part.
Pilson and Beach previously collaborated on Dokken’s Erase The Slate
in 1999, and there’s definitely some shared musical DNA between that effort and this one, though Shake The World
does have its own identity. The songwriting is mostly good to great, with the excellent “Shake The World” and “Sacred Place” serving as standout tracks. A lot of this album is immediate, but some of it needs a little time to grow on you.
Hopefully this will be more than a one-off project, but Pilson and Beach are pretty busy, and McAuley isn’t getting any younger, so who knows. I’d love to see this lineup live, though.