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Survivor - Premonition (1981)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by Dairenn, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Dairenn

    Dairenn Recording Artist

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    Recently, Jim Peterik appeared as a guest for the Blake Aaron Radio Show on FM 88.5 KSBR and during his interview, he had mentioned that he was supposed to be on a flight with Bill Chase of a jazz-rock fusion band named Chase; many of the members, including Bill all passed away when the flight crashed. So, when Peterik looked for a name for the new band he was forming in the Chicago area, he named it "Survivor" - because he survived.

    Fans of timeless songs like "Eye of the Tiger" are probably glad for that, among others. Peterik truly is an amazing songwriter. While Survivor began to get lost in the sound of the 1985-86 keyboard-washed rock of the era with tunes like "High On You" (a great, great recording nonetheless), you get a feel for Survivor's strong American hard rock sound off of their sophomore release: Premonition.

    This recording would be a turning point in the band's career because the third track, Poor Man's Son was heard on the radio by Sylvester Stallone. He wanted them to do a song just like that for his upcoming Rocky sequel. Indeed, you can hear the matching signature phrasing in the key of C; it's just a bit slower.

    It is a really good, hard rockin' song with lots of dynamic range and excellent vocals. The song that made me go out and actually by the whole album, though, was the lead-off track "Chevy Nights." I would have loved this song back when I drove my Caprice... Introduced to me through Rocktopia.net's "Aohra Rock" podcast featuring the beautiful Pilar Sanchez, I was loving Stephan Ellis' big round Fender P-bass over Marc Droubay's up-tempo drumline. Then, Frankie Sullivan's crunchy Marshall-amped Gibson finishes out the into before Dave Bickler's vocals kicks it off within the Radio "ramp limit." My favorite part of this song is the chorus. Like much of the album, Jim perfectly composes Stephan and Frankie's lines such that the right chords are formed so even though you're really only hearing a simple drum, bass, guitar combo with some piano accent and Bickler's stellar vocals, it sounds much fuller.

    Latter tracks leverage more overdubs to give some melodic range to guitar tracks, but this record doesn't use a whole lot of studio trickery. In fact, I would argue this entire CD is a textbook introduction to how to compose, perform and record rock music. A clean production with understated effects, perfectly mixed and EQ'd serves as a prime example to anyone touching a Pro-Tools install for the first time what tracks SHOULD sound like. You can Hear all the frequencies of the bass strings, all of the timbre of the drumkit's snare... Frankie is not shredding like crazy or overusing mindless barre chords; it's a lot of stuff on the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings, just two or three note chords and lets the amp do the rest. Listen to Droubay's tracks: Rock Steady. Constantly well timed hits; not a lot of crazy fills to try and grab your attention, just naturally attention-grabbing groves and tasteful symbol work.

    Finally, let's get into the song writing. Google the lyrics to "Light of a Thousand Smiles." You will seldom listen to a more positive, hopeful piece of writing for a rock song. This song speaks to all of us who've heard our favorite rock song on the radio, and dreamed of the day that we, too, would take the stage and perform in the light of a thousand fans smiling upon us.

    On a scale of 1-4 stars, I give it 4 stars. It comes HIGHLY recommended by me, and I really have not been able to stop listening to this whole recording since the day I bought it a few months ago.
     
  2. Magic

    Magic Woman of the World

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    Awesome album, Dairenn. I have this in vinyl and CD. I also would give the album a top rating of 4.5/5........(I seldom give a 5/5 but this album comes close)

    The album was self-produced by the band, it isn't corporate, and some of the best melodic AOR of the 80's.


    The vocal harmonies of this song is fabulous, Dave Bickler has a killer set of vocal pipes:

     
  3. Dairenn

    Dairenn Recording Artist

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    That's how you knew just how good these guys were. It was Years before Van Halen was qualified (I would say) to even co-produce their own records. Jim Peterik though was, really, an old pro by the time they were taping these sessions in '81. He had already performed for 16 years!

    He's so good; I even bought his Lifeforce CD (his little fusion jazz project that recently came out).

    Another track with ridiculously good harmonies was "Runaway Lights." I Wish I could record harmonies that tight and I usually strive for "Peter Cetera" grade on such things. It's unfortunate Bickler had to step aside for health reasons (and he's hilarious in those Real Men of Genius radio ads) but you know what, Jimi Jamison wasn't bad (at least in the studio). In fact, Jamison sounded quite a bit like him, fortunately for the band.

    I'd say Ron Nevison did a great job with this band later on, but nothing topped the hard edge of this one. When you play it back, you feel like you're in a bar somewhere in Chicago, trying to stay warm while listening to these guys rock your face about Chevy Nights. :grinthumb
     
  4. Magic

    Magic Woman of the World

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    I like Jamison as a falsetto vocalist, infact, Vital Signs is another one of my favorite Survivor albums and Jamison's first with the band. This album is very similar to albums by Journey, and of course I love Journey. I consider this album more of a pop album than Premonition. If you really want to hear the best Survivor, you need to hear Premoniton.

    :cheers2
     
  5. runtfan

    runtfan Senior Member

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    "Premonition" is a great album, but I think their self-titled debut is much better.
     
  6. METALPRIEST

    METALPRIEST Senior Member

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    Great review and a great album! A few friends here know by now that I had the pleasure of meeting Jim and be a guest in his home and saw his recording studio. Not only is he one of the nicest guys in rock music, he is also one smart guy musically. :grinthumb
     
  7. Dairenn

    Dairenn Recording Artist

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    Jim's been to L.A. a few times to entertain at KSBR; yeah the guy is just living breathing human music machine.

    I intend to explore more of their work throughout the 80s and more reviews are forthcoming. :)
     
  8. rtbuck

    rtbuck Senior Member

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    I have to check this album out for sure (I only have Eye of the Tiger & Vital Signs & haven't heard this one) Great review

    The funny thing about Survivor for me is...
    I've always been one of those people who would study the album Cover & inner sleeve after buying it. Survivor for me was all about having the hit songs & while I enjoyed those albums I never paid attention to who was in the band. This past year I read something about Jimi Jamison in Survivor & I started thinking "Jimi Jamison in Survivor???"
    Sure Enough he was the singer!!!!! Why did this mean anything to me you might ask???
    In the late 70's my uncle knew an assistant manager of a local record store & he would give my Uncle a few records every now & then for me. He gave me bands like Van Halen & the Ramones (whom I had never heard) & also bands that never made a splash but were decent albums like a Canadian trio called Driver, Blue Ash, & a band called Target. I loved the Target debut album I even bought there 2nd release which I found in the bargain bins shortly after its release. The singer of the band was Jimi Jamison so when I found out he was in Survivor I flipped out! It's just funny it took decades for me to find out!
     
  9. Rockperson

    Rockperson Senior Member

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    Premonition is a great follow up to their debut album, so many excellent songs, I love Light Of A thousand Smiles. :grinthumb
     
  10. Dairenn

    Dairenn Recording Artist

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    Re: SURVIVOR - Premonition

    Wow, what a great story. I know how you feel. That happens to me so many times. I'll read the liner notes of a record (like one of the CD's by Ten) and find out Don Airey was the keyboard player. And I'm thinking "THE Don Airey? The one who has played with Ozzy Osborne and Whitesnake and COUNTLESS other legendary rock acts?" It's pretty crazy how small the rock world truly is. :)
     

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