Tuesday, July 08, 2014

ICON - Night Of The Crime [remastered] (1985) + STEPHEN CLIFFORD Search For The Truth (1994)

ICON - Night Of The Crime [remastered] (1985) + STEPHEN CLIFFORD Search For The Truth (1994)
Requested & re-posted

"Night Of The Crime" by Phoenix, US based quintet ICON is a cult classic album, rated as one of the best rockin' AOR / Melodic Hard Rock albums of all time in an early Kerrang Magazine survey.
And I can only agree. In fact, this is my favourite album of ALL times.
Yes, there's many magnificent and/or groundbreaking recordings in rock history, but being myself particularly fan of the AOR/MR/HR genres, "Night Of The Crime" is a goldmine, on all aspects.

First of all, comprises like-no-other in one single disc all these '80s musical styles with class. Icon were many steps above than the rest of the pack in their songwriting abilities, helped here by the talented Bob Halligan Jr. who co-wrote no less than six of the ten songs on the album.
You have stunning AOR rockers with massive keyboards such as "Naked Eyes", "Missing" or the awesome mid-tempo "Frozen Tears".
If you want lush melodic rockers check out the irresistible "Danger Calling", "Shot At My Heart" or "Raise The Hammer".

And there's more; "Hungry For Love" is a melodic+hard gem, "Out For Blood" is pure double-lead guitar American Eighties Hard Rock, the 'hair' style is covered on "Hungry For Love" and on the superb (just perfect) "The Whites Of Their Eyes". Even the 'arena rock anthem' is represented with "Rock My Radio".
"Night Of The Crime" is a perfect compendium of all these sub-genres that ruled the middle of the glorious decade.

ICON - Night Of The Crime [remastered] (1985) cd photo

Second reason; the musicianship is out of this world.
Vocalist Stephen Clifford has a dynamic, powerful range reaching impossible octaves, the bass is fat, round and precise, Pat Dixon's drumming agile & smashing (both contribute to the excellent harmony vocal arrangements) and John Aquilino's lead guitars are melodic yet punchy, with a rich tone.
But the 'brain' of this exciting band is the skillful Dan Wexler. This underrated musician is the orchestrator here; his guitar riffs, sublime keyboards and the great use of the synth guitar (unusual in this kind of material) are the foundation of the band's style.
Discovered by Alice Cooper (who helped to get Icon's signed by Capitol Rec.) while he was still in high school in Arizona and playing in the first incarnation of the band (The Schoolboys), Dan has played, written and arranged songs anonymously for many major acts during the '80s & '90s.

An then you have another remarkable aspect: this is how a rock album SHOULD SOUND.
Produced by legend Eddie Kramer (Kiss, Hendrix, Beatles) who has provided a polished, glazed, brilliant sound, and mixed & engineered by the best of all times: Mr. Ron Nevison (Survivor, Led Zeppelin, Heart, Damn Yankees), "Night Of The Crime" is, sound-wise, one of the best representation (again) of the Eighties.

Still remember when I bought the cassette at the end of '85 attracted by the cover artwork. Incredibly, "Night Of The Crime" was released in my country (at a time when anything metal-related was ignored here) and although I read about the band in a magazine, I did not know what to expect.
After the first listen I was in Heaven with my jaw hanging. Immediately bought the vinyl, then the CD a couple years after. Of course the Axe Killer (a small French label) 2000's re-edition as well and finally this superb Rock Candy remaster.
That's why I am posting this diamond here, as many people are asking if this final edition worth the purchase. The answer is definitively Yes!

ICON - Night Of The Crime [remastered] (1985) back cover

The Rock Candy edition is 'really' remastered from the master tapes with a sharper, perfectly balanced sound, really close to the warm vinyl harmonics.
Seems it has become pretty scarce now, so if you find it at a fair price go and get it with your eyes closed.
I never rate an album or the artistic talent of a band/musician (who I am to do it), just like the music or not.
This time, I'll take a little license; "Night Of The Crime" is a 10/10.

To make this re-post more interesting, I've added a bonus. Stephen Clifford left the band after this recording, and dedicated his time to religion. However, at the beginning of the Nineties started a solo career in Xian music, recording an album entitled "Search For The Truth" in 1994 but never officially released.
Even though much more relaxed and melodic rock oriented than the Icon material, it's an enjoyable 5-track recording and a must have for fans.

01 - Naked Eyes
02 - Missing
03 - Danger Calling
04 - Shot At My Heart
05 - Out For Blood
06 - Raise The Hammer
07 - Frozen Tears
08 - The Whites Of Their Eyes
09 - Hungry For Love
10 - Rock My Radio

Stephen Clifford - Lead and Backing Vocals
Dan Wexler - Guitars, Keyboards, Synth Guitar
John Aquilino - Guitars
Tracy Wallach - Bass, Backing Vocals
Pat Dixon - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals


Stephen Clifford "Search For The Truth" (1994)
1 - The Whole World's Watching
2 - Change My Life
3 - I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death
4 - Here For A Lifetime
5 - It's You Lord

ICON Night Of The Crime + Stephen Clifford solo


T.P said...

My sentiments exactly. The substantial top-notch quality of Night Of The Crime speaks volumes. It's one of those gems you feel something extraordinary about from the first moment you're listening to. And just like you, Camelblue, I was attracted by the powerful cover artwork of this precious record as well (although it took me until 2010/11 to find out about that, haha); a cover which promised likewise vigorous sound. And it delivers. And my gosh, how it does! Songs like Danger Calling, Out For Blood or Raise The Hammer are just the icing of a very delicious cool rockin' cake you can find in here!

However, I didn't know anything about the solo steps of Stephen Clifford until you came up with your - overall fabulous - background infos. Once again you left a meaningful footprint in the sand with that, Camelblue!

So I'm bowing my head in the figurative sense and say thanks for everything you're doing for all of us AOR/Melodic Rock aficionados!

Bye for now,

Anonymous said...

Just found this. Great! I am having problems downloading the rar file... I am really interested in listening to Clifford´s solo album. Are there any other links to this? Many thanks!


Camelblue said...

@ Enrique:
Link is working fine. Anyway, if you wanna taste 'Search For The Truth' alone, get it here (not my link):

Anonymous said...

Thank you!