"Too Late to Say No" (Kivel; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

Chicago's Smash Alley were apparently first active between 1987 and 1993. They built up a local following but never achieved a record deal and the coming of grunge probably did not help their cause either.

My understanding is this is a new recording, but I am unsure as to if the songs were written back then or now. Whatever the deal, it's pretty solid hard rock that sounds like it could have been done between, say, 1987 and 1990.

There are a lot of different sounds overall on these thirteen tracks. The first one that leaps out at me is late 80s Aerosmith, maybe followed by a touch of David Lee Roth's solo material and a dash of early LA Guns. For the most part the tracks here are catchy with sharp hooks and nice production values.

I have given "Too Late to Say No" maybe six plays and it has gotten better to my ears after each spin. The greatest thing is probably that it is a fun album. My only big complaint is that, upon my first listen, I thought vocalist Paul Messina was lacking some range. After repeated listens, however, I think he sounds just fine on the faster songs but doesn't quite handle the two ballads as well as maybe he should have. He sounds a little hesitant and not quite in control. "Too Late to Say No" may have been better simply by skipping those songs.

Smash Alley: Paul Messina - vocals; Tyler Bates - guitar, vocals; lan Joseph - bass, vocals; Alex LoCascio (drums, vocals).

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.