"Lives" (Leap Dog Music; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I'm pretty tired of rock CDs with a circus theme. Kiss's "Psycho Circus" comes to mind, as does "The Electric Circus" by W.A.S.P., and I know there are probably dozens of others, released both before and after those mentioned. So, when John Taglieri's "Lives" began with a carnival barker, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. But I gave the CD a chance to play all the way through (as you should always do) and, although "Lives" may not be exactly what I was expecting, it was an enjoyable listen throughout.

First, let's make it clear that "Lives" is not by any means heavy metal and it's a bit of a stretch to call it hard rock, despite its often loud-enough guitars. It's a solid rock album without question, but it's more along the lines of Journey, modern Bon Jovi and Cheap Trick -- and that works for me. There are both driving rockers and emotional ballads to be found here and they are all equally involving. Taglieri's CDBaby website claims the music sounds as if "Vertical Horizon had lunch with My Chemical Romance." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but maybe it'll help some readers understand what's to be found here.

Taglieri's vocals are bold and clear and the production throughout is near perfect. The album is also the first part of a reported three-part concept album series but I can never figure these things out so I'll leave that to someone with a bit more musical imagination. Regardless, the album certainly does have a real flow and, whether you follow the story or not, you'll be swept along through the CD's eight tracks.

My favorite track here was "The Lives of Splattered Flies," both for its amusing title and for its surprisingly substantial lyrical content. But there isn't a bad track on the CD and it never once slows down or loses its shine.

Not for those who are looking to bang their heads against the wall but for those who like a good story told with a solid rock'n'roll background, "Lives" is an interesting and entertaining listen.

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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 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400.