December 5, 2022

Autograph is another of those long-standing metal bands that had a few years in the limelight before settling into a routine of extended periods of inactivity including numerous personnel changes whilst still retaining a core fan base as well as releasing quite a few excellent albums. The band was formed in California and began life as something of a glam metal outfit with a definite Def Leppard vibe and a line-up featuring Steve Plunkett on vocals and rhythm guitar, Steve Lynch on lead guitar, Randy Rand on bass, Steven Isham on keyboards and Keni Richards on drums and this was the team, effectively, that saw the band through the ’80s until they disbanded in 1989 and was responsible for their ‘classic’ albums including their one and only hit single Turn Up The Radio in 1984.

The band returned in 2013 and saw quite a few changes although regular and very good album continued to be released but slowly the original members departed with including Keni Richards sadly passing away in 2017. Effectively, this meant that the latest version of the band featured just the one original member with bassist Randy Rand flying the flag with Simon Daniels on vocals and rhythm guitar, Marc Wieland on drums and Jimi Bell (House Of Lords) on lead guitar. The band signed with Frontiers at the beginning of 2022 with Rand delivering the masters and artwork and then around Easter he was given devastating news about his health and he tragically passed away a few days later. It came as a real shock but Rand informed family and friends that he wanted the band to continue and so we now have Beyond which is a real testimony to the talents and skills of Rand and it is right and fitting that he should be remembered for doing what he loved and did best, may he rest in peace.

A band no longer having any remaining members can be an issue but given the circumstances, it is totally acceptable that Autograph should continue and keep the name and music alive. This ‘new’ version of the band is a heavier affair with a classic rock sound that still has a distinct ’80s flavour of groups like Alice Cooper and with a guitarist of the stature of Jimi Bell in your band then you have a player who thrives on delicious riffs and searing guitar breaks. Vocalist Simon Daniels has been with the band since 2013 and he has an enticing and powerful rock voice that’s roars and soars in equal measure and he is a real asset that Autograph needs to cherish and savour as he is a most worthy successor to Steve Plunkett.

The band retains that stadium rock sound with material that is comfortable and very easy on the ear whilst retaining all the grittiness that you expect from a rock band situated just between melodic and hard rock. Fans of old will definitely recognise this as an Autograph album as it retains all the core features that made the band what it was but there is a new team of musicians involved and they are all very well set to bring the group to a new generation of listeners. Sadly, Randy Rand is no longer with us but I’m sure he is looking down and appreciating what his former colleagues are doing.

This is a great rock album that will be appreciated by fans both old and new as there is so much here to enjoy and relish.

Beyond

  1. This Ain’t The Place I Wanna Be (4:30)
  2. Your Slave Tonight (3:30)
  3. Everything (4:29)
  4. Gotta Getcha (4:28)
  5. Take Me Higher (4:29)
  6. Run For Your Life (3:58)
  7. Beautiful Disaster (4:20)
  8. Love Is A Double Edge Sword (4:35)
  9. Heart Of Stone (4:17)
  10. Feels So Good (4:14)
  11. Flying High (4:16)
  12. To Be Together (4:08)