When considering a list of all the known soft metal, melodic metal and hair metal bands, it’s possible the name Bangalore Choir may not bob to the top. It’s a shame really, because their sole album from their early days, 1992’s On Target, may have hit the scene a little too late after these genres’ 1980s heyday, otherwise it was good enough to have competed with the likes of Kiss, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi et al. Global Rock Records has now collected this debut album and their two later works into a 3-CD digipak collection named All Or Nothing – The Complete Studio Albums Collection, for release in March 2022.
The Californian band was formed by vocalist David Reece, whose profile had been raised when he served as a surprise replacement for Udo Dirkschneider as front man for German speed metal merchants Accept – surprising because UK singer Rob Armitage appeared to have landed the role, having appeared in several interviews and promo shoots, and even performed live with the band. It didn’t pan out however, and it was Reece who performed on Accept’s 1989 album Eat The Heat. Reece has a great voice, rich and powerful, dropping into David Coverdale territory from time to time, while retaining enough of a raspy edge to underline his rock credentials. His melodic style though, markedly different from the manic Dirkschneider’s, had necessarily taken Accept in a somewhat different musical direction that wasn’t to every fan’s taste, and when drummer Stefan Kaufmann sustained a back injury in addition, Accept broke up.
Reece then formed Bangalore Choir, who recorded their debut album On Target with Ian Mayo on bass and Jackie Ramos on drums, (both from Burning Rain), and the dual guitar attack of Curt Mitchell and John Kirk (both from Razor Maid). The album powers in with Angel In Black, a corking, commercial rocker about the stereotypical bad girl, which could have come straight from the Bon Jovi songbook. If The Good Die Young (We’ll Live Forever) is an anthemic, slow, melodic rock number that arguably should have been a classic of the glam metal genre, while Doin’ The Dance (co-written by Jon Bon Jovi), nevertheless presented a funkier front, more reminiscent of Extreme. Hold On To You begins with some nice acoustic arpeggios before presenting another big, anthemic chorus and some harmony guitars. The twin guitars offer some great moments throughout the album, not least on the driving pop-rocker Slippin’ Away, and the staccato, thudding Freight Train Rollin’ .
The album failed to make much of an impact, perhaps because the genre already had its well-established big names by that time, and the mainstream had started to push in other directions in any case. The band folded, and Reece went on to join Sircle Of Silence and perform on a number of other projects including a solo album in 2009, before the call went out to reform Bangalore Choir nearly 20 years after its previous incarnation. The drum stool was taken by the exotically-named German Hans in’t Zandt, and Reece landed Danny Greenberg on bass, (who had been in the original line-up before Ian Mayo), and Curt Mitchell on guitar once again, this time alongside producer/guitarist Andy Susemihl. They played the UK Firefest festival in Nottingham in 2010, which was recorded as a live album, which is spread across the ends of all three CDs as bonus tracks.
This line-up went on to release the studio album Cadence the same year, which effectively carried on where On Target had left off, with the same melodic metal sensibilities. After an extended intro, this set once again powers into a great, melodic but rocking number called Power Trippin’. Reece’s voice is still excellent, and the guitar sounds, both rhythm and lead, benefit from updated and improved production and some genuine shredding speed. Survival Of The Fittest with its angry, shouted vocals, nevertheless betrays some notable Coverdale influence, while Heartattack And Vine presents a steamroller riff from the heavier end of the Def Leppard range. Sweet Temptation is a classic melodic pop-rocker, straight from Kiss, Bon Jovi, or even early Whitesnake; the highlight of this track is a gorgeous but short wah solo over open chords. Another album highlight is the mid-tempo High On The Clouds, which swings between hard rock and a catchy hook.
The same line-up went on to record the band’s final album to date, 2012’s Metaphor. Although keeping much the same melodic rock aesthetic, this one has a notably rockier, harder-edged tone, and is the best of the three in this reviewer’s opinion. Once again it kicks off on a strong number with the fast, pub-blues minor key riffage of All The Damage Done. Talking of blues, the second guitar solo in the title track is very reminiscent of Joe Bonamassa, but in fact the twin guitars are used to excellent effect in both rhythm and lead parts, with imaginative rhythm riffs, and both answerback and harmony duets. Some excellent variation is introduced with the resonator acoustic blues of Never Trust Ole Joe Alone, with its thudding kick drum and added harmonica. It keeps threatening to take off into a standard rocker, but insistently continues as a country folk blues, even ending on a bit of solo harp.
The album ends with Always Be My Angel, which kicks off with a fast harmony guitar intro recalling Gary Moore’s stint with Thin Lizzy, although the song veers more towards Boston territory after that, then Bon Jovi for the choruses. It’s difficult to argue with that kind of company, and it’s a pity that Bangalore Choir didn’t make more inroads into the business. The albums were about 40, 50 and 42 minutes respectively, but the live cuts at the end of each disc bumps the whole collection up to three hours. To be honest, the sound quality of the live material is not brilliant, it’s bootleg quality at best; it might have been better to have promoted it to a disc of its own, then the buyer could simply choose whether to play it or not, and everyone would be happy. But there’s nothing unique about that; we all have CDs of classic albums with bonus live cuts at the end; it’s great from a completionist point of view, but most listeners could probably do without it. Other than that trivial gripe, I’m really happy to have been introduced to the music of this excellent band, that otherwise may have passed me by. Having said that, each disc is rounded off by an informative one-minute chat from David Reece himself, giving a little background to the album and a run-down of the band members on each. The details in the packaging are minimal, and if Reece’s recollections are accurate then there are a number of discrepancies with the cast list given by various online resources, so I have taken Reece’s memory as my guide in the above. In any case, if melodic hair metal is your scene, and you haven’t run across Bangalore Choir before, then it’s about time you did.
All Or Nothing – The Complete Studio Albums Collection by Bangalore Choir is released as a 3CD Digipack on 11 March 2022 by Global Rock Records [GRRBOX001]. The set features On Target, Cadence and Metaphor.