The lasting impression listening to this album is of a master craftsman who knows what he is good at and takes great joy in delivering it.
If the name Jesse Damon rings a bell and you can’t quite place it then there‘s a massive hint in the title of his new album: Damon’s Rage. If the penny has just dropped then you’ll have remembered that Jesse is the guitarist of Silent Rage, the band that made headlines in the late 80’s when signing to Gene Simmon’s label and releasing a hit album, Don’t Touch Me There, and single Rebel With A Cause. While continuing to work on and off with Silent Rage, Jesse has also been releasing solo albums and Damon’s Rage will be his sixth.
For this album, Jesse is ably supported by the veteran musician and arranger Paul Sabu who contributes by playing bass, drums and keyboards (hopefully not at the same time!). Paul also found time to write two of the songs for the album, including the outstanding AOR track Love Gone Wild – very possibly the highlight of the album.
Jesse goes through the full range of AOR styles on this album. The high octane title track is very much towards the heavy rock end of the spectrum while on the other end of the spectrum we have Love Is The Answer which is close to Foreigner (the slightly sugary commercial version, that is). The twelve tracks range along this spectrum. We have some touches of Southern Rock in Electric Magic, a bit of bluesy Bad Company in Tell Me Lili, and Jesse can’t resist an 80’s style anthem in Shadows Of Love which has strong echoes of Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name – if you can resist singing “Shot Through the Heart…” as the chorus comes in then you have more self-control than I do! Also in the “sounds familiar” category is Flyin’ Dutchman which seems to be a deliberate tip of the hat to Zeppelin’s Kashmir, even down to some very Plant-like “oooh yeah” phrasing in the vocals.
Needless to say we get some great guitar work along the way as Jesse shows off his considerable skills but he’s mindful of the need to keep the songs and their strong melodic lines at the centre of the stage and he never over-indulges or overstays his welcome in those instrumental passages. Those melodic lines are helped by Jesse’s gravelly voice which energetically drives the upbeat songs but sounds equally at home in the ballads.
The lasting impression listening to this album is of a master craftsman who knows what he is good at and takes great joy in delivering it. Anyone who likes this genre is going to just love this album.