July 26, 2021

Stephen Crane is an American musician with Kicks (reviewed on Velvet Thunder in April 2021) initially being released in the ’80s and despite some most excellent musicians involved it received little or indeed no help from the record label and subsequently passed into history as little more than a curio. However, AOR Heaven has rescued the album from obscurity and made it available again after more than three decades. Re-evaluation has give the album credibility that it did not receive first time round and this then led to the discovery of, apparently, lost tapes featuring music planned for the second release that never happened! A pity really as Kicks was a well crafted American AOR album very similar to the work put out at that time by Toto and even Chris Cross.

Big Guns saw a change of personnel within the band and was more of a group affair and was put together by Stephen Crane and guitarist Duane Sciacqua who was subsequently promoted to co-name on the album credits and they brought in Johnny Burnett, Paul Daniel and Matt MacKelvie to bring their songs to life. However, it just never seemed to happen for the second album and the music was soon forgotten until Kicks had a new lease of life promoting the search for the lost tapes which Sciacqua eventually found, remastered and even made some re-recording edits to the music which now brings us to the release of the second and long overdue album.

As with the first album, Big Guns is very much an album of its time and is so typical of that big, glossy sound of the ’80s and features some brilliant AOR tunes that really do deserve to be heard. Again, they are very much in Toto and Mr. Mister territory but there is a harder sound to the band with hints of John Farnham and even Sammy Hagar about the album which makes it far less of a curiosity and more of an album that deserves a little time and attention spending on it. The record is full of tracks that surely would have charted in the ’80s with Combat Zone being typical of what is on offer here and is very favourably compared to much of what was happening in the charts around that time.

If you have a vested interest in ’80s AOR then you simply have to give this fine album a listen, it’s the least that we can do given that the tapes have been hidden in a box for so many years and it makes you wonder what could have happened with a more sympathetic record label.

Big Guns track list

  1. Gangland (3:51)
  2. Crazy In Love (3:27)
  3. Bad Girls (3:50)
  4. Waiting For The Night (4:20)
  5. Love For Sale (4:03)
  6. Touch Of Magic (3:36)
  7. Tell Me What You Want (3:47)
  8. Combat Zone (3:53)
  9. I Won’t Tell On You (3:48)
  10. Bad Reputation (3:28)