If you don't remember his name, Tommy Paris is the guy who replaced original Britny Fox singer Dean Davidson in 1991. That year's band's album, "Bite Down Hard", may not have had the commercial success the band's two first albums did, but around a decade after its release it was considered, both by fans and critics, Britny Fox's best album to date. Tommy's always been one of the most underrated singers in rock, just like John Corabi - the comparison between Britny Fox's "Bite Down Hard" and Mötley Crüe's self-titled 1994 album has always been inevitable to me... Tommy's been around long enough, but only now the world has the pleasure to welcome his very first solo album, called "Tommy Paris Band". Those who may think he's following the footsteps of his former band mau also be right - but who said it is something bad having "the" follow-up album to the fantastic "Bite Down Hard" record? Tommy got back to basics on this brand new album and now he can show the whole world not only his unique voice again, but also all of his skills, making sure he was once one of the most important members of Britny Fox. With a somewhat "raw" production, Mr. Paris takes us back in time with amazing tunes, catchy choruses and superb singing and playing. A real contrast to the album cover, which looks like a metal album that could have been released by Black Label Society. So there we go - "Tommy Paris Band", track by track...
"TOMMY PARIS BAND" - TRACK BY TRACK
01 - "UNIVERSE"
The album's opening track starts with this heavy, agressive guitar riff, that bursts into this great, unusual heavy rock tune. You can tell the bass guitar lines on the whole album will be simple but powerful, just like those made famous by Sid Vicious and Nikki Sixx. Tommy's vocals are better than ever, fitting the angry song lyrics and atmosphere. It's also clear that the guitar fills made famous by Britny Fox will be all over. The guitar sound is extremely raw, you can feel the Les Pauls raging through Marshall amps throughout the song and, obviously, on the whole album. "Universe" sounded a little cheesy for a song title, but its lyrics can surely prove one wrong. There's this great chorus that is a bit different from what one would get on a regular Hard Rock. I mean, you wouldn't listen to it on the radio, if you know what I mean... Tommy's guitar solo is somewhat unbelievably good, even though one can tell his former bandmate Michael Kelly Smith had some infuence on it, as well as on most lead guitar parts on the album. Should we judge Tommy because of it? Certainly not. He never wanted to be Steve Vai anyway (thank God). Right after it there's the well known chorus with vocals and drums only, and then the tune seems to have come back to its regular structure, until Tommy gives this really unusual (almost weird) unexpected note, that leads to another very interesting guitar solo, which ends the song. It's certainly an unusual song to start an album with. That could be a hassle, if it wasn't that good. With such a powerful start, one cannot wait to listen to what's next.
02 - "LONG LONG WAY 2 GO"
Our trip back to the late '80s and early '90s starts here. A typical hard rocker with great lyrics to match. The "Bite Down Hard" feel I heard there was on the album has begun. Tommy's surely aimed high and got there. "Long Long Way 2 Go" is one of those simple Hard Rock tunes that are unforgetable. There's nothing really different on this song, but it's to be considered interesting due to the contrast with "Universe". Tommy's vocal and guitar performances are untouchable, showing that he can really be both a great songwriter and musician. The catchy Britny Fox style chorus is way pleasant to hear, and so is the nice guitar solo. The bridge section that follows is really interesting as well, since it's got this, once again, unusual part that preceeds the solo ending. Who said hair band artists were lame should really listen to this great song.
03 - "READY 2 BLEED"
The three-minute title is one of my favorite tracks off the album for sure. "Ready 2 Bleed" could easily have been on "Bite Down Hard". The opening guitar riff is killer and the tune has got so much energy one can't think it's been only out now. Along with the super cool lyrics, there's Tommy Paris's priceless "rockstar pernona" performance, that sticks to your mind and your ears. It's obviously another Britny Fox-like track, but then again, what's wrong with it? "Get down with me, are you ready to bleed?"... Pure tongue-in-cheeck poetry. That's what a whole generation was longing for. The guitar solo is pretty awesome, and by song number three on the album one can already tell it's one of the best albums of 2017. Tommy Paris is a guy who is really living up to his reputation. Now is the time this great artist has his long, well deserved worldwide recognition.
04 - "EXPLODE"
The catchy (and I mean it!!!) guitar opening riff takes us straight to song verse with no fills, which is surprisingly different from the previous tracks here - it's got this "Beatles" feel that Tommy's fans wouldn't expect from him. Is it something negative? On the contrary... It shows how much of a versatile songwriter the man is. It's meant to be a fun song, and Tommy nails it again. Very nice lyrics here, just in case one wonders. The vicious guitar riff becomes the vicious chorus. Simple, easy and straight ahead. The guitar solo here is just what the song needs - it's a simple but memorable one, which proves Tommy was way more worried about the songwriting than showing his guitar expertise. The chorus goes on, and on, and on... WOW! It's way hard to forget it. There's a brief outro guitar solo, faster this time, that prepares us to a great, predictable ending. If those who are reading this review are only smart enough to agree it's a great, fun song the way it is, fine. If not, sorry to say you haven't got your share of enough fun in life. If that's the case, go get the "Tommy Paris Band" album as fast as you can. Seriously.
05 - "DOWN DOWN"
This is, undoubtfully, one of the best tracks off the “Tommy Paris Band” album. The initial Black Sabbath sounding guitar riff differs again from most songs off the album, and so do its bass lines, a little more complex on a typical Hard Rock tune. It’s a heavy, catchy and straight-ahead one and, even though it’s got a lot of Britny Fox on it, it really stands out, not only for being one of the album’s top tracks, but also for its originality. Tommy’s vocals are angry and sharp, but at the same time, rocking as they always did, giving the perfect feel to the great, interesting lyrics. His guitar work through the whole track, from the tones (the Les Pauls plus Marshall combination kick some serious ass, especially if you consider how raw the production is) to the Britny Fox style fills are really impressive as well. Something that really calls the listenere’s attention here are some vocal swings Tommy does on the chorus, which are sung over the before mentioned Black Sabbath-like guitar riff, sounding very much like Paul Stanley on the great Kiss “Revenge” album. A great singer usually uses other top-notch ones as influences by the way. Being an ‘80s fan, I love the reverb / delay effects on the voice on it. And, as for "Down Down"’s guitar solo, let’s say it’s certainly one of the best ones on this great album. It’s melodic and furious at the same time, especially when there’s the double guitar solo part – I guess it’s alright mentioning Kiss once again. As it ends, the catchy and furious chorus is on again, but with vocals and drums only, but then Tommy had the fabulous idea of using some effect at the end of it, giving the song another very special and memorable feel. A small detail that made a big difference on this wonderful song, for sure. I was particularly impressed by Tommy Paris’s diverse songwriting skills. Even loving what the guy did with Britny Fox in 1991, and thinking he could simply reproduce what he had done back then, the man proved me and the whole world wrong. Hatts off to Tommy Paris for having written one of the best tunes of 2017.
06 - "4 ON THE FLOOR"
Another song that sounds pretty much like “Bite Down hard” couldn’t be out of the best tracks...The straight ahead guitar riff plus the angry vocals are surely some of Tommy Paris’s best and most well known treats. Such a great song with simple, but great lyrics is hard to believe has been just out this year. "4 On The Floor"may sound cheesy again, but it’s obviously one more masterpiece Mr.Paris made sure to include on his great solo album. Its chorus is pretty memorable, sticky and, trust me, one will have serious trouble taking it off his mind after listening to it (let’s say, for a few days...). I would say it’s something rare these days, when bands put out songs that are so easy for us to forget. It’s like a trip back to the times when the hair was big, the guitars were loud and the songs were the soundtrack of having a good time. The guitars here are also outstanding – furious, raw and striking. Other than the various guitar fills all over it, there are no long guitar solos. Honestly, I didn’t miss miss them. Tommy knew what was best for the song for sure. The neverending chorus repetition makes one feel it’s stillthe ‘80s. Well, if who’s reading this is stuck back there just like me, this one is for you. Tommy paris scoring here again.
07 - "GO BE"
The AC/DC guitar riff and song song intro kick starts this tune, which is really, really good as well. What sounds a bit weird (but not bad in any way) is the progression between this magnificent riff and the song verses, that are somewhat very different from what one find on a Hard Rock song again. Good lyrics once more and, needless to say, some impeccable vocals by Tommy Paris. "Go Be" is another highlight here, also with na interesting guitar solo, sounding very much like AC/DC again, but having the outro guitar solo here a little different from that, where Tommy can be hearst as a faster guitar shreder. Not the typical song one would expect again, but surely a kick ass one. The thing is, while I’m writing this review, I lack of new good things to say since every track is so good, anda t the same time, so different from the previous ones. It makes us wonder how many songs off this album Tommy Paris will include on his new live set – honestly, I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes having to pick some out of so many great new tunes.
08 - "MAKE IT FIT"
"Make It Fit" has this furious guitar kick off guitar riff and this low tone vocals, and it’s certainly one of the heaviest tracks off the album. With guitar fills all over it again, Tommy has the chance to show how heavy he can be switching from the low tone vocals to the high pitch screaming unique vocals on the chorus that we all know very well. The lyrics are quite cool as always, and it simply keeps the great atmosphere the album’s got (remember we’re talking about track #8 here... How many artists can say they have a ten-track album with eight fantastic songs in a row? Well, not many for sure. A double, killer guitar solo comes next, with this great break, leading us back to the extraordinaire chorus, with an even angrier Tommy Paris screaming and singing his heart out. A short song, that’s also got what it takes to be considered another favorite off the awesome “Tommy Paris Album”.
09 - "YOU LOSE"
Here we have one more nice tune (Tommy somewhat sounds a bit like Paul Stanley on its verses again). A heavy guitar riff that goes straight to a more melodic, softer part, which is the verse I’m talking about. Some great lyrics, a good chorus but, if compared to all of the previous tracks off the album, it hasn’t got the same powerful effect as them, although itsounds a lot like a bunch of Kiss songs from the ‘70s (which is a nice compliment, let’s face it...). Not saying here it’s a bad song. At all. The thing is, having so many great songs on the “Tommy Paris Band” CD, this song is a little below the outstanding outcome the album’s got up to track #8. There’s this great Ace Frehley-like solo that is also just perfect for the track (another great compliment, isn’t it?), and the chorus is played again, quite a few times. Let’s make it clear it’s not a bad song at all, please. I guess most people who listen to the whole album, and to this song itself, will certainly agree with me.
10 - "WAITING HERE 4 U"
Of course we were all waiting for a ballad from Mr. Paris, and we’ve got one. "Waiting Here 4 U" starts pretty well, with these great keyboard arrangement (he’s such a great keyboardist as well) and really beautiful lyrics. Tommy’s vocals are exquisite again, very emotional. With a memorable and catchy chorus, it could have had what it took to be another one of the best songs off the album. But, honestly, as the track goes on, there are these “Yes”and “Rush” arrangements that turn this then expected-to-be super ballad more into a progressive soft rock song. I won’t say it’s a bad tune, since it shows again how much of a versatile songwriter Tommy Paris actually is, who used all of his influences on the writing of this album. But the point is that his fans, the ones who have loved him since the classic Britny Fox “Bite Down Hard” album, may not really get it. My own, very personal opinion about "Waiting Here 4 U" is that if it hadn’t had so many progressive parts, it would have been one of the best songs here. After all, who doesn’t love those great ballads done in the ‘80s? Tommy’s not to blame though, since he did do what he felt better not only for this song, but also for the whole album. Let’s say that the album’s closing track shows the many faces of Tommy Paris. But he does own us a “power ballad” on his next album – which, hopefully, won’t take that long to come out.
Wrapping up, Tommy Paris, one of the most underrated singers in rock has put out one of the very best albums of 2017 so far. It’s hard to believe that such a great album wasn’t released by a big record label. “Tommy Paris Band” features the very best of what he’s done with Britny Fox and lots of references to some of his influences. Oh, by the way, and Tommy’s still got the voice, not like lots of the artists from the same generation. And he’s still got the looks too, if that counts. I wonder when Tommy Paris will get the recognition he surely deserves after being around after all these years. It’s time people mentioned him as one of the best rock singers ever.Well, John Corabi made it, years after he started. It took him long. Hopefully, the fans of this music style, the critics and the world will finally see Tommy Paris as the real star he is after listening to his awesome new album. A thirty-minute album that is way worth more listening to than those super productions the music industry makes people swallow these days. Tommy Paris is the man!!!
Best songs: "Universe", "Long Long Way 2 Go", "Ready 2 Bleed", "Explode", "Down Down", "4 On The Floor", "Go Be" and "Make It Fit".
01 - "Universe"
02 - "Long Long Way 2 Go"
03 - "Ready 2 Bleed"
04 - "Explode"
05 - "Down Down"
06 - "4 On The Floor"
07 - "Go Be"
08 - "Make It Fit"
09 - "You Lose"
10 - "Waiting Here 4 U"