IAIN ASHLEY HERSEY – VINTAGE LOVE: THE BEST

Out now on Avenue of Allies

American guitarist Iain Ashley Hersey has always been a player that commanded my respect.  Great tone, great phrasing and all round tasty player it’s a shame he’s never made it out of cult status which to some degree is a surprise considering he’s released albums on Frontiers, Lion Music and Perris Records.  If you like classic hard rock ala Purple/Rainbow and pre perm lotion Whitesnake then you are strongly advised to use this compilation as a starting block.

15 tracks in total with 4 off debut “Fallen Angel” (1999), 5 from “The Holy Grail” (2005), 5 from 2008’s “Nomad” and one all new track “Red Head Rampage”.  To compliment Iain’s finger picked tones (for he eschews a pick) there has been no shortage of vocal talent over the albums as well and featured here we get Dante Marchi, Paul Shortino, Carsten Schulz, Graham Bonnet and Doogie White amongst the more recognisable names.

With the track listing in chronological order we get “Goin’ Down & Dirty”, “Distant Memories”, “Hold On” and “The Outcaste” from “Fallen Angel”.  All strong selections with the pick of the bunch being “Distant Memories” and “Hold On” which still scream “class” 12 years on from original release, lush vocal melodies and a guitar solos to die for make these compulsive listening.

“The Holy Grail” is represented by “Blood Of Kings”, “ Walking The Talk”, Calling For The Moon”, “Blink Of An Eye” and that albums title track continue the quality levels with a less aggressive approach to their predecessors.  “Calling For The Moon” still is a song that Whitesnake would kill for and its nice to hear Carsten “Lizard” Schulz belting it out.  Graham Bonnet is his trademark shouty self on “Walking The Talk” but a little more subtle on “The Holy Grail”.

Hersey’s, to-date, last solo album “Nomad” was arguably the weakest of the three though in the most part its cause wasn’t helped by a lousy mix.  Sonically the remaster has helped somewhat but the flaws are still there to some degree i.e. lead guitar being mixed way too low etc.  A shame as Carsten Schulz once again delivers the goods on “Voodoo Spirits”, “Sacrifice The Sun”, “Vintage Love” and “When Will My Love Fade”.  Doogie White appears on the mic for the faithful rendition of the Rainbow track “L.A. Connection”.  In hindsight the tracks are good indeed and it one you might hope Iain might remix down the line and perhaps make available to a European market better (considering the majority of personnel on it where), not to mention Perris Records did a lousy job marketing it.

Finally we get the bonus track “Red Head Rampage” which is a nice addition, bluesy rock in a Deep Purple “Burn” way.

Overall, whilst some of my favourite tracks are missing this is a nice starting point for the uninitiated and is highly recommended for classic rock fans, or fans of A1 guitar work.

Here’s hoping for a new studio album soon.

Rating – 90%

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