REVIEW: Brighton Rock – Take a Deep Breath (1988)

BR TADB_0001BRIGHTON ROCK – Take A Deep Breath (1988 WEA)

Legend has it that Brighton Rock hated this album. Singer Gerald McGhee was on record saying that record company pressure forced his band to soften up the songs and his singing style. Yet, Take A Deep Breath is actually an excellent 80’s rock album, with unusual quality. Everything you loved about 80’s rock is here.

Brighton Rock’s sound was different from the crop of hair bands at the time. They always had a classier feel in their commercial rock. Witness, from the first LP, “We Came to Rock”. The synth strings made it different, a little more refined. Johnny Roger’s tasteful keyboard parts have always provided an interesting background texture to their vocal and guitar melodies. Gerald McGhee’s vocals were emotional and he had a powerful range. On this album, he doesn’t scream (that record company pressure), but that’s OK. It works out fine with these songs. His voice is strong enough, he didn’t need to show off how high he could go.

Strong songs:

  • “Can’t Stop The Earth From Shaking” (poppy, catchy and upbeat rocker)
  • “Outlaw” (dark and moody, great keyboards providing background texture)
  • “Rebels With A Cause” (guitars upfront, a good groove)
  • “Power Overload” (another guitar rocker with a great shout-chorus)
  • “Who’s Foolin’ Who” (best song on the album, sounds like we have some fretless bass here, a moody dark rocker)
  • “Love Slips Away” (dark and moody ballad, second best track here)
  • “Unleash The Rage” (the dark, metallic song that sounds more like the rockers on the first album)

Drivel:

  • “One More Try” (the unfortunate first single, a ballad…look at those doe eyes!)
  • “Ride the Rainbow” (the pop song Gerald says he wished he never wrote)

As you can tell, dark moods dominate Take A Deep Breath. You could probably tell that by the cover. Hugh Syme (best known for his work with Rush, although he’s also done Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Queensryche, and dozens more) did the picture of the little boy with the gasmask in the post-nuclear landscape. Because of this dark feel, Take A Deep Breath is unlike most of the pop rock records out at the time. Its darkness allows it to stand up to scrutiny today. When Brighton Rock ditched keyboardist Johnny Rogers so they could “heavy it up” for their next album Love Machine, it didn’t work. They lost that special quality and became just another band trying to sound like it was from LA.

Don’t listen to Gerald McGhee: Take A Deep Breath was an album for him to be proud of, not embarrassed by. It was the high point of this band’s discography.  Heck, Jack Richardson produced it — the same guy who recorded Universal Juveniles and the better Guess Who albums.   There is a level of quality here underneath the keyboards that is audible, even today.

4/5 stars

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35 comments

  1. Well Mikey,like I posted in your Europe review from earlier this week this release was another one in 1988 that I skipped. Now for Europe it was nothing personal (haha)just didn’t get around to getting Out Of This World…but for Take A Deep Breath yeah as soon as I seen the One More Try vid I just totally passed so because of that I did not give the album a fair shake plus for me I would take Honeymoon Suite over them and that was enough but 88 had strong releases man and some stuff would fall by the wayside and this was one….
    BUT,
    A couple,of yrs ago I seen a clip of B.R playing I think Firefest in England doing Hanging High N Dry and man what a great song so a little while back I took the plunge and bought there live album and it’s not bad but yep back in 1988 the power of video was huge and would dictate whether I would take the plunge or not in a purchase.

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    1. I have the live album, but it has been a LONG time since I have played it. Their cover of Creatures of the Night however redeemed the band in the eyes of everybody. What a great cover, and video.

      Gerry McGhee said his biggest regret was going on the power hour with the One More Try video.

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  2. Again with all the HAIR! Oh man, the 80s were a special time.

    I had a buddy in school who was into these guys, all things 80s rock actually. I haven’t heard any of this since, except for the video you posted. Cool review.

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    1. The 80’s were a time before we worried about what kinds of chemicals we were spraying around. We also must have had much more free time, to want to do up that hair every day. Shaved heads are more my speed, today.

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        1. Hahah!

          I remember in grade 5, there were two trends. For boys it was camo, for girls it was raincoats. The girls would try to make fun of us saying, “Where do you think you’re going? A war?” And we’d just say, “It’s not raining outside, are you looking for a flood?”

          Liked by 1 person

  3. UFO was a band that knew how to incorporate keys, HMO actually there from your backyard so to speak. I really dug em from Stangers In the Night til Making Contact. Very excellent band and as well the debut Waysted album which featured the 3 guys from UFO as well.
    Night Of The Wolf what a great track!….
    But yeah some bands would saturate back than there sound with keyboards while others knew how to put them in but a little mixed down that’s the sound I perferred …..

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