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Valentine - "The Most Beautiful Pain" Nick's Review

Label - Frontiers
Reviewed by: Jez Parry
Genre: AOR/Art Rock
Country: Holland
Language: English
Length: 63:18
Release Date: Mar 24, 2006
Band Members: Lead Vocals, Choirs, Grand Piano, Synthesizers, All Guitars, Bass Guitar, Drum Programming. Juan Van Emmerloot: Drums(7,8,9,10)
  Nop Ton: Drums (11,12,17) Johan Willems: Additional harmony vocals (2,3,4,9,11,16)
Track Listing: 1.)- I Should Have Known Better (3:41) 10.)-Magical Memories (2:16)
  2.)- New World (4:25) 11.)- How Many Times (3:17)
  3.)- I'm Going Under (Sedated) (3:40) 12.)-Mickey (4:34)
  4.)-One of These Days (3:25) 13.)-How Can I Live Without You (1:29)
  5.)- The Cold and Lonely Lie (4:52) 14.)-One Heart (3:08)
  6.)-She (Abandoned Heart) (4:46) 15.)-Back to the Future Theme (0:40)
  7.)- Magnum Opus (1:16) 16.)-Now or Never (4:54)
  8.)Everyday Hero (3:57) 17.)Exodus Elaphantes (7:28) ...I Can't Get Over You
  9.) Supernova (5:19)  
The Review

I have been a very keen follower of Dutch maestro Robby Valentine ever since he first appeared on the second Dutch band Zinatra's album 'The Great Escape' back in 1990. His self titled debut solo album was released a couple of years later to much acclaim (especially in Japan where he remains very popular to this day), and spawned a couple of hit singles in 'Over and Over Again' and ''Love Takes Me Higher' in his homeland. 1993 saw the release of the even stronger 'The Magic Infinity' album, which was chock full of magnificent songs with enormous, anthemic filled choruses, huge swathes of keyboards and a production that was second to none. To this day it remains pretty much a benchmark in how great AOR/Pomp/Melodic Rock should be done. That good I hear you ask??? I kid you not. Since then, every couple of years has seen new Valentine material released (he has now dropped his christian name) in album or EP. form, although most of these have only been released in Japan, so aren't the easiest discs to track down!!***

The New album,'The Most Beautiful Pain' is thankfully here after a long six year wait. At one stage it looked as though this might not get released at all, what with various record company complications, but now European label Frontiers Records have got Robby's signature, and the album finally gets it's deserved release. All the trademarks of past Valentine albums are present and correct, along with a few new tricks along the way. The Big Queen/Freddie Mercury influence that has appeared more and more on his recent albums is still worn proudly on his sleeve, along with some of the slightly quirky interludes that appear between the main songs, but otherwise, this is much more of a return to the sounds of the debut and 'The Magic Infinity'.*** What I like most about Robby's music is that it doesn't all sound the same, never becomes predictable and 'The Most Beautiful Pain' is no different. The material on show varies from the tougher, more metallic sounding 'I Should Have Known Better' and 'A New World', to the more familiar AOR/Pomp sounds of 'I'm Going Under (Sedated) and 'How Many Times'. Then there's the piano ballad 'One Of These Days and 'Magical Memories' with it's 'Night At The Opera' and 'Mr. Blue Sky' references in the mix. 'One Of These Days' is an out and out Pop track and would beat any of the 'Top 40' wannabes at their own game, whereas 'Supernova' comes over with the big Led Zeppelin vibe. As you can see from my brief descriptions, a very eclectic mix of styles, which all work very well when put together on one album and listened to as a whole.*** Valentine's material won't be for everyone that is for sure, some of the more 'regular' AOR/Melodic Rock crowd for one, may find a lot of this disc too challenging as it doesn't stick to the 'verse, chorus, verse, chorus, guitar solo' stereotype. For the rest of us who are in search of something a little different, compared to some of the predictable AOR/Melodic rock that is being churned out with mundane regularity, 'The Most Beautiful Pain' may just hit the right spot. GRADE: A


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