Great classic progressive art/fantasy rock in the style of Kansas, Styx, Yes, Jethro Tull. Due to legal problems, this recording has remained in a bank vault for many, many years. Maybe that's why it sounds so unlike anything else today!
"I know for sure-the disc of the year has arrived"
Subject: "Rockin' The Shire" Review/HeartoftheRock
HOBBIT - ROCKIN' THE SHIRE (2001, MIDWEST RECORDS)
Gene Fields - vocals, guitars; Paul 'Turk' Henry -
bass, vocals; Richard Hill - lead guitar, keyboards;
Rusty Honeycutt - drums; Keith Young - drums
It's mid November and there's one thing I know for
sure - the disc of the year has just arrived. That's right folks, at the
proverbial eleventh hour comes the second installment
of Hobbit's reissuing/remastering campaign entitled "Rockin' The
Shire". For the most part, these tracks represent the
next batch of recordings after the 'Two Feet Tall' phase, focusing on the
early to mid 80's but still including a 70's track
here and there. With this release, Hobbit are proving that they were and
are more than just a decent band that never got the
big break. Their status as true AOR icons is fully entrenched. Now it's
time to leave this mundane world behind for a while
and take a journey into the very heart of the Shire ...
Opening up is the appropriately titled 'Rockin', a
Survivor flavoured monster of a title track, where Turk has centre stage
belting out some scorching vocals and the most
incredible bass work this side of Rush. 'Paradise' keeps the uptempo trend
going, with Gene's aggressive vocal delivery coming
across like Legs Diamond gone AOR. 'Don't Say No' is a pure
AOR gem in the 80's LeRoux tradition - melodic keys
and layered vocals, with all the right chord changes. Next up is
'Holiday', which brings us into more acoustic laid
back territory. Angelic vocals from Gene and some inventive keys to
augment the ethereal melody. 'Listen To Your Heart'
and 'Changes' embody the midtempo AOR dream come true ...
massive hooks, keys everywhere and a pair of anthem
choruses to rival the best of Roadmaster and Shooting Star -
yes, they're that damn good! At this point Turk
returns to the vocal mike to deliver 'Too Long Without You', a stunning
ballad of Journey/Foreigner proportions, chilling
indeed. 'Television', which ushered in the band's 'third age' with Tony
Marsh handling guitar duties and Timo Elliston on
keys, brings out the more humorous side of the band, but take note -
this is no throwaway novelty track, positively surging
out of the gates with hooks and melodies comparable to Cheap
Trick or Axe. First Age Hobbit classic 'Join The
Celebration' makes it's appearance in a swirl of percussive genius from
Rusty Honeycutt, tempo changes and overall melodies
reminiscent of the symphonic rock genre. 'Take Your Chances'
ushers in the 'live at Bag End' segment with easy
melodic grace, calling to mind some of the aforementioned bands, even
Angel. This is one of the five purest examples of
classic AOR I've ever heard. A perfect vehicle for Gene's angelic vocals.
'Lay Down' does exactly that, an irresistible groove
with the kind of smooth vocals you'll hear on any Dakota chorus.
'Burn The Bridge' returns us to acoustic territory for
a majestic display of subtle melody, while 'Through The Looking
Glass' brings on the semi acoustic mid tempo pomp AOR
in a big way. Closing off precedings is 'No Doubt And No
Expectations', showcasing not only Rusty's drumming
chops, but also the fluidity of Richard Hill's guitar efforts, a
constant factor throughout this disc.
So there you have it, fourteen tracks and not a
throwaway in sight. I can honestly say that nobody's AOR collection is up
to scratch until this essential slice of AOR is
contained within. Look out for it at some of the decent online stores listed
below. - Lee Bradfield
Rating : 9.9
Pro's : Sublime early to mid 80's AOR with all the
instrumental and vocal ingredients we crave - all focused into really
strong, wonderful songs ... and in the end isn't that
what really counts?
Con's : Can't think of any ...
rockman5150 (Steve Albritton)
A very pleasant surprise, this CD starts out "Rockin'" and not once does it ever disappoint! Great hooks and melodies on all the rocking studio cuts ("Television" brought a big smile to my face!)as well as the slower tunes ("Too Long" is a killer ballad, and Turk's vocals sound truly heartfelt), and I was grateful for the inclusion of the 1st Age classic "Join the Celebration." Here, it is the perfect prelude to the awesome 'Bag End' live tracks! Having been a fan all these years, not to mention having been present at numerous Hobbit concerts, these songs are proof to me that the band is still as tight as ever, as well as an exciting live act. Hobbit is STILL the most talented rock band to ever come out of Texas! I'll always be a fan! Keep Rockin'!!
Getting Hobbit's first album was awesome, and I anxiously awaited the arrival of their 2nd album, which I had gotten for Christmas, and let me tell you, it was WELL worth the wait! Rockin' The Shire is a wonderful sequel to their first album, Two Feet Tall, continuing with their hard, fast-pace rock 'n roll, as well as a mixture of slow ballads, and even a taste of what they sound like live in-concert. It makes me wish that they would be live in- concert these days, they sound like they put on a wonderful show! Their third album is on my Christmas list, and I can't wait to experience it as well. Keep on rockin' Hobbit!