March 12, 2024, a month ago


Carl Begai

Rating: 8.5

review hard rock honeymoon suite


If you're a long time Honeymoon Suite fan like yours truly - with the receded-to-nothing hairline and grey beard to prove it - you will agree the band is hard pressed to ever top their first two albums. The self-titled debut (1984) and its follow up, The Big Prize (1985), gave us iconic classics like "New Girl Now", "Burning In Love", "Feel It Again" and "What Does It Take" that cemented Honeymoon Suite's place in Canadian rock history. Following years of lackluster releases after 1988's Racing After Midnight, the band hit a high with the Clifton Hill record in 2008, seen and heard as a promise of good / better things to come. We waited 16 years for said follow-up, the aptly titled Alive.

First and foremost, Alive is not a blatantly desperate callback to Honeymoon Suite's '80s glory days. The guys are smart enough to know they stand a vegan's chance at a Brazilian barbecue of recapturing that level of raw energy. That said, if those early albums resonated with you, Alive is a welcome shot in the arm. Short, sweet, to the point, doing what they did best way back when, with the added touch of experience over exuberance. Johnnie Dee still has the full range of his instantly recognizable singing voice, and Derry Grehan remains one of the most underrated guitarists around; Alive, as a whole, is their record. And damn, the guitar solos are tasty.

The title track is the positive energy opening anthem, and it sets the tone for what follows. There are "Feel It Again" vibes on "Tell Me What You Want" and "Find What You're Looking For ", the borderline country ballad, "Doesn't Feel That Way" to close the record, but it's the rocker "Give It All" - featuring telltale hints of "Other Side Of Midnight" - and the thumping "Livin' Out Loud" (complete with gospel-esque backing vocals) that make the biggest impression. Overshadowed only by "Done Doin' Me", which may well be one of the best songs in Honeymoon Suite's entire catalogue, right down to the Extreme horn section.

A welcome return by one of Canada's finest.

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