Published on May 9th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Messano: Messano (Divebomb, 2019)
After stints with Starz and Franke & The Knockouts (plus an impressive run of session and touring work for the likes of Joe Lynn Turner, Peter Criss, Lou Gramm and Steve Winwood), guitarist/singer Bobby Messano released his self-titled debut solo album in 1989. Messano handled vocals, guitar, bass and most of the songwriting.
Messano clearly was plugged into the melodic rock sound of the decade, and this album reflects that. Messano has a nice mix of the early ’80s AOR sound as well as the later ’80s arena rock sound. There are nods to his early career, like covering the Starz single “Sing It, Shout It” and reworking the Franke & The Knockouts song “Carrie Why?” as “Hide Our Love Away (Tell Me Why?)”. Beyond those two touchstones, your other points of comparison are probably Joe Lynn Turner, .38 Special, Axe and maybe a little Y&T. Messano checks all the boxes here. He has a steady, memorable voice, serves up some great melodies and solos and he knew how to write good, straightforward melodic rock songs.
Messano was perhaps a bit out of place when it arrived in the middle of the glam metal era, but blues-based melodic rock really never goes out of style. It’s not groundbreaking, but there’s a lot to like here. Bobby Messano delivered a really solid, really enjoyable album that really hit that mid ’80s melodic rock sweet spot. If you’re a fan of his work in Starz and Franke & The Knockouts, or are into that era’s melodic rock at all, this one is well worth a listen.
Reissue Notes: While the Messano debut was reissued once before in 2007, it was on the Retrospect label so it hardly counts. Divebomb gives the album the attention it deserves, starting with new remastering by Jamie King and ending with a booklet featuring vintage photos and a new interview with Bobby Messano. It also features five bonus tracks (demos, apparently). The only thing missing is new cover artwork. This one needed it.
Summary: Overlooked melodic rock for fans of Axe