Published on February 15th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Shadow King: Shadow King (Rock Candy)
At the tail end of the arena rock era, the band Shadow King came together in what should have been a chart-topping success story. A supergroup of sorts featuring ex-Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm and ex-Dio (and current Def Leppard) guitarist Vivian Campbell alongside bassist and longtime Gramm collaborator Bruce Turgon and drummer Kevin Valentine, Shadow King was poised to capitalize on Gramm’s fame and the general appetite at the time for melodic rock. I have no idea how the band’s self-titled debut album managed to get ignored when similar bands Bad English and Damn Yankees were tearing up the charts, but unfortunately that is what happened.
Given Lou Gramm’s presence here, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the album bears more than a passing resemblance to Foreigner and Gramm’s solo material. It sounds a lot like a heavier version of Ready or Not. This is no doubt due to Vivian Campbell’s presence. Vivian’s scorn for hard rock and metal is well documented (lucky for him Def Leppard hasn’t played anything remotely heavy in at least two decades), but he definitely brought a hard rock edge to Gramm and Turgon’s AOR songwriting. Between his guitar playing and Gramm’s signature voice, Shadow King definitely feels like an “all star” album. The songs are well written and impeccably produced, and Gramm was at the top of his game.
If you’re a fan of Foreigner or Lou Gramm’s solo work, this album is a no-brainer. It’s also a fine example of the early ’90s melodic rock sound, so fans of Bad English, Tyketto, Damn Yankees, Giant, etc. should enjoy this as well.
Reissue Notes: You can never have too much of a good thing, so a Rock Candy reissue of Shadow King is a very welcome development. Keith Olsen’s production and mixing was already top notch, but Rock Candy gave it a good remastering anyway, and the results are pure ear candy. In addition, they’ve done their usual high quality work getting a band history, new interviews and vintage photos for the booklet. There are no bonus tracks, but between the sound and physical quality of the reissue, that’s a minor complaint. This is an absolutely worthwhile upgrade.
Summary: Melodic rock classic...reissued