Published on November 1st, 2020 | by Justin G.
Only Child: Only Child (Rock Candy, 1988/2020)
As impressive as Paul Sabu’s 1985 solo album Heartbreak was, it didn’t get much attention or promotion. The singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer still had plenty of great songs in him, so he regrouped with a new band and new label in 1988 with Only Child. The band’s self-titled debut turned out to be the definitive Paul Sabu album, and one of the best melodic hard rock albums of the decade.
Only Child essentially sounds like King Kobra with Sammy Hagar on vocals, or Y&T if they ever wrote an AOR album. Or Kick Axe if they had written the entire Transformers soundtrack. You get the idea. This is a classic soundtrack-ready melodic rock album radiating catchy hooks, prominent keyboards, captivating melodies and of course Paul Sabu’s signature powerful/raspy vocals. It’s full of bombastic rock anthems like “Rebel Eyes,” “I Believe In You” and “Love To The Limit,” and even the lighter songs like “Save a Place in Your Heart” and “I Remember the Night” are incredible.
Unfortunately, Sabu and company were once again let down by their label, and Only Child didn’t get the push it needed to break through to the big time. It’s such a shame, since this one has “smash hit” written all over it. The band ended up splitting after a brief tour in support of the album, and Sabu went on to other projects.
If you’re a fan of the ‘80s melodic rock scene, especially bands like King Kobra, Sammy Hagar, Giant, Giuffria, Kick Axe and House Of Lords, Only Child is an absolute must-have release. Along with albums like Giant’s Last Of the Runaways, Signal’s Loud And Clear and Giuffria’s Silk And Steel, Only Child is the kind of classic melodic rock album that totally defines the era.
Reissue Notes: Only Child has been reissued by both Yesterrock and Z Records in recent years, each with its own bonus tracks. It was reissued again this year by the Rock Candy label alongside reissues of Sabu’s solo material and Kidd Glove album. Rock Candy’s version features the two bonus tracks from Yesterrock’s version and adds two more for good measure. Unfortunately they don’t share much about where these tracks came from, and they don’t include the three tracks from Z Records’ version, which is frustrating. They did give the album a brand new remastering, which sounds amazing, and the booklet has a nice interview with Paul Sabu. If they had put in a bit more effort on the track listing, this would have been a perfect reissue. That aside, having a version of Only Child that sounds this good is still a very big deal and a more than worthwhile upgrade.
Summary: Essential album, essential reissue