No sooner had he joined Canada's melodic progressive rock band Saga, Rob Moratti left after one album. He resurfaces with a new solo album, Victory, on England's Escape Music label. It's Eighties AOR deja vu all over again. This album could have been the soundtrack for a John Hughes teenage angst film. Victory is less The Human Condition, Moratti's only album with Saga, and more akin to his work with Final Frontier or the self-envisioned Moratti. One postive thing to start: Rob Moratti knows how to deliver solid melodic rock.
Certainly Moratti is a fine vocalist and composer, and he takes the reigns of this project as producer. And certainly, Victory was foremost intended to be a showcase for his vocal prowess. Yet, he seems nearly outclassed, or at least overshadowed, by the very strength of the songs and his supporting cast.
As to the latter, it's rather impressive: Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake) on lead guitar, Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder) on bass, and Saga's Brian Doerner on drums with additional help from Fredrik Bergh (Street Talk, k) and Christian Wolff (rg,k). Honestly, this crew (with the song composition) carries the album. Reb Beach, a sometimes overlooked and underrated guitarist, is spectacular throughout. Yet, take note of his work on Life on the Line, Everything But Good Bye, and the awesome fret work of On and On.
To the songs, there's something AOR for everybody on Victory. Solid rockers like Life on the Line, On and On, Hold That Light, and Power of Love. Arena rock anthems like Life Time, I Promise You, and Take It All Back, which could double as ballads. But Now More Than Ever is a better fit for a rock ballad. Of course, true to the Eighties mold, there's a song simply titled from a girl's first name, Jennie (and for my money, it's the weakest track here). Like the power of Moratti's supporting cast, the song arrangements are grand and sweeping, tingling with energy.
Did I say Rob Moratti sings on Victory? Well, indeed he does, and he does a fine job. But it's the music that reverberates here: this is fine, pure Eighties, melodic rock. You're not going to get much better. It makes you wonder what the songs, the album, would have sounded like with a different singer at the microphone. Likely not as good. At the end: kudos to Rob Moratti. Very recommended.
Vocalist Rob Moratti's Victory is certainly a triumph for him: a generous platter of classy AOR melodic rock. Although he may have trouble stepping out from the shadow of the power and persuasiveness of the music.