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Headpins : Turn it loud
(Solid Gold - 1982)
Category: overlooked
4,5 stars

While this album was a huge hit in their home country of Canada (it went platinum there) not many European rockers seem to have heard the band's albums. They released three of them. I have never heard the third one, so I can't tell you if it was good or not. The second one ('Line of Fire') wasn't particularily interesting as the songs just weren't that inspired. But their debut is a completely different affair.

At the time it was released the members were still contractually bound to one of Canada's most succesful Rock bands, called Chilliwack, so the only name featured on the back of the record sleeve was that of vocalist Darby Mills. Mills has one of Rock's most impressive female voices and a singing style that makes her sound more like Robert Plant's sister than anything else. But that's not the only thing that's good about 'Turn it loud'. What makes it so compelling is the excellent song writing courtesy of Brian MacLeod (deceased 1992). Although the music of Headpins is different from Chilliwack's, the quality of the songs makes clear his years in his previous band weren't wasted time in terms of polishing his abilities as a songsmith. I think 'Turn it Loud' is the man's creative masterpiece, as it's better even than that most excellent of Chilliwack albums 'Lights from the Valley'. The vocal melodies and the strong choruses, the guitar riffs (check out the quirky one in 'Keep walking away'), the song structures, it's all coming from the brain of a real craftsman.

But next to the song writing, there's also the band member's technical skills as musicians. The album is packed with excellent guitar playing for example. The solo's in the extended instrumental part of the standout track 'People' especially are strong.

Oops. Did I mention a standout track just then? That's doing injustice to the rest of the songs really, as over half of the album is standout material. And the remaining three tracks are way above average as well. But I'm not going to go into more detail. Instead I'll simply recommend the album as a whole to fans of radio-friendly 80's Hard Rock and energetic AOR.

The good news is that you can still find it as it has been re-released, together with 'Line of Fire', on a CD called 'Greatest hits' (released in 1988). 'Line of Fire' comes across as filler after you've heard 'Turn it Loud', but maybe it's still an added bonus for some. There's also a CD called 'The complete greatest hits' (released in 2002) and one called 'Anthology'. Forget those. Get the 1988 release, as it has the complete 'Turn it loud' album with the songs in the right order.


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