- Riff Valley (instrumental) [4.54]
- Hold On [4.46]
- Cry For Help [5.44]
- Alone [5.56]
- Guiding Light (instrumental) [4.42]
- No More Distance [6.07]
- Free Flight (instrumental) [4.00]
- Remember September [6.01]
- Unfinished Business, part 1 (instrumental) [4.43]
- Higher Ground [4.59]
- The Lies Behind Your Eyes [5.23]
- Still Want You Back [5.57]
- Unfinished Business, part 2 (instrumental) [1.34]
All songs written by Peter Hanmer except tracks 2 & 6 by Peter Hanmer/ Giselle Mynhardt and track 11 by Tony Groenewald/Peter Hanmer/Giselle Mynhardt
Click on the song titles to listen to an MP3.
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- Peter Hanmer: Guitars, keyboards
- Tony Groenewald: Bass
- Giselle Mynhardt: Vocals
Recorded at Foxglove Sound Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Off The Edge CDs are available from Sugar Music.
Heart Of The Rock
Off The Edge - Unfinished Business (2002, Off The Edge Records)
Peter Hanmer (guitars / keys), Tony Groenewald (bass), Giselle Mynhardt (vocals)
Artwork by Mark Raats
Produced by Peter Hanmer at Foxglove Studios Johannesburg
Having been a South African AOR institution as early as their debut in 1983, Off The Edge have survived music industry indifference, a near permanent breakup and lineup changes to bring you their fourth studio album Unfinished Business, a disc 2 years in the making and well worth an examination here at HOTR.
Riff Valley kicks off the album in instrumental fashion, coming across like Axe or Megaforce era 707, a virtual catalogue of riffs for the AOR at heart with fluid solos not unlike Neal Schon. Hold On ushers in new vocalist Giselle Mynhardt, wrapping her warm and powerful voice around a midtempo anthem celebrating the virtues of resilience - an essential trait for AOR practicioners these days. Cry For Help is even better, punchy 4/4 backbeat overlaid with melodies straight out of Passionworks era Heart and a chorus worthy of any period AOR classic. Alone tugs out the gentle side of the band, gradually building into a power ballad of epic proportions. Guiding Light crosses classic Saga with modern day Joe Satriani for an instrumental piece that exists in it's own sonic dimension, taking you on a ride through various textures and setting you gently back down in time for No More Distance, another AOR anthem caught somewhere between classic 80's Heart and Broke [N] Blue, not a bad place to be.
Free Flight returns to the instrumental format, this time more laid back but not lacking in stature. Remember September takes shape as a semi acoustic vocal tour de force for Giselle, at times reminiscent of the fabled Renaissance despite the electric riffing eventuating through the latter half. Unfinished Business Part 1 ventures into more bluesy instrumental territory not unlike Tony Joe White or even Gary Moore, proving that versatility needn't result in a dip in quality. After a protracted gentle verse Higher Ground launches into the kind of power ballad chorus found on Heart's Brigade lp, and never looks back - there really is no substitute for well crafted melodic rock. The Lies Behind Your Eyes restores some balance through it's uptempo nature, melodic as always - try imagining Thrills with female vocals and you're getting there. Still Want You Back applies some Gary Moore esque blues to the ballad format to rewarding effect, while the album closes with a cool jazz / light fusion reprise of Unfinished Business, this one being Part 2.
It seems very likely that Off The Edge will return to live performing at long last, which will be a treat for South African AOR fanatics - the rest of the world can be consoled by obtaining this essential disc via www.cd.co.za/offtheedge . Then again, air travel to South Africa is very affordable ...
Rating : 9.1
Pro's: Strong hooks and vocals, choruses sung like they mean it, production that most majors would kill for and to complete the package - AOR artwork from logo to front cover to inlay etc.
Con's: The particularly fussy could argue that there's one too many ballads and one too many instrumentals. Then again, rather that than the Nickelback CD ...
Compact Disc Services, Dundee Scotland
23 August 2002
OFF THE EDGE: Unfinished Business CD £12.99 13tx/60 mins
Fourth album from South African rock band and it's a vast improvement on the
previous album, in every way. For a start, the songs are a lot better with a
set of female-vocal led anthemic compositions that will have you joining in the
choruses after just a play or two. With several corking instrumentals along
the way, this is a most satisfying album.
It opens with one for those
instrumentals and immediately we see a great production in force as the
wicked electric leads are unleashed while the guitar and bass riffs drive
the track on via some strong drumming in there too, all melodic but still well
heavy with a big big sound. The first song, 'Hold On', has a mix of strong
choruses that are very catchy allied to strong female vocals and
instrumentally a great sense of dynamics using electric and acoustic
guitars, surging riffs and clipped rhythms, restrained to crunching drum work, a
searing guitar solo in the middle and as fine an anthemic AOR track as they
come, getting the song side off the album to a splendid beginning.
'Cry For Help' revolves around a similar structure, yet another infectious chorus and
a feel of Lana Lane in its sound and qualities. In fact, I can imagine
anyone into Lana Lane enjoying this album for a long time to come too. 'Alone'
starts in reflective mode with just vocals and acosutic guitars, as
gradually other instruments appear and the whole thing begins to build, heading for a
sky-high AOR power ballad, which it reaches magically, only to drop back
after the main chorus and then build once more, all tension and release done
to perfection with a huge production, a great sound and another superb song
equally well delivered by the band and vocalist.
Of the rest, four further
instrumentals show the band as a unit who can tackle a mix of rock, AOR and
fragility to make compositions that fit totally in keeping with the flavour
of the album as a whole. For the songs, there are a lot more great
compositions with suitably multi-layered passages, while 'Remember
September' is a truly heartfelt homage to the Sept 11th carnage as a superbly sung
track set to just acoustic guitar, string synth and bass, initially, then builds
to a fantastic, powerful AOR ballad that is to die for as band and vocals soar
majestically to heights most could never dream of reaching on a brilliantly
composed song that is guaranteed to create a lump in the throat when you
listen to it and remember, also lyrically aware too and one of the album's
Overall, a startlingly great talent that deserves far wide
recognition on the strength of this album which doesn't have a bad track on
it and is one that many fans of AOR and, to an extent, prog rock, will enjoy
and treasure for years to come.
SA Rock Digest, Issue #146, 11th March 2002
Despite its almost prophetic title this album, which was originally planned for release at the end of 2001, is now almost finished. One more instrumental song 'Riff Valley' needs to be added, the cover design needs to be finalized and then we can expect this album to be out by April.
After Judy Marshall left the band (and South Africa), Off The Edge driving force Peter Hanmer (no relation to SA jazz pianist Paul Hanmer) got involved in a side-project with Sherry Lee and brought out 'Nowhere Land' under the name Age Of Innocence (I guess Peter was the "age" and Sherry Lee the "innocence"). Peter and bassist Tony Groenewald then found a new female rock voice in Giselle Mynhardt and started work on the new Off The Edge album.
Giselle has a strong rock voice like the Wilson sisters from Heart. 'Alone' is not a cover of the Heart song, but this rock ballad would not be out of place on one of their albums. In fact there are no covers on this album, unless you count 'Still Want You Back' which Peter originally recorded with Age Of Innocence and redoes here in a harder bluesier style.
This will be Off The Edge's 4th Melodic Rock album since 1983 (not counting Peter's limited edition 'The Instrumentals' CD) and fans of Peter's guitar sound (think Trevor Rabin, David Gilmour and Boston's Tom Scholtz), his keyboards (Alan Parsons, anyone?), and powerful rock chick vocals are not going to be disappointed. I know I'm not.
-- Brian Currin
Dinosaur Days, June 2001
An "Advance" CD of the band's forthcoming album, which should be out in the latter part of the year. You know Peter Hanmer and his band Off the Edge quite well by now - we've featured the music quite regularly on The Dinosaur Days in the past and we've also had the band members in the studio for a few interviews (most recently when Peter released the new Age of Innocence album with very promising singer Sherry-Lee Jones a few months ago). "Unfinished Business" will be Off the Edge's 4th album since the band's inception in the eighties. This time, Peter's managed to secure the services of Giselle Mynhardt, one of the finest lady singers we've heard in years. She's replaced Judy Marshall, who emigrated a short while ago. Giselle's voice, although reminding one a tad of Stone the Crows' Maggie Bell and a bit like Janis Joplin or Cold Blood's Lydia Pense, has a certain uniqueness about it that makes her a real find. She sounds as is she'd be equally comfortable singing a laid back TIE (tongue in ear) bluesy ballad as she would be belting out a serious rocker. She's not too shabby in the looks department either!
Long-time bassist Tony Groenewald is also still involved in the band. Peter Hanmer, one of the best multi-instrumentalists (especially guitar) in the country, is sounding better than we've heard him to be and the songwriting is even more impressive. This is quite an achievement when you listen to the class and quality of the band's previous album, "Just Another Band", which was released in June 2000. We've only heard a few of the tracks from the mooted album, but if they're anything to go by, then surely "Unfinished Business" should be the album to finally crack it for this exceptionally talented band. It's all well and good that a small minority of well known and respected radio stations and jocks such as Phil Wright and Rafe Lavine are doing what they can to promote the band - it's about time others came to the party as well. South Africa also has its fair share of talent in the music field. They may not play rap, rave, techno and other puke fodder, but they certainly deserve to be heard and appreciated. After all - it works overseas - why not here? Are we that unsophisticated that we can't appreciate music unless it has lyrics about some schmuck crapping somebody out for letting his dogs out?? Look out for a full review of "Unfinished Business" in these pages when it's released.
Leon Econimedes - Dinosaur Days
'Hold On' was played on the Dinosaur Days radio show on 3rd June 2001. Great response from Leon Economides and Phil Wright. Listen to an MP3 of their comments here...
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