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The RockIt Scientist
on 1485 Radio Today

1485 Radio Today
Also on DStv
Audio Channel 70

The RockIt Scientist is a very diverse music programme that features Progressive/ Hard/ Classic Rock, Blues, Brass Rock, Latin/ African Rock, Jazz and Metal music.

As "non-commercial/ non-Top 40" music ranging from the mid sixties to the present day is featured, the intention is to cater for the more discerning music listener, with no age limits or restrictions imposed or implied. An open mind and a love of music is mandatory!

The programme, which is broadcast on 1485am Radio Today, every Friday evening between 10pm and 1am, is presented by Leon Economides, who has worked with radio greats such as Tony Sanderson (Chuckle and Chat Show on Radio 5), Chris Prior (The Priority Feature on Radio 5), Phil Wright (The Dinosaur Days on 5fm), and Rafe Lavine (Rock Classics and The Great Unknowns on Radio 5, and the original RockIt Scientists on SAfm).

Radio Today is also available nationwide on the DStv Audio Channel 70.

Harlequin - Harlequin (1984, Epic Records)

George Belanger (lead vocals), Glen Willows (guitars), Gary Golden (keyboards), Ralph James (bass), David Budzak (drums)

Produced by: Alfie Agius

Despite being a strong release, 1982's 'One False Move' didn't meet with the commercial success enjoyed by 1980's 'Love Crimes'. It revealed a more punchy AOR sound at times (which sounded damn good to these ears), but there was no 'Innocence' to light up the charts. This might explain the arrival of Alfie Agius in the producer's chair, complete with all the pop trappings he brought with him. The overall sound shifted to a more hi-tech AOR direction, coupled with a more watery guitar sound prevalent through most of the album. However, as someone once wrote about Cheap Trick's widely misunderstood 'The Doctor', Harlequin still 'rock throught the technology' !

Take This Heart immediately sets the blueprint for the album, shimmering guitar tones and pop tendencies everywhere, yet the hook and chorus both deliver knockout AOR. This should've been a big hit but wasn't, despite George Belanger's distinctive vocal form and a video recorded for tv flighting. Keep This Fire Alive serves up the midtempo AOR with a sideplate of tinkling keys for good measure. Some great riffing under the effectively simple chorus adds to the charm. Don't Waste My Time delivers a strong circular hook on a bouncy foundation, often reminding one of 'Love On The Rocks' from 'Love Crimes', especially that hook - another rewarding chorus and another one for the win column. Memories doesn't quite reach the same levels despite it's competent arrangement and neat melody, but Can't Turn It Off is a very different matter : this is urgent AOR of the Survivor / Vital Signs calibre. Staccato riffing blended with a timeless bridge and semi-chanted AOR chorus lend all the necessary melodic drama for an AOR classic.

Calling launches side two with more convincing AOR - that chorus threatens to fall flat but they close it with a melodic knot of Utopia proportions, the kind of tingly chord change you thought only Todd Rundgren could come up with. Trouble In Paradise is even better, despite the conspicuous lack of powerful guitar. Definitive keyboard hooks over a slow thud (read 'Eye Of The Tiger' tempo) add to the trademark Harlequin chorus - a truly simple AOR vocal becomes magic with just the right hook underneath. Listen to any Harlequin lp and they pull it off track after track. Ending off the vinyl, Run For Your Life and Love In Disguise are not as convincing purely because the melodies aren't as strong. No matter though, the first seven tracks contain enough classics to make this album a must have. The lead guitar work by Glen Willows is consistently fluid throughout the album, not a million miles from Neal Schon's 80's playing.

Although a little more lightweight than what their Canadian AOR contemporaries (Streetheart, Loverboy, Triumph, Prism) were doing at the time, 'Harlequin' still stands tall as an example of 1984 AOR - back when bands knew about songcraft and melody. It's a shame there's so little Harlequin available on cd. I've only seen a Greatest Hits and Love Crimes (now deleted) ... so how about it boys ? Some reissues would make for a perfect late Christmas present to AOR followers everywhere !

Lee Bradfield

01. Take This Heart
02. Keep This Fire Alive
03. Don't Waste My Time
04. Memories
05. Can't Turn It Off
06. Calling
07. Trouble In Paradise
08. Run For Your Life
09. Love In Disguise

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