FM: City Of Fear: CD

This is the fourth album from Canadian trio FM that has now been re-released and re-mastered. It was released in 1980 and was produced by synthesiser wizard Larry Fast (of SYNERGY and musician with NEKTAR and PETER GABRIEL).

The more overt prog rock tendencies have been replaced by more of the contemporary rock sound that was getting popular at the time, but they still managed to keep enough to sound unique and stand out from the crowd. “Krakow” has great synthesizer playing, an infectious beat and emotive singing that start the album on a high note. “Power” is a very straight forward rock song that has a touch of SAGA in it, but the powerful singing and drumming keep it under their own sound, plus the great keyboard playing adds to the song being a standout. “Truth or Consequences” has a late ’70s pop rock sound and is super catchy and I had to stop and play it twice. The band still consisted of Cameron Hawkins (synthesisers, bass, vocals), Martin Deller on drums and Ben Mink on electric violin and mandolin and they really played their hearts out on this album. The songs being more pop oriented on this album still retained the technically refined playing and made really kept this in the realm of being far more interesting than other bands from this era. “Lost and Found” brings more of the spacey prog sound to the song and it feels very claustrophobic, almost like a PINK FLOYD track. “City Of Fear” mixes the prog and more pop oriented styles together and succeeds admirably with how well done the mixture is. “Surface to Air” could fit really well into the album Signals by RUSH with its new wave sound provided by the heavy, but thrilling use of the synthesizer that made me remember hearing this on the radio when I was a kid and loving it. “Up to You” keeps up the new wave influenced rock and was another treat on the album. “Silence” is a more mellow song that brings the space rock back and the guitar playing and drumming are standouts on this song. “Riding the Thunder” is almost a metal song with the heavy playing and yelled vocals, kind of reminiscent of “Godzilla” by BLUE OYSTER CULT. Finally the last song “Nobody at All” is a nice mellow ballad that takes you away on a grand journey that just feels like you’re floating into the ether. A great ending to an album that mixes up styles and gives the listener a lot of different things to take in.

All in all, this was a great album that although getting away from the more prog rock of earlier albums, still has more than its share of prog mixed with newer (at the time) sounds that still manage to hold your interest. Go out and grab this, see how a band makes the jump into the pop word, but still keeps the songs the first priority, not trying to make things trendy.


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