JERUSALEM - Can't Stop Us Now (Legends Remastered)
Welcome To The … 80’s?
Jerusalem’s enigmatic 4th release remains, for some, a question mark on their otherwise impeccable record of inspiring and confrontational rock n’ roll. Fans have a diverse array of opinions on this album – some absolutely hating this direction for a band that to this point lived and breathed 70’s classic and progressive rock, and others lauding the change in musical landscape as cutting-edge contemporary. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, there was and is no denying that Jerusalem was a band that could not be pigeon-holed into a nice comfortable genre – they were doing their own thing, keeping pace with the times and following the calling of the Spirit. The only band member change this time was the drummer change with Mikael Ulvsgard taking over for Klas Anderhell. The decidedly more pop approach was a common stylistic change during the early 80’s for many bands, and Jerusalem was no exception to the norm in this regard. They did, however, stamp their own quirky brand on the 80’s music vibe, and in that regard spared themselves from extinction.
Can’t Stop Us Now isn’t the most intense or original composition from Ulf and company, but it’s not nearly as forgettable as some might try to argue. Retroactive Records, as part of the Legends Remastered series, has delivered the entire recording (plus 2 bonus tracks) on CD in English for the first time. The Fruit Records (‘90’s) version deleted the last 3 tracks, which is a shame, because the second half of this album, beginning with “Mourner’s Parade,” represents the most innovative and experimental portion of this record. We are once again treated to a 12 page booklet with lyrics in a clear jewel case. Really love the alternate pictures on front and back cover of the booklet. Yeah, those poses are cheesy, but come on, this was the 80’s after all. Remember, this album was produced by Andy Kidd (produced Warrior) so it can’t all be bad. I will say, though, that the sonic impact on this remaster seems a bit more muted compared to the first 3 remasters in this series, and I don’t hear that walloping bass vibration so evident (and enjoyable) on those records. You would think an overproduced 80’s recording would sound a bit more obnoxious (especially for dance) than this sounds. The drums just seem a bit too far back in the mix for an album trying to ratchet up the pop. Still, I like this version…
The title track covered familiar ground, the classic rock vibe with plenty of pace and a catchy chorus. In some ways this song – with the big arena rock vocals - was the template for the much heavier rock crunch that would boil to perfection on 1987’s Dancing On The Head Of The Serpent. “Love You More” followed pace with a clean musical flow and the encouraging words with great melodies. I think “The Wind Is Blowing” slowed things down a bit too much 3 songs in, but I do like this lyric – “I’m on my way now, can’t stop me now” – which ties in nicely with the title track. But by now many fans were scratching their heads as to where the prog (so pervasive on Warrior) had gone. “Tomorrow’s World” almost has a mid-80’s Rush meets Cheap Trick quality and represents the most progressive song on the album. I love the bass guitar vibe and the synth/keyboard sounds Tibell painted this song with in the middle section. The vocal effects on Ulf’s voice here (and on many of the songs on this album) suppress too much of his power and passion. Similarly, “The Waiting” is a really good song, but the vocals seem almost muted in the mix.
I wonder how many of us cringed when we first heard “Let’s Go (“Dancin’)? I am all for solid pop music with a beat, but this song just didn’t work for me. I appreciate what they were trying to do here, pushing the fringe and moving beyond the comfort level, but well … the great thing about Jerusalem is that they never took themselves too seriously, and who can fault them for dancing with joy! Fortunately, this is followed by two of the strongest songs on the record in “Mourner’s Parade” and “Read Between The Lines.” The former song has some of the most poignant lyrics backed by a much more subdued singing style – kind of sounds like David Bowie. It’s a dark song, but maybe the best song on this album.
“Being afraid is a habit, very few of us break/You’ll only find out you’re a prisoner when you try to escape.” … “Join in the mourner’s parade/It’s a deaf and dumb cavalcade/All feelings kept well undercover/Indifference to one another.” – “Mourner’s Parade”
The guitar solo shreds and there are some nice drumming nuances that hearken back to the kind of playing we loved on Warrior. “Read Between the Lines” is similarly engaging on both a lyrical an musical level, just a bit more subtle and atmospheric. “The Missing Piece” has a decidedly melancholy vocal approach, again almost Bowie-like. Finally, “Heartbeat” is another experimental song that has a solid 4 or the floor thump with great guitar and synth sounds – very atmospheric.
The bonus tracks include “Time” – a very solid tune from the Front Row Compilation with a great guitar riff and soaring vocal melodies – and an alternate mix to “Heartbeat” with a more intricate/prolonged vocal sequence. Overall, I think this remaster is a success on many levels. This album can now be heard in its entirety, and the invitation for a “second listen” has been issued. The packaging and artwork is first rate, and the bonus tracks definitely enhance the value.
1. Can’t Stop Us Now (4:02)
2. Love You More (3:58)
3. The Wind Is Blowing (4:24)
4. Tomorrow’s World (5:34)
5. The Waiting (4:33)
6. Let’s Go (Dancin’) (3:41)
7. Mourner’s Parade (4:35)
8. Read Between The Lines (4:08)
9. The Missing Piece (3:43)
10. Heartbeat (3:15)
12. Time (5:50)
13. Heartbeat (Light Remix) (3:15)