Once upon a time, two brothers – let’s call them the Fortune brothers for simplicity’s sake – decided that it was about time they formed a band. Said and done, brother Mick decided that drums was his thing and brother Richard figured he could might as well be a cool guitar hero. Kind of. The brothers brought in some other dudes and signed a deal with Warner Bros and released a self-titled record in 1978. But members were in and out and in 1982, Fortune didn’t look the same as four years earlier. With new keyboard player Roger Scott Craig, singer Larry Greene and bassist Bob Birch, Fortune released another self-titled record in 1985, an album that today is looked upon as a true classic in AOR circles. But back then, no one really gave a rat, something that’s not that unusual in the music biz. No matter how a brilliant record you release, people sometimes don’t give a damn anyway.
Also, their record company Camel Records went bust shortly after the release and refused to give the band the rights to their music so things went down for quite a while and some members went on to other activities. Larry and Roger started up the band Harlan Cage who released a bunch of somewhat mediocre records in the 90’s. The Fortune brothers started up a trio-version of the band in 2006, two years after their 1985 album had gotten a re-release, but not much happened with that. But in 2016, Richard, Mick and Larry reunited the band, now with Ricky Rat on bass and Mark Nilan on keyboards. In 2016 the band played a highly acclaimed gig at the Rockingham Festival in England, something they reprised in 2017 which led them to a deal with Frontiers Records. Now when the new album is out it is with some great expectations in said AOR circles. Yours truly, however, completely missed out on the band in the 80’s, so for me, Fortune is a completely new experience to be had.
Opener ”Don’t Say You Love Me” kicks off with some fat riffs and a pretty tough rhythm section which makes it pretty heavy for an AOR tune. A big, 80’s sounding synthesizer comes in and the mix of Hard Rock riffing and the keyboards really works. I like the song but it must be said that the song’s heaviness saves it from being an ordinary AOR-rocker. Starting out as a ballad, ”Shelter Of The Night” keeps the laid-back and softer verses but with a melancholic and darker twist. For the refrain, the tune speeds up to a mid pace, full of mid 80’s vibes. The tune is very big on keyboards without putting the rest of the instruments in the background – a fine mix indeed and a very good song. First single ”Freedom Road” is an upbeat pop-rocker, 80’s style. It’s a straight-forward arena rocker with a big refrain, quite memorable but all in all, I find it pretty standard. ”Shelter Of The Night” would have been a better single-choice, in my opinion.
Written as a tribute to Amy Winehouse, ”A Little Drop Of Poison” starts out as a ballad but soon turns into a mid-paced AOR number full of harmonized keyboards and a slick atmosphere but the ballad-vibes are present throughout the song. The refrain is enormously strong and to me a clear single contender. Great tune. ”What A Fool I’ve Been” starts with a big pop-synth that screams mid 80’s which is followed by a Bon Jovi ”You Give Love A Bad Name” nicked guitar riff. The tune itself holds more influences towards the early 80’s complete with a blipping synth, some quite heavy rhythms and big guitars at the front. It’s a damn catchy song but not too fluffy and without cheesiness – very good. ”Overload”is a mid paced yet straight forward AOR tune that is total mid 80’s. The big keyboards marries fine with the chugging guitars and with a pompous arrangement the catchy chorus contains enough hooks to sell. The song sounds 80’s retro but not dated. Very good.
It’s ballad time when ”Heart Of Stone” pays us a visit. With a band with both feet in the 80’s it would be easy to guess that that means power ballad time. However, this one is built on atmosphere with a melancholic and even saddening outlook which brings more depth into the tune. Yes, it’s a softie albeit not lame, yes it do touch the 80’s but without being too slick or sugary. It’s memorable, though – a great tune. ”The Night” is heavy enough to be an AOR-influenced Hard Rock tune instead of the other way around. It’s rhythmic and groovy with a juicy refrain that sticks immediately and the slight 70’s twist certainly doesn’t hurt. Very good. ”New Orleans” is heavy, dark and crunchy Hard Rock on a fat rhythm section and rowdy guitars with catchy yet not radio-friendly melodies everywhere. Very good. Closer ”All The Right Moves” is upbeat, punchy and straight-forward where Hard Rock, Pop and AOR have been put in a blender. It’s a good tune albeit not as catchy as many other tracks on the record.
All in all, Fortune’s latest record contains a whole bunch of really strong songs – while listening – and the fact that they often put the guitars in focus and lets the keyboards be there to spice things up, brings the plus side up. On the minus side we have a pretty muddy production which gives an impression of a rushed recording. Also, style-wise, Fortune are nothing out of the ordinary and is on the verge of lacking identity so musically they really don’t stand out properly – which in turn makes it hard for many of the songs to linger. But a really good singer and competent musicians that writes good, catchy tunes can, in my world, make up for a lot and there’s no reason to not check this album out. A more personal sound and this record would have gotten a higher score.