Baton Rouge – Shake Your Soul [1990]

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“Shake Your Soul” is an outstanding effort by a band that should have been at the top of its class. The band originally formed in Louisiana as Voices in 1986 and consisted of Kelly Keeling (guitar and keyboard), Lance Bulen (vocals), Keith Harrison (bass) and Harold Knappenburger (drums). They changed their name to Cheetah, later to Meridian and finally Baton Rouge, the group relocated to Los Angeles in 1987 and revamped their line up.

Keeling took over on vocals while Bulen switched to guitar and a new rhythm section of Scott Bender on bass and Corky McClellan on drums was added. After a mere six live shows on the Sunset Strip they were signed to Atlantic records and hooked up with producers Jack Ponti and Vic Pepe who would co-write many of their songs. Keyboardist David Cremmin, appeared on the album artwork, but didn’t actually join the band until recording for the debut was finished.

The result is an album firmly rooted in the melodic rock/hair metal sound that was so popular at the time. It’s all about big guitar hooks, crystal keyboards, catchy accessible melodies that even has moments that touch through melancholy, a wonderful singer, who destroys everything with his vocals,rock anthems and power ballads. There are some incredibly radio-friendly songs on this album, and it should have put the band in the same category as bands like Ratt or Warrant, but for whatever reason Baton Rouge never quite became a household name. The album saw the participation of several guest musicians, from drummer Frankie LaRock of Company of Wolves and the band of John Waite, to Joey Franco, drummer of Good Rats,Twisted Sister and The Ladder, to Bobby Gordon and Randy Cantor on keyboards. Their debut album, “Shake Your Soul” debuted in 1990, but didn’t call so much attention, reaching only the 160th place on the Billboard charts at a time when media attention to the style had already begun to decline dramatically.

And to start the work to take the hit, “Doctor” that already starts with a vocal torn from Keeling and a perfect work of the entire group, especially in the chorus that is truly engaging killer, with vocals that border on perfection and make the head of listener at the first hearing. The radio flash “Walks Like a Woman”, is a great anthem type rocker with a big vocal sound, maintains the highest level with a chorus to die for and take more flawless chorus “Big Trouble”, where the vocals stand out again, which repeats itself in the great “Bad Time Comin’ Down”. An Incredibly crafty song combining strongs riffs with great vocal melodies, lyrics and a superb catchy chorus that will hang you on the wall.

The hard rockin’looking like bitch reappears strongly in “Baby’s So Cool” and that is reinforced in his letter in honor of a hot woman. But the ballads here as it could not be, and here we have to two power ballads of respect, with an extraordinary sense of melody and that are among my favorites. “It’s About Time”, begins as nonchalanlty, but gains a tremendous force during its execution, with a flawless interpretation of Keeling, which makes this one of the highlights of this disc. The sad “There Was a Time (The Storm)” that was co-writen with Jaime Kyle, is a singular beauty, once again full of excitement and another great chorus, which proves that this was a specialty of the group and hit the hand again. “Young
Hearts” starts with an impressive guitar work from Bulen’s ending to a superb powerful refrain backed with many harmony vocals, while the killer commercial hard rocker “Melenie” will definetely touch you with its catchy chorus and melodies.

“Hot Blood Movin'” and “Spread Like Fire” finalize this nugget so perfect and satisfies those who like hard rock without much freshness. “Shake Your Soul” continues to be on my play list after all these years. So here is a challenge to those of you out there who consider yourselves to be experts on this genre. Compare the music on “Shake Your Soul” against that which you hold to be the best of the genre and see how it measures up.

Once you do, you may find yourself adding Baton Rouge to the top of the list. There were still good bands out there that were not accessible to the general public and made music their primary focus but you had to work hard to find them. Highly Recommended!!!

 

Band Members
Kelly Keeling – Lead vocals, guitar
Lance Bulen – Lead and rhythm guitars, vocals
Corky McClellan – Drums, percussion, vocals
Scott Bender – Bass, vocals
David Cremin – Keyboards, guitar, vocals

Additional Musicians
Bobby Gordon – Keyboards
Randy Cantor – Keyboards
Joe Franco – Drums
Frankie LaRocka – Percussion

Tracks
1. Doctor
2. Walks Like a Woman
3. Big Trouble
4. It’s About Time
5. Bad Time Comin’ Down
6. The Midge instrumental
7. Baby’s So Cool
8. Young Hearts
9. Melenie
10. There Was a Time (The Storm)
11. Hot Blood Movin’
12. Spread Like Fire

 

 

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Baton Rouge - Shake Your Soul [1990], 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings