If Only – Bed Of Roses [1989]

If there’s a one AOR album that deserve the moniker of “classic album”, that it has to be the 1992 debut album “No Bed Of Roses” of the English band If Only. It all started back in 1988 in London and when reached the ears of Geoff Downes (Asia, Yes) immediately got in touch with them and eventually participated in this album.

The band founded by guitarist and songwriter Greg Hart recruited his old band mates from his previous band Moritz, being Ian Edwards on bass, the keyboardist Andy Stewart and drummer Andy Elphick where decides to add a new chapter to their

musical career. As second guitarist they recruited Martin Chaisson (UFO, Waysted) and in Lorraine Bennington they found the perfect female front lady. Unfortunately, personal events led to the departure of Bennington after just one show and she got replaced by ex-Girlschool singer Jackie Bodimead with whom the album “No Bed Of Roses” was recorded. Just before the release also Jackie Bodimead was forced to thrown in the towel due to personal problems and everything got postponed again. The latter tracks (13-16) are her recordings with If Only. With grunge looming ever closer, the band were seemingly in trouble in debt, but once more help was at hand when the band got noticed of a truly awesome female vocalist ready to set the world alight, listening to the name of Tina Egan and she was invited to join the band and be given the arduous task of re-recording the entire vocals of the album. Tina Egan gives If Only a powerful edge. Her voice is utterly characterful and suits this thumping hard rock perfectly. She performed the task in such a brilliant way that she even got some songwriting input in two (new) songs, the opener “Loaded Gun” and “Long Way From Home”. Having been over two years in the making, the album finally saw the light of the day, first in Japan in 1992 and two years (!) later in Europe.

The sound of If Only features up front electric guitars complemented by their acoustic counterparts, thick-yet-subtle rhythm section, catchy keyboards and incredible female vocals full of rock-star attitude.

The record is one big highlight, but especially the noteworthy rock anthem ballad “If Love Could Last Forever”, which Egan comes over a little Stevie Nicks, before the chorus kicks in with, the amazing power ballad gospel ribs “I’m No Angel”,this is what the 80s epitomized from the infectious guitar sound to its face plastering drums to amazing choruses,just great stuff. The catchy “Easy Lay”, the elaborate and complex “Long Way From Home” opens with a great riff which picks the pace up

after a couple of minutes into a belting mid section, the ballad “Forever My Love” which also can be found on the solo album of Steve Thompson but this If Only version is much, much better and the soft piano ballad and one of my favourite cuts here “Man Against The World” deserve an extra mention. The opener “Loaded Gun” is one of the finest melodic rock tracks you will witness in many a year, having great vocals, catchy chorus and huge riffs, all the hallmarks of what a great song should be. “No Bed Of Roses” shows no failure, to be honest, even in the most sophisticated pieces such as the excellent folck rock blues from the subtle nuances “Tumblin Dice”, an acoustic/electric belter and one of the highlights of the disc, while more explosive melodies keep the ball rolling on the keyboard entry of the nice tune “Rock And A Hard Place”. Now years later, Avenue of Allies have done the melodic rock work a favour by releasing this long lost gem offer us five more tracks “All Over”, “Stand Like A Stone”, “Don’t Let Go” and “Shot Down”, as nice extra treats of very good quality, performed by Jackie Bodimead. Finally, there is a live version of “Tight Jeans”, which is not even on the original version. The song conveys impressively the live power of the band. Here is Tina Egan turn to hear the vocals.

“No UK band can play AOR that good, they must be from America!” said Geoff Downes of If Only, and to be honest he was pretty much on the ball. A lost gem in every sense, “No Bed Of Roses” should have been massive, but due to a much delayed release in Europe and the death of talented lead singer Tina Egan, it disappeared. This album deserves to be grabbed by the lot of us and given the credit it deserves. Especially if you love female fronted rock bands like Romeos Daughter, Saraya, Femme Fatale, etc., then you will in your pants listening to IF ONLY’s long lost classic.

Band Members
Tina Egan – Lead vocals (Tracks 1-12,17)
Ian Edwards – Bass, keyboards
Greg Hart – Guitars, acoustic string guitars, mandolin, keyboards
Nobby Styles – Guitars
Judit Armstrong – Keyboards
Andy Elphick – Drums, percussion
Jackie Bodimead – Lead vocals (Tracks 13-16)

Guest Musicians
Geoff Downes – Piano, Hammond, keyboards
Mike Moran – All keyboards and string arrangements on 12

Additional Musicians
Toby Sadler – Keyboards
Martin Chaisson – Lead guitars, voicebox

Tracks
01. Loaded Gun
02. Tumblin’ Dice
03. If Love Could Last Forever
04. I’m No Angel
05. No Bed Of Roses
06. Easy Lay
07. Rock And A Hard Place
08. Red Hot Heaven
09. Ghost Of You
10. Forever My Love
11. Long Way From Home
12. Man Against The World
13. All Over
14. Stand Like A Stone
15. Don’t Let Go
16. Shotdown
17. Tight Jeans (live)

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If Only - Bed Of Roses [1989], 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings