Unruly Child – Unruly Child [1992]

Incredible hard driven AOR with great melodies and marvellous vocals, lovely ballads and good vibrations in the harder tracks.

Well. We all know how 1992 turned out for melodic rock and hair metal. Not only did grunge sweep in, but the band’s label Interscope decided to become a full-on rap label, leaving Unruly Child out in the cold.

Unruly Child was the melodic rock band put together by former King Kobra vocalilst Mark Free after his Signal project failed to catch on. The band also featured guitarist Bruce Gowdy (Stone Fury, World Trade, James Christian) and Hurricane drummer Jay Schellen with Guy Allison (World Trade) on keyboard and bassist Larry Antonio. The band released their self-titled debut in 1992, and like just about every other Mark Free album, it’s a classic. And speaking of classic, perhaps the best moments on the first Unruly Child album perfectly exemplify what great AOR is.

An understanding of tension and dynamics that propel the song into another dimension and create emotional response in the listener. “Who Cries Now”, “To Be Your Everything” and especially “When Love is Gone” (a ballad that makes you cry everytime you hear it) perfectly demonstrate what it is to have a perfect grasp of this kind of music and what needs to be done with it. The bridge in “When Love is Gone” is one of the best moments in AOR….pure stratospheric magic.

The bridge starts a little after two minutes mark…you’ll know if you’re a fan or not because you’ll either laugh or feel it. They had tight musianship, excellent songwriting and production thanks to the great job as always from Beau Hill (Ratt, Europe, Warrant, to name few), one of the absolute best vocalist in the genre, and a sound that was right in line with the kind of polished, arena rocking stuff Bon Jovi was releasing at the time. The melodies on this album are gorgeous, the hooks are killer if a bit subtle, and Free just soars all over these songs. There’s a great mix of upbeat rockers and more laid back love songs, all of which are fantastic.

Requires a carefully listen but some songs can enter deeper in your head by the first listen like “Who Cries Now”, “To Be Your Everything”, “Is It Over” and “Let’s Talk About Love”. The opening track “On the Rise” defines good quality rock! Mark Free soaring vocals sets the tone for the record and this is an awesome airguitar song with fat keyboards in it, followed by the down ‘n dirty “Take Me Down Nasty”, guitarist Bruce Gowdy works in a few hot hooks and leads throughout the recording. Mark Free accents each track with a strong vocal performance as you can listen on “Lay Down Your Arms” and “Long Hair Woman” while Guy Allison adds keyboard fills. “Tunnel of Love”, “Criminal” and the up tempo hard rockin’ “Wind Me Up”  offer us great melodic outbursts, while the sound is polished, keys and guitars are balanced and Mark’s vocs are simply awesome.

Unruly Child’s debut remains one of the last truly classic melodic rock albums of the 90s and is one that pretty much any fan of AOR, melodic rock, hair metal and/or arena rock should own, and in my opinion this record has criminally ignored. This would have been a multi-platinum smash in a perfect world. Look for it and you’ll not lose, trust me.

Band Members
Bruce Gowdy – Guitars,Backing Vocals
Guy Allison – Keyboards,Backing Vocals
Jay Schellen – Drums,Backing Vocals
Larry Antonio – Bass,Backing Vocals
Mark Free – Vocals

Tracks
01. On The Rise (4:42)
02. Take Me Down Nasty (4:29)
03. Who Cries Now (4:14)
04. To Be Your Everything (5:02)
05. Tunnel Of Love (4:22)
06. When Love Is Gone (4:00)
07. Lay Down Your Arms (4:12)
08. Is It Over (4:39)
09. Wind Me Up (3:32)
10. Let’s Talk About Love (4:41)
11. Criminal (3:49)
12. Long Hair Woman (5:57)

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Unruly Child - Unruly Child [1992], 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating