Harem Scarem | review

I think you'll find no disagreement among the melodic rock brethren about how good this Harem Scarem debut is, full of shimmering melodic vocals and that 'X' factor in guitarist Pete Lesperance. In some cases they go close to emulating Mark Free and Signal when comparing the overall quality and consistency of the material, while the sound has some of Signal's FM/radio rock friendliness mixed in with a bit of 90's vibe a la Firehouse.
Hailing from the Canadian side of the US border, these boys stormed onto the scene in 1991, releasing this debut and going out on the road to support Foreigner on their 'Unusual Heat' tour. It was without question then that the rock press sat up and took notice, and gave Harem Scarem the full KKKKK seal of approval as in the immortal phraseology of Kerrang Magazine (R.I.P).
One of the impressive features of this album is that the songs are so strong and classy, and as we roll from one track to the next, your hunger pangs get worse waiting for the next morsel. Another lesser fact is the subtle layer of keyboards underneath, giving Lesperance's guitar that extra height and dimension sitting atop it. As for Hess's vocals .. a star is in the making!!

The first three tracks absolutely kill. Period! 'Hard To Love', 'Distant Memory', and 'With A Little Love' all bringing back reminders of the aforementioned Signal. The ballad 'Honestly' is a bit of a tearjerker but it's not a throwaway.If we were in 1981 instead of 1991 it would've been a hit single. The melodic rock vein continues with the very Haywire sounding 'Love Reaction', and 'Don't Give Your Heart Away'. And then there's one of the highlights of the album 'Slowly Slipping Away'.
As if there weren't enough already. 'All Over Again' easily slips into Coney Hatch territory, no surprise considering Hess's cloning of Carl Dixon. 'How Long' is an epic sounding track pulsing along in grand style with some cool organ work happening, while the last track is an accoustic flavoured ballad called 'Something To Say', winding the album down in fine fashion.

Review by George Thatcher
Originally posted at Heart Of The Rock