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Album Review : FM – ‘Tough It Out Live’

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Review by Andy Houghton for MPM

Despite a career spanning four decades and no fewer than twelve studio albums, it was FM’s first two releases – 1986’s ‘Indiscreet’ and 1989’s ‘Tough It Out’ – that remain this melodic rock band’s best known work.

Originally released by Epic Records in 1989, ‘Tough It Out’ broke into the UK Top 40 and saw contributions from songwriting luminaries such as Desmond Child (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi), Jesse Harms, Robin and Judith Randall (Mark Free).

In 2019, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘Tough It Out’, the band played the album in its entirety on their last shows in the UK and Germany. This recording is now being released as a part of a double live album, which includes a second CD containing a selection of live but rarely-performed tracks.

After opening with an attention-grabbing intro, the band launches into title track ‘Tough It Out’, an early highlight and one of the band’s best known tracks. Their sound bears comparison with bands such as Foreigner and Journey, albeit with a slightly harder edge. ‘Don’t Stop’ illustrates this well, with some punchy riffs.

Album standouts include ‘Bad Luck’, with its catchy melodies punctuated by some pleasing melodic shifts, and ‘Someday (You’ll Come Running)’, with its anthemic Meatloaf-esque character. Steve Overland’s rich yet crisp vocals are a pleasure to listen to throughout the album, and the instrumentals are delivered competently albeit perhaps a little uninspiringly.

The album loses momentum during ‘Everytime I Think Of You’, a slower paced and altogether more subdued track, although ‘Burning My Heart Down’ swiftly brings things back up to speed for the second half of the CD. As we near the end, ‘Does It Feel Like Love’ delivers a nicely executed guitar solo, and ‘Feels So Good’ brings the set to a close with a final burst of energy.

Disc two contains eleven more live tracks, described as a “cherry-picked setlist”, and the tracks they’ve chosen are more varied – and therefore more interesting – than on disc one. ‘Digging Up The Dirt’ has engagingly distorted, fuzzy guitar work, while ‘Dangerous’ offers up a powerhouse of a track that would certainly go down well in any live set. A well-executed cover of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ draws things to a conclusion, and sounds like a lot of fun – not least because the interaction with the audience gives it an immediacy that you only get with the best live recordings.

Perhaps in keeping with the album’s origins in the 1980s, the AOR-style of ‘Tough It Out Live’ inevitably means that the tracks do transport you back to yesteryear. Nonetheless, the album as a whole provides an enjoyable burst of nostalgia, not least for those of us who remember its release first time around.

With this latest release FM don’t break any new ground, but they certainly deliver a couple of hours of solid entertainment

Tracklisting:
CD1

  1. Intro
  2. Tough It Out
  3. Don’t Stop
  4. Bad Luck
  5. Someday (You’ll Come Running)
  6. Everytime I Think Of You
  7. Burning My Heart Down
  8. The Dream That Died
  9. Obsession
  10. Can You Hear Me Calling?
  11. Does It Feel Like Love
  12. Feels So Good

CD2

  1. Digging Up The Dirt
  2. Tough Love
  3. Hollow
  4. Dangerous
  5. Hard Day In Hell
  6. Wildside
  7. Breathe Fire
  8. Only The Strong Survive
  9. Blood And Gasoline
  10. I Ain’t The One
  11. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

‘Tough It Out Live’ is released on April 9th, 2021 via Frontiers Music s.r.l.

Buy or Stream: https://orcd.co/toughitout

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