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Album Review : Jim Peterik & World Stage: Roots & Shoots Vol. 1

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Review by Pete Finn for MPM

As a founder member of Survivor back in 1978, and prior to that The Ides of March in the early 70’s, songwriter and musician Jim Peterik knows how to make a successful album. ‘Roots & Shoots Vol. 1’ will be his fifth with World Stage, following on from their self-titled debut in 2000.

World Stage are an all-star group assembled for a series of annual live shows, and has a current line-up of Ed Breckenfeld (drums and percussion), Mike Aquino (lead and rhythm guitar), Bob Lizik (bass) and Christian Cullen (keyboards). As well as World Stage, Jim Peterik has delved into his “little black book” and invited some of his friends to play on the record too.

When asked about the new record, Jim Peterik is quoted as saying, “’Roots & Shoots’ is my latest collection of new music by what I consider to be the most iconic artists from the classic rock of the 80’s (the Roots) paired with the most exciting new talents I’ve had the pleasure of discovering. I found the same timeless qualities in the Shoots represented on this album. They are all rising stars!”

‘Roots & Shoots Vol. 1’ will be released on 12th January 2024, it has a track listing of 10-songs with a running time of around 47-minutes.

The album opens with the single that was released earlier in the year, it’s ‘Dangerous Combination’, and features Kevin Cronin and REO Speedwagon. It’s a step-back in time to the mid-eighties, a classic AOR track, the guitar hook reels you in straight away, the melody is full of fun and bounce. The vocal harmonies of Peterik and Cronin are crystal clear and have you nodding in time. A great start.

The second track is ‘Before Anyone Knows We’re Gone’ and includes singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Colin Peterik, who is Jim’s son. This is slower, vocal driven in a country/blues way. The jangly guitar and catchy chorus induces toe-tapping. The perfect track for a chilled-out summer evening.

The recent single ‘Last Dream Home’ is next. It features .38 Special’s vocalist and guitarist Don Barnes. The chugging riff and Barnes’ strong lyric leads the way, it’s a silky-smooth sound. Peterik’s backing vocal adds depth and richness. The subtle tempo changes and Barnes’ solo guide the track superbly.

Paul Childers is a new breed of singer/songwriters and guitarists, blending pop, R&B, and soul. He fits the ‘shoots’ element exactly as he joins for ‘Forever’s the Last Place You Look’. The gentle piano and Childers’ considerate vocal kick things off. The piano alternates with a soaring guitar riff that carries Childers’ lyrics high, his voice fills the track with emotion, the talented musicians providing strong support.

Night Ranger’s drummer and vocalist Kelly Keagy is the ‘roots’ guest for ‘Mend Fences’. Heavy bass and dirty guitar meet head on for the intro, before the spoken growling vocal takes over. The track is slow and moody generating atmosphere with a rumbling bass line, this is then sliced through with scything guitar breaks.

American Idol contestant Ashton Brooke Gill has a country/gospel style that graces ‘As I Am’. As I listen to it, I automatically see an extravagant, attention-grabbing cinematic title sequence to a “Bond Film”. It’s powerful and passionate. The delicate piano accompanies the thoughtful lyrics, the steady rhythm sections beats raise Ashton Brooke Gill’s voice proudly aloft. A piece oozing emotion.

‘Friends Forever’ is a duet that features Grand Funk Railroad founder member, vocalist and guitarist Mark Farner along with Jim Peterik. The complementary voices of Farner and Peterik work very well together, the controlled harmonies have small instrumental breaks placed carefully between the verses, holding the listener to the end.

Leslie Hunt is another contestant from American Idol, she sings ‘Suddenly’, it’s upbeat and it’s catchy tempo has a fresh pop feel. All the members of the band get a share of the limelight, it gives the impression that it was fun to record.

‘I Found Me’ has Jim Peterik’s fingerprints all over it, and as such, has many of the hallmarks of a Survivor track, a marching beat, a chugging riff, soaring lead breaks and strong lyrics, delivered effortlessly by Mark Mackay. If Mackay is the future of guitar driven AOR, then the baton has been passed to a safe pair of hands.

‘Roots & Shoots Vol. 1’ closes with the heart-felt duet ‘Fire and Water’ sung by Dave Mikulskis and Lisa McClowry. Dave Mikulskis is the lead vocalist for 80’s cover band Hi Infidelity, and Lisa McClowry is a singer/actor with 25-years in the business. The piano and percussion balance the duo’s vocals very well, providing an enchanting closer, that manages to sneak in one last Peterik solo.

I’ve enjoyed the alternating ‘Tag Team’ of Roots, then Shoots format. The album is extremely polished in its production, and if you’re fan of AOR either from the 80’s or looking to the future, or most likely both, then ‘Roots & Shoots Vol. 1’ provides plenty to get your teeth into.

‘Roots & Shoots Vol.1’ Track List

Roots & Shoots Vol.1′ Track List
1) Dangerous Combination (feat Kevin Cronin & REO Speedwagon)
2) Before Anyone Knows We’re Gone (feat Colin Peterik)
3) Last Dream Home (feat Don Barnes)
4) Forever’s the Last Place You Look (feat Paul Childers)
5) Mend Fences (feat Kelly Keagy)
6) As I Am (feat Ashton Brooke Gill)
7) Friends Forever (feat Jim Peterik and Mark Farner)
8) Suddenly (feat Leslie Hunt
9) I Found Me (feat Mark Mackay)
10) Fire and Water (feat Lisa McClowry and Mike Mikulskis)
11) Fire and Water (Acoustic Version) Bonus Track Japan

Pre-Order ‘Roots & Shoots Vol.1 HERE

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