Howard Leese Secret Weapon Frontiers Records
FRCD 420
Produced By: Howard Leese

Running Time: 48.57

Release Date: Out Now


Musical Style: Blues Rock / Instrumental

Links: Frontiers
Songs: 65%
Sound: 75%
I became an instant Leese fan on discovering Heart in 1985 on the back of their monster comeback album for EMI. I was one of the second wave of fans to jump on the bandwagon as they moved through their commercial hit maker stage. Leese was the cornerstone of a hard edged guitar attack along with Nancy Wilson.
Since departing the band in the 90s, Howard has kept busy touring with Paul Rodgers/Bad Company. Plans for his solo album were being talked about as far back as 2002, so it is fair to say I was expecting a pretty groovy record.
Unfortunately I am left very disappointed by this release. I just find that it lacks the spark I expected from such a great player.
That doesn't imply Howard lacks anything as far as his talent and the guitar work laid down on this record. I just feel the songs lack energy and that takes away from his playing.
The mixture of styles here and the swapping back and forward between vocal tracks and instrumentals makes it a very disjointed record, never flowing with the ease an album should. Plus the overall laid back tempo makes it a very slow record indeed.
I expected a blues based rock record, but what rock we get is a very slow 70s bluesy set of songs mixed with eclectic instrumentals (that remind me of Mark Knofler soundtrack compositions) and reflective acoustic driven pieces.
The record fails to get out of first gear and at 50 minutes in length there simply is not enough power to impress. Of the vocal tracks the opening smoldering rock n blues of Alive Again featuring Joe Lynn Turner has a decent riff but never gets going; The Vine is another pleasant rock ballad featuring Jimi Jamison; In These Eyes is another slow but appealing blues track features Keith St. John on lead vocal. Just where is that guy the rest of the time?
I've Been Leaving You (Andrew Black) and Hot To Cold (JLT and Deanna Johnston) just fail to leave any impression at all.
The highlight for me is the blues ballad Heal The Broken Hearted featuring a sensational Paul Rodgers soulful lead.
The instrumentals run from 48 seconds to four minutes, but there isn't any I am likely to play again now this review is complete. Rada's Theme is probably the best Mark Knofler meets Kenny G here.
The Bottom Line
Howard Leese is without question a fine guitar player with an ear for the blues, but on Secret Weapon, the album lacks punch and importantly, the vocal tunes should be used to better effect in-between the instrumental numbers. The pace is just too similar throughout and just too slow for these ears.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Secret Weapon

Line Up:
Joe Lynn Turner, Jimi Jamison, Paul Rodgers, Andrew Black, Keith St. James: Vocals
Howard Leese: Guitars, All Instruments
Mark Shulman: Drums

Essential For Fans Of:
Howard Leese
Paul Rodgers
Joe Lynn Turner
Track Listing
Alive Again *
Heal The Broken Hearted *
Hot To Cold
French Quarter
33 West Street
The South Summit
Rada's Theme
The Vine
In These Eyes *
Vermilion Border
I've Been Leavin' You
Somewhere (Theme From West Side Story)

--*Best Tracks

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