Tag Archives: Darren Smith

Harem Scarem/Live At The Phoenix(2015)

Harem  is a well oiled AOR hard rock act  that performs hard rock gems! Need proof? Look no further than Live At The Phoenix recorded July of 2015 in the bands hometown of Toronto Ontario Canada.

Harry Hess(vocals) Pete Lesperance (guitars and backing vocals) Darren Smith(drums and backing vocals) and Stan Miczek(bass and backing vocals) lay down some serious hard rock law that you the reader’s of Stick In Your Ear should check out!

As per protocol here I preorderd this album on iTunes and as usual they gave me no digital booklet so that’s the way she goes but it’s the music that does the talking and boy does it ever here over 20 songs performed top notch! Congrats to those who did the production as Darren’s drums are mixed perfectly while Pete’s guitar is never overshadowed by the pumped in keyboards on certain tracks. Stan the bass fella plays some real solid 4 string licks while Harry sings for his supper peeps! The guy is a very underated vocalist and along with Pete they write some very well crafted good old hard rock!

CD

Garden Of Eden
Hard To Love
Saviors Never Cry
Dagger
Distant Memory
The Midnight Hours
Mandy
Killing Me
Slowly Slipping Away
Troubled Times
CD

Sentimental Blvd.
Turn Around
Stranger Than Love
All I Need
Saints And Sinners
So Blind
Human Nature
Voice Of Reason
Change Comes Around
No Justice

So since its 20 songs I will pick and choose tracks and toss down some rando thoughts! Ready,Set……

For Shitz N Giggles heres my review earleir of 1993s Classic Harem album Mood Swings.https://superdekes.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/sonic-waves-harem-scaremmood-swings/

Pete,Darrren Harry and Stan deliver the goods sonically…..

So to begin the show Drew Masters (dude who ran M.E.A.T Magazine back in the day) intros Harem to the stage and in a minute and a half he name drops Toronto about 5 times hahaha… The dude is pumped to say the least and wheres Harem Scarem from again?

GARDEN OF EDEN-Being the lead off song and current track from Harems 13 album Garden Of Eden is a straight ahead hard melodic track! This possess all the great things about Hard Rock Harem! Excellent lead vocal! Cracking good drums,solid bass and Pete playing some real slick guitar! Oh and of course the backing vocals! It helps when your drummer (Smith) is a lead vocalist himself and is no slouch behind the mic himself. More on Smith later… I posted the live video from this show for all to see! Watch it….buy it! Simple!

HARD TO LOVE-Cool beans Hary straps on a guitar and doodles some  rhythm while Pete of course steers the guitar ship starboard side. Hard To Love is another cool rocker. Think once again like Foreigner doing steroids. Harem though on the musical side of things can flex some serious muscle when duty calls. Hard To Love has a snappy verse,an even snappier chorus and some real great guitar work.

SAVIOURS NEVER CRY-Now we are talking. Harry ditches the guitar and Pete flexs his guitar muscle with some serious cool power chords. His live guitar mix is sick! Crunchy,heavy and while we’re at toss in some wah and that’s in the first minute of this song. Darren and Stan rumble along on the drums and bass respectively to keep the song in check. Saviours is from Mood Swings and this song kicks friggin ass! The opening verse is sooo good with Darren leading the charge with the drums and the chorus is Gold! Big sweeping harmonies ,heavy guitar,thumping bass and man oh man Saviours Never Cry will boot you into next week! This tune is the deal!

DAGGER-As Saviours ends Pete throws down a huge power chord that segues right into Dagger! The drums on this song are rocking good while Harry sings it heavy here folks,not Slayer heavy but hard rock heavy and man the chorus is frigging the deal elements angst,danger, mean,pissed off and that’s Dagger. No fooling around here! Harem has come to kick your asses and as Harry sings about getting “a Dagger thru the heart!” He sings it like he means it! One other thing it’s one of Harem songs that has no backing vocals. It’s all Harry and Harry alone! Dagger is  a classic track. Different heavy sound!

MANDY-Is a musical only tune where Stan and Darren provide the back beat and Pete shows of his guitar chops in a bluesy respectful way. Pete does not overplay the songs and turn them into a wank fest! That too me is the sign of a great guitar player. Nice interlude ..

SLOWLY SLIPPING AWAY-Geez I remember this tune from 1991 and I just looked the other way! Too me it was just to Foreigner lite. Fast forward 25 years and its a great song! I think the fact that this live version gives it a bit of an edge certainly helps and the fact that the piped in keys are under the guitar helps heaps!

TROUBLED TIMES-Holy Moly this song is awesome! Troubled Times especially the course is very Journey like with the vocals,lead and backing. Let me clarify that! Journey like if they booted out Jonathan Cain and his piano and left him at a truck stop in Des Moines Iowa! Troubled Times is such a great put together song! Love the guitar during the chorus. The vocals as I said earlier are the money shot!

SENTIMENTAL BOULEVARD- Drum Dude Darren handles the Lead vocals here and this fella is a multi talented cat! Not can he only slam the drums but he’s got a great throwback 70’s rock voice to boot and  how many bands out there can you think of that have two guys that are Great Singers? The verse’s during this song are the money shot and come to think of it I seen Darren playing guitar in Helix here in Tbay…see Multi Talented Muso….

HUMAN NATURE-Def Leppard would drool to have written this song. Actually come to think of it add Stranger Than Love to the Lepp want list as well. Human Nature has such a great chorus with a tinge of power chord guitar tossed in. It’s what one would say is a Melodic Hard Rock Track! I would just say it’s Fuckin Brilliant……

CHANGE COMES ROUND & NO JUSTICE round out the album and are both from the Mood Swings album. Both are ramped up Hard Rock Tracks that will get ya pumping with top-notch performances from those all involved. Watch the vid for No Justice…

Check this one out Folk’s….

 

Sonic Waves….Harem Scarem/Mood Swings

Music tastes can sometimes be brutal and when a band puts out a stellar well written performed Maximus Rock Opus and it gets ignored due to that genres taste that’s a shame friend and this would be the case for Harem Scarems Mood Swings released in 1993 and only got as high as 85 on the Canadian Charts?!! Like seriously? If this slab of good ol school hard rock had been unleashed say 1991 I think a different outcome would have happened for the Scarem easily a seller cause well it’s Stellar!!

Now this is my fav Harem Scarem that I own  and when there debut was released in 91 and I seen the vids on Much Music I passed it was just like they were trying to my ears anyways a Canadian Foreigner! Hey I’m not knocking Foreigner and I’m not knocking Harem Scarems debut it just passed me by I mean Skid Row releases Slave To The Grind in 1991 and the thing just rocks like gang busters so I wasn’t into say that melodic side who knows though maybe there are rockers on it? I’ll have to re read Ladanos review of it again and figure it out…..

So For one record for me by the Scarem this just blitzes….thanks Harry,Pete,Darren and Mike….

SAVIOURS NEVER CRY-Pete Lesperance starts off with some cool little cranked up picking and then bam the songs kicks in and we’re off to the races! Harem uses keys on this record to enhance not bury the guitar mix on this album well done fellas! It’s pretty evident early on that the chorus’ on this album are gonna be big and damn catchy case in point this songs. Pete is one good guitar player man and Harry Hess nails the vocal delivery and whats more impressive is that the lead singers name is Harry! F#*kin cool!

NO JUSTICE-big badass backing vocals open the second track and were rocking with the debut single! The verse is really cool some cool Pete effects on his guitar blast this song and man the dude lays down a solo epic of one EVH….bravo!   Cool chorus cool everything on this track. I work with a pal named Rockin Roberts and man he don’t talk music much(he likes doing home renos and yachting) but when he does we have total common ground on  this track and  we were talking about it a few months back at work and he told me he plays No Justice around his kids!

STRANGER THAN LOVE- were into AOR land here and it’s ok Harem delivers it with a ooooomph in other words a kick in the ass. Perhaps this could have been a left over from the debut that’s ok man I can’t blame em for trying to score chicks with the slower material.

CHANGES COME AROUND-Harem bids adieu to the girls on the bus or kicks em off and launches into full rock out mode with Changes and man this song just gets ya fired up. That’s the thing with these guys that over time they have carved out their own niche,in not too many Canadian bands can boast some big ass vocals and power rock riffs and pull it off!

JEALOUSY- you wanna talk about sleeper tracks. Well friends this is one of em and now this is one of my faves off of Mood Swings. Pete plays some real bluesy riffs and under his guitar is some cool sounds like to me a Hammond driving the tune. Harry slams the door shut with the vocal delivery and man just a great rock track!

SENTIMENTAL BOULEVARD- Darren Smith the drummer (who now sings with Jake E Lees Red Dragon Cartel) nails the vocal here kids and the song is a friggin catchy number and once again Harem uses the keys but they know how not to alienate the rock guys(moi) into thinking it’s not some kinda Nightranger cast off. Come to think of it, doesn’t Nightranger have some kind of tune called oh wait a minute it might be Sentimental Street! I’d have to ask Tbone as he’s the Nightranger specialist!(hahaha)

MANDY- is Pete playing a little wee electric guitar nice little piece of music….

EMPTY PROMISES-bam bam the drums kick off this tune and this song is another one of those hidden rock gems buried at the back of the record. Cool,snappy chorus and some cool tempo changes and oh yeah cool vocals !

IF THERE WAS A TIME- yep another big kindish slow mo rock track and its Harem not trying to Scarem girls outta here! It’s ok man to have feelings but just don’t sap out! This coulda been a hit but like i said earlier it was a finicky musical climate back in 93.

JUST LIKE I PLANNED-Harry and Pete pull out the acoustics for a 2 minute little ditty before they plug back in the Marshalls and crank into….

HAD ENOUGH- like all records with guitar action some songs just start out of the gate with some super cool riffage! Had Enough settles the deal once and for all! This song just blazes forth with a cool double bass drum chorus and Pete rips into a solo that just sends the album off the charts and yep Harry said he’s Had Enough! Well if we’re keeping score I would say Had Enough and Jealously are my two top notchers!

IN CONCLUSION-Harem Scarem stuck to their guns back in 93 and I’m glad they did as soon as I heard No Justice on Muchmusic I was a buyer not only for myself but my bro Todd who need to hear some good guitar rock as he was dabbling in rap rock or whatever the f*^k the kids called it back than! Seriously though Harem delivered a big sounding well produced rock piece that still holds it own today. By that I mean back in 2013 Harem wanted to release a 20th anniversary edition of Mood Swings but there old record company said Nope. So Harry and Pete said Fuck you and re recorded Mood Swings with 3 extra new songs and their good tracks as well(World Gone To Pieces,Anarchy and Brighter Day)  so basically Mood Swings the 2013 version is as good as the 93 version! Just a little upgrade in the sonics and now I’ve read that Harem Scarem is gonna put out a new album this year called 13! Good on em…..