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(AOR Heaven)
Release Date: 1st June 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

dennis churchill dries

Dennis Churchill Dries is a name known only to those AOR afficianados who look back on the pre-Nirvana glory days of the genre with misty eyes and can remember the bands White Sister and Tattoo Rodeo.

White Sister's 1984 independent label self titled debut and the major label follow up 'Fashion By Passion' gained much critical acclaim with their strong melodic rock style and memorable songs. Dries provided the bass and vocals along with much of the songwriting but despite attracting a small hardcore fan base and rave reviews White Sister never made it.

In 1991 Dries' next band, the more hard rock orientated Tattoo Rodeo, released an impressive debut in 'Rode Hard, Put Away Wet' but again opportunity never knocked and after persevering for a while and releasing a follow up the band called it quits in 1998.

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In 2008 original White Sister members Dries, Rick Chadock and Garri Brandon reunited and played the UK's Firefest festival to ecstatic crowds two years in a row but just as there was talk of new White Sister material being written Chadock passed away after a battle with cancer. However a chance meeting with famed AOR producer Paul Sabu kept the creative juices flowing and here we now have 'I', the first solo release from the now legendary Dries.

The man himself states that this is a therapeutic album for him, with songs written as he worked through the pain of losing his best friend of 35 years Chadock and the result is something a bit more laid back than the two bands he is famous for fronting. Not in a totally unconnected way though as the voice is instantly recognisable and the style is often reminiscent of the softer moments in both the White Sister and Tattoo Rodeo debuts.

Opening track 'Heard It On The Rodeo' is an uptempo yet mellow rocker of a tune which takes you right back to the commercial hard rock/AOR days of the eighties with the stylised deep melodic voice of Dries himself a delight. Fans of White Sister will love it I think.

dennis churchill dries

The title track follows and is a steadier, more measured number but with the big chorus, big vocals and harmonies is still a marvellous echo of the music the man's fans love him for. There are other fine examples here such as the multi layered harmonies on 'Unbroken' and the poppy good time riff and feel on 'She Loves You'.

However given the circumstances you would expect some of the material to get more introspective and much of the album has a more mellow feel to it. 'Home' has a a lazy, almost country feel and obviously means a lot to Dries as it is on the album twice, in both acoustic and electric form.

'Song For The Living' is a big ballad with a groove which wouldn't have been a million miles out of place on the second White Sister album with its' electronic touches and 'Pieces' and 'So Good To See You' are both fine songs but acoustic based mellow offerings with nice hooklines.

The way the album is set out five of the last six tunes are pretty laid back and while they are all good songs listening to the album in one sitting means it feels like the energy tails off towards the end. However the man who wrote and sang the songs says he did this for himself, no one else and despite that has made a hugely enjoyable slice of laid back melodic rock with much to commend it.

The vocals are great, the songs are too and if the production doesn't have the full, expensive sounding sonics of the old days that's a minor gripe. If you were a fan of his old bands don't hesitate to pick up this album, if you're not but like quality AOR done with class then still give this a listen.

Line up:
Dennis Churchill Dries: Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar
Paul Sabu: Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals




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