After Hours - 'Against The Grain' (AOR Heaven) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Dave Prince   
Tuesday, 15 March 2011 06:00

afterhours-againstthegrainGrowing up in the Valleys during the 80s and 90s and becoming a regular at Tonypandy Naval Club, After Hours was a name I remember being spoken with much affection. Every time I asked someone what they sounded like the same answer was given - Brilliant! Having managed to get a C90 containing both of their albums from a very good friend my challenge was set in stone -to find their vinyl counterparts because as I hit play on that tape my life changed - in that someone from my neck of the woods (vocalist John Francis) actually sounded better than most big name singers that were gracing the cover of my weekly bible Kerrang! However, as this was pre-internet, information was hard to come by yet I managed to find out that they had actually split up a year previously. I was devastated, my dream of seeing this awesome band was in tatters... Fast forward 18 years and that, my friend, is where the flame still burns; The band have not only reformed but recorded what I can only say is their best album to date.

February 14th 2008. A chance meeting of Martin Walls, Tim Payne and John Francis materialised into the reformation of After Hours. After agreeing to write and record a song for old time's sake, it seemed after recording the song it unearthed a new passion in each of them, they wanted to write and record a new album which came from their heart and souls, with no interference from producers, record companies and management. They invited old friends, Chris Pope on drums and Sean Mcmenemy on keyboards and guitar, to help, and the new After Hours was born.


As with the two previous albums the unmistakeable voice of John, mixed with the guitars of Tim Payne and the foundations of Martin Wall's bass are the basis of something so special that I honestly cannot stop becoming teary eyed over this album which mixes the lyrical content between social commentary on the world today and the AOR stable of love-torn rockers and ballads.


Opener 'Stand Up' is a grower in that after the opening bravado the verse is more subdued, before kicking in with a fantastic chorus! The song is about having a voice and making sure that you are heard. 'Turn Up Your Radio' is a fantastic slab of pure AOR bliss - okay, the lyrics are cheesy but you can tell that it's heartfelt and to me that is the difference between a good song and a great song, and this is great! 'Eleventh Hour' opens with tribal drums and a simple acoustic which leads into a bass line so heart warming and lyrics pleading about the land and taking things for granted and to leave things alone - the guitar work of Tim Payne on this one is glorious and the tribal drums at the end of the song give you the feeling that you have watched an epic movie.


'Angel' is more of the same, a mid-paced rocker which gives top tier bands such as FM and Journey a run for their money. John's never sounded better than on this song and we're only halfway through the album! 'When You're Around' is a life-affirming song to their loved ones. 'Hold On', with its opening stop-start riff, is the perfect tonic to  the last couple of slowies. Next up is 'Let It Go' with its theme of moving on from the past and giving yourself a chance to be in love.


'I Want Yesterday' is a song about the chance of re-living your life, and wanting yesterday to come back tomorrow which, whilst listening to the chorus, I couldn't help but sing Ricky Warwick's 'Can't Wait For Tomorrow'. With the closing ballad 'I Need Your Love' John sounds so perfect...he almost sounds better than Steve Perry in his prime. Man, I so happy that this man has given us a chance to hear those velvet tones once more...


All in all this album is a belter... Now where can I see some amazing AOR played the way it should be played!?