Union – s/t (1998, Mayhem)
- Old Man Wise
- Around Again
- Pain Behind Your Eyes
- Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore)
- Heavy D…
- Let It Flow
- Empty Soul
- October Morning Wind
- Get Off My Cloud
- Robin’s Song
Bruce Kulick – Lead Guitars
John Corabi – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Jamie Hunting – Bass
Brent Fitz – Drums
Total Time – 53:03
In the aftermath of the KISS and Motley Crue reunions, Bruce Kulick and John Corabi formed their own “union” in 1997 and called it such. The press had a field day with Union because both of the major identities were parts of big-time Rock bands and got the boot. I admit, I was high on this project from the first day it was reported. Anything involving a current or former member of KISS immeadiately goes to the top of the list.
Union is a strong Hard Rock band with a late ’90s edge but roots from Classic Rock of the late ’60s to early ’80s. Hunting and Fitz provide a solid backbone, Kulick is a seriously under-rated guitar player, as Corabi is an under-rated singer. What I liked about this band was that the various influences of the band came through in the music whether it was The Beatles, Zeppelin, KISS, Crue, or the Stones. Union wrote good songs with melody and hooks and solid lyrics, something that was missing in the ’90s.
The debut is solid. Lead single ‘Old Man Wise’ and ‘Around Again’ are solid Hard Rock songs. Both have great hooks that just get you to sing right along. ‘Pain Behind Your Eyes’ has some soft acoustic interludes during the verses but then really kicks come the chorus. Here Corabi shows that he is a good singer and Kulick comes up with some good riffs and melodies. Another shining moment here is a really good guitar solo and some fine harmonies.
‘Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore)’ has another modern main riff with that trademark Corabi sneer. What a hook come the chorus! How this band didn’t get airplay is a crime. Another song with great harmonies as well. Looking at the lyrics so far, you can tell that the band was writing in a more personal direction, which I think makes the album even better. ‘Heavy D…’ is similar to ‘Pain Behind Your Eyes’ in that the song slowly builds up from a soft, slow acoustic and gradually building to a hard chorus. This song sounds grunge-like with the gruff vocal delivery and the hard main riff. The best parts of the song are the slower pieces, they add a depth but are simplistic.
‘Let It Flow’ is one of my favorite songs on this album. There is a psychedelic and Middle-Eastern feel to the main riff and music, I enjoy the fact that Bruce is branching out and trying new guitar sounds. Brent Fitz also plays the drums with almost a “tribal” feel though parts of the song. The music and lyrics absolutely identify with the song title, it’s a tune that just makes you feel good. Then the band throws a curve with the depressing title of ‘Empty Soul’. Another song that starts soft and slowly builds into a hard mid-tempo. There are some interesting guitar effects on this track that are subtley like Pink Floyd.
My favorite song on the album is the acoustic ballad ‘October Morning Wind’. This song should have gotten serious radio airplay because it’s got that certain melody that enraptures the listener. Rich harmonies and backing vocals, Corabi and Kulick showing that they can play some serious acoustic guitar. The arrangement is simple and the song is better for it, there’s a warmth to the song. One of my favorite songs of the past decade, I actually play this twice everytime I listen to the record and I just can’t help but sing along.
‘Get Off My Cloud’ is not a cover of the Rolling Stones but rather an original composition that is pure ’90s Hard Rock. The main riff sounds like something from KISS’ REVENGE (1992) or CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1997). John Corabi puts in that trademark rough, screamy vocal with another set of lush harmonies on the backing vocals. The music is a little too REVENGE for me but the song is still good quality, not one of my favorites but still solid. A short guitar solo opens ‘Tangerine’ and builds into another good Rock song with a big hook in the chorus. The main riff is repetitive, again REVENGE-ish, but not like the main riff from ‘Get Off My Cloud’. Bruce plays off the main riff with some subtle parts that add the depth. I also realy like the guitar solo, Bruce opening up those fingers. Another true acoustic number, ‘Robin’s Song’ is soft, slow, and personal. Corabi adds an emotional delivery over the beautiful acoustics.
One of my favorite albums of the last ten years and it’s a shame that a band with this much talent has faded away. The Corabi/Kulick partnership works very well, there are extremely good Hard Rock songs on this album that stay true to the late ’90s style while keeping the influence of the Classic Rock these guys grew up on. All the players are solid and the lyrics are personal, this is a very “real” album. ‘October Morning Wind’ is my favorite song off the album. Others include: ‘Let It Flow’, ‘Old Man Wise’, ‘Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore)’ and ‘Tangerine’. A good solid Hard Rock album.