The plight of the guitar instructor is an interesting one. Many are retired recording artists, having had their fill of a demanding life facing hard-hearted critics and rigorous touring cycles, but some of never collected on their fifteen minutes of fame. The Polish-born, London-based Greg X belongs to the latter camp, and "Dream" is his attempt to finally channel many years' worth of creative energies into a fully polished product. Helping him with his debut solo album are vocalist Ken Tamplin (SHOUT) and onetime ASIA drummer Jay Schellen; Schellen's former ASIA bandmate John Payne mixed the album, while Tamplin handled production duties.
As it happens, "Dream" is a near-perfect snapshot of the '80s AOR sound. Tamplin is a fantastic singer, and his silky-smooth voice (reminiscent of Melodic Rock mainstays like Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner) turns every song into molten gold. He nails the high notes just as easily; check out his piercing wail at the tail end of "Wake Me (Before You Go)" for an example of his not inconsiderable range. "Love And Hate" is further proof of his versatility, as he adopts a bit of snarly attitude in the vein of HARDLINE's Johnny Gioeli for this heavier track. Greg X made a wise decision indeed when he hired this severely underrated vocalist.
Greg X himself is certainly no slouch when it comes to musicianship. For the most part, he plays with the restraint that this genre, with its emphasis on sweet, sweet melody, so often demands. Tracks like "As The World Spins 'Round" show him churning out heavier, almost Metal riffs, while "Waiting On You" showcases his knowledge as a guitar academic with a pretty sweet solo. His songs carry a consistent '80s Rock motif (sunny choruses and all) without ever sounding stale or repetitive, thus avoiding the trap that most bands flirting with a retro style tend to fall into.
"Dream" is about as good a Melodic Rock debut as one can expect, and Greg X has managed to pull it off without the benefit of being signed to a major label. He's pulled together a smart group of talented msuical partners, and the result is a very complete and polished album in "Dream." Furthermore, Greg X's superb songwriting is matched with an above-average production for an independent release, making for a collection of AOR songs that should delight any fan of the genre.
(Online June 23, 2012)