This 1994 effort was Liverpudlian Ian McNabb's second solo album (following his 1980s spell as leader of The Icicle Works) and, although I have a marginal preference for his 1993 solo debut Truth And Beauty (for me, it has higher proportion of quality songs), this is another fine album, with a 'much larger' sound. Here, McNabb has employed a real drummer (unlike the 'programming' on Truth And Beauty) in Crazy Horse's Ralph Molina and, along with the use of Horse bassist Billy Talbot, the rhythm guitar of Mike Hamilton and John Porter's production, this has the effect of creating (on a number of the songs) a veritable towering wall of sound.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the two album openers Fire Inside My Soul and You Must Be Prepared To Dream. These are two superb songs (for me, easily the best here), nearly 16 minutes of pure, unadulterated, pulsating guitar-based rock, OK not exactly original, but, for me, recreating the effect of something like a cross between Like A Hurricane-style Neil Young (not surprising I guess given that Messrs. Molina and Talbot were an integral part of Hurricane's sound) and Rosalita-style Bruce Springsteen. OK, I'm not saying that McNabb's songs are quite in the same league as these two masterpieces, but they are undoubtedly heartfelt and emotionally driven, (perhaps) expounding the Scouse poet's mixed feelings of frustration, with their autobiographical tales of ambition ('Started out in Sausalito, they said, "You talk just like The Beatles"'), regret, but ultimately determination and positivism.
Elsewhere, McNabb's focus on epic scale for the songs (with four others each coming in at over 7 minutes duration) is perhaps overdoing it a little, but the man's guitar playing is outstanding (and, it has to be said, never more Neil Young-like) throughout. Other favourites for me are the nicely soulful Still Got The Fever, the restrained acoustic feel of As A Life Goes By and the infectious pop melody of This Time Is Forever.
I have to say that I have rather lost track of McNabb's career latterly, but have just registered the fact that in March 2013 he released his 10th solo album - all I can say is 'well done mate', and I really should take the time to listen to some of his later material.