Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Harem Scarem – The First Three Albums

From Canada. Not the early Eighties Australian band with the same name. And that is all the similarities that there is between the two.

No one even heard of the Canadian version in Australia. The first time I heard them was when I went to a blog that doesn’t exist anymore and that blog had zip files available to be downloaded via the Cyberlocker sites like Megaupload or Rapidshare or Hotfile.

The first three albums have a powerhouse set list. I was a fan of Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy, so Harem Scarem was right up my alley, however I didn’t hear their music until this year.

1991 – Harem Scarem

It is a strong debut with a terrible album cover. Actually all of their albums in the nineties had bad album covers.

Coming out in 1991, it was not out-of-place. Guitarist Pete Lesperance showed what a talent he is, hence the reason why he is still creating music in 2014. Hearing this album in 2014, I was attempting to shift my mindset back to 1991 and how I would have viewed it at that time. Basically it was just another standard melodic rock release in a genre that started to sound the same.

You see, when the classic rock bands sang about love they were breaking down taboo’s. It was a complex subject once upon a time. So when bands started singing about love and sex in the late eighties and early nineties, the barriers were all torn down. The subject wasn’t taboo anymore. The audience had moved on. Sure, some love songs could resonate with an audience, however you couldn’t build a metal and rock career based on love songs.

Artists needed to rock. And when Harem Scarem rocked, they rocked with the best of them.

Hard To Love

Written by songwriter Christopher Ward, vocalist Harry Hess and guitarist Pete Lesperance. Ward was already a hit maker, with the song “Black Velvet” from 1989 that he co-write with another Canadian songwriter in Dave Mason and sung by another Canadian, Alannah Myles.

When it comes to Canadian hard rock, it is about two to three degrees of seperation between artists, songwriters and producers. Just to give you an example.

Co-Producer Kevin Doyle was the engineer and mixer on the Alannah Myles album released in 1989. Christopher Ward was one of the main co-writers on the Alannah Myles album and he was also a co-writer on “Hard To Love”. Ward’s long time friend and songwriting partner on occasions, Stephen Stohn was executive producer on the TV show “Degrassi: The Next Generation” which also featured a lot of songs from Harem Scarem.

And for the song, it’s a classic melodic rock song. That Journey meets Bon Jovi vibe and the guitar playing from Pete Lesperance is liquid like.

As soon as the lead guitar kicks in, I am reminded of Boston. Chord wise, it’s got a basic Em to C to D progression in the verses and a G to D to C progression in the Chorus. When it comes to any song ever created these are the progression that artists/songwriters revert too.

White Lion’s “Hungry”, Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name (albeit in a different key), Van Halen
“Aint Talkin’ Bout Love”, every Iron Maiden song, Led Zeppelin’s outro in “Strairway To Heaven” and a lot of others.

The difference is always the vocal melodies. That is what makes each song unique enough to stand on its own two legs.

With A Little Love

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

When Harem Scarem do melodic rock ala Def Leppard, they do it well. “With A Little Love” set the standard for these type of songs however the songs that followed afterwards on subsequent album didn’t match up. For example, “Stranger Than Love” from the follow-up, didn’t cut it.

Like all melodic rock songs in the major key, “With A Little Love” is no different. The movement from G to Em brings back memories of “The Deeper The Love” from Whitesnake.

All Over Again

A major key rocker written by Harry Hess. Reminds me of Journey “Anyway You Want It”. The chord progression of D to A to G is a very common progression. A lot of my favourites have this kind of progression.

From a hard rock perspective, you can’t go past Randy Rhoads “Crazy Train”. It is in the key of A, so the chord progression is A to E to D in the verses.

From a ballad point of view, you can’t go past “Knocking On Heavens Door” moves with this progression in the key of G, so the chord progression is G to D to C.

From a musical theory point of view it is a I to V to IV progression.

How Long

Written by Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance and another Candadian songwriter called Dean McTaggart who also worked with an Australian singer called Tina Arena with great success.

From 3.03 it goes into overdrive. The riff under the solo is not just power chords. It is a riff, structured around a groove first and then a guitar solo tailor-made to fit the riff.

Something To Say

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

The first minute and 25 seconds is a classical/flamenco intro that shows the talents on display. After it’s got this “Mr Bojangles” vibe merged with The Beatles “Yesterday” in the same major key as the mentioned songs.

1993 – Mood Swings

Released at a time when Grunge was taking over the world, it was the definitive album from Harem Scarem. It is by far the fan favourite.

Saviours Never Cry

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

What a song to open the album. By far my favourite. That palm muted hammer-on intro has so much groove its undeniable. And the song just goes into overdrive. The heaviness of the track and the balls to the wall attitude makes this song a contender.

If your lips never move
You’re bound to lose the war

What a lyric. Stay silent and prepare to suffer the consequences versus speaking up and preparing to make changes.

No Justice

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

“No Justice In The World” is the catch cry and ain’t that the truth.

The piece de resistance as a guitar player is that Spanish/Arabic feel in the solo section. It is not clichéd and it fits the song perfectly.

Change Comes Around

Another song written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

It’s like “Ballroom Blitz” merged with Van Halen esque rock. Even the lyrics are spoken in a David Lee Roth baritone style. Unintentional connections are what music is all about. How our minds and ears perceive a song and connect with it.

Empty Promises

One more song written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

Again the groove and the rock attitude resonates. It connects from the opening notes. “Screw the System” is the catch cry here and twenty years later we are still trying to screw the system however on occasion the system is screwing us.

Had Enough

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance and those Eddie Van Halen overtones just keep connecting with me.

1995 – Voice Of Reason

Two years passed and we get a heavier/experimental version of Harem Scarem.

Voice Of Reason

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance. The heaviness, the progressive elements and the harder edge immediately connects with me. And the groove just keeps the head nodding and the foot tapping. That solo/bridge section has this Beatles “She’s So Heavy” vibe. Love it.

Warming A Frozen Rose

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

It’s got this Circus Big Top feel to it and the possibilities that offers in the world of rock and metal are huge. And what about that swing jazz like solo section.

Candle

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

Euro Metal. Love the heaviness and that wicked slow groove tempo.

Reminds me of the styles of Axel Rudi Pell and Yngwie Malmsteen.

If you need an introduction into the world of Harem Scarem, then the first three albums are essential listening.

Advertisements
Standard

3 thoughts on “Harem Scarem – The First Three Albums

  1. Just seen this this is a great review of Harems Stuff…Mood Swings still stands the test of time…
    There current release Live At The Phoenix is a great live album….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s