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Shaft of Light

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Album Review

If nothing else, Airrace's brief and unheralded career proves that having friends in high places doesn't always guarantee surefire success. Originally formed in September 1982 by erstwhile More guitarist Laurie Mansworth, the group would also feature vocalist Keith Murrell, bassist Jim Reid, and keyboardist Toby Sadler (ex-White Spirit), and was essentially handpicked by legendary former Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant to serve as the launching pad for 17-year-old drummer Jason Bonham's career (he was the son of John, of course). But Grant's heavy-handed tactics and general unreliability while shopping Airrace to different labels ended up making them a point of contention between outsized egos and split loyalties once they accepted an offer from Atlantic Records, having already parted with the manager. Nevertheless, things certainly looked promising when Airrace were matched with in-demand producer Beau Hill (white hot after his work on Ratt's million-selling Out of the Cellar) to record their 1984 debut, Shaft of Light, at New York City's Atlantic Studios. Unfortunately, Hill was so enamored with ‘80s technology that he insisted on polishing every last remaining New Wave of British Heavy Metal morsel out of the band's songs, turning down Mansworth's guitars while pushing Sadler's synthesizers to the fore, and even ordering Bonham to use electronic drums throughout the sessions. As a result, Airrace's gritty AOR vision, akin to Foreigner's early albums, could only be glimpsed on a few cuts ("Promise to Call," "Open Your Eyes," "Caught in the Game") and left the vast remainder sanitized beyond repair (think Loverboy!), despite the notable vocal chops exhibited by Murrell at all times. Not even he could restore the passion and pulse lost during Airrace's studio domestication, though, so after tumbling off Atlantic's radar in the U.S. (so much for the Bonham legacy), even as the group was busy opening shows for everyone from Queen to Meat Loaf to AC/DC back in Europe, Shaft of Light vanished from record stores and, seemingly, history itself. In retrospect, though, the album represents an extremely solid, if rare, example of clean-cut British AOR that, while very much dated to the ‘80s, still holds a special place in the hearts of fans of that style.


Formed: 1983

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s

Airrace was a short-lived British heavy metal group formed in 1983 that featured singer Keith Murrell, guitarist Laurie Mansworth, bassist Jim Reid, keyboard player Toby Sadler, and drummer Jason Bonham. They made one album, Shaft of Light, in 1984,...
Full bio

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  • 9,90 €
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: 1984

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