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Soldiers of Fortune

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Album Review

Soldiers of Fortune was the last record by the Outlaws that could actually be called an "Outlaws" album. The disc was issued in 1986, three years after the band left Arista, in the wake of huge chart and sales successes a few years earlier by .38 Special, which wed FM radio pop, that '80s keyboard sound, and Southern rock in a winning formula. Given that and the way this record sounds, the title of the album is perhaps more telling of the band's motivation than it is an aesthetic choice. Guitarist Henry Paul returned to the Florida band's fold for this outing, restoring the three-guitar front line that leader Hughie Thomasson favored. But for all the restraint presented here, it hardly mattered. Drum programs abound, as do synthesizers, but nonetheless there is something very compelling about this record. Its feel is utterly nocturnal. It's slick, polished, and holds only a ghostly resemblance to the Outlaws of old. There are no roaring jams and no wrangling, knife-edged guitars — only those spooky, out-of-the-murky-soil melodies that were the band's trademark. There are beautiful songs here, like the opening "One Last Ride," with its shimmering warm synth lines and elasticized guitars and vocals by Jon Butcher. The title track was crafted to hit the same mark that .38 Special's "Caught Up in You" and "Hang On Loosely" were, with its nearly chanted choruses, smooth guitar riffs with just a hint of Southern rock sting, and a hook to die for. "The Night Cries," for all of its Southern flair, still could have been written and produced by Lindsey Buckingham. "Cold Harbor" reflects Paul's gift for writing narrative pop songs and weaving beautiful acoustic guitars through his tomes. "Saved By the Bell" is another tune sculpted in the "Soldiers of Fortune" mold. Only "Just the Way I Like It," "Lady Luck," and (to a lesser extent) "The Outlaw" revel in an '80s form of Southern boogie rock, but even these are textured gloriously. Sonically, this album sounds dated, but musically it's the true space oddity in the Outlaws' catalog, and deserves both a listen and a berth just for that.

Customer Reviews

hell yeah!

This is easily the most underrared album ever. I've heard it a million times off a cassette my dad has, but now that the cassete's old and worn, seeing this album on itunes is a godsend. Some of the songs are OK but basically it's the classic outlaws putting in synths like .38 special and fitting a few songs into the heavier 80's vibe. Cold Harbor is brobably Henry Paul's best songwriting, one last ride has that classic highway ballad sound... and so is the night cries. Saved by the bell is a bit of a let down, but the rest of the songs are fun and upbeat and make you wonder why the 80's were so bad for southern rock... music like this is easily on par with Iron Maiden and Aerosmith without loosing any southern rock grandeur (wether or not you like those bands, I'm just using a bit of a reference point) Give the album a try.

The outlaws soldiers of fortune

I found it at last ! back in the service a buddy from he south turned me on to them. we were in Belguim on remote duty,and both loved civil war history. cold harbor will bring chills to you when ya hear it. great album over all ! I have missed it for over 25 years now. but once again have it a good addition to any soutnren rock lover out there


i'm 30 years old and grew up with southern rock, i have been trying to find southern rock albums on i tunes and it is so exciting to have access to them, cant take my dad's albums he'd kill me. hopefully i-tunes will continue to locate these rarer gems and make them available. a suggestion- i still need The Hard Way by Point Blank, Thanks!


Formed: 1967 in Tampa, FL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Southern rock unit the Outlaws were formed in Tampa, Florida, in 1972 by singers/guitarists Hughie Thomasson and Henry Paul, bassist Frank O'Keefe, and drummer Monte Yoho. With the 1973 addition of guitarist Billy Jones, the lineup was complete, and after a year of intense touring the band became the first act signed to Arista under Clive Davis; the Outlaws' self-titled 1975 album spotlighted their Eagles-influenced harmonies and Allman Brothers-like guitar attack, yielding the Top 40 hit "There...
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