What we have here is a double CD release which is the first from the new Pride & Joy Music Classixx label, who are reissuing albums they feel fit that mould. To kick things off they have gone back Deacon Street Project, which was put together by Swedish musician, songwriter and producer Tommy Denander. The project released two albums, ‘Deacon Street Project’ (AOR Heaven, 2004) and ‘Deacon Street II’ (MTM Music, 2006), and while I never heard the first, I got the second when it came out and is probably one of the most played AOR albums in my collection as it is just so good in every way. Consequently, I was incredibly excited to hear this new set where both albums have been remastered by Tommy Denander, and there is a bonus cut on each set.

The line-up on the debut is Jan Johansen (v), Geir Rönning (v), Magnus Weinemo (v), Chris Demming (v), Jamie Meyer (v), Tommy Denander (g, b, k), Jeff Northrup (g), Bruce Gaitsch (g), Sayit (g), Lars Chriss (g), Marcel Jacob (b), Marcus Liliequist (d), and Pat Thern (d) but that somewhat changed and expanded for the second which included Peter Sundell (v), Thomas Vikström (v), Johan Fahlberg (v), Andreas Novak (v), Chris Antblad (v), Stan Bush (v), Geir Rönning (v), Tommy Denander (g), Reb Beach (g), Jeff Watson (g), Marty Friedman (g), Steve Morse (g), Christopher Cross (g), Bobby Messano (g), Bill Leverty (g), Bruce Gaitsch (g), Al V. Dohn (b), Tony Franklin (b), Pat Thern (d), Vinny Heter (d), Daniel Flores (d), and Walter Diego (d). I hate to think how many albums have been sold by those involved, especially on the second, but what makes this such a delight is not the history of those involved but that it is just amazing collection of songs.

I cheated when I listened to this, as while I was keen to play all 28 songs (1 hour 50 minutes), I actually played ‘Two’ first, as this commences with one of the finest AOR songs of all time, the incredible “Beautiful Chardaine”. It may start slowly, but when it hits the chorus, the roof lifts. We even get a killer version of “Action”, which shows the old classic can be played in quite different ways (compare this to Raven’s version just for the hell of it), or what about “Easy As It Seems” from one ‘Unmasked’, one of the albums in Kiss’s wilderness years. But for the most part this is about originals with what feels like one smash after another, from power ballads through to belters, with ‘One’ more than standing up against ‘Two’, and for me it is great to have even more songs to listen to in a similar vein to the ones I have been playing for more than 15 years.

The original releases have long been sought after by fans of this style of music and surely this reissue will allow many others to discover what all the fuss is about. If you enjoy classic American style AOR then this is simply essential.

Rating: 9/10

Track list:
CD 1:
1. Radio
2. Changes
3. Caught Up In A Fear Of Loving
4. I Can’t Go Back
5. Lost In The Moment
6. Before I Loved Just You
7. Living A Lie
8. Love Got A Hold On Me
9. Find Me A Meaning
10. I Don’t Mind
11. Someday I’ll Offer You Surrender
12. Mad About You
13. Love Is Killing Me (Bonus Track)

CD 2:
1. Beautiful Chardaine
2. Leann
3. When Love Is On The Line
4. Save Me
5. I Give This Promise
6. Now We Cry For You
7. Second Comings
8. (Kill Us) On Another Day
9. The Promise Of Forever
10. Misery
11. Action
12. Easy As It Seems
13. Them Changes
14. Jason
15. How Do I (Bonus Track)