Bassist Gary Shea, a member of classic bands such as New England and Alcatrazz, has long been one of the rock and roll world’s unsung heroes. In the early 70s, prior to his rise in the music world, Shea had attempted a collaboration with guitarist DH Cooper, vocalist Peter French (Atomic Rooster and Cactus), and drummer Herman Rarebell (later of Scorpions fame). For various reasons, the Cooper Shea collaboration never came to fruition, but the quartet has reunited to record an album.
With all of these musicians forging careers for themselves elsewhere in the rock and metal world, it is not likely that anyone knew these guys would ever record together again. Partners in Time was certainly not an album this rock and roll fan was expecting to see, but the unexpected release is a welcome addition to this fan’s music collection.
The biggest surprise and oddity about this release from Cooper Shea is that it is mostly instrumental. There is a definite retro 80s hard rock vibe here, but it does not feel like it is purely a throwback either, in that the release is not afraid to branch out and incorporate some other sounds as well. From the great classic heavy metal riffs of “Orange” to the 70s classic rock feel of something like “Move It,” there is some fantastic material to be heard here. Musical diversity is beautifully demonstrated through tracks like the ballad “Don’t Make Angels Cry” and the melodic sounds of “Eastern Light.” We only get two cuts with vocals on the album, “High Danger” and “Nickels and Dimes,” and I would have loved to hear French’s vocal work on a few more cuts. Fortunately, “The Crossing” finishes the album off in fine form, even if it does borrow a little too heavily from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
It is a shame this release is bound not to get the attention it deserves, because Gary Shea and company have generated a solid record that absolutely deserves the attention of any fan of classic hard rock and AOR. Yes, I would have loved to see more tracks with vocals, but that is a minor shortcoming. In the long run, it is easy to recommend Partners in Time.