A few years back, we got the debut album from Black Swan, a supergroup combining the talents of Robin McAuley (MSG/Survivor), Jeff Pilson (Dokken/Dio), Matt Starr (Ace Frehley/Mr. Big), and Reb Beach (Winger/Dokken). Their debut album was easily one of the best of its release year, and as fans, many likely wondered if there would be another album from the quartet. It seems like many of these Frontiers Records “manufactured supergroups” are one and done, no matter how good the music may be.
Imagine my delight when I heard we’d be getting a second release from Black Swan!
One of the tough things about a band like Black Swan is the commitments the individual members of the band have to juggle; does anyone know how many different bands these guys are in now? Perhaps more importantly, have these guys grown since their debut; itself one of the best rock releases of recent years?
You’ll be happy to know these guys are firing on all cylinders once again. The first album was great, no questions asked. But it’s GENERATION MIND, the band’s sophomore album, that truly kicks things into high gear. You know how talented these guys are on the basis of their first album, not to mention all the other projects these guys have played together in. Hell, we just got a new melodic/AOR-type solo album from Robin McAuley last year, which was one of my top albums of the year. Mr. McAuley continues to prove himself an MVP in the world of rock and roll, standing tall as the proverbial singer who could sing the phone book and make it a work of art. Pushing 70, the guy still sounds better than most vocalists half his age.
The rest of the band are no slouches either. Pilson’s long been one of the most reliable, not to mention underrated, bassists in the business. And rounding out the rhythm section is Matt Starr, another underrated but superb player who brings his A-game to every project he’s a part of. Axeman Reb Beach lays down the riffs as few others can, bringing to this group what he has to so many others, including those classic Winger records and underrated post-80s Dokken albums as well.
But the question likely on your mind…. Is the music itself any good? It’s hard to find that band that can write good songs in this day and age, let alone perform and bring them to life in the studio and on the live stage. But guess what? The quartet pulls it off here. From the beginning, they grab your attention with the riffage and McAuley’s unmistakable vocal. While certainly a throwback to the hard rock and melodic rock of the past, they still manage to give it a modern edge and not feel like a nostalgia act. That’s good enough for me, and I’m sure it will be for most fans of classic hard rock. We've got the album we asked for... now we just need a live concert tour!
GENERATION MIND will likely show up on my list of 2022’s best rock albums. How could it not with this amount of talent assembled? It’s a breath of fresh air in all the right ways and comes highly recommended. Don’t pass this one by.