Stand Or Fall

Paul Shortino

MusicWorks Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Paul Shortino is probably a familiar name to anyone who grew up on a steady diet of metal in the mid-'80s. First coming to the spotlight as the lead vocalist of Rough Cutt, he soon became known as Kevin Dubrow's replacement in Quiet Riot, taking over as the band appeared to be on its last legs.

Since then, Shortino has re-teamed with Rough Cutt, and has made a name for himself as a solo artist. Stand Or Fallmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , his 1999 release, illustrates that Shortino is someone who deserves to be given the chance to succeed or fail on his own terms, though his greatest success comes when he sings not metal, but the blues.

The album's title track is pure evidence of this, as Shortino outdoes Gary Moore for pure soul as he sings a variation of the 12-bar blues. Combined with his backing band, the Rhythm Junkies (whose membership is so varied it would take most of this review to list them all), Shortino plows through this, as well as a cover of Willie Dixon's "Same Thing" and makes these tracks believable.

This isn't to say that Shortino can't or shouldn't sing his own variation of hard rock. Tracks like "Take Me Into The Fire," "I Know You Want Me" and "Honesty" all carry with them a power that Shortino has demonstrated on and off for the past 15 years. It might not be the kind of oomph that would carry someone to superstardom, but it's respectable enough that listeners should sit up and take notice.

If only Stand Or Fall could carry that momentum throughout the album. It's not that tracks such as "Devil In My Heart" and "You Can't Lose" are bad; they're just somewhat formulatic - and if anyone would want to move away from sounding like they're following a formula, it would be someone like Shortino who survived the hard rock/metal meltdown of the late '80s/early '90s.

The closing track, "Broke n' Busted," seems to capture Shortino at his essence: a singer with the heart of a bluesman and the vocal grit of someone who's been slugging it out in the minor leagues for far too long. It's a nice touch, and quite fitting to end the album on.

Stand Or Fall might not break Shortino back into the common ground of hard rock fans today, but down the road, when he does make that glorious comeback (and I don't doubt he'll do it), people will come back to this album and take note of it, flaws and all... and wonder why they didn't notice Shortino back then.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MusicWorks Records, and is used for informational purposes only.