Dare – “Sacred Ground” (Legend Records)
Legends. Formed by singer songwriter Darren Wharton (who first rose to fame in the early 80s playing keyboards for Thin Lizzy), Dare are probably England’s best known AOR band and even more regarded for their 1988 debut “Out Of The Silence”. Teaming up with young guitarist Vinny Burns upon the demise of Lizzy, Wharton set to work immediately on his own band and despite re-joining Lizzy in 1994, Dare have issued a steady stream of releases to build a worldwide fan base. Well, it’s easy to see why when listening to the 11 tracks on “Sacred Ground” – all those years in Lizzy playing alongside musicians like Snowy White (Pink Floyd), Gary Moore and John Sykes (Whitesnake), not to mention co writing 3 songs off “Thunder and Lightning” including the hit single ‘The Sun Goes Down’ must have taught him a thing or two! So if you’re after heart deep passion, tear welling emotion yet uplifting rock with a classy Gaelic touch, then songs like ‘Along The Heather‘, ‘On My Own’ and my fave ‘Until’ with lyrics like ‘…If there was no tomorrow, For this day I would make you mine, And I’d hold you my darling, Until we reach the end of time…’ will have you emboldened to take on the world (and knee deep in Kleenexes). From Wharton’s own self confident manly vocals to Burns’s excellent complementary guitar work, at times prominent in its solos, yet elsewhere quietly adding melodies in the background, the sheer quality of the song writing is what makes this band so potent – they do dare indeed and succeed magnificently as ‘… I close my eyes, my spirit flies..’! Without a shadow of a doubt, AOR album of the year.