FM – “Tough It Out Live” 2CD (Frontiers Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Right from their arrival in 1984, FM have remained a mainstay in the British AOR scene over the course of 11 studio albums, while becoming famous across Europe, North America and Japan over the years thanks to a string of hits! Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their second album, “Tough It Out”, that saw the band break it big in the UK through a 42-date tour and featuring contributions from Desmond Child (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi), Jesse Harms, Robin and Judith Randall (Mark Free), this 23-track double live album sees their sophomore, which has since become an AOR staple, performed in its entirety from their last 2019 UK and German shows. If that wasn’t enough, then what makes “Tough It Out Live” shine even more are the 11 tracks rarely performed live that have been specially selected by the band to offer the discerning fan a greater insight into FM’s deeper repertoire. Still with the founding core of ex-Samson bassist Merv Goldsworthy and drummer Pete Jupp, along with rhythm guitarist / lead vocalist Steve Overland (Wildlife) and long-time members Jem Davis (Tobruk, UFO) on keyboards and lead guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick, FM show through their stellar performances what classic 80s AOR was – and still is – through their dazzling, faultless musicianship oozing bountiful melodies, heart breaking harmonies and kick ass rock. Whether it’s Davies’ synth dancing in contrast to the hard rock riffs, the passionate lead and backing vocals are nothing short of moving in leading to the tender chorus on ‘Feels So Good’, taken from their acclaimed sophomore, and judging by the roar of the crowd and applause, I’d say the reaction is no different to what it was 3 decades ago! Of the rarities, it’s impossible to resist the crunching riffs and thumping beat of ‘Digging Up The Dirt’ from 2015’s “Heroes And Villains”, and when Overland’s soul meshes with Goldsworthy’s sexy basslines, the fanatical crowd understandably join in without any hesitation. Showing their composing prowess on ‘Tough Love’ from 2013’s “Rockville”, it’s clear from the sultry fluid bliss of the melodic guitars that FM’s ballads are on par with Def Leppard, both in style while still resonating that authentic 80s sound as echoed by Davies’ ample synth harmonies, not forgetting Overland’s excellent crooning vocals once again. On the uplifting ‘Hollow’, taken from 2010’s “Metropolis”, the laid back but ultra-catchy feelgood factor is overpowering as it bathes you in its warmth through the soft guitars and synths, while Overland’s vocals go a long way to prove why he’s still one of the best in the game. This is an awesome release, not just for FM fans, but for anyone who wants to take it back to the classic days, which are evidently very much still around thanks to this top notch British AOR band!