Airrace were originally formed in 1982 and are probably best known these days as the band that saw the musical debut of drummer Jason Bonham. That is a disservice as the band put together by the former More guitarist Laurie Mansworth could stand easily without him. The 1984 release of their debut album, Shaft Of Light, saw the band supporting bands such as Queen, AC/DC and Meat Loaf. It all came to an end in 1985 as they went their separate ways. Then, that debut was given a 25th-anniversary reissue and with a slightly amended line-up, they issued a second album, Back To The Start, in 2011. The current line up, Adam Payne (vocals), Laurie Mansworth (guitar), Rocky Newton (bass), Linda Kelsey Foster (keyboards) and Dhani Mansworth (drums), now unleash a new album called Untold Stories.
It differs in some ways from their earlier work and comes across as 70s centric with elements of many of the class acts from that period, although they do maintain their own identity throughout.
Opener ‘Running Out of Time’ is an amalgam of Rainbow and early Whitesnake with the bluesy riff and keys painting the background for a strong vocal, and a great but short guitar solo.
‘Eyes Like Ice’ has a heavier riff with illuminating keys and is reminiscent of recent JLT stuff…but better! ‘Different But the Same’ is Zep done in AOR style and works a treat with the vocals following the guitar and a surprise acoustic backing before a hugely entertaining guitar solo.
‘Lost’ is an obligatory ballad with acoustic and piano backing multi-tracked vocals: it’s pleasant but doesn’t really go anywhere. ‘Men From the Boys’ is a belter; with an Alice Cooper feel to the instrumentation and build up, it has everything a good melodic rock song should have. ‘Summer Rain’ has a feeling of “let’s write a single” and is a bit AOR by numbers because of it. ‘Come With Us’ dispels that minor disappointment with another slice of what Whitesnake were mixed with a little Mr Big in the chorus. Final track, ‘Here It Comes’, wraps it all up nicely with a jaunty riff encapsulating their feel-good rock ethos, and more Eric Martin similarities.
This collection may not have anything new, but it has boatloads of quality rock bringing a new slant to the 70s feel they engender. It also benefits from high production values and each band member plays their heart and soul out.