The Hobbit Story...
Lee 'The Took' Bradfield brings us the first in a series of ongoing segments with the Texas band Hobbit. Over the next few months within GLORY DAZE, Lee will take us on a journey with these much loved pomp rockers, which has its origins way back in the Seventies. While the rest of the world was boogie-ing down to 'Saturday Night Fever' or remonstrating with John Travolta's hairstyle in 'Grease', the beginnings of a pomp legend was beginning to take shape, far from the locations where this style of music is better known, but right in the heart of ZZ Top territory!
In a hole in the. . .no, sorry, that's been done already!! In the wee hours of a fine morning in the 1st 'Age', before Mr. Sun had risen, 'Turk' and a friend threw small stones at a second story window until the groggy head of Gene Fields popped out! A surprising and un-expected question was put to him. . ."hey man, you want to start a Rock-n-Roll band"?? He responded, and well. . . . .
THE HOBBIT STORY
This special ongoing article with Hobbit, will culminate with the release of their new, forthcoming album due later this year. More details on that further down the line. Anyway, on to the story.. George (Editor)
Although this is an interview with Hobbit's Paul "Turk" Henry, my first question is to you, the reader: what makes a legendary AOR band? Is the criteria simply album sales and media popularity, or is it quality melodic songs and memorable live performances over a period of time, whether they sold millions of records or not? I'm asking you to consider the second option in the case of Hobbit, and you just might discover that AOR's best kept secret during the classic '78 to '85 period goes beyond being one of AOR's true legends, they redefine the meaning of resilience... this is their story. With Gene Fields (vocals & guitar) and Paul "Turk" Henry (vocals & bass) having discovered their shared enthusiasm for the works of JRR Tolkien in the mid 70's, the nucleus of Hobbit was born - in the unlikely AOR hot zone of Tyler in East Texas! Soon enough Rusty Honeycutt was added on drums, and the fledgling 3-piece unit wasted no time in writing and recording their first batch of tunes. Paul takes up the story.
We must have spent the first year just writing songs, and it was amazing how easy this came together, and how much fun it was. Somehow, we rounded up enough money to buy a four Track reel-to-reel recorder, and by early 1978, we started the "Join the Celebration" album project. We had covered the small room with red and blue carpet, and it was not too bad. We got the basic tracks of drums and bass done in a couple of weeks, but it took about 4 months to complete it. So many different things were recorded on the same tracks, and it took six hands and good memory to mix it. Obviously, the recording quality was not that good, but we still look back on the 12 songs in that collection as some great stuff, and it really defined the Hobbit style of Fantasy Rock. Even in those days, we liked linking songs together and using odd sounds and effects. I doubt if anyone else ever did a song called "Bailey's Turnip"!
In 1979, Richard Hill joined the band on lead guitar and keyboards, rounding out all the ingredients necessary for what we consider classic AOR. The logical next step was to bring these songs to live audiences in their native East Texas, incorporating a theatrical / visual twist to their stage show, and to record further tunes with the extra dimension Richard brought into their sound. Some of these tracks started getting heavy airplay on East Texas radio stations, resulting in them appearing on various Radio Compilation lp's - Hobbit's star was on the rise.
Finally, we began to start playing live, and decided to promote our own concert at a large auditorium. We created a couple of real impressive radio commercials. We edited several pieces of songs that we had recorded into 30-second spots. Then we wrote the stuff for Turk to say. He was great! His voice was perfect, and he added some dynamics that made these commercials like stuff you would hear on the Dallas and Houston radio stations. The concert was a great success - we drew over a thousand people. Most of these paid the $4.50 ticket price to get in. Producing the show was a real trip - arranging the songs, lighting, and special effects. We played about 15 songs, starting with "Daydream Harvest" and moving through "Faggots", "In Mordor", "Fallin", and "Langley Island". This was a blast! We had built a big fog machine with a 55-gallon barrel and a 100-watt heater.
We had someone drive to Dallas that day and buy some dry ice. We used the fog at the introduction narrative that Turk did on "In Mordor". [This song has now been changed a bit and recorded new for "All for the One".] Maybe the highlight of this show was a special "trick" that went like this: Early that day, we had the PA speakers set up on either side of the stage. We then strung up small piano wire about 12 feet off the floor of the auditorium. There were two strings, and each one went from behind the big speakers across to the very back of the auditorium. From the right side, it crossed over the audience to the left side and visa versa. Each one passed over the big speakers by a few inches. Then we had some skyrockets left over from New Year's fireworks. We put small eye screws into the wooden sticks, and ran the piano wire through these, before stringing them up very tightly. There were three rockets on each side, easily sliding on the wires - waiting behind the speaker stacks.
We had someone waiting with lighters behind each speaker stack, and they lit all the rockets at just the right time. You can't imagine what a surprise it was to see these things shoot like 90 miles an hour just over everyone's head. After "Join the Celebration", we played the recording of the chant that we did in Dallas - it just faded into this as we ended. We put our guitars down and threw out bunches of flowers. We didn't just play - we produced real theatrical events. These first concerts really solidified the Hobbit fan base.
At this point, we encountered a fork in the road and chose what might have been the wrong direction. Our first professional recording encounter was with a guy named Robin Hood Brians. He's the guy who recorded ZZ Top's first three albums, right there in Tyler Texas. Anyway, after listening to all of our "fantasy rock" songs, he concluded that we needed to move away from this and into commercial pop music if we ever hoped to succeed. Because of his credentials, we did in fact begin to write much more accessible music. This was not altogether a bad direction for us, because the first song was "Love is Forever" and we got great airplay with it. Still, as we look back we're certain that our greatest strength is not in this direction; either musically or lyrically.
Meanwhile, it was a great accomplishment being chosen by Q102 in Dallas to be on their "More Texas Crude" album. They passed on our commercial pop songs, but they loved "Midyear's Eve" and it was the last pick for the album. We did a good job of the recording, and finally the whole album was released in the Dallas area in April. Instantly, we received a lot of airplay right there in Big D! This was a major accomplishment for an all-original garage band from East Texas. We were joined on the album with nine other Texas bands from all over. There were more than 400 tapes sent in to this contest. All of the songs got some airplay, but "Midyear's Eve" sustained longer than any other song on the album.
Around this time Hobbit's reputation as a hot live act was spreading far and wide, resulting in their sharing the stage with some of AOR's heavyweights such as Loverboy, Axe, Night Ranger and an unforgettable one night stand with Cheap Trick.
An exciting time was when we were chosen as the opening act for Cheap Trick, at Hirsh Coliseum in Shreveport. It all happened so fast that we didn't have time to get a build up of butterflies. Hobbit was opening for Cheap Trick? [you gotta be shittin' me] It was exciting to meet the guys from Cheap Trick; Robin Zander, Rick Neilson, etc. The excitement really took off when we got set up and started our sound check. Cheap Trick went through theirs next. Gorilla went to get some hamburgers at McDonald's, and we were all starved.
As usual, we had our guitars in the dressing room, and tuned them up. We were all dressed and ready. The feeling we had in that dressing room, knowing what we were about to experience, was awesome. This was a major accomplishment for everyone who was involved with Hobbit - everyone who had believed in us. All of a sudden, it was time to go. We filed out and through the big hallway out to the backstage. They had turned out the lights in the auditorium and the crowd noise picked up. With guitars in hand, we climbed the steep stairs up to the stage. We looked out into that void of people and it was unbelievable. Our hearts were pounding and we all lost our breath for a moment. This instant might be the highest peak on the journey.
It was barely light enough to see around on this huge stage. It was like a basketball court! Turk yelled into the mic as we walked across the stage, feeling like a deer caught in car headlights. Gene quickly walked over to the center microphone and checked the height, and the tape with spare picks. Keith hit a few rolls on the drums - we were ready. The crowd was getting louder! Terry and Gorilla had everything in order.
The radio DJ stepped up to the center microphone. As he started talking, a spotlight came on. The microphone was so loud, and the whole place was now in touch with it. "Ladies and gentlemen - from Tyler Texas! - Please welcome! - Hobbit!!". Rick led off with the "slime" intro with the Arp synthesizer for "Faggots in the Fire". This was still our best song to start with. The rest of the show was a blur!
It was unbelievable playing on a stage that big in front of a sellout show of 15,000 screaming kids. It was so high, and the spotlights were so bright that it was hard to see their faces. It looked like an ocean. We also played the newest song, "Up and Down." We did great, and the crowd response was awesome. To our surprise, the crowd brought us back for an encore, which was unusual for an opening act. This kind of experience turns on a confidence and a cockiness that is required in that business.
The concert promoter offered Hobbit this opening spot to finish the whole US tour, but we still had regular jobs at the time, and had to turn it down.
Not long after, we played another big opening show for Loverboy. They had gotten real hot with that song "Turn Me Loose". We talked for a while with Mike Reno, and the guys in the band. He especially left a positive vibe. It's funny how encounters like that sometimes mean so much to someone. They were where we wanted to be. We always tried to be that way to other young musicians who were a little bit in awe of where we were. Anyway... We played good that night, and got great crowd response. Even the Loverboy guys came up after the show and were real supportive.
The reputation of Hobbit had now reached the ears of CBS Records in New York, and in 1981 the band had the opportunity to go up there and record an album for possible release on CBS.
The summer of 81 was like a fantasy, recording 'Two Feet Tall' in New York. They chose, ironically, Wizard Studios and The Hit Factory for the project. This was a giant step up from the recordings we had done in Texas, and we knew we were lucky. There we were, recording this album, and getting paid for it; and partying all we could the rest of the time. On weekends, we usually went down into the city for some fun - and that place never stops. Sometimes we piled in and drove the old Texas Cadillac, and other times we caught a train that was nearby. We also went to many clubs, especially in Greenwich Village.
In the studio, it soon became a lot of long days - it's not easy producing and recording an album. 'Midyear's Eve was our unanimous choice to lead off. Sometime after the basic drum tracks were done and other tracks added, they cut and spliced the order we ended up with. The first side flowed together real well, but the second was more of a collection of the others. The next step was to add 'scratch vocals'; just to make the songs seem real while the long process of instrumental stuff was completed. The final lead vocals were not done until the very last on some songs.
Every night we ate out somewhere, and Turk could always leave 'em with a loud burp. On lots of nights, we went to bars and stuff and just acted like rock stars in our own ways. The next final tracks we worked on were Turk's bass, and he went through that pretty quick. We constantly listened to an updated cassette of the songs as they progressed, back at the rooms. We took great pains to get the right sound for each part, using different amps, mic setups, and effects.
Probably the most memorable part of the Hobbit project at Wizard Studios was the symphony orchestra. So when the 25 or so professional musicians showed up, the entire dead room was set up with chairs and music stands. There was at least 50 pounds of sheet music written for 'Midyear's Eve', 'Puppets', 'Love Is Forever', and 'Intensity'. There were violins, cellos, violas, oboes, flutes, French horns (these were great), a bassoon, and timpani drums. All the music was set up for each one and numerous mics were placed around the room. It was so compact. It amazed us how they played all of these Hobbit songs without even hearing them before. A number of small changes were made as the day progressed, but it came together. It was a big time feeling watching these 'real' musicians play and record in our songs.
Another cool part of the time at the studios in New York was meeting famous musicians that we had always liked. Leslie West and Corky Laing (Mountain) were also recording at Wizard. They were cool guys to talk with and had some great Longbottom Leaf. Even the OJays stopped by several times. The most impressive visitor we had at Wizard Studio was Ian Hunter. He was the singer and leader of Mott The Hoople, that British band that did 'All The Young Dudes' back in the early 70's. Ian spent an entire day in the studio with us and we really hit it off together. The next thing we knew, his friend Frank Zappa showed up. He helped us with 'Intensity', but his favorite song was 'The Way We Are'. He told us many colorful stories of rockin' in the 60's, and the encounter was unforgettable.
By the end of the project, Hobbit and the producer were not at all in agreement over a lot of the direction we took. We always felt that he stripped too much of the spontaneous life from the songs by forcing the click track and exact order for things. He admitted afterward that he should have seen us live first. Our advice to any young musicians in this spot is to listen to what they're saying, but don't sell out.
Despite recording what many now consider a pomp AOR classic, CBS suffered a brain fade and decided not to go for it - leaving Hobbit with a great album recorded but no record deal, and legal complications around the rights to the material.
In the early years of Hobbit, we had a manager who had helped us get started, but he had limited resources. After we gained popularity in Texas, another management group entered the picture. Thus began a legal struggle that lasted over a year, each one suing the other; while we were caught in the middle. From the summer of 78 to the fall of 85 we lived lives that few people experience. The pursuit of that dream with the music became everything. We had become popular enough to maintain a constant group of people who also existed for its attraction.
It was much more than an attraction - it was an addiction. Hobbit really touched several dozen people, changing their courses in life forever. There were many moments of great excitement. Between writing and recording, playing concerts, chasing a record deal, drugs, and love affairs; the time could only be described in a word as 'intensity'. Here, let's make a point: everyone involved with management or the production of Hobbit sincerely gave it their best - let's not torment an ugly dog!
Where many other bands would have thrown in the towel, Hobbit went home and worked on recording tracks with a more 80's AOR sound, and on restarting their live performance campaign in Texas where they were now far beyond cult heroes, drawing crowds of 3000 and more as a headline act.
Through all the ups and downs, there was one thing that kept it all going - songwriting. It is impossible to describe how exciting it is to write and play original songs. For the time that we were productive, we experienced a rare bond between people. The stuff we did together was clearly better than anything we did before or after our time. It was our time. We were different, but the chemistry gave us remarkable ability to piece together ideas that each one had. During the writing of the songs in the 'Join The Celebration' tape, we developed a style that satisfied each other's musical direction. Each of us would have several ideas and riffs going all the time. As we started piecing together a song, somebody's part might fit. Looking back, it's funny how some parts of songs started out in another, the year before.
The walk down memory lane with Texan pomp rockers Hobbit rolls over into our third installment. Lee Bradfield talks with Paul 'Turk' Henry and Gene Fields, finding out all about the value of songwriting, the gigs, the celebrities, the break-up, the reunion, and of course the new album!!!
Continuing the discussion about songwriting from Part Two... Our best creations came while we were all practicing some night, where we always kept the atmosphere right. All of the stage lights were set up and it was dark except for this, so it always felt like a gig. We just about always had some cold beer too. We always started by running through our act, and worked on continuity. That was always real important to us. Then we got into other stuff. Once an idea turned us on, it was like everything else in the world kind of stood still and got out of the way. For us, the feeling of playing and singing a new song would forever be one of the most memorable things you can experience.
Meanwhile, we were playing many concerts and large club gigs all over the south. We played a tour in Los Angeles and Southern California, including Rissmillers Country Club and The Music Machine. One night we played at The Troubador, where Van Halen, Doors, etc used to play. Another night was a real good gig at Cal State Northridge, and those kids really got off on our music. Finally, we played at Gazzari's on Sunset Strip, in Hollywood. That's still a famous place in LA.
One of the best opening act shows that we did was with Night Ranger. They were a hot new rock n roll band with a killer song on the radio - 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me'. The show was in Dallas. That afternoon we got our sound check right along with the guys from Night Ranger. Jack Blades and Brad Gillis were some of the nicest guys that we ever met from a rock n roll band that was really big. The guys from Loverboy were just as good, inviting us over to their place after the show. Cheap Trick was kind of burned out, Quiet Riot weren't the easiest lot to get along with, but Jack and Brad were quality people. Brad had been playing with Ozzy prior to the formation of Night Ranger. We spent about an hour talking about making it in the music business, how it felt, and how hard it was. That time together gave us a good feeling. The next song to come along was inspired by these guys: 'Ain't Lookin' for Paradise'.
We also played a gig in Dallas with the British band Humble Pie. We had been fans of theirs for a decade. In the early days, Peter Frampton was the lead guitarist and Steve Marriott was the singer. After Frampton left and went solo, the band actually went on to become even bigger. Steve Marriott was a wiry little guy with a raspy rock n roll voice. Anyway . . . for years we had been fans of this guy, Steve Marriott; and were really looking forward to meeting him. Boy, were we disappointed. He was an obnoxious, burned out, foul mouthed, egotistical, resentful old drunk. We regretted ever meeting Steve Marriott, but we learned a good lesson about the pitfalls of life in rock and roll. Whatever. Anyway, it was a good gig, and we had a lot of fans there.
After more near misses with record companies and understandable frustration, Keith Young and Richard Hill left the band. Still, Gene and Paul refused to give up the dream and recruited 3 talented teenagers to begin what was Hobbit's 'Third Age'. This lineup recorded a batch of straight ahead 80's AOR tracks in 1985.
Again, the songwriting during this time was very productive, and had a great influence from the younger guys. As soon as we had enough, we set up to record again. There was a huge empty building next to the studio at that time. We set the drums up there, and got some great sounds. This was a good recording, with songs like 'Competition', 'Can You Feel It?', 'Ticket', 'Easy To Say', 'Tie The Noose', and 'On My Mind'.
While many great bands of the late 70's such as Roadmaster, Airborne, Morningstar all giving it up at the start of the 80's, denying us the chance to hear what magical mid 80's AOR they might have recorded, it took a life threatening medical tragedy to disband Hobbit. About this time, Gene started getting headaches playing and singing. In time, this led all the way to brain surgery! Gene looks at it as a funny episode in Hobbit, and everything thankfully ended up fine, but at the time it looked like Hobbit was really over.
Turk then went on to form the hard rock band LIX, who released a great album a few years later. This one also sold worldwide. Despite the disappointments and trauma with Hobbit, Turk kept the burning desire. However, with LIX, a classy hard rocking unit including some of the 1985 Hobbit lineup, that band releasing two barnstorming albums, albeit in a harder rocking vein.
After releasing the 1981 New York recordings as 'Two Feet Tall' in 1999, and the 1983 era recordings as 'Rockin' The Shire' in 2001, Hobbit had finally gotten their music out into the market, and their fans could finally go into a store and purchase a Hobbit album. And something even more magical happened as a result. Turk and Gene pick up the story..
In late 2000, Johannes of Record Heaven (Sweden) approached Hobbit to record a track for an upcoming Thin Lizzy tribute album. The only requirement was that Hobbit had to be the original members, so Turk started trying to make this happen. Awkward at first, it was obvious that all the magic of Hobbit was still there. On the first night of pre-production for 'Fools Gold', the Thin Lizzy song that Hobbit was given, it was a time to remember. Besides the work, Hobbit jammed on 'Two Feet Tall', 'Intensity', 'Rockin', 'Till I Get You Back', and many more. There was great laughter and lots of beer shared that night! Also from that session, a piece of a new song emerged. It later became 'Rivendell', which is included in the upcoming CD 'All For The One'.
OK G-DAZE readers, now that we've had a whirlwind crash course in how they got to this point, here it is, exclusive to Glory Daze: a track by track adventure through the upcoming masterpiece 'All For The One' with Gene and Paul..
>From the inspiration of this tribute album cut 'Rivendell', Hobbit began to write again, and it was truly amazing how this craft never left them. Within a few months, it was obvious that we had a mission to create a new album. Songs like 'Wind and The Way', 'Last To The Havens', 'Destiny Chaser', and 'Echos in Mirkwood' had already taken shape. All we needed was a way to record, and pretty soon we pulled together and bought a couple of Roland 1880 digital workstations. The past two years have flown by, and we've been very busy and very happy with the work on this project.
We committed early on, that we would write an entire concept album about Middle Earth. That might seem like a common thing for a band called Hobbit, but we never had more than a couple of Tolkien related songs on any album. As the songs took shape, so did the collection as a body of work. We've had a great time piecing everything together with dialog and short musical transitions. The entire CD is one continuous 74 minute musical presentation of light and dark; just like it is in Lord Of The Rings. We strongly believe that 'All For The One' is the best album that Hobbit has ever created. We are now in the process of mixing and mastering all of the material, and it should be available early this fall. Here's the list of songs:
02 In The Shire
04 There and Back Again
05 Wind and The Way
06 One More Time
07 Hey Bombadil
08 Echos in Mirkwood
10 Grand Departure
11 Mines of Durin
12 Lothlorien/Whispers of Gollum
13 Beyond the River
14 Destiny Chaser
16 Thoughts of Frodo
18 In Mordor
19 Farewells/Last to The Havens
A late November release is scheduled for this remarkable CD, and you can count on Glory Daze to keep you right up to speed as the big day approaches. Stephen King once wrote the words 'sometimes they come back' You better believe it!
Hobbit - All For The One (2003 / Midwest Records)
Gene Fields (vocals / guitars / keys), Paul "Turk" Henry (vocals / bass / guitar / narration), Richard Hill (lead guitar / keys), Rusty Honeycutt (drums)
Produced by Hobbit
It's been 18 years of silence, almost two decades since Hobbit recorded a batch of original songs in 1985. To come back after all this time, surely nothing less than a classic would seem worthwhile to them. Then again, why settle for just "classic" ? This 74 minute concept album experience redefines the term "masterpiece" by taking the listener through not just the letter but the spirit of the Lord Of The Rings, which has been the subject of concept albums before - but never like this ...
As you'd expect with Hobbit, the intro is nothing you could've predicted : a grumpy troll expressing his appetite for a hobbit shinbone ! Then running directly into the launch song Everywhere, an anthem for the ages full of all the ingredients that make AOR the treasured genre it is - anthemic melody and hook combination over a powerful 4/4 bedrock of drumming, thrilling from start to finish. Flowing directly into In The Shire, a sweet and short pomp rocker at midtempo, devoted to the joys of living in the Shire just before the great threat. Trademark Hobbit melodies abound, paving the way for Turk's chilling spoken introduction to Nazgul, a menacing slice of Dio-esque rock, all power riffs and big melodies despite the ominous vocal delivery from Turk, bringing across the threatening subject matter with conviction. There And Back Again ushers in the first of many finely crafted gentle acoustic based tracks, bringing through the mystical / minstrel style that Hobbit can call on at will. This particular gem focuses on setting the scene for the journey to begin, and features a rocking uptempo middle section with flute adding a Celtic flavour to good effect. The Wind And The Way is similar in style, but a little more laid back with ethereal tendencies. It's a beautiful tribute to Tolkien for having created a separate world for our imaginations to to wander into.
One More Time is another clear highlight on display, one of many. Travelling between ethereal and power ballad, this is what we could consider the blueprint for "fantasy rock" - melodic, powerful and mystical : yet another string to the AOR bow. Hey Bombadil is a different creature entirely, built around nothing less than a dulcimer and filled with atmosphere from the book (whistles, frogs and some quotes from Tom B himself), it's an advanced master class in acoustic based melody, recalling the very best Kansas had to offer. From Turk's shadowy spoken intro you're aware of darkness to come, and Echoes In Mirkwood certainly delivers : sounding creepy and intimidating yet always musical, Turk sings the courage right out of you with some chilling delivery and inflection. Respite is at hand though, with Rivendell celebrating a place of strength and hope via Kansas-like tempo changes and melodies, yet it sounds like only Hobbit could deliver it. Grand Departure is an instrumental pomp rock workout of the highest order, showing Styx how it's really done. Mines Of Durin is the very darkness under the mountains come to life : ominous and intimidating, and by design slightly less melodic to better suit the subject matter.
After the brief instrumental Lothlorien takes us to a lighter place (complete with phonetic lessons from Treebeard !), Whispers Of Gollum perfectly captures the divided scheming mind of Smeagol / Gollum, again more ominous than melodic, as required. Beyond The River returns us to the ethereal acoustic based style established earlier, full of subtle melody and reflective lyrics considering the dangers that wait across the Anduin River. After a stirring spoken intro, Destiny Chaser launches into a midtempo AOR classic recalling Survivor and Franke & The Knockouts. The chorus is especially powerful, showing their capacity for classy 80's hooks, and demonstrating just how to weave a vocal attack around them. Gene is once again in fine vocal form, combining the silky and powerful aspects of his voice for an absolute winner. The spoken intro to Witchking is truly menacing, possibly delivered by Sauron himself in the black tongue ? Witchking commences with a wicked hook and powerhouse vocals from Turk, remaining mostly within the minor chords yet melodic throughout. Special mention must be made of the instrumental break, encompassing guitar work from Rick that ventures into anthemic Iron Maiden territory, and fierce double bass drumming from Rusty to challenge even Metallica at their own game.
Thoughts Of Frodo is a gentle minstrel piece of pure class, imbued with classical influence and over all too soon. Gene remains at the mike for Emptiness, another mystical excursion fusing acoustic and electric guitars with inventive drums. Next up is In Mordor, a Hobbit classic from 1978/9, re-recorded here. As he did of old, Turk narrates the hair-raising spoken intro, surpassing the original narrative with deep inflections and tones that only the years bring. The song has been remodelled, toughened up and injected with a fierce power that will amaze all who know the original. Turk sings lead on this daunting new version, in keeping with the Gene / light, Turk / dark approach to vocals on this disc. Most importantly, the classic melody is unchanged and flourishing in it's new sonic surrounds - even the beloved Kansas-styled break in the middle part sounds as good as ever. Farewells is a downtempo slice of grand / classical pomp rock, with melodies to cause chill bumps. Gene's beloved vocals are stamped all over this too short stunner, and it's easy to picture him singing with his trademark smile as he did when delivering "Changes" to a packed arena in Palestine, Texas all those (20) years ago. Hobbit have always been able to end a recorded work with considerable style, and the years have changed nothing - Last To The Havens combines all the bittersweet sadness and heartache of the final chapter, and sets it to music that chills the spine, with words sure to affect anyone with a heart in his chest.
There are so many additional virtues, added sound effects and quotes, and general atmosphere that cannot all be mentioned in one short review. Also, it's good to leave some surprises for the listener to discover. For now, let's just say that Hobbit are not only back, they're on the throne of pomp AOR.
It must also be noted that Richard's wife Tammy made large contributions on flute, keys and arrangements.
All For The One can be pre-ordered at www.hobbitband.com , the official Hobbit website, to ensure you encounter no delay in getting your copy.
Rating : 98
Pro's : concept albums will forever be compared to this disc from now forward
Con's : the track Farewells is too short
Composed by Lee Bradfield for www.glory-daze.com