By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
GIANT – TIME TO BURN (1992)
In 1992, depending on what part of the year we are talking about, grunge was either taking over or had already taken over the rock music scene. Record labels lost interest in bands of the 1980’s “hair metal” scene and so a lot of music got lost in the shuffle.
You can count Giant’s Time To Burn as one of those albums that will likely never get the credit it deserves because it got so overlooked when it was released in March of 1992. And I say this as someone who is just as guilty as the rest of the rock community who’ve never heard the album before now.
About three and a half years ago, I wrote about the Giant’s first album Last Of The Runaways. I ended up liking it a lot more then than when I first heard it back in the day. So when I pulled Time To Burn, which had never been opened from its original wrapping, from The Big Box of Cassettes, I figured that after 29 years since it was put out, it might just be time to check out what I’d been missing out on all these years.
As it turned out, I was missing out on quite a lot.
The band’s lineup of Dann Huff on vocals and guitar, his brother David Huff on drums, keyboardist Alan Pasqua and bassist Mike Brignardello kicked off the album with the rambunctiously rousing rocker “Thunder And Lightning”, a song that comes complete with fantastic melodic hooks, a killer so and a big vibrant solo that instantly catches your ear.
After that, the band is really off to the races (for the most part). The rest of Side One features two more fiery rock and roll numbers in “Lay It On The Line” (which is NOT a cover of the better known song by Canadian rockers Triumph) and “Stay”. There is the expected “power ballad” to close out the first side in “Lost In Paradise”. It fits the mold of what to expect from that type of song, but it wasn’t half bad in the end.
The most intriguing song to me on Side One was “Chained”. While none of the tracks from this album made a real dent in the singles charts, “Chained” did make a little noise on Billboard’s Rock Tracks sub-chart. I can see why it did too. The song opens up dramatically slower than “Thunder And Lightning”, the track that preceded it. There’s a definite bluesy feel to the song’s intro, but that soon gives way to a far more in-your-face rocker that bursts out of the speakers. That slower, bluesy feel returns later in the song but the mix of the two tempos really caught my ear.
When you flip the cassette over, the music starts off with an extremely brief instrumental called “Smoulder”. It features that same kind of bluesy streak to the sound. It serves as a companion lead in to the album’s title track.
Speaking of that title track, can I just say “WOW!” I was totally blown away by the “Time To Burn” song. Brimming with a heaping helping of melody, the song still features an aggressively rocking pace. It’s like a shot of adrenaline right to the heart. Dann Huff’s rapid fire delivery of the song’s vocals gave an even sharper edge to the overall quality of the song. Along with “Thunder And Lightning”, it is probably my favorite track on the album.
While the title of “I’ll Be There (When It’s Over)” might strike you as a ballad song, it’s actually a really good hard rocking number. But if you are looking for more in the way of slower paced tracks, Side Two of Time To Burn has a double shot for you.
“Without You” is a power ballad that places a good deal more emphasis on the “power” aspect of the music. It starts off slow and steady in its pacing as you might expect. But as the song progresses, the more uptempo feel takes over and doesn’t waste time switching back and forth between the two levels of pace. I enjoyed that one a lot.
If however you are looking for something that is much more in the vein of a “traditional” rock and roll power ballad, check out “Now Until Forever” and you’ll get exactly what you want. For me, I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much.
The album ends on a full bore rocker in “Get Used To It”. It’s all about a six-string fueled attitude and sonic attack on this song and gives Time To Burn the smashing number to bring the album to a fitting conclusion.
Giant’s Time To Burn is an album that never got it’s due, whether from me or the rock audience at large. Hell, there hasn’t even been a reissue of the album like Rock Candy Records did for Last Of The Runaways. But now that I’ve heard the album, I realize just how much of an underappreciated gem the album really is. It’s about damn time for any music fan who hasn’t realized this to take a look back for themselves and discover just what is so special about Time To Burn for themselves!
NOTES OF INTEREST: Time To Burn is the second of Giant’s four studio albums. The band’s third album was released in 2001 and called III. The fourth album, Promise Land, came out in 2010. While vocalist/guitarist Dann Huff wasn’t a member of the band for that fourth album, he did co-write seven of the tracks and played guitar on two of them. Taking his place in the band was singer Terry Brock (Seventh Key) and guitarist John Roth (Winger).
Terry Thomas, who produced the band’s first album Last Of The Runaways, was the producer for Time To Burn as well. Jim Vallance, who is best known for his songwriting partnership with Bryan Adams, co-wrote the songs “I’ll Be There (When It’s Over)” and “Without You”.