Undivided - Reviews

Moritz are one in a very long line of "what could have been" bands. Coming together as far back as 1986, Greg Hart (keyboards, guitar), Mick Neaves (drums), Ian Edwards (bass), Andy Stewart (piano, keyboards), Pete Scallan (vocals) and Mike Nolan (guitar) released a 7" single and an EP, as well as putting together some excellent demos. Even though they produced a classy AOR sound that was more than commercially viable for the times, Moritz failed to land a record contract and only two short years after they were formed, they was no more, with some of the band going on to form If Only. Fast forward to 2008 and thanks to some journalist support, the album City Streets appeared containing the four tracks from the band's EP and four other songs lifted from demos. The response was so positive that the six men of Moritz decided to get back together again for another shot at AOR glory and the resultant album, Undivided, is a mixture of brand new songs and some from twenty four years ago that have been rerecorded.

There is no denying that Undivided sounds more like another lost gem from the past than a brand new collection of songs, however if you have a soft spot for the likes of Survivor, Night Ranger, FM, Journey and in places the more pompy feel of Tobruk, then you will not be able to resist what Moritz have to offer. Whilst that list of bands also means that yes, you will have "heard all this before", I have to say that Moritz do it so well, that it really isn't an issue. On the strength of the atmospheric keys and upbeat guitars of "Lonely Without You", the keyboard punch of "Same But Different", or the heart string tugging ballad "Should've Been Good" it would be no exaggeration to suggest that if they had gotten the breaks, Moritz could be the household names that Journey or Foreigner are today. The twin guitar attack from Hart and Nolan adds a cutting edge to Andy Stewart's keyboard work, while in Pete Scallan Moritz have a singer that has the class of Lou Gramm, the histrionics of Steve Perry (without the glass shattering pitch) and the bluesy grit of Paul Rogers.

Undivided is AOR of the highest order and maybe due to the fact that the band were there when this music ruled the airwaves, it has a real heart and soul that is often lacking from a lot of the newer bands in this genre, adding a welcome air of authenticity to the Moritz sound. Very classy indeed!

Coming hot on the heels of re-issues such as 'Take Off' from After Hours, Moritz return with their brand new album, 'Undivided', which consists of twelve future AOR classics. The reason I mention After Hours is that, very much like them, Moritz were another promising act from that era. However, after releasing a 7 inch single, a 12 inch EP and countless demos they were never signed... and split in 1988.

However many years later the band released the eight track CD 'City Streets' which included the recordings made back in 1986 and 1988. The CD sold rather well and, inspired by the success, guitarist Greg Hart decided to put the old band back together to take care of the unfinished business of recording a full length album.....which I am currently rocking out to!

The album is totally born of the era when AOR ruled the airwaves, and with the recent resurgence of FM and the reformation of peers After Hours, this album is a must have. AOR classics recorded in the here and now, air guitar solos, Boston-esque harmonies - what is not to love, from the opening vocal of 'Power Of The Music' to the rockier 'Who Do You Run To', and the glorious 'Can't Stop The Angels', with its piano intro and emotional lyrics. Another gem is the Journey-esque 'Without Love' which is a truly fantastic song.

To be truthful, all of the album is great and my only niggle is that whilst the album has been recorded now... it sometimes lacks the punch it so deserves... but that's being really pedantic!

Well fellow melodic lovers, do I have a saccharin coated nugget of a band for you. Hopefully some of you will remember Moritz from a few years ago. Formed in 1986 in London, UK, the band consisted of guitar player and main song writer Greg Hart, bassist Ian Edwards, keyboardist Andy Stewart, guitarist Mike Nolan, vocalist Pete Scallan, but now have new drummer Mick Neaves

Split in 1988 and Ian, Greg & Andy became the core of AOR band If Only while Peter went onto join Samson. The band returned in 2008 after the long awaited City Streets finally gained a release via the Harmony Factory label. The album consisted of the sought after so called Shadows of a Dream EP and some unreleased recordings. It received critical acclaim, prompting the guys to get back together. The band has reformed with the (almost) original line-up, and now MORITZ ARE BACK! Recording for the first time since 1988 with their eagerly anticipated album UNDIVIDED.  Check out the band now and the guys haven’t aged well from the poodle haired mullets of their pics from their debut 20-odd yrs ago. But don’t let the pics put you off as the quality of the songs on offer is pretty damn excellent.

From the opening bars of the Boston-esque and 70s sounding ‘Power Of The Music’ to the utterly catchy title track, Moritz have perfected the long lost art of 80s AOR that many have forgotten. Radio friendly ballads come thick and fast in the form of ‘Should’ve Been Gone’ (reminds me of Phil Christians Big Mouth - another AOR classic), and ‘Cant’ Stop The Angels’. There is also the Laurence Archer penned ‘Can’t Get Away’ which was apparently sung by Phil Lynott originally, which I struggle to get my head around, on hearing Scallan’s version

Yes I know it was released in 2010, but music of this legendary quality deserves its day in the spotlight and I’m trying to make sure AOR releases like this, don’t get the opportunity to fade into the sunset like so many of their contemporaries have in the 21st century. Moritz have proven with Undivided that in this modern technological arena, you don’t need to harp back to the 80s and,  
a) spend half a million pounds recording an album over 2 years, and 
b) waste your time employing a Beau Hill, Neil Kernon or a John Kalodner to come up with the goods. 

The only down side is that, if this was the 80s, Undivided would be heralded as one of the best AOR/melodic rock albums of all time, as it would have undoubtedly sold by the shitload, and today would be a multi platinum selling album, spoken in the same breath as ‘1987’, or ‘Slippery When Wet’. However this is 2011 and AOR, even though this genre is in a major resurgence, the music is still pretty much dead on its arse despite the genres best efforts. But albums like this can change the tone. Moritz did four fifths of fuck all in the 80s when their mega talented EP was released, but now, they deserve all the plaudits that this will undoubtedly bring them. UNDIVIDED is an absolutely superb piece of melodic rock and stands tall against some of the classic albums of yesteryear, even if some of the production values are a little dated in sound. This gives it more of a 80s sound than was probably planned. Despite that smidge of a gripe, UNDIVIDED is utterly aor-tastic!


City Streets

Moritz is one of those bands back in the 80s that never got the attention they should have like other bands from UK like La Paz, Peroux and Zero Zero to name few.

They just released singles and one EP called Shadows Of A Dream. This is an 8-track album with 4 tracks from the EP and 4 unreleased tracks that has been written by Greg Hart (If Only, GTS, Limehouse Lizzy) together with the members of the band.

This is pure classic 80s AOR with tons of keyboards and wonderful melodies in the same style as FM, Strangeways, Airrace, Shy and Tobruk. The thing that don’t lift up the grading more is the drum sound that could have been better but songs are damn catchy with great vocals. Can’t Stop Loving You is a fantastic AOR-song with classy 80s keyboard lines and catchy hooklines just like Strangeways.

Place In Your Heart reminds of Wildlife (pre-FM) and FM with a strong chorus and great background vocals. Break It Up starts with dut-dut keyboards and the chorus reminds little of Foreigners Break It Up, great song. Don’t Walk Away is a fantastic mid-tempo rocker in the veins of Shy. Caught Up In The Action is a stunning AOR-rocker with a fantastic chorus - bring on the air-keys. Despite the drum sound this is a great AOR-album and if you’re a sucker for 80s keyboard AOR like me then you gotta check this out.