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Experience the Magic Power of Triumph’s Classics

Transport yourself back about 20 years and you may be aware of another Canadian Power Trio that made a splash in the American Rock-music market. A band that brought a style of Hard Rock intermixed with melodic and blues-influenced rock to the stage. A band that went largely unnoticed for most of their career, but was certainly deserving of far more credit and exposure.

Who, pray tell, am I referring to? Triumph. Now, I know a lot of you have likely never heard of this group, but they are certainly worth a listen.

Quick Bio: Triumph, who spent most of their career being compared to Rush – the other Power Trio from Canada. But the similarities were only on the surface. Musically, the two groups differed significantly. Sorry – had to digress there for a moment. Triumph is made up of Lead singer-guitarist Rick Emmett, Bass player and vocalist Gil Moore and percussionist and vocalist Mike Levine. The three, based out of Toronto, put out 9 studio albums and one live album together – between 1976 through 1987. Classics, is a compilation of their best hits from that time period. Soon after, Rick Emmett departed the band to concentrate on his solo career, and Triumph, along with a new lead singer, released one more album before calling it quits among internal turmoil.

However in that relatively short period of time, Triumph made a significant name for themselves both here in the U.S. and abroad. Despite not receiving a fair amount of baking from their record label (MCA), they generated enough attention and praise to solidify themselves as a genuine rock sensation.

Their live performances were equally impressive as they put on an extraordinary light show that married perfectly with their tight, driving music. It’s a shame that they disbanded, but they left us with a decade of music that – hopefully – will not be soon forgotten.

So, end bio – begin opinion of Classics

1. Tears in the Rain
Originally from The Sport of Kings (’86), this track is straight-across rock and roll, featuring the vocal talents of all three of the members. Great, driving guitars coupled with an edgy musical composition, Tears… instantly reflects some of the highlights of this band.

2. Hold On
Originally from Just A Game (’79), this track highlights the versatile vocals of Rick Emmett. Rick can reach high notes with the best of them, and his touching melodic form converts this song into a power ballad that still receives decent radio play today. A great, great song with touching and inspiring lyrics as well.

“Hold on, hold on to your dreams.
Hold on, even though it seems-
Everyone around you has their little schemes.
Listen to your heart and hold on…
to your dreams…”

3. I Live For the Weekend
Originally from Progressions of Power (’80), this is a harder rocking song than most of the other tracks on this disc, but its a dynamite song that revs up quickly with some great bass and percussion work. Turn up the volume on this one…it’s great stuff.

4. Magic Power
Originally from Allied Forces (’81), perhaps the band’s most popular and well-known album, Magic Power is another power-ballad that really showcases Rick Emmett’s beautiful vocals. Another song that receives a fair amount of air play through today, this is arguably the band’s most widely known song – and with good reason. Few power ballads are better than this one.

“Something’s at the edge of your mind,
you don’t know what it is.
Something you were hoping to find,
but your not sure what it is.
Then you hear the music,
and it all comes crystal clear.
The music does the talking; says the things you want to hear.
I’m young, I’m wild and I’m free.
I got the magic power of the music in me.”

5. Follow Your Heart
Originally from Thunder Seven (’84), this track is another one of the band’s classic tunes. It mixes superb lyrics with magical instrumental performances. Caught between a hard-rocking song and a ballad, this song’s impossible to resist and a great example of Triumph’s talents. There’s a great message behind the lyrics of this song as well. Well worth a listen.

“Follow your heart,
you’ve got to follow your heart.
Living for today – forget about tomorrow.
Follow your heart,
you’ve got to follow your heart.
Any other way will only lead to sorrow…
Because I know…
You’ve got to follow.”

6. A World of Fantasy
Originally from Never Surrender (’83), this is another prime example of the type of music that Triumph excelled at – a power ballad mixed with solid rock and roll. Another lyrically superb song, the tempo of this song is very inspiring. It starts off slow and mysterious and it continues to build up in tempo and suspense. Heart-felt vocals from Rick really drive this song. This is definitely one of the band’s finest compositions and one of my personal favorites.

7. Fight the Good Fight
Also from Allied Forces, this is a straight forward rock song that adds in some beautifully done classical and electric guitar. Time changes worthy of a Rush song, once again Mr. Emmett drives this song home with his ever-impressive vocal capabilities and diversified scale. Great lyrics as well are abound in this track. Extremely inspiring and well worth repeating here (in part).

“The days grow shorter and the nights are getting long.
Feels like we’re running out of time.
Every day it seems much harder telling right from wrong.
You got to read between the lines.

Don’t get discouraged, don’t be afraid, we can-
Make it through another day.
Make it worth the price we pay.

The Good Book says it’s better to give than to receive.
I do my best to do my part.
Nothing in my pockets I got nothing up my sleeve.
I keep my magic in my heart.

Keep up your spirit, keep up your faith, baby.
I am counting on you.
You know what you’ve got to do.”

8. Spellbound
Also from Thunder Seven, this track has Rick Emmett taking a back seat on vocals, but he showcases his impressive guitar work here. Hard-rocking and catchy, this tune shows that Triumph doesn’t just to ballads well, they’re also hard-rocking Power Trio.

9. Somebody’s Out There
Also from The Spirit of Kings, this is perhaps the finest inspiration song that Triumph ever recorded. You can’t help but feel good after enjoying this song. Great synth work coupled with great guitars perfectly merge with the superb lyrics. Once again, the vocals are outstanding. This is truly classic Triumph.

“Is it fate or random chance,
How can I decide?
Are we victims of circumstance-
When destinies collide.
All the odds are against you,
But somehow you make it through.
You can rationalize it away-
But it all comes down to you.
Half our lives we spend waiting,
For the knock upon the door.
When it comes, will it be the one that I’ve been waiting for.

Somebody’s out there, somewhere-
Waiting for someone to come their way.
Somebody’s out there, somewhere-
I will somehow be somebody’s someone…

10. Lay It On The Line
Also from Just A Game, as inspiring as Somebody’s Out There is, this song is just as dark and depressing – to a degree. It’s a fantastic song, but it’s laced with some heart-tearing lyrics that doubtless hit close to home for many listeners who love someone from afar. Great guitar solos really highlight this classic tune.

“It’s the same old story all over again.
You turn a lover into just another friend.
I want to love you, I want to make you mine.
Won’t you lay it on the line?
I’m tired of playing all your foolish games.
I’m tired of all of your lies making me insane.
I don’t ask for much, the truth’ll do just fine.
Won’t you lay it on the line. “

11. Rock ‘n Roll Machine
Originally from the album of the same name, released in 1977, this is early, hard driven Triumph at their best. Lightning fast guitars, pounding percussions and energy-laced vocals – it was songs (and albums) like this one that got the ball rolling for Triumph.

And there you have it. 11 solid tracks from a somewhat forgotten rock and roll classic group. Mainstream enough to appeal to most anyone, Triumph is certainly worth a listen.

Thanks, as always, for the read…


Triumph: Surveillance (remaster)

Considered one of the weakest Triumph albums by many fans, 1987’s Surveillance was guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett’s swan song with the band. Despite the negative reviews and lackluster sales, Surveillance still boasts a few exceptional tracks, as well as a few guitar solos from guest Steve Morse.

Let’s get the Morse tunes out of the way first. “Headed for Nowhere” is a red-hot rocker sung by drummer Gil Moore that sees Emmett trading blazing solos with the Dixie Dregs guitarist. This cut is the albums longest at just over six-minutes and features great hooks, keyboards (handled by Dave Tkaczuk on this album instead of Mike Levine), muscular yet intricate rhythm guitar work, and of course that classic duel between Emmett and Morse. Steve returns once again for some gentle acoustic work on “All the Kings Horses”, although all too briefly as the song clocks in at under two-minutes. Other standout tracks include the catchy metal numbers “Never Say Never” and ‘Carry On the Flame”, as well as the thunderous “Rock You Down”, which features some wild guitar solos from Emmett. However, there are too many generic pop rockers here, such as “On and On”, “Long Time Gone” , or the sappy “Running in the Night”, to bring this release up to par with some of the albums that came before it. Even the catchy pop tune “All Over Again” ulimately fails, as the band for some reason decided to put all the mellower songs at the back end of the CD, which no doubt turned off fans of their harder edged material, and prompted many to hit the Stop button mid-way through the album.

Still, if you are a fan of this album, the remastering process has done wonders to it, as the sound is big and bright, the guitars and keyboards brimming with new found clarity.
Track Listing
1. Prologue: Into The Forever
2. Never Say Never
3. Headed For Nowhere
4. All The King’s Horses
5. Carry On The Flame
6. Let The Light (Shine On Me)
7. Long Time Gone
8. Rock You Down
9. Prelude: The Waking Dream
10. On And On
11. All Over Again
12. Running In The Night

Thunder Seven Review:

Triumphant and energetic, with very little dross in their brand of metal! Thunder Seven presents the high tide mark for Triumph, and it”s the album that should have broken them into American primetime.

Where producers used The Sport of Kings to make-over the band, (with detrimental results) Thunder Seven presents the last great collaboration between Rik Emmett and Gil Moore. Gil”s anthems and Rik”s social commentary were never better before or after! Mike”s bass was never punchier! One can only blame MCA Records for dropping the ball, because Triumph certainly did not — in the studio or on the road.

Whereas I am selective about listening to my Triumph collection, everything works on Thunder Seven , except for maybe “Cool Down,” which sounds a tad like the band”s Led Zeppelin roots coming back to haunt them. Apart from that glitch, Thunder Seven showed us that Van Halen had some extreme competition from the Great White North! I especially loved the second side! It took almost 20 years for the album to achieve Gold status, but that just shows how loyal Triumph fans have remained to this masterwork.

Date Reviewed: 08/25/05
Reviewer: Jan Thielking
Location: Frankfurt, Germany