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“The Sport of Kings” (TML / Universal; 1985)

Often considered one of the most disappointing Triumph records, “The Sport of Kings” was attacked because of its heavy keyboard sound and the band’s shift to a more radio-friendly song style (in the vein of the then uber-popular Foreigner and Journey).

While this newly remastered version of this CD can’t erase all of that 80s cheesiness, “The Sport of Kings” does sound more dynamic today than it did upon its initial release, even if some of the songs are truly dated (and, over 20 years later, why wouldn’t they be?). While songs like “Tears in the Rain” perhaps play better today than in 1985 (due to the exquisite remastering here), the lackluster of other songs — such as “What Rules My Heart” — becomes really apparent.

Not a bad Triumph CD if you’re a fan of 80s rock radio, but quite disappointing if you like Triumph’s harder-edged sound, “The Sport of Kings” at least benefits from the recent re-mastering. It still may not be one of the band’s best CDs, but at least some of the better tunes have been punched up a little.

Triumph: Rik Emmett – guitars, vocals; Mike Levine – bass, keyboards; Gil Moore – drums, vocals.

“Allied Forces” (MCA; 1981)

When I was 13, my uncle had a music store in Tulsa, OK and he let me pick out any cassette I wanted — a cassette, mind you. As you may guess, I chose Triumph’s “Allied Forces.” Well, some may argue with my choice but it sparked a love for music that led me to keep that cassette free of nicks and scratches until the CD came out and I guard that closely as well. I primarily picked it because of the radio favorites that you can still hear today on any classic rock station. Listening to Triumph on my MP3 player destroys the memories I had when they released this guitar-flavored favorite, so I try to preserve what I can.

Rik Emmett and Gil Moore share vocal duties on this disc. They each take turns per the tracklist but it’s Emmett who shines on such classics as “Magic Power” and “Say Goodbye.” I’ve heard Triumph called by some as “the poor man’s Rush” but I give credit to both bands equally. I’ve always felt that Triumph had a slight amount of blues stirring in them and the song “Hot Time (In This City Tonight)” confirmed that to be true.

My only complaint is the song “Ordinary Man.” It’s kind of cheesy and long but, at 2:46, the song takes a gallop and keeps your interest for a few more bars. I know that they are a progressive band but this track just drags along. One that may have slipped by you is “Petite Etude” — it has some clean classical guitar picking and it leads into the final track that allows Triumph to close out their fifth disc with an oft-requested favorite.

There is a passionate sound that Triumph tried to translate in their music; I got it, and although some 80s music has been shelved for a while; it calls to those who liked Triumph to at least revisit their mark on history.

The best cuts are “Fool For Your Love,” “Magic Power,” “Fight The Good Fight,” and “Say Goodbye.”

Triumph: Rik Emmett – vocals, guitar; Gil Moore – drums, vocals; Mike Levine – bass, keyboards.

“Classics” (MCA; 1989)

There’s a reason this “Greatest Hits” package is entitled “Classics.” I think that’s an appropriate title because Triumph’s music can be heard on the classic stations, and, after you review the track list and haven’t heard one of these songs in awhile, call up your local DJ and request it.

“Classics” runs the years between Triumph’s best hits and even pulls from their first album with the raw 1976 hit “Rock & Roll Machine.” The song “Somebody’s Out There” could have been taken from any Journey album when Steve Perry was crooning to the crowds. All in all, it’s a musical treat from start to finish. Each song is a memory and everybody has their own to relive and smile about.
I won’t wax anymore than is needed. If you have this CD then kudos to you for buying one of their compilations, if you don’t, seriously, what’s wrong with you?

“Surveillance” (TML / Universal; 1987)

After the disappointment of some fans with 1985’s “The Sport of Kings,” Triumph recorded and released “Surveillance” which, while not a complete return to form, was at least a step in the right direction.

Adding more hard rock crunch in the form of distorted guitars and irresistible riffs, and bolstering the number of rock’n’roll anthems versus radio-friendly ballads, “Surveillance” gave longtime Triumph fans more of what they wanted: music that sounded like the band’s earlier albums.

This re-mastered edition is incredibly crisp  and, although the music never aspires to the glory days of “Allied Forces” or “Never Surrender,” “Surveillance” is still a pretty damn good Triumph CD.

Triumph: Rik Emmett – guitars, vocals; Mike Levine – bass, keyboards; Gil Moore – drums, vocals.


“Live at the US Festival” (TML / Universal; 2003)

Triumph fans will love the fact the band’s live performance at the legendary US Festival in 1983 is finally available for the first time ever on CD.

Containing nearly an hour of great Triumph tunes, including “Allied Forces,” “Lay it on the Line,” “Never Surrender,” “Rock & Roll Machine” and more, “Live at the US Festival” is a great document of a popular band performing a great set in front of a crowd of over half a million. And a great performance it is. The band sounds at the top of their form, with blistering leads from Rik Emmett and solid rhythm support from Gil Moore and Mike Levine. There must be something about playing before an audience that large that brings out the best in musicians.

The production is stellar, especially considering that the source material are analog tapes over 20 years old. “Live at the US Festival” sounds like it could have been recorded last year.

I’ve heard some rumblings about added keyboards and missing songs here but, being unfamiliar with the original performance and various bootlegs being traded around, I didn’t notice at all.

“Live at the US Festival” is a must for any Triumph fan. Fans of ’80s “metal” will find lots to like here as well.

Also available is a DVD, to be reviewed soon.

Triumph: Rik Emmett – guitars, vocals; Gil Moore – drums, vocals; Mike Levine – bass, vocals.