Well, we had no idea how the CD would be received but to say that we were stunned by comments from those that put their thoughts in print, is a definite understatement!!
BIG LIFE WILL CONTINUE TO RETURN TO YOUR CD PLAYER YEAR AFTER YEAR.
Sep 5, 2011 | Woody's Rock
Reviews | Album Reviews |
Big Life are a band put together by long time friends Mark Thompson Smith (Vocals) and Steve Newman (Guitars & Keyboards) and on disc they are joined by Rob McEwen on Drums. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Newman’s home studio “The Blue Room” – unfortunately it’s called that cause it really is blue not for any cheeky grin inducing reasons. This debut album has been a long time coming with songs been written in-between 2005-2010!
Vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith has sort of been in self imposed exile since his stint with Praying Mantis in the early 90’s, and judging by his stellar vocals we’ve really missed out having such a strong British vocalist involved in the melodic rock scene. Hopefully this album is just the beginning of even more music involving his voice and song writing! Mark has proved on this album he is a great lyricist to even rival Newman, one of the main reasons I have taken to this album is the lyric’s many of which I find it very easy to connect with.
I’m a massive fan of Steve Newman so I was really looking forward to this album – especially after Steve let me hear a preview of “Better Man” prior to the album’s release which had me chomping at the bit to hear the full album. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest either!
It’s not a Newman album with a guest vocalist, whilst you can tell Steve’s involved, it is different enough for the band to have its own identity and allow Steve to play and write in less expected styles. This isn’t an album for kids and I don’t mean that in bad way, lyrically and musically this is a really deep and mature collection of songs. You’re not going to find throw away party songs on here!
This is an album which will definitely stick with you and you will return to it year after year, full of relatable and powerful lyric’s and melodies that will haunt you. Thompson-Smith’s vocals are strong throughout and on many of the songs extremely expressive and passionate giving many of the lyrics more impact! Newman does what he does best, memorable guitar riffs and licks in abundance, and this album see’s Steve in a more atmospheric, laidback and soulful mood – oh and Steve’s keyboard work no matter how subtle brings out the best in many of the songs.
The album opens with mid-tempo rocker “Dying Day” which contains a killer riff and memorable guitar licks from Steve. An insistent memorable chorus makes this a good choice to start the album. I heard “Close To You” on the radio prior to hearing the album and I have to admit it left me cold, but since having the album the song has really grown on me. There is some wonderful guitar and keyboard work on this song but the keys on the chorus are a particular standout!
The song which should be the natural choice for single is “Better Man” a song that is instantly enjoyable, pure ear candy! A very powerful and emotive song and Mark’s passionate vocals deliver the fantastic lyrics powerfully. You’ll also hear some haunting keyboard work on this track; it’s definitely a song I will return to again and again.
“Calling” has an eastern flavoured musical intro before kicking in and this highlights probably Rob McEwen’s best drum performance on the album and his playing gives the song some real fire. It has a driving hook filled chorus which will imbed itself in your head after a few spins. Also check out the awesome keyboards in the guitar solo, also the melodic guitar solo is pretty kick ass too!
Ballad “I’ll Still Be Here” has a light and airy chorus which reminds me of bands like REO Speedwagon. This song has real depth and power with great lyrics. “Feel Alive” has an old school Newman type guitar riff, a strong song in many ways but the odd feeling chorus loses me a little.
The ballad “Deep Water” is atmospheric and powerful with some emotive and stirring vocals from Mark. Steve delivers some wonderful guitar licks which enhance the musically melancholic flow of this song – a truly memorable song.
“At The End Of The Rainbow” made me instantly think of prog heroes It Bites. I think Mark’s vocals on this are very strong and I totally adore Steve’s guitar solo.
“Taking Me Down” has a hard rocking riff; actually it’s probably the hardest track on the album but also has some of the best and most instant melodies on the album. The melodies on the pre-chorus are killer and the fist pumping sing along chorus will stick with you, a definite stand out track which should go down a treat live also – “Cause I’m A Lover Not A Fighter”.
“Nothing Without You” is a stripped bare ballad which is intensely powerful and features tremendously emotive vocals. Most bands would kill to write a song that could have this impact! After my first spin this was the first song I returned to and it feature’s one of Mark’s finest vocal performances.
It’s AOR for grown up’s and it’s an album that will never collect dust on your shelf, unlike many instant gratification party rock albums which die a quick death after a short time, in comparison with its depth and power Big Life will continue to return to your CD player year after year.
Track Listing: Dying Day
/ Close To You / Better Man / Calling / I’ll Still Be Here / Feel Alive / Deep
Water / At The End Of My Rainbow / Leaves / Stop In Time / Takin’ Me Down /
Nothing Without You
Album Rating: 8/10
Woody’s Essential Track:
Stop In Time
Big Life is out now and available from all
good retailers and www.destinyrocks.com
BIG LIFE" IS A GIFT OF THIS 2011, IF YOU'RE A LOVER OF THIS MUSIC, YOU SHOULD NOT MISS HAVING IT.
Jul 30, 2011 | ENCRUCIJADA
MELÓDICA | Album Reviews |
Saturday July 30 2011BIG LIFE - Big Life
(2011 - AOR Heaven)
New Project of British guitarist and songwriter Steve Newman with former PRAYING MANTIS Mark Thompson-Smith (vocals), two seasoned musicians who have shaped this wonderful album. Steve himself has already published seven seven albums with his band NEWMAN and is currently promoting what will be "Under Southern Skies", his latest album that is about to be edited through AOR Heaven, the same label that launched the selling this "Big Life".
For this occasion, only Steve Newman is in charge of keyboards and guitars plus some backing vocals, while Mark takes care
of all the voices. These two guys have always been connected through the music. In fact, Mark has worked in the chorus of "The art of balance," Newman album released in 2010. To the rhythm has helped Rob McEwen (drums). "Big Life" was recorded between December 2008 and April 2010 ...a job that was expected but well worth it, because what we have here is a collection of 12 beautiful songs of pure AOR and Melodic Rock Hard, the work of composition is brilliant.
One might think that the disk you are discussing may well resemble what has been done by NEWMAN ... On the contrary,
BIG LIFE has its own style, and are striving to show more than one original proposal. And so we have a grand opening with "Dying Day," a pure Hard Rock with mattresses keyboards. Melodies that reach their peak in the following "Close to you", while "Better man" is a piece exclusively AOR and the best of this album.
"Calling" is an arabesque and oriental touch that melts into a huge riff Steve. "I'll still be here" is a beautiful ballad with a chorus that is faster at times melodic, but moved as much as the rest of the songs. "Feel Alive" pretty up the atmosphere with a Hard Rock with intricate vocal arrangements in the chorus.
The longest track is "Deep water" and, as expected, this is where Steve shows why it is a great guitarist in this genre. Seventies climates are also present in this album; Look at "At the end of my rainbow." Instead, "Leaves" is one of those very nice ballads, totally radiables. "Stop in time" has some melodic arrangements that have no waste, and the most powerful Hard Rock can be found in "Taking me down."
The end comes with another ballad ("Nothing Without You") leaving us with the feeling of wanting to hear more. There is a
very meritorious work in the field of lyric, which demonstrates the quality of the work of Mark Thompson-Smith in this album. Also the artwork is very nice and appropriate for the title.
In conclusion, "Big Life" is a gift of this 2011, is a DiscAZ with all the letters and if you're a lover of this music, you should not miss having it.
GLORIOUS MELODIES, LUSH VOCAL HARMONIES, ROCK SONGS THAT BALANCE POLISH WITH PUNCH
Jun 13, 2011 | HARDROCK HAVEN |
The latest, and most impressive, offering from the UK melodic rock world comes in the form of Big Life, a collaboration between guitarist/keyboardist/producer Steve Newman (Newman) and vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith (ex-Praying Mantis and The Sweet). The two very talented, albeit lesser known, veterans (with an able assist from Newman drummer Rob McEwen) combined their talents as performers, songwriters and producers for this self-titled debut and the results are, fittingly enough given their record label, a slice of AOR heaven.
Big Life’s debut is one of those albums that immediately reminds you why you love this kind of music in the first place. Big Life knows exactly where the pleasure centers of the melodic rock fan’s brain reside, and these songs aim directly for them. Glorious melodies, lush vocal harmonies, rock songs that balance polish with punch, moving ballads that don’t rely on clichés, tight musicianship, a powerful, heartfelt vocal performance (Thompson-Smith recalls both Steve Overland and the late Brad Delp) and a pristine production job.
Big Life has essentially everything you hope to find in an AOR/melodic rock album. You’re pretty well convinced of the album’s greatness by the opening rocker “Dying Day,” and songs like the hook-heavy “Calling,” the almost King’s X-like “At the End of the Rainbow” and the soulful “Leaves” only reinforce that. This is what it sounds like when veteran musicians who really gel get together.
If you’re a fan of polished, classy, old school melodic rock along the lines of Overland, FM, Valentine, Praying Mantis, Atlantic, and of course Journey, you need to get your hands on this one right away. Big Life is about as good as it gets. This looks to be the beginning of a fantastic partnership, so with any luck this won’t be the last we hear from Newman and Thompson-Smith in Big Life.
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10
AOR HEAVEN, SHOULD BE VERY HAPPY WITH THIS RELEASE, .... IT HAS CLASS WRITTEN ALL OVER IT.
Jun 11, 2011 | CHAMBERS OF ROCK |
This new project, Big Life is a joint venture and brainchild of two much respected players in the melodic rock field, from the
south of England.
Vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith, I recall as far back as the mid to late 80’s doing the rounds in southern England in bands such
as Touché and Fay Wray. Fay Wray reformed (Or maybe just came back from a hiatus?!) a few years back and Mark still sometimes works that baby on the side.Mark also has some history with a few bands that I know many people will be aware of in The Sweet, Praying Mantis and Idol Rich to name a few, as well as his respected solo release, ‘A Far Cry From New Jersey,’ that sadly that I’ve never heard.
Steve Newman has in the past few years enjoyed a lot of attention in his own band Newman, playing recognized UK favorite
festivals such as the annual Firefest and Z Rock event, to great responses. Newman have also released eight studio albums,
plus the expanded ‘Decade (The Very Best of Newman)’ which included many unreleased ‘new’ tracks and alternative versions.
Steve has also helped Engineer, Produce, Mix and Mastered a variety of other work too, not to mention co-writing material with Anders Rydholm (Grand Illusion), helping out on the Frozen Rain project, Steve Overland's (FM) solo album, Frederic Slama's AOR Project. "Journey To LA" and the ARFM radio / Firefest benefit CD "The Undying Fire." just to name a few side projects.
So there’s some history for you …
On this album Mark handles all lead vocals, with Steve backing him up playing everything, bar the drums, which are ably
handled by longtime Newman drummer Rob McEwen.
The album opens with ‘Dying Day’ which kicks in, in an almost Newman style, but with Mark on vocals, it adds a new dimension, it
rocks in great melodic style with an urgency but with so much sound. Great start guys!
‘Close To You,’ is next and Mark’s voice takes a slightly different direction, but still keeps thing rocking in great fashion.The thing for me about the Big Life project, that's perhaps a little different from Newman, is the keyboards have better presence, which really works great with this material. As always, Steve’s guitar playing seems to go from strength to strength, it really does and here, there’s almost a (Steve) Vai edge to the main solo, who I know has always been a huge influence on Mr.
My comment on the keyboards presence is elaborated by the intro to ‘Better Man’ next and the funky bass line at the starts serves the intro well. The song grows from atmospherics to something much bigger, initially indicating perhaps a power ballad, but then wham! An up tempo pop rocking edge kicks in and yet another very strong hook laden song is launched!Some really nice layering throughout the track just makes this glow a treat!
‘Calling Me’ starts with an exotic intro, soon followed by huge power chords and an almost dare I say, Led Zeppelin type riff,
and the song gets underway proper, with a laid back start to each verse, which then picks up for each pre-chorus and the chorus itself is great and that riff is so haunting! must say, that the combination of both main players is great and AOR Heaven, should be very happy with this release, as the album continues it has class written all over it.
OK, are you ready for a change of pace? Let’s face it, if you know Newman’s work, he never disappoints when he takes things
down a bit and Mark sings ‘I’ll Still Be Here’ very well indeed. A very easy going and easy listening track indeed.
With ‘Feel Alive’ the track does exactly what it’s title suggests and picks things up again with some interesting tempo changes from Rob McEwen. Nice one again guys. Easing things back again ‘Deep Water’ is a really special track if you ask me, starting as a beautifully sung emotional ballad, it picks up for a brief power driven bridged chorus, before easing back for Steve’s haunting first solo and then doing the same again, by easing back and growing again with another tasty extended solo in this almost seven
minute piece. Nice layering guys.
‘At The End Of My Rainbow’ is another one of those tracks with so much to it, taking you up and bringing things down again that
you’ll be lapping it up and another great writers mark is that the choruses grab you again and again. It’s almost Bon Jovi ballad territory at times in ‘Leaves’ next, which is nicely done power ballad stuff again and ‘Stop In Time’ does the same thing too.
If radio stations were behind playing big old power ballads again, Big Life could very likely find themselves getting a lot of attention.
It’s back to the rock again with ‘Takin’ Me Down’ and it really shows how capable these guys are in mixing some great rock
material with classy rock ballads. Some interesting phrasing of the vocals in the choruses, keeps the variety here. Last official album track is another ballad with ‘Nothing Without You’ that’s very acoustically driven. Soulful for sure.
There’s a hidden bonus track too, which rocks with a great US style for sure and since it’s not listed I’m guessing it’s possibly titled ‘Special Relationship,’ eased back verses generally that then lead into up tempo pre and main chorus. Great fun track chaps!
I’ve really enjoyed playing this album, again and again, sure there’s a lot of ballad material but there is rock too and if you liked these guys stuff before, then you for sure, you’re gonna love this one too!Hopefully with a Big Life ahead!
Rating: 4 out of 5
BIG LIFE, THE MARVELOUS NEW BAND FROM STEVE NEWMAN AND MARK THOMPSON SMITH
Jun 8, 2011 | AOR UNDERGOUND |
AOR Heaven should be pleased with themselves, and rightly so, as they have released three of the genres best albums this
I'll start with the "S/T" release by Big Life, the marvelous new band from Steve Newman and Mark Thompson Smith.
Having worked together on various Newman albums, the duo have pooled their resources to create what is probably one of the standout moments from a UK AOR act this year. It's like an amalgamation of Alcatrazz, Newman and Dokken with some Red Dawn pomp thrown in for good measure.
The album production is pristine and its been recorded to perfection.
With Mark Thompson Smith sounding immense, it makes you wonder why he's been away from the scene for so long. Just listen to the likes of "Dying Day", the utterly immense "Calling" or the pompous "Close To You" to see how good this album is. This is certainly one of Steve Newman's finest hours.
ROB EVANS INTERVIEW WITH BIG LIFE IN FULL
‘BIG LIFE’ IS A MELODY RICH, HOOK LADEN SLAB OF HIGHLY POLISHED MHR/AOR
Jun 1, 2011 | DESTINY RECORDS |
Promising new melodic hard rock project that brings together the both the songwriting and performing talents of Steve Newman
and Mark Thompson-Smith – the former should need little introduction, whilst the latter is perhaps best remembered for brief stints with Praying Mantis and The Sweet – Big Life come as bit of a bolt out of the blue.
Apparently signed by AOR Heaven on the strength of Steve’s Firefest solo slot last year; I’m not sure how long ‘Big Life’ has been in production, but given the meticulous attention to detail apparent in every song, I suspect it’s been on the backburner rather
longer. In a career that dates back to the mid 90’s (at least under the Newman banner), Steve Newman has released a steady stream of high quality melodic rock releases on little more than shoestring budgets, each one showcasing an ever more svelte and sophisticated songwriting talent.
Recorded as a trio with Newman’s Rob McEwen filling in on drums, ‘Big Life’ is a melody rich, hook laden slab of highly
polished MHR/AOR that would probably have been huge in America way back when. Centuries of repressed emotions are supposed to mean that we Brits are no good at this sort of thing (or so they’d have you believe at any rate), but if this
effervescent slab of US infused pop rock culture doesn’t have your toes a tappin’ after the first spin, then chances are that you and Slipknot deserve one another! From bubbly rockers to moody ballads and all points in between, tracks like ‘Deep Water’, ‘Dying Day’, ‘I’m Still Here’ and ‘Close To You’ tick all the right boxes and should put a big smile one even the dourest of faces.
If you’re looking for labels there are elements of Newman (natch), Bad Company, Journey and a host of others but in reality, Big Life shy away from being overly derivative of anyone but themselves; and given the budgetary limitations the end result is clean cut and well balanced. I’ve always admired Steve’s talent as an artist, and with Big Life he’s once again pulled a suitably large rabbit out of the hat ... here’s hoping this is just the start because talent such as this really deserves its day in court!
THIS IS WARM, WELCOMING AND QUIETLY SPLENDID
May 31, 2011 | Powerplay Magazine
Yes, this is another AOR album. Yes, it is a new affair. Yes, it has all the hallmarks of a project. But don't bring that gavel down quite yet. There is mitigation, m'lud
Exhibit A: they intend to record together again in the future. Exhibit B: they are great mates, not two blokes thrown together by a label. Exhibit C: their music doesn't often smack of conformity.
There's a back story here. Steve Newman and Mark Thompson-Smith have been great mates for years. Mark got disillusioned with the business and quit it completely for IT. Steve tried to cajole him back time and time again. Now he's managed it and couldn't be happier to be working with him. For Mark it appears to be a redemptive process.
Recorded brightly by Steve, this album is AOR all the way to its layered hair; synths twinkle, vocals soar, riffs are just rocky enough but never frightening. And yet it doesn't fall into the Scandi or US blueprints; it has the mark of a bag of songs written for no other purpose than enjoyment. And because of that, it's sometimes surprising. Certainly "Calling" takes its vaguely Indian vibe to see Journey and Survivor before sashaying home and "Takin Me Down" has the kind of melodies that sit up and beg. Newman is in fine form with some rather earcatching , unbridled fretboard fancies and Thompson-Smith has poured himself into every phrase; his lyrics on"Stop In Time" would bring a tear to a glass eye.
Some stuff here is only not bad or good examples of fine AOR (like the West Coast visitor "Close To You" and although it has no killers at all, it's honesty is a winning quality; sometimes it mirrors those great AOR of the present. And that, in these disposable times, is special. This is warm, welcoming and quietly splendid. Rather like a good friend.
THIS ALBUM CANNOT FAIL TO HIT THE RIGHT NOTES WITH AOR FANS WORLDWIDE!
May 30, 2011 | Uber Rock | Album Reviews |
Big Life is a new project featuring the unquestionable talents of the UK's melodic rock genius, Steve Newman (Newman) and ex-Praying Mantis frontman Mark Thompson-Smith. While Big Life are a new entity, the talent on show is unbelievable - Seriously, this album rocks big time and, on the second listen, the hooks caught into my brain leaving me feeling like they've always been a big part of your life!
Opener 'Dying Day' is an instant AOR classic! Its keyboard intro and dreamy vocals lead up to a crescendo of a riff! With its fantastic chest-pumping and fist-throwing chorus Big Life show their hand for all to see because, let's be honest, albums like these tend to be one-offs and I honestly hope that is not the case here as each song has WINNING all over it and it would be a shame for the fans of AOR to go without this calibre of music!
Steve Newman has delivered an 80s AOR classic in this new decade and, with Mark Thompson-Smith on board supplying the
delicious vocals, this has got to be a winner! With the big riffs, even bigger melodies and soppier ballads, this album cannot fail to hit the right notes with AOR fans worldwide!
GREAT MELODIES, AMAZING PERFORMANCES .... REALLY BRILLIANT ALBUM.
May 29, 2011 | HEAVY PARADISE |
BIG LIFE is a new band/project that surprised us this year pleasently! Behind this project, we find two very talented musicians, Steve Newman and Mark Thompson-Smith (ex-Praying Mantis).
Great melodies, amazing performances and a tight musicianship are some of the things that you will discover by listening this really brilliant album.
Below, you are about to read a very interesting interview that Mark Thompson-Smith gave to Heavy Paradise and talked about Big Life, his long time friendship with Steve Newman and some other interesting things. Enjoy!
BIG LIFE INTERVIEW IN FULL
SPEND SOME TIME WITH THIS CD, AND LET IT GROW ON YOU.
May 29, 2011 | Glory Daze Music |
Background:-British melodic rocker Steve Newman has seen enough of his name blasted all over this website during the past decade or more. But in 2011, he tries something a little bit different. The new trio Big Life is a band project featuring Steve, along with former Praying Mantis vocalist Mark Thomspon-Smith and drummer Rob McEwen. It's not a Newman album as such, because Steve has his own solo career to contend with as it is, and a new release due later in the year. From reports I have read, the material for 'Big Life' was conjured up pretty quickly, and despite the short turn around, there are a bunch of good tracks here.
The Songs:- Some spacious keyboards and layered backing vocals announce the band on 'Dying Day', before long Newman kicks in with some aggressive riffs driving Big Life forward unceremoniously. More tinkly keyboards are apparent on next track 'Close To You', giving it a North American feel, however it's the serious lead guitar work from Newman that excels. 'Better Man' is part ballad and rocker and is big on melody with a great chorus.
There are some exotic references on 'Calling', which makes for a change-up, and it works. First ballad 'I'll Still Be Here' has all the required attributes in this sub-genre, though the chorus needed to be a bit stronger for the song to stand out. 'Feel Alive' is a
songtitle that fits the bill, it sees Big Life moving into a faster paced style of AOR/melodic rock, which suits them well. Reverting to another ballad, 'Deep Water' takes its cue from FM (UK), whereas 'Leaves' is a dreamy melancholic affair that soars into the sky upon the back of Newman's guitar flurries.
I liked 'Stop In Time', though a tad wishy washy, but thankfully the band crank it severely for down 'n dirty 'Takin' Me Down'. Another ballad 'Nothing Without You' is navigated around, preferring instead to listen to the Bad Company flavoured 'Special
In Summary:- There's thirteen tracks onboard, and you'll be doing well to retain your attention span for that long. There might be one or two ballads too many for my liking, I think a few extra rockers would've made for a better overall selection. You won't be denied on quality, as the production is lush and well balanced. The band might come across as a bit safe and generic, but for the most part, much of the glory days era of AOR and melodic rock was thrown into the same category, so nothing has really changed in thirty years. Spend some time with this CD, and let it grow on you.
George Thatcher (aka gdazegod)
A FINE COMBINATION FOR ANY FAN OF MELODIC HARD ROCK/ AOR, CHECK IT OUT!!
May 24, 2011 | Friday 13th Metal |
This is a new release for AOR Heaven, a new project put together by Steve Newman (Newman) and ex Praying Mantis front man Mark Thompson-Smith. When the label saw Newman live at the Firefest Festival in the UK last year they were impressed they offered Newman a deal. Newman had released an impressive album titled 'The Art Of Balance' and with Newman also working with such acts like Altantic, Stever Overland (FM), Eden and Far Cry Grand Illusion, Phenomena he certainly has made a name for himself.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this album, after hearing After Hours I really wasn't too blown away by that album but I have to say this is a pretty decent album indeed for another AOR album, great vocals and some impressive music too. Mark had worked with Praying Mantis in the early days and also had joined Sweet in 2005 but soon found his own direction and was introduced to Steve for this project which is a decent one at that.
This album was recorded at 'The Blue Moon' studios (UK) with session drummer Rob McEwen for this album which features 12 trax of hard hitting melodic AOR, which remind me of Skagarack, early Strangeways, which is a perfect combination of some fine AOR music.
This really isn't a bad album at all, it's certainly not on the really light side of AOR music, it has an edge in places
so I do recommended this album. Songs I do like are: Dying Day, Close To You, Calling, Feel Alive, Leaves, Takin Me Down. For a debut project this is a decent impressive album with some fine music and vocals, a fine combination for any fan of melodic Hard Rock/ AOR, check it out!! Let's see what the next album brings, I am sure the band will be playing Firefest this year, it could be on the cards.
ALL IN ALL, A GREAT DEBUT FROM THIS ENGLISH PAIR
May 24, 2011 | ROCK REPORT | Album Reviews |
After having released seven Newman albums, Steve Newman thought the time was ripe to write and record an album with his
long-time friend Mark Thompson-Smith, mainly known as ex-vocalist of Praying Mantis, but also from his excellent solo album “A Far Cry From New Jersey”, which was released in 1998.
Both being professionals, the songwriting process went very smoothly. In only two weeks time all songs were composed. The
only musician who assisted them with the recordings was drummer Rob McEwen. All Newman albums were sung by Steve himself, but on this “Big Life” album it’s Mark Thompson-Smith who is doing all the lead vocals, while Steve concentrates
on the guitars and the keyboards. Personally I think that this is a good thing, because otherwise it would probably have sounded as another Newman album, which is now clearly not the case.
The album starts in a great way with tracks like the up-tempo rocker “Dying Day”, “Close To You” (featuring some tasty
guitar and keyboard parts from Steve Newman), the AOR-ish “Better Man” (best track of the album?) and “Calling” (with some oriental passages). What follows, is also of a high quality, although I can’t escape the feeling that some fillers have slipped in here, such as “Feel Alive” and “Nothing With You”. Counterparts are great tracks like “Deep Water” (longest track on offer with an impressive instrumental part at the end), “Stop In Time” and the rocking hidden track.
All in all a great debut from this English pair … and for the fans of Steve Newman: he’s now finishing work on his next
Newman album for release late this summer.
FOR ME, THIS ALBUM IS A PLEASANT SURPRISE 'CAUSE THE FINAL RESULT IS SIMPLY BRILLIANT
May 21, 2011 | HEAVY PARADISE |
After seven solo albums, the time for Steve Newman has come to release an album with his long-time friend
Mark-Thomspon Smith. Smith is well-known as the ex-lead singer of Praying Mantis. From this collaboration, we have a great album titled "Big Life". In this effort, all the lead vocals are sang by M. T. Smith. Steve Newman is playing the guitars, keyboards and, also, the backing vocals as well.
For me, this album is a pleasant surprise 'cause the final result is simply brilliant. Melodic rock/AOR at it's best with great melodies, very good guitar work and a musicianship that comes from the long time friendship between these two great musicians. The album starts with the brilliant tune of "Dying Day", which is an up-tempo rocker with a catchy chorus line. "Close To You" has some really nice guitar parts while "Better Man" is probably the highlight here. Other very good tracks are "Leaves", "I’ll Still Be Here" and "Deep Water".
Overall, this is a very good release from two very talented musicians. It has everything that any melodic rock fan
can ask from this gerne. It has passion, great choruses, melodies and great performances. Well done!!.
AWASH WITH DANCING KEYS, FIERY GUITAR WORK AND HUGE CHORUSES
May 20, 2011 | Classic Rock Magazine,
UK | Album Reviews |
Awash with dancing keys, fiery guitar work and huge choruses, Big Life features Newman's Steve Newman and former Idol Rich
vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith. Crammed with memorable foot tappers such as Better Man and Dying Day, these dozen tunes represent a convincing introductory statement and are certain to resonate with fans of Newman (the band)
WELL DONE GUYS, 'CAUSE THIS IS A SUPERB DEBUT ALBUM.
May 10, 2011 | MARIO'S METAL MANIA
BIG LIFE is a new project of Steve Newman (NEWMAN) and ex-PRAYING MANTIS frontman Mark Thompson-Smith. Besides Newman (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Thompson-Smith (lead vocals), BIG LIFE also exists of Rob McEwen (drums, percussion), who also played on the last three NEWMAN albums. I assume that the bass parts were played by Newman as well. This self titled album features thirteen tracks, of which the last track, which is titled "Special Relationship", is a bonus track.
Anyway, on "Big Life" we'll get some fine solid melodic Rock songs such as "Dying Day", "Close To You", "Better Man", "Calling" (which has an Eastern/Asian atmosphere), "Feel Alive", "At The End Of The Rainbow" and "Takin' Me Down", but also several beautiful ballads like "I'll Still Be There", "Deep Water", "Leaves", "Stop In Time" and the acoustic "Nothing Without You". One thing is for sure, these guys can write some fantastic compositions, because there's no weak song to find on this CD.
"Big Life" is a very accessible album, which you will like very quickly. You really don't need to listen more than two or three times to this CD, to discover that it's a brilliant album. This is awesome melodic Hard Rock like we
knew during the eighties. Some songs could even be from BON JOVI in their early days. Thompson-Smith is a fantastic singer with a great voice and Newman is an awesome guitar player.
This album was produced by BIG LIFE themselves and sounds brilliant. Although I like all songs very much, I would
say that "Dying Day", "Close To You" (with awesome guitar solo's), "Better Man", the beautiful "I'll Still Be Here", "Feel Alive", the longest track of the album "Deep Water" (6:41), which has beautiful guitar solo's, "Stop In
Time" and "Takin' Me Down" are my favorites.
If you are into melodic Rock and like bands such as SIGNAL, GIANT, early BON JOVI, JOURNEY etc., then you'll have to check out this fantastic melodic Rock album, because it is a real recommendation.
Well done guys, 'cause this is a superb debut album.
Ad van Osch
Ad van Osch
IT'S AN ALBUM FULL OF BIG RIFFS AND MELODIES.....
May 5, 2011 | THE ROCKER | Album Reviews |
Big Life may be a new band, but there is certainly some pedigree at work here. It's sees the coming together of Steve
Newman (Newman, Atlantic, Grand Illusion etc) and one time Praying Mantis frontman, Mark Thompson-Smith, who also had a brief tenure in Andy Scott's Sweet, alongside plenty of nineties projects.
Steve Newman has a deservedly good reputation amongst fans of melodic rock, as a performer, songwriter and as an engineer/producer, and he's brought his A game to the table for this release. The two mainmen are also joined by Rob McEwen, who has been the drummer on the last three Newman albums.
For this record, Steve Newman has decided to go back to the days of eighties AOR for his influences, which shows through on the keyboard work and the arrangements, something that I'm perfectly content with, as that was my era. Mark Thompson-Smith hasn't been exercising his vocals for some time now, and although there is the odd sign of ring rust, he puts in a good shift.
It's an album full of big riffs and melodies, and even some fiery guitar work. Check out 'Close To You' for evidence of that. But for many AOR fans, it's the big ballads that will win or lose a game, and out of the ones on offer here, it's 'I'll Still Be Here' that
stands proudest. There's plenty of other catchy choruses, with 'Taking Me Down' an instant winner, and the Eastern tinged 'Calling' gives it some (technical term alert) welly. And don't switch it off straight after 'Nothing Without You' as there is a bonus track tucked away as well.
It's a thoroughly enjoyable release, but only time will tell, if Big Life have got what it takes for The Secret of My Success (in joke for Night Ranger fans), or if its just a one-off project.. Here's hoping they become a proper band, as the songs deserve to be heard.
Stuart A. Hamilton
Stuart A. Hamilton
BIG LIFE IS THE CD FOR YOU!
May 1, 2011 | Rock Rebel Magazine
The Big Life is the new project dell'Aor Guru Steve Newman (Newman, Atlantic, Steve Overland, Frozen Rain etc) and Mark Thompson-Smith (ex-Praying Mantis) on vocals. For those unfamiliar with Steve Newman, just to say that over the past 10 years has published as many as 8 cd of high quality (the last "The Art Of Balance" is a small masterpiece of the genre). As for Mark Thompson-Smith (singer) emerges from the darkness that had fallen in recent years. After being the lead singer of Praying Mantis in the first 90 years and have worked with many bands in England during the 80 years, becomes the "guest vocalist" by The Sweet in 2005. During his period of militancy in the Praying Mantis, Mark and Steve knows now become good friends, so as to be present in many of Newman's backing vocals. Mark, however, decided to pursue a different career and the collaboration is paying off.
The spark that will rekindle the passion in the music of Mark is the Swedish tour with The Sweet in 2005. Steve proposed a joint project and the result is coming out this project, Big Life. It is also involved in the project Rob McEwen, an exceptional drummer who has played in the last 3 cd Newman. The three come together in the private
practice of Steve, in England, and give birth to this project the same name by which Newman is also the producer.
The first track is "Dying Day" song in style Aor 80 years, with the duo keyboards / guitar out and a great test of
Thompson-Smith voice that dispels the doubts that I immediately had arisen because of his long inactivity. Start with a bang and then, because the chorus pounded hard immediately highlights the work behind the skins of McEwen. With "Close To You" and his ultra catchy riff seems to go back in time. Despite being a mid-tempo quite normal on his side has a compelling groove. Excellent central part and the ending, where the guitar steals the show from the ubiquitous keyboards. Another harpsichord intro introduces "Better Man", which with its sound ammaglianti guides us through oceans of melody. Excellent piece, surely one of the highlights of this CD, followed by "Calling", with its oriental gait. The chorus has a gradient epic, but the added value is represented by the absolute guitar and vocal work of Thompson-Smith really above average.
Here comes the time of the first real ballad, "Believe I'll Still Be Here"-style Newman. Refined arrangements and an innate sense of melody make that the song could become a potential hit. It continues with the power of Aor "Feel Alive", which is not very different from the previous tracks while retaining the excellent quality already expressed. With an arpeggio that reminded me very much "Love Bites" by Def Leppard begins "Deep Water". Very nice also this song that his office Aor / Blues shows us the most melancholy and sentimental
side of the band.
"At The End Of My Rainbow" Big Life confront modern territories using various effects on voice and guitar sound. The result is an enjoyable song that has its apex nell'azzeccato chorus. Very nice also "Leaves", this atmosphere pervaded by blues and acoustic guitars that bring to the fore of Thompson singing sweet and seductive-Smith, who is perfectly at ease in interpreting the piece. "Stop in Time" is yet another ballad that echoes from the Freddy Curci (Alias / Sheriff) and the perfect balance between piano and guitar, cradle the listener pointing straight to the heart. She returns to stomp with "Takin Me Down", an excellent mid-tempo where the guitars are finally protagonists. Noteworthy also is the guitar solo. To close the album are "Nothing Without You", a beautiful and sweet ballad backed by acoustic guitars and a drum beat in the background. Bonus track of the CD is
"Special Relationship", a typical song to Newman with great rhythm and chorus super pimp!
Ultimately this Big Life is really a well done cd. The partnership between Newman and Thompson-Smith was able to create a truly wondrous chemistry, managing to perfectly mix the talent of the two. If we add that the CD is produced to perfection, I can say that this is the highest peak ever reached by both musicians. If you like the atmosphere of Newman, of Alias, tons of melody that wink to sound a bit 'retro, Big Life is the CD for you!
Review by Fabrizio Rate http://www.rockrebelmagazine.com/cd-review-pag-117/
BIG LIFE HAVE A BIG FUTURE
May 1, 2011 | RUSH ON ROCK |
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Hours Of Pleasure
Big Life – Big Life (AOR Heaven)
It would be easy to judge Big Life’s debut album as a Steve Newman solo record in a slightly different guise and yet, while it boasts all the trademark melody you’d expect from such a release,there’s an added twist.
The return of Mark Thompson-Smith as a serious player in the rock community is long overdue and here the former Praying Mantis man delivers a timely reminder to all his fans that while form is temporary, class is permanent.
The only criticism of Big Life – and let’s get our one bugbear out of the way early doors – is that the congested mix doesn’t quite do justice to Thompson-Smith’s true talents. It’s clearly the case on opener Dying Day but don’t let a ropey start deter you from the meat of a mighty record and there’s a distinct improvement as soon as follow-up Close To You kicks into life.
The awkward keyboard intro to Better Man might sound like a Chas N Dave demo but even here the Big Life team overcome a potential hurdle to deliver a power ballad which wouldn’t sound out of place on a late 80s Giant, Winger or Dokken record.
As overblown hooks and singalong choruses become fashionable again Big Life have a big future. If British melodic rock
stalwarts FM can command key slots at major festivals like Download then why not the new Newman/Thompson-Smith project? With quality like this they deserve a wider audience.
A GREAT FIND FOR ANYONE WHO CALLS THEMSELVES AN AOR FAN.
May 1, 2011 | LORDS OF METAL |
Guus: Big Life is the new project of Englishman Steve Newman, one in my opinion wrongly undervalued artist. The best man was under his own name Newman has seven good to excellent albums (the last was "The Art Of Balance" from 2010), as well as this self-titled debut album, I may say that the level is extremely high.
Together with singer Mark Thompson-Smith (ex-Praying Mantis), who stood by him at the network said
Newman, and Rob Mc Ewan on drums, Steve made a CD from beginning to end to finger-licking good!
Opener "Dying Day" for example starts with nice bright energetic drums and excellent six strings of Steve. 'Close To You' and 'Better Man' are two mid-tempo tracks and 'Calling' surprising start with some oriental sounds. "I'll Still Be Here" is the obligatory beautiful ballad, and "Feel Alive" is a little further depressed the accelerator.
Of course you can hear snatches of similar bands like FM, and fans have already heard, but the implementation of the service is very tastefully and is called Steve Newman and his subtle guitar work, just beautiful. At times the atmosphere was even a bit like Marillion at the time of 'Holidays In Eden' album. 'Deep Water' is again a relaxed ballad. In "At The End Of My Rainbow", there is some experimentation with regard to the vocals because the vocals at the beginning of this track are severely distorted, 'Leaves', by contrast, again nice acoustic guitar work as a guide. After "Stop In Time ', we get tough" Takin Me Down "all furrows" Nothing Without You' decision this CD.
For the production, which is by their own hands, nothing but praise, for this set is all elegant silver platter. Naturally this is not the hardest released lately, but a great find for anyone who calls themselves an AOR fan.
"BIG LIFE" INSTEAD OF DINNER IS RICH AND FULL OF DIFFERENT STIMULATING COURSES
Apr 30, 2011 | SPAZIOROCK | Album Reviews |
The guitarist and keyboardist Steve Newman, a name known and respected within the melodic rock and Mark Thompson-Smith, an old golden throat of the Praying Mantis, gave birth to the brand new Big Life project, enlisting drummer Rob McEwen to complete the trio . His self-titled debut album of British education puts on the scales several interesting things, especially when linked to genres like melodic rock and AOR which has already been widely told practically everything.
To put it another way, if the customer in a restaurant you eat the same food, however good it is, in the long run you get tired and would prefer more. "Big Life" instead of dinner is rich and full of different stimulating courses where the riff is after another
well-chosen interesting rhythmic patterns and catchy melodies. Everything is set in a modern but with a constant halo of "ancient flavor" as a royal feast for 800 repeated today with the appropriate adjustments. In addition to the aforementioned melodic rock and AOR, there are several elements purely hard rock (best example is the explosive finale of "Close To You") and even that
recall the vintage prog. The slow songs are welcome ("Leaves", "Stop In Time," "Deep Water", "Nothing Without You") and blend perfectly with the sense of freedom that transmits the artwork of the album, but it is in the busiest Big Life songs that are expressed, which indicates considerable technical skills and a good inspiration.
Here then is that "Dying Day," "Better Man", "Calling" (from the strong hues oriental), "Feel Alive", "At The End Of My Rainbow," "Takin 'Me Down" and "Data" are like for their determination and for the care with which they are played, making even a breath a class not so common. The only flaw, if one can speak of a defect that is attributable to the disc is perhaps the overall length (over an hour of music for the CD is not just today), which can bring down a bit 'attention to distance.
The latter is still just a detail that for all practical purposes little influence on the success of the album, the debut of the Big Life convinces to leave a good impression of the British trio, which has all the credentials to be able to write interesting pages in the future the history of rock and melodic dell'AOR. Right first time.
STEVE NEWMAN STRIKES AGAIN WITH A SPLENDID JOB!
Apr 28, 2011 | HARDSOUNDS | Album Reviews |
Coupled to scream that turns out an AOR bomb! Steve Newman and singer of Prayer Mantis, Mark Thompson-Smith, the latter after a long period of inactivity, created this product based on many references to the glories of the 80s, more like a Scandinavian-inspired rock and hard American rock that something closer to their homeland.
Over the past two years, including Vega, Uriah Heep and Shadowman, it seems that the artists of the land of Albion are distancing himself from the cliche that always dogged the British AOR. Big Life are not exempt from these where Newman, after the success of 'The Art Of Balance', pounces on this new creation especially restoring lustre to Thompson-Smith and his lovely voice and put in serving the people of this kind throughout follower, his art class to create songs and know how to produce and arrange masterfully.
Obviously, do not invent, but only the quality and class profuse worth at least ten plays. From the opener "Dying
Day", a powerful tug with a huge dose of beautiful harmonies, the semi-ballad "Better Man" with his pace wins the most skeptical over, going to mid-tempo "I'll Still Be Here" you can not be exempted from not appreciate this work, beautifully built.
Without any notes, with very few concerns and a unique certainty: This is a great product.
_ FOR FANS OF Newman -
Praying Mantis - Shadowman
Steve Newman strikes again with a splendid job!
Giacomo De Tomasi
Giacomo De Tomasi
BIGGER THAN JUST BIG
Apr 27, 2011 | Metal Music
Archives | Album Reviews |
BIG LIFE - Big Life
Album · 2011 · Glam Metal
5/5 · 2011-04-27
Big Life, a name that's clearly remind me of Night Ranger's classic release, definitely won't surprise me if anything inside has the derivative influences from what the Ranger did in the 80s, but to top the delicious cake, Steve Newman pours his tender melodic rock touch and Mark Thompon-Smith enhances the product with his metallic experiences he grabbed by fronting Praying Mantis in the early 90s. If you also have heard the prog/AOR mix of Slamer's "Nowhere Land" and two classic Giant albums, there are a lot of similarities in style in this record as well.
Going through this album from top to finish for the first time, the initial impression is they have a very unique composition, not the everyday melodic rock stuffs, many songs have unpredictable pattern, and the good thing is that every single tune is a hit
potential. If you prefer their harder side, "Dying Day", "Close To You", "Calling", "Feel Alive", and "Takin' Me Down" are the best picks. If you're curious for the slower part, "I'll Still Be Here", "Stop In Time", and "Nothing Without You" are ballads carefully crafted for maximum enjoyment. The crème de la crème of this record is the third track, "Better Man". Driven by piano, it has a strong Toto touch, the chorus is a champion, the harmony is utterly brilliant, a superb song!
I didn't expect this album to be that good, after repetitive listening, this album is just get better and better, and I even came to the point that Big Life even surpasses the already-great release of Newman's "The Art of Balance" last year. It'd be a total waste if this project is only for one time shot, I know it's still early to put this in the 'top 10 melodic rock releases of 2011', but I'm damn sure this one will be there. For fans of melodic hard rock and AOR, it's an unforgivable crime to pass on this.
Bottom line : Bigger than just Big
WELCOME TO THE WORLD BIG LIFE, A BEAUTIFUL PLACE WHERE THE CHIC ROCKER WILL SURELY FEEL AT HOME
Apr 27, 2011 | METALLUS | Album Reviews |
Big Life is a new project that combines the talents of Steve Newman, a leading figure of the universe melodic rock, and Mark Thompson-Smith, an old acquaintance of class rocker, best remembered for his militancy in the Praying Mantis as a frontman in the early 90 ' s. The duo, joined by Rob McEwen, drummer of the upper class already active in the last three albums of Newman, in the light of this namesake platter in a few episodes that ensures the ecstasy class & melody.
Fits perfectly the choice of "Dying Day" as the opener, which opens like a flower, slowly at first welcomed into a velvety carpet of keyboards and watered by crystal clear vocals before exploding in all its roaring melodic grit. The refrain ispiratissimo accompanied by a powerful and relentless drumming gives us moments of pure magic, the guitar solo assails us with no way out and comes out victorious stretched open mouth, helpless in the face of such great class. Welcome to the world Big Life, a beautiful place where the chic rocker will surely feel at home.
"Close to You" is a classic song from dream to Heaven accompanied aor by peremptory crystalline guitars and keyboard work, spectacular I must say. "Better man", the third song of the lot, marked by that chorus that says: 'Only your love can save my soul tonight,' is the essence of what rock adult who we all love. As he goes from song to song, we realize that this platter offers openings sound really interesting, sometimes non-standard for the genre but still affiliated to the classic melodic rock matrix. It 's the case of "Calling", which is supported by a curious oriental sound, has a delicate structure that is mixed with a stubborn pace of the six strings of "Leaves", caressed by soft guitar parts and adorned with precious inserts and bluesy "Stop In Time", ballad relaxed and light.
"I'll Still Be Here", "Deep Water" and "Nothing Without You" are the other three ballads that give us the Big Life, focusing on those details sound more conventional music fans adore silk and steel to the madness. "Feel Alive" and
"Takin 'Me Down", damn exciting in their guitar oriented style, as they are applying more killer song hosted by this album. The filtered voice (in some places) of "At The End Of My Rainbow," will probably cringe, or at least turn
up their nose to the purists of the genre, which, however, invite you to listen carefully because it offers a nice refrain and a remarkable guitar solo.
Worth noting is the excellent 'return' Mark Thompson-Smith gives a proof that song really inspired and the miraculous drumming of the aforementioned Rob McEwen that beats like a madman behind the drums.
Steve Newman has been confirmed as one of the leaders of that small world that is the great melodic rock, unleashing a high-class performance even in the role of producer (all recording sessions were held in England at 'The Blue Room' studios).
In closing, I recommend to all aor Big Life lover because embodies all those characteristics that you look for in an album like this, or incisive guitar riffs, infectious choruses and refined melodies, clear sign that there is a perfect alchemy between the players involved in the project.
April 27, 2011 | Daniele Luzi
BIG LIFE HAVE ANNOUNCED THEMSELVES AS REAL SERIOUS CONTENDERS!!
Apr 17, 2011 | Sea of Tranquility
Big Life: Big Life
Big Life are a new name on the UK melodic rock scene, although the two main protagonists have certainly seen action before. Playing all the instruments bar drums on the album is a certain Steve Newman of the band Newman and while Steve usually also handles vocals in his own band, this time he is joined by one time Praying Mantis frontman Mark Thompson-Smith.
Not too surprisingly the debut Big Life album sounds a fair bit like a Newman album, but with a different singer! However there are also a few new elements added to Steve's song writing and hearing his unmistakably catchy and memorable hooks and choruses sung by a vocalist with a slightly huskier, gruffer attack also adds a different focus to the music. That said, as with the newest Newman album The Art Of Balance, if you are looking for instantly hook laden melodic rock that just gets better with each listen, then Big Life will be right up your street.
Newman himself seems really fired up on this release, with his guitar work matching the best he has ever done, whether that being the ultra catchy riff, but always melodic "Close To You", or the more impassioned "Deep Water", which falls into the power ballad category. As for Thompson-Smith, well it is impossible to tell that he really hasn't been performing since a short, successful stint with The Sweet in 2005, with his rasping, yet smooth tones punching through the music with authority and with the more than considerable vocal talent of Newman to act as backup vocalist, the two make a killer
Rob McEwan, who has impressed on the last couple of Newman albums brings his assertive drumming style to the album and it is his rock solid beats that allows the likes of the mid-paced "Better Man" to bounce along with an airy melodic thump. Of the harder hitting numbers, there really isn't a track that lets this album down, with the menacing shout along of "Takin' Me Down" and the smooth, yet guitar led AOR of "Feel Alive" being real highlights.
Better than both of them though is insistently memorable "Calling", which has the catchiest guitar hook I've heard all year and is in fact the strongest slab of melodic rock I've heard for quite some time. As with many albums these days, the only real complaint I have with Big Life is that it is maybe one or two tracks too long and while every song on this disc has its merits, things do get a little bogged down in slower tracks towards the end of the album. That however is more a case of nit-picking rather than
highlighting any real deficiency here, as the standard really is universally high throughout.
In a genre that has grown from strength to strength over the last couple of years the standard of releases just seems to be getting better and better and with their self titled debut Big Life have announced themselves as real serious contenders.
1. Dying Day
2. Close To You
3. Better Man
5. I'll Still Be Here
6. Feel Alive
7. Deep Water
8. At The End Of My Rainbow
10. Stop In Time
11. Takin' Me Down
12. Nothing Without You
Added: April 17th 2011
Score: 4/5 STARS
SUPPORTERS OF MELODIC ROCK ALBUM CAN PURCHASE WITHOUT A DOUBT
Apr 12, 2011 | PODIUM INFO | Album Reviews |
Big Life is a new project from Steve Newman and former Praying Mantis vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith. This collaboration resulted in a portion celestial music of the same title as the band. The drain from the crowded street AOR. Newman has already built an impressive reputation in the melodic rock track, the eight Newman melodic and exciting releases in the last ten years. He also worked in the past as a musician, engineer or producer with artists like Steve Overland, Grand Illusion and Phenonema. Not the least and therefore onbekendste. Thompson-Smith is best known for his vocal performance and excesses in the successful Praying Mantis. He was a guest singer with The Sweet and he appeared regularly at Newman albums.
The twelve songs on the eponymous Big Life have been very impressive. The musical adventure starts with the relatively short "Dying Day" and is immediately clear that the music on this record of very high quality. Thompson-Smith with his impressive singing voice is still the stars of heaven. Moreover, time had no hold on his voice and he can hold his own characteristic voice. Steve Newman is still a gifted guitarist and turns one after the other heavenly melody instrument with six or more strings. Also key, he can be nice little man standing among a demonstration of this is reflected in the beautiful 'Better Man'. Striking is the absence of the bass. The emptiness of this is absorbed by the structures and the overwhelming keyboard and drum sound of Rob McEwan, the talent from the last three Newman albums already took full advantage.
Melody is in these men highly valued and are also in the ballad "I'll Still Be Here" is no exception. Also use 'Feel Alive', 'Stop In Time "and" Takin' Me Down "the same musical level as the previous one. 'Deep Water' is a bit quieter
of imposition and an unmatched guitar, wonderfully beautiful. Only 'At The End Of My Rainbow "is a bit out of place by using a voice scrambler.
Supporters of melodic rock album can purchase without a doubt. Melody dripping buckets of really great album. Innovative is this kind of music of course has an eternity, but Big Life is distinguished by an
experienced and seasoned musicianship. (Illegal)Download is therefore absolutely forbidden.
LET’S HOPE BIG LIFE MAKE IT INTO THE LIVE ARENA SOON…
Apr 9, 2011 | Get ready to Rock!
BIG LIFE ‘Big Life’ AOR Heaven (2011)
This is new project featuring Steve Newman (who has released a string of highly rated melodic rock albums under the Newman banner) and vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith, who has fronted Praying Mantis and the Sweet amongst others. The only other band member is drummer Rob McEwan, who has appeared on the last three Newman albums.
If like me you’re a Newman fan then the first thing to get used on this album is the fact Steve Newman is not the lead vocalist! Instead we have Mark Thompson-Smith, whose vocals I have not heard before and my loss as he has that classic melodic vocal that can handle the rockers and ballads with ease. This obviously allows Steve Newman to concentrate on crafting some simply wondrous guitar solos, none more so than on the opener ‘Dying Day’.
Other highlights include ‘Calling’ with an Eastern refrain throughout the song and a damn fine chorus. ‘Close To You’ brings in some pomptastic keyboards coupled with another massively catchy chorus. ‘Nothing Without You’ is one of those simple but effective ballads. Keeping it basic in the music and letting the vocals take the lead.
The AOR/melodic rock genre is full of projects but where Big Life succeeds where others fail is that the songs all come from one source and the two main musicians work so well together. Listening to this album you’d think this was their third or fourth album and not their debut as it is delivered with such style and confidence.
Let’s hope Big Life make it into the live arena soon…
BIG LIFE - BIG DEBUT
Apr 5, 2011 | R13 BIG LIFE - BIG
DEBUT | Album Reviews |
Big Life, Big Debut
Tue Apr 5 23:02:26 011
11 out of 13 [details]
the image for a full gallery
by Paul Chesworth
Big Life is a new project featuring the talents of the UK's melodic rock genius, Steve Newman and ex Praying Mantis frontman, Mark Thompson-Smith. Steve Newman's reputation in the Melodic Rock circuit is impressive - with eight immense Newman albums released in the last decade, the latest being the highly acclaimed "The Art Of Balance". Add to this his work on other albums with artists such as Atlantic, Steve Overland, Eden,
AOR Project, Frozen Rain, Far Cry, Grand Illusion and Phenomena as both performer and engineer/producer.
Mark Thompson-Smith re-emerges from the shadows after a lengthy period out of the limelight to more than
demonstrate that time has not dulled his impressive vocal powers. Best known as the singer with Praying Mantis in the early 90's and as guest vocalist in The Sweet in 2005, he has also featured as frontman for various 80's UK bands such as Idol Rich, Touche and Flight 19. The early 90's also saw Mark working in America with Mike Walsh (Departure) and legendary keyboardist Dave Rosenthal (Rainbow/Red Dawn/Billy Joel), spending two exciting years performing and recording the later released and now much sought after solo album, "A Far Cry
From New Jersey".
Returning to the UK in 1993, as the grunge band tsunami swept away the US melodic rock scene, Mark joined Praying Mantis recording the impressive "Only The Children Cry" EP and completed a successful tour of Japan before leaving the band in 1994. The guys are joined by Rob McEwen, the outstanding drumming talent on the last three Newman albums.
I'm not au fait with Thompson-Smith's previous output I must admit, but, after the first few lines of opener 'Dying Day' I was completely won over with his melodic tone and the whole vibe of 'DD'reminds me of Prophet's wonderous 'Cycle of the Moon � which for me is high praise indeed. 'Close To You ' starts with this classic 80's Keyboard and combined guitar intro and has a chorus that most musicians would give their left nut to come up
with a polished style like this. 'Better Man' continues in this rich vein, a hook laden modern belter.
'Calling' opens up with this great 'Eastern/Asian' intro which flits throughout the whole song. Again Newman sets
up a classic bridge/chorus for Thompson-Smith to shine. 'I'll Still Be Here' is their first foray into mid-tempo ballad land, again with an instantly ingrained tune. 'Feel Alive picks up the pace, before the classy 'Deep Water' with soulful outro soloing from Newman. 'Leavers' mixes it up a little, with its acoustic opening and rocking the next. 'Taking Me Down' reverts back to the great Newman sound and instantly catchable chorus. Final track, 'Nothing Without You' rounds off proceedings nicely, a stripped and toned down number
with just Thompson-Smith, an acoustic guitar and the odd drum fill. The album has a bonus track in 'Special Relationship', a headbanger and foot tapper from the old school of rock.
Just one listen of "Big Life" is enough to get into your head. Most of the songs have huge melodic riffs, melting soloing, and instantly catchy choruses. Newman has the recipe for cooking up great melodic rock numbers, and in Thompson-Smith has found the perfect foil for his blend of music.
Newman has been fairly prolific over the years, and with Thompson-Smith appearing from the wilderness of rock, Big Life I hope will be aptly named as this album deserves to be huge for the pair of them.
With certain publications releasing AOR offshoots, GLEE representations of Journey and other classic melodic rock songs, reformations coming thick and fast, AOR is in the best shape it's been for a number of years. What with recent albums from UK based bands such as Moritz, Vega, and now Big Life, the Brits are taking it to their US counterparts and showing them how its done. Thirty-love to us Brits, lets see what the likes of Journey can respond with.
BIG LIFE - ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR
Mar 20, 2011 | ZERO DAY ROCK |
ZERO DAY ROCK REVIEW
BIG LIFE is a new project featuring the immense talents of the UK's melodic rock gurus, Steve Newman (Newman) and ex-Praying Mantis frontman, Mark Thompson-Smith.
After listening through a couple of times it became quickly apparent to me that this is one the best things
Steve’s ever done as a producer and musician. The album does have elements from his own band, but with more classic '80s elements, and the contribution of Thompson-Smith (and his vocal arrangements) enhances this album to the top.
Opener "Dying Day" is a full on rocker, with a massive guitar riff and some thunderous bass and drums, giving the song a great melodic rock swagger. It opens the album with a bang. There are some extremely effective use
of keyboards on "Close To You" - another big riff rocker with an instant fist pumping rocking chorus. There is a great build up in the verses which gives the chorus even more punch. Great song.
"Better Man" is another winner. Full of hooks, melodies to kill for and a huge sing-a-long chorus with big pomp keyboards and clever lyrics. "Calling" is a fantastic epic sounding rocker with some eastern elements, with a huge chorus and a killer guitar solo. This track has also a terrific rhythm section. Mark
Thompson-Smith shines here, what a great singer. Where have you been?
Mid-tempo ballad "I'll Still Be Here" is an instant hit. It has an extremely smooth commercial AOR sound, great lyrics again and an infectiously instant melody on the chorus which makes this one of the stand out tracks on the album. On at "At The End Of My Rainbow" the band explores a more modern territory, but the chorus is classy and
infectious. "Leaves" is a bit of moody number, a stripped song with some bluesy vibe and acoustic guitars. A very interesting song that adds diversity to the album.
"Takin' Me Down" has a great song structure which again makes the chorus that more instant, and after you’ve
finished singing along to the chorus you can enjoy another top draw guitar solo. Final track is the intimate ballad
"Nothing Without You". Just guitars, vocals and occasional drums makes this tune one of the more original songs of the CD.
Bonus track "Special Relationship" is a melodic rocker with a catchy riff with a real old school Newman vibe.
With BIG LIFE Steve Newman has definitely honed his craft to create one of the best works of his prolific career.The chemistry with Mark Thompson-Smith is evident on each track, blending their talents into classy
material, but with their own approach and a fresh modern sound.
This is British Melodic Rock at its finest, full of hooks, huge melodies and killer musicianship, perfectly produced and arranged. One of the highlights of the year without a doubt.
Copyright:- ZERO DAY ROCK