Shaw/Blades – Hallucination (2018 Remaster)


Unpretentious, honest rock’n’roll . . . 

Reviewed by Brian McGowan and released by Rock Candy Records, February 2018.

How many of your influences can you pack into 44 minutes?

In 1996, Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades took a break from Damn Yankees, to record My Hallucination. They all but abandoned the polished, perfectly pitched AOR of their previous bands, Styx and Nightranger, to record an album that draws heavily from their past, without sounding cliched or derivative.

Producer Don (Mellencamp/REM/Hootie) Gehman modelled the music on a shrewdly pitched amalgam of acoustic guitars and cleverly layered vocals, adding amped up electrics at key moments to accentuate a line of lyrics or an emphatic chorus.

Its unpretentious honesty provided some truly affecting moments, with probably the title track’s combination of pulse quickening harmonies, a riff borrowed from Clapton and a lyric nicked from Lennon creating a perfect storm of passionate, articulate rock. The sweet acoustic pop hymn, ‘I’ll Always Be With You’ and the Beatlish ‘Blue Continental’, swept along on an undercurrent of southern rock, are the other sides of the duo, two senses of serenity, nestling in the music’s rootsy strums and stomps.

The remastering does what it says on the sleeve, boosting the dynamics without swamping us with unchecked volume.

This is unarguably an album well worth resurrecting, deserving of the TLC received from the Rock Candy team. It would be 2007 before the next Shaw/Blades release – Influence, an album of covers – saw the light of a brand new day.

Track List:shawblades

  1. My Hallucination
  2. I’ll Always Be With You
  3. Come To Be My Friend
  4. Don’t Talk To Me Anymore
  5. Stumble In
  6. Blue Continental
  7. Down That Highway
  8. Get Used To This
  9. The Night Goes On
  10. Can’t Live Without You
  11. The End