Classics (MCA ’89) Rating: A-
This Canadian power trio has been panned by most professional critics who ever bothered to notice them, primarily because of their uplifting (and at times admittedly corny and clichéd) lyrics about things like holding onto your dreams and the magic power of music. Regardless of what the critics say, Triumph did produce some great songs throughout their long career, though this collection of many of the band’s very best moments is all the Triumph that many people will probably need. Handpicked by the band themselves, Classics takes 11 songs from 7 albums and serves up guilty pleasures galore, though I wish they had included a few more songs, “Never Surrender” and the epic “Ordinary Man” for instance. Granted, the “Jane”-ish keyboards on “Tears In The Rain” and the “Space Truckin’” styled groove of “Rock n’ Roll Machine” won’t win the band any points for originality, but Triumph’s triumphant (couldn’t resist) gift for melody and musicianship is apparent throughout this collection. Plus, their big, bright AOR sound rocks hard on explosive anthems of self-empowerment such as “Fight The Good Fight” and “Follow Your Heart,” while “World Of Fantasy” and “Lay It On The Line” are also excellent efforts in a more atmospheric vein. Elsewhere, gifted guitarist Rik Emmett dominates early epics such as “I Live For The Weekend” (my least favorite song here, actually) and “Rock n’ Roll Machine” with his fleet fingers - check out his draw dropping solo on the latter song. Sure, the sappy lyrics of “Magic Power” (their signature song), “Hold On,” and “Somebody’s Out There” would probably make my stomach turn if it wasn’t so damn heartfelt and the music wasn’t so uplifting, and the band never managed to shake off a reputation as a poor man’s Rush. But with two fine singers (Emmett and drummer Gil Moore), three standout musicians, and some stellar songs, Triumph makes a believer out of me on most of these Classics.