STEELE is an ’80s melodic hard rock band originally from New Jersey, now based in Los Angeles. Permanent members include lead singer, guitarist & songwriter Jeff ‘Steele’ Zugale and bassist Steve Witschel (both ex- Little Sister).
The band wrote and recorded their self titled debut album between 1989/90. Steele fell afoul of the radical change in the music industry around ’92 to ’94, where anything remotely commercial was dropped in favour of a grungier and less polished rock sound.
So the album was shelved until the mid nineties when the now defunct Alfa Brunette label released the CD only in Japan, of which approximately only two hundred made it out of Asia, and copies of which have been seen to now sell for three figure sums on ebay, they are that rare.
Now Steele is re-releasing the album by themselves as “Tricks Up My Sleeve 2012”, remastered by Jeff ‘Steele’ Zugale and with a new artwork designed by himself (he is a graphic artist as well).
While the band now is recording a brand new album for 2013, finally we can enjoy this “Tricks Up My Sleeve 2012” which has been floating in limbo for a long time.
The album was recorded with the help from lots of friends like Ted Poley of Danger Danger, Hiro Homma (from Japan’s EZO, Loudness), and Joe Fiamingo & Irene Wohlman of New Jersey melodic rockers Xenon.
Title track “Tricks Up My Sleeve” kicks off the album with a bang. A fantastic rockin’ tune, which features some great guitar work that will really stick with you. An air guitar-ing beauty complete with chant along chorus. Easily could have been featured on the playlist of MTV Headbangers Ball from 1989 with great success.
“Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me” is a Skid Row inspired slice of rock n roll. It’s a high energy hair / melodic hard rock song full of hooks, a killer track.
“700 Miles” has an acoustic ballad style in the beginning before kicking the guitars in big and chunky blast. This song has a great feel and some top notch vocals from Mr. Steele.
The excellent “Flirtin’ With Fame” is a real gem of a track with its great hook, big monster riffs with an edge and a strong memorable chorus. “Stay” is an atmospheric power ballad, with a moving vocal performance on the dark chorus.
“Live Forever” brings back the thrill again with an urgent guitar riff and a sing along Poison / Winger style.
The storming chorus of “I’ll Never Cry” will get stuck in your head, I assure you. A mesmerising melodic hard rocker with a tremendous punch.
“Only In Your Mind” has some wonderful intricate guitar work. It’s a hair metal ballad evoking Winger or Damn Yankees and I adore the six-string chords on this track.
“Lead Me Over” adds some catchiness with some party vibe riding on a strong riff and a vigorous solo. The mid-tempo “Innocence” closes the album, a good track but not impactful as the rest.
In hindsight it’s a real shame this debut album from Steele has not seen the light of day in the West side of the World until now, as I’m sure if this had surfaced around the late ’80s / early ’90s when was recorded, it would have had a real impact on the hair / melodic hard rock scene.
To sum things up, “Tricks Up My Sleeve” is a forgotten little gem of an album, and is an essential purchase for any fans of quality hook laden Melodic Hard Rock.
01 – Tricks Up My Sleeve
02 – Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me
03 – 700 Miles
04 – Flirtin’ With Fame
05 – Stay
06 – Live Forever
07 – I’ll Never Cry
08 – Only In Your Mind
09 – Lead Me Over
10 – Innocence
Jeff ‘Steele’ Zugale – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Steve Witschel – Bass
Irene Wohlman – Bass
Hiro Homma – Drums
Dave Lewitt – Drums
Joe Fiamingo – Backing Vocals
Ted Poley – Backing Vocals
STEELE – Tricks Up My Sleeve (2012)
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