By Jay Oakley
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But, the fire is so delightful. And, since we've no place to go. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! To many this is the opening to one of the most well known holidays songs during the Christmas season. However, that is not what this is about. This is about the release of the very long-awaited album At Last by Snow. Snow features Carlos and Tony Cavazo on guitars and bass with Douglas Ellison on vocals and Stephen Quadros on drums.
Long-awaited album releases are not new for the music business. However, Snow has put together a package different from anyone else. A two-disc set featuring the full studio album with the second disc being a full live set at the Starwood in Hollywood from 1981.
"We're Gonna Make It" opens the record and sets the tone. A fast track that starts with the guitars backed by cymbals. Douglas' strong vocal style comes through immediately and the track is highlighted by an excellent guitar solo bridge at mid-way point by Carlos. "Oh, Baby" is the first track that puts emphasis on the bass. Tony's bass playing takes center stage and you can see that track was built around that. The vocals are strong and very complimentary. "Steal A Kiss" is a very groove-oriented track. Due to the groove, I find the the rythmn section is very strong on this track and Stephen's playing is very clean and noticable. A few well-placed guitar solos bring distinction to the song and show that groove does not necessarily mean slow. "Mannequin Eyes" is a lighter track but I find that it draws strength from the vacal harmonies Again, Douglas' vocals are strong but it's the backing vocals at the choruses that help push the song. It's vocal strong design makes it a very strong song for fans to sing to. "Stop The Music" puts the drums ahead of everything. Stephen is the only person you hear to open the song. There is a nice acoustic breakdown in the middle of the song but it kicks back heavy with a killer riff. The song ends, pretty much, where it begins with the drums pounding hard highlighted by the rest. "Trying To Survive" is one of the standout tracks. Aggressive guitars open the song with the bass backing the vocals in particular. There is also a very deeper, heavier delivery to the vocals which gives the song a much harder feel. "Fever" is all rythmn, all day. The drums and bass come through first with the vocals blanketing them. "Crack The Whip" is the other gem on the record. An up-tempo song with that gets the blood pumping. The guitars are fast and the vocals have a nice flirty feel to them. "No Way To Treat A Lady" is the closest thing you're going to get to a ballad. A slower design but solid. The chorus is very strong and invites another opportunity for fans to get involved. However, just because it's lighter it still has the solid riffs. "Hell No" opens with a solid bass and is the the track that probably shows off Carlos' soloing ability the best. I love that the vocals have a snarl to them, highlighted by the lyric, "Just because you're an asshole, don't mean I have to die." "Don't Want Anymore" is a slow but gritty song and features a return to that groovy sound. "Bad Generation" ends the record with a bang. Fast and shows off another side of Douglas' vocal range where he hits some high pitches. Riff heavy with solid drums and, again, brings the record to a close with an exclemation point.
live at the starwood - hollywood, california | may 2, 1981
The live set was killer. You could feel the energy in the room. For this, I'm going to focus of the songs that were not on the studio album.
"Fire" is a Jimi Hendrix cover and was actually a pretty cool way to open the show. It also gives a rad nod back to when Snow was a cover band performing under a different band name. "Shame On You" has a cool roller-coaster feel. The song starts out teasing a bit like it's a ballad but turns a corner to a much higher up-tempo. It still touches on those ballad moments a few more times while still featuring Carlos' solos. "I Really Don't Care" was one of the best songs of the show. Aggressive and fast with a touch of early Van Halen. The guitars were tight and the drums were really heavy. "Throw Me A Line" is a bass heavy song. You still get all the punch from Carlos' playing but Tony's bass really shines. This song also featured one of the biggest crowd reactions when it came to a close. "Makes Me Cry" is a down-tempo song that puts more emphasis on Douglas' vocals. This is actually one of my favorite songs lyrically. A sad song about being way into your girl and not having the same love reciprocated. "Break Your Neck" had the best opening. Douglas addresses the crowd and intros this song by saying that it's a song about, "Love and hate and sex and all the things we like to hear about." He's right. A song about having a woman us you when you're down, play with your emotions and then you say what you'll do if she continues. The song itself has a much more blues feel. Slower but allows for the emphasis behind the lyrics. "Full Auto" is Stephen's drum solo. Four minutes of just crushing it. "White Noize" is Carlos' guitar solo. Solid, tight and exactly what you would expect from one of the best. The opening riff and guitar parts from "No More Booze" is very recognizable and it's clear that Carlos' next band benefited from the writing of this song. But, that's also what makes this song so rad. It has a touch of home and makes you feel like you've been there before while also showing that the past is always what lays the groundwork for the future.