Harem Scarem - The Early Years
Frontiers Records
Melodic Hard Rock
16 songs ()
Release year: 2003
Harem Scarem, Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben

The Early Years is one damn fine record and I say that upfront because I was just as surprised as anyone that this was not only worth my time, but ended up being a highly played cd. You’ve seen it before, when a band releases their old demos before they “made it” and they generally end up being a shoddy cash grab with poor songs and poor sounding material. This however is the exact opposite and I would go so far as to say that The Early Years is as essential as any other Harem Scarem album.

Made up of the long playing demo that the band recorded prior to their self titled debut, this sounds like a blend between the said album and their second release Mood Swings. The general sound to someone that isn’t familiar with these two outings would best be described as hard hitting, emotional melodic rock with a slight eighties slant to it, the high backing vocals give that away. Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance even then in the late eighties were a very tight and close knit writing team and the quality of the songs on here speak for themselves. First, two numbers that were repeated on the debut are presented in their infancy, the dripping ballad Honestly and the upbeat poppy tune (and personal favorite) All Over Again. Honestly is very much the same as the version everyone knows and loves but the demo version All Over Again is vastly different than the one we are familiar with. Instead of starting off slightly subdued, this one comes out you right from the beginning with the vocal lines and sharp percussive beats, there’s even an obvious acoustic guitar being played too. Not as polished as the finalized version, there is still a unique and appealing charm in hearing it being played in this manner. Staying Away sounds like a pure eighties metal anthem with its fast and vicious (for Harem Scarem at least) guitars and almost manic vocal melodies, this has a huge chorus, one which will indelibly be stuck in your head for hours to come. That obsession we had back in the eighties with the synthesizers makes one of its few appearances in the intro to You’re the One, a brooding song that breaks off into yet another trademarked Harem Scarem almost classic. Much of the album is in this similar vein, with the exception of several ballads, all of which are very good, nothing to throw away here, these songs hit you hard, hit you fast, and definitely leave an impression.

Despite my ranting and raving over the high points on The Early Years it is still obvious that these are the sounds of a band in its infancy. Similar song structures appear, for instance, there are more than a handful of tracks that have that passage where the chorus is repeated over a pounding bass drum used to get the crowd going in a live situation, it’s nothing that drags this album down but it is noticeable. Other than that and a few other nitpicks that I doubt most people would even recognize or care about, I can feel good about giving The Early Years a recommendation for any and all Melodic Rock fans out there.

Killing Songs :
All Over Again, You're the One, Looking Back, and One of the Wounded
Ben quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Harem Scarem that we have reviewed:
Harem Scarem - United reviewed by Ben and quoted 88 / 100
Harem Scarem - Human Nature reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - Mood Swings reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - Overload reviewed by Ben and quoted 55 / 100
Harem Scarem - Higher reviewed by Ben and quoted 84 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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