FORTUNE was formed in the 70’s by brothers Richard Fortune on guitar and Mick Fortune on drums. The first line-up of the band released a same titled pop rock debut album in 1978 that hasn’t much in common with the FORTUNE we are discussing right now. The band we are interested in started taking shape in 1982 when singer Larry Greene and keyboardist Roger Scott Craig joined the Fortune brothers. Roger Scott Craig was previously in British pop rock band LIVERPOOL EXPRESS who had a couple of successful singles, most notably the classic “You are my love” (wonderful song, check it out, I’m sure you’ll remember the melody). With Craig taking over most of the songwriting FORTUNE finally released a second, again same titled album in 1985 on the Camel / MCA label. Unfortunately after the album’s release there was little to none promotion and the label went bankrupt. Thus it ended up as one of the best kept secrets of AOR, slowly building a legend of its own, so strong among AOR fans that it made the band come back 34 years later. And now we can finally here some of the material that would make up their second (technically the third) album if the band had survived the aforementioned misfortunes.
But before we get to the new album just a few more trivials: Out of the ashes of FORTUNE rose HARLAN CAGE, a band that featured Larry Greene and Roger Scott Craig. HARLAN CAGE released a string of four good to great albums from 1996 to 2002 and then went on hiatus too. Craig also released three great albums with his side band 101 SOUTH, retaining his former bands’ magic. You should definitely check them out too.
For those who have never listened to any FORTUNE stuff (or the other spin offs I mentioned) and wonder what’s the buzz, I have to say they are a very special band with a totally unique sound, something you wouldn’t dare say about many AOR bands. For starters, Green’s voice; it’s so warm, silky, down to earth, emotionally charged, even without the high notes and the extravaganzas of JOURNEY’s Steve Perry or MICHAEL BOLTON. Craig on keys dominates the sound of the band; he’s responsible for a touch of pomp rock here and there, plus the outstanding songwriting.
Listening to the new album was somehow sentimental. The opening riff and keyboard theme of “Don’t say you love me” had a time travelling effect. I’m not that old to really remember the 80’s but it took me 15 to 20 years back when I was discovering lots of AOR gems, this band being among them. A very melodic and catchy opener on the shiny side of AOR. “Shelter of the night” on the other hand is classic FORTUNE (ok, I mean 1985’s FORTUNE) stuff with keyboards that build up the tension and Green’s signature dramatic vocals. “A little drop of poison” is another standout track, a semi ballad with beautiful piano parts that gets more vivid around the chorus. “What a fool I’ve been” was written back in the 80’s and it carries that unmistakable and genuine feel. The ballad “Heart of stone” had me thinking of Magnum and Bob Catley, classy stuff. “New Orleans” is another track I fancy, it’s that type of slow paced song that works itself up and before you realize it has caught you for good. The Japan version has a bonus live track, “Living in a dream world”, a good one for sure with pomp keys and a hint to the band’s 70’s days.
Fortune II is definitely a strong release and the stuff grows on you with repeated listens. I think every fan of the band will feel really satisfied; especially given the time frame of the new release. I only wish this album had arrived some (or maybe a lot of) years earlier. 34 years are far too many. The band is still going strong but at times you can feel this is a record by a bunch of old rockers. And that’s the main difference with the 1985 album; that was the band at the top of their game. Anyway, fans (and obviously the band members too) needed a good closure and now they’ve they got it. Closure? Well, if they were to release another album like this who would say no?
P.S.: If you think the cover is a little bit cheesy just check out the cover of the 1985 album. The same gloved hand trying a safe’s combination. On that cover “fortune” pointed towards riches. 34 years later that same hand is turning an amplifier’s knob. “Fortune” equals still being able to play that music. Priceless.