A couple of years ago, Sydney’s Scott Ginn re-emerged after 20 odd years out of the rock ‘n’ roll game. As fans of 1980s Sydney and Australian heavy rock, we here at Rockbrat were very familiar with Scott’s work , prominently with bands such as BOSS, The Breakers, Cheetah and Rags N Riches (Scott’s 1986 solo album ‘One Man Army’ comes highly recommended too). Sound wise, Rags N Riches combined the sass of Aerosmith, the flamboyance and licks of Lee Roth-era Van Halen, with the melody and hooks of Def Leppard. As great a live band they were, Rags N Riches never released a debut album, although they did record a lot of material during their four year existence from 89-93. This material sat on the shelves for years until Scott finally issued the band’s debut album, ‘Shipwrecked Out On The Streets’ in 2016. (Read about that here).
‘Shipwrecked Out On The Streets’ was a strong debut, yet this, the sophomore release for Rags N Riches is even better. Much like the debut album, ‘Heaven Is Only A Moment Away’ consists of material the band recorded from 89-93. Unlike the debut though, which reflected the band’s ‘big band meets hard rock’ sound, the new album is 100% melodic hard rock, more in the classic 1980’s Def Leppard style. All these years later and these songs still sound relevant, which is testament to the song writing, and Ginn’s knack of being able to pen catchy, melodic rock with hooks. Combine that with the scorching heavy rock guitar of Phil Bowley (Candy Harlots/Shy Thunder) and you start to wonder whether the fortunes of Rags N Riches may have been different had these tunes been released back in 1990, when hair metal (an apt but derogatory idiom in my opinion) was king.
‘Heaven Is Only A Moment Away’ contains 11 songs with four bonus cuts. Plenty of highlights too. The album opens with the monstrous, riff heavy title track, which reminds me a lot of classic Dio (particularly the addition of the Claude Schnell-like keyboards) and even Priest’s ‘Metal Gods’ at times. Reference points aside, this is an epic tune with a rippin’ Phil Bowley solo. ‘Is This Really Love’ is a power ballad par excellence with a big sing-a-long chorus, tasty solo and harmonies aplenty. A great song then is still a great song now – radio friendly then, radio friendly now. Radio programmers pay attention. Absolutely love ‘We Stand On The Edge’ and ‘Last Days Of The World’, both penned during the writing of Scott’s ‘One Man Army’ album from ’86. Both lyrically evocative and super catchy melodic hard rock. Scott Ginn has a great rock voice and a great range –and compliments Bowley’s tasteful lead guitar perfectly. Fans of Aiz Lynch–era Candy Harlots will love the sleaze of ‘Cindy’s Working On The Streets’, resplendent with Bowley’s distinctive riffing – musical muscle that he brought to the Candy Harlots table when he replaced Marc Lee De Hugar way back when. Ripper tune, ultra-catchy and lyrically, one can assume that Cindy is a sister of ‘Maxine’. Possibly my favourite tune on the album, however that gong goes to ‘Chains Of Love’ – a super melodic AOR, Journey-like tune. HUGE sing-along chorus, catchy riff, great song. If you threw this into the playlist of any classic rock radio station, it would not be out of place amongst the more esteemed company , and listeners would be scrambling to find out who it is! There’s two versions of ‘Catch Me If You Can’, including the original demo. This was the first tune the band wrote and was always a live favourite. It still kick ass, as does ‘Take It To The Top’, another infectious rifforama with hooks aplenty.
Sonically, these songs sound full and loud, with the guitars up front – the way we like it. Not only has Ginn done a great job with production, the eye catching artwork is also an appealing visual accompaniment to the music.
If you dig original and catchy, melodic hard rock of the late 80s/early 90s – Rags N Riches are for you. If you dig classic rock – look no further. Significantly, the songs on ‘Heaven Is Only A Moment Away’ have stood the test of time and reaffirm that Australian hard rock bands of the 80s were as good as anything coming from the US or the UK at that time. Highly recommended. Note that Rags N Riches returned to the stage last year (including a support of BB Steal), and will be heading out again later this year to support the album’s release.
For more details on where to buy the album, head to Mazz-XT Music. You can also pick up the first Rags N Riches album ‘Shipwrecked Out On the Streets’ and Scott’s ‘One Man Army’ album on either CD ($10) or digital ($5).
To read a through interview Rockbrat conducted with Scott where he talks about his full rock ‘n’ roll history, click here.