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LIPS TURN BLUE – LTB album out now (a review)

LIPS TURN BLUE is the band formerly known as DDrive, which features guitarist Don Mancuso [ex Black Sheep], and the late Phil Naro on vocals & guitar. this album also features keyboardist Eric Beiber, bass player Mike Mullane, as well as a few drummers (Roy Stein is the band’s permanent drummer), backing singers, and guests – most notably Lou Gramm! Producer Steve Major also adds guitar and percussion. Most songs here co-written by Naro & Mancuso, with a few others adding to variety of tracks here.

First off is the awesome cover shot by Martin Kornick / Man In the Mountain ! Love the photo and the blue. Makes me wonder why no one issued this on blue vinyl!?

LTB features 13 tracks, a few of which have been re-worked from previous releases, most notably a cool remake of Black Sheep’s “Chain On Me” (the 70s band that featured Mancuso and Lou Gramm, as well as co-writer Bruce Turgon) – love that piano intro and Hammond organ! The band also revisit their own “Pray For Tomorrow”, which is a timely and memorable; a song of hope featuring a fine vocal from Naro, as well as acoustic guitar and mandolin from Mancuso. “Pray For Tomorrow” has been made in to the 2nd video from the album, with the band also offering the video in efforts to raise money for the people of Ukraine.

There are a few tracks reworked here from Mancuso’s 2nd solo album, titled DDrive – the upbeat (and a favorite here) “Build My Castle”, and though the original was good this is a great production, adding a vocal intro and love the keyboard & guitar exchange here, as well as the solo – this track sounds like it would be an exciting in the live set. As well there’s Lou Gramm singing the Mancuso / Naro penned “A Little Outside” (a nice close to the album), and a cover of Beatles’ favorite “Hey Bulldog”. Favorite tracks here also include the opener (lead single) “Just Push” and “Better Than I Used To Be” (great AOR rocker – love the keyboard runs in this one from Eric Beiber) – actually the first 5 songs here make this worth getting! A couple of excellent ballads included here as well, “No Need For You To Call” and “Life’s Crazy Ride”, both reflective, and one of Phil’s best vocal performances on the latter.

Lips Turn Blue is one of two albums Phil Naro completed before his passing. LTD will appeal to fans of melodic rock, classic AOR, and anyone familiar with Phil’s vocals (the guy did a lot in his career!). Cheers to Don Mancuso and the band and producer Steve Major for getting this album done and out. Lips Turn Blue are currently working on a 2nd album and live dates with new singer Iggy Marino.