Joined by past bandmates and some other equally outstanding musicians, Lane honors each track with his signature vocals and rock ’n’ roll attitude.
It’s easy to look back and judge former Warrant front man Jani Lane on his shenanigans in the 1980s. Thirty years later, musical tastes have changed, fads have come and gone, and world events have taken a much more serious turn. As a child of the ’80s, I can still remember the sweet emotions borne from hearing “Heaven,” Warrant’s first major hit, crackle over FM late-night radio. Lane’s sweet, clear voice gave the syrupy ballad every ounce of emotional weight it required. Warrant joined other bands taking up the hair metal banner, and thanks to the heavy rotation of MTV, they were running with the big dogs.
After the rise—and fall—of the band, Lane ultimately split with his bandmates and struck out on his solo career…with a modicum of success. In spite of all the drama, the fights with fellow bandmates, and the massive egos, one thing remained: the vocalist’s talent. In that spirit, Deadline Music has released Catch a Falling Star, an album of cover songs that finds Lane taking on giants such as Van Halen, Cheap Trick, and Def Leppard. Joined by past bandmates and some other equally outstanding musicians, Lane honors each track with his signature vocals and rock ’n’ roll attitude.
- “I Want You to Want Me” featuring Ryan Roxie | Lane takes this classic track head on, infusing the vocals with sexuality. The guitar work is equally impressive, as Roxie keeps up with Lane’s infectious energy.
- “Panama” featuring George Lynch | Rock icon Lynch joins Lane on this epic track. Both musicians do an admirable job on the track, but when you are being compared to Eddie Van Halen and the incomparable David Lee Roth, you are entering dangerous waters. Overall, a nice version, but it ventures into karaoke territory.
- “Photograph” featuring Tracii Guns | Lane seems to be much more in his element on this track. His clean vocals tremendous energy take center stage as Guns kicks this track into overdrive. This version makes me long for the early days of MTV, when they actually played videos.
- “The Ocean” | I was most nervous about Lane taking on Led Zeppelin’s classic track, but was quite surprised by the amount of blues in his vocals. This boy had some soul in his voice; I wish he would have displayed this side of his sound during his heydey. This track could have gone horribly wonky, but Lane’s vocals were lovely, and his doo-wops quite delectable.
- “Doctor Doctor” | Lane goes back—way back—paying homage to London’s UFO and its best-known single. This is hard rock in its purest form: blazing guitars, big ballsy rhythms, and grungy vocals. The funny thing is Lane’s vocals fit perfectly…almost too perfectly. This tracks ranks among the best on the album.
- “Electric Eye” | There are so many Judas Priest songs Lane could have chosen to cover, but he selected this one. To deep-track music lovers, this song is a home run. While there will never be any substitute for Rob Halford’s legendary vocals, Lane’s love for Priest is evident with a very enjoyable performance.
- “Free for All” featuring Jake E. Lee | Here, Lane and Lee take on Ted Nugent. The song itself is a bit of a snooze, but both musicians do their own signature moves, giving this track new life. Lee may even have improved upon Nugent’s original fretwork.
- “No Surprise” featuring Chris Holmes | Holmes of W.A.S.P. fame joins Lane in taking a trip back in time by recreating an Aerosmith musical nugget. The vocals are derivative of Steven Tyler’s, but the attitude is classic Jani Lane. As a music lover, I can appreciate Lane’s passion for the legendary rockers, but as with the Nugent track, this one is another sleeper.
- “Lay Your Hands on Me” featuring Erik Turner and Jerry Dixon | Lane’s ex-bandmates Turner and Dixon reunite with the singer to tackle this iconic Bon Jovi track. As a massive Bon Jovi fan, I scrutinized this track the most; if Lane screwed this up, I planned on crucifying him. Fortunately, I have nothing but love for Lane & Co. on this gem. They completely captured the spirit of this song, and Lane’s vocals are heavenly. Hands down, this is the best track of the album.
Despite the couple clunkers mentioned, this collection of Lane’s vocals is outstanding. I would recommend Catch a Falling Star to any of my friends with whom I headbanged in the ’80s. While it may be fun to poke fun at the past, it is also amazing to hear what might have been. A- | Jim Ryan