JEFF JONES- Rockhard -’86-’96 CD Review in Rock Report “..a great way of getting to know this talented musician..”

Let’s go back to 1979 when guitarist Jeff Jones formed St. Elmo’s Fire along with vocalist Tim Raynor-Allwein in Sacramento, California. In order to have a genuine band they needed a bass player and drummer to complete the line-up so enter Steve Raynor and Alan Kreutzer. They quickly built a name for themselves on the local club circuit opening up for acts such as Y&T and Nightranger but it would take until 1982 before they put out their first official release, a single called “Really In Love” through Real to Reel Records.
One year later the combo moved to LA and underwent a drastic line-up change. Founder Jeff was now joined by singer Zane Lazar, drummer Kris Gustofson and bassist Simon Evans. Also in 1983 manager/producer Dito Godwon (Great White, Wildside, Peter Criss) took them under his wing and through him they were able to release their self-titled debut on Dream/CBS France in 1986. The platter was well received by both press and fans.
The band continued gigging on the Sunset Strip scene strengthening their live act while also writing new songs that ended up on three more releases: 1988’s “Warning From The Sky”, “Powerdrive” which saw the light in 1990 and “Desperate Years” that came out a month after the combo had officially split up in 1992. All their hard work hadn’t resulted in obtaining a place in the premier league of melodic hard rock/metal and Jeff felt he had taken the band as far as he could.
Next Jeff would join hair metallers Vamp Le Stat and record the awesome “Bloodline” disc but by 1994 he was out on his own and the next year his first solo album was released through Border Records.
And this brings us nicely to the compilation album entitled “Rockhard ’86-‘96” which is currently playing in the background. Included here are several tracks lifted from the first 3 St. Elmos Fire platters, some from VLS’s “Bloodline” and one cut from mister Jones’s “Ride” opus.
The sound produced by St. Elmos Fire is ‘80’s melodic hard rock/metal and comes across as a mix of early Keel, Ratt at the time of their excellent self-titled EP and vintage Dokken. Nothing you haven’t heard before . But that doesn’t change the fact that Jeff’s guitar work is a pleasure for the ears along with the powerful, high pitched vocals of mister Lazar.
The tracks from the debut are a tad heavier than those of the 2 platters that followed cause on “Warning From The Sky” and “Powerdrive” the guys were clearly aiming for a broader appeal by going for a more commercial sound.
Currently guitarist Jeff Jones and drummer Kris Gustofson are planning a possible return of St. Elmos Fire.
The odd tune of the bunch is “Mississippi Wine” from Jeff’s solo debut. On this acoustic tune he dabbles with Southern Rock .Enlarging upon the tracks lifted is a few from from VLS’s “Bloodline” “Rockhard ’86-‘96” showcases a big part of the career of Jeff Jones and is a great way of getting to know this talented musician. (see also Spaced, Keester, Vamp le Stat)


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