Song Spotight: THE FRONT – “Ritual”

THE FRONT were a hard rock band from Kansas City who’s debut album came out on Columbia Records in 1989. Their look, and to some degree their sound, remimded a lot of people of The Cult,  but visually looking like it was still 1969. This was by design as there were some similarities: lead singer Michael Franano’s vocals often sounded like Jim Morrison and Ian Astbury; the songs were mosty dark and moody and the whole album had a sparse production, a bit like The Cult’s Electric but with a thinner sound.

I was a college rep for CBS Records back then, and they were a priority – I put posters up all over Connecticut and tried to get college radio to play the album. I recall having much better success with the former than the latter as the “tastemakers” at college radio quickly dismissed the band as Cult clones.

Musically, I liked the album, though I really kept it all these years because of one song, “Ritual.” The song starts with an incessant, pulsing mid-tempo rhythm as Franano’s moody vocals set the tone. The song builds and builds, until 2:20, when after some Sixties-sounding organ things get louder, harder…strings/ cellos kick in angrily, to announce a ripping guitar solo. The whole second half of the song is like this, over three minutes-worth, with a surging rhythm guitar under the strings and Franano wailing, “I’m gonna take you one more time, I’m gonna take you down one more time, I’m gonna take you down and make you mine, gonna love you baby…”

God damn I love this song. Only one word describes it: epic.

The  Front were really good live and really nice guys, thankful for the record company support. I remember seeing them open for soneone at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT. I can’t remember who they opened for but I do remember thet my future sister-in-law law’s best friend ran off with the lead guitarist from The  Front and may have contracted….something from that dalliance.

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