Alongside FM, DARE are probably the greatest British AOR act of all time. This debut came out of nowhere – it had been five years since singer Darren Wharton had been the keyboard player in THIN LIZZY, and the rest of the band were young unknowns from the Manchester area.
The sound was dominated by the double keyboards from Wharton and Brian Cox, later to become a famous TV Scientist. This was a bold move as by 1988 even the melodic bands were rowing back on the keyboards in favour of a more guitar heavy direction. That said, the guitar solos from Vinny Burns are wonderfully melodic, almost Schenker esque.
To this day there is barely an opening pair of songs that can touch the glory of ‘Abandon’ and ‘Into The Fire’. The former, their best-known song, boasts the classic AOR lyrics “if you abandon me, tonight will last forever/I’m stranded here inside this desert called my soul”. Yet the latter is even better with a dramatic tension created both in the intro, then as it builds into the chorus.
Wharton’s vocals are distinctive, heavily breathing and almost whispered in style shown to best effect on the ballad ‘Nothing Is Stronger Than Love’. It lends the songs a wonderfully atmospheric feel although ‘Heartbreaker’ and to a lesser extent ‘Runaway’ are more straight ahead rockers.
What makes this album stand the test of time is its originality. Though comparisons can be made to ASIA and MAGNUM, the sound was truly original and far from what other bands were doing at the time.
‘The Raindance’ recaptures the vibe of the dark industrial heartlands of Northern England while both the emotional tribute to Phil Lynott in ‘King Of Spades’ and ‘Return The Heart’ tapped into a celtic vibe, which was a direction they eventually fully embraced. This debut though was their finest hour, at least in an AOR sense.