A fresh trip on Tony Harnell’s “Mercury Train”

In mid-October 2019, Tony Harnell, known to most as the former frontman for Norwegian band TNT, announced on social media that one of his most unique albums was about to see a first-time release on vinyl. “Round Trip” was initially released in 2010 on cd by Frontiers Records in Italy and the announcement of a vinyl release sent me off immediately to hit the “Pre-Order” button to make sure one of the 500 limited release copies would land in my post office box soon after the November 29th release date.

“Round Trip” is credited to Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train. It serves as the 2nd of 3 “must-have” more acoustic-driven albums; preceded by “Morning Wood” in 1994 along with the Wildflowers (feat. Bumblefoot) release in 2013.

When the album was initially released on cd in 2010, it was met with glowing reviews and with good reason! Bringing in a set of New York City musicians who weren’t part of the “Hard rock/metal” scene and allowing them to be part of the re-imagining of the classic TNT and Westworld tracks was an ingenious move.

“In terms of creativity you have to applaud Mr Harnell as he manages to gather together a group of talented musicians and actually create something new…”MyGlobalMind.com

The album is a near-perfect showcase for Harnell’s vocal abilities; especially in the nuance and touch he gives in this stripped-down environment. You get the same levels of emotion, power and edge in the vocals without falling into the traps this style can easily place other lead vocalists in when attempting an “Unplugged” version of their catalog.

“These new renditions are fantastic, bringing even the most dated of his material into the 21st century as if it were written yesterday. His riveting vocals and the brilliantly produced instrumentation are icing on the cake.”RockandRollReport.com

Tracklist
  • A1 – Somebody Told You (from TNT “Firefly” 1996)
  • A2 – Intuition (from TNT “Intuition” 1989)
  • A3 – Month Of Sundays (from TNT “Firefly” 1996)
  • A4 – Lonely Nights (from TNT “My Religion” 2004)
  • A5 – Shame (from Westworld “Westworld” 1998)
    Backing Vocals [Special Guest] – Sandi Saraya
  • A6 – Northern Lights (from TNT “Tell No Tales” 1987)
  • A7 – Down To The River To Pray (Traditional)

  • B1 – Satellite (from TNT “Taste” EP 2003)
  • B2 – 10K Lovers (from TNT “Tell No Tales” 1987)
  • B3 – Uninvited (from Westworld “Skin” 2000)
    Written-By – Alanis Morissette
  • B4 – Ready To Fly (from TNT “All The Way To The Sun” 2005)
  • B5 – When I’m Away (from TNT “My Religion” 2004)
  • B6 – Song For Dianne (from TNT “My Religion” 2004)
  • B7 – Anywhere But Here (written by Brandon Wilde and Tony Harnell)
 

In comparing the original cd version to the new vinyl release, it is very well mixed and mastered by Bruno Ravel. The tracks really do breathe easily in this format and any work needed to compress the material to allow all 14 tracks to be on a 1-LP set was handled masterfully as I couldn’t detect anywhere where the vinyl versions suffered.

This is one of those albums where on each listen, you’re going to hear something new in the mix that’s going to make you smile. Really speaks to the musicianship as well as the vocalists involved. Be it the surprising flow of “10k Lovers” the almost haunting version of the Alanis Morissette classic “Uninvited” or the intensity found in “Northern Lights”, almost every track is just there waiting to jump off the wax and grab onto you for a couple minutes.

“A masterful and critically acclaimed acoustic retrospective of Tony Harnell`s prolific career. With new arrangements and a stellar production, these great songs sound fresh and vibrant with a new spark breathed into them by some of New York City`s finest musicians.”

If you’re looking to get one, at last check there were some still available from Cargo Records in the UK for £21.99 (about $29). Our copy arrived in just under 2 weeks and was packaged perfectly. The pressing is impressive, on white vinyl and includes a card stock quality inner sleeve with song lyrics and liner notes.

Now we just need to hope the other similar releases from Tony Harnell, as well as the entire TNT catalog among others, will eventually see a complete vinyl release! There are SO many gems out there with no vinyl version at all.

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