Kee Marcello really made his name as guitarist in the rock band Europe a couple of years after they completed world domination with “The Final Countdown”. He has, however, been plowing a solo furrow for a while now and Scaling Up shows that he’s doing a mighty good job of it.
This disc, his 4th solo outing, is out on Frontiers Music s.r.l. and is a great collection of catchy riffs and choruses which will get right into your head.
After a close listen to Scaling Up I feel that there is a lot of autobiographical material here, including tales of last chances, bad decisions, and unknown adventure.
The opening track, “Black Hole Star”, ticks all the catchy boxes and is a cracking way to start.
“On The Radio” starts off in funky fashion but soon finds its feet with a singalong chorus and a few David Lee Roth-style vocal interventions. A nice layered guitar solo finishes the job well.
What Kee Marcello does best on Scaling Up is the classic rock ballad and none are better than “Don’t Miss You Much”. Heartfelt vocals and well-pitched guitaring make this a really enjoyable first ballad.
Kee certainly takes inspiration from Van Halen and “Fix Me” demonstrates this well. It starts off in David Lee Roth talky blues era then develops into Sammy Hagar keyboard and choppy riff style. It’s a clever trick carried off successfully.
“Wild Child” does not really bring much to the party and is once again Van Halen inspired but not to good effect.
Being a guitarist by trade you would expect the songs to center around his axe wizardry but to his eternal credit the songs are all well constructed and solos not (often) too overblown and egotistical.
It’s back to ballad central for “Finger On The Trigger” where Kee tells a tale of regret and poor decisions. It’s a nice mellow affair in line with the story he’s telling.
The guitar is obviously his instrument of choice and to double up on vocals is not an easy thing to do. While he’s no Dave Meniketti, he knows his limitations and is extremely capable on all tracks.
Next in line is straight-up rocker “Soldier Down” with heavy riffs but a somewhat out of place solo. A bit over the top on the twiddling I’m afraid, Mr. Marcello.
Now for “Scandinavia” and what I feel is an autobiographical tale. An unknown from Scandinavia promised riches in California only to be left down and out. I don’t know if it’s himself he’s talking about but he’s very convincing. Great song with catchy lyrics and fitting solo. Top stuff.
“Good Men Gone Bad” follows, which, for a time would have fit right into Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers album. That’s until Kee decides it would be a good idea to insert some free-form jazz into proceedings. What was I saying about overblown and egotistical? Unnecessary I’m afraid.
The title track then attempts to get things back on track but it’s a bit of a chugger which is a shame.
We’re on safe ground next with another slow one, “Don’t Know How To Love”, which is a real highlight. Emotional vocals matched by the solo make this a very good song indeed.
Unfortunately, the album finishes on a bit of a low with “Blow By Blow”. If the record had finished on the previous track I would have had a far better memory of it but it’s just one song too far.
Overall, though, Scaling Up is very enjoyable rock album for the most part.
On a bit of a side note, Kee Marcello also competes as a professional harness racer in his native Sweden so he’s a man of many talents. I’m sure there are comparisons to be made and witty metaphors but I can’t think of any, I’ll just leave it out there.