One often associates Seattle, Washington
with grunge, and not pure melodic pop rock music. The quartet The Life was one of the most
popular underground rock bands in the Northwest during the mid to late 1980s
with their soulful vocals and the inspired fretwork of the late guitarist Tony
Bortko. Unfortunately this band is no
longer in existence, the members having moved on to other pursuits; drummer
Eric Lichter, for example, is now in the Green Pajamas. However, The Life’s music deserves to be
heard because of the band’s passion for honesty about the trials and
tribulations of life, truly connected with the underground music fans of Seattle.
Anyone who listens to this CD will feel a sense of
loss and hope. First, on Disc 1, a tremendous cloud of doom hovers in the
ominous “The Tunnel,” a depressing tale – about people struggling to find
happiness in a dark world – with soulful vocals and melodic riffs. The sad journey rolls on with fourth track
“Love by the Wayside,” a gut-wrenching tale about a couple that had a great
romance but is now breaking up. However,
the young man is pledges to get his girlfriend back someday.
Meanwhile, on the bonus disc, one turns to a sense of
hope. “Come to Call” is an upbeat tale about a young man wanting a beautiful
woman to be with him forever even as the woman sends him mixed signals. This track features inspired vocals and a heavy
bassline equivalent to a nervous heartbeat.
Finally, every human being has different ideas about what being “free”
means, so the raucous, energetic and melodic “Freedom is…” depicts people
living their lives as they see fit.
Life was played great pop rock music with a fierce intensity second-to-none;
they were celebrated in the Northwest during their tenure but fell into
obscurity due to infighting and the eventual death of Bortko. Who knows what
would have become of The Life if the band had caught on with mainstream rock
fans. With Alone: Deluxe Edition everyone gets a reminder of exactly that.
DOWNLOAD: “The Tunnel”
(CD1); “Freedom is…” (CD2) LESLIE SNYDER