Frank DiMino – Old Habits Die Hard (2015)

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Frank DiMino, lead singer of legendary hard rockers Angel from 1975-81, is back with his first solo album, Old Habits Die Hard. Angel was Casablanca Records’ white-clad antithesis to Kiss — though Gene Simmons discovered the band and got them signed to the label. Angel released five studio projects and a live album before calling it quits.

DiMino’s Old Habits Die Hard capitalizes on the strong points of the classic rock fans love so much, with a modern twist evident on a few of the tunes. All the songs are original; there aren’t any remakes of Angel songs in the bunch.

After leaving Angel, Frank DiMino sang “Seduce Me Tonight” (with Cycle V) on the Flashdance soundtrack. He joined the Paul Raymond Project as lead vocalist, and did studio work for many TV shows and made-for-TV movies. In 1999, DiMino and drummer Barry Brandt reformed Angel and toured for a few years. Original keyboardist Greg Guiffra and guitarist Punky Meadows didn’t take part in the reunion tour, though Meadows did contribute to the reformed Angel’s only album, 1999’s In the Beginning.

Frank DiMino enlisted the help of several ace players for Old Habits Die Hard. They are Ricky Medlocke (Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot), Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint), Oz Fox (Stryper) Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), and Northwest-scene musician Jeff Labansky. The album was produced by Paul Crook (Anthrax/Meat Loaf), with additional contributions by former Angel bandmates Barry Brandt (drums) and Punky Meadows (guitar). DiMino’s core band features Danny Miranda on bass, John Avery on keyboards and John Miceli on drums.

With all those hard-rock alumni, you’d expect the album to pack quite a punch — and Old Habits Die Hard delivers. Punky Meadows plays lead guitar on the first track “Never Again,” which hooks you with its straightforward melodic rock riffs. It’s 1978 (in a good way) all over again! “Rockin in the City,” an edgy ode to nights on the town, is another uptempo tune with lightning-fast guitars.

“Even Now” co-written by Brandt, mellows things down. The acoustic guitar intro, (courtesy of Frank DiMino’s son Dylan) sets the pace for this beautiful ballad. The song showcases DiMino’s vocal range, as he transitions from the song’s gentle beginning to a soaring higher register. “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” has the power and clarity of Angel’s best ballads. DiMino’s heartfelt vocals energize this tale of broken love. “The Quest” begins with the sonic muscle of a medieval saga but the lyrics are purely inspirational. The frenetic “Mad as Hell” equals “Rockin’ in the City” for pure adrenaline.

Frank DiMino’s Old Habits Die Hard is a pleasant surprise for Angel fans, or anyone who likes melodic hard rock. The album has a retro sound, but the material is new and inspired.

P.S.: Angel fans take note: Punky Meadows is currently working on a solo album.

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