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Joe Viglione [allmusic.com]
Jon Butcher says he never should have bet his heart if he ''couldn't pay the price'' in Wishes, which might be the guitarist's most introspective album and most potent artistic statement. The production by Butcher and Spencer Proffer is crisp and elegant. Here's a songwriter controlling his own destiny with help from Foreigner/Aerosmith sideman Thom Gimbel, longtime drummer Derek Blevins, and bassist Rob Jeffries. These are all Jon Butcher originals with one co-write, ''A Little Bit of Magic,'' which has the assistance of a person with one name only, Raun, from another Pasha/Spencer Proffer group, Isle of Man. ''Living for Tomorrow'' continues the spirit of the first tune, ''Goodbye Saving Grace,'' with the singer's strong voice augmented by guitarmanship finally coming into its own. His musicianship takes a backseat to the song and production though, which is a good thing -- leave the flash for the stage. Wishes has solid statements in each song and throughout the grooves. The old adage ''If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride'' is changed here to ''If wishes were horses...then dreamers would ride,'' written over and under a solitary picture of Butcher on the inner sleeve. He sounds like Paul Rodgers on ''Holy War'' taking much from the Firm, a group who hit two years before this 1987 disc. ''Holy War'' takes on Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Fallwell, Billy Graham, and other evangelists to great effect, while the title track treads on ground more familiar to Butcher, the music of Jimi Hendrix. ''Wishes'' is a wonderful tune which borrows heavily from ''The Wind Cries Mary'' both lyrically and musically before emerging halfway through as its own entity. ''Churinga'' closes out side one, a creative instrumental displaying this band's ability to groove. These grooves immediately make their way to side two with ''Long Way Home,'' a blending of percussion and Jon Butcher's gritty guitar. ''Show Me Some Emotion'' harkens back to the sound of early Jon Butcher Axis, with better production than their Polygram debut. The co-write, ''A Little Bit of Magic,'' picks up where ''Wishes'' left off, and though the lyrics may be the weakest on the disc, the song's climbing guitar evokes Santana from that guitar star's ''She's Not There'' period ten years earlier. ''A Little Bit of Magic'' should have been a big hit. So too ''Angel Dressed in Blue,'' elements of commercial artists from the day blend into the mix, making this a stronger album from Spencer Proffer than his Quiet Riot smash three years earlier. Rather than ''bang your head,'' the music here is articulate and determined. ''Partners in Crime'' and ''Prisoners of the Chain'' add to this dynamic effort, the final track a hard ballad which would have been a nice direction for Bad Company. It sounds like that band seeking more modern sounds and closes out an impressive work by a journeyman revising the formula which brought him regional success in the Boston area.