2005 - Looking Back
2005 Predictions
2005 Awards
2006 - The Year Ahead
Vote / Polls!


Welcome to the 7th Annual MelRock Awards. This is the biggest single feature of the year and definitely the most popular, taking in everything that was 2005 and looking ahead into the year ahead, one which I know is going to be an interesting ride.
As seems to be the case with every Awards page, they get bigger every year and 2005 is no exception. This is the biggest awards feature put together for the site and it contains more thoughts, views, reflections and information than ever before - all written over the last month or so.
I feel very passionate about this scene and what I do, so I expect that will show through. Not everyone is going to agree with everything I have written below, but if it gets people talking and thinking, then my job is done.
There is the obligatory lists of the best songs and albums and all new Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards for 2005 - not all of them good and not all of them to be taken seriously!
There is also a lot of commentary on the scene as it is - possibly facing it's biggest test ever in the coming year and some thoughts on what I hope will be the best releases of 2006.

There is a lot to read below. For your convenience, everything is contained on the single page as usual and printing it out will require about 40 pages.
Take your time, read through the Awards and the commentary and let me know what you think. I always anticipate the feedback and appreciate the time taken to drop me a line!
Above everything - enjoy the read and please - if you are yet to check out any of the artists featured here - this is what I consider to be the very best on offer right now, so checkout their homepages, read through my 2005 Reviews (which features all of the below titles) and support the music!
If you think there is something missing, I apologize. Two possibilities - it wasn't featured due to the record label being too retarded to send out a promo copy, or I didn't think it quite made the cut. After all, there are a LOT of releases out there and not everything can make the end of year Best Of list. Perhaps next year...
Lastly...congratulations to those artists featured below!



2005 Awards: Music

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Allen / Lande The Battle
    2005 delivered two truly great melodic metal albums. In the end I decided that Allen/Lande would be the album of the year. I came to this decision because I believe it has had the most positive influence over the scene I cover and the songs within continue to be enjoyed on a regular basis. The album is also a little more focused on melody, whereas Masterplan is more the riffs. Melody is what this site is all about.
    Allen/Lande is a wonderful album that features two finely woven together vocals, with the two singers perfectly complimenting each other. It has power, passion, energy and heart. It is the 2005 Album Of The Year!
  2. Masterplan
    Aeronautics

    Masterplan comes in a close second. Never before has a vocalist featured in two Top 5 albums and here we have Jorn Lande at #1 & 2. A definite testament to the talents of this great vocalist. Masterplan is a perfectly produced album with enormous power and some blinding guitar work. This is an album that helps melodic music fans tap into something heavier and is definitely a great ambassador for the metal community.
  3. Harem Scarem
    Overload

    Of all the albums featured on this list, I will probably get the most disagreements from the positioning of this title! Harem Scarem have a passionate support base and a very vocal one when the band don't adhere to the script. I think this album is yet another example of the genius songwriting behind the band, which in this case covered a few old bases, but forged ahead as the guys always seem to do. The modern influences and darker tone didn't appeal to all, but the crystal clear sound and some stellar harmonies support what I think are some more amazing songs.
  4. Oliver Hartmann
    Out In The Cold

    Oliver Hartmann is for me the surprise package of 2005. I wasn't really expecting anything from this release, yet I got so much from it and continue to do so. Oliver has opened his heart and soul on this record - the lyrics are among the most gut wrenching I have heard in a long time. Passion in music is a big one for me and anything with real passion gets my attention. Combine that with some amazing rock songs, brilliant performances and a sonically perfect sound and you get a truly special record.
  5. Heartland
    Move On

    Heartland have released some great albums, but perhaps only two classics - their debut and this album. Getting a little tougher suits the band, but it the quality of the songs featured here that makes the album a winner, with some of the best melodies the band have delivered, coupled with a major label quality production and some fabulous harmony vocals.

  6. Place Vendome - Place Vendome - A powerful melodic rock/AOR record from two unlikely partners in Dennis Ward & Michael Kiske.
  7. Starbreaker - Starbreaker - Tony Harnell goes into overdrive as Magnus Karlsson raises the bar for those that will follow.
  8. Gotthard - Lipservice - So you can teach an old dog new tricks! A fan pleasing release from this veteran Swiss band.
  9. Bruce Turgon - Outside Looking In - Another surprise package. This album offers some very good songs and great vocals.
  10. Philip Bardowell - In The Cut - Bardowell and Tommy Denander prove to be a winning formula, driving home some strong song choices.

    xxxx

  11. Khymera - A New Promise
  12. 91 Suite - Times They Change
  13. Journey - Generations
  14. Thunder - The Magnificent Seventh
  15. Radioactive - Taken
  16. Joe Lynn Turner - The Usual Suspects
  17. Bon Jovi - Have A Nice Day
  18. Darren Smith Band - Keep The Spirit Alive
  19. Novak - Forever Endeavour
  20. Blanc Faces - Blanc Faces

  21. Change Of Heart - Truth Or Dare
  22. Iommi - Fused
  23. Brazen Abbot - My Resurrection
  24. Stryper - Reborn
  25. Gypsy Rose - Gypsy Rose
  26. Anberlin - Never Take A Friendship Personal
  27. TNT - All The Way To The Sun
  28. Waltham - Waltham
  29. Wetton Downes - Icon
  30. Glenn Hughes - Soul Mover
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Balance II - Balance II
  • Liesegang/White - Visual Surveillance of Extremities
  • Inxs - Switch
  • Line Of Fire - Line Of Fire
  • Mark Spiro - Mighty Blue Ocean
  • Soul Doctor - For A Fistful Of Dollars
  • Johnny Lima - Version 1.2
  • Dogpound - A Night In The Gutter
  • Deep Purple - Rapture Of The Deep
  • Rik Ocasek - Nexterday
  • Emerald Rain - Sleepwalk
  • Secret Smile - Hurry Up And Wait
  • Ricky Warwick - Love Many Trust Few
  • Jaded Heart - Helluva Time
  • Silver - Gold
  • Edge Of Forever - Let The Demon Rock N Roll
  • Jay Miles - 9 Hours
  • Sha-Boom - The Race Is On
  • Lana Lane - Lady Macbeth
  • Supergroupies - Supergroupies
  • Wig Wam - Hard To Be A Rock N Roller
  • Billy Idol - Devil's Playground
  • Outland - Long Way Home
  • Final Frontier - High Tension Wire
  • Metal Majesty - 2005
  • Martie Peters Group - MPG
  • Shy - Sunset And Vine
  • Square One - Supersonic
  • Frost - Out In The Cold
THE BEST METAL / PROG ALBUM:

  1. Masterplan - Aeronautics
  2. Iommi - Fused
  3. Primal Fear - Seven Seals
  4. Royal Hunt - Paper Blood
  5. Kings X - Ogre Tones
  6. Cloudscape - Cloudscape
  7. Power Quest - Magic Never Dies
  8. Rob Rock - Holy Hell
  9. Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny Of Souls
  10. Black Majesty - Silent Company
  11. Biss - Face Off
  12. Vanishing Point - Embrace The Silence
  13. James LaBrie - Elements Of Persuasion
  14. Dream Theater - Octavarium
  15. Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter
THE BEST OLD-SCHOOL AOR ALBUM:

  1. Philip Bardowell - In The Cut
  2. Khymera - A New Promise
  3. 91 Suite - Times They Change
  4. Journey - Generations
  5. Radioactive - Taken
  6. Novak - Forever Endeavour
  7. Blanc Faces - Blanc Faces
  8. Change Of Heart - Truth Or Dare
  9. Final Frontier - High Tension Wire
  10. Outland - Long Way Home
  11. Johnny Lima - Version 1.2
  12. Secret Smile - Hurry Up And Wait
  13. Robin Beck - Do You Miss Me
  14. Shy - Sunset & Vine
  15. Martie Peters Group - MPG

THE BEST MODERN ROCK ALBUM:

  1. Waltham - Waltham
  2. Anberlin - Never Take A Friendship Personal
  3. Ra - Duality
  4. Square One - Supersonic
  5. Swirl 360 - California Blur
  6. The Click Five - Greetings From Imrie House
  7. Shannon Noll - Lift
  8. Darren Smith Band - Keep The Spirit Alive
  9. Disturbed - Ten Thousand Fists
  10. Tourist - The Relevance Of Motion
BEST DEBUT ALBUM OF 2005:
.....(Band/Artist, Not Project)

  1. Oliver Hartmann - Out In The Cold
  2. Starbreaker - Starbreaker
  3. Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter
  4. Blanc Faces - Blanc Faces
  5. Gypsy Rose - Gypsy Rose
  6. Novak - Forever Endevour
  7. Line Of Fire - Line Of Fire
  8. Square One - Supersonic
  9. Supergroupies - Supergroupies
  10. Wig Wam - Hard To Be A Rock N Roller


2005 SONG OF THE YEAR:
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Oliver Hartmann - What If I
  2. Harem Scarem - Afterglow
  3. Place Vendome - Too Late
  4. Allen / Lande - Another Battle
  5. Philip Bardowell - Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open
  6. Journey - It's Never Too Late
  7. Masterplan - Falling Sparrow
  8. Harem Scarem - Don't Come Easy
  9. Place Vendome - I Will Be Waiting
  10. Inxs - Pretty Vegas

  11. Jaded Heart - Dreams You'll Never See
  12. Oliver Hartmann - Out In The Cold
  13. Heartland - City Of Lights
  14. Journey - Faith In The Heartland
  15. Bruce Turgon - Any Other Time
  16. Allen / Lande - Reach A Little Longer
  17. Gotthard - Lift U Up
  18. Oliver Hartmann - Brazen
  19. Masterplan - Black In The Burn
  20. Inxs - Hungry

  21. Heartland - Hard Hearted Man
  22. Jaded Heart - Tommorrow Comes
  23. Gypsy Rose - Queen Of The Night
  24. Gotthard - All We Are
  25. Bon Jovi - Have A Nice Day
  26. 91 Suite - Hopes And Dreams
  27. Starbreaker - Lies
  28. Khymera - Alone
  29. Oliver Hartmann - Alive Again
  30. Harem Scarem - Forgive & Forget

  31. Allen / Lande - My Own Way
  32. Bruce Turgon - These Tears Must Fall
  33. Martie Peters Group - The Beast Inside
  34. Starbreaker - Break My Bones
  35. Blanc Faces - Edge Of The World
  36. Allen / Lande - Wish For A Miracle
  37. Change Of Heart - Hold On
  38. Heartland - Where Do We Go From Here?
  39. Harem Scarem - All You're Getting
  40. Masterplan - Back For My Life

  41. Waltham - The Fix
  42. Legs Diamond - Time Will Never Change
  43. Liesegang White - A Prayer For The Dying
  44. Radioactive - Carry On
  45. TNT - Sometimes
  46. Rob Thomas - This Is How A Heart Breaks
  47. Radioactive - Stronger Than Yesterday
  48. Bon Jovi - Unbreakable
  49. 91 Suite - Times They Change
  50. Gypsy Rose - Promise To Stay
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Novak - Nowhere To Run
  • Novak - Don't You Remind Me
  • Novak - How Does It Feel
  • Inxs - Devil's Party
  • Inxs - Perfect Stranger
  • 91 Suite - Another Reason
  • 91 Suite - I Wanna Be In Love
  • Bad Habit - I Want To Know
  • Bad Habit - I'll Be The One
  • Line Of Fire - Paradise
  • Line Of Fire - Live & Let Go
  • Mark Spiro - Mighty Blue Ocean
  • Mark Spiro - Band Of Angels
  • Rox Diamond - Heartbeat Away
  • Rox Diamond - Joann
  • Pleasure Maker - Just Thinkin' About U
  • Shannon Noll - Lift
  • Shannon Noll - Shine
  • Black Majesty - Silent Company
  • Radioactive - Premonition
  • Radioactive - Taken
  • Khymera - Looking For You
  • Soul Doctor - Best Way To Fade
  • Soul Doctor - Eatin' On Me
  • Bruce Turgon - Living A Lie
  • The Mob - Love Will Carry On
  • The Mob - Never Get Enough
  • Change Of Heart - Truth Or Dare
  • Change Of Heart - Desperate Heart
  • Johnny Lima - Drift Away
  • Johnny Lima - In Your Arms
  • Dogpound - In Another Lifetime
  • Dogpound - 5 Seconds Away
  • TNT - Driving
  • TNT - Ready To Fly
  • Deep Purple - Money Talks
  • Deep Purple - Clearly Quite Absurd
  • Rik Ocasek - Bottom Dollar
  • Rik Ocasek - I'm Thinking
  • Hotshot - Always In My Heart
  • Hotshot - Feels Like The First Time
  • Bon Jovi - Complicated
  • Bon Jovi - I Wanna Be Loved
  • Place Vendome - Cross The Line
  • Place Vendome - Place Vendome
  • Jaded Heart - Who's Foolin'
  • Silver - Wouldn't You Agree
  • Silver - All That I Wanted
  • Balance II - When I Fall Down
  • Balance II - Reptilian Crawl
  • Power Quest - The Message
  • Power Quest - Soulfire
  • Supergroupies - Bouncin'
  • Supergroupies - Low Blue Flame
  • Stryper - If I Die
  • Stryper - Reborn
  • Stryper - Open Your Eyes
  • Philip Bardowell - In The Cut
  • Philip Bardowell - Through My Eyes
  • Emerald Rain - Sleepwalk
  • Emerald Rain - Face In The Mirror
  • Secret Smile - Runaway
  • Secret Smile - Tears In The Sky
  • Journey - The Place In Your Heart
  • Journey - Out Of Harms Way
  • Waltham - Joanne
  • Waltham - Call Me Back
  • Diving For Pearls - The Colours Show
  • Iommi - Dopamine
  • Iommi - Wasted Again
  • Bombay Black - You For Me
  • Bombay Black - Bullet In My Head
  • Brazen Abbot - My Resurrection
  • Brazen Abbot - Beggar's Lane
  • Robin Beck - Do You Miss Me
  • Robin Beck - Bring It Back
  • Boysvoice - Open Your Eyes
  • Boysvoice - Lights Out
  • Gotthard - Dream On
  • Gotthard - Everything I Want
  • Royal Hunt - Not My Kind
  • Royal Hunt - Never Give Up
  • Circus Maximus - Alive
  • Circus Maximus - Why Am I Here?
  • Biss - Breathless
  • Biss - Pyromania
  • Rob Rock - Slayer Of Souls
  • Rob Rock - First Winds Of The End Of Time
  • Rob Rock - Calling Angels
  • Bruce Dickinson - Abduction
  • Bruce Dickinson - Power of the Sun
  • Harem Scarem - Rise And Fall
  • Styx - Summer In The City
  • Styx - Can't Find My Way Home
  • Wetton Downes - Hey Josephine
  • Wetton Downes - Let Me Go
  • Edge Of Forever - One Last Surrender
  • Edge Of Forever - Let The Demon Rock N Roll
  • Circle II Circle - Open Season
  • Circle II Circle - Holding On
  • Jay Miles - Everlasting Love
  • Jay Miles - Angel
  • Wig Wam - In My Dreams
  • Wig Wam - The Best Song In The World
  • Sha-Boom - My Home Town
  • Oliver Hartmann - I Will Carry On
  • Cloudscape - Under Fire
  • Cloudscape - As The Light Leads The Way
  • Billy Idol - World Comin' Down
  • Billy Idol - Rat Race
  • Liesegang / White - Worlds Collide
  • Liesegang / White - Snake Eyes
  • Starbreaker - Underneath A Falling Sky
  • Darren Smith Band - When I Was You
  • Miles Above - Little Miss Innocent
  • Miles Above - Faith Unkind
  • Outland - Borderline
  • Outland - The Hardest Part of All
  • Metal Majesty - Ready To Roar
  • Metal Majesty - We Rocked
  • Final Frontier - High Tension Wire
  • Final Frontier - Beauty And The Beast
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Power Of Love
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Devil's Door
  • Thunder - The Gods Of Love
  • Thunder - You Can't Keep A Good Man Down
  • Masterplan - Crimson Rider
  • Glenn Hughes - She Moves Ghostly
  • Glenn Hughes - Don't Let Me Bleed
  • Martie Peters Group - Riot On The 5th Floor
  • Martie Peters Group - Heart Is An Empty Space
  • Shy - Don't Jump The Gun
  • Shy - High Time
  • Shy - Open Your Heart

THE BEST HEAVY ROCK SONG:

  1. Masterplan - Falling Sparrow
  2. Allen / Lande - Another Battle
  3. Starbreaker - Lies
  4. Allen / Lande - My Own Way
  5. Starbreaker - Break MY Bones
  6. Iommi - What You're Living For
  7. Royal Hunt - Break Your Chains
  8. Primal Fear - Rollercoaster
  9. Brazen Abbot - Godforsaken
  10. Liesegang/White - Prayer For The Dying
THE BEST BALLAD:

  1. Allen / Lande - Reach A Little Longer
  2. Oliver Hartmann - Into The Light
  3. Harem Scarem - All You're Getting
  4. The Mob - The Magic
  5. Blanc Faces - It's A Little Too Late
  6. Bon Jovi - I Am
  7. Diving For Pearls - The Truth Is
  8. Gypsy Rose - December Night
  9. Change Of Heart - Desperate Heart
  10. Journey - Beyond The Clouds

THE BEST MODERN ROCK SONG:

  1. Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal
  2. A-ha - Analogue
  3. Waltham - The Fix
  4. Swirl 360 - Oblivion
  5. The Click Five - Good Day
  6. Darren Smith Band - Why Do I
  7. Ra - Fallen Angels
  8. Waltham - Joanne
  9. Anberlin - A Day Late
  10. Swirl 360 - California Blur
BEST COVER VERSION:

  1. Jaded Heart - Paid My Dues
  2. Click Five - Voices Carry
  3. Harem Scarem - You Shook Me All Night Long
  4. Waltham - Fast Times At Waltham High
  5. Ra - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  6. Kurt Nilsen - Crazy Nights
  7. Divinefire - The Show Must Go On
  8. Black Majesty - Six Ribbons
  9. Secret Smile - You Can Go Your Own Way
  10. Disturbed - Land Of Confusion

2005 Best Artwork

1.

2. xx3.

4-7. xxx

8-11. xxx

12-15. xxx


So that was 2005! There is a lot to read and take in, but most obvious are the artists listed above. Congratulations to those who took out top places, but also to any of those that made the final cut for best releases and songs of 2005.
As is the case every year, there was a lot of competition to make the final cut. The Top 10 albums are 10 extremely fine releases and deserve your attention - as do all the album's listed. If you are yet to check any of them out, take a little time to look them up via the artist's website or via the various record label homepages.
The competition this year was wide open...I didn't decide the Album Of The Year, or the Song Of The Year until almost everything was in place. Picking the Top 10 was pretty easy, but the top few spots were heavily debated before being chosen. I'm very happy with the result.
The competition for Song Of The Year was actually the most open since I started doing this. There were a few stunning songs deserving of the title, but in the end I went for a song that launched itself out of my speakers the first time I heard it, totally taking me by surprise and drawing me into the album it came from, which itself is an essential purchase. Congrats to both Allen/Lande (Album) and Oliver Hartmann (Song).

Looking back over the year, I have to be blunt and state that I finished the year a little disappointed. It was a particularly strong year for melodic metal and the heavier side of things - as reflected in the end results, but on the more traditional AOR side of things, business was slow.
Yes, there were a few stunning albums and I hope you agree with my assessment of which albums those were. But there were easily more disappointing releases this year than any other year since I started doing the site.
And beyond those that disappointed, there were a few titles that were downright poor. There were several titles that shouldn't have been released at all and a couple that should at least serve as an embarrassment to the artists concerned.
I will be looking for improvements in 2006!
Another facet of the scene this year is the overuse of a good idea. One special project it seems soon spawned another similar one and even a third...if you have a good idea, stick to it....but nurture that one idea to it's fullest potential. There is nothing that will kill the momentum of a great project or idea than off-shoots of that idea. Overkill can kill!

As I have stated in previous years, the winning albums and songs are listed by Artist and Title. I have not plugged their corresponding record labels. Basically because I don't really give a shit what label the artists belong to. I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it might appear, but the MelRock Awards are about the music and that is the only thing I considered when compiling these lists.
I do hope the record labels take pride in what they and their artists have achieved in 2005 and at the same time, I hope the labels that aren't featured as prominently here see some way to correct that during 2006.


The Year That Was: Behind MelodicRock.com

I find myself a little shocked by the speed of which the last year passed. I should start with the fact that 2005 saw the birth of my #2. Now Cathy and I have Nicholas and Zackary and my first priority remains to look after my family.
While recapping my last couple of awards pages by re-reading through them, I found myself lamenting the ever increasing challenges of working in this business and further again, working within this particular scene.
I simply must admit that it's never going to be an easy gig - enjoyable mostly - but never easy. I'll get to those issues in a moment and hopefully provide some insight into how difficult things can get and also how bizarre some situations are. None more bizarre of course than the whole Def Leppard saga! If you thought you had heard everything to do with this, you might want to read through the update a little further down.
It's clear to all that the music business as a whole is pretty much in the toilet and the general public is poised to hit flush anytime now.
While the melodic music scene is someway behind that of the mainstream business, it is not immune to the challenges facing the industry. It also has it's own quirks and issues and for me dealing with all of the above while trying to maintain an entertainment source, a service and a business is certainly something of a challenge.
I accept this is a freeking tough business to survive in and I also accept that with a scene in decline that each year is going to be harder than the last. That does bring one to contemplate at what stage we will hit terminal?
But that is where the challenge lays. How to arrest the current situation so it does not become terminal. We shall see.

Ok, let's move to some site stats. The site itself is doing great. Front-page hits now average more than 15,000 per day, with up to a 20% drop off over the weekend - great to see everyone working hard during the week! January saw a total of 416,218 front-page hits, averaging 2.8 visits per user for a total of 149,131 unique users. Total page hits for the entire site for January were 1,669,838, or an average of 4 pages per visitor.
On average nearly 20Gig in traffic and files gets sent out from my site server every day for a total of 660G for the month! 236,857 MP3s were downloaded in December for a total of 312Gig.
I'm really happy with those stats and the fact that the hit count continues to rise. Still the site continues reach out to new people which I hope, in turn will see more people buying some of the great music this scene has to offer.

I have long term plans for the site and I want to ensure that I am in a position to be able to continue doing this as long as people want to read about it. But I am smart enough to realize I will probably have to diversify my ideas as far as where income comes from. ie. Something else away from what I am currently doing!
Actually, I have something in mind and I'm starting to get involved with this one particular idea. It's something readers might also enjoy, but certainly isn't anything to do with the site or plans for another site. I'll see how it develops and hope that it doesn't take any time away from updating the site as normal, but it is something I have to try to guarantee this site continues.

Speaking of site income....sponsors come and go - that's just the way it goes - but I am very thankful that I have a core group of sponsors to support what I am doing here and I'm sure in turn, they get some valuable exposure.
So, please support those sponsors linked on the front-page and thank you for accepting the extra banner ads taking up space this year. With that said, the MR-X Members Area continues to be the lifeblood of the site. Without that area the site would just not be viable, so I thank those that have shown their extra support of the concept and especially those that have been with it from the very start, plus the artists that contribute to it (always looking for more BTW!).

And speaking of sponsors, it might amuse some to hear of a few examples of less than honorable dealings I experienced during the year. I normally keep these to myself (as there is always some!), but I'm getting less and less patient in my old age!
In one example, one label agreed to have me run a banner ad for them. I got it online as promised, but no payment was ever forthcoming and when pressed on the issue I was told that they needed me to promote another release from them in order to help bring in enough income to pay the bills left behind from the previous release! I am yet to see that payment for the banner...
In another case, a small label approached me at the start of the year after a long time without contact from them. They asked about re-starting some advertising they once ran. I said sure - after you clear the debt never paid from the last lot of advertising (some 2 years previous!). They agreed and I stated by running a big press release for them and awaited arrival of the product required to be added to the showcase. The CDs never arrived, nor did any payment and I have not heard from the label since! Gotta love this business!
Another label took out a CD Showcase which I ran for them and again, these guys never paid up...a small pissy fee for what is a prominent advertising spot on a very popular site. Needless to say I'll store these events in the back of my mind for future reference. And it is just not me who has problems with some labels. I am aware that complaints by artists exist for these same labels. I'll be surprised if any of them remain in business at the end of 2006!

Having record labels take out advertising on the site in the form of banner ads and the CD Showcase does - as some have suggested over the years - open one up to closer scrutiny in how one handles reviews of the releases from these labels. I have no problem with this and think that 2005 actually went pretty smoothly in this regard - as far as I'm concerned at least, but I know I still pissed several people off with bad reviews.
Almost without fail I hear back from these labels if they are not happy with any review. No problem there, you have to expect this, but I definitely get more feedback from the less than positive reviews. Not as many thank you's for the great reviews!
What can I say? My reviews are my reviews and are my sanctuary away from any outside pressure. I spend more time, energy and brain power on my reviews than any other area of the site and don't take the responsibility of getting these reviews correct lightly. Feedback from you all suggest that you appreciate this effort. Cheers!

Perception can be a funny thing too...some times a label will e-mail to suggest I am favoring another label over them. But what they don't know is that same label they are referring too is at that time pissed of at me for a bad review of one of their titles. It does give me a laugh, but can get frustrating.
Here's another example. One reader tore me a new asshole after reading my review for The Mob. The next day another reader e-mails to compliment me on the review and says they agree and are glad I liked it as much as they did! (For the record I did like it, but saw areas where it could have been better). I guess a lot of people read what's written on the site and I suppose I can't expect everyone to get the same view point I'm delivering it from...I hope most do, but if in doubt, e-mail me!

I can only recall one dummy spit I am aware of by an artist over my reviews this year. Several complaints and unhappy e-mails following reviews that didn't live up to expectations, but that is something I am used to.
But one dummy spit for sure. I'll refrain from embarrassing the artist, but their record certainly pushed some boundaries as far as sound and style, but my main problem with it was a selection of seriously dull songs. The artist in question sent several e-mails over the course of a week demanding that I remove the review entirely from my site. They pointed out one error in the review, which I promptly corrected and apologized for (line-up related), but I was told I was also being inaccurate to use unfair comparisons within the review. Needless to say I did not remove it.
One other silent protest came in the form of an artist canceling their MR-X membership the day after I posted a review of their new album. Co-incidence? I don't think so... I had no idea they were a member, but appreciated the support. Sadly this is where my job gets tough - If an album is missing some ingredients, I must point those areas out. Sometimes it does upset people...

To reflect a little more on my Reviews of 2005 - I'm actually very happy with what reviews I presented during the year. Normally hindsight presents a few examples of where I could have done better, or perhaps where after time, I had a slightly different view of an album. But at the end of 2005, I think I have more or less have the same views on what I have reviewed now as I did when I wrote them during the year.
As said earlier in the piece, unfortunately there were more disappointments than ever this year and that is a trend I hope does not continue into 2006.
My gut feeling is that it won't - as the big releases that didn't eventuate in 2005 are all lined up for release this year (see looking ahead write up) and I am confident the big guns will deliver.
If anything, I will be harder on these guys with my reviews this year, as the established name artists know what they are doing and they simply must get it right. If they can't now, after all these years, what hope do fans have?

So, what else about the site can we talk about? How about Interviews? Interviews are another aspect of the site that I love, but again find it hard to devote as much time to as I'd like. I cover what needs to be covered and try and get the best response out of the artists, and along the way have the great pleasure of doing a few feature interviews that are sometimes out of need to promote an upcoming release and sometimes just because I have been hanging out to interview that artist.
I think 2005 was my best year for interviews in the last few as I had time to do more interviews out of desire rather than need. I didn't do as many interviews overall, but were happier with the result of those conducted.
My favourite interviews for the year were the 5 Journey interviews - all long, detailed phone interviews with each of the 5 guys in the band. Deen Castronovo and Steve Augeri were perhaps the most illuminating, both talking openly of the reality of life on the road.
Another highlight for me was Marcie Free. We covered quite a lot of ground with that interview, not least of which the very personal and delicate question of the sex change operation. Marcie handled the interview with her usual class.
Also leaving an impression on me was my informal chat with Freddy Curci; fun interviews with Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner and the Balance II interviews which went some way to show the efforts needed behind an indie release.
I'm going to make 2006 an even bigger and better year for interviews! I have a couple of great ones lined up that I know are going to go down well. Who you ask? The Richard Black interview is now online, so you have seen that and it seems to be going down very well. Also lined up are two more rare interviews - session guitarist Tim Pierce and hopefully Foreigner's Mick Jones. Plus also coming is an in depth Jeff Scott Soto and a special Toto spread of interviews and more. 2006 could be the best interview year yet.

2005 passed without a special MR.com CD release. I had planned to issue a third compilation, but it was a case of not having enough great songs to make it work. I have more than enough to fill a second disc for new artists, but the primary disc was well short of name artists to attract the attention of potential buyers.
I'm pleased to say that situation has improved a little and the 3rd compilation CD will be released in 2006. I'm just waiting for a few more tracks to arrive and we'll get things started again.
The focus will definitely be on new and upcoming artists though and less of the big boys of the genre. I hope to see that have enjoyed the music of the first two volumes will be up for a third installment and will like what's offered up.

Arguments? Well, nothing tops that Def Leppard one! But let's not forget the Noticeboard! No site wrap-up would be complete without mentioning the infamous Noticeboard. Man, was this a vintage year for bitching, arguing, hiding behind screen names, hurling abuse and generally taking the piss. I'm not going to get into any analysis of who did what, but intervention was needed and I am very pleased to say that since that time, the board has definitely improved in standards and continues to remain back on track. Thanks guys!
It was without doubt, the worst year for the board on record with no one spared abuse at one point or another - me included.
On a lighter note, in amongst some of that fighting was some pretty funny stuff....some of the back and forth banter and some of the more expressive over the top rebuttals were almost worthy of being saved for a book run.


The Year That Was: The Def Leppard Saga

Now, talking of writing a book....how about that Def Leppard "saga". If you have been offline or living under a rock, here's what happened. I got an advance copy of the band's covers album Yeah! at the start of the year. The copy came from a legitimate source, although it was unknown to the band that a copy had leaked. The album has since been described as a 'rough mix' only...
As I have done several times previously with other artists, I did a track by track pre-review of the album on the front-page. The album contains a couple of cool covers, but being less than impressed with the album as a whole and the concept behind it, my comments were less than favorable.
My comments found their way back to the band's frontman Joe Elliott, who was not amused. He posted a rant on the DL website calling me an asshole and a thief - suggesting I had broken into a studio on the other side of the world somehow and stole a copy of the album!
I returned fire, as I won't accept such accusations being leveled at me. The feedback was swift and amazing. I expected some criticism of my decision to preview the album (in text, not any musical preview), but the response was 95% in my favor, with even some ardent Def Leppard fans unhappy with Joe's in the heat of the moment rant.
Joe responded in turn again, backing down only slightly and casting doubt it could have come from any Leppard associated source. In August the rhetoric continued, naming me a "scumbag journalist" in one interview and stating that he hasn't lost any sleep over what I had said.
That's where it ended...I was a scumbag and I posted something to state that I would not continue a pissing match with Joe.

That is where it ended publicly at least! Behind the scenes it continued to roll along. There has been no attempt to give the story closure, so in the eyes of some, perhaps I am still someone who might have stolen a copy of this album from the band and leaked it to the Internet. No and no...let me tell one funny story from the saga:

Shortly after the whole 'I'm an asshole' thing went on, a few Def Leppard fans e-mailed some abuse. One such fan - a girl - e-mailed a very stern 'telling off' in a ranting comical way. She would not stand for anyone daring to do wrong by her man Joe. Fair enough, but after her fourth e-mail of crap I told her I would delete any future e-mails from her. I let it go.
A few days later another girl e-mails. Another supporter of Joe, but one who had a proposal - she was a journo and she had secured an interview with Joe Elliott for her local newspaper and she would like to hear my side of the story.
I agreed - if I could present my facts I thought it was a good idea.
But something about this gal just didn't seem right - I didn't think any more of it at the time but I did her interview and she posted it and her interview with Joe on her Internet blog somewhere, as her newspaper did not want to run the story any longer. Yeah, right!
I spent a bit of time on the interview, offering my side of the story. The whole time I was suss to her intentions, as every second question was prompting me to trust her with the information of who my source was. She was baiting me big time - I guess to draw the info out of me and report back to the band and become their hero.
Nevertheless, I answered everything I could and gave some insight into my background and that of the site. I had noting to hide, so I was open and honest, and suspected that the interview was likely to go straight back to Joe and the band.
Although she later said it did...I didn't. Not initially anyway!
She remained in contact, constantly plugging at me to tell her the full story and name my source and constantly referring to long e-mails shared with Joe Elliott and shared such details as this with me: "I've come to like Joe but he can be a bit short tempered and since I am that way also, we tend to butt heads. Yes, we've sort of become friends and we clash at times. That's not to say that I am entirely in his corner where his comments for you are concerned but he's a Leo and he's stubborn so he won't listen to me but I'm never afraid of putting him in his place when he needs it. hehe. Anyway, thought you should know."
Good grief! Honestly, some people must think I'm a retard...I swapped a few e-mails with the Leppard camp via a trusted third party and sure enough, all this gal's work is pure fiction. ALL of it. ALL bullshit. Holy shit, get a life! There was never any Joe Elliott interview and there was never a follow up response and there was certainly no dialogue going between the two EVER...not in reality at least!
I did not let on that I knew this was all BS. A few more e-mails swapped highlights the depths of her delusions and her extreme fantasies about one certain lead singer.
She even tried to explain away a couple of more demanding e-mails to me, apparently sent by inventing a story of a fake boyfriend who broke into her laptop and wrote fake e-mails to me. Are you keeping up? These would be fake boyfriend e-mails to me regarding fake interviews conducted by the clearly insane girl in question!

Now I keep everything I am sent (e-mails etc) so a quick search for matching strings reveals an abusive e-mail from the start of this saga from the same gal mentioned at the start of this story...yes, she was the original over-excited fan that mailed me abusive e-mails from the very beginning.
So now I have her real name and e-mail and she is busted. I also tag her username on AOLIM and on the DL.com forums!
It goes one step further - she is caught online boasting of her exploits dealing with me plus some extra colourful talk of her lustful Joe Elliott feelings.
Someone actually forwards this to me as they think she is scary! So I'm now reading the content of a long Net conversation where she brags of her devotion to Joe and everything she has done for the band in pursuit of the truth. She also tries to drop DL.com webmaster Mark right in the poop by stating that he knew all along what she was doing. That was BS also, as I have had extensive conversations with Mark throughout all of this and as far as he and I are concerned, all is cool, all is sorted and life is back to normal.
But also included in the transcript is talk of how much she loves Joe Elliott and how one day she will tear him away from his wife and marry him!
So I forward this again and the DL organization and to Mark. It is discovered she is lined up for special meet and greet passes for upcoming USA shows. Her M&G passes are promptly cancelled and she is sent a forceful cease and desist notice from the band.
And that folks....is where we leave it! I haven't heard anything from anyone regarding Def Leppard since the last of this transpired and to be honest, I don't expect to.
I am glad it is all over and I am sorry that some fans were offended by the early preview comments on the album. It has since been delayed until at least May, so in hindsight the comments were posted far too early. But I haven't changed my view of the tracks or the general concept.
I am on good terms with Mark at DL.com and as for the leaks - well, the source of my copy spoke up and as for the wider leak of the material to the Internet and sale via bootleg at the London Market - guess who was responsible for that? Universal Records, London.
Oh, and I have all the transcripts for those fictional Joe Elliott interviews and all my replies if anyone is actually interested to read through them. Just drop me a line.


The Year That Was: Behind The Biz In 2005

Let's switch focus to the important topic of the music business in general. You have no doubt seen many of the articles posted on the site over the past year and also some of the may more written for newspapers, magazines and other online portals all year.
All speak of the numerous problems faced by the industry - illegal downloads; the dominance and inflexible attitudes of a couple of legal digital stores; audience boredom with current 'star' acts; rising prices; competition from other entertainment sources such as TV, DVD and Games....the list goes on.
The industry is in a transition phase not previously seen since the icon days of the 60's. The era that saw single releases evolve into full length LPs is now seemingly reversing back into a new age of singles or one-off releases.
This is happening right now, but it is not something I am looking forward to. There are already more than enough one-hit wonders in this world, the last thing we need is for the industry to revert to a system where this is the norm and the talent of crafting a full length album is lost.
I know that in rock terms this is some ways off, but the pop / Top 40 market is definitely heading this way now.
The voyage that a great album takes you on is something I grew up with and I know everyone else reading this did too. There is no greater pleasure (musically speaking!) than getting lost for 50 minutes in an album that takes a listener on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

What is seriously alarming right now is the lack of any real guidance from the major labels. A&R guys were once famous for discovering and nurturing talent and helping them develop through the early stages of their career. The 3 album deal is long gone.
The powers that be now demand instant gratification and if an artist can't deliver a hit album and single first go, then it's out the door with you...
Such policies are killing artists and giving this generation no hope of ever having the pleasure of growing up with an artist. Remember buying a debut album during the 80's and anticipating what might come of the second album, then the third and forth and even fifth release! And remember marveling to yourself how the artist had developed and matured with each release and then debating the merits of these?
Remember listening with amazement as the artist changed styles and blew you away all over again? Will our kids ever have that to look forward to? Will they care? I know our kids will, but will the general public's kids?
Sometimes it's just easier to take what is on offer, but fine music lovers like us love the hunt and the current business climate is making that hunt less and less possible.
This whole transition period comes at a time where no real trend exists - grunge, nu-breed, modern rock, pop, - nothing besides rap has any sort of foothold and rap is a format that really doesn't cross too may boundaries.

One problem now is labels are in a position where they almost can't afford to foster new talent. They continue to throw the public any number of generic acts with no effort and just hope that one or two of them stick. In the meantime, no label wants to put money into an act that will sell only 25-50,000 units!
Damn, they should be so lucky....indie labels would kill for such figures and would operate contently under those conditions if given half the chance.
Sony shut Portrait Records down a couple of years back because their acts were only cruising at around 75,000 - 100,000 units - what arrogance!
A good deal of our beloved music is appearing thanks to the European melodic rock / hard rock labels, but they can't afford to get artist penetration beyond their own shores. Wider sales are happening thanks to the Internet and individual local distributors. But without major backing, this is all very hard work and a step by step process.
At least these records are still getting made...no one is making any real money off them, but thankfully the art is still there for some. Where will this all end?

We are at a point in time where we must wonder if there will ever be an era of super-groups again. Will there ever be another Led Zeppelin? Will there ever be anything like Van Halen, The Stones, The Police, The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Rush, or artists like Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Prince?
What about those closer to home - will there ever be another artist allowed to develop like Rick Springfield? How about Harem Scarem? Night Ranger, Toto, Survivor, John Waite, Journey or even Foreigner?
These guys are all getting older each year and when some bands take 3 years to put out a new record (sometimes more) - how many new albums do you think we have left to look forward to?
We need to develop new talent and we need to look to some youthful talent.
Once a label would only sign an artist if they saw potential for growth. They would sign only if they saw the number of original songs the artist had written and together they would map out a long term plan for the second and third albums. Now you get one chance and if there is not a satisfactory result, then no option is taken and the artist is shown the door.
The same can be said in some ways about this scene. How many bands have you seen with album number 2 on a different label to their debut?
Just as major labels need to start developing and evolving with the artists again, so do we within this scene. We need to discover new talent and we need to try and help artists improve and evolve and get out there and play live! Can you imagine any band playing 16 to 20 shows a week like Shark Island did in their early days?!!
I could also be doing more for new artists. I have given as much time as I can to new artists on the site, but I know I want to do more. I believe I can see where MelodicRock excels, but I can also admit shortcomings and exposure for new artists is one of those downfalls.
It is nothing something done purposely. I simply a case of lack of time. There are only so may hours in any given day and week and new artists are some of those to miss deserved coverage.
I'm working on a plan to correct that and will make it happen. Sadly it takes so much time just keeping the site in business and dealing with the regular workload that extra features and things I would enjoy doing more are sometimes left behind.

And if you read some of the more credible industry message boards, any number of people that have long experience in the industry are lamenting the fact there is no talent...there is just simply not enough great (or ever good) music for the public to want to buy.
Forget about formats and downloads and exclusive deals with specific outlets - concentrate on producing some real talent. Concentrate on breaking new ground and nurturing an artist through a multi-album deal. Offer the public something unique, something truly special, and they will buy.
Where are the superstar acts? Time for the A&R guys to re-discover what a pavement is and pound it until they come up with something that will make people want to buy CDs.
These are just a few of my thoughts. There is no quick fix for this problem...but the sooner those in power get started, the sooner the ever decreasing sales numbers might start to bottom out.
I will continue to help highlight some of the best releases available and in 2006, some of the best new talent too.

Sony BMG get a special mention for trying to single handedly fuck up the entire industry by installing fear, loathing and resentment into the record buying public - the very people they are trying to woo back to stores. Their Spyware RootKit software installed by stealth on their CDs brought so much bad publicity I have no idea how long it will take them to repair the damage. I don't think anyone in the industry has yet determined just how much damage was done by the company.
Meanwhile Sony and Warner Bros shelled out Payola settlements in just another damaging example of how the general public has no faith or trust in these big companies.

To conclude my comments here, I will say that while it is highly challenging working in this industry as a whole and within the melodic scene in particular, not to mention the open media of the Internet, I do still love what I am doing and I am honored to be in this position and I love nothing more than hearing a truly great album and passing that news along.
Let's hope I can speak more positively of some of the issues covered here in the 2006 Awards write up. I would like to think that some positive developments can take place during the year ahead.


The Year That Was: The Melodic Music Scene

12 months back I said 2004 offered no major surprises. 2005 didn't offer much more in terms of exciting gossip, but it was a different beast to 2004.
2005 was a year in which the change began. File sharing and general apathy towards buying music really started to bite and continues to get worse.
The music business is in transition, but the melodic scene is a little ways behind what is happening in mainstream USA or Europe. So what did the labels get up to?
Italy's Frontiers Records had their best year to date without doubt. They took the bull by the horns and signed more high profile names in 2005 than they have in all their other years combined.
Styx, Journey, Survivor, Toto - that sounds pretty sweet to me. Rapidly becoming the home of the genre's biggest acts, Frontiers will have to work hard with these artists and the new ones yet to be announced to ensure their best possible efforts are turned in. Toto have done it - let's see the others also can deliver their best. Together with some very high profile projects (Starbreaker, Place Vendome, Allen/Lande), no one would argue that 2005 was a great year for the label.
MTM Music had a somewhat quieter year, but pulled out a couple of well received marquee titles towards the end of the year. TNT, Radioactive and Stryper were all big in the later half of the year, with Darren Smith Band, Novak, Shy and Martie Peters highlights in the first half.
Escape Music continued their solid path, delivering a few gems like Gypsy Rose, Change Of Heart and Liesegang / White...but their ace card was definitely the best ever release from Heartland.
AOR/Metal Heaven stepped up to the plate in 2005, becoming a fully fledged label with a string of releases. Interestingly their output matched the general vibe of the whole scene - more metal than melodic.
Majestic Rock Records continued to mix their releases between archive re-issues and introducing new talent. I'll say it again, their output focused more on metal (Kinrick, Crimsonfire & Power Quest), again putting the squeeze on melodic rock. But these labels have to concentrate on what sells, so what does that say about the current state of the AOR scene?
The label spent much of the year trying to get out of a hole, which I am pleased to say they have done. Credit to them for that, but yet again, it is another sign of a struggling industry.
Sweden's Atenzia Records did bugger all in 2005. With just a handful of releases to their name, and little or no impact coming from any of them, you can sense their backers getting itchy feet.
Of the bigger rock labels, only one label did less business than Atenzia and that was Z Records. Not much to say here - just 4 re-issues and one brand new release from what my press releases tell me. I'll count the Mitch Perry album as a re-issue, as it was available previously under a different name and with alternative artwork.
But the label continue to push on, even planning a new Z-Rock show in April. I will wait with curiosity as to who shows up - both fans and artists. The last Z Rock show had just a handful of people there are after bands were pulled from appearing at the last minute.
Now & The Records released a couple of metal orientated albums in February and have not been heard from since, which is a true shame. Even while no longer being signed to the label, Ten's Gary Hughes announced in his own news item that the label has folded, but there has never been any official announcement.
AFM Records grew in stature with the release of the brilliant second Masterplan album and their stable of artists continues to grow. Sadly their founder passed away earlier in the year.
SPV I thought had a relatively quiet year, with nothing of note for melodic fans. They also concentrated on their metal side, not to mention everything else the do. But for hard rock fans, nothing of major note from SPV - aside from a cool Magnum DVD which I am yet to see.
There was the emergence of a couple of new labels in 2005. Australia's first re-issue label Suncity Records made their debut and quickly learnt the eccentricities of this scene and will no doubt continue to learn and grow in 2006.
UK journo's Derek Oliver and Dante Bonutto made their label debut with Rock Candy Records, a label that has already re-issued a handful of gems and has done an exemplary job with the packaging and remastering of all titles thus far.

Not much to report of in 2005 as far as new developments. Only 1 other new label to speak of - Angel Milk Records in the UK, who have the right idea and are investing in new talent. This should be interesting. They talk the talk for sure and I'll support them all the way, I just hope they have the finance to back them up in a market place which is suspect at best!
The label has Nexx and Enzign in the studio and I look forward to talking about those releases in due course.
It is certainly a compliment to the label, but it is also a little sad - but when they made their launch announcement on my site, over 150 bands contacted them looking for interest or a deal. Now that's a lot of artists in anyone's terms. There are so many great bands and artists out there looking for the right home and there are as many musicians looking to work more and tour. There just isn't the market or the money to see this happen.
I hope that changes in time.

I spoke of looking to new talent - there are some great bands out there and there are even some young guys performing our kind of music. Hardway, Nexx, Bad Way, The Click Five and Square One are 5 examples of where the future might lie. Then there is artists like Blanc Faces, Novak and Line Of Fire which are new, but have a strong footing in the traditional melodic rock sound.
But take a look at Nexx - a stunning debut album and a vibrant, exciting and active live band and they couldn't get a deal to record a second album until a new start-up label stepped in to save the day.
I know how tough it is out there to sell anything these days, but if a band of Nexx's talent has a hard time getting a deal, then what does that say about our scene and where it is heading? I honestly thought that some of the bigger name labels should have been embarrassed by this scenario.

Turing to live action, a couple of new Festivals came to life in 2005. This is GREAT news, but folks, more of you close to these gigs could get off your asses and support them. Support the scene, the bands, the organizers and the venues. See live music and hang with some freeking great people, all of like minded thinking. You won't get a better weekend out than these shows.
First up we have Firefest - congrats to Kieran Dargan and Bruce Mee for putting together two great shows in 2005, which were both well attended, but could still have fit more through the door. I unfortunately couldn't be at the November show, but hope to be at Firefest 3 should there be one later this year or early next year.

Then there was the well received German show United Forces Of Rock, which saw a number of labels and sponsors get together with RockIt! Magazine to put on a show. All went well and it was certainly well spoken of, but for all the labels involved, I expect to see an even bigger line-up of talent for UFOR2 later this year!

This scene is definitely unique and has it's own issues and problems. The melodic scene is like no other - probably because it is so small and everyone who is involved in it knows everyone else. And of course, those that are in competition with each other don't like to be outdone. It's not a very cooperative environment. Still, some of these rivals might find themselves needing to work together in 2006.

No labels closed their doors in 2005, but one certainly has since January 1. Should I mention them here? Perhaps not, as the official press release has not yet been issued, but this European label known for their modern rock releases has had their financial support withdrawn.


The Year That Was: Plugging The Leaks

I have another issue to raise as if enough hasn't already been spoken of. We are all very aware of file sharing and the damage that is caused by new release albums being posted onto the Internet for download. There is no doubt this is causing sales damage, although at the same time I know many fans download albums until they are in a position to buy the original.
But there is a side issue connected with this practice that is directly affecting the scene. During the course of 2005 this continued to get worse to the point where it is now a complete joke.
What am I referring to? Who the bloody hell is leaking advance copies of these albums to the Internet months ahead of release?
All labels have to issue promos - otherwise how would magazines, websites, radio get the material to feature. All labels such Frontiers, AFM, SPV, MTM and Escape have to issue promos 8 weeks in advance because magazines demand that time frame in order to feature the material in reviews and interviews. Most publications are monthly, hence the need to get the music as soon as possible.
But ALL these labels need to review their promo lists. Who are the sending these advance CDs to? I pose the question because almost like clockwork, the week a new set of promos arrive from a label, no sooner are they leaked to the Net.
Already you can search, find and download albums due in February and March such as Toto, Warrant, Phenomena and Jorn - just to name a few. They are all out there and none of them are officially released.
I can understand the general public sharing files and posting albums once released...but why would people within this scene actively work against it's success by leaking these promos that they receive for nothing some 2 months ahead of planned release dates?
We are talking fellow journalists here, or radio people or distributors...I have no idea who is doing this, but it now happens with each and every release and it is high time that these promo lists are seriously looked at.
It's just bloody wrong. This scene is struggling and we need all the sales we can get. People in a position to help this scene should not be sabotaging it at the same time.
What is the answer? Perhaps a major album should be released with absolutely no audio publicity in advance? No promos for anyone! Can you imagine the shitstorm of protests that would follow such a decision.
Personally I'm in favor of the promos - we need them. The longer I get to live with an album the better I get to know it and I do need to live with an album for a while before reviewing. This means promos that don't feature fade-ins and fade outs, or edited songs or even spoken words over the top of the music, or promos featuring the one single long file. But to re-state the point, there are some assholes receiving this product who are leaking it to the net the very day they get them. This needs to stop.


The Year That Was: The Music

I've already typed more than last year and we haven't even covered the actual music yet!
Where to start then? Well, nowhere in particular...this round up is not gathered into genre nor chronological order (not intentionally anyway!!)...let's just start and see where we end up.

Taking a look at my notes, the first thing that gets my attention is Journey. They had a huge year and of all the bands covered here, they probably caused the most commotion and debate. I'll cover the Generations album specifically elsewhere, but the guys were never far from the headlines, giving their album away for the first leg of their US tour and putting on a huge 3-hour show taking in all the band's history.
As expected, some fans didn't dig that so much and some even confused the first set of the band's earliest material for an opening act. Yes, the ignorance of some that are closed off to any new musical experience is disappointing. The brutal work load of Journey's touring schedule saw both Steve Augeri and Deen Castronovo suffering from vocal problems and to be honest, I can't imagine ANY singer surviving in tact having to sing songs of that nature (the high octaves and powerful delivery required) night in and night out.
The band are looking at European dates this year, but you know what...I wouldn't be surprised to see those dates set to minimum and the band heading back onto the US circuit where there is just too much money to be made. I'd love to see the band take in a full European/UK tour and payback those fans there for their 20 years of devotion and patience, but I'm not sure that will happen.
And should the band attack the US circuit yet again, they must consider that too much of a good thing will leave fans complacent rather than hungry for more.
Same could be said of a number of other bands, but how cool was it to see Styx touring Europe and the UK this year to sold out shows, not to mention Firehouse, Danger Danger, Deep Purple, Sebastian Bach, Rush, Kansas, Motley Crue and Jeff Scott Soto doing tours and Foreigner, John Waite, Survivor, The Eagles and Bon Jovi to name a few lined up to visit European shores in 2006.
Former Journey frontman Steve Perry also re-appeared on a couple of occasions - first to front up at Journey's moment of glory - getting their own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame - that was a very cool achievement and very cool for Steve to appear. Fans were certainly impressed.
Steve also made a surprise appearance at the Chicago White Sox play-off's appearances after the band adopted Don't Stop Believin' as their finals anthem. It worked, the guys won for the first time in a long long time and Steve helped them celebrate after the game.

Inxs were another band that was everywhere in 2005 - mostly thanks to their reality TV Show Rock Star: Inxs. The guys were criticized for taking their search for a new lead singer to a game show, but they would never have found new boy JD Fortune otherwise and they would never have had a new hit single Pretty Vegas all over the radio was it not for JD's input into the song.
Just how sincere the band are about keeping their new lead singer and working into the future after his one album-one tour contract expires remains to be seen. I think they are off to a promising start and would like to see where things develop. Should they drop JD, they might as well all retire.
As for the TV show, that remains up in the air. The ratings were solid, but not stellar, so the whole concept hinges around finding a big enough name willing to pimp themselves off via that format. Rumors suggested Van Halen were looking at it, but that was BS from the start. Inxs were 5 guys looking for a lead singer. Van Halen have a singer, but can't seem to get anything together...can you imagine the show featuring Alex and Eddie alone in the spotlight - that's if Ed even turned up to every episode!
I suspect we might have seen the last of RockStar!

Speaking of Van Halen - a quiet year as predicted last year...nothing good or positive to report at all and I suspect that will remain the case in 2006 as Sammy Hagar continues to hatch plans with Michael Anthony. Sammy will tour on the back of a new solo album with Michael in tow, but it is a well known fact that Sammy is concentrating on and making more money from his building Tequila empire and would like to score a major label deal for a musical project rather than continue experimenting with minor labels.
The big VH question for 2006 - will we get a box set and if so, will it actually contain anything interesting?

Don Dokken spoke of a new Dokken album, a new solo album, an acoustic record and an album of re-recorded hits (please don't). None of which got released, so we eagerly await word on which will come first. I presume it will be the Dokken record, which Don gave a scary description of. "It's not 1986 anymore" claimed Don. Too right mate, but that doesn't mean fans don't want to be reminded of that bygone era. His comments about the new album included this gem: "It's more a mixture of modern music with heavy guitars like Linkin Park with melodic harmonies and some fans will love it and others will say 'Hey, this doesn't sound like Dokken in 1986', but guess what? It's not 1986 anymore....People say 'I like 'Tooth and Nail', that's what I like. Do it over and over again'. That's really great, but if you like 'Tooth and Nail', go buy it. I did it. I have to go on. Some people do, but I am not Poison. We're not stuck in the '80s part."
Mmm...We'll have to wait and see what the result is there! He also described his solo album as sounding like Sting meets Coldplay. It will be an interesting year for Dokken fans!

Mike Tramp went on the road as Tramps White Lion, with a fresh unheard of line-up and a goal to perform all the White Lion tunes people keep requesting as they were intended to be played. Sadly promoters didn't get on board and after one tour and a live album, Mike retired the name. No more White Lion and his upcoming solo album and tour will be just that - solo material only.
Mike hit another spot of bother in regards to the White Lion Fight To Survive re-issue. An exclusive deal was done with AOR Heaven, but that didn't stop the selling the CD two weeks ahead of time at the Bang Your Head festival. Ouch!

Pulse disbanded again, before announcing they hadn't disbanded, but two key members had left, leaving singer Simon Abbots with yet another problem and leaving fans wondering why this small, little know UK band is the center of as much speculation, rumor and internal trouble as Van Halen or Deep Purple. RIP Pulse I dare say.

Eric Martin spent the year in relative quiet, spending a lot of his time with new baby twins, but also scoring a new first by recording the theme song for an TV broadcast Asian wrestling federation. He also did a few gigs with Eric Martin Band/415 and we should see some more shows and maybe a record in 2006.

Ted Poley joined forces with acclaimed guitarist/songwriter Vic Rivera and the duo spent most of the year making a Poley solo record for a US label which is yet to see the light of day, but hopefully will soon. The duo have already begun work on more material together for another record, so you can bank on this relationship lasing a while to come. And from what I have heard of their efforts to date, Poley fans are going to be stoked!

Jeff Scott Soto didn't rest on his laurels - he never stops. He spent a good amount of time on tour again in 2005, proving he is willing to put his money where his mouth is and work hard at breaking new ground. The guys in Queen still haven't come to their senses and hired him as singer, but surely that day will come?!
Jeff also toured with Neal Schon in Soul SirkUS, but encountered numerous problems - most of which were a management team more focused on Journey and I can't see there being another SS album or tour in the near future.

Queen did great business with their hired hand Paul Rodgers, but many still can't see the partnership as a perfect union, especially when Brian May and Roger Taylor spend half of each show singing themselves with PR off stage having a breather. Sounds like an easy gig...
The band nevertheless sold out across Europe and will tackle the USA this year. Hammered about their high ticket prices, Brian promises no one will go home disappointed (expect perhaps JSS fans!)

Night Ranger had a busy year - well, busy for a band with no new record at least. They were however, in-between touring, working on that new record and we should see that in the first half of 06. Jack also worked on a the new Shaw Blades record, which continues to sit in limbo and spent time writing more songs.
The band pulled out of a scheduled appearance on the tacky music show Hit Me Baby One More Time, where artists would sing a hit song, then cover a popular contemporary hit. I would have loved to see the band in action, but Loverboy and Glass Tiger made up for it. Mind you, none of them looked quite like they did in 1985!! (But then, not many of us do, do we?!)
Needless to say, the band was probably better off for not appearing and gave the producers a serve after they were criticized for being difficult with arrangements. The show has since been canned, so NR wins that round!
Guitarist Brad Gillis took an interesting side step and has joined a revamped line up of Vicious Rumors. That record will be out this year and should be interesting.
Frontman Jack Blades and wife Mollie narrowly escaped injury when their case was side-swiped by a crazed lunatic - both and a friend who was driving were taken to hospital and soon returned to reality when the paramedic recognized Jack and proclaimed to be a huge fan.

Nelson spent another year flogging stuff via e-bay and sadly released no new music. However, they speak of a new album (the third now that is yet to be released) that is done and you can read about it in the members area of their website. Personally I'm not paying a one month minimum fee of $10 to read about what I might be able to buy one day.

Not to be trivialized is the new of two separate shootings in 2005. First Bret Michael's tour bus was shot as - an act police believe to be deliberate and intended and then pop crooner Marc Cohen survived a car-jacking where he was shot in the head!

Rick Springfield had a varied year, He toured like crazy and promoted the release of his new covers album The Day After Yesterday. But funnily, he spoke more passionately of his last album SDAA during most interviews. He has recorded a live HDTV special that will also become a DVD (great news) and then took to a spot of acting again, returning to were it all started on the soapie general Hospital. Say what you will, but there is no doubt he is a versatile performer. Let's have a new high-tech AOR album in 2006 to keep the momentum going eh Rick?

Regrettably, lightning struck twice for Gregg Giuffria, who following a studio fire the year before was now on the receiving end of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane flattened the new Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, which Gregg had been working on for 2 years.
To speak seriously for a moment - this was a catastrophic event and Gregg himself said the would rebuild, but the most important factor was the lives of everyone effected and getting places like New Orleans repaired and getting life back to normal.
A great many artists contributed to charities helping folks out and Rick Springfield gathered a range of memorabilia to auction off - with his fan club raising thousands of dollars.
Also helping out those under fire was several artists such as Ross Valory and Paul Shortino - sending CDs to troops in the Gulf during the year.

Survivor didn't manage to get an album out, but it is now only a few months away with confirmation last week that it is finished. The band did come under some fan-fire during the year for the length of Frankie Sullivan's guitar solos when they play live. It's not the first time I have fielded complaints and someone within the Survivor camp confirmed to me it isn't the first time they have had complaints either.

Fergie Frederikson went public with his battle with HepC, which is keeping him from getting back on the road and touring. A benefit was being planned, as medical bills build fast and I hope 2006 sees him in much better shape.

USA Today released a poll garnered from readers listing the best American rock albums of all time. Surprisingly (or not), a host of classic 70s and 80s hard rock albums made the final list and even the Top 10. Proof that there is still a great fondness for albums like this and artists who actually put on a great show and write and perform their own material! What a concept! Sadly things like this remain unnoticed by the major labels, who continue to peddle manufactured crap upon the public.

Sebastian Bach made headlines a couple of times, which makes for a quiet year for the singer! Framshift's guitarist went public to complain about the singer despite fronting his critically acclaimed album and Sebastian did it all himself with some staggering headlines proclaiming a massive earth shattering announcement was imminent. No, it wasn't Seb...a special guest guitarist joining you on stage on NYC is not earth shattering!

Michael Schenker had another odd year - no surprise. He released a new CD called Heavy Hitters, only to counter later on that the record label released it under the MSG name without permission and that was contrary to their contract.
He continues to work on his proper new MSG album in-between posting all his personal e-mails and fights between his US based Ex's on his website, under the For My True Fans area. I don't think even Michael's True Fans really want to read about back-payments in alimony and the many threatened lawsuits.

The Kissworld shop closed up before even opening, that has to be some sort of record. The Aussie based store was to sell all range of Kiss merch (well, there's certainly enough of that to open a shop), but for whatever reason, the shop never got completed and the stockpiled merch is now being flogged at heavily discounted prices.


Moving To And Fro In 2005:
Swirl 360 changed their name to Killing Sky. Hurricane Party changed their name to Roadstar. Guild Of Ages (formerly known as CITA) changed their name (again!) to Relapsed and 40ft Ringo, which was once Throwan Rocks is now Stereo Fallout.
Nightwish lost their lead singer; M.ill.ion lost their guitarist; Teer lost two vocalists (!); Heaven & Earth changed theirs again (!); Pulse (well, we covered them already); Urban Tale picked up a new guitarist; Gary Schutt left the JSS band; SIN also lost a singer; James Lomenzo left Black Label Society; Def Leppard picked up new management, but still couldn't get an album released; Pat Torpey joined the David Lee Roth band; Jani Lane might have lost his sanity (verdict is still out on that) and Jay Schellen joined Asia (but now looks high and dry).
Pride split, wich is a big disappointment, but I suspect the right deal might see them reconsider. C'mon somebody! New talent remember!


The Year That Was: Disappointments

Again referring to lat year - I said 2004 delivered more disappointments than any year previous, but we have a new winner folks! 2005 delivered some truly wondrous disappointments. Some will agree and disagree on many albums - that's what life is all about, but I believe there were some really obvious clunkers in 2005 that I think most will agree upon.
Getting serious for a moment...artists and labels surely MUST know what fans want by now. They MUST see the reviews, responses and message board chatter about what albums really hit the spot and why. So why is it that these comments still go ignored by some?
I know artists like to make records for themselves and they should still be encouraged to do that. But they must also be aware of what fans want and they must pay some respect to the fans that have followed them throughout their careers and be aware of the reasons why those fans have stuck around.
And then they must deliver an album that will satisfy those fans. It all well and good to make a record for yourself (creatively speaking), but if no one buys it, then what is the point? And what label in their right mind would such an artist to make yet another record after that?
A fine line it is, but a balance there must be and ultimately, the fans will decide what rocks and what doesn't.

So, to The Disappointments of 2005:
The highest profile one for the year would have to be the sophomore Brides Of Destruction release. Without Nikki Sixx, this band is clearly left high and dry for inspiration and songwriting ability. I don't think I read a single good review or comment about this album.
Diamond Head's return to action with a new line-up certainly didn't add anything to their musical legacy and nor did Paganini's re-recorded effort, which I think achieved my lowest score for the year. What a stinker that was - yet another example of an artist completely out of touch with their fan base.
Guitarist Joe Perry proved why Aerosmith should stay together by releasing his solo record - even if the band themselves are also guilty of a sub-par release. Their 3 year old live record was a waste of time and space.
John Norum's latest solo album found some friends, but I wasn't one of them. I wasn't alone, as the album received a pretty average reception from fans.
Proving that there are way too may modern rock acts with recording contracts were Frickin' A and Not By Choice. Glam rockers Tsar went punk and left most of their fan base behind...again, these bands just don't get it.
Robert Plant released his very high profile new solo album, which I found to be dead boring. Where was the fire of Fate Of Nations? Critically the album did very very well, but the fan response was very mixed - anything from genius to rubbish.
AOR acts weren't immune to turning in some disappointments. The return of Alien was anything but out of this world. Yet another example of the band not delivering what fans wanted, which is the same case for fellow Europeans Return, whose comeback album was very average.
Last Autumn's Dream delivered their second album and promptly killed off the momentum established by their debut. Funnily enough, their new third album is possibly their best yet, but will anyone still care?
A few big Aussie names were guilty of peddling crap in 2005. The new Jimmy Barnes duets record made debut at #1 locally, but bloody hell it was bad. Most of the duets were with family members and of the 15 new tracks, only 2 rocked (sort of...). Perhaps these family members were the ones buying all the copies.
John Farnham ripped of label-mate Rod Stewart for his Songbook idea and then promptly delivered an album that was even more limp-wristed. I officially give up on John - he is now an old man with one foot planted in a retirement home.
And Australia's modern pop/rock hopes TaxiRide did what all great bands should do to follow up a killer and acclaimed record. They dropped a member, changed styles and released a dodgy record. When will they ever learn?
Dare released an ok live album, but it was the accompanying DVD that shocked many fans. Live footage pieced together with Welsh scenery and close-ups of Darren Wharton lip-syncing the songs in the studio afterwards were enough to cause a revolt.
The two most debated albums of the year were Diving For Pearls and Journey. Journey later, as I don't consider that a true disappointment. DFP however did struggle to find an audience with an album that was half classic, half updated/modern. Some loved it for it's updated feel and some loathed that is was not a carbon copy of the debut. Both David Prater and Danny Malone came online to defend the album, but it seemed a lost cause.
I think the album was ok style wise - it just lacked a few better, knockout songs.
Additionally - Loud N Nasty lived up to their name perfectly; Terrarosa showed potential, but was too diverse and badly produced; same with Sonic X and winner of the most pointless release of the year is soapie crooner Jack Wagner. His soft as a wet tissue release makes Air Supply sound like Morbid Death.


The Year That Was: Re-Issues

Just about every label dipped into re-issues in 2005. MTM Classix delivered a few gems such as Laos, Karo, Evenrude, Fate and Refugee.
Majestic Rock came up with some Y&T and Legs Diamond re-issues and the Steeler anthology, but due to their other issues didn't pack the punch expected. 2006 looks brighter.
Escape Music as always delivered a few gems, all packaged in a classy way. Another dual CD digipack from FM was delivered as was an old classic from Tantrum - all three albums in one package was a treat. They also gave the indie release Artica a more formal and deserving release.
Frontiers delivered the Bad Moon Rising anthology, with liner notes by yours truly, so that was definitely a special package :)
New UK label Rock Candy dished out re-issues from Helix, Riot, Icon, Coney Hatch and 1984 to name a few - all superbly packaged.
Aussie rock label Suncity certainly got the attention of fan with a twin CD releases of archived Blue Tears material - the tracks long bootlegged by others. Great to hear those tracks as they were intended finally.
Contrary to their name, French label Bad Reputation have a good name for their classy re-issues and 2005 saw another couple of collectable gems issued. Two FM re-issues contained plenty of bonus tracks; as did two excellent Love/Hate albums.
But their very best release was the essential round up of the collected recordings of Shark Island was a gem! The band's classic album, three soundtrack tunes and their rare promo only live EP, all gathered onto a 2 disc set and remastered perfectly wins my Re-Issue Of The Year Award!


The Year That Was: Rest In Peace

Chris Whitely, Comic actors Ronnie Barker and Don Adams, Tindrum's Paul West, Mike Gibbins of Badfinger, Eddie & Alex Van Halen's mother, Guitarist/Bassist and guitar maker Greg Curbow, Blackfish guitarist Mike Mahaffey, producer Pat Glasser, Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller, Metal Church vocalist David Wayne, former Tuff bassist Danny Wilder, Duke McFadden, Crowded House drummer Paul Hester, Foghat lead guitarist Rod Price, Blackfoot drummer Jakson Spires, Danny Joe Brown - founding member of Southern rockers Molly Hatchet, British DJ Tommy Vance, Doobie Brothers drummer Keith Knudsen, Wes Wehmiller - bass guitarist for Duran Duran in the 90s, Mark Evans - former drummer from Warrior Soul, Bread co-Founder Jimmy Griffin, Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, Frankie LaRocka (LaRocca), Andreas "Henner" Allendorfer - head of German label AFM Records and also lead singer for the band Squealer.
RIP to all these very talented and sadly missed individuals.



Ok, time to look back and embarrass myself with the results from what 2005 predictions I trumpeted at the start of the year. Did any actually come true, or did I bomb out on all counts? Let's see....

Predicted in yellow. Reality in black.

A punch-up/brawl will take place at a major rock festival - possibly Sweden Rock - and possible involving Yngwie Malmsteen. Or perhaps Motley Crue. Maybe both?!
Sweden Rock went very smoothly from all reports and I can't recall any brawl's at all - besides Michael Schenker's ongoing spat with his Ex's. No points for me.

One of the very best albums of 2005 will be a debut album from an artist never before heard of.
I'd say yes to that - Blanc Faces certainly made a name for themselves, but the clear winner is the solo debut from Oliver Hartmann, which took everyone buy surprise.

Possible band break-ups - SR-71, Stratovarius (again), Judas Priest (again), Motley Crue (again), Circle II Circle.
Wow, I struck out on all counts there! All bands listed remain in tact (to my surprise!).

There will be no new Survivor album.
That wasn't a huge gamble was it? Sure enough...no album, although 2006 is finally the time for an album to arrive.

There will be no new Van Halen album.
Again, not a surprising outcome there.

There will be no new Cinderella album, but Tom Keifer's solo album will get released.
Half points, as Tom's album didn't arrive either! That should be out this year.

Vince Neil will be arrested.
Nope...Wow, well done Vince!

Halford's album will be better than the Judas Priest album.
It didn't turn up, so perhaps we will handball this one into 2006 predictions?

Masterplan will break through into America and a wider audience.
NO! And why not?!! I'm striking out here....but in this case, it will happen.

Bob Seger will finally hit the road for some live dates.
Nope...wrong again.

Waltham will score a hit single in America. Rick Springfield won't (although I hope I'm wrong there...)
No hits for either, so half points.

The Def Leppard covers album will get scrapped in favor of an all new hard rocking studio album.
Half points again I think...the covers album wasn't scrapped (yet), but it was delayed into 2006.

Sales of Bon Jovi's new album will top Crush and Bounce.
Bingo! Well done Jovi.

The Darkness will pull a series of publicity stunts just prior to the release of their new album - including getting up as many people's noses as possible to ensure good headlines.
Wrong again! The guys instead tried to portray themselves as a serious rock band and sales for the album nose dived soon after it's release. There has to be a message in there somewhere.

The lead singer of a very well known and popular melodic rock group will depart the band.
Hasn't happened...yet...

Bret Michaels will be formerly proclaimed a country music star and Poison will be no more.
Half points perhaps? No news on Poison and I guess Michaels didn't really get too much country acclaim, but his profile is higher in those circles than on the rock circuit in 2005.

A European label will announce their biggest signing ever, with much pomp and ceremony.
Yes, that was Frontiers singing Journey, but they went one further and also signed Toto. That ain't bad!


The Year That Was: Predicted Biggest Titles

Melodic/Hard Rock: Albums that didn't make it out:Black N Blue, Chris Catena, Def Leppard, Fate, MSG, Hardline, Liberty & Justice, Michael Bormann, Moonstone Project, Night Ranger, Kelly Keagy, Rik Emmett/Mike Shotton, Skid Row, Street Legal, Teer, Von Groove, AC/DC, Guns N Roses.
Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2005: Joe Lynn Turner, Gotthard, Brazen Abbot, Soul Sirkus, Bon Jovi, Thunder, Harem Scarem, The Darkness, TNT, Starbreaker, Emerald Rain.

Wow, take a look at that list of titles that didn't make it out in 2005. I think more albums didn't get finished than those that actually did. And that's a shame as 2005 certainly lacked big hits from the big names. This year's Top 30 is dominated by some new names - which in itself is a very good thing, but we need a balance between new and established artists. The big boys did not deliver in '05, so '06 should definitely be a better year for melodic music and the competition for best album placings should be hotter than it has been in years - IF everyone put in their very best efforts.
Of those albums that were released, which of the predicted best hit the spot?
A clear winner emerges - Gotthard! A new label, new producer and a new line-up only inspired these guys to deliver their best album in years and was one that was a clear favourite among fans. I don't think I have read a single bad remark about this album and to win over new fans at this stage in ay band's career is a great feat.
Joe Lynn Turner turned in a great solo album and Brazen Abbot was of their usual high standard as were Thunder with a very strong and hard rocking album delivered.
Bon Jovi didn't disappoint fans with their strongest album in years despite the fact there were still areas it could have been even better.
TNT did a solid job, but I don't dig the album half as much as My Religion and the fan verdict was about the same - very good, but not quite classic.
Harem Scarem turned in a very interesting album that caused great debate and some disappointment. The album saw the band refusing to stand still and delivering a darker, heavier and somewhat modern sounding record, which caused some to rejoice and some to complain. Harry Hess was forced to comment, but alluded to the fact that some fans have complains about each and every release, even the magic Mood Swings back in the day! Personally I think it was another very strong album, should your ears be willing to move with the band. Some of the songs within match the quality of the band's best music and I know there are others that feel the same way.
Emerald Rain followed a similar path of updating their sound while also trying to keep some songs with a taste of their classic sound. It was a solid album, but I fear fan reaction wasn't as vocal as I anticipated.
The Darkness released an album that did everything right as far as their fans are concerned - it's a pretty decent record, but the hype on these guys seems to be fading fast, which is exactly what I feared all along.
On debut project that lived up to all expected hype was the awesome Starbreaker. Tony Harnell broke new ground as did guitarist Magnus Karlsson and fans were united in their praise of the album.

AOR: Albums that didn't make it out:Shaw Blades, Lec Zorn Project, On The Rise,Toto, Frederiksen/Denander, Gregg Giuffria, REO Speedwagon, Riverdogs, Zion, Noiseworks, 1927, Crystal Blue, Lawrence Saltis, Joseph Williams/Vertigo, Slamer/Brock, Shadowman, The Ladder.
Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2005: Heartland, Radioactive, 91 Suite, Alien, Change Of Heart, John Wetton/Geoff Downes, Journey, Khymera, Rick Springfield.

Another extensive list of albums that didn't make it out. Perhaps even more important than the hard rock titles that missed out. 2005 was definitely short on high quality AOR, let's hope this year is more impressive.
Of those predicted best titles, not all delivered. Of those that did: Heartland - their best album to date. A rocking good sound, but great songs and at last, great choruses! 91 Suite and Change Of Heart delivered two classic style AOR albums that delivered exactly as was expected and I think fans were generally happy with the results.
Wetton/Downes released an album which touched on that classic Asia sound, it was certainly one of the most lush records of the year, but very slow in tempo.
Radioactive was everything the name has delivered in the past, but the big surprise for '05 was Khymera. Classic 80s yes, but Dennis Ward as vocalist proved to be an inspired move!
Of those that disappointed: Rick Springfield's covers album was just too soft and did him no favors; the Alien album was not what fans were hoping for and was very disappointing and then there is Journey.
So what about Journey? Well...it didn't disappoint me, but coming into 2005 there was one clear favourite that could and probably should have been Album Of The Year. Journey's Generations was a mixed album recorded in a short time frame that featured a very rough production sound. Some say bad production - well, it was raw, but with Kevin Elson and Mike Fraser on board it is just the style chosen by the band and perhaps the speed of recording/mixing left a product that was a long way sonically from it's predecessor Arrival.
There are some great songs on Generations, but the inclusion of a few average tracks knocked the life out of it a little and once you do that - every other track must be a classic. Then add the extra twist of 4 different vocalists and you get an album struggling to find a direction.
It should have been a classic - it wasn't, but it still features some classic tracks. Next time though - I'd much prefer a single vocalist album. What may work for Toto, Night Ranger or Styx, doesn't necessarily work for Journey.

Modern/Nu-Breed: Highest profile albums due for 2005: Miles Above, Waltham, Bad Way, Square One, Swirl 360, TaxiRide, Foo Fighters, Magna-Fi.
Not a bad year....better than 2004, but still not breaking much new ground.
Bad Way delivered a debut album of punk fueled melody and proved that an indie act can make waves on their own.
It took until December for Square One to get their album out and then it was Japan only, but what a cool pop/rock record.
Waltham delivered their big label debut and continue to blow people away, but I fear they are not making enough impact in an industry struggling to break new acts. These guys deserve to be huge...I'm hopeful it will still happen.
Miles Above delivered a solid album as expected as did Swirl 360, but they soon hit a wall and have now changed their name in hope of breaking the US again.

Glam: Highest profile albums due for 2005: Hanoi Rocks, Roxx Gang, LA Guns.
Man, what a crappy year for Glam! LA Guns' new album was pretty cool, but hampered by a crappy sound (which they admit to) and aside from that there were only 2 great albums in 2005 - Crashdiet and Supergroupies. Both need to be checked out if you haven't yet.
Wig Wam proved to be a killer, but are they glam or are they hard rock. Are they melodic rock or classic rock? A little of everything I think.

Heavy/Metal/Progressive: Albums that didn't make it out:Halford, Queensryche.
Highlights - the Masterplan and Allen/Lande double for obvious reasons....two different albums, two magnificent albums.
Iommi/Hughes delivered a great modern melodic metal record, but problems at Sanctuary Records saw it largely unprompted and no tour support was forthcoming. A true shame.
Power Quest made a few new fans with a strong follow up to their acclaimed debut and Dream Theater came close to pleasing most of their fan base with a largely likable release.
The volatile Stratovarius have managed to keep it together and turned in a relatively straight forward metal release, but one which met with mixed reviews. I thought it was pretty good.

Pop/Mainstream: Albums that didn't make it out:Bob Seger, The Hooters, The Who.
I don't really think I was blown away by any pop/mainstream albums in 2005. Billy Idol returned to rock n roll, so he doesn't really fit into the pop mould as I listed him last year, but still, a great return to form.
Bruce Springsteen won critical acclaim for his acoustic album, but personally, - I'll stick to when he rocks a little. I'm still waiting for him to nail another classic.
Backstreet Boys are probably the one group that surprised anyone, with a thoroughly enjoyable slice of mature modern pop, with some strong melodic rock overtones.
Kelly Clarkson continues to kick ass, racking up some 700,000 units in December alone. But this was a 2004 release - even though it did more business in 2005 on the back of that monster tune Since You've Been Gone.


The Overall Predicted Best Of 2005

Ok, so take out the CDs that didn't get released and these are the titles I suggested would be the possible Top 10 for 2005:
Harem Scarem, TNT, Starbreaker, Heartland, Lande / Allen, Waltham, Iommi/Hughes, Change Of Heart, Masterplan, 91 Suite, Journey.

Ok, so my eventual Top 10 looks a little different doesn't it! I got Harem Scarem, Allen/Lande, Masterplan, Starbreaker and Heartland right - so 5 out of 10 folks! The others got squeezed out by more impressive releases.

So what did I say won't be released in 2005? What were the line-ball releases?
Liddel, Rush & Thrall, Nelson, VOA, Raine, Planet Mecca, Burning Rain, Femme Fatale, Bob Seger, The Hooters, Guns N Roses, Gary Moon, Mike Tramp, Daniel McMaster, David Roberts, Meatloaf, Seven And The Sun, Tsar, Leif Johansen, Rain.

Almost a PERFECT score! Tsar was released - but many wished it hadn't been, but the rest remain well and truly lost in limbo!



Vocalist Of The Year: Jorn Lande - No contest...well, perhaps there was, but no one artist has ever checked in at number 1 and 2 for Album Of The Year. His work with Masterplan was awesome, but Allen/Lande showed again what a legend Jorn is and how he can be metal, yet 100% melodic at the same time. Now there is the new solo album to feast upon and I guess early 2007 will see a new Masterplan record released.
Honorable Mentions - Tony Harnell (for Starbreaker, Brazen Abbot and of course TNT) and Joe Lynn Turner (for The Usual Suspects, Brazen Abbot and Akira Kajiyama).
Past Winners: 2004 - Jeff Scott Soto; 2003 - Harry Hess

Guitarist Of The Year Magnus Karlsson - Absolutely no contest! The Starbreaker and Allen / Lande projects saw Magnus' name hurled into the spotlight. Stepping away from his own band Last Tribe, Magnus proved to be an utter sensation as the band behind Allen / Lande and the part of the driving force behind Starbreaker (with Tony Harnell), not to mention supplying ALL those riffs!

Producer Of The Year Award: Dennis Ward - In an era where nearly everyone produces themselves, finding an outstanding producer that has worked on several albums is a pretty tough call. Tommy Denander again comes close to getting the nod, having taken out the prize in 2003. 2004's winner Fabrizio Grossi wasn't as busy and perhaps wasn't as effective in 2005, so the winner this year is someone that has been involved with producing a few albums (Place Vendome and Chalice) and also mixing several others (Blanc Faces for example).
Honorable mentions - Magnus Karlsson (for Allen / Lande and his role in Starbreaker) and Tommy Denander (for Radioactive and Philip Bardowell).
Past Winners: 2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi; 2003 - Tommy Denander.

Drummer Of The Year Award: Daniel Flores - Daniel was everywhere in 2005 - talking part in albums by Novak, Pavic, Xsavior and Philip Bardowell. Busy, but always top notch in his performance and along the way also supplying other musical parts and writing and producing to boot. Daniel also recorded parts for Mind's Eye, Moonstone, Chris Catena & Hubi Meisel, all due now or shortly.



The 'Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor' Award For Best Piece Of Self-Serving PR: Sebastian Bach - for his 'mind blowing, life altering' announcement that a special guest guitarist would join him on stage in New York. Gee Seb...how are you going to phrase the announcement of your new solo album or your return to Skid Row?
Previous Winners: Van Halen, Fred Durst

The 'Guns N Roses Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date' Award: Def Leppard - Their covers album Yeah! was originally scheduled for release in early 2005...then late 2005, early 2006, April 2006 and now May 2, 2006.
Previous Winners: Cheap Trick & Black N Blue

The 'Vince Neil Best Drunk On-Stage Antics' Award: Jani Lane - Jani's back for another win! This time for his several embarrassing appearances on the VH1 Metal Mania Unplugged Tour, before going AWOL completely.
Previous Winners: Jani Lane, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

The 'Not Very Rock N Roll Way To Cause Grievous Bodily Harm To Oneself' Award: Roger Scott Craig - The Harlan Cage frontman fell from a ladder while repairing his roof and found himself in hospital banged up pretty badly.
Previous Winners: Ronnie James Dio, Ted Nugent.

The Welcome Back Award: *TIE* - Motley Crue, Kingofthehill, Shark Island, Asia, Fair Warning, Danny Tate, The Hooters (live in the USA), Buckcherry, Norway.

The 'Please Go Away Again' Award: Bulletboys - unless this re-union is with original members!
Previous Winner: Julliet.

The 'Just Release The Bloody Thing Already' Award: Oh man...too many winners, which is just sad. How about - Guns N Roses, Lec Zorn, Black N Blue, Nelson, Hardline, Paul Stanley, Teer, Zion - let's go folks!
Previous Winner: Guns N Roses

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: The World Vs SonyBMG - And rightly so! People queued up to sue Sony for their intrusive CD software, including entire States of America and possibly even some of their own artists. Sony have since settled with all parties and will be forced to pay up shortly.

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album or DVD in 2006 Award: Toto, Inxs, Bryan Adams, Queensryche, Eddie Money, Dokken, Tesla, Metallica, Masterplan - more random guesses!
Those nominated last year - Kiss, Yngwie Malmsteen, Skid Row, Asia, Judas Priest, Duran Duran, Whitesnake. Kiss, Duran and Whitesnake all came up with DVDs - does that count?

The 'Best Interview Of 2005' Award: Marcie Free - An enlightening and honest interview. If you haven't read it yet - do it!
Previous Winner: Steve Lukather.

Best Seduction Of A Young Nurse By Old Dude: Dr. Noah Drake (aka Rick Springfield) - The Dr is back doing his 'rounds' on General Hospital.

The You'll Be Blue Murdered Award: Valensia - for his 'borrowing' of John Sykes' sound and songs for his Metal Majesty 2005 release.

Best Upstaging Of A Headliner By The Opening Act: Butch Walker - for blowing Avril Lavigne off stage in Canada.

The 'What Are You Really Trying To Imply?' Award: Big Cock - Is the naming of a band the same as driving a big car to compensate for something?

Most Overpriced E-Bay Auction: Nikki Sixx - US$45,000 for a used car? Would you buy a used car from this gentleman?

The Second Hand Cars Award For Re-United Band Without Original Members: The Cars - are new again, but without Ocasek (and Orr) it just isn't the same.

Most Number Of All-Star Guests Crammed Onto One Album: Radioactive - For The Taken release. Wow, seriously, how many people playing minor parts can you get onto one album?

The Create Piracy Whilst Trying To Kill Piracy Award: SonyBMG - Well done folks!

The 'Stratovarius' How To Lose A Vocalist With The Most Publicity Award: Nightwish - for losing their lead singer with a long and deep letter posted online, only to see the singer post her own rebuttal. It looked messy.

The Honesty In Interviews Award: Jamie St. James - for his comment regarding the making of the new Black N Blue record - 'It's a bitch trying to get paid by the label'.

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music Award: Dare - for that DVD which featured almost as much Welsh scenery as it did live footage!

Worst Idea Suggested By Band Management: Doc McGhee - for suggesting it was feasible to put a Kiss line-up together featuring no original members. He said: "Kiss is more like Doritos or Pepsi, as far as a brand name is concerned. They're more characters than the individual person. I think (new members) have a legitimate chance to carry the franchise." Er, that's a no Doc.

The 'Holy Rotating Lead Singers Batman' Award: *TIE* Heaven & Earth & Teer. Ok guys - you have new singers, keep them and hit the studio now!

Most Unlikely Guest At An Anthrax Show: Steve Perry - Yes, the pink and fluffy one took in an Anthrax show this year. Shame he didn't turn up to one of the Journey shows!

The 'UFO' Cocking Up Work Visa Award: Rhino Bucket - for being turned away upon landing in the UK for a one-off show. Incorrect paperwork saw them shipped back home without even getting a guitar out of it's case.

The 'No Baby, No More Times' Award: Night Ranger - for saying no to TV producers badgering the band to stick to a set formula and pulling out of the show..

The 'Gene Simmons' I'll Flog Anything Award: Gene Simmons - taking out his own award for his work in 2005 flogging Coke in France (the cola, not the powder), Nascar in America and himself on TV with Rock School and a new reality series coming to you soon.

Best Manipulation Of Photoshop To Render A New Publicity Shot: Danger Danger - Their UK tour 2005 promo shot was a tidy piece of Photoshop editing, except the pictures of the 3 original members were from 1990.

Worst Promoted Release Of 2005: Danger Danger Live & Nude and Cauterize Paper Wings. Both albums were announced as released on respective websites, but without any press released or promotion and no review copies were ever sent to anyone, anywhere. Hence the reason these releases have not been heard of since.

Best Fuck You Song: Darren Smith Band 'Everybody Knows' - A lyrically damning song...glad it isn't my ears that are burning!

Most Non-Rock N Roll Moment Of 2005: Jack Blades - for getting checked out in a California hospital wearing one of 'those' robes while nurses looked him up on the Internet!

Most Likely To Find Themselves On The Country Music Channel in 2006: John Waite - It's time to rock John, let's go!

Best MelodicRock.com Noticeboard Username for 2005: Uncle St. Fester - Runners up: Bosnian Bagel Buoy, Wobble, Graham Hatton 'Prince of Lust', Rather Large Canine.

The Best Website Award: The Velvet Rope (velvetrope.starpolish.com) - such a marvelous place for some of the most sarcastic and jaded entertainment industry folk online. Always a great read and a little gossip also...


Covering albums already reviewed or heard that are due for 2006:
Toto - Genius as I have been quoted! Review coming right up - but there will need to be some seriously good records needed to beat this for album of the year! I think the band should be very proud and I also think other band should take a look at this album as an exercise in learning how to move forward and be innovative while pleasing the vast majority of fans with material that is simply outstanding and representative of everything they have ever done.
Bob Catley - great songs, not the best production. I don't think the album will make the 2006 awards, but some of the individual songs will.
Tony O'Hora - very good album and should appear in the awards in some form.
Ten - very disappointing. Will have to rely on their new studio album in order to appear in the 2006 awards.
Ambition - an AOR highlight for the year to date. Get it!
Andersen Laine Readman - I have just previewed this record and can all but guarantee this will be featured in the 2006 highlights. One not only for Royal Hunt fans, but one for all fans of European melodic hard rock.
Jorn - a review is coming up, but the album sounds great and features a few great new songs. Perhaps a little too familiar overall, but very good nevertheless.
Jim Peterik - I have just previewed this album also and can guarantee fans of the excellent World Stage record will again be impressed.
Metal fans get more great music in 2006 in the form of Platitude and Bloodbound. The latter being particularly impressive.
Warrant's new album will split fans I think. It's an ok record that mixes Warrant and Black N Blue (probably more BnB), but there aren't enough classic songs present.
Mad Max and Phenomena both impress, but I need more time with these. And newcomer Main Attraction comes up short on first impressions.
Blue Tears have been busy in the last few months, with two archive releases and to kick off 2006, a brand new studio album. I like what I have heard so far as far as the songs...but I do have definite reservations over the production quality.
Edguy look set to deliver a fan pleasing dose of melodic metal, so expect reviews for all these releases as soon as I get this feature done and online! Mind you, listening to the album is a drag with that daft voice-over butting in every minute or so.


Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: AC/DC, Axel Rudi Pell, Doro, Dio, Europe, Glenn Hughes, Hodson, Man-Raze, M.ill.ion, Moonstone Project, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Sebastian Bach, Shark Island, Skid Row, Street Legal, Talisman, Tom Keifer, Dokken, Fate, Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Liberty & Justice, Pump.

Kicking off the round up of suspected 2006 highlights is one very important album. AC/DC have taken their time with their new album and one hopes that equals a record that will be an all-round fan pleaser. Yes, they have made the same record for the last 15 years, but perhaps this time might be a little different? I suspect that this will be hailed as one of the band's best albums in many years and I hope that Internet leaks and piracy don't rob it of the chance to chart prominently.
Axel Rudi Pell has maintained a very steady line up over the last few years with Johnny Gioeli up front. I suspect Axel's new album will adhere to the same formula set by the last 3 or 4 albums - epic opener, one big ballad, 9 tracks overall....you know the drill. As much as I love the Pell/Gioeli alliance and their recording efforts to date, I do think it is time for something different (style wise) and I hope this album will mix things up a little.
Doro has been building her profile with each release for new label SPV and I suspect this album will be another rung up the ladder. Not sure it will offer anything too surprising and should stick to a safe formula.
Dio's new album will be another important release for the veteran singer. His last disappointed and he will need to kick it up a gear to impress fans in an age where there are many other such hard rock artists to choose from. But few have the track record of Ronnie James, so one hopes that the return of Doug Aldrich will make for a very special record.
One of the year's most interesting releases will be that from Europe. The band split fans last time around with an updated and more aggressive sound, which I for one took a liking to, but felt the song consistency was not present for the whole album. Gather 10 or 12 really strong songs and it won't matter what style the guys chose to go in for this album. But regardless, it will be interesting to see what their decision is - move forward from where they left off with Start From The Dark, or retrace their steps a little to encompass their more classic sound?
Glenn Hughes never stops working, so it is no surprise to see a new album due from him. I expect an album that will rock a little harder, but retain the varied delivery and the blues/soul elements of Soul Mover. If that is the case and if the songs are good, a classic album could be in the making. The big one to watch - could Glenn team with Jon Lord and David Coverdale for a project?
Will Paul Hodson get his new album ready for release this year? I'm not sure to be honest, but his debut was an impressive start to a solo career, but I'd love to see him match the quality of songs as featured on Bob Catley's When Empires Burn opus.
Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen could deliver one of the more musically interesting releases of 2006 with his Man-Raze solo project. In fact, it could even outshine a release from his own band.
M.ill.ion are expected to deliver a strong follow up to what was their best release to date in 2004. The band have every chance of breaking new ground and building on their fanbase if they can nail this new album.
The Moonstone Project is another long in development superstar release featuring a base band and the songs of Matt Filippini and a range of special guests and vocalists. Of all these superstar projects, not many have a really long shelf-life...but I do have enthusiasm for this one and any album with Graham Bonnet, Kelly Keeling, James Christian, Steve Walsh and Glenn Hughes on it must be pretty good, right?
Motley Crue - well, what can one say about these guys? Defying expectations they have managed to stay on the road (which is no mean feat) and now they have tagged Bob Rock to produce a new studio album. I can only hope it's a Dr. Feelgood style thumping hard rock record and not a St. Anger tinny as shit experimental album. If they rock it will be one of the year's hard rock highlights.
Same goes for Ozzy Osbourne - if he takes a break from being a sitcom puppet for long enough to write some decent tunes and actually lets Zakk Wylde take control of the album, we can expect another cranking had rock record. If there is any sense of playing games or taking the easy road, then I will have no respect for this album and I expect fans will feel the same way. Let's have something in the vein of Ozzmosis please...
Another very hyped record is the new solo Paul Stanley record. A modern, but melodic hard rock record we hear. How modern? How melodic? Lots of questions, but the underlying feeling is that Paul will turn in a very very good record and will not follow the same lazy path set by his partner Gene Simmons and his horrid solo record. This could be one of the surprise packages for 2006, but it could be too experimental for die hards.
Sebastian Bach is set to release his new solo album. Is Ralph Santolla playing on it? I hope so...I'm actually looking forward to this as Seb's output to date post Skid Row has been pretty crappy. He knows he has a point to prove and for that reason, I think this album could rock! But if it doesn't...see him back in Skid Row by mid-year.
Skid Row are another band that like Europe, split fans with their last studio album. The need to decide which way they are swinging and stick to it. hard rock or modern rock? I'm fine with either as long as the songs quality is strong, but guys - don't do a little of each! That's not going to satisfy anyone. And I should add that the album may not even get released in 2006 if the delays associated with Thickskin are anything to go by.
Street Legal are back with a new album almost done and a new line-up in tow. The guys delivered a great debut and I hope they can come close to that with the new album.
The return of Shark Island is something which I am incredibly excited about as the band left a lot of fans wanting more and I think their new album could be another hard rocking highlight of 2006. Few bands have the chemistry and charisma of these musicians, so let's hope the pressure free situation of making this new record translates to some magic!
Don Dokken has fans worried over the direction of the new Dokken album and while I was a fan of the last album I have reservations about this new one. I'm not sure Don is going to be on the same musical page as his fans want him to be, so I'm saying here and now, I think this one could disappoint (although I hope I am wrong).
Talisman is back in the studio working on material right now. From little things I have heard I think this will be the band's best release ever - I know they are putting a lot of effort into it and don't doubt for a minute that it will be a classic Talisman sounding record.
Fate has been working on their comeback album for 12 months now. Time to release it guys....but having said that, the one song previewed on a MTM sampler was pretty bad, so I hope they have been working hard on those songs and vocals in the meantime.
Will the long in the works new Montrose album see the light of day? I'm really looking forward to this one, with Sammy Hagar, Eric Martin and Bobby Kimball just three of the great names lined up to sing on the tracks. Ricky Phillips has been working on the album withy Ronnie for a long time now, so I'm confident this one will deliver.
No new Cinderella album, but how will Tom Keifer's solo album shape up? Very well I expect...a good substitute for his main band, but please guys, sort your legal shit out and get recording soon!
Sammy Hagar is one of my favourite ever artists - both as a singer and songwriter. But I'm not overly thrilled by his direction in recent years and fear he is becoming the Jimmy Buffet of rock n roll. I much prefer it when Sammy gets serious and sings with gusto. I could quite happily never hear another song from him about partying, tequila, weed or bloody Cabo. Let's have some music like Give To Live, Eagles Fly, VOA, Two Sides Of Love and Hands And Knees. His new album I fear will not deliver what I am personally looking for, but I still love that voice.
Liberty & Justice have another interesting line up of singers on their new album, but they have to ensure that the rap elements of the last album are banished and the production quality lifted a mile before they can deliver a classic.
Pump could be one of the best new European hard rock bands to emerge in 2006, so I'm watching for their album with anticipation.

Predicted Best Hard Rock Releases for 2006: AC/DC, Axel Rudi Pell, Dio, Europe, Glenn Hughes, M.ill.ion, Moonstone Project, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Sebastian Bach, Shark Island, Street Legal, Talisman, Tom Keifer, Montrose.


AOR / Melodic Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Blue Tears, CJ Snare, Eddie Money, Brian Howe, Frontline, Shadowman, Wig Wam, Survivor, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Airtime, Cheap Trick, Cosmo, China Blue, Def Leppard, Eclipse, Eden, Final Frontier, Firehouse, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, James Christian, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Michael Bormann, Mike Tramp, Newman, Nexx, Night Ranger, Norway, Oliver Hartmann, On The Rise, Ted Poley, Rain, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Shaw Blades, Snakes In Paradise, Stan Bush, Street Talk, Tesla, The Ladder, Urban Tale, Vertigo, Von Groove, Zion.

The money man is back! God bless him....a true rock n roll legend. But what is this new Eddie Money album? I wish artists would give more information about their upcoming releases such as track listings, style info and who plays on it. It's called promotion! So until I know more about this release I can't really comment. I hope it kicks butt like the awesome Ready Eddie record, but I have some reservations.
And where is this new Brian Howe solo record announced in mid-2005? I heard one tune, which really rocked - more like AC/DC than Bad Company, so at this point I also hold some reservations about this album. Yes, I'd love Brian to rock, but in keeping with the great sound of Bad Co's classic Dangerous Age record.
German melodic rockers Frontline will deliver their new album soon, which I am sure will be solid and entertaining, but can they replicate the strength of their earliest records?
I have no doubt that the second Shadowman album will be even better than the debut and a real treat for fans of the ever-smooth Steve Overland. But with a new album from The Ladder also due, which will take out top Overland honors? He's a busy guy (more than we know!) and 2006 looks like one for his fans...My only hope is that both albums sound great, but different enough from each other to be identified on their own merits.
Wig Wam will deliver a very anticipated follow-up to their acclaimed debut. Their glamish hard rock won a lot of fans and I hope they can do what The Darkness appear unable to do - break out of a perceived style gimmick and appeal to people as a legitimate melodic rock outfit.
It is finally done...hard to believe, but the new Survivor will definitely be released in 2006 and in April no less! All the time they have taken to get this album sorted will be forgotten if they deliver an album of the quality we expect from the band. This will be no easy feat mind you! They are without the genius of Jim Peterik, but are using several Peterik written tunes from the Fire Makes Steel sessions of the 90s and they are going up against past classics are Vital Signs, Too Hot To Sleep and When Seconds Count. This needs to be a great record. Not good, but great! It's been a long time coming and fan expectation is high. I'm not sure...I'm hoping for the very best, but am realistic enough to know it may not be. I and all Survivor fans are hoping for the best!
Asia looked set to follow on from their very good last record with another strong release, helped out by the addition of Jay Schellen on drums but in breaking news have scrapped the album to concentrate on a new album featuring the original line-up.
REO Speedwagon look set to make 2006 a very interesting year musically by adding a new studio album of their own into the mix. I'm very excited about this one, while really being quite in the dark about it. It has been a long time for the band and their last few albums have come up a little short. But I do expect big tings from this release and hope fans will be pleased.
Rik Emmett is a long time favourite of mine as is Von Groove, so with Rik ad VG singer Mike Sotton together on one album, how could it not be a classic? Well, the material...that's the only key. From what Rik has said of the release it will feature a very varied selection of songs and some modern elements. So all they guys have to do is ensure the record has an easy to listen to flow and make sure there is a cohesive thread that keeps the songs together. I'm confident this will be one of Rik's best releases and look forward to hearing it.
I was quite disappointed by the last Cheap Trick album. There were a couple of absolute classics on there, but the material was not consistent and too laid back. I'm not sure how good the new album will be, but as a long time fan, hope they can step it up a few notches to make the album they are capable of.
Will Boston celebrate 30 years in the business with a new studio release? To be honest, I doubt it...but Cosmo might make up for it! Due for release mid-year, the duo of Fran and Anthony Cosmo might just turn in the super sweet AOR record we have been hoping Boston would.
Def Leppard...well, you know my feelings on this one. A stand alone covers album isn't going to excite me and judging by the wide spread comments after the unfortunate leak of the album, many agree. Better to couple it with an second CD of B-Sides and rare tracks to make a tidy little compilation rather than a full blown stand alone covers only release.
Eclipse are one of Sweden's finest melodic rock bands and I believe they know exactly what is needed to create a perfect album for them.
Eden features Kick vocalist Nick Workman and Bob Catley guitarist Vince O'Regan. These guys know great songwriting, so I'm expecting something very good here. My only reservation - O'Regan's production - I've been disappointed with the poor sound quality of both records he has produced in the last 18 months.
Another year, another Final Frontier record. I love that these guys work so hard and will again look forward to this release. They have not disappointed me at all to date, but that said, I know they can still do even better and will look for a knockout release!
Firehouse are due to begin work on their next studio album after the impressive Prime Time. Will it get completed in time for a 2006 release? I think possibly not. Why? Because vocalist CJ is still working on his solo record, which should prove to be an interesting release given that the Pride boys are heavily involved in the writing and recording. Two to watch for.
The biggest of Tommy Denander's many albums for 2006 should be the long in the works Frederiksen/Denander album. Anything featuring Fergie Frederiksen is going to be gold for me and both artists here have a considerable track record to live up to. We can predict the sound of the album - that won't be far from Tommy's usual fare, so all that is needed for a classic album is a great selection of songs.
The new Hardline album was declared near finished in April of 2005. Er, not quite it seems, but it will definitely be out this year. Again, the guys need a very strong album after not quite delivering to potential last time around as well as splitting fans with a more modern direction at times.
The promise of a classic melodic hard rock record and those great vocals, plus added input from guitarist Josh Ramos gives me a strong sense of anticipation about this one, but I will hold them accountable should they not deliver!
Same goes for House Of Lords. My comments regarding this almost mirror those of Hardline. The need for a big follow up and the fact that a new line-up is in place for this album leaves a lot up in the air. Will Gregg Giuffria be on board as a full partner? Will James deliver some knockout vocals? Will fans miss the classic line-up? Lots of questions...none of which I have answers for! It will be up to the music to do the talking.
On a related note, you can expect a live album from HOL (Live At Firefest) and possibly also a James Christian solo album. Lots to look forward to. Perhaps the JC Solo will get bumped to 07, but if it gets done in time, I will hope for something closer to his solo debut over last year's Meet The Man, which was very good, but not great.
Harem Scarem will work on another new studio release for the end of the year release...I know I'll love it, but I think at this stage of the band's career they need to make a record for all their fans. Is that possible? In any other case I would say no, but Harry & Pete are capable of anything.
Night Ranger and Kelly Keagy albums in the same year? I said last year that this would be a dream and we are still waiting for both! I know the Night Ranger album will definitely be out this year and one hopes Kelly will get his done in time too.
Kelly's solo debut was fabulous and he has a lot to live up to in order to top that album - can it be done? With Jim Peterik on board as songwriting partner, reproducing the glory of The Journey (from the debut), anything is possible! Bring it on!
Night Ranger have a lot of fans excited about their release. I have loved every album the band has ever done, but must admit to being just slightly disappointed by the last album Seven. I loved it at first and still think there are some classics there, but the style wasn't quite there for me - wasn't quite classic Night Ranger. Some say Neverland wasn't either, but I still love that album to death...some great songs on that record.
But what the fans are really calling for is an old-school Night Ranger release - Dawn Patrol or Midnight Madness for the new millennium. We know Jack loves to dabble in modern sounds, so what can the guys deliver? I say one of the great albums of 2006.
Kip Winger is long overdue for a new solo album and I have no doubt this year's new album will be another haunting and intense affair.
Get set for Mecca to return with a vengeance and deliver a knockout AOR record. I have heard some demos and know the time taken in following up the amazing debut will be justified. I hope if gets completed in time...there is a small possibility it could become an early 2007 release.
Michael Bormann...where are you? Let's go with your solo record already! Jaded Heart have moved on, but what about Michael? Should be good at any rate.
Bormann is also due to front Rain for their second album, which I hope finds a bigger audience than their debut! That was a great album, but how many people heard it?
China Blue is a new AOR project featuring Eric Ragno - keyboards, Tony Mills - vocals, Ed Platt - bass, Ernst van Ee - drums & Michael Riesenbeck on guitars. Their collective talent should prove to be an interesting listen.
Mike Tramp is due for a new solo album and one that I hope matches the brilliance of Recovering The Wasted Years. I'm told a few songs are a little different for Mike, but I remain confident in his songwriting ability. Should be a highlight.
Newman is due for another solo album and will no doubt stick to his usual high standards, but it would be nice to see him really deliver a classic.
Nexx finally have a new label and one can only hope they come close to matching the quality of their awesome debut. I am very confident that can be done and have high hopes for this.
Norway are back in business and I hope their time away has given the band time to come up with some memorable AOR tunes. Another strong hopeful.
One of the surprise packages - if not THE surprise package of 2005 was the solo debut of Oliver Hartmann. What a classic record and I only hope he is able to capture the emotion and the intensity of that amazing record. If he can, then it will be one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
On The Rise promise a follow up to their great debut, but the are now just half the line up they were, with Bennech forming Main Attraction. Can Terje still deliver something close to the debut on his own?
Ted Poley is set to rock the world with a new solo album that will finally put an end to complaints over recent material. If what I have heard to date is replicated throughout his upcoming solo record with Adriangale guitarist Vic Rivera, than all will be forgiven and Ted will be hailed for delivering one of the great good fun melodic rock records of the year.
One of the sharpest AOR records for the year should come courtesy of Richie Zito. The mastermind producer and musician is putting the finishing touches on a debut solo record which is set to feature an amazing line-up of star vocalists and guests! This is definitely one to watch and one I anticipate will deliver the goods.
Another long in the making record is the comeback for CITA, sorry, Guild Of Ages, er...no, Relapsed. Hopefully this talented bunch will find a name they like and stick to it, but I'm confident fans of their work under past names will dig whatever they come up with now. I don't think they have recorded a bad album as yet and don't expect them to start now.
Will the bloody Shaw Blades album get released in 2006? The album of all covers will need a push when it does finally get released as in the time spent recording and getting this released, the covers concept has lost some marketplace favor. But, these two guys are unique and their chemistry together is undeniable, so consider this a soft rock pleaser.
Snakes In Paradise delivered a really strong record a few years back and anything featuring vocalist Stefan is normally high on my list of anticipated releases. He will have to overcome poor reviews for his other band Razorback first.
Stan Bush delivered a classic solo album in 2004, so the pressure is on him to deliver even better this year. Tommy Denander will try and help him do it. I have no doubt the material will be great, but I'll be listening hard to make sure the production equals the high standard set by Shine.
Speaking of production, Ten need to turn around a recent disappointment and deliver an album that makes it up to fans and says fuck you to journalists like me. I love the band, but The Essential Collection was a poor effort, so with new material on hand, what better way than to deliver a classic.
The much loved Street Talk are making a new album - something which there was doubt about 12 months ago. But the strength of two new tracks on their best of suggests the guys have a lot of life left in them and I hope to report that this was one o the year' AOR highlights.
Tesla are slated for a box set and a covers album, possibly both as one package. I hope there isn't a stand-alone covers release as I don't think these do artists any god at all.
2006 should also see the return of Urban Tale, who have been working with their new guitarist on a new album. These guys have a lot of potential and an amazing singer and just need to nail the songwriting in order to deliver an AOR classic like their debut was.
Joseph Williams will deliver a sequel to his great Vertigo album, which I expect will be another great slice of Toto-esque brilliance. My only reservation - the song content - I'd prefer to see or JW originals featured, but I think it will be mostly comprised of outside written material.
Another question marks hangs over the release of the long anticipated Von Groove release. It has failed to appear the last 2 years so it is no better than even money to appear this year. If it does appear, I'm hoping the band can deliver their very best. The last album I truly loved from them was Test Of Faith.
To finish this round up off...Zion! Will this album appear in 2006? Well, after waiting some 3 years I will never say it will for sure, but it should finally see the light of day. I seem to be saying that about a lot of albums. Another sign that this scene is doing it tough and the money needed to complete these albums is not there a lot of the time.
Anyway, Zion, the Freddy Curci star vehicle looks set to be another AOR highlight. I heard a couple of tunes down the phone in 2005 and hope the rest of the material is of the same strength. if it is, it will be worth the wait for all.

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2006: Blue Tears, Shadowman, Wig Wam, Survivor, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Airtime, Cosmo, Eclipse, Final Frontier, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Mike Tramp, Nexx, Night Ranger, Oliver Hartmann, Ted Poley, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Stan Bush, Street Talk, The Ladder, Urban Tale, Vertigo, Zion, Toto, Jim Peterik, Blue Tears.


Heavy Metal / Melodic Metal:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Altaria, Satyrian, Blind Guardian, Empire, Black Label Society, Genius, Halford, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Planet Alliance, Seven Witches, Vicious Rumors.

There are plenty of newcomers lined up for release in 2006 and I know nothing of any of them! So I won't make any predictions as to what will be the best releases, but rather will look forward to see who impressed come the end of the year.
of those notable names due to release albums in 2006, I think the very best metal releases could come from Halford, Altaria, Planet Alliance and Vicious Rumors.
Halford should rock after having his vocal chords well and truly worked out while on tour in 2005. Altaria just keep getting better and Planet Alliance look to have one of the more interesting line-ups of all groups, featuring Magnus Karlsson, Mike Andersson, Bob Daisley and Janne Stark.
I'd love to include Iron Maiden in that list and hope come the end of the year I do. But the sound on their last studio album was horrible and they will need a much cleaner sound this time around.
Megadeth should also impress, given frontman Dave Mustaine's new enthusiasm for al things metal.
And the biggest of all releases - Metallica! Will it be completed in time for release this year? I'm not sure, but we all know they need a sensational release to pull their fans back in after the horrible sound of St. Anger.
Vicious Rumors might be the surprise metal package of the year, with the addition of guitarist Brad Gillis and vocalist James Rivera.

Predicted Best Metal Releases for 2006: Altaria, Satyrian, Blind Guardian, Black Label Society, Halford, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Planet Alliance, Seven Witches, Vicious Rumors, Andersen Laine Readman, Jorn, Bloodbound.


Glam:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Supergroupies, Roxx Gang, Pretty Boy Floyd
Mmm...not a lot there for Glam fans again! Supergroupies is already out in Japan and is great, so check that out when it gets a wider release.
Roxx Gang have a good name for themselves and I hope will continue to deliver quality.
Pretty Boy Floyd are set to return and given a decent production, should deliver something impressive.
The musical direction of the Wig Wam album might see them considered for the blest galm of 2006...we shall see.


Progressive / Progressive Metal / Progressive Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Queensryche, Rush.
Two stalwarts of the progressive rock scene are Queensryche and Rush. Both for different reasons, but both should have new albums out this year. Queensryche is due soon and boy, so they need a classic! A combination of lackluster recent performances and the use of the beloved Mindcrime name mean this really has to deliver. I hope the guys nail it.
I'm a long time Rush fan and am one of those that was so looking forward to their comeback with Vapour Trails. However, it was mastered way too loud and it just can't be cranked up with comfort, so the album goes largely unplayed. I'm hoping the guys will fix that one day and get things spot on for this new album, which I have no doubt will impress. However, I know they take their time recording, so I think perhaps we will see this album drift into 2007 release.
I know there will be a ton of other high profile prog albums due later in the year, with Inside Out set with a full roster of releases. I'm hoping Threshold are one of those releases. We will have to reflect upon these this time next year.


Modern Rock / Mainstream / Major Label Commercial:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Evanescence, Live, Guns N Roses, Train, Velvet Revolver, Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls, Live, Pearl Jam, Avril Lavigne, Hoobastank, Neve, Silverchair, Simple Plan, Mitch Allen, Butch Walker.
I think nu-breed as a term is pretty much dead. It had potential as its own genre, but I think what is left of bands of this ilk can easily fit under the modern rock / mainstream banner. So with that in mind...
Evanescene will have retailers eager, but can they deliver with a new guitarist in tow?
Live, Train and Soul Asylum are all bands that are past their prime, but still have plenty to offer and given the right set of songs could do just that.
The Goo Goo Dolls need to cut back the vocal work of bassist Robby and let Johnny take over lead vocals. That and the right combo of songs could see a great album delivered. But I do fear that the GGD's time might have come and gone. They were huge there for a while and on the verge of going into that next popularity level, but lost momentum. Can they do it from here again? Depends on the quality of the album.
Avril Lavigne has a lot to prove, as she will always get knocked down if she doesn't deliver, but I like her style. Moving along to her bud - in fact everyone's bud - Butch Walker. The question continues to be asked - when will he become a megastar and a household name? Let's see what he can deliver this year with a new solo album and a new band album. I expect a definite highlight for us though.
Can Simple Plan follow up on the success of their single Untitled? Can Mitch Allen make a solo name for himself when SR-71 couldn't catch a break? Will anyone care about a Silverchair comeback? Will anyone care anymore about Hoobastank, or have they had their day in the sun?
I'm hanging out to hear Mitch Allen's release - what a genius modern rock writer...the rest I could live without!
Velvet Revolver should be able to come out with the year's biggest selling hard rock release. I still think they have the wrong frontman, but they have done the right thing as far as marketing themselves and they are great musicians.
VR Vs GNR? Only an insane asylum escapee would put money on the Guns N Roses album seeing the light of day...I say early 2007...Whatever the case, when it does come out, it could be album of the year, but what album can quench a thirst built up over 10 years of waiting?


Pop / Pop Rock / Westcoast:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Bob Seger, Chicago, Huey Lewis & The News, Duran Duran, The New Cars, The Hooters, Meatloaf.
The vibe seems to be good for the new Chicago album. Their 30th overall, it should hopefully reflect the time taken to record it and be a very good example of smooth, commercial rock. What will be interesting is how the media will report the album. Will the band be a nostalgia act, or will those reporting put a more positive spin on things?
Rumor suggests Bob Seger's is finally due in May. I think this will definitely be a pop/rock highlight for the year if released!
Duran Duran took a long wile to get their last album Astronaut released and it was pretty good too. Time for them to step it up another level or two and deliver a fine pop/rock album.
The New Cars may not sound like a good idea and I'm one that remains disappointed there is no Ric Ocasek involved. But the brand new sample tune the band has been playing has potential, so I won't write off this project just yet.
I welcome any new album by rock veteran Huey Lewis and I expect it will be up to his usual high standards.
As for The Hooters - you know that's going to be amazing!!! But will it finally get done??? 50/50 chance I say. Another possible 2007 release.
Meatloaf is confident the new album will get done this year - Bat Out Of Hell III no less...Jim Steinman will write, but not produce, so this leaves questions unanswered. I'm not confident the album will be finished this year.


The Best Of 2006 - Predictions

What albums will occupy the Top 30 list for the 2006 Album Of The Year? 2006 has so many possibilities - maybe more than ever before if everything gets released. These are the titles I think should stand out as some of the very best of 2006:

Blue Tears, Shadowman, Survivor, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Mike Tramp, Nexx, Night Ranger, Oliver Hartmann, Ted Poley, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Stan Bush, Street Talk, The Ladder, Urban Tale, Vertigo, Zion, Goo Goo Dolls, Mitch Allen, Butch Walker, Bob Seger, Rush, Halford, Planet Alliance, Vicious Rumors, Europe, Glenn Hughes, M.ill.ion, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Shark Island, Sebastian Bach, Street Legal, Talisman, Montrose, Toto, Tom Keifer, Jim Peterik, Andersen Laine Readman, Bloodbound.

Top 10 2006: Shortening the list even further - what could my Top 10 (or so) of 2006 be? It will be interesting to look back, but here goes:
Night Ranger, Oliver Hartmann, Talisman, Toto, Harem Scarem, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Frederiksen/Denander, Shark Island, Hardline, Mike Tramp, Ted Poley, Europe.

So what won't be released in 2006? What are line-ball releases?
Firehouse, Mecca, Burning Rain, Bob Seger, The Hooters, Guns N Roses, Meatloaf, TMG, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Richie Sambora, Metallica, Montrose, The Ladder, Von Groove, Rush, Asia.
- Let's check results in 12 months time.


The Year Ahead - General Predictions

One of Britain's most beloved AOR acts will return finally!

Skid Row will finally reform, but for how long?

There will be no new Van Halen activity, but could a box set finally appear? I'll side with perhaps not.

Def Leppard and another popular AOR act will team up for what could be an eventful US summer tour.

Journey in Europe? I still think a full European tour will not happen. A few select dates perhaps?

Possible break ups - Brides Of Destruction, Korn (we can only hope), Ratt, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Warrant, The Darkness.

Possible re-unions - Winger, Rainbow, Little Angels, White Sister, Damn Yankees, Genesis.

There will be no new studio album from Foreigner. Perhaps in 2007...

Sanctuary Records will down-scale or file for bankruptcy protection.

A new Toto compilation will be released from SonyBMG.

A new Anthology style compilation on Journey could see the light of day.

No new Steve Perry solo record.

Toto in Australia?

Rumors of a Triumph re-union will again prove false. Would be nice though, don't you think?

There will be no second season of Rock Star!

A very popular lead singer might find himself out in the cold…

Whitesnake will head into the studio for a new record, but it won't get completed in time for release this year.


And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award:
I didn't name the Dickhead Of The Year in 2004. I kept it subtle. Not this year. Contenders for the award this year were the genius undercover Def Leppard reporter Ramona (nice try, enjoy the asylum); Nicholas Hway, the dreg Canadian conman who was using my site name and my personal reference to book gigs in Canada while also stating that I had sold the Canadian rights of the site to him too; and a certain Noticeboard poster who spent most of the year under a pseudonym before being exposed and called for their actions (yet again).
But boy, in 2005, this dickhead stands head and shoulders above all other dickhead's I have encountered and deserves to be publicly flogged for his attitude and his clearly diagnosed multiple personality disorder. I don't think I have laughed so hard at so many e-mails from one clown.

Dickhead Of The Year 2005 is none other than Joe Reardon.
Now Joe should be familiar to anyone that has ever posted on a Journey forum or news group. He is everywhere. Or should I say was everywhere. This venomous toad has been banned from every single forum online and even has had the dubious honor of being responsible for a couple of forums being closed down.
This hate filled snake has fired off shots at just about everyone on every board. I can't understand how one person can become so filled with rage for others, but karma is a bitch and one day this ass-clown will get what he deserves.
He was a member of the forums here until finally being banned, at which point he began to unload his special brand of hatred upon me. Below are some of the e-mails I received before blocking his IP address from the whole site and creating a mail filter to block his abuse.
I must state that these individually numbers e-mails listed below are not for the fainthearted, but are so seriously bizarre that they are funny, not abusive. I still get a laugh from these and think the sooner this guy gets clinical help, the better for all. His family must be truly proud of him.

1. I apologize again for the BS. Can I get back into the forums? [Answer...NO!]
2. who's running that website andy...I knew you never had much of a backbone...spineless little c**t. But the joke IS on you you knucklehead...I am alive and well in your pathetic little website...3 times over. I knew you would ban me...who gives a crap.
but i have been posting for more than a year under THREE other names...good fucking luck!!! You see...Boston has more than one computer you Aussie bitch.
So, really, I'm not gone at all..have a nice day..and bend down and spread them wide...such a little man you are. Christ, you are a saaaaaaaaaad moderator. I'll be posting tomorrow...hint...people on the site LOVE me!!!! Good fucking luck figuring things out....ban and ban again...hehe!!!!
3. Face it Andrew...you don't have an answer. And what exactly did I do that was SO bad compared to what goes on in therre now? Of course....you don't have an answer.
4. Gee...I forget why I was banned in the first place. Maybe I wasn't vile enough for your tastes!!!!
5. Blah...blah...piece of crap. I hope your kid has two heads... [Sorry Joe, only 1 head.]
6. Hey pussy...show everyone your harry potter photo you little maggot. I wish I had five minutes...one on one...with your smary little douche bag ass...you TRULY are a piece of shit...another ass-bending homo.
7. LMFAO!!!!! Get a clue Mr. Moderator!
8. Like I told CJ at Backtalk andrew....I'm still very much around and posting in the BT forums, just as I'm alive and well posting on the Melodicrock forums. Have a nice day! LOL!!!!
9. hi andrew....steve wanted to know who the harry potter-slimy bearded twerp was. The Voice wants me to kick your ass like a wounded dingo.
10. LMFAO.....I'm still in the forum genius...just as I'm in BT and Stuart's site...have a nice Thanksgiving...I hear kangaroo is good eatin....
11. hi andrea! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Give the kids a hug.
12. NO ONE calls me a KNUCKLEHEAD!!!!! ;) Don't get your panties in a bunch Andrew. Lighten up. I have no hatred for you or anyone else.
13. ....Hmmm...kiss Andrew's ass or be banned for good....SCREW YOU!!!! You're lucky you're Down Under Harry Potter.
14. Be still McNeice...when I say I will fuck your ass, I literally WILL fuck it, after I beat you to submission. So come visit...I WILL do as I say. I fucking DARE you.
15. Pssst...here's a little secret Andy. I'm already IN your forum. I have been for quite a while now...genius. It's just that...well, I like fucking with you...buffoon. LMFAO!!!!! Good luck trying to figure out who I am...you would be quite suprised if you had an ass chance of figuring it out. Good Luck genius...;)
16. Shucks...I can't enjoy journey music without being a part of your forum. be still and get a fucking life. Bye you little....C***. Love, Steve Perry....BWAHAHAHA. You are a tool Douche Bag.

What a repertoire! Joe - you are clearly head and shoulders above anyone else in the dickhead stakes, so congratulations, you are MelodicRock.com's Dickhead Of The Year 2005.


What The Labels Have To Say

Mario De Riso @ Frontiers Records, Italy.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Journey "Generations" and then Glenn Hughes "Soul Mover", Soul Sirkus "World Play" and Allen / Lande "The Battle".
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Speaking in general I would say this has been an outstanding year for our label and more than every other year I'd say "all of them".
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Not that many really. I have to say I was a tad disappointed with some on my most awaited releases of the year (Dishwalla, Porcupine Tree). Probably one that went beyond my personal expectations was the Better Than Ezra new record which has some beautiful tunes on it. Other than this I think many good releases, but nothing worth of major attention from my personal perspective. Some good reissues though!
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
My personal point of view is that there was no huge frustration. This is a tough job that requires a lot of time and efforts - also on a personal level. So I feel that with enough experience and a bit of patience everything can be worked out positively.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
We have a busy 2006 which started very well with the new Bob Catley album and will go ahead even more strongly with Toto, Survivor and more other great releases. Stay tuned for some great surprises!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?
Easily Toto, then Survivor and the third would be House Of Lords probably, judging from how the album is taking shape... but we are looking at some even more exciting stuff! Let's see what the future will bring...

Khalil Turk @ Escape Music, UK.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Heartland, Change Of Heart, Liesegang / White
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Heartland, Liesegang / White, Gypsy Rose
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Lee Rynn, Deep Purple
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
There are so many I can't begin to tell, how much time do you have??
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?

Good questions?? Let me ask Serafino....How big his Crispy Duck he likes?? [Yes, that is what I was sent to print]

Geoff Gillespie @ Majestic Rock Records, UK/Japan.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Power Quest, the Y&T reissues and the Steeler 'Anthology' release, I would think.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Power Quest's mighty 'Magic Never Dies' and Crimsonfire's stunning debut both left me with a big, dumb grin on my face. Magnificent stuff
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
I didn't feel it was a vintage year, actually. Like most who frequent this site, I obviously really liked the second Masterplan album, nice to see Escape release the Tantrum set - 'Applaud The Winner' is one of the most astonishing tracks ever! - and, in power metal terms, I thought the Hibria 'Defying The Rules' album was a belter. Unlike most others, though, I thought that the Jorn Lande/ Russel Allen album and the Place Vendome record were both pretty bog average.
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
Blimey, where should I begin? Personally, it was easily my toughest year in the business in over 20 years. On a personal note, I was sad when guitarist Jonas Hermansson left M.ILL.ION. We have a long way to go with that band, but it'll all be fine in the end.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
Ah, now you're talking! Fantastic reissues from Strangeways & Shogun, tremendous new albums from Cry Havoc - the demos for the 'Caught In A Lie' album are simply gob smacking! - and, a little later in the year, M.ILL.ION's new record. Add to this possibly the most extraordinary debut album I've had anything to do with in over 20 years in the shape of Anarion's 'Unbroken' - a Rolls Royce of a power metal album! The biggest event, though, has to be the April release of the Moonstone project album, featuring the likes of Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes, Kelly Keeling, Steve Walsh, James Christian, Carmine Appice....
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?
Absolutely no idea at all, and my crystal ball's at the menders.

Lasse @ Lion Music, Sweden.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
not in a particular order - Iron Mask - Hordes of the Brave, Nightscape - Symphony of teh Night, Mattsson - War
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
some personal favouries - Lord of Mushrooms - Seven Deadly Songs, Lalu - Oniric Metal, Freak Neil Inc - Characters
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
??? no time to listen
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
the current state of the business is quite depressing and the necessity of having to sue some assholes that don't pay their bills
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
We will put out our best releases ever in 2006, the quality of our current releases is very high, at least according to my personal taste. I think we will have some very cool stuff out in 2006 including a few DVD's from artists such as House Of Shakira And Marcel Coenen. Our releases in 2006 will include:
Winterlong - Metal/Technology The fourth album from Winterlong will mark the beginning of a new era and a new highly updated sound.
Marcel Coenen - Colour Journey The second solo album from the guitarist of Sun Caged. This time Marcel will offer a vocal album with lots of guest musicians and singers.
Waterclime - The Astral Factor Progressive rock from Mr V of Vintersorg.
Mind's Eye - Walking On H2O The new album from the Swedish prog metal gods.
February 27th, 2006
Tears Of Anger - In the Shadows The second opus...; HUBI MEISEL - Kailash The second opus...; Section A - Parallell Worlds. The second opus...
March 24th 2006
Satyrian - Eternitas Gothic metal...; Zeelion - TBA Killer prog frock from Sweden; Coste Apetrea - TBA A Swedish legend of progressive rock
April 21th 2006
Venturia - TBA Prog metal from another fine French band; Sphere Of Souls - From the Ashes... Prog metal featuring Andre Vuurboom, ex Sun Caged singer with Anand on guitar; House Of Shakira - Live At The Firefest (DVD)
May 2006
Hauteville - TBA Amazing French progressive rock band; Sun Caged - TBA; Alex Masi - Late Night at Desert's Rimrock.
June 2006
Mind's Eye - Waiting for the Tide (Reissue with 2 bonus tracks); Daniel Palmqvist - TBA
July 2006
Moonlight Comedy - Dorothy The second opus from the Italian prog metal sensation; John Macaluso's Union Radio - The Radio Waves Goodbye; From Behind - Tba (Nicky Moore - Vocals, Manny Charlton - Guitars, Mikael Fässberg - Guitars, Fredrik Borg - Guitars, C-M "Hilding" Hildesjö - Drums, Martin Wezowski - Bass.
FROM BEHIND play blues based, hard rockin´, beer-drenched rock´n´roll with a metal touch for the great masses, hungry for twin- guitar based songs, sung by one of Britain's leading rock vocalists; Nicky Moore. Nicky's CV is as long and impressing as British rock itself. The former SAMSON front man, by some referred to as "the fat guy who replaced Bruce Dickinson", was in fact to large extent responsible for making Samson the British metal legend it still is today, putting the band to their highest chart positions during their career!
After Samson disbanded he became part of MAMMOTH, literally the heaviest of all heavy metal bands, alongside John McCoy of Ian Gillan fame. With a voice, dripping with soul and emotion, his reputation as a great performer is up there with the likes of Paul Rodgers, Frankie Miller and Van Morrison. Currently touring with his own blues band, he's today as active as ever.
Manuel "Manny" Charlton, a living legend, who from the start untill 1989 was the guitar player, songwriter, producer, you name it, in one of the seventies biggest and loudest rock bands, Scottish NAZARETH. The band gave the world hits as Love Hurts, Razamanaz, Hair Of The Dog, This Flight Tonight etc etc etc and is still considered as one of the giants from the early days of hard rock music.
The Spanish Scotsman, now residing in Dallas, Texas, will once again show the rock audience his amazing guitar playing, songwriting skills, soul dripping slide solos and heavy riffing. Expect no Mercy.
Martin Wezowski, Mikael Fässberg, Fredrik Borg and Carl-Michael "Hilton" Hildesjö have kept a high profile on the south Swedish music scene, playing with Majestic, Burning Engines and Merrygold to name a few. Their current occupation sees them backing former Iron maiden vocalist Paul DiAnno while on his 2005 tour, as well as playing loud and raunchy dirt-rock in Burning Engines.
September 2006
Book Of Reflections - TBA; Marcel Coenen - TBA (DVD)
October 2006
Seventh Wonder - TBA; House Of Shakira - TBA.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?
very hard to predict as they year has only just begun but I have high expectations for Mind's Eye - Walking on h2o; Sun Caged (new album to be recorded and probably released in 2006); Section A - Parallel Worlds.

John Kivel @ Kivel Records, USA.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Bombay Black "Mercy"- Look for the bands follow up this spring!
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Bombay Black, Tango Down
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Gotthard "Lipservice", Trixie, Big Cock
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
Have to take the good with the bad i say, looking fwd to '06 and starting new.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
We have 10 releases planned between March and June of this year. We have alot of great new bands that we are very excited about, and are sure will please fans of the genre.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?
Couldn't say...too soon to tell. I love them all, but in the end its the public that will decide a question like that. Something i will welcome and look fwd to seeing the results myself.


Questions were also sent to MTM Music. No replies were received but will be added if/when arrive.


The End: What?? Are we finished already? Surely I have missed something? Well, if I have, look out for a supplement update on the front-page. I'm glad this is done - there was a time I didn't think finishing it was going to be possible!
Hope you have all enjoyed the 2005 feature! I love doing this and hope you enjoyed reading it. Feedback is ESSENTIAL! It is always great to hear your thoughts and you may not agree with everything written within this feature, but here's to the year ahead!


PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!


Previous Years In Review: 2004 / 2003 / 2002 / 2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998 & 1997



2005 - YOUR SAY!