THE 2012 MELROCK AWARDS

Welcome to the 2012 MelRock Awards. I know...it's 2014 already. Only a year late! This is where I roll out my usual "it's never too late to discover or remember great music you might have missed..." line. Hopefully it still works!
I apologize profusely for the ridiculously late (and hopefully not too irrelevant) 2012 Awards page. The 2013 page is right around the corner...stand by...

I've made sure to complete these awards, as 2012 was truly a killer year for music. Some amazing albums were on offer, where any of the top 5-6 could have been Album Of The Year in any other year and the plethora of classic songs made Song Of The Year almost impossible to pick. The runners up are all great songs that deserve to be in your collections - do check them out if you haven't already had them in high rotation for the last 18+ months!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

Rick Springfield

Songs For The End Of The World

Not too many 60+ year olds continue to kick ass with new tunes, and even less of them can make a statement as fresh, as vibrant and as contemporary as this album. Rick Springfield delivers arguably his best album since the 80s - an album that is filled with his usual angst filled anthems, but delivered with an upbeat attitude. The energy within these songs is something a 30 year old would be proud of. There was no question this would be my album of the year after I'd had it a week. It really is the perfect melodic rock album for me and many others.

 

2

 

Eclipse

Bleed Scream

These Swedish lads deserve to be huge - their attitude, attention to detail and energy flows through every track on this album. The guys get better and better with age and fans were relieved to see that the long wait for this album was well worth it. Taking a heavier direction, the guys really turned it on and nailed it. Harmonies, melodies and rousing rock anthems from start to finish. Another perfect album in my estimation.

 

 

 

3

 

H.E.A.T.

Address The Nation

I didn't award this album a perfect score, but it was so damn close. And as time went on, it continues to be an album on high rotation and of constant enjoyment, so for that reason it edges out the also awesome Jimi Jamison album at #4. The band took a gamble on newcomer Erik Gronwall and discovered a match made in heaven. The slightly different approach Erik brings to the table has in my view, taken this band to the next level and on the brink of world domination. This is how I love my melodic rock delivered and Erik's vocals are simply brilliant.

 

 

4

Jimi Jamison

Never Too Late

Teaming with the guy that can do no wrong - Erik Martensson - Jimi delivers one of his best vocal performances ever on an album packed with hard hitting songs that define his career. Anthems, heartfelt melodies and emotional vocals. Fist in the air, feel good music, all delievred with a powerful production. Perfect for all fans of Jimi's past and present and still a much loved album for me.

5

Van Halen

A Different Kind Of Truth

One of my favourite groups of all time. But no one gave them a chance of recapturing former glories, so it was with genuine excitement and amazement that this album not only matched the long held expectations, but exceeded them. The energy within this album was my biggest surprise, I really didn't expect the tempo to be quite so furious from these old dogs. But what a great album - pieced together through adversity and a less than standard way of recording, but whatever they did - it worked!

6

 

 

Halestrom - The Strange Case Of...

- The best female fronted hard rock band on the planet and an album that lives up to that claim. The songs are fantastic and the production truly in your face. And the ballads! They are just fantastic.

7

 

 

 

Shinedown - Amaryllis

- And the best modern rock/metal band on the planet right here. They can do no wrong. The vocals of Smith and the power from the rest of the band make them leaders in their field.

8

 

 

Pride Of Lions - Immortal

- Life in the old dog yet... The Jim Peterik/Toby Hitchcock vehicle returns for another album of pomp friendly, feel good, anthemic old school melodic rock.

9

 

 

Magnum - On The 13th Day

- Another veteran of the scene also turning on their best, showing bands twenty years their junior just how it's done. Their best album since reforming.

10

 

 

Jack Blades - Rock N Roll Ride

- Jack's second solo album is a far better and more consistent album than his debut and sits right alongside the awesome Night Ranger album from 2011 as a must have release.

11 Lionville - II
12 Hartmann - Balance
13 Jeff Scott Soto - Damage Control
14 Black Country Communion - Afterglow
15 Hardline - Danger Zone
16 Hess - Living In Yesterday
17 Rush - Clockwork Angels
18 Delta Goodrem - Child Of The Universe
19 Bonrud - Save Tomorrow
20 Romeo's Daughter - Rapture

 

21 Threshold - March Of Progress
22 Richard Marx - Inside My Head
23 Sunstorm - Emotional Fire
24 Loverboy - Rock N Roll Revival
25 Ten - Heresey & Creed
26 Dare - Calm Before The Storm II
27 Trixter - New Audio Machine
28 Lover Under Cover - Set The Night On Fire
29 Sapphire Eyes - Sapphire Eyes
30 Europe - Bag Of Bones

 

31 Tango Down - Identity Crisis
32 Circus Maximus - Nine
33 Asia - XXX
34 House Of Shakira - HoS
35 Jeremey Frederick - Every Little Thing
36 Lita Ford - Living Like A Runaway
37 Casablanca - Apocalyptic Youth
38 Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
39 Empires Of Eden - Channelling The Infinite
40 Empires Of Eden - Channelling The Infinite

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Gun - Break the Silence
  • Chris Antblad - A New Dawn
  • Primal Fear - Unbreakable
  • Eric Martin - Mr. Rock Vocalist
  • Mad Max - Another Night Of Passion
  • The Veer Union - Divide The Blackened Sky
  • Dynazty - Sultans Of Sin
  • Blessed By A Broken Heart - Feel The Power
  • Pink - The Truth About Love
  • Flying Colors - Flying Colors
  • Silence - City (Days) / City (Nights)
  • Impera - Legacy Of Life
  • Issa - Can't Stop
  • Dante Fox - Lost Man's Ground
  • Anberlin - Vital
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Circle Of The Oath
  • Miles Of Will - Wild Ride EP

 

THE BEST METAL / PROG ALBUM:

 

  1. Shinedown - Amarylis
  2. Threshold - March Of Progress
  3. Circus Maximus - Nine
  4. Empires Of Eden - Channelling The Infinite
  5. Adrenalin Mob - Omerta
  6. Black Majesty - Stargazer
  7. Primal Fear - Unbreakable
  8. Bloodbound - In The Name Of Metal
  9. It Bites - Map Of The Past
  10. End Of September - End Of September
  11. Unisonic - Unisonic

 

,
BEST DEBUT ALBUM OF 2012:

.....(New Band/Artist/Solo Debut, Not Project)

  1. Lover Under Cover - Set The Night On Fire
  2. Sapphire Eyes - Sapphire Eyes
  3. Jeremey Frederick - Every Little Thing
  4. Casablanca - Apocalyptic Youth
  5. Flying Colors - Flying Colors
  6. Impera - Legacy Of Life
  7. Something Unto Noting - S.U.N.
  8. I Am I - Event Horizon
  9. Docker's Guild - The Mystic Technocracy - Season 1: The Age Of Ignorance
  10. Unisonic - Unisonic
,
BEST COMPILATION OR LIVE ALBUM:
  1. Mr. Big - Raw Like Sushi 100
  2. Night Ranger - 24 Strings And A Drummer
  3. Jimi Jamison - Live At Firefest
  4. Glass Tiger - Then, Now & Next
  5. Queen - Live In Budapest
  6. Y&T - Live at the Mystic
  7. Royal Hunt - The Best Of Royal Works 1992-2012
  8. AC/DC - Live at River Plate
  9. Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
  10. Dio - The Very Beast Of Vol. 2
  11. Bon Jovi - Inside Out
  12. Starship - Playlist
  13. Axe - Axeology 1979-2001
  14. Triumph - Live At Sweden Rock
,
BEST RE-ISSUE/ARCHIVE RELEASE:
  1. Glass Tiger - The Thin Red Line (2CD)
  2. Youngblood - Youngblood
  3. Inxs - Kick (25th Anniversary)
  4. Adrenalin - Road Of The Gypsy
  5. Angel - Rock Candy Catalogue Series
  6. Kane Roberts - Kane Roberts & Saints & Sinners (Yesterrock)
  7. Kiss - Destroyer Resurrected
  8. Aldo Nova - Rock Candy Catalogue Series
  9. FM - Tough It Out & Indiscreet
  10. Max Carl - The Circle
  11. Craaft - Second Honeymoon
2012 SONG OF THE YEAR
  1. Rick Springfield - Our Ship's Sinking

     

  2. Rick Springfield - Wide Awake

     

  3. H.EA.T. - Breaking The Silence


     
  4. Eclipse - Wake Me Up


     
  5. Jimi Jamison - Everybody's Got A Broken Heart

     

  6. Rick Springfield - One Way Street
  7. H.E.A.T. - Living On The Run
  8. Van Halen - You And Your Blues
  9. Eclipse - Bleed And Scream
  10. H.E.A.T - It's All About Tonight
     
  11. Jeff Scott Soto - Die A Little
  12. Pride Of Lions - Delusional
  13. Jimi Jamison - Never Too Late
  14. Rick Springfield - Signs Of Life
  15. Jim Jamison - Not Tonight
  16. Van Halen - Trouble With Never
  17. H.E.A.T. - Better Off Alone
  18. Eclipse - Battlegrounds
  19. Hardline - 10,000 Reasons
  20. Jeff Scott Soto - Damage Control
     
  21. Van Halen - China Town
  22. Pride Of Lions - Immortal
  23. Gotthard - Remember It's Me
  24. Jack Blades - Born For This
  25. Eclipse - Bitter Taste
  26. Shinedown - Unity
  27. Halestorm - Mrs. Hyde
  28. Magnum - So Let It Rain
  29. Pride Of Lions - Tie Down The Wind
  30. Hartmann - All Of My Life
     
  31. Rick Springfield - My Last Heartbeat
  32. Shinedown - Adrenaline
  33. Richie Sambora - Every Road Lead Back To You
  34. Magnum - Shadowtown
  35. Van Halen - Blood & Fire
  36. Threshold - Ashes
  37. Richard Marx - Had Enough
  38. Romeo's Daughter - Alive
  39. Bonrud - Bullet In The Back
  40. Lita Ford - Living Like A Runaway
     
  41. Miles of Will - Wild Ride
  42. Pride Of Lions - Vital Signs
  43. Shinedown - I'm Not Alright
  44. Delta Goodrem - Child Of The Universe
  45. Tango Down - Back To Life
  46. Sunstorm - Never Give Up
  47. H.E.A.T. - Need Her
  48. Tyketto - Faithless
  49. Miles of Will - Time & Place
  50. Loverboy - Heartbreaker
  51. Jack Blades - Back In The Game
  52. Trixter - Tattoo's & Misery
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Give A Little More
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Look Inside Your Heart
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Afraid To Die
  • Gun - Break The Silence
  • Van Halen - Stay Frosty
  • Asia - Face On The Bridge
  • Rick Springfield - My DUI
  • Delta Goodrem - Dancing With A Broken Heart
  • Loverboy - No Tomorrow
  • Bonrud - We Collide
  • Bonrud - Save Tomorrow
  • Romeo's Daughter - Trippin'
  • Romeo's Daughter - Talking Love
  • Anberlin - Self-Starter
  • Anberlin - Someone Anyone
  • AOR - Above Suspicion
  • AOR - From LA To Paris
  • Van Halen - Bullethead
  • Asia - Tomorrow The World
  • Asia - Ghost Of A Chance
  • Black Country Communion - Big Train
  • Black Country Communion - Confessor
  • Black Country Communion - Afterglow
  • Departure - You Don't Need To Do This Anymore
  • Dokken - Empire
  • Dynazty - Raise Your Hands
  • Dynazty - More Than A Man
  • Eclipse - SOS
  • Eclipse - After The End Of The World
  • Europe - Not Supposed To Sing The Blues
  • Europe - Bag Of Bones
  • Europe - Doghouse
  • Threshold - Coda
  • Trixter - Live For The Day
  • Trixter - Drag Me Down
  • Tyketto - Here's Hoping It Hurts
  • Magnum - On The 13th Day
  • Magnum - See How They Fall
  • Magnum - From Within
  • Jimi Jamison - The Great Unknown
  • Jimi Jamison - I Can't Turn Back
  • H.E.A.T - Downtown
  • Halestorm - In Your Room
  • Halestorm - Here's To Us
  • Halestorm - Beautiful With You
  • Hardline - Fever Dreams
  • Hardline - Stay
  • Hartmann - Like A River
  • Hartmann - You Are The One
  • Hess - Don't Leave Me
  • Hess - Living In Yesterday
  • Jack Blades - Say You Will
  • Jack Blades - Love Life
  • Lionville - All We Need
  • Lionville - Another Day
  • Lionville - The Only Way Is Up
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Angels Will Cry
  • Sapphire Eyes - You're My Wings
  • Sapphire Eyes - This Love This Time
  • Soleil Moon - History Repeats It's Pages
  • Tango Down - Cryin To Me
  • Tango Down - Alone
  • Tango Down - Blame
  • Ten - Arabian Nights
  • Ten - Gunrunning
  • Wig Wam - Wall Street
  • Wig Wam - Wrong Can Feel So Right
  • Wigelius - Angeline
  • Wigelius - Too Young To Fall In Love
  • Rush - Seven Cities Of Gold
  • Rush - The Wreckers
  • Rush - Headlong Flight

 

BEST METAL/PROGRESSIVE SONG:
  1. Shinedown - Adrenalin
  2. Threshold - Ashes
  3. Shinedown - Enemies
  4. Halestorm - Love Bites (So Do I)
  5. Threshold - Coda
  6. Empires Of Eden - This Time
  7. Circus Maximus - Architect Of Fortune
  8. Black Majesty - Lost Highway
  9. Bloodbound - Mr. Darkness
  10. Adrenalin Mob - Indifferent
,
BEST BALLAD:
  1. Delta Goodrem - I'm Not Ready
  2. Halestorm - Break In
  3. H.EA.T. - The One And Only
  4. Hardline - Please Have Faith In Me
  5. Hess - It's Over
  6. Jeremey Frederick - This Is Your Life
  7. Lita Ford - Mother
  8. Pride Of Lions - Are You The Same Girl
  9. Richard Marx - Wouldn't Let You Love Me
  10. Hartmann - The Best Is Yet To Come
  11. Ten - The Riddle
  12. Wigelius - Talking About Love
  13. Aerosmith - What Could Have Been Love
2012 Best Artwork
1
2 3
04-07
08-11
12-15
16-20

 

2012 Artist Awards

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Rick Springfield

2012 was a year of veterans showing how it's done and Rick's vocal performance on his latest album was nothing short of stunning.

Honorable Mentions - Erik Gronwall (H.E.A.T); Toby Hitchcock; Jimi Jamison; Lzzy Hale (Halestorm); Brent Smith (Shinedown)

Past Winners:
2011 - Eric Martin
2010 - Marcie Free
2009 - John Elefante
2008 - Arnel Pineda
2007 - Mike Reno
2006 - Pekka Ansio Heino
2005 - Jorn Lande
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto
2003 - Harry Hess.

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR:
Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
Class is class. Exceeding all expectations and still relevant after 30 years of making music...still showing the kids how it's done.

Honorable Mentions - Rick Springfield; Erik Martinsson; Magnus Henriksson; Joe Hottinger (Halestorm); Zach Myers (Shinedown), Jim Peterik (Pride Of Lions).

Past Winners:
2011 - Neal Schon
2010 - Steve Lukather
2009 - Erik Martensson
2008 - Doug Aldrich
2007 - Thorsten Koehne
2006 - Steve Lukather
2005 - Magnus Karlsson

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR:
Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
Who would have given Van Halen a chance of delivering a high-energy album after all these years? And the old guy behind the kit hammering away furiously like a 20 year old is this year's Drummer of The Year.

Honorable Mentions - Barry Kerch (Shinedown); Arejay Hale (Halestorm); Rodger Carter (Rick Springfield); Robban Back (Eclipse).

Past Winners:
2011 - Pat Torpey
2010 - Jamie Borger
2009 - Steve West
2008 - The Drum Machine
2007 - Kelly Keagy
2006 - Simon Phillips
2005 - Daniel Flores.

BASSIST OF THE YEAR:
Wolfgang Van Halen (Van Halen)
The kid delivers. On a hiding to nothing - son of the band's legendary guitarist and deposing the very popular Michael Anthony - Wolfgang withstands the pressure and shows talent runs in the bloodlines. A great effort on the VH album.

Honorable mentions - Matt Bissonette (Rick Springfield), Jack Blades, Glenn Hughes (Black Country Communion).

Past Winners:
2011 - Billy Sheehan
2010 - Nalle Pahlsson
2009 - Bruno Ravel
2008 - Matt Bissonette
2007 - Jack Blades
2006 - Marcel Jacob

KEYBOARDIST OF THE YEAR:
Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Lionville, Issa, Empires of Eden, Laneslide)
The Italian master made 2012 his own with a hand in more than 10 albums over the course of the year, either playing, writing and/or producing...with even more coming up in 2013/2014!

Honorable mentions - "Mr. Keyboards" Eric Ragno, Michael T Ross, Jim Peterik (Pride Of Lions), Mark Stanway (Magnum).

Past Winners:
2011 - Eric Ragno
2010 - CJ Vanston
2009 - Darren Wharton
2008 - Eric Ragno
2007 - Eric Ragno.

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Erik Martensson (For the Eclipse album - with Magnus Henriksson - and also the Jimi Jamison album)
Two fantastic albums with huge, bombastic sound...brining the best out of everyone.

Honorable mentions - Ross Hogarth (Van Halen); Rick Springfield & Matt Bissonette; Tobias Lindell (H.E.A.T); Howard Benson (Halestorm); Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Lionville, as well as helping with parts in Frozen Rain, Code of Silence, Charming Grace, Sapphire Eyes, Wheels Of Fire)

Past Winners:
2011 - Kevin Shirley
2010 - Steve Lukather, CJ Vanston, Steve MacMillan
2009 - Erik Martensson
2008 - Dennis Ward
2007 - Dennis Ward
2006 - Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem)
2005 - Dennis Ward
2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi
2003 - Tommy Denander.

,
2012 Rest In Peace

Chris Stamp (Manager The Who); Elysium's guitarist/vocalist Terry Allen; Rick Chadock - guitarist for White Sister; Beyond The Bridge guitar and keyboard player Simon Oberender; Scandal keyboard player Benjy King; Rob Grant, founding member and bass player of the Canadian group Sarasin; guitarist for Starship - Mark Abrahamian; Elton John's longtime bassist Bob Birch; Daryl Cotton iconic figure in Australia, vocalist for Zoot & solo; Larry Hoppen, one of the founding members of the band Orleans; the legend Jon Lord (Deep Purple); John Harrison, founding bassist for legendary space rock band Hawkwind; Rock City Angels frontman/founder Bobby Durang; Tommy Shaw's mom; Mark McConnell (Seb Bach band drummer); comedian CC Banana; Men At Work's Greg Ham; pop culture icon Dick Clark; Child's Play frontman Brian Jack; Doobie Brothers drummer Michael Hossack; legendary guitar great Ronnie Montrose; The Monkees' Davey Jones; Sven Gali guitarist Dee Cernile; Dean Alrich, aka Rockindeano; Riot guitarist Mark Reale; Robbie France (played drums for UFO and Diamond Head); Therese Hanserot, the original lead singer in Destiny.

May these great names all be remembered for their contribution to music and may they continue to rest in peace, with their collective legacies living on.

,
Worst Of 2012

ALBUMS:
 

  1. Axxis - Rediscovered
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen - Spellbound
  3. S.A. Adams - Unearthed
  4. Cannon - Burning Love
  5. Steve Harris - British Lion
  6. Kaisas - Unify
  7. Dee Snider - Dee Does Broadway
  8. The Angels - Take It To The Streets
  9. Imperial State Electric - Pop War
  10. Great White - Elation

WORST ARTWORK:

 

,
2012 WTF?

Seriously Great White....you only had the budget for half an album cover??

Could there be a worse band name than Audio Porn?

Dee Snider doing Broadway. In what universe do some of these artists think that albums like these will appeal to the fan base?

Longest album title of 2012: Docker's Guild - The Mystic Technocracy - Season 1: The Age Of Ignorance. Quite a mouthful! Very interesting album though.

I'm still trying to work out how Night Ranger came up with "24 Strings and a Drummer". If Brad had 12 strings, Joel also, then what about Jack's bass? That'd make 28. If Brad had 6 and Joel 12 plus Jack, then that's 22. And what about Eric's keys? Ah well...it's a great album!
UPDATE: "NR called it "24 strings" because Blades actually play a guitar on the DVD, not a bass. And in the middle of the concert, they have an extra guitarist from Shaw-Blades help them, so 4x six strings guitars..." Still doesn't explain the keyboards :)

German rockers Dominoe FINALLY released an album without the song Here I Am on it! Congrats guys...

I'm sure there was lots more, but this was 2012, I can't think back that far. Time to get onto the 2013 Awards!

 

THE 2011 MELROCK AWARDS

Welcome to the 2011 MelRock Awards. Late as usual of course, but I will simply revert to my tried and tested line that it is never too late to discover new music and to go over an annual summary and check out titles you might have missed. And there are plenty of titles below to check out. The Top 30 albums are expanded to the Top 40 of 2011 and Song Of The Year is busted way open from 50 titles to 100. There were simply that many great releases and great songs around in 2011. In fact I call it the best year of music releases since 1992.
A lot of big names delivered and few disappointed, which I think sets things up for a positive few years ahead as bands continue to "get" what fans want and try and deliver just that. Of course there's a stubborn few that still want to do their own thing and that's ok too....just as long as the song quality remains high and there's some hooks to hang on to. Strangeways is one band that just doesn't get it (in my opinion), but the Top 40 is filled with bands that did.
Not too many disappointments in 2011, nothing major at least apart from the obvious Metallica disaster and the Bulletboys album was pretty atrocious too.

I often get asked what my favourite albums of past years (before this site) were. So I am beginning to address that by filling in the gaps. These are pretty simple Top 30 lists of the best (or my favourite at least) albums of that particular year. It was really interesting going back over those years and remembering just what albums came out when and how they stack up against each other now...some 15-20 years later! Amazingly....not too much has changed as far as my tastes and opinions. So when you get done reading the 2011 MelRock Awards, why not check out two more years:

The Best Of 1991

The Best Of 1993

For now....on with 2011! Thanks for reading.

Onto the Awards!

For the first time ever - we have a tie for Album Of The Year. I have been nominating the best album from every year I have been running the site and this is the 14th #1 - but for the first time ever, the #1 spot has been shared by two artists. No matter what I did, I could not split these two killer albums. Two bands with rich histories that both delivered knockout albums in 2011 that made them both sound as vibrant as if they were debut albums.
But two very different albums. Ignore the #2 next to NR - it's the lack of flexibility in the HTML coding!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

 

Mr. Big

What If...

Mr. Big's album is quite raw and some didn't appreciate the Kevin Shirley production - but listen to the results on this album. Feel the energy of a band playing off each other in the studio setting where things can be notoriously sterile.
'What If...' is filled with songs that take the listener to the edge. It captures the guys at their very best and the individual performances within, are simply stunning.
Everyone delivers. And to this day I'm still marvelling over the interplay between the guys on certain tracks.
They just seem to know what each other is thinking before they get there and the winner is the fans that bought this album. Album Of The Year 2011.

 

2

 

 

 

 

Night Ranger

Somewhere In California

Easily the band's most controversial album since Raised On Radio and perhaps the most controversial part of my 2011 list (at least for those that disagree!). I can hear the gasps now as fans that disliked this album wander around dazed and confused as to how it could be ranked 3rd best album of 2011? Well....go back to Raised On Radio or Arrival and seek solace. I loved the album right from the start and my enthusiasm hasn't dwindled any. Whether he likes the tag or not, this IS Neal Schon's record, as it is his amazing performance that drives the energy behind this record. The longer songs and the heavier, less chorus dominated direction of this album may have alienated some, but for those that like their music a little darker and more challenging sometimes, this is the album to have. I think the band need to be applauded for taking risks at this stage of their career and going against what most expected. If you pull the album apart, there were a few tracks that demand attention and stand out as the best on the album. But generally, it was a real "album" as such, in that the listener is best served listening to it from start to end and enjoying it as a body of work.

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey

Eclipse

No one gave Mecca a chance of coming close to their masterpiece AOR debut. And I guess some might still state that. The slight change of direction didn't work for some, but at the heart of this album is an emotional journey and a story that few others could have told so well. This is simply one of the best Westcoast pop/AOR albums of the last decade, with a high-tech, yet honest feel that may have taken 6 years to complete, but feels to me like it was worth the wait. I know some others disagree, but this really is a wonderfully produced album that deserves the attention of AOR/Westcoast fans. I had this album for some 6 months before release and it really is a slow burner that never gets tired, so I hope some folks will revisit this album and re-discover it's greatness.

 

 

 

4

 

 

Mecca

Undeniable

No one gave Mecca a chance of coming close to their masterpiece AOR debut. And I guess some might still state that. The slight change of direction didn't work for some, but at the heart of this album is an emotional journey and a story that few others could have told so well. This is simply one of the best Westcoast pop/AOR albums of the last decade, with a high-tech, yet honest feel that may have taken 6 years to complete, but feels to me like it was worth the wait. I know some others disagree, but this really is a wonderfully produced album that deserves the attention of AOR/Westcoast fans. I had this album for some 6 months before release and it really is a slow burner that never gets tired, so I hope some folks will revisit this album and re-discover it's greatness.

5

Toby Hitchcock

Mercury Down

The Pride Of Lions vocalist matched with Eclipse's Erik Martensson - there could be only one result - a classic melodic rock album. And any other year this album might have made it to #1, but with the still competition of 2011, it still makes the Top 5. A monster album of monster anthems and a vocal performance that is turned to max from the first note. It's certainly heavier than expected, but really works well.

6

 

 

Work Of Art - In Progress

- The best pure AOR album of 2011 and again - it could have been #1 without question. An even more impressive album that the already heralded debut and shows these guys are in a class of their own and that the debut was not a fluke.

7

 

 

 

Chris Ousey - Rhyme And Reason

- For me this was the best album Chris has been involved in since the classic Virginia Wolf debut. He sings his heart out here and the songs are blindingly heavy in places (for what we are used to from Chris). The team of Mike Slamer and Tommy Denander work seamlessly together as a team and make one hell of a melodic hard rock album. I hope the guys come back for another round soon.

8

 

 

Eden's Curse - Trinity

- Well, in what should have been a triumphant year for the band, it all went horribly wrong. And there will be some that will be surprised I'm still willing to talk about this album at all after how the departing singer acted. But I want to talk about the music here and the rets of the band remain intact. There is no question that this album was the band's best of their 3 albums to date and the performances on this album were also easily their best. That includes the lead vocals, which eclipsed the first two records. This album lifted EC to world class contenders. This was just a great set of songs and another big production for the guys and I think all fans were really taken with this killer hard rock record.

9

 

 

Whitesnake - Forevermore

- No tricks or gimmicks, just Whitesnake doing what Whitesnake do best - with Doug Aldrich well in control of the band's sound. Mixing two era's of the band's past - the 70s and the late 80s - this record shows that old dogs can still deliver. Along with some of the other elder statesmen of rock n roll in the Top 10, it was really pleasing to see these guys still delivering quality music in 2011. Another album with few standout songs, but rather a solid overall start to finish record. Yes, David is singing within himself, but it is all about being aware of your limitations and playing to your strengths. This record certainly does that.

10

 

 

Within Temptation - The Unforgiving

- The Dutch Symphonic rockers show the competition how it is done and puts previous front runners like Nightwish well and truly in their place - a long ways behind! A heavy and dramatic record with some glorious vocals and symphonic passages of music. Easily the band's best album to date.

11 House Of Lords - Big Money
12 Beggars & Thieves - We Are The Brokenhearted
13 Fergie Frederiksen - Happiness Is The Road
14 Magnum - The Visitation 
15 Chickenfoot - III
16 The Magnificent - The Magnificent 
17 Kimball/Jamison - Kimball/Jamison
18 Shy - Shy
19 Alfonzetti - Here Comes The Night 
20 Lionville - Lionville

 

21 White Widdow - Serenade
22 Black Country Communion - 2
23 Mike Tramp & The Rock N Roll Circuz - Stand Your Ground
24 M.ill.ion - Sane And Insanity 
25 Rob Moratti - Victory 
26 Reece/Kronlund - Solid 
27 Shadowman - Watching Over You
28 Bad Habit - Atmosphere 
29 John Waite - Rough & Tumble
30 Grand Illusion - Prince Of Paupers

 

31 Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events
32 Grand Design - Idolizer
33 7th heaven - Pop Media 
34 Outloud - Love Catastrophe
35 Williams/Friestedt - Williams/Friestedt 
36 Warrant - Rockaholic
37 Mitch Malloy - II
38 Sixx:AM - This Is Gonna Hurt
39 Coldspell - Out From The Cold 
40 The Poodles - Performocracy

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Robin Beck - The Great Escape
  • Fiona - Unbroken
  • Magnum - Evolution
  • Adelitas Way - Home School Valedictorian
  • Houston - Relaunch
  • Fate - Ghosts From The Past
  • Sencelled - Sencelled
  • Shannon Noll - Switch Me On
  • Xorigin - State Of The Art
  • Enbound - And She Says Gold
  • Miss Behaviour - Last Woman Standing
  • Far Cry - Optimism
  • Jamie Allen - The Storyteller
  • Ten - Stormwarning
  • King Kobra - King Kobra
  • Issa - The Storm
  • Talon - III
  • Sebastian Back - Kicking And Screaming
  • Sven Larsson - Sunlight And Shadow
  • Uriah Heep - Into The Wild
  • Edguy - Age Of The Joker

 

THE BEST METAL / PROG ALBUM:
  1. Eden's Curse - Trinity
  2. Within Temptation - The Unforgiving
  3. Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events
  4. Enbound - And She Says Gold
  5. Royal Hunt - Show Me How To Live
  6. Edguy - Age Of The Joker
  7. Coldspell - Out From The Cold
  8. Scheepers - Scheepers
  9. Cage - Supremacy Of Steel
  10. Symphony X - Iconoclast
,
BEST DEBUT ALBUM OF 2011:

.(New Band/Artist/Solo Debut, Not Project)

 

  1. Toby Hitchcock - Mercury Down
  2. Chris Ousey - Rhyme And Reason
  3. Lionville - Lionville
  4. The Magnificent - The Magnificent
  5. Xorigin - State Of The Art
  6. Sencelled - Sencelled
  7. Jamie Allen - The Storyteller
  8. Sven Larsson - Sunlight And Shadow
  9. The Red White & Blues - Shine
  10. Adrenaline Mob - EP
,
BEST COMPILATION OR LIVE ALBUM:
  1. Shinedown - Somewhere In The Stratosphere
  2. Foreigner - Feels Like The First Time
  3. Def Leppard - Mirrorball
  4. John Parr - Letter To America
  5. Heartland - Travelling Through Time
  6. Jeff Scott Soto - Live At Firefest V
  7. Strangeways - Where Do We Go From Here (Live At Firefest)
  8. Bangalore Choir - All Or Nothing (Live At Firefest)
  9. LA Guns - Acoustic Gypsy Live
  10. Poison - Double Dose: Ultimate Hits
,
BEST RE-ISSUE/ARCHIVE RELEASE:
  1. Survivor - When Seconds Count / Too Hot To Sleep (Rock Candy)
  2. Stan Bush - Stan Bush / Stan Bush & Barrage (Rock Candy)
  3. Strangeways - Strangeways / Walk In The Fire / Native Sons (Rock Candy)
  4. King Of Hearts - King Of Hearts (Avenue Of Allies)
  5. Vandenberg - Vandenberg (Rock Candy)
  6. David Roberts - All Dressed Up / The Missing Years / Better Late Than Never (Avenue Of Allies)
  7. Kansas - Power / In The Spirit Of Things
  8. Paul Laine - Stick It In Your Ear (AOR Heaven Classix)
  9. Royal Blood - Thanks Seattle For Killing My Band And My Dreams
  10. Notorious - Radio Silence
2011 SONG OF THE YEAR
  1. Beggars & Thieves - We Come Undone

     

  2. Journey - Anything Is Possible

     

  3. Toby Hitchcock - I Should Have Said


     
  4. Night Ranger - Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)


     
  5. Mr. Big - Undertow

     

  6. John Waite - Better Off Gone
  7. Journey - Edge Of The Moment
  8. House Of Lords - One Man Down
  9. Night Ranger - It's Not Over
  10. Mr. Big - American Beauty
     
  11. Within Temptation - Shot In The Dark
  12. Loverboy - Heartbreaker
  13. Mecca - Perfect World
  14. Eden's Curse - Trinity
  15. Toby Hitchcock - Just Say Goodbye
  16. Journey - Tantra
  17. Work Of Art - The Rain
  18. Chris Ousey - Chemical High
  19. Night Ranger - No Time To Lose Ya
  20. Toby Hitchcock - A Different Drum
     
  21. Chickenfoot - Different Devil
  22. Work Of Art - Nature Of The Game
  23. The Poodles - Cuts Like A Knife
  24. John Waite - If You Ever Get Lonely
  25. Kimball/Jamison - Can't Wait For Love
  26. Journey - Ritual
  27. Work Of Art - Emile
  28. Beggars & Thieves - Stranded
  29. Night Ranger - Growing Up In California
  30. Toby Hitchcock - This Is The Moment
     
  31. Mr. Big - I Won't Get In The Way
  32. Night Ranger - Time Of Our Lives
  33. Foreigner - Save Me
  34. Kimball/Jamison - Worth Fighting For
  35. Beggars & Thieves - We Are The Broken Hearted
  36. Mecca - As I Walk Alone
  37. Fergie Frederiksen - Happiness Is The Road
  38. Magnum - The Fall
  39. Whitesnake - Steal Your Love Away
  40. Kimball/Jamison - Kicking And Screaming
     
  41. Eden's Curse - No Holy Man
  42. John Waite - Evil
  43. Mecca - I Know
  44. House Of Lords - Big Money
  45. Chickenfoot - Big Foot
  46. Night Ranger - Say It With Love
  47. Mr. Big - Around The World
  48. Magnum - Do You Know Who You Are
  49. House Of Lords - Hologram
  50. Eden's Curse - Guardian Angel
     
  51. The Magnificent - Memories
  52. Lionville - Here By My Side
  53. Journey - City Of Hope
  54. House Of Lords - Once Twice
  55. Guru - Sometimes
  56. Black Country Communion - The Outsider
  57. Grand Illusion - Gates Of Fire
  58. Brian Howe - I'm There
  59. Chris Ousey - On Any Other Day
  60. Def Leppard - Undefeated
     
  61. Mike Tramp - Wish You Well
  62. The Magnificent - Holding On To Your Love
  63. Fate - All That I Want
  64. Alfonzetti - Here Comes The Night
  65. Mitch Malloy - I'm The One
  66. Mr. Big - Stranger In My Life
  67. Dream Theater - Build Me Up
  68. Royal Hunt - Show Me How To Live
  69. Ten - Love Song
  70. Chris Ousey - By Any Other Name
     
  71. Whitesnake - Forevermore
  72. Shy - Land Of 1000 Dreams
  73. Lionheart - Power Of My Dreams
  74. Shy - Pray
  75. White Widdow - Serenade
  76. Paradise Inc - Time
  77. Paradise Inc - Who's Fooling Who
  78. Whitesnake - I Need You (Shine A Light)
  79. Shadowman - Watching Over You
  80. Rob Moratti - Life On The Line
     
  81. Mitch Malloy - Falling To Pieces
  82. White Widdow - Strangers In The Night
  83. White Widdow - Reckless Nights
  84. Mike Tramp - Straight From The Look In Your Eye
  85. Warrant - Home
  86. Black Country Communion - Man In The Middle
  87. Dream Theater - Beneath The Surface
  88. Meatloaf - All Of Me
  89. Shy - Breathe
  90. Alfonzetti - Heartbreaker
     
  91. Shy - Over You
  92. Def Leppard - It's All About Believin'
  93. Night Ranger - End Of The Day
  94. Work Of Art - The Great Fall
  95. Journey - Chan Of Love
  96. Issa - Looking For Love
  97. 7th heaven - Sing
  98. Magnum - Wild Angels
  99. Magnum - Mother Nature's Last Dance
  100. Edguy - Robin Hood
THE BEST MELODIC METAL SONG:
  1. Eden's Curse - Trinity
  2. Within Temptation - Shot In The Dark
  3. Royal Hunt - Show Me How To Live
  4. Dream Theater - Build Me Up, Break Me Down
  5. Within Temptation - Faster
  6. Edguy - Robin Hood
  7. Eden's Curse - Jerusalem Sleeps
  8. Royal Hunt - One More Day
  9. Enbound - Combine The Souls
  10. Evergrey - Leave It Behind Us
,
THE BEST BALLAD:
  1. Night Ranger - Time Of Our Lives
  2. Journey - Tantra
  3. Eden's Curse - Guardian Angel
  4. John Waite - If You Ever Get Lonely
  5. Mecca - As I Stand Alone
  6. Toby Hitchcock - One Day I'll Stop Loving You
  7. Mr. Big - Stranger In My Life
  8. Warrant - Home
  9. Dream Theater - Beneath The Surface
  10. Ten - Love Song
  11. Lionville - World Without Your Love
  12. Fergie Frederiksen - Follow Your Heart
2011 Best Artwork
1
2 3
04-07
08-11
12-15
16-20

 

2011 Best Promotional Videos

xx

xx

xx

xx

xx

2011 Artist Awards

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Eric Martin (Mr. Big)
An absolutely stunning vocal performance on the comeback Mr. Big album. Whether it be wailing with the heaviest tunes or turning soulful on the ballads, Eric's voice has always been a joy to listen to and he continues to impress still.

Honorable Mentions - Lars Safsund (Work Of Art, Lionville, Enbound), Arnel Pineda (Journey); Bob Catley (Magnum); Toby Hitchcock; Jimi Jamison; Joe Vana; Sammy Hagar (Chickenfoot).

Past Winners:
2010 - Marcie Free
2009 - John Elefante
2008 - Arnel Pineda
2007 - Mike Reno
2006 - Pekka Ansio Heino
2005 - Jorn Lande
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto
2003 - Harry Hess.

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR:
Neal Schon (Journey)
Agree or disagree with the Eclipse album, there is no doubt that Neal's guitar rules the record and is without question some of his best playing ever laid down on record.

Honorable Mentions - Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big); Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake); Brad Gillis/Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger); Tommy Denander; Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot).

Past Winners:
2010 - Steve Lukather
2009 - Erik Martensson
2008 - Doug Aldrich
2007 - Thorsten Koehne
2006 - Steve Lukather
2005 - Magnus Karlsson

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR:
Pat Torpey (Mr. Big)
Pat's drumming is just huge on the new Mr. Big album and together with Billy Sheehan he provides one of the best and most progressive rhythm sections in rock n roll.

Honorable Mentions - Deen Castronovo (Journey); Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger).

Past Winners:
2010 - Jamie Borger
2009 - Steve West
2008 - The Drum Machine
2007 - Kelly Keagy
2006 - Simon Phillips
2005 - Daniel Flores.

BASSIST OF THE YEAR:
Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big)
The new Mr. Big record takes the record for most bass solos in one recorded album. What a masterful display of talent and the interplay between Billy and Pat & Paul is simply staggering at times.

Honorable mentions - Michael Anthony (Chickenfoot); Paul Logue (Eden's Curse)

Past Winners:
2010 - Nalle Pahlsson
2009 - Bruno Ravel
2008 - Matt Bissonette
2007 - Jack Blades
2006 - Marcel Jacob

KEYBOARDIST OF THE YEAR:
Eric Ragno (Farcry, Talon, Mecca, Fergie Frederiksen, Pushking)
Mr. Keyboard wins for yet another standout year, not only performing with various bands and making their albums that bit richer for his involvement, Eric also made a whole bunch of other unheralded contributions where his efforts go further to making others sound even better. He is a vital part of the MR scene and one of the true good guys.

Honorable mentions - Jonathan Cain (Journey); Eric Levy (Night Ranger); Lars Safsund (Work Of Art)

Past Winners:
2010 - CJ Vanston
2009 - Darren Wharton
2008 - Eric Ragno
2007 - Eric Ragno.

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Kevin Shirley (Journey, Mr. Big, Black Country Communion, Joe Bonamassa)
Controversial decision? Perhaps so...as Kevin's raw/70s influenced/bass heavy production style alienates some fans. But look at the results - Journey, Mr. Big, BCC and Joe Bonamassa. That's a staggering record for a 12 month period. And listen to the band's on those albums - Mr. Big especially - delivering the performance of a lifetime. It takes some talent to capture that on record, so Mr. Shirley takes home the award easily.

Honorable mentions - Dennis Ward (Fergie Frederiksen, Eden's Curse); Erik Martensson (Toby Hitchcock); Mike Slamer/Tommy Denander (Chris Ousey); Kevin Churko (Beggars & Thieves)

Past Winners:
2010 - Steve Lukather, CJ Vanston, Steve MacMillan
2009 - Erik Martensson
2008 - Dennis Ward
2007 - Dennis Ward
2006 - Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem)
2005 - Dennis Ward
2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi
2003 - Tommy Denander.

,
2011 Rest In Peace

Steve Harris (Shy), Steve Mach (Skin & Bones), Johnny G (Bulletboys), Jani Lane (Warrant), Jason Stonewall, Dan Peek (America), Joe Elliott Snr (Joe's Father), Taiji Sawada (X), Clarence Clemons (E Street Band), Dag Stokke (TNT), Matthew Davis LaPorte (Jon Olivia's Pain), Scott Colombus (Manowar), Mike Starr (Alice In Chains), Gary Moore, Henrik Ostergaard (Dirty Looks), Jan Somers (Vengeance), Tom Nigra (Trigger), Don Kirshner (veteran music mogul), Steve Prestwich (Cold Chisel), Harvey James (Sherbert), Phil Kennemore (Y&T), Pat Moran (record producer). And Basil - the MelodicRock Dog.
May these great people (and 1 dog) all Rest In Peace.

,
Worst Of 2011

ALBUMS:

 

  1. Metallica & Lou Reed - Lulu
  2. Bulletboys - Rocked And Ripped
  3. Swedish Hitz Goes Metal
  4. Various Artists - Sin-Atra
  5. Thunderdikk - Magnum Love
  6. Mickey Thomas - Marauder
  7. Strangeways - Age Of Reason
  8. Bang Tango - Pistol Whipped
  9. Scorpions - Comeblack
  10. Pushking - The World As We Love It
  11. John Wetton - Raised In Captivity
  12. Bridger - Bridger
  13. Sanchez (Sweden) - Run The Streets
  14. Nitroville - Can't Stop what's Comin

WORST ARTWORK:

WORST PROMOTIONAL VIDEOS:

xx

,
Random Thoughts 2011

A massive year as previously stated. And not nearly enough comments here to sum any part of it up. But it's May right? So...a few random thoughts as they come to me:

ClassicRock Magazine launched their AOR side magazine, which started off really fresh, but soon got caught up in the reality of operating in the very insular scene that is AOR/melodic rock. Motley Crue got thrown on the cover of Issue 5 (to a huge uproar) and by Issue 6 the decision was made to cut it back to an Annual special. Too bad. Opportunity lost there.

James Christian successfully battled through a cancer scare and one hopes he can regain full health for many years to come. Same with Tony Iommi, who shocked the world with the announcement he was also fighting the disease. Jon Lord remains in treatment also. I hate this disease.

Legendary producer Keith Olsen was rewarded for his efforts with a Hollywood Fan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Journey received a 'Legends Of Live' Award from the very prestigious Billboard Magazine on top of their Eclipse and Greatest Hits 2 CDs.

I finally scored my elusive Steve Perry interview – it went as well as hoped. It was great talking to the legendary vocalist. All that I need now is a chat with Eddie Van Halen, Joe Elliott and Mutt Lange and I'll be done!

Mike Reno lost 50 pounds – good on him! Rumor has it he can now fit back into those red leather pants. I loved the band's Heartbreaker single. No sign of the second track they recorded yet though. Apparently it still hasn't been mastered.

John Sykes left Thin Lizzy finally, hooked up with a new power trio and then went on to leave said power trio to record a new solo album. I'll expect that in about 2017.

It was the year of the biography, with Sammy Hagar spilling more beans than he probably should have; plus biogs from Keith Richards, Belinda Carlisle, Duff McKagen, Stephen Addler, Glenn Hughes and Ozzy Osbourne.

The quality of CD artwork continued to decline, but realistically, it ain't going to get any better. At least some new Photoshop filters are due out soon.

A lot of complaints from fans also about cheap promo film clips. YouTube has such a huge influence on modern media, these are finally being considered important again for the first time since eMpTV sold its soul to reality shows a decade back. But with limited budgets and little chance of these clips being played anywhere else but on YouTube, it shouldn't be any surprise that they aren't overly impressive. But they do the job and that's about it. Still, creativity is not dead, there are still some get clips made on a budget out there. And you know what I like best - actually being able to see these bands in action - seeing the faces behind the music instead of a lame promo picture.

On a personal note, nothing to grand to speak of really. A positively terrible year for business and the whole problem of bringing a brand new website to life from the ground up has proved to be too much for one company and I'm still working with the new developer getting Take 2 finished. But....it's coming.
The fact that ClassicRock magazine couldn't bring itself to continue dealing with the insular AOR scene with it's AOR magazine is a major wakeup call, but I don't see anything changing. There is so little money in this small scene, but I am continually amazed at how many releases there are out there to choose from. No wonder sales are struggling. The minute a release comes out it's done, publicity is over and we're all waiting for the next one.

Site stats:
It may be a financially crumbling scene, but the users and visitors to this site hasn't changed. There are still plenty of folks that want to read about MelodicRock and thank God for that!

2011 Visitor Stats:

Total unique users: 1,665,138 // Total Visits: 5,822,245 // Number Of Pages Read: 32,489,067 // Total "Hits": 371,063,042 // Total Data Used (Outbound): 12,940 GigaBytes.

Best Months for traffic: May, October & November.

Slowest Day: Sunday. Best Days: Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri.

Top Countries (in order): United States, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, France, Spain, Norway, Finland, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, Brazil, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Austria, New Zealand, China, Indonesia.

,
2011 WTF?

Robin McAuley re-joins Michael Schenker Group, but only includes one McAuley Schenker Group tune in the whole set. WTF?

Rick Springfield gets his original Aussie band Zoot back together - but there's no return of their famous pink Zoot Suits. WTF?

 

Cheap Trick are nearly crushed by a collapsing stage in Ottawa Canada. 5 others were injured. WTF?

Sammy Hagar tells all....way to much! Talking of details of so much sex during the Van Halen F.U.C.K. tour, including lining up young lasses under the stage. WTF?

Jimi Jamison returns once again to Survivor. Lawsuits vanish! WTF?

Japan in full re-issue by any and all means frenzy - SHM-CD, Cardboard Sleeves, Blu-Spec CD, HQCD and not to mention the Limited Release and Priced-Down Reissue tags. WTF?

Both Van Halen and Def Leppard had CDs released featuring their songs as lullaby's. WTF?

,
2011 Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards

The 'We Finally Shat And Got Off The Pot' Award - Van Halen - And strangely enough....it was actually worth the wait!

The 'Steve Perry/Journey Best Bust Up' Award - Jack Rusell vs Great White vs Jack Russell vs Great White - Ugly doesn't even cover it - the documents released by both sides paint a very negative picture of how the band and its former singer operated.

The 'Most One-Sided Bust Up' Award - Eden's Curse - Some said it was inevitable. One party said everything and then some. The rest of the band said nothing.

The 'Too Precious' Award - Van Halen - For objecting to Jump being included in US broadcasts of "An Idiot Abroad", featuring Carl doing bad karaoke.

The 'Now Your See Them, Now You Don't' Award - Oni Logan - Ready to sing and tour for Lynch Mob, he disappears the day the tour starts, only to re-join the band late in the year as if nothing happened. Glad he's back though.

The 'Most Pointless Appointment Of A Lead Singer' Award - LA Guns (Tracii Version) - Tracii was obviously hitting on Dilana and announced her as lead singer of the band. A week later she was gone. Thank goodness...but what happened there?

The 'Son Of A Gun' Award - Blades & Lukather - That's Colin Blades and Trevor Lukather forming a band together.

The 'Retiring Until I Come Back' Award - Brian Howe - Says goodbye to recording with farewell EP. You know he'll be back!

The 'Using Facebook To Piss Off Fans By Spamming' Award - Subway - This German band were utterly relentless in their constant spamming of everyone on Facebook by multiple users. And when challenged, they just ignored it and kept spamming. Not even their label knew how bad it was.

The 'Power Quest Most Line-Up Changes In One Year' Award - Ten - After recording just one album together as a line-up, Ten lost 3 members over a couple of weeks and then gained 3 more. Gary Hughes remains at the helm.

The 'Missed It By That Much' Award - Jeff Hoad - The Aussie Kings Of The Sun frontman got busted for drug running and only narrowly escaped a lengthy jail term.

The 'Talking Smack' Award - Sammy Hagar - Spent most of the year dissing the VH brothers. Understandable to a point...but that point grew old about half way through the year...and he's still going!

The 'Vanishing Labels' Award - Suncity Records, Blistering Records - R.I.P. Z Records is still going though. WTF?

The 'Bite The Hand That Feeds' Award - Jon Bon Jovi - Steve Jobs/Apple is evil says JBJ and is destroying the record industry. Well...maybe...maybe not. What is for certain is that Jobs changed it for good in an era where sales were slipping, but those changes have also lead to less demand for the art form known as "the album".

The 'Shortest Ever Tour Announcement-To-Cancellation' Award - Crown Of Thorns - Their 2-show Aussie tour went on sale, only to have single figure ticket sales. It was promptly cancelled.

The 'Is It A Myth' Award - The Steve Augeri Solo Album - It's still coming out right mate?!

The 'Worst Tweeted Planking' Shot - Nancy Wilson & Wolfgang Van Halen - Both pics were, um....unnecessary!

xx

The Best 'Worst Name For An Artist' Award - Boguslaw Balcerak's Crylord - And then you still have to add the album title - Blood Of The Prophets!

The 'Worst Artist Promo Shot' Award - Ten - Enough said.

,
Predictions

THE PREDICTED BEST OF 2012:

Rick Springfield, Pride Of Lions, Alliance, Jimi Jamison, Magnum, Eclipse, Degreed, All I Know, Bonrud, Chris Laney, LA Guns, Seventh Key, W.E.T., Find Me, Steve Lukather, Brother Firetribe, Kiss, Baton Rogue, Slash, Jaded Heart, Asia, Hess, Pink Cream 69, Ozone, Overland, Hartmann, Rush, Richie Sambora, Shinedown, Halestorm, Hardline, Van Halen, HEAT, Jeff Scott Soto, Jack Blades, Trixter, Casablanca, Bruce Springsteen, Romeo's Daughter, Jakob Samuel, Adrenalin Mob.

Of course there are plenty more that may or not make it by the end of the year - Survivor, Dare, Eden's Curse, The Darkness, Dream Theater, Fair Warning, Fran Cosmo, Mecca, Ratt, Leverage, Def Leppard, Keith Semple. And then there's the Dokken album, but the only way I think that will rate is if they get a new singer :)

,
Possible 2012 Top 20 (in no order)

Rick Springfield
Pride Of Lions
Alliance
Magnum
Eclipse W.E.T.
Steve Lukather
Brother Firetribe
Hess
Rush
Richie Sambora
Shinedown
Halestorm Hardline
Van Halen
H.E.A.T.

Jeff Scott Soto
Jack Blades
Trixter
Degreed

,
Dickhead Of The Year Award

Now, we're talking the 2011 calendar year right, so no shouting out names at me... I know folks look forward to this. I wish there wasn't any candidates at all to be honest! This year I have selected a few random emails from fans of mine that never fail to give me a laugh. I won't embarrass those that sent them in...man love can be hard thing to deal with:

1 - "Every day you become a bigger prick you sad loser. Wonder how much Frontiers pays you to praise the new shitty Journey record. The preview review on the message boards was so fucking laughable. Fucking prick." (From former Noticeboard user "Born To Run")

2 - "there's always some kind of excuse, none of these other music sites stop, if something happens they have someone to help out. hope your knee falls off!!!!!!!" - In response to be being hospitalised with badly infected knee.

3 - The bootlegger that was selling a compilation CD made up of 90 second samples taken from my frontpage samples to promote the release of MRCD8.

4 - The phantom postcard sender! I haven't had one in a while now, but there was one sent earlier in 2011. In fact, after 2 or 3 postcards, our British fanboy upgraded to a LETTER! He must have got a raise in his pocket money. And it appears he can't read, as most of the points made below were covered in the interview.

THE 2010 MELROCK AWARDS

Back to the 2010 Awards - a few quick notes. I have included titles from MelodicRock Records. I never reviewed any of my own titles for obvious reasons, but felt as if they deserved to be counted amongst their peers for "Best Of" honors. I think I have been very fair how I have placed them and state right now that they would be in the very same places had they been released on any other label.

I noticed a few things in compiling these great albums. One thing is that 2010 was a KILLER year for Debut Albums. So many strong first time releases. The other thing I note is that how quickly time flies. Essentially the 2009 titles are 2 years old and I was adding them into the lists thinking that I had only just reviewed them, just finished talking about them and here we are two years later already. It proves how quickly we are almost forced onto the next title as we are with monthly releases from most labels. There is just so many records to get through and I guess that is why sales are so low for some and why piracy forces it's way into the scene as people clamour to check out more releases than they can possible afford. And nothing there is about to change.

Lastly - because I'm so far behind here - don't shoot me for overlooking any particular title or song. I did my best to go back over the last 2 years and include everything that needed to be included. I think most quality releases over this period have found their way into the lists below. Of course, feel free to let me know what I missed. Just don't yell :)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

Treat

Coup De Grace

Was there ever any doubt? And with an additional 10 months to contemplate this, there is still no doubt. A melodic rock classic

 

2

 

Unruly Child

World's Collide

For any high profile return there is always huge expectations. And in this case the band delivered - none more so than Marcie Free - that voice has been gone for too long, but still sounds wonderful. A diverse, but cohesive album with some absolute blinding AOR tracks.

 

 

 

3

 

Steve Lukather

All's Well That Ends Well

A monster album filled with killer riffs, killer songs, killer solos and a lot of personal angst. There's an an honesty here that speaks to fans in a way few artists can.

 

 

4

Jimi Jamison

Never Too Late

Teaming with the guy that can do no wrong - Erik Martensson - Jimi delivers one of his best vocal performances ever on an album packed with hard hitting songs that define his career. Anthems, heartfelt melodies and emotional vocals. Fist in the air, feel good music, all delievred with a powerful production. Perfect for all fans of Jimi's past and present and still a much loved album for me.

5

Brian Howe

Circus Bar

Probably the biggest surprise of the year. A modern styled record, but with all the class of classic Howe lead Bad Company. A memorable and extremely catchy record.

6

 

 

Degreed - Life, Love, Loss

- Well, I decided I can toot my own horn a little. Even if not on my label, this album would have been right here anyway. Absolutely love it. A bridge between the old and the new - with kick ass songs.

 

7

 

 

 

Crazy Lixx - New Religion

- With no expectations - this blew me away with its old school hands in the air anthems and contemporary production.

 

8

 

 

Giant - Promise Land

- Despite the stupid album title and questions over the band name, the guys really delivered a great melodic rock album with some classic production and wonderful songs.

9

 

 

Crash Diet - Generation Wild

- Another surprise package - a lot of angst and energy in this hard rocking, hard sleazing album from Sweden (again!).

10

 

 

Allen/Lande - The Showdown

- Jack's second solo album is a far better and more consistent album than his debut and sits right alongside the awesome Night Ranger album from 2011 as a must have release.

11 Fenrik Lane - 317
12 James LaBrie - Static Impulse
13 First Signal - First Signal 
14 Ratt - Infestation 
15 Rock Sugar - Reimaginator
16 Vega - Kiss Of Life
17 N.O.W. - Force Of Nature 
18 Black Country Communion - Black Country Communion 
19 Tony Harnell & The Mercury Chain - Round Trip
20 Issa - Sign Of Angels

 

21 Auras - New Generation 
22 Houston - Houston 
23 Kiske/Somerville - Kiske/Somerville 
24 Pretty Maids - Pandemonium
25 Nelson - Lightning Strikes Twice
26 Scorpions - Sting In The Tail 
27 FM - Metropolis
28 Salute - Heart Of The Machine
29 Mass - Sea Of Black
30 Rick Springfield & Jeff Silverman - From The Vault

 

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • All I Know - Vanity Kills
  • Asia - Omega
  • Chris Laney - Only Come Out At Night
  • Grand Illusion - Brand New World
  • Axel Rudi Pell - The Crest
  • Line Of Fire - Momentum
  • Stan Bush - Dream The Dream
  • Y&T - Facemelter
  • Tara's Secret - Vertigo
  • Shining Line - Shining Line
  • Serpentine - A Touch Of Heaven
  • Newman - Art Of Balance
  • Wig Wam - Non Stop Rock N Roll
  • Jimi Jamison & Jim Peterik - Extra Moments
  • Violet Sun - Lonliness In Supremacy
  • Bangalore Choir - Cadence
  • H.E.A.T. - Freedom Rock
  • Edge Of Forever - Another Paradise
  • Meatloaf - Hang Cool Teddy Bear
  • Keel - Streets Of Rock N Roll
  • Goodbye Thrill - Outrageous
  • State Of Rock - A Point Of Destiny
  • Jorn - Dio
  • Last Autumns Dream - A Touch Of Heaven
  • White Widdow - White Widdow
  • Dan Reed - Coming Up For Air

 

BEST DEBUT OF 2010:
  1. Degreed - Love, Life, Loss
  2. First Signal - First Signal
  3. Black Country Communion - Black Country Communion
  4. Fenrik Lane - 317
  5. Shining Line - Shining Line
  6. Houston - Houston
  7. Vega - Kiss Of Life
  8. Issa - Sign Of Angels
  9. N.O.W. - Force Of Nature
  10. Auras - New Generation
,
BEST RE-ISSUE/COMPILATION/LIVE RELEASE:
  1. 7th heaven - Jukebox
  2. Virginia Wolf - Virginia Wolf & Push
  3. Survivor - Caught In The Game & Vital Signs
  4. Rick Springfield & Jeff Silverman - From The Vault
  5. Jeff Scott Soto - Firefest V Live
  6. Brother Firetribe - Live At Apollo
  7. The Poodles - No Quarter (Live)
  8. Triumph - Diamond Collection (Catalogue Box Set)
  9. Gowan - Strange Animal (2CD Set)
  10. Survivor - Survivor & Premonition
2010 SONG OF THE YEAR
  1. Unruly Child - The Very First Time

     

  2. Treat - Paper Tiger

     

  3. Steve Lukather - Darkness In My World


     
  4. Unruly Child - When We Were Young


     
  5. Treat - No Way Without You

     

  6. Terry Brock - Diamond Blue
  7. Brian Howe - I'm Back
  8. Crazy Lixx - My Medicine
  9. Giant - Believer
  10. Black Country Communion - One Last Soul
     
  11. Crash Diet - Generation Wild
  12. Treat - Roar
  13. Unruly Child - When Worlds Collide
  14. Wig Wam - Do Ya Wanna Taste It
  15. Nelson - You're All I Need
  16. Vega - Into The Wild
  17. Steve Lukather - You'll Remember
  18. Meat Loaf - Peace On Earth
  19. Ratt - Best Of Me
  20. Allen / Lande - The Showdown
     
  21. James LaBrie - I Tried
  22. Houston - Hold On
  23. First Signal - This City
  24. Michael Paynter - Love The Fall
  25. Treat - Skies Of Mongolia
  26. Vega - Kiss Of Life
  27. Black Country Communion - Black Country
  28. Unruly Child - Read My Mind
  29. Treat - We Own The Night
  30. H.E.A.T. - We're Gonna Make It To The End
     
  31. Allen / Lande - Judgement Day
  32. Crazy Lixx - Blame It On Love
  33. Stan Bush - I'm Still Here
  34. First Signal - When You Believe
  35. Terry Brock - It's You
  36. James LaBrie - One More Time
  37. Asia - Finger On The Trigger
  38. Two Fires - Burning Bright
  39. Masterplan - Far From The End Of The World
  40. Mass - All The Years Gone
     
  41. James LaBrie - I Need You
  42. Nelson - Kicking My Heart Around
  43. H.E.A.T. - Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
  44. Terry Brock - Face In The Crowd
  45. Crashdiet - My Armageddon
  46. Meat Loaf - California Isn't Big Enough
  47. Steve Lukather - Can't Look Back
  48. Two Fires - Is It Any Wonder
  49. Edge Of Forever - I Won't Call You
  50. Reckless Love - Beautiful Bomb
2010 Best Artwork
1
2 3
04-07
08-11
12-15
16-20

 

2010 Artist Awards

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Marcie Free (Unruly Child)

Without question, the most anticipated and hyped return of any singer in recent times. And what a voice!

Honorable Mentions - Robert Ernlund (Treat), Terry Brock (Solo & Giant), Brian Howe, James LaBrie.

Past Winners:
2009 - John Elefante
2008 - Arnel Pineda
2006 - Pekka Ansio Heino
2005 - Jorn Lande
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto
2003 - Harry Hess.

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR:
Steve Lukather
One amazing album, a couple of killer tours and some licks from heaven.

Honorable Mentions - Mike Slamer (Terry Brock), Anders Wickstrom (Treat), .

Past Winners:
2009 - Erik Martensson (W.E.T.)
2008 - Doug Aldrich
2007 - Thorsten Koehne
2006 - Steve Lukather
2005 - Magnus Karlsson

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Steve Lukather, CJ Vanston, Steve MacMillan (FOR: Steve Lukather - All's Well That Ends Well)
This album simply sounds sonically perfect. There is so much going on within this album and the mix is simply crystal clear.

Honorable mentions - Mike Slamer (Terry Brock), Anders Wickstrom (Treat), Brian Howe/Rafe McKenna (Brian Howe).

Past Winners:
2009 - Erik Martensson (W.E.T.)
2008 - Dennis Ward
2007 - Dennis Ward
2006 - Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem)
2005 - Dennis Ward
2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi
2003 - Tommy Denander.

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR:
Jamie Borger (Treat/Last Autumn's Dream)
A simply head-pounding job on the Treat album, plus the always consistent work on last Autumn's Dream. A great year for Jamie.

Past Winners:
2009 - Steve West (Danger Danger)
2008 - The Drum Machine
2007 - Kelly Keagy
2006 - Simon Phillips
2005 - Daniel Flores.

BASSIST OF THE YEAR:
Nalle Pahlsson (Treat, Last Autumn's Dream, Chris Laney)
A triple dose of bass glory in 2010 from Nalle. Well deserved!

Past Winners:
2009 - Bruno Ravel (Danger Danger)
2008 - Matt Bissonette
2007 - Jack Blades
2006 - Marcel Jacob

KEYBOARDIST OF THE YEAR:
CJ Vanston (Steve Lukather)
CJ added so much atmosphere to this album, but all of it without imposing himself upon it. Subtle brilliance.

Past Winners:
2009 - Darren Wharton (Dare)
2008 - Eric Ragno
2007 - Eric Ragno.

,
Rest In Peace

2010:

Steve Lee (Gotthard); Ronnie James Dio; Jim Clench (April Wine/BTO); Bobby Lee Morgan (Badd Attitude); Mike Edwards (ELO); Michael Been (The Call); Bill Aucoin (manager Kiss, Starz, Toby Beau, Billy Squier, Billy Idol); Dana Key (DeGarmo & Key); Vinnie Chas (Pretty Boy Floyd); Peter Steele (Type O Negative); Bryan Mitchell (studio Engineer); Garry Sharpe Young (Journalist); Tom "T-Bone" Wolk (Hall And Oates); Gregory Pianka (Dirty Looks); Geoff Workman (Engineer and Producer); Jérôme Perdu (Toyz); James Freud (The Models); Bill Bieloh (Moondance Jam founder); Mickey Daniels (Oney).

2009:

Marcel Jacob (Talisman/LAD/JSS); Dean Fasano (Prophet/Message); Eric Woolfson (Alan Parsons Project); Pim Koopman & Frank Papendrecht (Kayak en Diesel); Jeff Findley (Photographer); Terry Griffin (wife of Thom Griffin); Greg Ladanyi (Studio Wiz/Producer); Jodi Reese (Shanghai); Patrick Swayze; Kyle Woodring (ex-Survivor, Dennis DeYoung); Mickie Jones (Angel); Wim den Boer (Cotton Soeterboek Band); Guy Babylon (Composer/Elton John Band); Allen Shellenberger (Lit); Tony Dandini (of Journey tribute band 'Capture'); Joel Vinson (Oz Knozz); Midnight (Crimson Glory); Donnie Troy Skiff (Wicked Sins); Michael Jackson; Ean Evans (Lynyrd Skynyrd); Carey Kress (Face Dancer); Gregg Fulkerson (Blue Tears/Attraction 65); Kelly Groucutt (ELO).

These folk who all passed before their tume will be remembered and mourned as great contributors to the music industry. They will be sadly missed.

,
Worst Of 2009/2010

I don't enjoy highlighting the negative, but one must mention the albums that failed to reach par during 2010 in hope that the same mistakes won't be made next time around.

2010 was a solid year, but for me it also threw up a number of notable failures. None bigger than Captain Zapped. It had the honor of receiving the second lowest score ever and I think I might have been too generous with that 2%.
Mickey Thomas' foray into pop/blues via The Bluemasters failed to make any kind of impact despite the great singer's involvement. Just plain boring and not what any of us AOR fans want to hear.
Bret Michaels continues to confuse fans with a positive spin with his various reality TV appearances, while churning out shit album after shit album as a musician. Time the guy hired proper A&R help and focussed on what fans really want from him. Reality TV only goes so far when you are a born and bred singer.

Eden features one of my favourite UK singers in Nick Workman - but the production curse of Vince O'Regan scored another victim with the release of this band's third and final album. To bad they couldn't deliver once decent sounding album before splitting.
LA Guns - the Phil Lewis version that is - put out one of the worst covers albums I have ever heard. Limp and unfocussed to say the least and horribly mixed.

No one will ever forgive Drive She Said for their best of album - which was marred by the inclusion of three utterly horrendous new tracks - badly produced, badly sung and one of the tunes was so out of left field for this AOR group, fans started wondering if the wrong track had been dropped onto the disc. Sadly is was DSS and I dare say it will probably be the last we ever hear from them.

Cry Wolf was another band to switch musical allegiances to the dark side. Their modern-hard rock themed release came and went without much ado and I doubt they will recover from that either. You simply cannot attempt to make a big comeback and deliver a new style of music to fans that have waited a length of time for new music.
Yngwie Malmsteen continued the roller coaster ride that is his career - this time dipping down for another mess of a release. Nelson's live album also should have been reconsidered - the horrible recording was worse than many bootleg's out there - and I'm including audience recorded shows in that. Thankfully they made up for it with the cool demos release and a cracking new studio album.
Stage Dolls, John Farnham and Robert Plant all did their best to put us to sleep, while the most high profile bomb of the year was probably the comeback Strangeways release. Horrible production, long boring songs and a rushed feeling left this album panned by most fans and critics alike.

2009: Kimberley Dahme - Can't A Girl Change Her Mind, Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland, Simple Minds - Graffiti Soul, Wetton Downes Icon - 3, Balance - Equilibrium.

WORST ARTWORK:

xxx

xxxx

 

,
The Year In Review: MELODICROCK.COM

2010 was one of the more interesting years for MelodicRock.com. There was the usual business of dealing with labels, artists, management, promoters, retailer, fans and the odd lunatic; but it was also a year which saw me set up my own label (MelodicRock Records - MRR) and take the unwise decision of hosting another MelodicRock Fest.

First to the stats - a generally consistent year, averaging 15,000-18,000 frontpage visits per day. The annual traffic stats reads as follows: 1,623,087 Unique Hits, totalling 5,336,580 visits and 20,978,066 pages viewed. Total "hits" for the 2010 year totalled 337,906,540 for 10,870.06 GigaByte of data transferred. Not too bad! You can add extra for individual forum stats, but that's a general overview.

Sadly the number of visits doesn't necessarily translate to income earned and 2010 was again the worst year on record for that and makes things that little bit tougher - each and every year it seems. A number of retailers dropped advertising during 2010 - not due to any problem with the site, rather their own individual problems like mine - trying to make ends meet. A couple more stores closed business and a couple more are hanging in there. What is universal amongst all advertisers and companies I deal with, 2010 was the toughest year yet and all suffered a further downturn in business. It is the usual call by me to urge everyone reading this to support these businesses as much as you possibly can, but I suspect that you are indeed doing just that and it is the casual or fringe-dwelling fans that are vanishing.

MelodicRock Fest 2 (MRF2) didn't help matters any I'm sad to say. I expanded the concept that was MRF1 into a 3 day event this time around and nearly tripled the number of bands appearing. I locked in a wonderful new venue (which since has disappeared) and paid out far more in advertising than I did for MRF1. And still I got less people through the door each day than I did for MRF1! Just over 500 each day, which was well short of the 700+ per day I needed. So I lost a decent chunk of money I didn't have, when the whole point was to try and raise extra to ensure the site has buffer to operate with. I'm still looking for that buffer!
MRF3 looks as likely as Steve Perry joining Journey. I get a lot of feedback asking of and when, but without significant corporate backing of at least $20k, it won't be anytime soon. 2012 is 15 years of MelodicRock.com, it would be nice to celebrate in style. But you might have to meet me at the pub for a drink instead. Which pub? TBC!

I have to say though - the festival itself was an absolute blast. The line-up was incredible (if I dare say so myself) and the fans gathered were so supportive and so enthusiastic for the event, it really was a terrific weekend all-round (apart from the sales!). Each band I thought brought their A-Game and delivered on the day. It really was a wonderful atmosphere and a room filled with passionate music fans. And I REALLY appreciate the feedback from those that continue to talk about the weekend!

,
2010 Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards

The Treat Fans Like Mushrooms Award - Van Halen - And nothing is expected to change anytime soon!

The 'Steve Perry/Journey' Best Bust Up Award - Portnoy vs Dream Theater - Ugly.

The 'Greg Giuffria - On No, My Studio Is On Fire' Award - Tesla - Sadly the band joined a unique club.

The 'Charlie Watts - I'm Not Dead Yet' Award - Ten - for their ghostly halo PR picture.

The 'Motley Crue - Are We A Band Or Not' Award - Ratt & Stephen Pearcy - Make up your minds already!

The 'Vampires R Us' Award - Sebastian Bach - For 'allegedly' biting bar staff and being arrested in Ontario.

The 'Axl Rose - Anyone's Fault But Mine' Award - Axl Rose - once again making friends everywhere he goes - this time with Reading and Leeds Festival organizers in UK.

The 'Kiss Alive 2029 World Tour' Award - Scorpions & Judas Priest - for announcing their retirements, on the back of new albums and world tours to follow!

The 'Don't Fire Management, Fire Yourself' Award - Jon Bon Jovi - Let Richie run the show for a change.

The 'GWAR - Make It Stop Award' For The Most Unnecessary CD: LA Guns - Covered In Guns (Covers album).
Previous Winner: Duran Duran, Billy Idol.

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Tom Scholz sues Boston Herald; Axl Rose sues Activision - the regulars were at it again!
Previous Winners: Motely Crue, Meatloaf / Jim Steinman, The World Vs SonyBMG, Frankie Sullivan.

The 'Henry Lee Summer' DUI Award - Bobby Blotzer, Vince Neil - Those two...again! Shame!

The 'Gene Simmons' I'll Flog Anything Award: Mickey Thomas - Studio Fantasy Sessions w/Mickey (at $2000 a pop!).
Previous Winner: Beau Hill, George Lynch, Gene Simmons.

The 'Vince Neil' Best Off-Stage Antics Award: Joe Elliott & Ian Hunter - the duo were seen double teaming security and others back/side stage in the UK.
Previous Winners: Richie Sambora, Jani Lane, Jani Lane, Vince Neil, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

,
Dickhead Of The Year Award

2009 and 2010 served up the two single biggest dickheads that I have ever had to deal with in 15 years of running this site. To name them now would be rehashing old crap that has long since disappeared from my radar. Neither is worthy of any further thought. But for anyone in doubt - 2009's DH was all over my Noticeboard for a period of time and responsible for some of the best rants I have seen ever posted there or elsewhere. He will forever be remembered for providing us with some much needed comedy.

2010's dickhead was even worse - a truly vindictive asshole that has had issues with just about everyone he has ever dealt with - to the point where there are few left to deal with. All that come across his path soon after realize what a grade a pillock he is and also stop dealing with him. To his credit, he did manage to spin my dumping his ass from the site into a "I dumped you first" rant posted in a few places. Not that anyone was listening or cared. When he lost all control on the Noticeboard he buried any remaining credibility he might have held on to. To this day he remains in business (not as a full time job), how I don't really know. True comedic gold!

 

THE END
2009 ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

W.E.T.

W.E.T.

Simply put - glorious melodic rock with passion, power and hooks galore.

 

2

 

Danger Danger

Revolve

A fantastic comeback, but it took too long and the next one probably won't appear until 2016.

 

 

 

3

 

Mastedon

3

An absolutely gem of a melodic rock album - intelligent, intense and brilliantly sung.

 

 

4

Winger

Karma

Winger turn back the clock a little, mixing old with new and rocking hard at the same time.

5

House Of Lords

Cartesian Dreams

The band keep on delivering, simple as that

6

 

 

Out Loud - We'll Rock You To Hell And Back

- Silly title, but a great, good fun old school hard rocking debut album.

7

 

 

 

Gotthard - Need To Believe

- Who knew it would be the band's last album with Steve Lee? His death continues to haunt fans. Classy album as always.

8

 

 

The Poodles - Clash Of The Elements

- Absolutely hard rock/melodic brilliance.

9

 

 

Sunstorm - House Of Dreams

- The best yet...wow, what a set of songs and JLT sounds great.

10

 

 

Foreigner - Can't Slow Down

- Took far too long to arrive, but worth the wait. A bit soft, but all quality and class.

11 Place Vendome - Streets Of Fire
12 Europe - Last Look At Eden
13 Chris Laney - Pure
14 Vindictiv - Ground Zero
15 Leverage - Circus Collossus
16 Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot
17 Blanc Faces - Falling From The Moon
18 Hardline - Leaving The End Open
19 Kiss - Sonic Boom
20 Impellitteri - Wicked Maiden

 

21 Last Autumn's Dream - Dreamcatcher
22 Lou Gramm Band - Lou Gramm Band
23 Dare - Arc Of The Dawn 
24 Places Of Power - Now Is The Hour
25 Grand Design - Time Elevation
26 Blackwood Creek - Blackwood Creek
27 Steevi Jaimz - My Private Hell
28 Stryper - Murder By Pride
29 Dream Theater - Dark Clouds & Silver Linings

 

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Salute - Toy Soldiers
  • Jorn - Spirit Black
  • Overland - Diamond Dealer
  • Johnny Lima - Livin' Out Loud
  • Fair Warning - Aura
  • Magnum - Into The Valley Of The Moonking
  • Geff - Land Of The Free
  • Far Cry - High Gear
  • Street Legal - Bite The Bullet
  • Danny Vaughn - The Road Less Travelled
  • Voices Of Rock - High & Mighty
  • Richard Marx - Emotional Remains
  • Radio Silence - Who's Skin Are You Under Now
  • Reece - Universal Language
  • Steel Panther - Feel The Steel

 

2009 SONG OF THE YEAR
  1. W.E.T. - Brothers In Arms

     

  2. Outloud - We Run
  3. Sunstorm - Don't Give Up
  4. Winger - Stone Cold Killer
  5. Foreigner - Living In A Dream
  6. The Poodles - Give Me A Sign
     
  7. Sunstorm - Divided
  8. Danger Danger - That's What I'm Talking About
  9. Foreigner - Can't Slow Down
  10. Mastedon - That's What You Do
  11. W.E.T. - Comes Down Like Rain
  12. Sunstorm - I Found Love
  13. Hardline - Start Again
  14. Foreigner - In Pieces
  15. The Poodles - Caroline
  16. Hardline - Falling Free
     
  17. Place Vendome - Streets Of Fire
  18. Mastedon - Questions (It's About Time)
  19. Winger - Deal With The Devil
  20. House Of Lords - Cartesian Dreams
  21. W.E.T. - Invincible
  22. Outloud - What I Need
  23. Europe - New Love In Town
  24. Places Of Power - The Passage
  25. Blanc Faces - Falling From The Moon
  26. House of Lords - Never Look Back
     
  27. Grand Design - Air It Out
  28. Foreigner - I'll Be Home
  29. Gotthard - Shangri-La
  30. The Poodles - I Rule The Night
  31. Danger Danger - Ghost Of Love
  32. Gotthard - Need To Believe
  33. Places Of Power - In Your Wildest Dreams
  34. W.E.T. - Running From The Heartache
  35. Outloud - This Broken Heart
  36. Hardline - Voices
     
  37. Gotthard - Shangri-La
  38. Winger - Witness
  39. House Of Lords - Desert rain
  40. Europe - Gotta Get Ready
  41. Chickenfoot - Avenida Revolution
  42. Mastedon - Without Your Love
  43. Places Of Power - Hard To Love You
  44. Lou Gramm Band - Baptized By Fire
  45. Dare - Shelter In The Storm
  46. Winger - Always Within Me

I can hear you saying out loud around the globe. "What??? Six months late and this is all we get??” Yes, I'm afraid so folks. But I hope it will still provide some food for thought on the year just passed.

The last 12 months have been excruciatingly hard for myself – both work and personal commitments left me completely spent and unable to do a lot of what I really enjoy doing with the site. The lack of reviews is another issue I know many are disappointed with. In getting this abbreviated version of the annual MelRock Awards online finally, I hope I can close a very tiring chapter of the site's history and move on to getting things back to their up to date best.
And I will promise now to deliver the biggest and most comprehensive Awards page for the 2009 year – ASAP early 2010.

The most disappointing aspect of this very small summary of the 2008 year is the fact that it was an outstanding year for just about every musical genre. But best of all – it was a stand out year for good old melodic rock.
In a year where Guns N Roses actually released that damn album already and huge names like Metallica, AC/DC, Journey, Whitesnake, Tesla, Extreme, Motley Crue, Nickelback and Def Leppard ALL released albums, it is amazing that some of the smaller/indie releases got a look in at all.
Overall I found the big name releases to be strong, but largely unsurprising in what they offered. None of them apart from Journey rated in the very top portions of my Best Of 2008 list. Some delivered above expectations, but a few missed the mark.

I'm really proud of the artists that I cover here. In my mind they were able to compete with the big guns and deliver world class records with world class sound. If only they got the same (or close to the same) exposure some of those big names get. I know for a fact these artists would find a ton of new fans.

It still amazes me that after 12 years of running this site I get regular e-mails from readers saying how – thanks to this site - they just discovered the likes of Gotthard, Harem Scarem, Ten or some of the newer names like Brother Firetribe, H.E.A.T., Poodles and Wig Wam - declaring themselves fans for life of these acts. That's what it is all about.

So, while this 2008 list is well and truly beyond late – the fact is that there is never a bad time to produce a list which might inspire some readers to go back over what they missed in 2008 and hopefully discover a few more gems for their collections.

My sincere apologies for the lack of regular features within this edition of the MelRock Awards. I'll make up for it with the 2009 Awards.

And as one last usual disclaimer – the awards below are my personal opinion only and should be treated as just that. I know some GNR fans will want to lynch me for not making a bigger fuss of Chinese Democracy, and no doubt others will feel the same about another act I might have missed or didn't personally rate. What can I say?
E-Mail me for my opinion if you so desire, I will always respond to all feedback, but don't get too pissy over the order I have arranged the artists in! Just my humble opinion. Enjoy…

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

Brother Firetribe

Heart Full Of Fire

I generally tend to look for an evolving sound in melodic rock/AOR these days, as few artists are still able to capture that "classic" sound and keep it fresh. But in the case of this album, the BFT guys reach back into Giuffria 1985 territory and deliver an essential album of glorious AOR that reminds me of exactly why I love this genre and why nothing else will ever come close when it's done well. This is done exceptionally well and in a highly competitive year, was for me - unbeatable!

 

2

 

Rick Springfield

Venus In Overdrive

Following the point made above, Rick never tries to cover old ground, rather he reinvents himself album after album and Venus In Overdrive is no different. Employing a more contemporary sound than ever before, Rick goes modern, but brings his famous delivery and classic vocal with him. A brilliantly produced mix of old meets new and a fresh new sound for Rick. Not to mention some of the best songs he has recorded in a long long time - personal and wonderfully insightful as ever. Rick is the Peter Pan of melodic rock...he just never gets old.

 

 

 

3

 

 

Journey

Revelation

The pressure was squarely on these guys to deliver in the wake of controversial vocalist changes and a disappointing album that preceded this one. The 2CD/DVD package was an instant hit with long time and casual fans alike, but what shines brightest here was the new songs. Full of energy, passion and some grittier than expected material. The ballads are for the most part fresh and entertaining also. And at the forefront of this album is Arnel Pineda, who under the intensity of a blow-torch, delivered in style.

 

 

4

Eclipse

Are You Ready To Rock

Always a classy band these guys - but boy did they deliver big time with this record. Fresh, energetic, engaging and catchy as hell. The guys used a classic melodic hard rock template and added some more contemporary elements to push the genre a little further (which is exactly what is needed) and if there was any justice, these songs would be on radio stations worldwide. A wonderfully catchy and hard rocking release with a major label production from band mastermind Erik Martensson.

5

Jimi Jamison

Crossroads Moment

The hugely anticipated re-union of Jimi Jamison and Jim Peterik, who wrote the record for Jimi as well as co-producing and performing on it with the Pride Of Lions team. So yes...Survivor meets POL, but what a classy and memorable melodic rock record. A truly great slice of old-school melodies and Jimi Jamison sounding stronger than he has in years. A long record....but of all these tracks, what could you possibly cut out? Terrific stuff.

6

 

 

Shinedown - Sound Of Madness

- Melodic Metal or Modern Rock? It doesn't really matter - this is just great powerful music! Tough, aggressive, but infectious at the same time. Contemporary, but melodic and featuring an absolutely monstrous wall of sound to blast eardrums with.

 

7

 

 

 

Work Of Art - Artwork

- Toto is re-invented as a Swedish band making their debut album! Few artists have marked their debut with such authority and presence but these guys instantly stamped their name upon the AOR scene. One of those classic 80s AOR releases that sounds fresh thanks to a killer production and wonderful songs.

 

8

 

 

Alliance - Road To Heaven

- Another very consistent band, but again...in 2008 the guys stepped everything up 2 notches and delivered their best sounding record to date featuring their catchiest songs to date. Classic rock lives on!

9

 

 

House Of Lords - Come To My Kingdom

- Ever consistent and ever enjoyable. The band proved the last album wasn't a fluke, but have the pressure on now to mix things up a little and still deliver another killer in 2009. Choruses everywhere.

10

 

 

H.E.A.T. - H.E.A.T.

- Jack's second solo album is a far better and more consistent album than his debut and sits right alongside the awesome Night Ranger album from 2011 as a must have release.

11 Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad
12 Steve Lukather - Ever Changing Times
13 Marcello Vestry - Marcello Vestry 
14 Eden's Curse - The Second Coming 
15 Tesla - Forever More
16 Shadowman  - Ghost In The Mirror
17 JSS - Beautiful Mess (Digital Release) 
18 Leverage  - Blind Fire 
19 Harem Scarem - Hope
20 Khymera - The Greatest Wonder

 

21 Starbreaker - Love's Dying Wish 
22 Bob Catley - Immortal
23 Anberlin - New Surrender
24 Poley/Rivera - Only Human
25 From The Inside - Visions
26 Motley Crue - Saints Of Los Angeles
27 7th Heaven - USA/UK
28 Robert Berry - The Dividing Line
29 Honeymoon Suite - Clifton Hill
30 Valentine - Soul Salvation

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Overland - Break Away
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Hunting Shadows
  • Royal Hunt - Paradox II: Collision Course
  • Michael Bormann - Capture The Moment
  • Revolution Renaissance - New Era
  • Lost Weekend - Fear And Innocence
  • AC/DC - Black Ice
  • China Blue - Twilight Of Destiny
  • Hope - All Of My Days
  • Nickelback - Dark Horse
  • Uriah Heep - Wake The Sleeper
  • Talon - Fallen Angels
  • Elevener - When Kaleidoscopes Collide
  • Silent Call - Creations From A Chosen Path
  • Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy
  • Richard Marx - Emotional Remains
  • Hinder - Take It To The Limit
  • Crown Of Thorns - Faith
  • Jorn - Lonely Are The Brave
  • Kip Winger - From The Moon To The Sun
  • Vindictiv - Vindictiv
  • Asia - Phoenix
  • White Lion - Return Of The Pride
  • Glenn Hughes - First Underground Nuclear Kitchen
  • Myland - No Man's Land
  • Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge
  • M.ill.ion - Thrill Of The Chase
  • Ramos/Hugo - The Dream
  • Krackerjack - Rock On
  • Rev Theory - Light It Up
  • Miss Crazy - II
  • Extreme - Saudades de Rock 

 

THE BEST METAL / PROG ALBUM:
  • Eden's Curse - The Second Coming
  • Leverage - Blind Fire
  • Vindictiv - Vindictiv
  • Royal Hunt - Paradox II: Collision Course
  • Revolution Renaissance - New Era
  • It Bites - Tall Ships
  • Silent Call - Creations From A Chosen Path
  • Tempestt - Bring 'Em On
  • Fires Of Babylon - Fires Of Babylon
  • StoneLake - Uncharted Souls 
,
THE BEST OLD-SCHOOL AOR ALBUM:
  • Journey - Revelation
  • Jimi Jamison - Crossroads Moment
  • Work Of Art - Artwork
  • Khymera - The Greatest Wonder
  • Shadowman - Ghost In The Mirror
  • From The Inside - Visions
  • Poley/Rivera - Only Human
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Hunting Shadows
  • Valentine - Soul Salvation
  • Ramos Hugo - The Dream 
,
THE BEST MODERN ROCK ALBUM:
  1. Shinedown - Sound Of Madness
  2. Anberlin - New Surrender
  3. Rev Theory - Light It Up
  4. Hinder - Take It To The Limit
  5. Trevor Lukather - 'Trev' iTunes EP
  6. Simple Plan - Simple Plan
  7. Search The City - A Fire So Big The Heavens Can See It
  8. Story Of The Year - The Black Swan
  9. Remedy Drive - Daylight Is Coming
  10. Pink - Funhouse 
,
BEST DEBUT ALBUM OF 2008:

(New Band/Artist, Not Project)

 

  • Work Of Art - Artwork
  • H.E.A.T. - H.E.A.T.
  • Marcello Vestry - Marcello Vestry
  • Ramos Hugo - The Dream
  • Myland - No Man's Land
  • Poley/Rivera - Only Human
  • Hope - All Of My Days
  • Overland - Break Away
  • China Blue - Twilight Of Destiny
  • Vindictiv - Vindictiv 
,
BEST COMPILATION OR LIVE ALBUM:
  • Foreigner - No End In Sight: Very Best Of
  • Magnum - Wings Of Heaven Live
  • Rush - Snakes And Arrows Live
  • Various Artists - ARfm: The Undying Fire
  • Night Ranger - Rockin' Shibuya 2007
  • Tesla - Gold
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Best Of / Live In Germany
  • Touch - The Complete Works: Definitive Edition
  • Newman - Decade
  • Valentine - Live At Firefest IV (CD/DVD)   
,
BEST RE-ISSUE/ARCHIVE RELEASE:
  • Rick Springfield - Tao/Living In Oz
  • Heart - Bad Animals/Heart
  • Chicago - XXX
  • Eric Martin - I'm Only Fooling Myself
  • Glen Burtnik - Talking In Code
  • Hurricane - US Catalogue Remasters
  • Brother Firetribe - Break Out
  • House Of Lords - Anthology
  • Arrival - Arrival (feat. Mark Free)
  • Cobra - First Strike 
2008 SONG OF THE YEAR
  1. Brother Firetribe - Wildest Dreams (Audio Sample - MP3 Download)
  2. Rick Springfield - I'll Miss That Someday
  3. Jimi Jamison - Crossroads Moment
  4. Journey - Never Walk Away
  5. Rick Springfield - One Passenger
     
  6. Shinedown - Devour
  7. Brother Firetribe - Runaways
  8. Eclipse - Unbreakable
  9. Journey - Change For The Better
  10. Rick Springfield - What's Victoria's Secret
     
  11. Eclipse - Million Miles Away
  12. Khymera - Beautiful Life
  13. Marcello Vestry - Gone
  14. Work Of Art - Why Do I?
  15. Harem Scarem - Days Are Numbered
  16. H.E.A.T. - Never Let Go
  17. House Of Lords - I Needed To Fly
  18. Rick Springfield - Venus In Overdrive
  19. H.E.A.T. - There For You
  20. Alliance - Road To Heaven
     
  21. Jimi Jamison - That's Why I Sing
  22. Robert Berry - A Life Worth Living
  23. Work Of Art - Maria
  24. Honeymoon Suite - Tired O Waiting
  25. Steve Lukather - Ever Changing Times
  26. Journey - What It Takes To Win
  27. Whitesnake - Best Years
  28. Eclipse - To Mend A Broken Heart
  29. House Of Lords - One Foot In The Dark
  30. Jimi Jamison - Behind The Music
     
  31. H.E.A.T. - Keep On Dreaming
  32. Brother Firetribe - Who Will You Run To Now
  33. Alliance - Nothing Else I Can Do
  34. Starbreaker - Hello Are You Listening
  35. Khymera - Borderline
  36. Last Autumn's Dream - Strange Operation
  37. JSS - 21st Century
  38. Rick Springfield - Time Stands Still
  39. Poley/Rivera - The Bigger They Come
  40. JSS - Broken Man
     
  41. Shinedown - Sound Of Madness
  42. Journey - Turn Down The World Tonight
  43. JSS - Gin & Tonic Sky
  44. Jimi Jamison - As Is
  45. Rick Springfield - Oblivious
  46. Leverage - Shadow In The Rain
  47. Shadowman - I've Been Wrong Before
  48. Bob Catley - End Of The World
  49. Eden's Curse - Signs Of Your Life
  50. Trevor Lukather - Lives Built Around Lies 
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Robert Berry - The Dividing Line
  • Robert Berry - One Good Man
  • Robert Berry - Can't Let Go
  • China Blue - I Feel Like Dying
  • China Blue - What Do You Need But Love
  • Valentine - Soul Salvation
  • Valentine - Dream On The Way
  • Valentine - One More Chance
  • Lost Weekend - Another Lonely Night In Tears
  • Lost Weekend - Father And Son
  • Hope - Baby Don't Cry
  • Hope - Bring Down The Stars
  • Talon - What About Me
  • Talon - All I Ever Needed
  • Talon - Baby Jane
  • Faith Circus - Back On Love
  • Faith Circus - Tried And True
  • Nickelback - Never Gonna Be Alone
  • Nickelback - Burn It To The Ground
  • Simple Plan - When I'm Gone
  • Anberlin – The Resistance
  • Anberlin – Haight St
  • Hinder – Last Kiss Goodbye
  • Hinder – Loaded And Alone
  • Jimi Jamison - Make Me A Believer
  • Jimi Jamison - She's Nothing To Me
  • Tesla - Forever More
  • Tesla - So What
  • Newman - Coming Home Tonight
  • Newman - Don't Ever Say Forever
  • Eden's Curse - Masquerade Ball
  • Eden's Curse - Games People Play
  • Eden's Curse - Sail On
  • Eclipse - Breaking My Heart Again
  • Eclipse - Hometown Calling
  • 7th heaven - This Summers Gonna Last Forever
  • 7th heaven - Better This Way
  • Shadowman - Road to Nowhere
  • Shadowman - No Man's Land
  • Honeymoon Suite - She Ain't Alright
  • Honeymoon Suite - Why Should I?
  • Ramos/Hugo - You're Not Alone
  • Ramos/Hugo - Bring Back This Love
  • Uriah Heep - Book Of Lies
  • Uriah Heep - Tears Of The World
  • Shinedown - If You Only Knew
  • Shinedown - What a Shame
  • Bob Catley - We Are Immortal
  • Bob Catley - You Are My Star
  • Crown Of Thorns - Home Again
  • Crown Of Thorns - Believe Me
  • Extreme - Star
  • Extreme - Ghost
  • Elevener - This Heart Of Mine
  • Elevener - I Still Remember
  • Silent Call - Outcast
  • Silent Call - I Believe In Me
  • From The Inside - Making Waves
  • From The Inside - Days Of Hunger
  • Rick Springfield - Who Killed Rock n Roll
  • Land Of Tales - Silence
  • Starbreaker - Changes Me
  • Starbreaker - Unknown Superstar
  • Starbreaker - End Of Alone
  • Motley Crue - Face Down in the Dirt
  • Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles
  • Marcello-Vestry - One More Night
  • Marcello-Vestry - Fireworks
  • Harem Scarem - Dark Times
  • Harem Scarem - Calm Before The Storm
  • Pleasure Dome - Trapped
  • Pleasure Dome - Praying For A Miracle
  • Gypsy Rose - Nothing Really Matters
  • Gypsy Rose - Don't Look Back
  • Frozen Rain - Waiting For You
  • Krackerjack - Rock On!
  • Krackerjack - Back Together
  • Rev Theory - Wanted Man
  • Rev Theory - Far From Over
  • H.E.A.T. - Follow Me
  • H.E.A.T. - Bring The Stars
  • Jorn - Shadow People
  • Overland - Break Away
  • Overland - Heartache Calling
  • Michael Bormann - I Wanna Hear Your Voice
  • Michael Bormann - When Push Comes To Shove
  • M.ill.ion - Thrill Of The Chase
  • M.ill.ion - Lonely In A Crowded Room
  • Tempestt - Insanity Desire
  • Tempestt - Enemy In You
  • Peter Friestedt - Where To Touch You
  • Peter Friestedt - One More Night
  • Miss Crazy - How Long Now
  • Miss Crazy - The River
  • Glenn Hughes - Love Communion
  • Glenn Hughes - Never Say Never
  • Kip Winger - Every Story Told
  • Kip Winger - Nothing
  • Myland - Anytime
  • Myland - The Wind Of Late September
  • Def Leppard - Gotta Let It Go
  • Def Leppard - Nine Lives
  • Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad
  • Whitesnake - All For Love
  • Brother Firetribe - Heart Full Of Fire
  • Brother Firetribe - Out Of My Head
  • Overdrive - Fight To The Finish
  • Overdrive - Let The Metal Do The Talking
  • Bryan Adams - Walk On By
  • Alliance - I Can Breathe
  • Alliance - Make A Stand
  • Asia - Never Again
  • Asia - Shadow of a Doubt
  • Asia - An Extraordinary Life
  • House Of Lords - One Foot In The Dark
  • House Of Lords - Your Every Move
  • White Lion - Battle at Little Big Horn
  • White Lion - Sangre de Cristo
  • Royal Hunt - Exit Wound
  • Royal Hunt - The First Rock
  • Last Autumns Dream - Rainbow Sky
  • Last Autumns Dream - My Alibi
  • Steve Lukather - Never Ending Night
  • Steve Lukather - The Letting Go
  • Khymera - The Greatest Wonder
  • Khymera - Stay Forever
  • Work Of Art - Camelia
  • Work Of Art - Whenever U Sleep
  • Work Of Art - Cover Me
  • Leverage - King Of The Night
  • Leverage - Stormchild
  • Vindictiv - David's House
  • Vindictiv - Fool's Paradise 

 

THE BEST MELODIC METAL SONG:
  • Eden's Curse - Lost In Wonderland
  • Leverage - King Of The Night
  • Bob Catley - End Of The World
  • Leverage - Stormchild
  • Starbreaker - Love's Dying Wish
  • Vindictiv - Fool's Paradise
  • Jorn - Lonely Are The Brave
  • Gypsy Rose - Nothing Really Matters
  • Revolution Renaissance - I Did It My Way
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Higher 
,
THE BEST BALLAD:
  • Journey - Turn Down The World Tonight
  • Rick Springfield - Oblivious
  • Marcello-Vestry - Gone
  • Whitesnake - All I Want All I Need
  • Harem Scarem - Shooting Star
  • Last Autumns Dream - I'm Not Supposed To Love You Anymore
  • Michael Bormann - Love Is Magic
  • Crown Of Thorns - All I Wanna Do
  • White Lion - Never Let You Go
  • Valentine - Love Song
  • Shadowman - I've Been Wrong Before
  • JSS - Broken Man
  • Journey - After All These Years
  • Honeymoon Suite - Ordinary
  • Jimi Jamison - Lost 
,
THE BEST MODERN ROCK SONG:
  • Shinedown - Devour
  • Trev Lukather - Lives Built Around Lies
  • Anberlin - Breaking
  • Shinedown - The Sound Of Madness
  • Pink - It's All Your Fault
  • Remedy Drive - Daylight
  • Trev Lukather - Breakdown For Eternity
  • Pink - So What
  • Shinedown - Cry For Help
  • Butch Walker - The Weight Of Her  
,
BEST COVER VERSION:
  • Brother Firetribe - Chasing The Angels
  • Jorn - Stormbringer
  • Hinder - Thunderstruck
  • Covered Call - Shine
  • Avantasia - Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
  • Firewind - Maniac
  • Brother Firetribe - Hungry For Heaven
  • Oliver Weers - Show Must Go On
  • Avantasia - Lay All Your Love on Me
  • Bullet For My Valentine - No Easy Way Out 
2008 Best Artwork
1
2 3 4
05-08
09-12
13-16

17-

20

 

2008 Artist Awards

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Arnel Pineda (Journey)
A few truly great vocal performances around in 2008, but Arnel takes the prize - simply because he delivered big time under huge pressure from all sides. He had to live up to Journey fan expectations...he had to replay the faith the band showed in him....he had to overcome the unpopular decision to let 2 previous vocalists go...one of his first shows was broadcast live across the world and he had to deliver live on his first grueling US tour. And on top of that he had to re-record a dozen of the band's legacy tunes. My hat goes off to Arnel for delivering on all fronts and staying humble despite having monster talent.
Honorable Mentions - Erik Martensson (Eclipse); Jimi Jamison; Pekka Ansio Heino (Brother Firetribe & Leverage); Rick Springfield; Robert Berry (Solo & Alliance).

Past Winners:
2007 - Mike Reno
2006 - Pekka Ansio Heino
2005 - Jorn Lande
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto
2003 - Harry Hess.

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR:
Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake)
Given the task of bringing the goods back to Whitesnake, the LA guitarist did all that and more; helping David Coverdale write, record and produce one of the best Snake albums in years....and beefed up that guitar sound, plus toured extensively behind the album adding those much needed backing vocals.

Honorable Mentions - Neal Schon; Steve Lukather; Zack Myers & Nick Perri (Shinedown).

Past Winners:
2007 - Thorsten Koehne
2006 - Steve Lukather
2005 - Magnus Karlsson

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR:
The Drum Machine (Too Bloody Many Records)
That's right - the drummer of the year is in fact the humble drum machine. But contrary to the other awards, this is not a badge of honor. This is shameful! There are simply too many automated drum tracks on our beloved records and the time has come to rid these releases of this curse to the ears. ProTools and other studio effects make it all too easy to lay down a drum beat without having to pay a drummer, but seriously folks....it's nothing compared to the sound of a REAL drummer. Stop being cheap and hire a drummer and a good studio to capture them in. And the records will sound much better for it.

Honorable Mentions - Deen Castronovo (Journey); Henrik Erikson (Eclipse); Rodger Carter (Rick Springfield).

Past Winners:
2007 - Kelly Keagy
2006 - Simon Phillips
2005 - Daniel Flores.

BASSIST OF THE YEAR:
Matt Bissonette (Rick Springfield)
For the first time ever, Rick Springfield co-wrote a record with another and that was RS Band bassist Matt Bissonette. Matt turned in a sublime performance on the CD, as well as co-producing this immaculate disc.

Honorable mentions - Paul Logue (Eden's Curse); Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue); & Dennis Ward (Bob Catley)

Past Winners:
2007 - Jack Blades
2006 - Marcel Jacob

KEYBOARDIST OF THE YEAR:
Eric Ragno (From the Inside, China Blue, Ramos/Hugo, Solna, Savage Paradise, Tony Mills, Michael Bormann)
Was there even a runner up for this award? Was there another keyboardist working in 2008? Well, sure...but none as hard as Mr. Nice - Eric Ragno. With equally as much on his plate for 2009, someone had better stand up or he'll take the trifecta!

Honorable mentions - Jonathan Cain (Journey); Lars Safsund (Work Of Art); Jim Peterik (Jimi Jamison); Alan Fitzgerald (Alliance)

Past Winners: 2007 - Eric Ragno.

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Dennis Ward (Eden's Curse, Places Of Power, Bob Catley, Ramos/Hugo, House Of Lords, Jaded Heart)
Producer Of The Year second year running and 3rd time out of the last 4 years! And I doubt anyone would argue the fact. Dennis remains to go to guy for mixing and mastering and full production jobs such as the awesome work completed for Eden's Curse (Album & EP); Places Of Power and Bob Catley. A masterful touch and a great set of ears.

Honorable mentions - Martin Kronlund (Hope, Lost Weekend, Silent Call, Gypsy Rose, Pleasuredome); Tommy Hansen (TNT, Seventh Wonder, Evil Masquerade, From The Inside, Starbreaker); Mutt Lange (Nickelback); Kevin Shirley (Journey); Terry Thomas (Tesla); Erik Martensson (Eclipse); Jim Peterik & Larry Millas (Jimi Jamison)

Past Winners:
2007 - Dennis Ward
2006 - Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem)
2005 - Dennis Ward
2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi
2003 - Tommy Denander.

,
2008 Rest In Peace

Bud Prager (Manager), Steve Isham (Autograph), Alan Gordon (Songwriter), Munetaka Higuchi (Loudness), Michael Lee (Little Angels, Robert Plant), Kenny MacLean (Platinum Blonde), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix), Michael A. Baker (Shadow Gallery), Debbie Bayley (vocalist Blaze Bayley's wife), Rick Wright (Pink Floyd), Jack Young (Phantom's Opera), Chris Peter (King Size), Jim McGinnis (Zebra booking agent), Mel Galley (Whitesnake, Trapeze), George Carlin, Loren Villalonga (Golden Farm), Bo Diddley, Michelle Meldrum (Meldrum, Phantom Blue), Paul Davis (Songwriter), John Rutsey (original Rush drummer), Danny Federici (E Street Band), Cliff Davies (Ted Nugent), Jim Viger (Steel Breeze), John Fowler (Steelheart), Daniel McMaster (Bonham), Jeff Healey.
May these great people all Rest In Peace.

,
Worst Of 2008

ALBUMS:

Bassinvaders, Tommy Skeoch, Judas Priest, Bret Michaels, John Mellencamp, We Wish You A Metal Xmas, Sammy Hagar, Michael Kiske, TNT and Silent Rage. Sorry folks...

WORST ARTWORK:

 
xxx

xxx

x
 

,
Predictions

THE PREDICTED BEST OF 2008:
Brother Firetribe, Alliance, Def Leppard, Bombay Black, Kip Winger, Whitesnake, Steve Overland, M.ill.ion, Michael Bormann, Bret Michaels, Journey, Motley Crue, Uriah Heep, Jorn, Poley/Rivera, Anberlin, Blanc Faces, Bob Catley, Crown Of Thorns, Danger Danger, Dare, Eclipse, Extreme, Foreigner, From The Inside, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, Jeff Scott Soto, Jimi Jamison/Jim Peterik, Mecca, Places Of Power, Pleasure Dome, Ramos/Hugo, Rick Springfield, Sammy Hagar, Starbreaker, Terry Brock, Tony Harnell, Tyketto, Wig Wam, White Sister, House Of Lords, Khymera, Leverage, Royal Hunt, Steve Lukather, Work Of Art.

What made the cut (if released in 2008): Brother Firetribe, Alliance, Def Leppard, Kip Winger, Whitesnake, Steve Overland, Michael Bormann, Journey, Motley Crue, Uriah Heep, Jorn, Poley/Rivera, Anberlin, Bob Catley, Eclipse, From The Inside, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, Jeff Scott Soto, Jimi Jamison/Jim Peterik, Motley Crue, Ramos/Hugo, Rick Springfield, Starbreaker, Khymera, Leverage, Royal Hunt, Steve Lukather, Work Of Art.

,
Possible 2009 Top 30-ish

W.E.T., The Poodles, Gotthard, Danger Danger, Dare, Foreigner, Mecca, Places Of Power, Terry Brock, Wig Wam, White Sister, House Of Lords, Lynch Mob, Blanc Faces, Out Loud, Chris Antblad, Novak, Lou Gramm Band, Jorn, Hardline, Sunstorm, Chris Laney, Impellitteri, JSS, Place Vendome, Last Autumn's Dream, Places Of Power, Chickenfoot, Vindictiv, Europe, FM, Goo Goo Dolls, Adelita's Way, Stan Bush, Masterplan. 

,
Dickhead Of The Year Award

Short and sweet this year. This award goes to the guy that was kicked off my message board after being a constant argumentative asshole, only to vow to start his own website and "steal" all my advertisers and "run me out of town".
He got a dose of reality in how hard it is to maintain and run a website and stay inspired while continuing to keep in touch with everyone that is needed to make a great site.
The website URL (I won't say which one) now delivers this message when trying to log in: "The requested URL could not be retrieved..."

Until next year, when you know already just who the D.O.T.Y. is going to be!

 

THE END

2008 Award Feedback

Welcome to the 9th Annual MelRock Awards. Right off the bat, my apologies for the unusually late arrival of these awards. At a time where we are already starting to consider the best of what 2008 has to offer so far, it seems a little late to cast an eye back to 2007. But it is never too late to talk about great music and the Awards below summarize the best of what I thought 2007 had to offer. Hopefully it will lead so some folks checking out releases they missed at the time.
I normally add a comment along the lines of "if you think I have missed something, do let me know..", but this year...be a little kinder! I know there are some releases missing. A couple of reasons - 1) Perhaps the record label in question never sent a promo copy (i.e. The Cult - which I did eventually hear, but didn't rate in the best of 07), or 2) Due to MelodicRockFest I simply didn't have as much time to listen to and feature a number of releases from mid-to-late year. I did the very best I could and I think the vast majority of last year's big releases are covered here.
The awards are a shorter affair this year. A hang over from MRF, coupled with catching up with other work and taking care of my family while my wife is pregnant, meant the Awards got pushed aside a little. The 2008 Awards will have to be the biggest ever to make up for it! I still think there is plenty to read and enjoy below....so go to it!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

Loverboy

Just Getting Started

I really tossed this decision around for some time. Loverboy and Eden's Curse were both deserving winners and both bands had people talking. The elder statesmen of the melodic scene proving they still have what it takes vs the new comers, creating a stir with their debut album. In the end Loverboy won over with what I think is one of the most credible examples of a classic band updating their sound while staying true to themselves. Every track was a winner and when the only complaint is that the album wasn't long enough - that must be a good thing.

 

2

 

Eden's Curse

Eden's Curse

A very close second for newcomers Eden's Curse, who stirred things up with their approach and with their debut album on AFM Records. A melodic metal album with enough melody for an AOR release and some truly outstanding performances from all involved. Capped off by a monster tight production courtesy of the amazing Dennis Ward.

 

 

 

3

 

Threshold

Dead Reckoning

How disappointing to have an album as amazing as this, only to learn vocalist Mac has now left and the combination of his powerful, yet emotive vocals won't mix again with the progressive melodies of this great band. At least they parted in style, with this progressive masterpiece, that for me is the best album of its kind since Dream Theater's Images And Words.

 

 

4

Anberlin

Cities

I just love this band. Something about their modern rock style and a brilliant vocalist, coupled with an attitude that doesn't mimic any other modern rock band out there. Aggressive enough for a rock market, yet melodic enough to remind us what a force a killer vocalist can be. Another very powerful record with a couple of absolute classic songs within.

5

Stan Bush

In This Life

The stand out AOR release of 2007 was from another veteran. Stan Bush has been doing this since the 80s and has never sounded so good. Another album where all the vital ingredients came together to make a very powerful statement and remind us what great AOR can sound like in this day and age.

6

 

 

Kelly Keagy - I'm Alive

- Another great solo album. A little rawer and a more modern edge in places, but I am a sucker for anything Kelly does. Always classy.

 

7

 

 

 

Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life

- Busier than he has ever been, JLT delivers the goods again in this great album that covers all his known styles - bluesy rock, AOR and straight ahead classic rock. Great songs.

 

8

 

 

Night Ranger - Hole In The Sun

- One of the most fiercely debated albums of the year and no surprise. As soon as I heard the direction I knew some would hate this album, but you have to get past that. If you can (and may did), it is still classic Night Ranger style and melodies, just wrapped in a more contemporary sound. Again, I'm a sucker for anything these guys do.

9

 

 

Gotthard - Domino Effect

- Another band that doesn't stand still, even after delivering the most acclaimed album of their career. Another winner here - even if it is heavier and more contemporary in it's delivery. But more great songs from Europe's number one melodic hard rock act.

10

 

 

Pride Of Lions - The Roaring Of Dreams

- More classy pomp/AOR from Jim Peterik and company. One of the most consistent songwriters in the business today, this glorious pompous set of songs is another AOR highlight for the year.

11 Allen / Lande - The Revenge 
12 Two Of A Kind - Two Of A Kind
13 The Poodles - Sweet Trade  
14 Danny Vaughn - Traveller
15 Frederiksen / Denander - Baptism By Fire
16 Dogpound - III
17 Ted Poley - Smile
18 Kevin Chalfant - Fly 2 Freedom  
19 Dennis DeYoung - One Hundred Years From Now
20 The Codex - The Codex

 

21 Martie Peters Group - Road To Salvation 
22 Burn - Global Warning
23 Primal Fear - New Religion  
24 Rush - Snakes & Arrows
25 Circus Maximus - Isolate
26 David Readman - David Readman
27 Shaw/Blades - Influence
28 Nightwish - Dark Passion Play 
29 Pink Cream 69 - In10sity
30 Scorpions - Humanity Hour 1

 

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Masterplan - MKII
  • Airtime - Liberty Manifesto
  • Gary John Barden - Love And War
  • Symphony X – Paradise Lost
  • Nocturnal Rites – The 8th Sin
  • The Lec Zorn Project - It Began In The Underground
  • Heartland - Mind Your Head
  • Jaded Heart - Sinister Mind
  • Crazy Lixx - Loud Minority
  • The Click Five - Modern Minds And Pastimes
  • Ken Hensley - Blood On The Highway
  • Mind's Eye - A Gentleman's Hurricane
  • Empire - Chasing Shadows
  • Cinder Road - Superhuman
  • White Wolf - Victim Of The Spotlight
  • Great White - Back To The Rhythm
  • Jorn - Unlocking The Past
  • Hartmann - Home
  • Code - The Enemy Within
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Saturn Skyline
  • Dante Fox - Under The Seven Skies
  • REO Speedwagon - Find Your Own Way Home
  • WildKard - Megalomania
  • The Ladder - Sacred
  • JK Northrup - Wired In My Skin
  • Bloodbound - Book Of The Dead
  • Voices Of Rock - MMVII
  • Los Angeles - Los Angeles
  • Cornerstone - Two Tales Of One Tomorrow
  • Newman - Primitive Soul
  • Mass - Crack Of Dawn
  • Robin Beck - Livin' On A Dream
  • Cage - Hell Destroyer

 

THE BEST METAL / PROG ALBUM:
  1. Eden's Curse - Eden's Curse
  2. Threshold - Dead Reckoning
  3. Allen / Lande - The Revenge
  4. Dogpound - III
  5. The Codex - The Codex
  6. Primal Fear - New Religion
  7. Circus Maximus - Isolate
  8. Cornerstone - Two Tales Of One Tomorrow
  9. Mind's Eye - A Gentleman's Hurricane
  10. Cage - Hell Destroyer
,
THE BEST OLD-SCHOOL AOR ALBUM:
  1. Stan Bush - In This Life
  2. Two Of A Kind - Two Of A Kind
  3. Pride Of Lions - The Roaring Of Dreams
  4. Ted Poley - Smile
  5. Last Autumn's Dream - Saturn Skyline
  6. Lec Zorn - It Began In The Underground
  7. Robin Beck - Livin' On A Dream
  8. Newman - Primitive Soul
  9. WildKard - Meglomania
  10. The Ladder - Sacred
,
THE BEST MODERN ROCK ALBUM:
  1. Anberlin - Cities
  2. Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light
  3. Endeverafter - Kiss Or Kill
  4. The Click Five - Modern Minds and Pastimes
  5. Stereo Fallout - The Other Side
  6. Faber Drive - Seven Second Surgery
  7. Cinder Road - Superhuman
  8. Yellowcard - Paper Walls
  9. Angels And Airwaves - I Empire
  10. Veronicas - Hook Me Up
,
BEST DEBUT ALBUM OF 2007:

(Band/Artist, Not Project)

  1. Eden's Curse - Eden's Curse
  2. Two Of A Kind - Two Of A Kind
  3. The Codex - The Codex
  4. Airtime - Liberty Manifesto
  5. Lec Zorn Project - It Began In The Underground
  6. Endeverafter - Kiss Or Kill
  7. Crazy Lixx - Loud Minority
  8. Cinder Road - Cinder Road
  9. Code - The Enemy Within
  10. Goodbye Thrill - Goodbye Thrill
,
BEST COMPILATION OR LIVE ALBUM:
  1. Toto - Falling In Between Live
  2. Night Ranger - Extended Versions (Live In Japan 2003)
  3. Glenn Hughes - Live This Time Around: An Anthology 1970-2007
  4. Winger - Live
  5. Wig Wam - Live In Japan
  6. White Lion - The Definitive Rock Collection
  7. Stevie Nicks - The Crystal Visions, The Very Best Of...
  8. Halford - Metal God Essentials - Volume 1
  9. Ratt - Tell The World: The Very Best Of Ratt
  10. Asia - Live In Tokyo: 2007
,
BEST RE-ISSUE:
  1. Rick Springfield - RCA Japan Remasters (6CDs)
  2. Night Ranger - The Night Ranger Box (MCA Japan Remasters)(4CDs)
  3. Triumph - Japanese Papersleeve Remasters
  4. Dan Lucas - Canada
  5. Alliance - Destination Known
  6. White Wolf - Standing Alone & Endangered Species
  7. Joe Satriani - Surfing With The Alien Legacy Edition
  8. Hurricane - European Remasters
  9. MTB - Michael Thompson Band
  10. Mass - New Birth
2007 SONG OF THE YEAR
  1. Anberlin - Godspeed (Audio Sample - MP3 Download)
  2. Loverboy - Just Getting Started
  3. Eden's Curse - Judgement Day
  4. Threshold - Slipstream
  5. Night Ranger - Whatever Happened
     
  6. Two Of A Kind - The Longest Night
  7. Kelly Keagy - I'm Alive
  8. Stan Bush - In This Life
  9. Gotthard - Domino Effect
  10. Loverboy - The One That Got Away
     
  11. Kelly Keagy - When Nobody's Looking
  12. Joe Lynn Turner - Love Is Life
  13. Threshold - Elusive
  14. Robin Beck - Love Lies
  15. Silverchair - Straight Lines
  16. Heartland - For Pity's Sake
  17. Hooters - I'm Alive
  18. Loverboy - Stranded
  19. Eden's Curse - After The Love Has Gone
  20. REO Speedwagon - I Needed To Fall
     
  21. Dogpound - My Own Sin
  22. Anberlin - Dismantle.Repair
  23. Allen / Lande - Master Of Sorrow
  24. Hartmann - Coming Home To You
  25. Night Ranger - Tell Your Vision
  26. Pride Of Lions - Language Of The Heart
  27. Ted Poley - What If She Knew
  28. Rush - Far Cry
  29. The Click Five - Flipside
  30. Dogpound - Blind
     
  31. The Poodles - Band Of Brothers
  32. Two Of A Kind - Give Me A Reason
  33. Threshold - Safe To Fly
  34. Night Ranger - Rock Star
  35. Airtime - River Runs Deep
  36. Kelly Keagy - World Before And After
  37. Loverboy - Lost With You
  38. Last Autumn's Dream - For The Young & The Wild
  39. Ted Poley - If You Can Change Your Heart
  40. Dennis DeYoung - Save Me
     
  41. Gotthard - Master Of Illusion
  42. Pride Of Lions - Faithful Heart
  43. The Poodles - Streets Of Fire
  44. Voices Of Rock / Harry Hess - Irresistible
  45. Frederiksen Denander - Right Heart, Wrong Time
  46. David Readman - Don't Let It Slip Away
  47. Danny Vaughn - Miracle Days
  48. Burn - Shadow Of The Satellites
  49. Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life
  50. Primal Fear - Fighting The Darkness
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Loverboy - Back For More
  • Loverboy - The Real Thing
  • Airtime - Liberty
  • Airtime - Edge Of Your Mind
  • Gary John Barden - Love Lost
  • Gary John Barden - Unchain Me
  • Gary John Barden - Creatures Of The Night
  • Ken Hensely - Just The Beginning
  • Dogpound - Glass Jar
  • Dogpound - Human Hologram
  • Dogpound - Dead And Gone
  • Ted Poley - Going Blind
  • Ted Poley - Where It Ends
  • Ted Poley - Waiting Line
  • Jaded Heart - Sinister Mind
  • Jaded Heart - Open Your Eyes
  • Jaded Heart - Hero
  • House of Shakira - Crazy But No Fool
  • House of Shakira - Small Town
  • Gary Hughes - Wide Awake In Dreamland
  • Primal Fear - Face The Emptiness
  • Primal Fear - Everytime It Rains
  • Heartland - Magazine
  • Heartland - A Fathom I Fell
  • Dennis DeYoung - Rain
  • Dennis DeYoung - This Time Next Year
  • The Lec Zorn Project - Second Chance
  • The Lec Zorn Project - You Keep Me In The Dark
  • Nocturnal Rites – Not The Only
  • Nocturnal Rites – Never Again
  • David Readman - Long Way To Heaven
  • David Readman - Take These Tears
  • David Readman - Without You
  • Great White - Here Goes My Head Again
  • Great White - I'm Alive
  • Great White - How Far Is Heaven
  • Circus Maximus - A Darkened Mind
  • Circus Maximus - Abyss
  • Circus Maximus - Arrival Of Love
  • The Hooters - Time Stand Still
  • The Hooters - Until You Dare
  • Burn - Give Me Tonight
  • Burn - Weight Of Expectation
  • Burn - Forgive Me
  • Burn - Down In Flames
  • Eden's Curse - Fallen King
  • Eden's Curse - Eyes Of The World
  • Kevin Chalfant - Who's Crying Now
  • Kevin Chalfant - Separate Ways
  • Kevin Chalfant - Don't Stop Believin'
  • Bon Jovi - Any Other Day
  • Bon Jovi - Lost Highway
  • Voices Of Rock - China In Your Hands
  • Voices Of Rock - Wild Thing
  • White Wolf - One More Lie
  • White Wolf - America (Hello Again)
  • White Wolf - Victim of the Spotlight
  • Cage - Hell Destroyer
  • Cage - Rise Of The Beast
  • Scorpions - Love Will Keep Us Alive
  • Scorpions - Future Never Dies
  • Scorpions - Game of Life
  • Robin Beck - Always
  • Robin Beck - Can't Get Enough Of Your Heart
  • Robin Beck - I Can't Walk The Line
  • Los Angeles - I Will Carry You
  • Los Angeles - Measure Of A Man
  • Los Angeles - I Must Be Blind
  • Mass - Crack Of Dawn
  • Mass - It's You
  • Newman - Primitive Soul
  • Newman - 15 Minute Revolution
  • Newman - Heading For Your Heart
  • Frederiksen / Denander - Never Try To Love Again
  • Frederiksen / Denander - Baptism By Fire
  • Frederiksen / Denander - Let Him Go
  • Norway - American Girl
  • TRW - Only A Letter
  • TRW - Rivers Of Paradise
  • Rush - Malignant Narcissism
  • Rush - Workin' Them Angels
  • Rush - Armor And Sword
  • The Codex - Whole Again
  • The Codex - Toxic Kiss
  • The Codex - Mistress Of Death
  • Cornerstone - Misery
  • Cornerstone - One Man's Hell
  • Cornerstone - Two Tales Of One Tomorrow
  • Martie Peters Group - Fallen
  • Martie Peters Group - Chosen One
  • Martie Peters Group - Wish
  • Martie Peters Group - Swimming In Your Blue Eyes
  • Bloodbound - Sign Of The Devil
  • JK Northrup - Wired In My Skin
  • JK Northrup - So Long
  • Gotthard - Now
  • Gotthard - Where Is Love When Its Gone
  • Gotthard - The Call
  • Gotthard - Falling
  • Allen / Lande - Wake Up Call
  • Allen / Lande - When Time Doesn't Heal
  • Allen / Lande - Gone Too Far
  • Allen / Lande - The Revenge
  • Two Of A Kind - Into the Fire
  • Two Of A Kind - Unbearable
  • Two Of A Kind - In Your Arms
  • Joe Lynn Turner - In Your Eyes
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Blood Red Sky
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Got Me Where You Want Me
  • Stan Bush - Over You
  • Stan Bush - I Got A Thing For You
  • Stan Bush - I'll Never Fall
  • The Ladder - Sacred
  • The Ladder - Something To Believe In
  • The Ladder - Run To You
  • WildKard - End Of The World
  • WildKard - Whispers In The Dark
  • WildKard - Wake Me Up When It's Over
  • Night Ranger - Drama Queen
  • Night Ranger - You're Gonna Hear It From Me
  • REO Speedwagon - Smilin' in The End
  • REO Speedwagon - Find Your Own Way Home
  • Magnum - Inside Your Head
  • Magnum - Thank You For The Day
  • Magnum - You'll Never Sleep
  • Dante Fox - Goodbye To Yesterday
  • Dante Fox - Under The Seven Skies
  • Dante Fox - Hold Out Your Hand
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Domino
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Pages
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Supersonic
  • Threshold - This Is Your Life
  • Threshold - Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams
  • Masterplan - Warriors Cry
  • Masterplan - Keeps Me Burning
  • Masterplan - Enemy
  • Pink Cream 69 - No Way Out
  • Pink Cream 69 - I'm Not Afraid
  • Pink Cream 69 - Last Train to Nowhere
  • Anberlin - Adelaide
  • Anberlin - A Whisper & A Clamor
  • Anberlin - Inevitable
  • Pride Of Lions - Defying Gravity
  • Pride Of Lions - Tall Ships
  • Danny Vaughn - Traveller
  • Danny Vaughn - The Touch of Your Hand
  • Danny Vaughn - Lifted
  • Shaw/Blades - Sounds Of Silence
  • Shaw/Blades - Dirty Work
  • Shaw/Blades - Lucky Man
  • Code - My Time
  • Code - Alive
  • Code - Sworn To Silence
  • Hartmann - Lay All Your Love On Me
  • Hartmann - Why Do I

 

THE BEST MELODIC METAL SONG:
  1. Eden's Curse - Judgement Day
  2. Dogpound - My Own Sin
  3. The Codex - Raise Your Hands
  4. Allen / Lande - Wake Up Call
  5. Primal Fear - Face The Emptiness
  6. Cornerstone - Misery
  7. Nocturnal Rites - Never Again
  8. Circus Maximus - A Darkened Mind
  9. Eden's Curse - Fallen King
  10. Circus Maximus - Abyss
,
THE BEST BALLAD:
  1. Loverboy - The One That Got Away
  2. REO Speedwagon - I Needed To Fall
  3. Allen / Lande - Master Of Sorrow
  4. Gotthard - The Call
  5. Pride Of Lions - Faithful Heart
  6. Eden's Curse - Voice Inside
  7. Ted Poley - If I Can't Change Your Heart
  8. Kelly Keagy - Everything I Need In A Woman
  9. Pride Of Lions - Love's Eternal Flame
  10. WildKard - Wake Me When It's Over
  11. Heartland - A Fathom I Fell
  12. Night Ranger - There Is Life
  13. Magnum - Inside Your Head
  14. Two Of A Kind - Unbearable
  15. Stan Bush - Waiting For You
,
THE BEST MODERN ROCK SONG:
  1. Anbelin - Godspeed
  2. Silverchair - Straight Lines
  3. Anberlin - Dismantle.Repair
  4. Click Five - Flipside
  5. Jimmy Eat World - Big Casino
  6. Cinder Road - Bad Excuse
  7. Faber Drive - 24 Story Love Affair
  8. Jimmy Eat World - Let It Happen
  9. Hedley - She's So Sorry
  10. Angels And Airwaves - Call To Arms
,
BEST COVER VERSION:
  1. Eden's Curse - We All Die Young
  2. Anberlin - Like A Rolling Stone
  3. Kevin Chalfant - Feeling That Way
  4. Jorn - Run To You
  5. Shaw Blades - The Sound Of Silence
  6. Jorn - Cold Sweat
  7. Tesla - Bad Reputation
  8. Axel Rudi Pell - Fools Game
  9. Northern Kings - Don't Stop Believin'
  10. Shaw Blades - Dirty Work
2007 Best Artwork
1
2 3
04-07
08-11
12-15
16-19
And....a few of the worst....
xxx

xx
 

 

The Year That Was - The Best Music Results

Musically speaking 2007 was a little anti-climactic. Things got off to a great start and looked promising, but things just dropped off and the second half of the year disappointed me.
Most of my Top 10 came from the first half of the year and overall I felt there were a number of strong albums, but a real lack of killer songs. Already in 2008 I have seen a much stronger presence of high-grade songs and there looks to be plenty to come throughout the year ahead.
To the results -
The top albums have comments attached, but outside the Top 10,
Two Of A Kind was a stunning debut, as was The Codex.
Good to see such an array of established names in there, all proving they can still deliver high class albums and in the case of a few (
Dogpound, Martie Peters Group, Burn, Ted Poley) - challenging their previous best efforts.

Now, there is always some debate every year when I list my favourite modern rock releases. It is very true that I don't get to hear a number of releases from the genre, but I try and check out all those that are talked about on the forums and I mix those with a few of my own favourites. I may not talk a lot of modern rock on the site, but I do listen to many. But this is melodicrock.com, so my emphasis in showcasing modern rock artists is to bring those titles here that I think will appeal to other melodic rock lovers. That is - people like me - with their heart in the old-school sound, but an open mind to appreciate other great styles of rock music. So the Top 10 modern rock releases is 10 albums I think are of fabulous quality that will also appeal to regular readers of this site. This year's list features 10 albums I think everyone should check out - especially the Top 7. Modern rock fans won't need convincing!

Song Of The Year to Anberlin. I bet no one saw that coming...but what an amazing tune. The first time a modern rock song has made it to the top position. The first time I played that album I recalled being stunned by the power of the song and the incredible vocals, backed by an old-school fists in the air chorus, mixed with a more expected modern rock sound. A great mix of influences, and if you ask me, a great way for melodic fans to appreciate more a modern style.

Loverboy's classic comeback tune wasn't far behind though - another cracking song and Eden's Curse's hard rocker was my favourite hard rock tune of the year.

I expanded the Best Ballads list to 15 titles. I was really happy to see some killer ballads about this year. The art of the power ballad has been fading, but 2007 was a cool year for ballads and 2008 looks even better.

Artwork gets a spotlight again as I believe that is truly important to help promote an album and even in an online world, a good cover can catch a readers eye and hopefully that might prompt them to check out the music within.
And again, I list some of the less impressive CD covers below. I don't mean to offend any of the artists featured there, but 2007 saw some dodgy covers and I would hope those listed take note and come back with something a little more appealing next time around. In most cases the music within was great (Duran Duran's dog aside), so when you spend so much time writing and recording an album - you don't want to turn any potential purchaser away with a crap cover.

,
The Year That Was: Behind MelodicRock.com

SITE STATS:
I'm pleased to say that stats continue to rise overall, with areas of the world still represented fairly evenly. Simply stated, the traffic to the site is primarily 50% USA/Canada; 30% UK/Europe and 20% Japan/Australasia.
To look at a snapshot of one month, December 2007, the site churned out 1027Gig of data; took in 220,000 unique users; 473,070 visitors in total for 1,591,172 different pages, 17,995,005 individual files, making a total of 27,933,668 "hits".
Pretty cool!
The year high for unique users was 295,000 in May 2007 and the current level as of March 2008 was 273,000 unique users for 38,729,066 "hits".
Daily frontpage averages have hovered around 21,000 - 22,000 mid-week and the usual 15,000-ish over the weekends.

Thanks to everyone for the continued patronage of the site and the continuing support of the artists and advertisers featured here.

THE BIGGEST STORY OF 2007:
The biggest story of 2007? Oh, bugger here we go again. Yes, as far as controversy and decisions that upset the fan base, causing no end of tensions - the winner is again Journey. Can we PLEASE have a peaceful 2008 guys?
The band's decisions during 2007 have been debated and debated again and then debated again following that. So I don't want to waste too much time here. But the band's choice to drop
Jeff Scott Soto upset a fan base already hurting from Steve Augeri's departure. The worst thing was the manner in which it took place (being informed by Kevin Cronin backstage at Sweden Rock Festival). But....we move on. In comes new boy Arnel Pineda and the guys have a lot to prove. So go do it - we're watching and waiting.
A brief postscript - one that goes to all bands out there that swap members and what not - folks...if you are going to do it - have some thought for the fanbase that admires and respects you. Such moves create real turmoil and anxiety in people's lives. Try and make it easier on them. They buy your records and concert tickets...

Brad Delp's upsetting passing was another major story and as with everything Boston, it got complicated and caused further fan anguish.

Van Halen got their shit together and got on the road, but not without the usual range of drams, rumors and associated issues.

SPECIAL EVENTS:
Special events? Well, yeah...there was one! MelodicRockFest was the single biggest and most challenging thing I have ever done and I swear I'm still recovering from it. The event ran like clockwork on the day - as least to all assembled - but the challenges of putting it together and running it on the day left me so shattered I still can't contemplate working on another festival yet.
I would like to do another - probably in Chicago next year - but a few things will have to fall into place before that happens. More sponsorship and a true "big name" headliner are needed, but don't think I haven't already made a wants list :)

MRF was a great event though...and it was an absolute pleasure to meet so many site regulars in once place on one day. And to all the artists that took to the stage in the name of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the site - thank you!
There were many others who pitched in to help and donate time to make the event what it was - they know who they are. But special thanks to Joe Vana, Michael Eden, Kelly Keagy, Jim Peterik and the great people at the Morris PAC venue in South Bend.

I spent a week in Chicago before the event to get things ready and I must say that I was really impressed with the place. Would love to see more of it and hang out a bit longer there next time.
I could type for a week about my experiences there, but perhaps another time. I will recount my memory of staying at Jim Peterik's house for a couple of days when I first flew in. Jim is such a gem...his house is amazing and the studio and guitar collection is beyond words. But not only did he put me up at his house, but he also lent me one of his cars for the entire week I was in town. That's quite the trustworthy leap of faith, considering the person borrowing the car normally drives on the other side of the road!
Spending some time with Jim hanging out and seeing the sights of the city was fantastic and you have to see it to understand it, but every where we go people would thank Jim for his songs and their positive influence on their lives. Driving around town with Jim, going back and forth doing promo for the show and watching him in action, plus listening to new JP/Jimi Jamison demos as we go....was just amazing...

On a side note - it is awesome to see that several relationships were built on this day between the artists. Many of the guys hadn't seen each other for years and backstage was like a big family reunion.
Since MRF, JLT and Jimi Jamison have made regular appearances with Scrap Metal and I think JSS is next. The Scrap Metal guys learnt all the Survivor and JLT material especially for that event, so nice they get to put that to use again!

,
The Year That Was: The Melodic Music Scene

THE MELODIC LABELS:
Frontiers Records remained, without question the label leader in this field of music. In fact, their nearest rival has always been MTM Music and 2007 proved to be the end for them. So at this point, as far as melodic music goes - Frontiers are unrivaled. And the label had another great year. Highlights from the label were plentiful, including - Stan Bush, JLT, Pride Of Lions, Night Ranger, Kelly Keagy, Allen/Lande, Danny Vaughn, Codex, Frederiksen Phillips, Primal Fear.
Frontiers did diversify on occasion, which all labels are tending to do these days as it is just not possible to stay in business on AOR and Melodic Rock alone. But I think they diversified too far with releases like the God-awful Meldrum album.
And although he played a smaller part in things this year, the Fabrizio Grossi production train is still a worry. Since shining early on, his releases of late have all been tarred with less than favorable reviews and complaints about how he makes things sound in the studio. Both Los Angeles and Indigo Dying could have been better with the use of a different producer.
But, with another incredible line-up of releases this year, no one will dispute that Frontiers are the leading promoter of melodic rock music.

Escape Music continued to do what they do every year. Consistent to the end, they don't try and compete with other labels, and stick largely to their brief - delivering traditional melodic rock/AOR releases. Highlights from Escape this year included Last Autumn's Dream, Code, Airtime, The Ladder, WildKard, Mass, White Wolf and Gary Barden.
Disappointments were few to be seen (and heard!), which is a big compliment for any label.

2007 will be known as the year that MTM Music disappeared. Boy - this one really hurt. Yes, they were a site sponsor, but it was more than that. They were the very first label on board with me and this site when I started out. I loved these guys and enjoyed a fabulous relationship with them over the years. I guess the decline began with Magnus leaving and the label not havening enough A&R experience without him. But at the same time - good A&R costs money and good releases cost more money, so if some of the big budget releases were not recouping, then what can one do about that?
The label fell further behind in 2006 and spent the first few months of 2007 treading water before disappearing. There has still been no press release about the demise of the label, but who would want to send out a message proclaiming such news? Very sad indeed.

Metal Heaven had a solid and building year - they definitely ramped up the number of their releases each month - and delivered some consistent quality metal. They really had some cool hard rock releases, although a couple of anticipated melodic releases fell short - Decoy, Road To Ruin and Paul Sabu.
Of those to impress were the fantastically compiled
Voices Of Rock debut, Human Zoo, Empire and Soul Doctor and on a metal front, Stone Lake, Bloodbound and Consortium Project IV.
This kind of line-up puts Metal Heaven among the real label players in this market.

Another label disappeared in 2007 - Majestic Rock Records. Their poor 2006 translated into a non-existent 2007 and now many of their signings are morphing over to the new Kreschendo label. where that ends up is anyone's guess, but Zoom Club and Majestic were both operated the same way and look how that ended.

Like Escape, Lion Music also continued to do what they have always done best - delivering more guitar based melodic metal, progressive and instrumental releases. Their biggest disappointment for the year (in melodic terms) was the House Of Shakira, which just didn't have the song strength of previous releases.
The label appears to be doing well, but they are not immune to the ways of the current world - they issued a warning mid-year about not signing new artists due to the fallout of internet downloading on their sales.
And Lion continues to boast the largest collection of completely unpronounceable artist names on the market!

Rock Candy Records are another label that struggled with anything in 2007 and having fought back from a bad distribution deal are now looking forward to a brighter 2008 and already have new releases flowing again.

Germany's AFM Records continued to grow in stature and added more impressive signings, including my own personal favourite Eden's Curse., plus Rob Rock, Poodles, Lion's Share.
Except if it wasn't for the band, I would still not have heard the record - the label has some serious holes in their promo mailing list and my attempts to get releases each month from them lasted all of one single month.

UK based Angelmilk Records didn't release anything in 2007, but I think that will change in 2008. So the new is out and my position with the label was accepted with great enthusiasm. I was prepared to take some heat from skeptics, but to this point they have been quiet - I get to prove my worth soon!
Angelmilk is a great partnership. For the first time I get to do something in an official capacity that I have been doing unofficially with many labels for years. In my position, I constantly hear new music and artists and pass those on to other labels to look into and I have long been a go-between for labels and artists to contact each other.
This is a great challenge...I have to deliver on a promise to myself to do things a little differently and try and be effective in promoting some new and well known artists. I believe we have a pretty cool line-up evolving and I look forward to announcing details of these singings and plans very shortly!!!

Z Records began making more noise than they have in several years - not since the artist defection fallout. So - they are looking at getting back into the throws of business full time. It will be good to see them carve a brighter future out.

Speaking of promo lists – 10 years after forming this site I still find myself unable to get straight answers and replies from a couple of labels in regards to promo copies of albums I need to feature on the site. The majority of labels and artists can appreciate the concept of free publicity, but a few others remain blissfully ignorant. And they wonder why sales don't improve!!!

I'm looking forward to the year ahead. April 2008 and things are looking pretty good and there is a lot to look forward to from a number of labels.
So far there hasn't been any major dogs unveiled and I'm confident of the best year in a long while...

,
The Year That Was: Disappointments

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2007:
Too many disappointments in 2007. 2006 was pretty bad...2007 even worse. 2008 so far looks better. In 2007 the major disappointments for me were -

TNT - I guess that was the most controversial and highest profile release of the year. I think the biggest question raised was the name on the cover. Any step away from an established sound will raise such questions. Where to from here for the band? Not sure...but work starts shortly on a follow up.

Ozzy Osbourne - Just weak songs...big build up, but little to show for it once it arrived. And Ozzy blamed the internet and downloading for lack of interest in this title.

Queensryche - Their covers affair just continued to add to the bad reputation covers albums have. A couple of interesting songs, but too many that didn't work.

Meldrum - Horrible. Not sure why they got a deal with Frontiers. Normally you can see an upside to a signing, but not in this case.

Peter Criss - I'll avoid even commenting on this. No I won't...beyond hideous. I didn't even review it. I couldn't stomach it.

Velvet Revolver - Boring vocalist and boring songs. I can see a few readers heading to e-mail me for that comment - but let's be honest here. The band fell way short of a decent album and the record buying public agreed.

Duran Duran - way to wipe out 4 years hard work guys!!! Make a come back, do the world tour, make a cool album, do the hard yards, then record a new album of complete shit!

,
The Year That Was: Rest In Peace

Brad Delp, Kevin Dubrow, Jeff Healy, Dan Fogelberg, Pepsi Tate (Tigertailz), Hughie Thomossan (The Outlaws), Thorstein Aaby (Pagans Mind), Kelly Johnson (Girlschool), Phil Bonanno (DDY Engineer), Richie Sambora's father Adam, Bill Guffey (Shooting Star), Mark St. John (Kiss), Billy Thorpe, John O'Banion, Snake (Tobruk).

If there is anyone that I have missed, please forgive the omission. R.I.P. to all these souls and to anyone else out there that has lost loved ones this year just passed.

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The Year That Was: The Predictions Made

Ok, time to look back and embarrass myself with the results from what 2007 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.

Could Ted Poley have his best year ever - with a new Poley/Rivera album due, The Pleasure Dome coming up, a possible Danger Danger record and even a 4th record potentially in the works???
Well...Ted had a good year, but not his best ever. Only one of these releases appeared. Can we carry this prediction over to 2008?

Will Steve Perry make a new solo album? No. Will Steve Perry make another guest appearance as he has done in the past 2 years? Yes.
No and no. I guess that second thing never panned out.

Van Halen will get through their allotted 40 dates and then that will be it - no new material and no sign of when the next bout of activity will come.
No and yes. Half points. No new material and I don't ever expect it, but the tour continues.

Could ex-pat Rick Springfield finally return to Oz for that long promised live tour his fans (and I) have been waiting for?
Indeed he did and he hopes to return for a full tour again soon.

Toby Rand & Juke Kartel's debut album will outsell and outshine that of Rock Star Supernova's - the band formed from the show Rand was booted from. Revenge is sweet.
Where the f*** is this album??

The Police tour will be the top grossing tour of 2007.
Yes indeed! Full points...$212 million and counting.

Def Leppard will release their toughest rocking record since Pyromania.
Well, the record is still coming, but soundbytes suggest it does indeed rock.

Could Leverage be the next big thing in Metal out of Europe?
I think they are still building on this. I'm still confident...

Who might just split up this year (maybe, possibly, who knows...): Rock Star Supernova, Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver, Van Halen, Bon Jovi (on hiatus maybe?), Warrant.
Yes to RockStar: Crapnova, Velvet Revolver took a little longer than expected; Warrant did return to Jani, so that's a partial split and wow...Van Halen are still together!

Possible re-unions - Giant, the original White Lion, Mr. Big, Blue Murder, the original Dare line-up, and once again for good measure, or at least wish value - Rainbow, Little Angels, Damn Yankees.
No to Giant (and I don't see that happening any longer); same goes for Mr. Big; Blue Murder didn't, nor in fact did anyone!!! Vinny Burns will join Dare for some live dates, but that was only just announced. A complete strike out here!

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The Year That Was: Predicted Biggest Titles

THE PREDICTED BEST OF 2007:
Kelly Keagy, Oliver Hartmann, Danny Vaughn, Pride Of Lions, Last Autumn's Dream, Dante Fox, Night Ranger, Shaw / Blades, Dennis DeYoung, Anberlin, Ra, Threshold, Circus Maximus, Rush, Platitude, Gotthard, JK Northrup, Cornerstone, Pink Cream 69, Jaded Heart, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal, Howard Leese, Million, Road To Ruin, Royal Hunt, TNT, Treat, Sebastian Bach, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Stan Bush, Blanc Faces, Foreigner, Frederiksen/Denander, The Hooters, Terry Brock, House Of Shakira, Loverboy, Places Of Power, The Ladder, Robin Beck, REO Speedwagon, Steve Lukather, Tramp's White Lion, Urban Tale, Line Of Fire, Khymera, David Readman, Poley/Rivera, Wig Wam, Mecca, Newman, Dare.

What was not released? Platitude, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal, Howard Leese, Million, Royal Hunt, Treat, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Terry Brock, Places Of Power, Steve Lukather, Tramp's White Lion, Urban Tale, Line Of Fire, Khymera, Poley/Rivera, Wig Wam, Mecca, Dare.

POSSIBLE TOP 20 FOR 2007:
Shortening the list even further - what did I say my Top 20 of 2007 would be?
Kelly Keagy, Night Ranger, Gotthard, Pink Cream 69, Jaded Heart, Stan Bush, Foreigner, Frederiksen/Denander, The Hooters, House Of Shakira, Loverboy, Places Of Power, Steve Lukather, Urban Tale, Poley/Rivera, Wig Wam, Mecca, Def Leppard, Newman, Dare, David Readman, Threshold, Anberlin, Robin Beck.

Well, this year's predictions were a disaster! Half the albums were never released and may of those that were disappointed!
I did correctly predicted these albums would make my Top 20 - Kelly Keagy, Night Ranger, Gotthard, Stan Bush, Frederiksen/Denander, Loverboy, Threshold, Anberlin.

So what was predicted to not be released in 2007?
Journey, Terry Brock, 7th Heaven, Air Time, Danger Danger, David Readman, Eclipse, Talon, Styx, Scrap Metal, Crystal Blue, Von Groove, Asia, Lec Zorn, Boston, Tramp's White Lion, Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, Hardline, Vince Neil, Montrose, Black N Blue, Hodson, Motley Crue, Man-Raze, Whitesnake, Burning Rain, AC/DC, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal.

Another good set of predictions made here. A few were released though (hurray!) - those being Airtime, David Readman and Lec Zorn. The rest remain on a promise for 2008.

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2007 Musician Awards

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Mike Reno (Loverboy)
No question about it - Loverboy's new record was Mike's record. His voice sounds as good as ever and it was his songwriting and direction that made the album what it was - and that is a very fine record indeed!
Honorable Mentions - Michael Eden (Eden's Curse, MelodicRock All-Stars) for an outstanding debut; Stan Bush for another killer classic vocal on his solo release and Stephen Christian (Anberlin) for bringing melodic and modern together seamlessly.

Past Winners: 2006 - Pekka Ansio Heino; 2005 - Jorn Lande; 2004 - Jeff Scott Soto; 2003 - Harry Hess.

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR:
Thorsten Koehne (Eden's Curse)
The virtuoso German guitarist made his immediate impact as part of Eden's Curse. Combining the shred of Malmsteen with the melody of Schon, Thorsten was all over the debut EC record and deserves his place here as guitarist of the year.
Honorable Mentions - Joeseph Milligan (Anberlin), Paul Dean (Loverboy), Magnus Karlsson (The Codex & Allen/Lande).

Past Winners: 2006 - Steve Lukather; 2005 - Magnus Karlsson

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Dennis Ward (Eden's Curse, Road To Ruin, Jaded Heart, Human Zoo, David Readman, Pink Cream 69, Steve Grimmett)
And that doesn't even include mixing duties and the 3 or 4 projects he was working on for 2008 release! There simply was no competition!!
Honorable mentions - Magnus Karlsson (Allen/Lande, The Codex); Threshold; Holger Fath (Stan Bush)

Past Winners: 2006 - Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem); 2005 - Dennis Ward; 2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi; 2003 - Tommy Denander.

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR:
Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger, Solo, Scrap Metal)
Not content with drummer prowess on Night Ranger and his own solo record, Kelly was also the ringleader for Scrap metal and delivered a knock out performance at MelodicRockFest.

Past Winners: 2006 - Simon Phillips; 2005 - Daniel Flores.

BASSIST OF THE YEAR:
Jack Blades (Shaw/Blades & Night Ranger)
Another double performance from Jack, with Night Ranger and Shaw/Blades, not to mention touring constantly throughout the year, recieving outstanding reviews for his intimate shows with Tommy Shaw.
Honorable mentions - Paul Logue (Eden's Curse, David Readman) & Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Hellbassbeaters)

Past Winners: 2006 - Marcel Jacob.

KEYBOARDIST OF THE YEAR:
Eric Ragno (Ted Poley, David Readman, Steve Grimmett, American Angel)
Once again - no competition at all! The above appearances don't include those releases due in 2008 including some big expectations with China Blue! And, another hero of MelodicRockFest as part of the spare-of-the-moment MelodicRock All-Stars. One of the nicest guys in the business.

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2007 Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

The Best Use Of A Fog Horn In A Song - Pride Of Lions for "Tall Ships" (It was in fact, a French Horn, but if you know the song, you'll get what I mean!)

Most Press Releases Announcing New Signings Without Actually Releasing Anything Award - Chavis Records - Will any of their 2007 announced releases ever actually be released?

Best Guest Appearance In A Recording Studio Without Recording Anything - Steve Perry - For his morale boosting appearances with Steve Lukather and Extreme during 2007.

Best Use Of Pyramid Marketing In An Internet Age - Burn Lounge - Touted as an online music empire for all, this scheme has already got the (negative) attention of consumer groups.

The Rehab Fixes Everything Award - Eddie Van Halen & Richie Sambora - Perhaps not...nice try though!

The Beat The Bootleggers Award - Danny Wilde - Giving away his classic album 'The Boyfriend' at his official website.

The Daftest RIAA Announcement Of The Year - It is illegal to make MP3s from CDs you bought! The RIAA PR department continue hitting home runs, eh?

The Have Your Bimbos & Eat Them Too Award - Bret Michaels - For having his way with a dozen wanna be slutty girlfriends, only to choose none and get to do it all over again!

The More Band Members Present At A Music Festival Than Paying Fans Award - Rock-It Fest - West Virginia June 16. 10,000 people hoped for, but the numbers didn't quite make estimations, with about one hundred fans gathering to see 20 melodic bands play.

The 'Guns N Roses' Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date Award: Guns N Roses - Taking out their own award (yet again). Who will take their crown when this album is actually released? No one!
Previous Winners: Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, Cheap Trick & Black N Blue

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Motley Crue - Suing drummer Tommy Lee's manager for all his crap decisions! The band claimed "greed," "extortionist tactics" and terrible career advice caused the band to lose millions of dollars in profits and tarnished the band's stellar reputation.
Previous Winners: Meatloaf / Jim Steinman, The World Vs SonyBMG, Frankie Sullivan.

The Honesty In Interviews Award: *TIE* Gene Simmons & Dennis DeYoung - On the value of music in today's Internet world -
Gene Simmons - "The record industry doesn't have a f*cking clue how to make money. It's only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there's no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid's face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work. How can you pick on them? They've got freckles. That's a crook. He may as well be wearing a bandit's mask."
Dennis DeYoung - "Nobody pays for things they can get for free. And I'm gonna say it again, nobody pays for things they get for free. If the record companies went from $15 a CD to $5, free is still cheaper."
Previous Winners: Eddie Money, Jamie St. James.

The 'GWAR - Make It Stop Award' For The Most Unnecessary CD: Duran Duran - Red Carpet Massacre. More like a massacre on the ears.
Previous Winner: A Billy Idol Christmas.

The 'Vince Neil' Best Drunk On-Stage Antics Award: Richie Sambora - The Bon Jovi Unplugged performance was a mess and what was seen on TV was heavily edited from the even worse performance on the day.
Previous Winners: Jani Lane, Jani Lane, Vince Neil, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

The Welcome Back Award: *TIE* - Lilian Axe, Waltham, White Wolf, Extreme, The Cult, Led Zeppelin.

The 'Just Release The Bloody Thing Already' Award: - AC/DC, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Guns N Roses, Black N Blue, Hardline - New year, a few new entries, but mainly the same old bloody names! At least Lec Zorn got his record out. Well done Lec!!
Previous Winners: Guns N Roses, Lec Zorn, Black N Blue, Nelson, Hardline, Paul Stanley, Teer, Zion.

The 'Best Interview Of 2007' Award: Dennis DeYoung - Another great chat with the legendary frontman.
Previous Winners: Sammy Hagar, Marcie Free, Steve Lukather.

The Coolest Website Rant Award: *TIE* - Brian May & Marcel Jacob - The Queen guitarist and Talisman bassist both rally around mate Jeff Scott Soto and tell it like it really is after Journey dropped their frontman.

The 'Gene Simmons' I'll Flog Anything Award: Beau Hill - Producer extraordinaire, who isn't flogging a product as such, but rather his mixing services by approaching just about every band on MySpace.
Previous Winner: George Lynch, Gene Simmons.

Most Likely To Find Themselves On The Country Music Channel in 2008: Eddie Money - One bad idea to the next for the once classic Money Man.
Previous Winner: Bon Jovi, John Waite.

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album or DVD in 2008 Award: - more random guesses!
Those nominated last year - Shaw/Blades, Masterplan, Wig Wam, Toto, John Waite, REO Speedwagon, The Police, The Who -

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2008: The Year Ahead

THE PREDICTED BEST OF 2008:
Brother Firetribe, Alliance, Def Leppard, Bombay Black, Kip Winger, Whitesnake, Steve Overland, M.ill.ion, Michael Bormann, Bret Michaels, Journey, Motley Crue, Uriah Heep, Jorn, Poley/Rivera, Anberlin, Blanc Faces, Bob Catley, Crown Of Thorns, Danger Danger, Dare, Eclipse, Extreme, Foreigner, From The Inside, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, Jeff Scott Soto, Jimi Jamison/Jim Peterik, Mecca, Motley Crue, Places Of Power, Pleasure Dome, Ramos/Hugo, Rick Springfield, Sammy Hagar, Starbreaker, Terry Brock, Tony Harnell, Tyketto, Wig Wam, White Sister, House Of Lords, Khymera, Leverage, Royal Hunt, Steve Lukather, Work Of Art.

Ok, so let's take out what I think won't be released during 2008 (for whatever reasons, but mainly because I'm not confident the albums will be finished in time) - Blanc Faces, Danger Danger, Dare, Terry Brock, Tyketto, White Sister...

That taken into account - what will my Top 20 be this year? And can I say right here and now, I may not be reviewing Angelmilk releases, but I sure can count them in my Best Of lists next year :) And there are a couple of things I am working on right now but cannot announce that I think will definitely feature right up there!!

POSSIBLE TOP 20 FOR 2008:
Brother Firetribe, Alliance, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Journey, Jorn, Poley/Rivera, Anberlin, Bob Catley, Crown Of Thorns, Eclipse, Foreigner, From The Inside, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, Jeff Scott Soto, Jimi Jamison/Jim Peterik, Mecca, Places Of Power, Ramos/Hugo, Rick Springfield, Sammy Hagar, Starbreaker, Tony Harnell, Wig Wam, House Of Lords, Khymera, Leverage, Steve Lukather, Work Of Art.

No other predictions for the year ahead this time. Will return to this feature next year...and last but not least....

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Dickhead Of The Year Award

I know so many people look forward to this and believe me - there are still plenty of candidates. Several personalities from the Message Boards deserve a good flogging, but I will resist temptation. We all have to move on at some point.

This year I was going to name a certain American beverage company Dickheads Of The Year - for taking 7 months to not bother paying me their sponsorship money from MelodicRockFest. But it seems me alerting them to that fact has prompted a re-think on their part :)
I might get paid after all...

Basically - I'm over last year. Too many problems and I'm not willing to revisit them. 2008 has it's own challenges, so let's see if DOTK returns for the 2008 Awards.

 

Welcome to the 8th Annual MelRock Awards. My apologies for it being a week or two late getting online, but life seems to only ever get busier, so perhaps I should start writing the 2007 awards in October :)
One of the benefits of publishing the awards in February is that it gives me a far better and clearer picture of the year ahead, which is an important part of this annual round up of news, views, comments and general opinions on things.
This is also my avenue to speak my mind a little further on certain issues affecting this music scene, me, the site and the record business as a whole.
I hope you concur with the awards handed out and with the rankings of particular albums and songs from the calendar year 2006.
Of course there will be many varying views and possibly some unhappy campers that hold high regard for albums that did not make the final cut here. You get a chance at the end of the feature to add your personal favourites.
The albums and artists below are all ones that have been reviewed or featured in any way on the site. I have not had the time to review everything from 2006 that should have been, but I can recognize those albums and songs here and will still add a few more 2006 reviews when time permits.
I always provide soundbytes, so if some of these titles featured are not ones you recognize or have heard a lot about, then please check them out, as there is a lot of great music and artists featured in the lists below.

This year's write up continues the trend of getting bigger each and every year. This is the biggest awards page yet (48 pages to print out) and I expect next year will be bigger again as I try and cover as much music as is humanly possible. If there are any omissions from the lists below, then I apologize and mean no offence. But there really is a stack of music for fans of all tastes and the below artists and releases are those which I personally feel are the strongest representation of the scene that melodicrock.com covers.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

1

Toto

Falling In Between

The year spent writing and recording this album really paid off for the guys. This is an absolutely classic album and I had no difficulty giving this album a perfect score. It was just as easy to name it Album Of The Year. Falling In Between showcases everything that is Toto. There are influences from all areas of their past and even a few new elements such as the heavy title track. The performances of all on this record is something the guys should be very proud of and the songwriting, although diverse, is held together by a monster production.

 

2

 

House Of Lords

World Upside Down

James Christian put it all on the line for this release. After the lukewarm reception to the comeback Power & The Myth release, James controversially moved on with a new line-up and a new vision. It paid off. This is classic House Of Lords in just about every way and the critical acclaim garnered from the release justify James' decision. While I am sure most would have preferred to see the classic line-up in action, the anthemic melodic rock songs that fill this album are good enough to convert everyone to the new era.

 

 

 

3

 

Talisman

7

Heralded as their swansong release, this was also a very important release for Jeff Scott Soto and the band. And they nailed it. Just like Toto, Talisman took elements of their past records and mixed it all into one record, with a couple of fresh new twists for good value. Great songs a fresh vibe and overall, a really consistent record that runs very smoothly start to finish.

 

 

4

Harem Scarem

Human Nature

Any new Harem Scarem record is always going to be a big release for this scene and the guys have never released a truly bad album. Released in Japan in November and available online and in select stores in early December, this just qualifies for the 2006 Awards. The album sees the band return to their more melodic ways, although I thought there was nothing wrong with the direction of the last album! So, more anthems, more hooks, more glorious harmonies...can any band out there rival the discography and overall consistency of this band?

5

Slamer

Nowhere Land

Mike Slamer is the consummate professional and a perfectionist to boot. And vocalist Terry Brock is a legend in his own right, so such a pairing could only bring melodic magic. And yes, this is a super slick slice of melodic rock, mixed with layers of instrumental work and lush vocals. The album was mellower than most expected I think, but you cannot fault the quality.

6

 

 

The Poodles - Metal Will Stand Tall

- 2006 was The Poodles vs Wig Wam vs Brother Firetribe - three amazing bands with three great albums on their hands. All a little different though. I always like the moody/darker side of melodic rock, which is why I have rated The Poodles slightly ahead of Wig Wam and Brother Firetribe, but let's be honest here...you need all three of these records!

 

7

 

 

 

Street Talk - V

- Simply the best and most consistent album of the band's career. Welcome back guys. Goran Edmon sounds amazing and the song, production and performances are all smooth as silk. Frederik Bergh cannot claim enough credit for this old school AOR masterpiece.

 

8

 

 

Wig Wam - Wigwamania

- Like 1987 had never ended, Wig Wam fire back with the album Poison wish they could still make (but probably never will..). This is a wonderful, in your face, feel good party rock album, filled with anthems, loud guitars and major choruses on every song. Amazing that something like this can still be made in 2006.

9

 

 

Brother Firetribe - False Metal

- Another of the magnificent trio of European melodic rock releases in 2007. Brother Firetribe took a more keyboard orientated approach with their album, but like Wig Wam and The Poodles, the guys filled it with glorious hooks and melodies, not to mention anthemic rocking songs that ridicule the fact that the 90s ever existed. Can't wait for more from all three bands. They shine the light and set the standard for others to follow.

10

 

 

Sunstorm - Sunstorm

- Well done JLT! A new fresh take on some old songs, coupled with some passionate vocals that demand attention on this release, which from the reactions, has become a JLT fan favourite. More please...and extra credit for the production (the amazing Dennis Ward again), in bringing some old songs to life without sounding dated at all.

11 Leverage - Tides
12 Newman - Heaven Knows
13 Sammy Hagar - Livin' It Up
14 Jorn - The Duke
15 Meatloaf - Bat Out Of Hell 3
16 Nexx - Another Dawn
17 Andersen Laine Readman - Three
18 Ted Poley - Collateral Damage
19 Ambition - Ambition
20 Glenn Hughes - Music For The Divine

 

21 Europe - Secret Society
22 Tony O'Hora - Escape From The Sun
23 Platitude - Silence Speaks
24 Square One - Supersonic
25 Cheap Trick - Rockford
26 Last Autumn's Dream - Winter In Paradise
27 Riot - Army Of One
28 Mind's Eye - Walking on H2O
29 Paul Stanley - Live To Win
30 Axel Rudi Pell - Mystica
 

 

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Rain - Stronger
  • Final Frontier - Freelight
  • Richie Kotzen - Into The Black
  • GPS - Window To The Soul
  • Fatal Smile - Neo Natural Freaks
  • Zeno - Runway To The Gods
  • Wetton/Downes Icon II - Rubicon
  • Thunder - Robert Johnson's Tombstone
  • Pretty Maids - Wake Up To The Real World
  • Michael Bormann - Conspiracy
  • Iron Maiden - A Matter Of Life And Death
  • Winger - IV
  • UFO - The Monkey Puzzle
  • Avalon - Avalon (The Richie Zito Project)
  • Edguy - Rocket Ride
  • Evergrey - Monday Morning Apocalypse
  • Ten - The Twilight Chronicles
  • Fair Warning - Brother's Keeper
  • Shark Island - Gathering Of The Faithful
  • Stonelake - Reincarnation
  • Cloven Hoof - Eye Of The Sun
  • Vertigo - 2
  • Cloudscape - Crimson Skies
  • Frontline - Circles
  • Gary John Barden - Agony & The Xtasy
  • Chicago - XXX
  • Jim Peterik - Above The Storm
  • Bloodbound - Nosferatu
  • Shadowman - Different Angles
  • Ian Parry - Visions
  • Sora - Demented Honour
  • Sunrise Ave - On The Way To Wonderland 
  •  

 

THE BEST METAL / PROG ALBUM:
  • Leverage - Tides
  • Jorn - The Duke
  • Tony O'Hora - Escape Into The Sun
  • Riot - Army Of One
  • Platitude - Silence Speaks
  • Mind's Eye - Walking On H2O
  • Bloodbound - Nosferatu
  • Cloudscape - Crimson Skies
  • Iron Maiden - A Matter Of Life And Death
  • Edguy - Rocket Ride 
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THE BEST OLD-SCHOOL AOR ALBUM:
  • Street Talk - V
  • Sunstorm - Sunstorm
  • Newman - Heaven Knows
  • Final Frontier - Freelight
  • Ambition - Ambition
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Winter In Paradise
  • Avalon - Avalon
  • Vertigo - 2
  • Ted Poley - Collateral Damage
  • Shadowman - Different Angles 
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THE BEST MODERN ROCK ALBUM:
  • My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
  • Fair Ground - Down It In
  • Daughtry - Daughtry
  • Suzi Rawn - Naked
  • Square One - Supersonic
  • Sunrise Avenue - On The Way To Wonderland
  • Pink - I'm Not Dead
  • Lynam - Slave To The Machine
  • Quietdrive - When All That's Left Is You
  • Skillet - Comatose 
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BEST DEBUT ALBUM OF 2006:
(Band/Artist, Not Project)
  1. The Poodles - Metal Will Stand Tall
  2. Brother Firetribe - False Metal
  3. Leverage - Tides
  4. Square One - Supersonic
  5. GPS - Window To The Soul
  6. Sunrise Avenue - On The Way To Wonderland
  7. Stonelake - Reincarnation
  8. Sora - Demented Honor
  9. Fraze Gang - Fraze Gang
  10. Suzi Rawn - Naked 
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BEST COMPILATION OR LIVE ALBUM:
  • Honeymoon Suite - Feel It Again (The Anthology)
  • Danger Danger - Live And Nude
  • Foreigner - Live In '05
  • Jeff Scott Soto - The Essential Ballads
  • Scandal - We Are The 80s
  • Whitesnake - Live In The Shadow Of The Blues
  • The Rembrandts - Greatest Hits
  • Treat - Weapons Of Choice
  • Cinderella - Extended Versions (Live)
  • Poison - 25 Years Of Rock (The Best Of...) 
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BEST RE-ISSUE:
  • Rick Springfield - Working Class Dog
  • Diving For Pearls - Diving For Pearls
  • Loverboy - Get Lucky
  • Steve Perry - For The Love Of Strange Medicine / Street Talk
  • Def Leppard - Hysteria Deluxe Edition
  • Strangeways - Catalogue Re-Issues
  • Journey - Catalogue Re-Issues
  • Preview - Preview
  • John Farnham - Whispering Jack (20th Anniversary)
  • Phenomena - The Complete Works 
2006 SONG OF THE YEAR
  • Toto - Dying On My Feet
  • House Of Lords - Million Miles
  • Street Talk - Responsible
  • Harem Scarem - Tomorrow May Be Gone
  • House Of Lords - SOS (In America)
     
  • The Poodles - Echoes From The Past
  • Newman - Ain't Gonna Cry Forever
  • Toto - King Of The World
  • Talisman - The 1 I'm Living 4
  • Brother Firetribe - Midnight Queen 
     
  • Leverage - Fifteen Years
  • Harem Scarem - Human Nature
  • Toto - Bottom Of Your Soul
  • Sunstorm - Strength Over Time
  • Street Talk - If I Could
  • The Poodles - One Night Of Passion
  • Toto - Spiritual Man
  • House Of Lords - Ghost Of Time
  • Riot - Knocking At My Door
  • Leverage - Follow Down That River 
     
  • Wig Wam - Gonna Get You Someday
  • Slamer - Jaded
  • Wig Wam - Kill My Rock N Roll
  • Brother Firetribe - I'm On Fire
  • Meatloaf - Alive
  • ALR (Andersen Laine Readman) - Don't Need A Thing
  • Brother Firetribe - Love Goes Down
  • John Waite - St. Patrick's Day
  • Talisman - Succumb To My Desire
  • Europe - Always The Pretenders 
     
  • Meatloaf - Blind As A Bat
  • Ten - Oblivion
  • Ambition - Hold On
  • Jim Peterik - Hiding From Yourself
  • Paul Stanley - Live To Win
  • Survivor - Talkin' Bout Love
  • Nexx - Critical
  • Wig Wam - Bygone Zone
  • Paul Stanley - Second To None
  • Harem Scarem - Hanging On 
     
  • Slamer - Superstar
  • Chicago - Feel
  • Ted Poley - Look Out Below
  • Tony O'Hora - Broken Soul
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Winter In Paradise
  • Final Frontier - Foolish Pride
  • House Of Lords - These Are The Times
  • Wetton / Downes - Finger On The Trigger
  • Riot - One More Alibi
  • Frontline - No One 
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Harem Scarem - Don't Throw It Away
  • Harem Scarem - Caught Up In Your World
  • Cosmo - Don't Tell Me Your Lies
  • Rain - The Other Side
  • Rain - Right By Your Side
  • Final Frontier - Freelight
  • Final Frontier - Someone's Watching You
  • Riot - The Mystic
  • Riot - Army Of One
  • Tom Cochrane - The Party's Not Over
  • Richie Kotzen - Sacred Ground
  • Richie Kotzen - Misunderstood
  • Paul Stanley - Bulletproof
  • Paul Stanley - Wake Up Screaming
  • GPS - Heaven Can Wait
  • GPS - New Jerusalem
  • Fatal Smile - Crash & Burn
  • Zeno - Runway To The Gods
  • Zeno - Fanfares Of Love
  • Wetton/Downes - The Die is Cast
  • Nexx - Another Dawn
  • Nexx - Control In My Life
  • Thunder - Don't Wanna Talk About Love
  • Thunder - Dirty Dream
  • Pretty Maids - As Guilty As You
  • Pretty Maids - Such A Rush
  • Michael Bormann - Stand Up
  • Michael Bormann - Conspiracy
  • Talisman - Nowhere Fast
  • Talisman - Falling
  • Winger - Your Great Escape
  • Winger - Four Leaf Clover
  • Meatloaf - Blind As A Bat
  • Meatloaf - The Monster Is Loose
  • Europe - Let The Children Play
  • Europe - Human After All
  • UFO - Goodbye To You
  • UFO - Who's Fooling Who?
  • Eden - Fools Parade
  • Mikey Jones - Who...?
  • Planet Alliance - The Real You
  • Slamer - Strength To Carry On
  • Sunstorm - Keep Tonight
  • Sunstorm - Danger Of Love
  • Avalon - Avalon
  • Avalon - Life Got In The Way
  • Sammy Hagar - Living On A Coastline
  • Sammy Hagar - The Way We Live
  • Edguy - Return To The Tribe
  • Ten - This Heart Goes On
  • Ten - The Chronicles
  • Fair Warning - Don't Keep Me Waiting
  • Fair Warning - Still I Believe
  • Axel Rudi Pell - No Chance To Live
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Living A Lie
  • Shark Island - I Had A Dream
  • Shark Island - Down To The Ground
  • The Poodles - Lie To Me
  • The Poodles - Shadows
  • The Poodles - Metal Will Stand Tall
  • Stonelake - Mistreated Heart
  • Shooting Star - Without Love
  • Shooting Star - Trouble In Paradise
  • Vengeance - Captain Moonlight
  • Vengeance - Back In The Ring
  • Cheap Trick - If It Takes A Lifetime
  • Cheap Trick - Perfect Stranger
  • Evergrey - Unspeakable
  • Glenn Hughes - Steppin' On
  • Glenn Hughes - This Is How I Feel
  • Vertigo - Hold Me
  • Vertigo - Holy
  • Cloudscape - And Then The Rain
  • Bloodbound - Behind The Moon
  • Newman - Learning To Live
  • Newman - Heaven Knows
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Last Mistake
  • Wig Wam - Slave To Your Love
  • Wig Wam - Dare Devil Heat
  • Wig Wam - Rock My Ride
  • Frontline - Don't Run Away
  • Frontline - Did You Ever (Taste The Pain)
  • Mind's Eye - Out Of My System
  • Mind's Eye - Mrs. Clair Voyance
  • Survivor - Reach
  • Gary John Barden - Arise
  • Gary John Barden - Stop (What´Cha Doing To Me)
  • Ted Poley - Curtain Call
  • Ted Poley - Rise
  • Chicago - King Of Might Have Been
  • Chicago - 90 Degrees And Freezing
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Don't Let Your Love Go Down
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Love To Go
  • Valentine - I'm Going Under (Sedated)
  • Andersen Laine Readman - Straight To The Heart
  • Andersen Laine Readman - Rise
  • Platitude - Silence Speaks
  • Platitude - Fear (It's Over Now)
  • Shadowman - Ways Of The World
  • Shadowman - Learn To Live Without You
  • Main Attraction - Blue Jean Girls
  • Ian Parry - Falling
  • Ian Parry - Another Day (She Will Be Loved)
  • Sora - One Way Ticket
  • Sora - Guilty
  • Jorn - End Of Time
  • Jorn - Blacksong
  • Square One - Wings To Fly
  • Square One - Love Struck Melody
  • Toto - Falling In Between
  • Bob Catley - Heart Of Stone
  • Bob Catley - Last Snows Of Winter
  • Ambition - Hypocrites
  • Ambition - Make It Alright
  • Tony O'Hora - My Final Prayer
  • Tony O'Hora - Dreamless Nights 
  •  

 

THE BEST HEAVY ROCK SONG:
  • Leverage - 15 Years
  • Leverage - Follow Down That River
  • Andersen Laine Redman - Don't Need A Thing
  • Jorn - We Brought The Angels Down
  • Tony O'Hora - Broken Soul
  • Evergrey - Unspeakable
  • Fatal Smile - Learn Love Hate
  • Bloodbound - Nosferatu
  • Ian Parry - The Angels
  • Edguy - Wasted Time 
,
THE BEST BALLAD:
  • Meatloaf - Cry Over Me
  • Harem Scarem - Hangin' On
  • Street Talk - At The End Of The Day
  • Toto - Bottom Of Your Soul
  • Tom Cochrane - Out Of My Head
  • Survivor - Seconds Away
  • Final Frontier - I Hope You Don't Mind
  • The Poodles - Crying
  • Wig Wam - Bygone Zone
  • Paul Stanley - Second To None 
,
THE BEST MODERN ROCK SONG:
  • Sunrise Avenue - Sunny Day
  • My Chemical Romance - Welcome To The Black Parade
  • Fair Ground - Down In It
  • Sunrise Avenue - Choose To Be Me
  • Pink - U and Ur Hand
  • Daughtry - It's Not Over
  • Fair Ground - Say You Will
  • Daughtry - Over You
  • Quietdrive - Rush Together
  • Suzi Rawn - Bet U Like Me 
,
BEST COVER VERSION:
  1. Brother Firetribe - Mighty Wings
  2. Suzi Rawn - Don't Come Easy
  3. Sunstorm - Fist Full Of Heat
  4. Tom Cochrane - Spririt In The Sky
  5. The Poodles - Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
  6. Sammy Hagar - I Love This Bar
  7. Quietdrive - Time After Time
  8. Meatloaf - Bad For Good
  9. Biss - Barracuda
  10. Domain - Don't Pay The Ferryman 

The winners of the Top 3 albums Of 2006 (and myself!) as drawn by Michael Ward (Wardy).
2006 Best Artwork
1
2 3
04-07
08-11
12-15

16-19

 

And....a few of the worst....

xxx
The Year That Was - The Best Music Results

2006 was a year of contrasts. The year delivered some of the very finest music I have been fortunate to witness in my 10 years online. Take a look at that Top 20 especially. Stunning stuff.

But, on the flipside, 2006 also delivered up some very poor releases too. Inconsistency was the name of the game, with some records suffering from dodgy production and general lack of quality control. Those aspects saw several potential great albums pegged back to average at best.

When we are talking the best, we should look no further than the titles good enough to make the 2006 MelRock Awards.



Album Of The Year was no contest for me - Toto easily took out that honor, with House Of Lords an equally easy pick for the #2 slot. Both albums were important releases for the bands and both releases delivered all that was expected and more.

Also delivering to the usual high standard expected of them were Talisman, Harem Scarem, Mike Slamer, Joe Lynn Turner and Street Talk. The year's big surprises came from the new era of European melodic hard rock hero's - The Poodles, Wig Wam and Brother Firetribe.

Three amazing albums caught the attention of fans and deserve to be included among the year's very best releases. Then there was Leverage, who delivered an album Masterplan would be thrilled to call their own.

Elsewhere on the lists, it is rewarding to see a number of veteran acts showing that there is still life in many an old dog! Newman, Meatloaf, Glenn Hughes, Ted Poley, Cheap Trick, Europe, Riot, Axel Rudi Pell and Paul Stanley all did their names proud.



Song Of The Year was a little harder to decide upon, but take a look at the song chosen - Dying On My Feet is everything Toto ever was and then some. This is an amazing song that in nearly 7 minutes of running time takes on melodic rock, progressive and symphonic rock before closing with an all-in brass section. There is at least 3 parts to the song and I honestly think it is the most amazing songwriting I heard this year.

House Of Lords figure heavily in the results due to a very strong album with several great anthems....I really had to debate the merits of SOS vs Million Miles, but Million Miles won in the end for me.

Harem Scarem appear again as they do every time they release an album, and once I figured the Top 20, the rest of the songs fell into place nicely.



Plenty more songs listed in the Honorable Mentions, as I couldn't scale it back any further than I already have. At a guess, I suppose there has been some 3000+ songs appear in front of me this year, so the end list of the 50 best songs + honorable mentions isn't too many in the scheme of things.



Congratulations to the artists involved and thank you for delivering the finest music possible in what can only be described as a challenging year for everybody involved in this business.

,
The Year That Was: Behind MelodicRock.com

The hardest part is always figuring out where to start. So much happens within the space of a year and I always find myself sitting staring at the screen, waiting for the obvious to make itself clear, so I can get underway.

Looking back can sometimes be good therapy and I have used the last couple of year's awards pages to pretty much lay it out there for all, to give a glimpse of the day to day stuff - not only the good, but also the BS that goes with running this site. There's plenty of both and this year was no exception.



The amount of money in this small scene is sometimes laughable and I must again thank the loyal support of MR-X members and the labels and CD stores that continue to advertise with me Without such support, running the site would be impossible.



The business side of things is always challenging. Last year I spoke of a few that had not paid up for services provided. There must be something in the air, as while those situations aren't fully resolved, all 3 have made steps to clear the air with me and that is definitely appreciated. Perhaps that is a sign of a more active business year ahead?



I have an awareness that I need to diversify in order to survive long term. I need to be doing something a little different so I am not relying on one revenue stream alone. But what? That's the million dollar question.

I have one idea I am very very passionate about, but it is something that will require a lot of work for no immediate result, so must consider how to get time to develop that without taking away from the site itself. I am frustrated I have not yet been able to do more, as this idea has been with me for a while now and I recall saying last year that I would be working on something outside the existing site during 2006, yet I don't think I have spent more than a few days on it all year.



I don't want to spend too much time on the negative, or at least the natural challenges that present themselves in working within the music business and then this scene in particular.

I am realistic about these things and no matter what is thrown at me, I continue to love everything about this music, this site and those that frequent it.

I am blessed to have made so many great friends and I thank everyone that takes time out to drop me a line.





SITE STATS:

The financial side of things may be ever challenging, but statistics wise, things couldn't be better! Figures for the site just continue to grow and even the site ranking portal Alexa has doubled the site ranking over the course of the past year, currently listing me in the top 40,000 of all websites online (take that info for what it's worth - but all sites can be checked and there must be some round about accuracy in their stats - www.alexa.com / Full Site Stats).

At one point my stats program fell over and had to be reset as it couldn't keep up with the traffic. That was around the time I announced David Lee Roth would be returning to Van Halen.

To take a snap shot – I'll list the details for January 2007.

Monday to Friday averages are now above 20,000 frontpage hits per day. The beginning of the week starts at around 18,000 and builds to around 21-22,000 by Friday.

In the last week of January, I had a one day record of over 26,000 hits. Fantastic!

For January 2007 I served 190,000 unique visitors equaling 544,000 hits and 2,150,000 pages (average 4 pages per user) and a grand total of 34,538,691 hits.

That all equates to a total of 1110 Gig in data for the month.

No wonder my server costs have doubled in the past 12 months!





THE BIGGEST STORY OF 2006:

I guess I would have to describe 2006 as featuring the very best experiences I have enjoyed whilst running this site and also the very worst. And to show just what a complex world this is, both experiences revolved around the same band - Journey.



When the controversy surrounding vocalist Steve Augeri's alleged use of backing tapes broke, it was on my message board. There has been talk of this issue for some time previous, long before it broke out early in 2006 – but I never wanted my message boards to be the focal point of the controversy.

Over the years I have allowed the boards to be known as a place where free speech is allowed so long as personal attacks are not made.

But, being that this was such an emotive and complex issue, with so many people very passionate about their respective opinions, it was not long before all hell broke loose and I was caught very much in the middle.

I did my best to allow everyone to have their say, but with two clear and defined points of view being so far apart, the board quickly turned into a nightmare to moderate.

Safe to say that I lost a great deal of time out of my year to that board.



I recall getting messages thanking me for allowing the debate to be conducted; messages demanding that I stop the debate and ban those that mention it; messages that I was being too controlling or not controlling enough; messages claiming that I was part of a conspiracy started by the band to oust their singer (seriously!!); messages claming that I was supporting a fraud by not speaking out about it more…and still more....you name it.

The reality was far less exciting. The Journey message board was running rampant and I was left to deal with the mess. That was my role in this - cleaner. Cleaning up the crap left on my board between warring factions of the Journey fanbase.



The whole allegation of tape use was a huge story, except no one was going to go on record about it. Why would they? It was a no win situation.

In the end I made a fairly broad statement outlining the issue on my front page. A lot of people understood where I was coming from. Most did. I was trying to be diplomatic and I tried to force the issue back on the band – pleading for them to make a statement to try and bring the issue and the fanbase to a point where tings could move forward....except I knew they would not comment. They will deal with it somewhere down the line, but I expect it will be done so with as few words as possible.

Like I said, most could see where I was coming from and could understand that I was trying to straddle a very thin fence, without falling over into any particular side.

Yet, still some folks demanded that I take a side. Demanded – not asked. Demanded.

Basically I wasn't ever about to cover what was one of the biggest stories I have covered without anyone from anywhere going on record!



Eight dates in to the 2006 US tour with Def Leppard, singer Steve Augeri left the tour with throat/vocal problems and was replaced by Jeff Scott Soto, who as we all know, was made permanent just before the end of the year.

The events of 2006 are well known and have been covered enough, but the problems among the fan base only intensified.

I was left with a choice to heavily moderate the message board or simply do my best to control it and let people have their say – get it off their chests so to speak. I think that we are now already on the path back though. Things since the announcement of JSS as singer, things have been progressively more peaceful and I expect this year to be a far more sedate affair for online fans.



Back to the band though. The Journey legacy has always been a complex affair as there were two distinct factions to their fanbase. Now we have a third. The division caused by the controversies of the past year will take a long time to heal and I'm not sure some will ever forgive what happened. But I also believe that JSS is the man to help heal the divisions.

But for Journey and for me, a lot of good has come from this year also.

Jeff Scott Soto clearly did a stand up job for the guys when asked to join the tour and as his confidence grew, so did the respect from the crowd and the positive reviews of the tour performances – from both fans and critics alike.

Everyone knows JSS and I are buds…a friendship grew from my early coverage of the singer on my site and eventual hook up to bring him to Australia for a tour and his ongoing involvement with Neal Schon - who I originally gave Jeff's phone numbers to.

I was sad to see Steve Augeri leave Journey – yes, I was sad. Why wouldn't I be? I have supported and championed this band and this line-up since my earliest days online and have interviewed Steve a few times and met him in person once. Tremendously nice guy and someone who I have a lot of respect for. No one wants to see a situation like this go down and no one wants to see fans that have devoted their time and hearts to that line-up, upset and despondent.



At the same time I was rapt to see JSS get his big chance – long over due and just so fantastic to see him playing to bigger audience sizes and in turn to see them responding to his stage persona. I'd be thrilled to see Jeff fronting any major band, so much better that it is a band that were already a personal favourite.

That point brings me to the upside of the Journey year – as you all know the band had me as their guest in LA to cover 2 shows and to do interviews with the guys before one of the shows. To bring everything back and present it as a big feature – the first for the new line-up.

To be in LA with the guys was a huge honor and it was of course great to spend some time hanging out with Jeff again.



I put more work into the Journey feature than any other special artist feature before and I was overwhelmed with the response from most towards it.

It definitely set the bar higher for site features (aside from the annual MelRock Awards I think) and I am hoping that I will get the chance to do something similar again in the not too distant future. I also learnt a few things from doing the feature that I will improve upon next time around.

Sadly the feature was not without its own controversies. Obviously dedicated fans of Steve Augeri were hurt by the contents of the band interviews – there was little reference to Steve and some spent considerable time reading stuff into the interviews that in reality really wasn't there at all.

The feature and the interviews was all about moving forward and that was my focus.

Deen Castronovo was the one hit hardest – something which I still fail to understand. Perhaps the written word can look more emotion free in the absence of a one on one or video interview. The fact is that Deen was a great supporter of Steve and those that attacked him for not being sympathetic enough have quickly forgotten that it was Deen that helped Steve though many tough times.

It was Deen who would fill in high notes when requested, it was Deen who took on a few of the ballads to allow Steve time to rest during the lengthy shows and it was Deen that reluctantly stood out front for Steve, when he clearly couldn't go on during that last US show in June.

The criticism of Deen was unwarranted and I hope people realize that. At the time I interviewed him, he had just lost his step father, who he was very close to and had a very emotional family base on and off the phone to him constantly. To be able to concentrate on anything, let alone give a coherent interview and then hit one out of the park on stage is a credit to him.

No one is asking anyone to forget Steve or the events of 2006, but Deen is not the fall guy.



And for that matter – nor am I. After the positives of the feature had died down, it was time for some of the Augeri fan base to have their say and once again I was caught in the crossfire of an angry mob. I don't hold that against anyone, but was very disappointed at some of the comments that came my way. Again, the product of a divided fan base and a number of people unhappy with how things were dealt with by the band and management.

Time heals all wounds and I hope 2007 brings closure to those upset with the events of 2006. No doubt a Steve Augeri solo record and the unearthed second Tall Stories record will go a considerable way to help.





INTERVIEWS:

What were my favourite interviews of 2006? Obviously the Journey ones were great although completely informal and were meant to supplement the tour coverage rather that be hard hitting pieces on their own right.

I think Sammy Hagar gets the gong as my favourite interview of all. I have been a fan of Sammy for as long as I can remember and have wanted to interview him since starting the site. Sammy was charming and open to what I thought was a good line of questioning and the fact that he let the interview run 20 minutes overtime said a lot. I was very thankful to Sammy for that and hope to do another interview soon.

I think Richie Zito was a close second. A super nice and very wise bloke is Richie and had a lot to offer.

Frankie Sullivan, Richard Black, Toto and Danny Malone all provided good interviews too, so I think overall it was a very good year for interviews.

Not so good was John Waite and Jimi Jamison, both of whom I guess just didn't have a lot to say at the time. I have also done interviews with Yngwie Malmsteen and Sebastian Bach – I'll deliver those interviews soon.

Coming up in 2007 – Lou Gramm, Vince Neil, Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy, Jim Peterik, Loverboy, Dokken, Jorn Lande, Foreigner, Rick Springfield and more….plus another round of Journey perhaps?





MRCD3:

I was very pleased to finally be able to get the MRCD3 CD finished and released. It took 2 years to gather the tracks for this one and thankfully it seems everyone agrees that it was worth the wait and Volume 3 is the best of the 3 compilations to date.

So far I have sold 700-750 units thereabouts….so there is still plenty left and I will start work on thinking about MRCD4 in hopes that it won't take 2 years to get this one done!!





SPECIAL EVENTS:

Taking a look at a couple of other special events of the year, it was my great privilege to be part of the team that brought Toto to Australia for their first concerts in 14 years. I had an awesome weekend in Sydney with the guys, coincidently also spending some time with Foreigner on the Friday night, who blew me away with their energy.

But it was Toto's live set that gets my vote for one of the very best gigs ever. What an amazing band and what a great bunch of guys.

All except Mr. Lukather – he is a bad man, who insisted on me drinking way too many shots of this God awful stuff. Bad bad man – do not let him influence you if you ever get stuck in a bar with him!



I also had a blast in the UK for just a few short days at Firefest 3. Despite doing my back in (which still hurts BTW!), the trip to Firefest 3 was awesome as usual. Every time I go I get to see all the old faces that I have met over the years and even better, I get to meet more new faces and regular site readers.

Always a very positive experience, even if it takes more than 24 bloody hours to get there and the same back again.

The music brings us together, but for the fans gathered it is more like one big family reunion. Nothing better than sharing a hall with 1200 like minded individuals and a sea of classic band t-shirts. Of course, the bands gathered for the day all put in great performances, even if one in particular didn't connect with the crowd.

Can't wait for Firefest 4 – not sure if I can be there as yet – we shall see.

,
The Year That Was: Behind The Biz In 2006

There isn't much to talk of this year that I haven't already stated in previous years. Piracy still looms as the biggest problem, as does the advance leaking of promotional copies of albums to the Internet and of course - most importantly - the continuing void in real talent being promoted by the major labels and PR outlets.

Both issues are obviously hitting hard as only last week Warner and EMI released profit downgrade warnings to their stock holders and painted a none to pretty picture on where their sales were heading. EMI shares fell a further 12% on hearing the news.

They really have only themselves to blame.

Years of manufacturing musical dog turds instead of fostering real talent is hitting hard. And then there is their own disastrous anti-piracy moves that resulted in more bad PR. Add to this the label's general failure to come to terms with nature of the Internet and what it could do for them; their hard line against moving into a digital era; plus their overall reluctance to reduce the price of CDs, which at this point are at least 30% over priced.

The fact is that the consumer base has grown tired of what these labels have been offering and are voting with their feet. Their money is going on competing entertainment formats like DVD, Video Games, Internet and Cable TV.

The industry needs a radical shift in their fundamental thinking in order to re-excite the public. Good music and quality performers will always attract support. Why do you think the veteran acts of the 70s and 80s are still selling out concert tours each year?

It is time to foster some real talent guys and not cast them off after a debut album that failed to live up to expectations. Artists need at least 3 albums to prove themselves. Not one.



There is no shortage of talent and fantastic music out there, but to those people that just want to turn on the TV or perhaps read just one or two mainstream music magazines are never going to be exposed to it. Smart and passionate music fans go looking for new music and this is where the "evil" Internet can be a blessing for new artists and bands, who don't have to rely on paying their way into the mainstream media.





PLUGGING THE LEAKS - PART 2:

I also have one idea on how to alleviate some of the damage caused by the advance leaking of material to the Internet. Why not release these albums as a legal digital download on the day that promotional CDs are sent to media?

Stick to the planned release date for the physical CD and in store promotions etc...but have the album available digitally at an earlier time to at least give people the option to pay for something rather than download it illegally. Most fans just want the music ASAP and I would suggest that if the paid digital download version of any given album was available at the same time it would normally leak to the Internet, then perhaps such sales would see the artist receive some benefit from the purchasing of that download.

Many I know download the leaked advance and then purchase the CD when it is released. Do both - go digital in advance and provide a discount to those that go this route and also want the CD when released officially.

Your thoughts?





THE MYSPACE OBSESSION:

Is MySpace now a prerequisite for all artists and businesses involved in the entertainment industry? Does everyone have to have a MySpace page? The questions seems absurd, but apparently the answer is yes.

It's kind tiring to type an artist's website location into a browser, only to have that URL redirected to their MySpace page. This conglomerate is rendering official site pages redundant, yet the whole set up is so utterly restrictive and draconian in formatting options. Not to mention if you really want to make the most of it, substantial work is required.

I think bands should still concentrate on having an official site and if anything, use MySpace to drive users back there, where they can have full control over their media and promotion options.

This year one clown decided to impersonate me, a clown I have bumped into before doing something similar. Get a life! Anyway, I'm not alone in this problem, plenty of artists have fan pages on MySpace that claim to be official.

For the record, I have bookmarked a MySpace page for MelodicRock.com - reluctantly, yes, but it is there now. I have barely done anything to the page and don't look for that to change anytime soon, but at least there won't be anyone impersonating me out there! My URL: www.myspace.com/melodicrock.

,
The Year That Was: The Melodic Music Scene

2006 was a year where the production and sound quality of albums remained in the forefront of everyone's minds. There was sustained debate about this very topic through the year – both via message boards and individual e-mails to me.

It seems that all agree that a number of releases this year were hindered by poor sound quality. Some folks felt that they could look past this issue and enjoy the songs for what they were and others felt more strongly – that certain albums were ruined entirely by a poor mix, poor overall production or poor mastering.

I saw individual cases of both instances, but I must say that after reaching the milestone of running this site for 10 years now, my patience with sub-par production on various releases has dried up.

I'm now far less tolerant with these releases as I used to be and feel that if labels and artists can't get it right now – then they never will.

People need to make a stand against substandard product. Internet downloading and general music piracy is not going to get any better while the market has to suffer poorly produced albums.



I say this while cutting the independent artists out there a little slack. Those guys can get caught in the middle, left without the money needed to record a great sounding album themselves, but also without the support of melodic rock record labels who refuse to give them a decent advance or in some instances – no advance at all!

Let me digress for a moment - yes, we are now in an age of the zero advance record deal. There are artists out there as I type this that have spent every cent of their own money to record an album – not to get rich off, but for the love of the craft, for the art of music – only to find record labels willing enough to sign them to their roster, but without a cent being paid out to them. Not even a $1K good will gesture.

This tells me that the label has little if any faith in the product and is merely filling their quota of releases needed to stay on the radar.

Hell, I've got bugger all money, but maybe even I could run a record label off a zero advance deal. There's a thought. If artists are signing up to this kind of thing, then perhaps I should look seriously at this…



Of course, the zero advance deal is not part of the majority of deals, but it is happening to some. I made the point to highlight some of the challenges artists have in turning great songs into a great album.

In other cases, the artist can be the one that can be held accountable for the failings of an album. They have an advance, they know their way around a studio, and they have great songs. So why should an album sound horrible after all that?

Both labels and artists need to work together to eradicate poor quality releases.



Back to the production issue…this year, more than any other year that I can recall, more albums were (for me) ruined by poor sound.

Some of them feature some very fine songs indeed, which I truly appreciate, but the hard work of those writing the tunes can be destroyed by whoever sits behind that studio desk.

That was the case this year, as there are a few albums that I can't and won't ever listen to again – simply because they sound awful - despite featuring some great songs Why should any fan be robbed of some great songs because your ears hurt trying to enjoy them?!!





THE MELODIC LABELS:

The melodic music scene rolled along this year as it has for the last few years, although the 'melodic' aspect seems to be ever slowly fading away as metal takes an even stronger hold.

There were fewer pure AOR releases this year than any other year I can remember.

One of the biggest CD stores that I am sure everyone knows well is AOR Heaven. Their own in-house label released perhaps only a few melodic rock releases this year – the rest found their way to the Metal Heaven label. No slight on AOR/Metal Heaven. They have good releases, you just have to go where the sales are. They are not alone, as this is a sign of the times.



Speaking of Georg at AOR Heaven - he was one of several people to speak out against these advance promo releases appearing online this year. Everyone continues to struggle with piracy and the leaking of advance copies to torrent sites - almost the day they are shipped to supposed journalists - is a big problem. Again I believe that all the labels need to tighten their promo lists in an attempt to weed out the wrong doers.



Speaking of promo lists – 10 years after forming this site I still find myself unable to get straight answers and replies from a couple of labels in regards to promo copies of albums I need to feature on the site. The majority of labels and artists can appreciate the concept of free publicity, but a few others remain blissfully ignorant. And they wonder why sales don't improve for them…



Of the labels I deal most closely with, I guess it would be easy to see for all that Frontiers Records were the dominant force in the scene.

They have the most artists, the most releases and therefore the most exposure within the scene. In turn, artists look towards signing with them because they know the label has this reputation. Frontiers as one can see by the results of the Album Of The Year, had a strong 12 months. But they were not without their problems, as production quality was expected to be better than it was on several titles (Zion, Vertigo, Avalon, Bob Catley).



I feel that a couple of the other labels that were running closely behind Frontiers have given up the chase.

Take MTM Music for example – the label was neck and neck with Frontiers for many years, but seems to have turned down a different road to their rivals in the last 12-18 months.

Some of their artist signings this year would have to be described as 'experimental' to see if a change in direction works for them. I'd say not – as the best releases from MTM this year were the ones that were from the melodic/AOR genre. Street Talk was a gem, and Zeno and Rain also impressed. But releases like Dacia + The WMD and Beggars Bride were serious contenders for Turkey Of The Year.

I'd like to see MTM be more aggressive in their search for new signings this year as a competitive scene is a healthy scene.



Escape Music had a solid year and of all the labels probably chose to stick within their own established boundaries musically speaking. They served up some good releases and while they also stepped into metal somewhat (Evil Masquerade, Cloven Hoof, Ian Parry), overall they delivered probably the most pure AOR of anyone (Shadowman, Last Autumn's Dream, Newman, Alibi, Final Frontier). The label really does deliver consistent quality and rarely disappoint (if you forgive the Alibi release).



Majestic Rock Records struggled through the year under financed and well behind as far as their release schedule and previous year's efforts. Where they go this year is anyone's guess, but the guys running the show have a positive outlook for the future, which is a very good thing.



Lion Music continued to do what they have always done best and that is deliver guitar based melodic metal, progressive and instrumental releases. They continue to build in strength and diversity. I think the new House Of Shakira will be the label's melodic rock highlight for the year. I do have to laugh though…Lion Music have beyond any doubt, the largest collection of completely unpronounceable artist names on the market!



Rock Candy Records also struggled to keep within a schedule, but delivered some very fine re-issues and a sound quality that has impressed just about everyone. My only gripe - the superb re-issue of John Waite's classic Ignition album was an audio glitch (where you can hear the original maser tape flutter) in the first track, but the original American CD release of this title does not!



Germany's AFM Records goes from strength to strength and these guys are quickly becoming the prime metal label in Europe. Masterplan, Silent Force, The Poodles, Evidence One...lots of good names on their roster. SPV are a bigger label overall, but AFM has the name now and I can see them getting bigger and better.



UK based Angel Milk Records is the new kid on the block, but their efforts in promoting and releasing a classy package for their first band Nexx put them on the map. They now have to follow that up. Several other artists in development will establish them further, but one hopes it will not be too long between releases for the label.



Massacre Records stuck to what they know best and as far as I can see, that isn't going to change this year, with a mostly metal line-up punctuated by the anticipated more melodic Cornerstone album.



Z Records continued to confound its critics and remain in business, but not without creating more controversy along the way. Both of the planned 2007 Z Rock shows were surrounded with BS as on both occasions the planned headlining band pulled out.

In May it was Von Groove that came up with a lame excuse for not attending, but it was Firehouse that pulled no punches with their pull out of the September Z Rock show.

The associated back and forth press releases by both camps didn't result in fans getting what they wanted and further served to keep the aura of bullshit that surrounds Z Records alive.



Where to from here? More of the same from all parties is my best guess, while we all try and figure out where this scene is going, whether it will continue to shrink and whether those portraying their support of the scene will put their money where their mouth is.



One other label related note. I'm not sure if anyone else has picked up on this, but I think this situation sums up one issue this scene has. MTM Music welcomed the respected musician Mat Sinner on board as a A&R guy. That was a good move as far as I can see and the label promptly announced that Mats band Sinner would also be welcomed on board.

But not long after it was announced that Mat's other (bigger)band Primal Fear had signed a deal with Frontiers Records. Then not long again after that, a third project from Mat - Goddess Shiva – was announced as singing with the Metal Heaven label!

I know artists have to hedge their bets and go with the best deal available, but this stood out to me. Signed to and working A&R for one label, then signed to another 2 labels as well.

Of course, this is just one example – there are several more instances of artists spreading themselves across multiple labels in the one territory – Blue Tears, Tommy Denander, Tommy Heart (Fair Warning & Soul Doctor) to name a few.

I don't include those signed to deals in Europe, then other labels for Japan and America, as hardly any of the smaller labels work on worldwide distribution deals these days.

Should artists be loyal to one label, or in reverse, should labels bend over backwards to keep their artist working or signed to them exclusively? Controversial, or just part of the game in this day and age? 

,
The Year That Was: The Music

Aerosmith came up with a new compilation and what – two new songs? Pretty disappointing way to keep old fans hanging around if you ask me. Their most recent releases have been three compilations, one live album and a covers album. That ain't pretty.

But lets not single out Aerosmith here – other bands and labels are doing much the same. Poison are planning a covers album for 2007 after 2 compilations in a row and some re-issues.

Van Halen are about to release their 2nd compilation in a row and 3rd out of the last 4 releases.

Artists need to do whatever it takes to get some new material written and recorded and reward fans for 20 and 30 years worth of loyal devotion.

Somehow I think that labels won't care about this and the trend to repackage the same old shit will only continue to get worse.



Back to Aerosmith, the band had to overcome a few more personal obstacles this year, with both Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton on the sick list – both needing surgery on their throats coincidently – and both making strong recoveries.



The New Cars started by revving their engines as loudly as possible, except they soon ran out of gas when guitarist Elliot Easton had to undergo shoulder surgery. They got back on the road in November.



Tower Records finally succumbed to industry upheavals – not to mention a bad case of product over-pricing. They used to be the hippest CD store in the world, especially that Sunset Blvd store in LA. But they just couldn't compete with the mass-merchants and sadly, the whole chain is now gone.



More regrettable was the demise of Aaron's on Highland, a mecca of mine for used CDs and assorted bits and pieces. The options for buying used CDs in Hollywood now rest with the over priced and over stocked Amoeba.



Joe Lynn Turner had a very busy year with his acclaimed Sunstorm project, an appearance on the Richie Zito Avalon CD, touring with Cem Koksal's band, a guest spot on Richie Blackmore's last release, his Akira Kajiyama + Joe Lynn Turner CD was released in Europe and then there is the corporate supergroup Big Noize featuring guitarist Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot), drummer Vinny Appice (Dio/Black Sabbath), bassist Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne/Billy Idol) and keyboardist Gary Corbett (Cinderella/Lou Gramm).

He also released a Japanese single covering the Backstreet Boys hit The One. I must ask him to hear that! How much can one man rock?!!

2007 looks good for him again, with a guest spot on the Howard Leese album coming up and a new solo record, plus who knows what else!



The Darkness split – not sure how many people might actually have been surprised by that!



Sebastian Bach didn't release his new record as yet in 2006, but still managed to make a lot of noise, touring with Guns N Roses, then actually fronting GNR for one show when Axl took ill. He also came to Australia for a couple of dates, but got all pissy in Sydney when some dickhead threw a bottle of water at him. Bach stormed off stage, much to the anger of fans and the delight of Metal Sludge.



Speaking of Guns N Roses – the usual amount of hype and fuss surrounded Axl Rose's every move, including speculation all year as to whether the mythical Chinese Democracy album would ever appear. I'm still not convinced it will!

I think Axl only got into one fight and was arrested only once on tour too – so that isn't a bad year all round. It looks like 2007 could be the year GNR and Velvet Revolver go head to head – if both albums get released!



Mike Tramp ditched his solo plans and put together a new band line-up under the moniker Tramp's White Lion – playing all the old White Lion classics in the way they were written and looking to record an all new album, which should be an interesting prospect.



Ronnie James Dio made his film debut in the Tenacious D movie before guesting on the new Queensryche record. He then hooked up with his old Sabbath mates for the Heaven & Hell project, set to get underway shortly.



Paul Stanley finally got his solo album out. I'm sure that it didn't sell the amount he would have liked, but the fanbase seemed to take to it with an overall positive reaction. His best move was to pick the house band from Rock Star for his touring band. They are on the road now and through much of the early parts of 2007.



Gene Simmons kept a lower musical profile…it couldn't get much lower after that last solo album of his – but he did redeem himself in an unusual way.

His reality TV Show Family Jewels saw a similar premise to that of The Osbournes, expect his kids were actually very grounded and naturally enjoyable to watch, his long time partner wasn't a controlling bitch and he himself came across as not taking himself too seriously, and overall it was a very funny show (for a reality show at least). Top marks!



Axe put out a surprising press release, announcing they would continue on, but without Bobby Barth. Barth gave the new line-up his blessing, but it won't be the same without the popular guitarist. I still have fond memories of hanging out with him and singer Bob Harris in Munich some years back. Classy gents both of them!



Dennis DeYoung and Roger Hodgson appeared together on Canadian Idol - hawking their latest products of course - but also performing live and offering contestants advice during one performance show. A good watch…



The Billboard Top 200 got a reminder of what good music is when legends Bob Seger and Bob Dylan both scored Top 5 charting albums. Proof that anyone can still do it as long as they have a good album and good publicity behind them. The biggest rock album for the year happened to be from an American Idol finalist – Chris Daughty. Modern rock by the numbers, but still an enjoyable release, coming from a bucket load of PR artists just can't buy normally. So what have we learned here folks? PUBLICITY EQUALS SALES!



Tom Scholz sued Sony to get them to stop the release of the first two Boston albums – successful in his actions for the USA, but the releases still appeared in Europe and Canada.

His intention was to stop what he described as substandard product hitting the shelves, preferring to remaster both albums himself, which were then released finally in the USA to fan acclaim. Meanwhile, Tom and his Boston name have returned to Azoff management after bailing from them a year or so ago. Expect a double bill tour this year.



Glam rockers Tigertailz – both lots – argued back and forth about their naming dispute, but a court would find in favor of the original line-up and awarded them their name back. Rumor has it that LA Guns are facing a similar battle in the coming months.



Bon Jovi headed to Nashville to add to the legacy of 'WTF? Decisions' the band has made in their career. You thought This Left Seems Right was bad....just wait. The new country themed album might be the biggest hurdle fans have been asked to get over yet. I'm not sure they will, but how many country die-hards might jump aboard for this hayride?



Jim Steinman sued Meatloaf over his decision to use Jim's songs to record Bat Out Of Hell 3 with producer Desmond Child. An agreement was later reached, which saw the release of the songs for Meat's use and the door remains open for Jim to use the Bat Of Of Hell songs for his own use in later years.



VH1 launched their debut Rock Honors show – which paid tribute to Kiss, Def Leppard, Judas Priest and Queen to start things off.

The show rated well, and it will be interesting to see where the cable channel choose to pay tribute to in subsequent years. Sadly I still haven't yet seen the show, being that it did not air in Australia and I haven't found a torrent file of it.



That was not all that VH1 served up. There was a 4 part series titled The Story Of Metal and then the Supergroup TV series – which saw Ted Nugent, Scott Ian, Sebastian Bach, Evan Seinfeld and Jason Bonham thrown together in a house in Las Vegas to be filmed while they recorded what was hoped would be an album, but in the end turned out to be just a few original songs that to this day have not been issued anywhere.

Ok, so this had potential and there was the usual selective editing to enhance the characters and conflicts within the house, but at the end of the day when there is no music to show for all the efforts put in – what is the point??



Jack Blades spent most of the year recording the new Night Ranger album and finishing off the Shaw/Blades covers album and then did something else a little different – he starred in a stage show!

Rock Of Ages was a LA show that featured a stack of classic melodic hard rock songs form the 80s and saw people like Jack, Tommy Shaw and Neal Schon check it out.

Jack was so impressed with the show – and their use of Night Ranger songs – that he joined in for a limited run.



Def Leppard got their covers album out finally. It sold pretty respectfully in the USA and garnered some strong air play figures.

But elsewhere – Europe and Australia – the album barely made a ripple and in the UK the band scored the worst debut of their career.

Def Leppard were caught in the power play by retailers like WalMart and Best Buy. These mass merchants all demand something special from artists to guarantee their commitment to stocking and promoting the title.

John Mellencamp's new album is available in 7 different configurations. Sorry – that is just BS. The artists are being forced into this and it only is going to encourage more piracy as fans go after the tracks they are missing rather than fork out more cash for something they already own. Labels are desperate for sales and support from retailers, but at what expense to those purchasing these albums?

Back to Leppard – the guys begin work on their new studio album now…it will be interesting to see what direction they chose to go in and what the results will be. And no, I don't expect a copy to be leaked to me this time around!





THE ASS FILE:

As is the case in any given year, there was a queue of rockers lining up to make asses out of themselves. This year saw many of the same old faces at it again, certainly doing their reputation for being asses no harm at all!

Who do I refer to? Well, Vince Neil certainly made a major ass of himself when he was so drunk in Tampa, that he fell off the stage and could not complete the concert. Probably a good thing actually…John Corabi was standing backstage watching and become a hero to the assembled punters by filling in for the rest of the show.



Jani Lane spent most of the entire year embarrassing himself by missing tour dates, interviews (at least 4 dates with me) and public appearances, all the while passing off his problems as various moments of ill-health.



Bret Michaels made headlines when he and bassist Bobby Dahl got into a fight on stage at an Atlanta gig mid-year. Bret threw his mike at Bobby, who retaliated by swinging his bass at Bret, injuring his leg.

The guys later kissed and made up, planning a covers album for release this year.



Queensryche launched the most sensationalist headline of the year by stating the band were arrested in Europe, when all that happened was that one of the road crew was detained at customs for carrying one of the band's replica stage prop weapons through the airport.

So, no, the whole band were not arrested, but what was even stranger was that this headline was never retracted or updated on the band's website!



Henry Lee Summer, who in recent years couldn't get himself arrested as far as reviving public interest in him found him self done for DUI, crashing into cars and then resisting arrest. I hope Henry gets through this as I'm a huge fan of his music and his more recent releases.



Speaking of dealings with police – the Gioeli Brothers found themselves on the wrong end of a TV station expose on dodgy consumer dealings regarding a tooth whitening product.

Many complaints came to light about the brother's company confusing people with complicated payment clauses and fine print, not to mention more complaints that the product didn't work at all, saw consumer affairs departments investigating and taking action against the pair.

Johnny sent me a note explaining it away as just something his warehouse fulfillment company was shipping out on behalf of the actual product owners. Some believed that, many don't and the guys are continuing to feel the heat from their business dealings.



ROCK STAR:

The TV show Rock Star continued on in 2006, with show producers unable to get a current vocalist-free band to commit to their concept. Instead at the last minute a band had to be cobbled together and it was Mr Reality Tommy Lee fronting the charge. I have already covered this extensively, so not too much recapping here.

Joining him as you all know by now was Gilby Clarke and Jason Newstead. Producer Butch Walker appeared on one show before vanishing for the rest of the series, embarrassed at the results of what went to air.

The rest of the guys should have taken his lead…even though Newstead later managed to come up with an arm injury to avoid touring.

The original Inxs series had its problems, but nothing that came close to this series.

80% of the vocalists chosen were horrible and the show didn't get going until there was maybe only 5 or 6 of the original 15 left. I know of three singers featured on this site that auditioned, so you know the producers weren't looking for true talent.

The songs were all repetitive of last year; there was little chemistry between the principles of the show; Tommy Lee seldom commented on any of the music, preferring to ogle the female performers; Dave Navarro was even more annoying than last year and the winning vocalist was known from the start – ring-in Lukas Rossi before the show went to air.

A 2007 series is proposed, but boy, do they need some changes to make it in any way a winner.



There is no future for Rock Star Supernova the band at all. While Lukas recently chatted to a mate of mine after a show about the band's planned second album, Gilby Clarke lamented to the same person about the band's demise once the tour was done. Classic!

Even 2006 band Inxs have been dropped by their label Sony in North America for under performing sales wise. Who will be the 2007 band featured? Let those Rock Star Van Halen rumors start again! (No, I'm not serious…)



I have covered Journey already, but former singer Steve Perry did a good job of keeping his name in the press while remaining in retirement.

Last year he turned up in the studio with David Pack. This year it was indie rocker Guff, who took him up on the offer to help produce a cover version of the Journey track I Can See It In Your Eyes, where Steve also chimes in on backing vocals. Cool track for what it was.

And then of course there was the Journey re-issues and bonus tracks and 2 interviews that as per usual, gave away little about the state of his voice and what might come next for the singer.





THE DAYS OF OUR VAN HALENS:

No summary of any year would be complete without the summarization of the soap opera that is Van Halen.

For a band that does bugger all most of the time, there sure is some shit to talk about.

Let's see….I guess the biggest kafuffle for the year was (as it normally is) the antics of one Eddie Van Halen.

With no sign (at the time) of VH doing anything anytime soon, Eddie stepped out on the red carpet at Elton John's Oscar Party, only to have his mugshot plastered across the globe as a poster for “what not to do with your life if you want to end up looking like this…”.

It was a bit unfair on old Ed, who definitely looked old, but one can ask the question why he stepped out looking a little 'underdone' in the first place.

Eddie would next be seen supplying 2 new instrumental tunes and a video clip for a porno film. Yes, it did get more bizarre. The launch party for the soundtrack sounded like one hell of an affair.

Then there was the House Of Flowers gig – no, that isn't a typo – were' talking House Of Flowers, not House Of Blues. The Hollywood eatery hosted Eddie and a few friends just jamming and enjoying themselves.

Eddie would later been seen jumping on stage with brother Alex to jam with Kenny Chesney – something Sammy Hagar would normally be doing.



David Lee Roth made headlines by joining a tribute to himself. Strumming With The Devil was to be a bluegrass tribute to early Van Halen, but Dave joined in for two tracks, taking the guys onto TV for a very camp performance on The Late Show's (Jay Leno & Craig Ferguson) – leaving some fans scratching their heads and others laughing on the floor.

It's actually pretty cool, but I'm not sure the TV performances won anyone over – in one instance (for a CMT special I believe), Dave's monologue intro both of the two songs he performs on was actually longer than the song itself.



David Lee Roth's stint on radio failed to see his charisma translated to ratings and he was ditched by his employer within months. But – a happy ending for Dave and long suffering Van Halen fans when in October it was announced here that the guys would team up again for a 2007 tour.

That as it turns out isn't quite as joyous as it should be, with estranged bassist Michael Anthony left out of the 'reunion'.

I guess Ed's still pissed after Mikey left nothing up in the air with his revealing, honest and down to earth interview in Burrn Magazine Japan – some of which was translated and posted right here.



And let's not forget that some rich tosser wants to send the voices of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar into space as part of his Signal to Space Concert in 2007. What could possibly come next???





DVDs OF 2006:

Several very good DVDs released this year, and a few not so good.

Of those that disappointed the most was the "live" TNT release, which really wasn't that live at all, with lead vocals enhanced and backing vocals and assorted other bits added after the fact. I just can't sit there and watch that sort of thing and turn off the parts that aren't live. I want 100% live, raw and in your face DVDs, mistakes and all thank you.

Whitesnake released their live DVD to widespread fan acclaim, but again…there are a few parts that have been fixed and again that (for me) took away a little the enjoyment.



Rick Springfield's Rockford DVD was a nice treat for long time fans to enjoy.

Metal Mania Stripped Across America was pretty decent – at least that was 100% live.



Pride Of Lions Live was good also, except I still find frontman Toby a little wooden to watch. He has the chops, he just needs to take control of that stage.



I debated the merits of the Royal Hunt live DVD with singer John West, apologizing to him for comments misinterpreted as suggesting he wasn't singing live. Rather, I thought the DVD had been touched up in the studio, but it all came down to synchronization errors during the mastering process. Those errors still took some enjoyment away from the DVD for me.



Steelheart released a 2DVD retrospective, with some nice archive footage for long time fans. Yngwie Malmsteen also dipped into the vaults for a DVD that included live sets featuring Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner.

Kamelot, Stephen Pearcy, Europe, Free, Stryper, Dream Theater all released live DVDs, both new and archive footage.

Styx teamed up with the Children's Youth Orchestra for their latest live release – I'm yet to see the DVD as I was only serviced with the CD version, which I found rather predictable. I'm assured that the DVD is a far better watch.



The Cars, Gowan, Glass Tiger and Bruce Dickinson all dived into the past for archive footage releases.



And of course, the big one for Kiss fans - Kissology, the very impressive collection of classic archive footage that will see a sequel due in 2007.



Plenty more DVDs to come this year – Y&T, Bret Michaels, Nexx, Bonfire, Wig Wam, Baltimoore, The Raspberries, Joe Lynn Turner Project, Heaven & Earth, Giant and Vixen just to name a few.





2006 MUSICAL CHAIRS or IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR:

Jorn Lande left Masterplan to the disappointment of many; Chuck Wright left Saints Of The Underground and House Of Lords, or more to the point in the case of the latter - James Christian went on without him and the rest of the original guys. But it wasn't all bad for Chuck, he joined back up with Quiet Riot (again).



Tony Harnell parted ways with TNT, which ended a 20+ year legacy; Jimi Jamison quit Survivor (before he was pushed) to be replaced with Frankie Sullivan's old mate Robin McAuleyAsia quit themselves and reformed as the original line-up, leaving current singer John Payne to form GPS.



Dennis DeYoung hooked up with his old band mate Glen Burtnik, who had just finished his run with that old band of Dennis'.

Robby Steinhardt was replaced with David Ragsdale in Kansas as tensions there reached boiling point.

Jizzy Pearl left Ratt after the band finally got into gear for a reunion in 2007.



Jochen Mayer and singer Carsten Schulz left Domain to be replaced by Chity Somapala on vocals and Steven Wussow on bass.

Irish vocalist Keith Semple joined US pop rockers 7th Heaven and Kevin Chalfant joined Shooting Star.



Andy Taylor got wind of Duran Duran's new album plans and bailed, replaced on tour by well-known (!) guitar-tech Dom Brown!



Michael Schenker left this planet and hasn't given any word of when to expect his return.



Extreme reformed for some Japanese and US shows – all went well from all reports, but no word as to whether this will continue in 2007.



ZZ Top split with their long time management and record label, while Def Leppard split with their career long management team at Q Prime.



Oz rock legends Dragon reformed, but obviously without their legendary frontman Marc Hunter (RIP). Pop star come vocal coach Mark Williams took up that role, but public reaction has been lukewarm at best.



Triumph and estranged frontman Rik Emmett ended their legal dispute which has gone on for years, giving fans some faint hope of seeing them tour and record again. Not so say the trio, but anything is possible once they hook up for the Canadian Hall Of Fame ceremony in March.



Steve Brown (Trixter/Throwan Rocks/40ft Ringo) went an entire year without changing his band name! Stereo Fallout will hopefully release their debut this year.

Rhapsody changed their name - to avoid a copyright battle, but why now after half a dozen albums from the band? Bizarre. They are now Rhapsody Of Fire.

Made for TV rockers Supernova were taken on by a band of the same name, also from California and to the surprise of all involved, lost out to the original band, becoming Rock Star Supernova thereafter.

,
The Year That Was: Disappointments

Both 2004 and 2005 served up a number of disappointments and 2006 was no different. Average songs, poor production, lack of killer choruses and artists changing style despite the expectations of their fanbase for a more classic sound, were all issues to do with albums that disappointed in 2006.
Again, I call to those with the ability to change these problems to do just that - LISTEN to your fans and take whatever time needed to ensure you deliver a classic and memorable album that will please the majority, not the minority.

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2006:
Yes, I am more picky now than ever and that is only going to get worse, as I believe that artists and labels should know better by now. Achieving a great production sound isn't easy, but it is possible. There are plenty of great sounding releases out there that weren't made for a lot of money.
I think the excuses for a shitty sounding record are no longer valid. And artists with poor song selections should also be aware that they will be held accountable. If this scene and this genre is to survive, now is the time to demand only the best. Take a look at House Of Lords, Toto, Wig Wam, Harem Scarem....that's what is possible and those are the standards which others will be held to.

Survivor is one of the biggest bands of this genre. Their records should be the blueprint for AOR perfection. Their long awaited Reach album was not. It had it's moments and was an ok record all in all, but just ok is not acceptable for a killer band like Survivor. I expect better with the next album, but with Robin McAuley singing, will the fan base accept yet another line-up change?

Tom Cochrane should also know better. I guess the songwriting was ok, as someone of Tom's caliber doesn't write bad songs, but boy...was the album slow. He forgot how to rock, which really surprised me and from what I heard from e-mails, I was not alone in my disappointment.
The
Goo Goo Dolls also forgot how to rock and virtually abandoned anything remotely tying them to their roots. Gone was the angst, gone was the urgency and in their place was the vibe of a band that had grown old and comfortable with life - the very mellow and rather boring album was everything the Goo's weren't at their peak.

Zion has been mentioned before as a major disappointment. But it wasn't just the crappy sound quality - the songs themselves were nothing to get overly exited about. A few gems, but nothing that came close to the best Mr. Curci can offer.
Cosmo was another one that challenged traditional melodic rock listeners with an updated sound, but I felt there was not enough killer songs overall.
Skid Row was one of the year's biggest disasters. They have now completely lost the plot and I really haven't seen any fabulous reviews claimed by the band. The fan feedback has been pretty much unanimous. Horrible.

Wetton/Downes' live efforts should be scrapped as they disappointed on two different occasions in the one year. The new studio album made up for this in some way.

Re-recording past hits is always a risky move and is almost impossible to please everyone, but Ten's effort didn't please too many at all. Horrible production quality and a drum machine did not do their original classics any justice. These guys at least made amends somewhat with a stronger new studio album.
Warrant also delivered an album that failed to live up to their heritage. It saw some fans happy, but many not so and if they want to continue with the current line-up, then a stronger effort is required as far as songwriting.

Bob Catley had a killer album on his hands, with a nice mix of melodic moody metal and passionate Magnum-esque epics - but it was totally ruined by a shithouse production from Vince O'Regan - the same producer also responsible for the tinny, crap production effort for his own band Alibi and their debut album. Another set of really promising songs there, sadly yet again butchered to the point of being unlistenable.
I really hate ragging on anybody, but Vince did not have a good year in 2006, as the debut Eden album also suffered from his production skills and the new Lost Weekend, while yet again featuring some really good songs, features that same tinny guitar/drum/keyboard sound.
That's 4 albums in one year that were affected by one person's negative influence. On a more positive note, Vince is a great guitarist - no question about that.

Bang Tango's 2006 album would not have been released 10 years ago, so why should it be now? I really like this band and hope for something a little better next time around.
Gregg Fulkerson wrote some good songs for Blue Tears, but the production again let the whole effort down. The drum sound was horrible and the mix wasn't that good either. I fear that this will be the last we hear from Blue Tears for some time, if not ever.
Joseph Williams recorded his sappy ballad covers album a few years ago, but only released it this year. One for the die-hards only I'm afraid. I include myself as a die hard Williams fan - I have everything - but I still couldn't get into this release. And Joseph's new Vertigo album also disappointed. Some fantastic songs were featured, but a very rough production and some very unpolished vocals saw some put off the release, therefore placing any chance of Vertigo 3 in jeopardy.

Metal singer Michael Kiske pulled the plug and went acoustic and his solo album was a far from what he is best known for as one can get. I have no problem with the musical style, but the songs and the tempo of the album were just far too slow. Negative feedback prompted Michael into a debate with one site about the merits of the album and the merits of any critical feedback. From what I gather, Michael will continue to do whatever he pleases with his next album due this year. Place Vendome 2 will be the one that I anticipate!

The return of Guild Of Ages under their new (third) moniker Relapsed was anticipated, but soon led to disappointment with another average production affair and a few filler tracks on the album. I doubt they will be back for more also, which is a real shame.

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The Year That Was: Re-Issues

Not the most amazing year for re-issues all things considered, but still a few very worthy titles out there with some cool bonus features.
The highest profile re-issues of the year were the new Journey releases, although one must question the need for them in this time and place. The extras were ok and the booklet's rather good. But they were not new masters and that digipack packaging is something a lot of collectors resent.
While at it, Steve Perry re-did his own solo releases and I found those to be more fulfilling and a better all-round package.

Tom Scholtz re-did the first 2 Boston albums to much fan acclaim, but make sure you get the US masters, as the Canadian and possibly European releases were from Sony's own remastering, not the US release hand crafted by Schultz.

SongBMG did 2 very nice 25th Anniversary re-issues of two albums begging for the full tilt remaster and repackage treatment. Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog featured liners from Rick himself in another example of his always hands on approach to his music (where possible). It was so cool to hear this classic album in the glorious quality it deserves. Still a masterpiece of melodic pop rock.
The other album was Loverboy's Get Lucky, with amazing liner notes written by some Australian journalist. Well worth a look if you ask me ;)
Jokes aside....another classic album with some cool bonus tracks dug up by the band themselves and the album sounds revitalized with the new master.

MTM Classix didn't release much this year - DaVinci and AOR being the two main titles.

Majestic Rock struggled with whatever they were going through, but still came up with much appreciated re-issues of the Strangeways catalogue, plus a number of titles from NWOBHM band Elixir, plus re-issues from Tobruk and Tytan.

Escape Music had a very lean year considering some of the re-issues dished up in past years, but still delivered another very classy all-in-one-digipack release gathering the Phenomena releases.

Rock Candy's highlights included the classic Hughes/Thrall, Preview and Diving For Pearls re-issues plus, Loud And Clear, Storm, Coney Hatch Outa Hand and John Waite Ignition.

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The Year That Was: Rest In Peace

Adam Randall (Sixty-10), Sandy West (Runaways), King Crimson / Bad Company bassist Boz Burrell, Clyde Holly (Biloxi), Bruce Gary (The Knack), Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd), Elis vocalist Sabine Dünser, Richard Wright (White Sister, Tattoo Rodeo, Fast Machine), fitness guru / rocker / writer Don Lemmon, Vince Welnick (The Grateful Dead), Gary Basile - Night Ranger and Prince tour manager, Pete Wells (Rose Tattoo), Saraya keyboard player Gregg Munier, Rod Morgenstein's wife Michelle.
And on a non-musical and local note - two Aussie legends in Steve Irwin (The Croc Hunter) and motor sport ace Peter Brock.

If there is anyone that I have missed, please forgive the omission. R.I.P. to all these souls and to anyone else out there that has lost loved ones this year just passed.

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The Year That Was: The Predictions Made

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.

One of Britain's most beloved AOR acts will return finally!
No, didn't happen, but it has now. Welcome back FM.

Skid Row will finally reform, but for how long?
Again, didn't happen - but it was proposed...a tour of Japan for big money was offered to the band, but no one bit.

There will be no new Van Halen activity, but could a box set finally appear? I'll side with perhaps not.
Perhaps not indeed. But there was some activity towards the end of the year for a tour this year...so half points on this one?

Def Leppard and another popular AOR act will team up for what could be an eventful US summer tour.
Yes - as they did with Journey. And what a tour too!

Journey in Europe? I still think a full European tour will not happen. A few select dates perhaps?
Yes - and they're going back for more this year.

Possible break ups - Brides Of Destruction, Korn (we can only hope), Ratt, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Warrant, The Darkness.
BOD - yes; Korn - who cares anymore anyway; Ratt - yes (this line-up at least); Queen - no (quite the opposite); Warrant - no; The Darkness - yes.
More right than wrong there, so not bad guessing I think!

Possible re-unions - Winger, Rainbow, Little Angels, White Sister, Damn Yankees, Genesis.
Winger - yes (I really had no idea!); Genesis - yes; the rest no...

There will be no new studio album from Foreigner. Perhaps in 2007...
Yes - and the album is due this year.

Sanctuary Records will down-scale or file for bankruptcy protection.
They sure have scaled down and have had financial issues, but no protection as yet...and hopefully it won't come to that.

A new Toto compilation will be released from SonyBMG.
NO!! Who would have thought we'd get through the year without a new compilation in stores! Amazing...

A new Anthology style compilation on Journey could see the light of day.
No - not so and nothing on the horizon, but they did do those re-issues.

No new Steve Perry solo record.
Correct!

Toto in Australia?
Yes indeed. Man, what a show.

Rumors of a Triumph re-union will again prove false. Would be nice though, don't you think?
Well, kinda...but the guys have buried the hatchet (and not in each other's backs) for the Canadian Hall Of Fame. So good one guys!

There will be no second season of Rock Star!
No, there was, but I personally wish there wasn't.

A very popular lead singer might find himself out in the cold…
Yes! This wasn't aimed at anyone, but you know this business....always some deal going on. This year Jimi Jamison was ousted (again) from Survivor and Steve Augeri also left Journey.

Whitesnake will head into the studio for a new record, but it won't get completed in time for release this year.
Yes! But they did get 4 tracks done for inclusion on the band's live album. Half points perhaps?

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The Year That Was: Predicted Biggest Titles

MELODIC/HARD ROCK:
Albums that didn't make it out:
AC/DC, Dio, M.ill.ion, Hodson, Man-Raze, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Sebastian Bach, Tom Keifer, Dokken, Street Legal, Montrose.
Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2006: Axel Rudi Pell, Doro, Europe, Glenn Hughes, Moonstone Project, Paul Stanley, Shark Island, Skid Row, Talisman, Fate Sammy Hagar, Liberty & Justice, Pump.

Accurately predicted: Axel Rudi Pell, Europe, Glenn Hughes, Paul Stanley, Shark Island, Talisman, Sammy Hagar.

AOR:
Albums that didn't make it out: CJ Snare, Brian Howe, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Airtime, China Blue, Eclipse, Firehouse, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, James Christian, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Mike Tramp, Night Ranger, Norway, Shaw Blades, Snakes In Paradise, Stan Bush, Tesla, Vertigo.
Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2006: Blue Tears, Shadowman, Wig Wam, Survivor, Cosmo, Final Frontier, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, Nexx, Ted Poley, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Stan Bush, Street Talk, Vertigo, Zion, Toto, Jim Peterik.

Accurately predicted: Shadowman, Wig Wam, Final Frontier, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, Nexx, Ted Poley, Street Talk, Toto & Jim Peterik.

HEAVY / METAL / PROGRESSIVE:
Albums that didn't make it out: Halford, Megadeth, Metallica.
Predicted Best Metal Releases for 2006: Altaria, Satyrian, Blind Guardian, Black Label Society, Iron Maiden, Planet Alliance, Seven Witches, Vicious Rumors, Andersen Laine Readman, Jorn.

Accurately predicted: Altaria, Satyrian, Black Label Society, Iron Maiden, Seven Witches, Andersen Laine Readman, Jorn.

MODERN ROCK / MAINSTREAM / MAJOR LABEL COMMERCIAL:
Albums that didn't make it out: Simple Plan, Mitch Allen, Silverchair, Avril Lavigne, Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver, Neve.
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Evanescence, Live, Train, Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls, Live, Pearl Jam, Hoobastank, Butch Walker.

POP / POP ROCK / WESTCOAST:
Highest profile albums due for 2006:
Bob Seger, Chicago, Meatloaf.

Last year when looking towards the 2005 year, I made predictions for the best releases of the year. I listed my predicted Top 10 for 05 and got 5 out of 10. Last year I did the same again looking ahead to 2006. If I take out the CDs that didn't get released...these are the titles I suggested would be my Top 10 for 2006:
Talisman, Toto, Harem Scarem, Shark Island, Ted Poley, Europe

Wow, I couldn't even get 10 titles out of the list as 8 of my predicted best releases weren't released during the year! I'll have to work harder with this year's predictions in working out what is going to be released and what isn't! So of the 6 remaining releases only 3 made the Top 10. The others were still very good, just not Top 10! Again, I'll have to think this through a bit harder this year.

So what was predicted to not be released in 2006?
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.

Almost a perfect score...all titles remained in development aside from Meatloaf & Bob Seger, who managed to get their CDs done and out there. But, there were a lot of other titles I didn't list here that also failed to appear. All in all, it was a pretty lean year considering what could have been released. 2007 looks more promising.

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2006 Musician Awards

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Pekka Ansio Heino (Brother Firetribe & Leverage)
What other frontman delivered two killer debut albums in the same year - one a very special melodic hard rock album and the other a powerful more metal orientated release? Both Brother Firetribe and Leverage captured the imaginations of fans and it was the vocals of Pekka that made these albums ever more appealing. Nothing short of fantastic vocals and melodic at every turn - be it rocking thru a fell good anthem, slowing things down for a heartfelt ballad, or kicking into high gear for a melodic metal masterpiece. Looking forward to more to come from this great Finnish singer.

Honorable Mentions - Jeff Scott Soto has to get a nod for his stunning live work with Journey this year and what I consider to be the best Talisman album ever. James Christian sounded a million dollars on the new House Of Lords and Goran Edman also sounded amazing on the new Street Talk record.
And it would be remiss of me not to mention
Joe Lynn Turner again, who continues to defy logic and get better with age.

Past Winners: 2005 - Jorn Lande; 2004 - Jeff Scott Soto; 2003 - Harry Hess.

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR:
Steve Lukather (Toto)
Toto may have 3 or 4 vocalists, but they only have one guitarist and Luke was the cornerstone of an amazing release by the veteran band. Heavier than ever in places, more soulful than ever elsewhere. The guitar work on Toto's album was second to none and then he spent the rest of the year on tour, delivering knockout performances the whole time. The man is a true guitar hero.

Honorable Mentions - Jimi Bell for his important and impressive efforts on the House Of Lords album; Mike Slamer for his passionate and intricate work on his Slamer record.

Past Winners: 2005 - Magnus Karlsson

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem)
The dynamic duo had a great production year in 2006. They never ever disappoint and this year handled production duties for two Canadian Idol finalists (two superb sounding modern rock releases from Suzi Rawn and Aaron Walpole) and topped it off with the end of year release of the amazing new Harem Scarem album. Pete Lesperance was also responsible for his own Fair Ground album in 2006.

Just a side note in relation to producers - The age of the record producer is over. There were some amazing production efforts on various records this year (Toto, House Of Lords, Slamer, Wig Wam to name a few)...but most of these efforts were all in-house. Most bands these days produce their own albums in their own studios. It has left the role of producer for hire somewhat redundant - and I don't think that is an altogether good thing at all!
But - the costs of bringing in outside help simply outweigh the budgets available to record many of these albums, which is why we are left with a suspect sound quality on occasions.
Looking through this year's albums the only person that received multiple production credits (besides Harry & Pete) was someone that I would rather award a Worst Producer Of The Year title!

Honorable mentions - Mike Slamer for Slamer; Fredrik Bergh for Street Talk; Desmond Child for Bat Out Of Hell 3.

Past Winners: 2005 - Dennis Ward; 2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi; 2003 - Tommy Denander.

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR:
Simon Phillips (Toto)
Much as the compliments flowed for Steve Lukather both for his studio and like work with Toto - same goes for Simon. The Toto album had more groove and percussion than at any other record since Simon joined the and watching him live was inspiring.

Past Winner: 2005 - Daniel Flores.

BASSIST OF THE YEAR:
Marcel Jacob (Talisman)
Awarded for some truly superb funk and bass slapping grooves on the Talisman album. He is an underrated talent and the album was made even more special by the fact Marcel also supplied much of the guitar work.

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2006 Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

The Welcome Back Award: *TIE* - FM, Starcastle, American Angel, The Police, Van Halen, Ratt, Lillian Axe.

The 'Just Release The Bloody Thing Already' Award: - Guns N Roses, Lec Zorn, Black N Blue, Hardline - Same old faces sadly....shit or get off the pot folks!
Previous Winners: Guns N Roses, Lec Zorn, Black N Blue, Nelson, Hardline, Paul Stanley, Teer, Zion.

The 'Guns N Roses' Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date Award: Guns N Roses - Taking out their own award (again). Too easy, too obvious!
Previous Winners: Def Leppard, Cheap Trick & Black N Blue

The 'Holy Rotating Lead Singers Batman' Award: Survivor and Van Halen - One band is moving forward, the other going back. Both need to make up their minds and stick with it!

The 'Gene Simmons' I'll Flog Anything Award: George Lynch - is now taking enrollments for his Guitar Dojo course! WTF is Guitar Dojo? In Lynch's own words "Inside the Dojo, Sensei George Lynch provides a gripping collection of never before seen instruction as serious guitar disciples are taught and trained through exclusive video, tab etc etc...and one on one dialogue with the Sensei." Right-o then!
Previous Winner: Gene Simmons.

The 'Best Interview Of 2006' Award: Sammy Hagar - A good natured and friendly interview and answers to all my questions. If you haven't read it yet - do it!
Previous Winners: Marcie Free, Steve Lukather.

The 'Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor' Award For Best Piece Of Self-Serving PR: Queensryche - Sensational headline - the band were arrested while going through customs in Europe! No, one of the stage crew gave himself up to police for carrying a prop gun into the airport. Bit of a difference there guys!
Previous Winners: Sebastian Bach, Van Halen, Fred Durst

The 'Vince Neil' Best Drunk On-Stage Antics Award: Vince Neil - Can you believe he is back for more?!! When will it end? This time he was so drunk at a solo show, he fell off stage and was replaced by John Corabi. Yes, replaced as vocalist at your own solo show. How embarrassing! Vince's retort in a following interview? "Whoopie-doo!" Pure class, eh?
Previous Winners: Jani Lane, Jani Lane, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Meatloaf / Jim Steinman - Old friends go head to head, but then work it out behind close doors anyway. Very gentlemanly of the pair.
Previous Winners: The World Vs SonyBMG, Frankie Sullivan.

The Honesty In Interviews Award: Eddie Money - On David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar? "David Lee Roth. You know, he's had a lot of troubles and an ego bigger than a [expletive] house. I also feel sorry for the guy. Maybe I like David Lee Roth because he reminds me of myself."
Previous Winner: Jamie St. James.

The 'Manowar' Worst Band Promo Picture Award: Jaded - Fine band, not the best pic I have ever seen!
 

The Best Back Flip Without Actually Stating A Reason Award: Sebastian Bach - Initially refusing to do any website interviews to promote his Australian tour, the singer relented when convinced that there is bugger all print media in this country that is still interested in him.

The Most Insane Website Rant Award: Michael Schenker - No contest really - the guy needs to check himself in and get well.

The I Used To Be A Rockstar But Now I'm Peddling Porn Award: Eddie Van Halen - When he wasn't jamming at the House Of Flowers, Eddie was hosting porn parties and supplying 2 new instrumentals for friend and adult movie director Michael Nimm.

The 'Henry Lee Summer' I Wish I Had A Girl Lawyer Award: Henry Lee Summer - Henry takes out his own award for this, it's first appearance...this awards goes to Henry for his DUI arrest, smashing into some cars and then resisting arrest.

The 'Life's A Bitch' Buy Our Records But Not Our Teeth Whitening Products Award: The Gioeli Brothers - Who continue to be roasted and investigated in regards to their free-trial consumer goods fulfillment company. The brothers were last seen fending off cameras from a TV station's consumer investigation. Just search 'White OverNite' and you'll see it only gets worse.

The 'This Bud's For You' Dave Bickler Award: Terry Ilous - busy recording vocals for Wrigley's DoubleMint chewing gum in 2006.

Most Likely To Find Themselves On The Country Music Channel in 2006: Bon Jovi - One great rock record and then it's over to country?? WTF?
Previous Winner: John Waite.

The Best Website Award: MiniNova (www.mininova.com) - just one of the many torrent sites out there - something which continues to cause debate in regards to album and music available to pirate - but I love the TV show downloads!

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album or DVD in 2007 Award: Shaw/Blades, Masterplan, Wig Wam, Toto, John Waite, REO Speedwagon, The Police, The Who - more random guesses!
Those nominated last year - Toto, Inxs, Bryan Adams, Queensryche, Eddie Money, Dokken, Tesla, Metallica, Masterplan - none of which actually released either a CD or a DVD. Good effort (not) I think!!

The 30 Minutes Short Awards For Least Amount Of Music On A CD: Demon Angels and Bang Tango for their minimilst efforts.

The 'GWAR Make It Stop Award' For The Most Unnecessary CD: Billy Idol - What was he smoking when he concluded that fans would enjoy hearing him sing Frank Sinatra style on a Christmas CD??

Hit Me Baby One More Time Award: Poison's Bobby Dahl for socking it to Bret Michaels in the leg with his bass. Nice!

The Open Letter To Fans Who Could Care Less Award: Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose and former manager Merck Mercuriadis for trading off with individual open letters to fans. Guys, we could care less. Just release that bloody record.

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2007: The Year Ahead

ALREADY REVIEWED OR ADVANCE COPIES RECEIVED:
Masterplan have stuck to the script for their new release, picking up where they left off, with the obvious change in vocalist. Mike DiMeo does an admirable job, but I can't help the overall song quality doesn't match that of the two Jorn fronted albums. Hard call mind you, and there is still a few definite gems on here. Very good, but the last album scored a 99 with me, so beating that was always going to be hard.

Kelly Keagy has changed things up a little, but delivered an album within expectations and has lived up to them too. Thoroughly enjoyable release with a few seriously killer songs and a bunch of other great ones. Definitely a highlight for the year.

Norway delivered some good songs, but not a great sound, so it will be hard for this album to rate overall at the end of the year. The songs might though.

Oliver Hartmann hasn't quite reached the heights that his debut did and not as many stand out songs either, but that was always going to be a hard ask. Still, the album is still very cool and some songs will rank highly at the end of the year.

Danny Vaughn's new album isn't instant, but gets better each listen and it's great to hear him signing with that hard edge, rocking musical base. Time will tell how this ranks at the end of the year.

Pride Of Lions have included several songs on their new album that will definitely rank highly at the end of 2007. More AOR classics, but a couple of fillers too. Fans will love it, others will remain unconvinced.

Last Autumn's Dream continue on their quest to be Scandinavia's most consistent AOR act in delivering another high class release, albeit a little more guitar driven than the last record.

Dante Fox will be vying with several others for the best female fronted album of 2007, but will be hard to beat with this mature slice of melodic hard rock that sees them grow in leaps and bounds from their last release.

Night Ranger will definitely be up there at the end of the year for me, but I can't help but think the in your face style of this album and the modernization of the band's sound will see some disagreeing with me. I love the album - aide from maybe 1 or 2 fillers - and think it is a great addition to the band's legacy. Updated and surprisingly contemporary, the guys still know how to deliver.

Shaw / Blades show their true class with one of the best covers albums I have heard. Simple, harmonies everywhere and well produced - but most importantly, the guys picked out a great selection of songs to cover. Perfect for their sound and style.

Martie Peters has updated his sound to a more modern and guitar heavy feel. It will be interesting to see what the reaction is to this, but the music is still unmistakably Martie and melodic, so I'm sure most fans will be happy.

Brett Walker's debut album is an all time AOR classic for me and subsequent albums have been enjoyable, but not quite as rocking. The newest is very pure in it's sound and it's great to hear Brett sing anything, but the record is very laid back and very soft, in the same vein as his last album.

Sinner have delivered a very straight ahead European hard rock record. Not bad, but not killer....just ok. Looks like Primal Fear might have to do the goods for Mat this year.

Anberlin might just have one of the best modern rock records I have ever heard on their hands. A fantastic slice of high power but very melodic modern rock with a monster sound and very commercial appeal.

Threshold look to have come up with another winner too. Their progressive rock record is more melodic than the last one and seemingly more accessible also, but just as challenging musically and seriously heavy in places. To be honest – I am blown away. This is a huge record and expect a major review.

Magnum are a band that based on past releases, should land themselves in the Top 10 anytime they release an album. I love them, I love Bob. I want to like this new album so much, but for me they have failed to live up to their potential. Again we get the same style of album as the past 2 albums and again we see Tony Clarkin concentrating on writing slow to mid-tempo songs. Biggest disappointment - no huge choruses. Magnum are famous for their anthemic glorious choruses, but that is a thing of the past.

STILL TO COME:

AOR / MELODIC ROCK: (Grouped together.)
Highest profile albums due for 2007: Journey, Two Of A Kind, The Ladder, Magnum, Redrum, Dogpound, Stan Bush, Los Angeles, Indigo Dying, 7th Heaven, Air Time, Biloxi, Blanc Faces, Joe Lynn Turner, Danger Danger, David Readman, Eclipse, Foreigner, Frederiksen/Denander, Heartland, Eddie Money, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Liberty & Justice, The Hooters, Talon, Terry Brock, House Of Shakira, Loverboy, Places Of Power, Robin Beck, REO Speedwagon, Steve Lukather, Tall Stories, Tramp's White Lion, Urban Tale, Styx, Pleasure Dome, Scrap Metal, Crystal Blue, Line Of Fire, Jimmy Barnes, Khymera, Poley/Rivera, Von Groove, Wig Wam, Asia, Mecca, Newman, Lec Zorn, Robert Fleischman, Brett Walker, Michael Kiske, Dare, Boston.

Journey...yeah, let's get straight to the biggie! You all know that the anticipation and expectation behind a new studio album is going to be huge. In fact, bigger than huge. But we'll have to wait for early 2008 for this I think. First up the band have another idea. This is not yet set in stone, but there is an idea to get together before mid-year and re-record some of the band's classic songs. Yes, you read correctly. 2 new Journey albums in the pipeline if this idea comes to fruition, although at this stage it is not yet guaranteed. As with everything to do with the band's back catalogue of tunes, Steve Perry must first sign off on this idea.
As stated earlier in this feature, the re-recording one's hit songs (especially with a new singer) will trigger debate among fans, but I have heard Jeff record 4 classic Journey tracks in the studio himself and he really sounds fantastic and very much at home, so I have no reason to doubt this record will be amazing and a fresh and interesting alternative to the originals (which obviously will never be replaced or overtaken).
The on to that all-new studio album - the one everyone is waiting for. Will it be released this year? Not if the re-recorded hits album comes together. The new album should be recorded later this year, but will likely be held over for an early 2008 release. We'll know more about this by mid-year.

The fans long for a true classic and the band (with new frontman Jeff Scott Soto) knows they must deliver a classic. I have no doubt this could be the band's best release since the 80s.
I don't want to hear any talk of Soul Sirkus, the guys know what fans want to hear. It will be a true Journey album without doubt.

Two Of A Kind is a project featuring two female lead singers, formed by Terra Nova's Fred Hendrix. Interesting concept and as long as the production quality is there, it should prove to be an interesting release in a year where several female fronted albums show promise.

The Ladder is an album I had no major expectations for, but I really like the sound of the preview track featured on the site earlier. If Steve Overland can return to deliver some more energetic classic AOR, the The Ladder will be very worthwhile indeed.

Redrum should be nothing more and nothing less, than a good old fashioned melodic hard rock release featuring the vocals of Michael Bormann.

Sweden's Dogpound showed some melodic brilliance with their last album, but need to ensure production is top notch and there are no fillers for their new album to make serious inroads with melodic rock fans. I'm siding with the band on this, I think they can do it.

I have already heard one track from the new Stan Bush album and was blown away by it. Now there is 4 samples available....if the rest of the album can match that and the sonic production quality of the last studio album, then Stan will have a major album on his hands and perhaps the best old-school AOR release of the year!

Los Angeles is another new project, this time featuring the vocals of Italian singer Michele Luppi. This is a melodic/AOR project that features Tommy Denander and Fabrizio Grossi too. A great voice, but TD and FG rarely change their guitar/production styles, so this could work well, or sound completely stereotypical and unoriginal. I don't mean to sound harsh there, but it will need to be something special (besides the vocals) to be considered fresh and inviting.

Same goes for Indigo Dying. This is a female fronted project by Fabrizio Grossi. I know many of you out there are completely over Grossi's production style and sound and I'm with you on that. It will all comedown to the girl's voices and the likeability of the songs featured.

7th Heaven are a US band that have released a covers album preceded by a 2CD set that ran the gambit of styles, but they are best known and liked for a pop/rock take on Def Leppard's general sound. A new vocalist and a couple of years between releases has given these guys a new lease on life, so this could be a surprise package depending on the songs written and the style taken. One to watch if they get it done - especially for those that dig high-tech American pop/rock.

Air Time is the partnership between Rik Emmett and Mike Shotton (Von Groove). But it was finished mid-last year and is yet to see a deal cut, so I'm not sure when this will be released. But as it said to be a return to rocking ways for Rik, it is certainly anticipated by me, although the style might not quite be a sample of Rik's 80s glory days as some might hope for.

Biloxi have delivered two solid albums and this will be their swan song release following the death of bassist/lead vocalist/founder Clyde Holly last year. I have no doubt the guys will do Clyde proud.

Blanc Faces delivered one of the best AOR releases of 2005, so expectations are high for the guys to follow that up this year. I believe they will work long and hard on it and a release won't happen until mid-year at the earliest. Production will be a big issue - their debut featured some classic songs, but needed more kick. I'm sure they guys learnt a lot from that experience, so this should be one to watch for 2007 if they get it done in time - especially for lovers of 80s American melodic rock/AOR.

Could it be true? Could Danger Danger actually release a new studio album with Ted Poley up front? There are plans, but as we all know, things run slow in the D2 camp, so I'm betting on a 2008 release for this. But, if they do get it done, expect nothing short of a classic! These guys know their way around the studio and always make a killer sounding record. And I don't think anyone will doubt the quality of the songs...

David Readman has been working on his solo album for sometime and with PC69 commitments already set for the year, I'm not sure if he will get this finished in time for a release later this year. But if so, this should be another winner for fans of melodic European hard rock.

Eclipse are still working on new material for an album to be recorded this year. This Swedish melodic rock outfit are all class, so I hope that they can continue the good work delivered on their first two records. Again, there is a small question mark over whether this will be finished in time for release this year. I hope so.

Foreigner is another biggie - in fact, one of the biggest and most anticipated releases of 2007. The new line-up is in place, has been thoroughly road tested and I am expecting a great hard rocking release from the band. I do expect a Top 10 finish for the band and anything less would be disappointing. They kicked my ass live earlier last year and I expect a killer record from the band.

Frederiksen/Denander is an album that just needs to get finished and released. More than a year alter than when it was expected to be released, this year will see two familiar and popular identities showcase their best work. The guys have worked together before on the Radioactive releases, so you know what to expect. All they need is killer songs. We all expect a great record.

Heartland are due up again and based on their last album and the one track I have from this new album - more classic melodic rock is coming your way! The voice of Chris Ousey is melodic bliss...

Joe Lynn Turner is busy working as usual - another solo album due in 2007 and I have no doubt that it will live up to the quality of the excellent Usual Suspects And Sunstorm releases.

Eddie Money has already released his new covers album independently, but a wider label release is due in March. I love Eddie...folks know that - but this is not one of the better covers ideas I have heard.

I wasn't sure where to categorize Queen. I guess under the melodic rock section is good enough. This is another of the year's major marquee releases, but I can't find myself getting excited at all - that is despite being a 20+ year fan of Queen and the guys also out on their own. I just can't warm to their idea of Paul Rodgers as singer. I just don't see him as best choice for the role. I'm interested in what the guys come up with, but anything too far removed from the classic sound will see them having a hard time selling it to fans. Bottom line - hugely interested in this - but not letting myself be too excited by it. Will wait and see - and hope to be proved wrong.

A long awaited new studio album from The Hooters is high on the agenda for many - me first and foremost! I love these guys and their live shows are amazing (at least the bootlegs are!). Can the boys recapture the magic from the past and can they still create studio magic? I think so, but I have been disappointed by big names in the past. For whatever reason, I am very confident this will be a class release - but just how good can it get??

Liberty & Justice are planning their new album - this time taking an acoustic twist. I'm sure the various singers hired will again make for an interesting release, but I hope they tone down the alternative/modern influences.

Talon appear back on track after a couple of years in the wilderness. They have all the potential to be an influential band in the MHR scene, I hope they can get this album completed and released.

Terry Brock had an integral part in making one of 2006's best records - now let's see what he can do with a follow up to his awesome solo debut. Will it be Slamer II or something a little different again? One of the more popular singers in this scene could deliver a classic, that's for sure.

House Of Shakira are working on their new studio album, which should their last album be any indication, will be yet another massive highlight for the year. Their sense of power and melody is rivaled by few and the harmonies are always amazing. I have very high expectations for this album and want an album nothing short of classic.

Same could be said for Loverboy. These guys have been in the game long enough, they know what they are doing and what fans want. Early indications suggest a return to their best form, but it has been many years since that time has passed! A lot of touring and extra time taken to write and record this album should be rewarded with a great album for fans. Expectations are high for this also.

Places Of Power is a new name, but old faces are behind it. Philip Bardowell and Bruce Turgon have teamed up to capture the best melodic rock possible in a classic Lou Gramm/Foreigner vein and I am pleased to say I have heard two songs already - which were outstanding! Foreigner fans should love this and should the song quality be consistent throughout, then this should be right up there at the end of the year.

Robin Beck is a smart lady. She's hired those responsible for one of the best records of 2006 to back her new solo album - so expect something powerful and melodic - just like the last House Of Lords record. This could be one of the best female fronted albums that I have reviewed on the site to date, I'm looking forward to hearing the results.

Like Loverboy, REO Speedwagon has taken their time with this new album and I hope that those efforts are reflected in the results. This really could be a banner year for melodic rock - if all albums live up to expectations. I think REO know their strengths and I hope they have played up to those. Another album I anticipate with enthusiasm.

Steve Lukather is currently recording his new solo album in LA and says he will finish it after the next leg of the Toto tour. He has told me a little of the details behind the record and it has me very excited. I love his debut - a definite classic - but Luke's other solo records have been a little hit and miss - and very diverse also. I think this album can capture that loose, live, diverse feel Luke loves, yet contain it all within a cohesive release. This could be an excellent sequel to last year's Album Of The Year!

Tall Stories return with an album of remastered material original recorded in the early 90s. Never released as the band's sequel to their cult debut, it will be good to hear this finally now. Whether is sets up the band to return on a more permanent basis remains to be seen.

Tramp's White Lion were all set to release their first studio album in the first half of this year, but I am no longer sure of the ETA. What I do know is that Mike was very enthusiastic about this material, set to return to the glorious style of the band's classic 80s material. But - can that be done without Vito? I hope so.

Urban Tale are another band that have suffered a line-up change, but since then have been working on new material. I have heard 4 demos from last year and think the guys are on track to deliver another first class AOR album and this (if finished in time for release this year) will be another pure AOR highlight.

Styx are about to take a break after their recent live album. I'm not sure of their touring plans, but I would expect they will do some songwriting this year in view of releasing a new studio album sometime next year. I don't expect an album out this year.

Pleasure Dome is a project featuring the guys from Shotgun Symphony/The Way and vocalist Ted Poley. Only recently has it come close to completion, so you will see this finally released this year. As per usual with these guys, don't expect commercial melodic rock, but rather something with melody, but left of center. Could be one of this year's more eclectic releases.

Scrap Metal is the new Kelly Keagy, Gunnar Nelson, Mark Slaughter project. The guys have a few demos under their belt and more songs on the way, but I'm not sure anything will be completed in time for release this year. An album is planned and I'm sure it will be very highly anticipated, but we might have to wait a bit longer for this.

Crystal Blue were supposed to be busy recording a new album, but seem to have disappeared off the radar. The guys delivered a pretty cool record last time around, but perhaps 2007 won't be the year for the follow up.

Line Of Fire made an instant impact with their debut in 2005 - making the Top 10 for one of the year's best debut albums. They are back at work again now recording the follow-up, which I expect will continue the band's momentum in making an impact in this scene. Their Journey style melodies and hard hitting approach make for a very refreshing sound.

I'm not really one to anticipate any Jimmy Barnes album anymore...the recent output has been dreadful. But in 2006, Jimmy hooked up with Glenn Hughes to write songs for this new album and I believe up to half the album could feature Glenn as co-writer. So this definitely gets my attention and perhaps it could see Jimmy return to a solid rock footing that he has failed to achieve in recent years?

Khymera's debut was good - but the follow up was great! Adding Dennis Ward as vocalist was a master stroke and turned the band into a more direct melodic rock/AOR outfit. So the third album is definitely anticipated and is due sometime mid-year. Where the guys will draw the tracks from is important, as great performances are nothing without great songs. One to watch for AOR fans.

Ted Poley and Vic Rivera already worked together as a team on Ted's solo album, so the Poley/Rivera moniker will more or less be a sequel to Ted's cool solo record. Expect better and bigger production values and some more great melodic songs. Can they top their 2006 performances? Sure!

Von Groove is another band you wouldn't put your money on as far as betting whether they will release a new album this year. My money says no, as this one has been in the making for 2 or 3 years now, so why should 2007 be any different? I've been in touch with the guys and haven't heard any album updates, so don't hold your breath.

Wig Wam are responsible for 2 killer albums in the last couple of years and are writing for their third album already. If they get it ready in time it will surely be a contender for Top 10 - maybe even Top 5 finish for the year. These guys are a great example of classic melodic rock with all the trimmings we used to get and the fun factor included. I know this along with Gotthard will be two of the most anticipated albums out of Europe this year.

Asia are back and are touring, but will they get a record done in time for release this year? I'm not sure to be honest...I know will come, but will touring take precedence over studio time? And can the guys recapture their past glory? Wetton and Downes seem to come close on their last record, so this is definitely possible. I think perhaps there will only be a Live DVD this year and a new studio album next year.

Mecca is one band that we have all been waiting for after a perfect debut. In comes Bobby Kimball for Fergie and Tommy Denander on guitars. I love these guys to death and hope they can nail it again this time around. I have reservations about it living up to the expectations from myself and other fans, and truly hope they can come through with the goods. It should be an AOR highlight for 2007.
Then there is the possibilities of a live album and re-recording the debut that the new line-up has been talking of. Interesting, although I am not sure why anyone would contemplate re-recording that killer debut. I call that a no-win situation. The band would be better off playing all the songs live and recording/releasing that.

Steve Newman has all but completed work on his new Newman album, so the excitement can begin to build for this album, which will hopefully continue on where Heaven Knows left off. The last record was I think Steve's best, so there is a lot to live up to, but he is now an independent artist, so the results will be interesting!

Where do I start with Lec Zorn? A great AOR album has been sitting gathering dust for I don't know how long now. Just release the bloody thing! Well, good news is that it is due mid-year (ish) and features some great pure 80s AOR. But, to be honest, I can't help but think that the boat has been missed on this one - it should have been released 2-3 years ago. With the scene as it is now and growing ever smaller, the chance here for success has diminished.

Dennis DeYoung says he is working on a new rock album - his first for many years. This is bound to get folks excited and it will be interesting to see if he can deliver as promised. That great voice of his is certainly a versatile instrument, but rocking is where his fans would like to see him at. I remain unsure if it will be completed in time for a 2007 release, as Dennis is not one to rush these things.

Robert Fleischman has promised a couple of new records - one an AOR release and the other more experimental. One is already earmarked for release shortly, and looks to be a diverse melodic rock album. One for fans yes, but a highlight I can't say for sure.

Michael Kiske has announced another unplugged style release for this year, so I don't expect anything from that as the last one really didn't appeal at all. Judging by reviews and comments across the press, the verdict was almost unanimous. What I am definitely excited about though, is the prospect of a new Place Vendome release! Now that was a huge debut in 2005, so I'm looking forward to that already. I am not sure however, if it will come up on 2007 or early 2008.

One normally would not try and predict a release date for a new Dare album, but there is definitely hope that 2007 will see that happen. Will Darren Wharton finally fulfill his continual promise to plug those guitars in, or will the band continue to stick to the same pace of the last couple of albums? Personally if they can deliver anything like the debut or Calm Before The Storm, it will be a major player in the end of year lists.

Boston? Nah, I know there is talk of work on new material by Tom, but there' no way I expect a new album this year.

Ramos has enlisted the help of a new vocalist and the AOR talents of Eric Ragno, so this could definitely be a very interesting album and I look forward to hearing this.

What possibly won't be released in 2007: Journey (all new), Terry Brock, 7th Heaven, Air Time, Danger Danger, David Readman, Eclipse, Talon, Styx, Scrap Metal, Crystal Blue, Von Groove, Asia, Lec Zorn, Boston, Tramp's White Lion.

Predicted Best AOR/Melodic Roc Releases for 2007: Stan Bush, Blanc Faces, Foreigner, Frederiksen/Denander, Heartland, The Hooters, House Of Shakira, Loverboy, Places Of Power, The Ladder, Robin Beck, REO Speedwagon, Steve Lukather, Urban Tale, Line Of Fire, Khymera, Poley/Rivera, Wig Wam, Mecca, Newman, Dare...and if released - add Journey, Danger Danger, Eclipse, Talon, Von Groove, Tramp's White Lion, Terry Brock, Ramos and David Readman to the list.

HARD ROCK:
Highest profile albums due for 2007: Dokken, Gotthard, Guns N Roses, JK Northrup, Cornerstone, Pick Cream 69, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Hardline, Jaded Heart, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal, Vince Neil, Uriah Heep, Montrose, Black N Blue, Burning Rain, Hodson, Heavy Pettin', Howard Leese, LA Guns, Martie Peters, Motley Crue, Million, Rob Rock, Road To Ruin, Royal Hunt, Scorpions, Soul Doctor, TNT, Treat, Sebastian Bach, Poison, Man-Raze, Razorback, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Place Vendome.

Dokken promise to return to their most loved "classic" sound on their new album Lightning Strikes Twice. That sounds great and I hope they do, but I'll believe it when I hear it. Don has made this statement a couple of times before and while the last album was cool, it wasn't the band's classic sound. Can they even do that without George Lynch involved?

Gotthard are the current masters of their domain after a triumphant return with a new line-up and the great album Lipservice. Can the build on this momentum and even top the last studio album? If they do - a Top 10 finish for Album of 2007 is guaranteed....ok, ok....Top 2? Is that ok with you Gotthard fanatics??!! Yes, I know there are still some that feel Lipservce should have scored a 100 here, but let's see what Domino Effect has on offer shall we?!

Who in their right mind would put money on the Guns N Roses album Chinese Democracy actually being released. March we are all told - don't hold your breath folks! I'm already working with albums due in April and I haven't seen any evidence this album will arrive in March. With GNR you'd be wise to make a 50/50 bet that the album will appear at all in 2007. I said about 2 or 3 years back that it would be 2008...stated somewhat in jest, but perhaps accurate??

JK Northrup has been working long and hard on his new album and I have the expectation that it will be his best effort to date. And I'm hearing whispers of another possible JKN collaborative effort that might appear later in the year. Now that sounds like a definite winner also. 2 for 2 in 2007 for Jeff?

Cornerstone are due to hit CD stores with their anticipated new opus in late February. As always, big things are expected and I really hope the guys can deliver their best to date. The last album, in fact - all their albums have been strong to date - now let's hear a real classic!

Pink Cream 69 is one of the most anticipated new European hard rock releases of 2007. Everyone knows what these guys are capable of and if it all comes together, this should be another Top 10 contender. You know it will feature a monster production, let's just hope the songs kick as much ass.

Aerosmith is an interesting one. I'm not sure how much the general public care anymore to be honest. Nothing short of a classic melodic hard rock album will get these guys any more attention than the diminishing amount they now attract. They've done blues, they have done contemporary, they have done the live album and compilation trip to death. No more! Let's hope for something like Pump or Get A Grip. I'm not at all confident though and suspect this will get bumped to 2008.

Same goes for Alice Cooper. His last album suffered from very average production after trying a few different styles over the last few records. Where to from here to keep it fresh and interesting, yet familiar at the same time? Cooper is a class act, no doubt, so let's see what he can deliver with that kick-ass band of his.

It has already been way too long a wait for the new Hardline album and I'm not confident of this being released this year. From what I hear - everyone is waiting on the Gioeli's to get their parts done. Johnny can deliver a cracking performance for the Axel Rudi Pell album and sing on another for Accomplice, but not on his own record? I don't get that...whether this gets done this year or not, who knows. I say not. There must be other issues involved.

Jaded Heart could just as easily be in the melodic rock listings as here in the hard rock section. They are both and again, I'm expecting big things from these guys. They chose a great new vocalist and their first album with him sounded a million bucks, it only lacked a couple more killer songs. I expect that will be the focus for the new album and if all elements are combined, this should be an absolute winner!

Hughes Thrall II is another album that doesn't really fit into any particular genre, due to the diversity of music the guys involved will no doubt deliver. This is another album that has been promised for sometime, so I'm not convinced it will finally arrive this year, but I am very hopeful. How does one follow up a cult classic some 24 years since the original? There's only 1 way - with killer songs...will this deliver? The expectation from fans is very very high, so I sure hope so.

Street Legal have been away a long time after delivering a great European hard rock release. A new line-up sees them return this year, but can they make up for lost time in an environment now crowded with bands just like them? I think they might just have the class to do so.

Interesting to see Uriah Heep back in business. I guess many will have no expectations from this album - just hoping for a quality piece of work, so after so many years, the guys have a good chance to deliver something memorable I think.

Vince Neil and Motley Crue are both working on new releases, but which of the two is serious about getting new material finished? I think Motley will take more time and release something in 2008. So that leaves Vince - can he work long enough sober to get a decent record in the can? His debut kicked serious butt all those years ago, but since then expectations have fallen. Can he put his solo name back on the map? I'm not sure...

The new Montrose album has been in the works for 2 years now, so this is another title I do not expect to see released this year. That said - it could pop up next month for all I know! If it does, I expect a solid album - especially given the vocalists involved (Hagar, Eric Martin, Keith St. John...). Albums using multiple vocalists are hard to make brilliant, this one has a better chance than most.

Much like Guns N Roses, anyone putting money on the Black N Blue album getting released is kidding themselves. And the Z Records site is even taking pre-orders! Forget about it...I don't see this album getting done anytime soon.

Same goes for Burning Rain unfortunately. Long stated as being planned, but Doug will simply be too busy with Whitesnake this year to commit time to getting a new BR album done. You have been chance of the Keith St. John solo album getting recorded.

Speaking of Whitesnake - this could be very interesting. Will the band get it recorded this year? Yes I hear, but completed and ready for release by the end of the year? Not sure about that...

Hodson's second album will be anticipated as the first showed great promise without delivering a knockout blow. Another album that has been in the planning stages for sometime, so whether it gets done this year is reason for debate.

Heavy Pettin' return with a new studio album this year, but my mind is not convinced that the new album will see the light this year. 50/50.

Howard Leese has been working on his solo debut for a couple of years now and I'm confident this will be released this year, even with work still continuing on it as I type this. Some groovy guest vocalists have been lined up and it is hoped that one very special guest will make an appearance! Looking forward to this when it does arrive.

LA Guns frontman Phil Lewis said the band would not do a new album until they got a decent budget (as the last album featured some great songs, but sounded horrible). I hope this is the case, as I always look forward to anything featuring Phil. I hope that legal arguments over the name with former guitarist Tracii Guns (rumored to be auditioning for WASP) can be settled.

Million aren't a new band by any stretch, but they are still winning over new fans with each release and their last one was so far ahead of their previous releases. It was great - can they do it again this year? I believe so - so watch for this one to be a hard rock / melodic metal highlight.

Rob Rock is as reliable as Axel Rudi Pell. Always delivers. This year will be no different.

Road To Ruin is one project that looks very interesting on the surface. Featuring one of my favourite European vocalists in Matti Alfonzetti and members of Lion's Share and Glenn Hughes/Great King Rat, this project has huge potential. But the guys involved all have tendencies to experiment....I hope they don't do this too much. Expectations are high - I don't want to be disappointed.

Royal Hunt are in the planning stages for a new album later this tear - said to be more epic in nature. Very cool indeed! But, please let it be without needless instrumentals. I dig the band's output with John West, but the guy is such a monster singer, there is simply no need for stand alone instrumentals. Save the widdily-diddiling for extended passages within existing songs.

Scorpions are hold up in LA with producer Desmond Child and have been since late October. After the last album returned to form, one would expect nothing but a classic Scorps monster, but comments from the band about contemporary sounds has me very worried. They tried this once and it failed miserably. The guys need to stick to the script and deliver something fans are all expecting, or risk being burnt at the stake.

Soul Doctor have a set script now and I don't expect that they will deviate too much. Expect something very similar to last year's release.

TNT is one of the big one's for 2007 as far as eager fans awaiting a result of their vocalist change (to Tony Mills). What will Tony bring to the band and will the album match the brilliance of My Religion, be something new and special all together, or a little bit patchy such as the last album All The Way To The Sun.

Treat are said to be at work on a new studio album, following up the two new tracks included on last year's career spanning compilation. A classic Scandi-melodic hard rock album would be very nice - especially given that the region of Scandinavia is delivering such a fine array of releases in recent times.

Sebastian Bach has all but completed his long awaited solo album, but in his words, it is currently being delayed by politics of this business and getting a decent record deal. I have no doubt whatsoever that his solo album will deliver everything the Skid Row albums with him haven't. Expect a monster - at least that's what I feel should and will be delivered.

Any hope of Poison making a classic album in 2007 have been dashed with the news that their next release will be a covers album. Covers from Poison is definitely not what I want to hear and I have zero expectations for this release. Perhaps then I will be surprised at the end result?

Man-Raze is Phil Collen's side project from Def Leppard. The 4 track EP shows definite promise, but with Phil tied with a new DL studio album this year and then more touring, I do not expect this to be released.

Speaking of Def Leppard, I don't know how to feel about this one. A menacing album says Joe Elliott. Ok, that sounds great - but really, how menacing can DL be in 2007? The overall fan sentiment is for something like Pyromania to be delivered. The band tried the super slick (with X) and it didn't sell (sadly, as it was a great album) and then the covers affair sold even worse (except in the USA where it did ok business).
So I'm hoping the band really deliver a rocking, rowdy, fan pleasing affair. Will I get an advance copy? Arrgh...don't even go there!

Razorback features another of my favourite European singers - Stefan Berggren (Snakes In Paradise) - and their debut was great. The follow-up was awful...horrible... Why they changed the blueprint I'll never know, but as expected (well, hoped at last...), the guys are returning to the sound of that debut for their new album. Dare I get my hopes and expectations up??

Steve Grimmett is also promising a new release this year. I have no expectations here, but hope that Steve has a great set of songs planned. Fans will certainly be pleased to see a new album.

AC/DC? I have given up trying to guess when this will come out - but there is now rumors they are inside a recording studio. Watch for the new album (whenever it comes) to be their finale/farewell release.

What possibly won't be released in 2007: Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, Hardline, Vince Neil, Montrose, Black N Blue, Hodson, Motley Crue, Man-Raze, Whitesnake, Burning Rain, AC/DC, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal.

Predicted Best Hard Rock Releases for 2007: Gotthard, JK Northrup, Cornerstone, Pink Cream 69, Jaded Heart, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal, Howard Leese, Million, Road To Ruin, Royal Hunt, TNT, Treat, Sebastian Bach, Whitesnake, Def Leppard...and if released, add Hardline, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal, Whitesnake and Montrose to the list.

MELODIC & HEAVY METAL:
Highest profile albums due for 2007: Megadeth, Metallica, Bloodbound, Allen / Lande, Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Ozzy Osbourne, Sinner.

Megadeth pushed the release of their new album into 2007 and I believe the guys have set this up nicely to be quite a success at retail (for a metal album). Everyone is behind this it seems, so it is only down to Dave Mustaine making sure he has the best set of songs possible. I think they'll do well with this album.

Metallica have a lot to prove - the last album sounded terrible and was received badly by the majority. But, the guys know their craft like few others, so expect a big comeback. Will it be too late for the guys, or will all be forgiven?

Bloodbound will continue to make waves in Europe and I see this new album as being something that will only drive their stakes in the game higher. They look frightful, but you can't deny the quality of the debut and the talent of the band, so watch for the new album to be even better.

Allen / Lande is perhaps my most anticipated light metal release of the year. And perhaps that of many other readers. The debut was fantastic - everything one could hope for in a melodic metal / hard rock release and the response from readers was almost unanimous in agreeing with me. I went as far to name the release Album Of The Year for 2005, so can Jorn Lande, Russell Allen and Magnus Karlsson do it all again - or even better even? You better believe it!

Judas Priest are back again this year with an album that should continue on where Angel Of Retribution left off. That was a solid return, but not all were convinced, so this time around the guys will be expected to nail it.

Primal Fear have never disappointed, but their new label will be expecting them to deliver a melodic metal classic, so here is hoping this will be one for fans of European metal.

Ozzy Osbourne is due for a new solo album this year if he gets it done in time. It seems Zakk Wylde is wisely more involved in the writing on this one, so perhaps we will get an album worthy of sitting alongside Ozzmosis and No More Tears. It definitely needs to be a vast improvement on the last album though.

PROGRESSIVE / PROGRESSIVE METAL / PROGRESSIVE HARD ROCK:
Highest profile albums due for 2007: Threshold, Dream Theater, Circus Maximus, Rush, Power Quest, Platitude.

Obviously there is a lot of progressive stuff due in 2007, but to look at the highlights from a melodic perspective - these are the releases I believe people will be talking about on this site -

Threshold is probably the one I am most excited about and it is not far away from release! I am new to these guys - I still only have their last album, but man, that was the best melodic progressive thing I have heard since Images And Words. Can't wait for the new album, after which I am going to start going backwards into the English band's catalogue.

Circus Maximus was another fantastic debut in 2005. Surprising that these guys came out of Europe, especially when their sound mirrored Dream Theater pretty closely. The European community await this one and if it is as good as the debut, you can expect American fans to start taking notice too.

If Threshold is number one, then Rush are equal billing in the anticipation stakes. The only reason they aren't the most anticipated for me is that the last album was mastered so badly it ruined the experience of the album for me. Hopefully this one won't be too loud and the songs will have the energy of classic Rush. The band's fan base will eat this up regardless.

Power Quest have a few albums under their belt, but continue to build on their stature as one of the UK's best progressive melodic metal bands. A new album this year will place them into a pool of heavy competition, but based on the last record, they should be able to swim with ease.

Platitude is one of the surprise packages of last year and I truly am exited to hear another record from these young kids. I hope the reviews from the last album help them get their direction and sound perfected. If they can, a Top 20 finish at the end of the year is almost guaranteed.

Dream Theater have signed a new deal and promise a classic. I sure hope so, I have kinda lost interest in them over recent years. I'm not blown away by the thought of this new album – only 7 tracks and 1x 25 minutes long. I would rather 10 x 5 minute songs – 10 different hooks and riffs to enjoy. We shall see.

MODERN ROCK / MAINSTREAM:
Highest profile albums due for 2007: Anberlin, Saliva, Fall Out Boy, Avril Lavigne, Velvet Revolver, Mitch Allen, Ra, Simple Plan, Emerson Hart, Butch Walker, Toby Rand.

Once again, there are plenty of modern rock releases coming our way and some we still don't know about. But from the perspective of a general melodicrock.com reader - I recommend the following to watch -

Anberlin delivered one of the best and most melodic modern rock releases of 2005, so expectations are very high for this new album due shortly. The guys are as contemporary as the next modern rock outfit, but they have this knack of adding extra hooks and the lead vocals are extremely melodic - something a lot of modern rock bands miss.

Avril Lavigne is readying her third studio album with a promise of delivering a more fun album - such as her debut. I like both records - the last one showed some great maturity, so a mix of both would be nice. Obviously she's a super commercial gal and not for everyone, but you can't deny that she chooses good people to work with - ie. Butch Walker, who is again on board for this record.

I used to love Guns N Roses and the thought of the core band resurfacing was exciting, until they picked vocalist Scott Weiland. I just can't get into the guy and thought the debut Velvet Revolver album was dull. Some did not appreciate that sentiment and told me so, but a surprising number agreed with me. So with that said, I don't really have any expectations for their new album. I'm sure it will sell very well, but I don't see it doing anything for me personally -not when there is so much other great albums out there to heck out.

Mitch Allen is the occasional frontman for SR-71 and has been promising his solo album for more than a year now....I'm not even sure it will happen this year. But the guy is up there with Butch Walker for genius songwriting skills, so if it appears, it should be great.

Ra is another very melodic outfit that delivered a knockout modern rock album in 2005. Back now with a new label and new album on the way, this along with Anberlin will be my most anticipated modern rock release of 2007. A great singer and hooks everywhere should see this a definite highlight.

Simple Plan really broke through with their last album, despite the debut being the better album. So the pressure is really on them to deliver this time - commercially and critically. Can they do it? Not sure to be honest.

Butch Walker pretty much does whatever the hell he pleases and if fans come along for the ride, then great - if not, great too! Nice to be in such a position, but his production duties bankroll his solo career. What's in store for 2007? He has his new band 1969, who will release their debut later this year, but from early MySpace previews, I can't say that this excites me too much. And with no solo album in sight, it might not be a killer year for Butch fans.

Lead vocalist of Tonic - Emerson Hart has signed a solo deal with EMI and will release his debut late May. That might be an interesting listen, depending on the direction taken.

Toby Rand & Juke Kartel could be the big sleeper for the year and could be a big hit based on that wonderful song of his and a growing reputation for kicking ass live

POP / POP ROCK / WESTCOAST:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Duran Duran, Eagles, Huey Lewis & The News, Justin Hawkins, Matchbox Twenty.

Duran Duran's return to recording and touring was great - I saw them live and they were impressive as ever - and the record wasn't too bad for a slice of slick pop rock. But they have now (as per usual) lost the plot. Strike 1 - Andy Taylor bails again. Strike 2 - they collaborate with Justin Timberlake for the new album. Strike 3 - pop/dance outfit Timberland are on board now to help. Sorry guys, my interest in this new album just dried up. Bring on a new Andy Taylor solo record!

The Eagles have struck a controversial deal with WalMart to sell their album exclusively. Interesting move, given the state of the industry, the target audience of Walmart customers and the possibility of other mass merchants deleting their music divisions. I guess sales results will prove whether this will work or not, but the big question is what can the band deliver after so many years in the wilderness. I don't doubt it will be something of quality - these guys are just too classy to deliver a turkey. Aren't they?

Huey Lewis & The News promises a new studio album this year. Well, Bob Seger did it in 2006, so why not Huey! I'm not sure of the timing for this, or if it will make the deadline this year. Again - no expectations, s it has been so long, but being a big fan of the band's 80s output, there is definitely some hope for a cool pop/rock record.

I'm not sure where to categorize former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins. His solo album could pretty much deliver anything! British Whale is his new band, so who knows what bizarre take on rock n roll these guys will come up with. Not something I expect will make any dent in the Top picks for the year, but you never know...

Pop rock's purveyors of middle of the road feel good FM radio fodder Matchbox Twenty return in 2007 - if they keep it together. I loved the last album, very fine stuff from a maturing band that in my mind are getting better and less commercial with age. Rob Thomas knows a hit song and a cleaver hook, so I'm hoping this album can be completed in time for release this year.

,
The Best Of 2007 - Predictions

What albums will occupy the Top 30 list for the 2007 Album Of The Year?
2007 has so many possibilities - maybe more than ever before if everything gets released. These are the titles I think should stand out:

THE PREDICTED BEST OF 2007:
Kelly Keagy, Oliver Hartmann, Danny Vaughn, Pride Of Lions, Last Autumn's Dream, Dante Fox, Night Ranger, Shaw / Blades, Dennis DeYoung, Anberlin, Ra, Threshold, Circus Maximus, Rush, Platitude, Gotthard, JK Northrup, Cornerstone, Pink Cream 69, Jaded Heart, Hughes Thrall II, Street Legal, Howard Leese, Million, Road To Ruin, Royal Hunt, TNT, Treat, Sebastian Bach, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Stan Bush, Blanc Faces, Foreigner, Frederiksen/Denander, The Hooters, Terry Brock, House Of Shakira, Loverboy, Places Of Power, The Ladder, Robin Beck, REO Speedwagon, Steve Lukather, Tramp's White Lion, Urban Tale, Line Of Fire, Khymera, Poley/Rivera, Wig Wam, Mecca, Newman, Dare.
If released, add Journey, Danger Danger, Eclipse, Talon, Von Groove, David Readman, Hardline, Whitesnake
and Montrose to the list.

POSSIBLE TOP 20 FOR 2007:
Shortening the list even further - what could my Top 20 (or so) of 2007 be? It will be interesting to look back, but here goes:
Kelly Keagy, Night Ranger, Gotthard, Pink Cream 69, Jaded Heart, Stan Bush, Foreigner, Frederiksen/Denander, The Hooters, House Of Shakira, Loverboy, Places Of Power, Steve Lukather, Urban Tale, Poley/Rivera, Wig Wam, Mecca, Def Leppard, Newman, Dare, Threshold, Anberlin, Robin Beck.
and if released, add Journey, Danger Danger, David Readman, Terry Brock and Hardline.

,
The Year Ahead - General Predictions

Could Ted Poley have his best year ever - with a new Poley/Rivera album due, The Pleasure Dome coming up, a possible Danger Danger record and even a 4th record potentially in the works???

Will Steve Perry make a new solo album? No. Will Steve Perry make another guest appearance as he has done in the past 2 years? Yes.

Van Halen will get through their allotted 40 dates and then that will be it - no new material and no sign of when the next bout of activity will come.

Could ex-pat Rick Springfield finally return to Oz for that long promised live tour his fans (and I) have been waiting for?

Toby Rand & Juke Kartel's debut album will outsell and outshine that of Rock Star Supernova's - the band formed from the show Rand was booted from. Revenge is sweet.

The Police tour will be the top grossing tour of 2007.

Def Leppard will release their toughest rocking record since Pyromania.

Could Leverage be the next big thing in Metal out of Europe?

Who might just split up this year (maybe, possibly, who knows...): Rock Star Supernova, Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver, Van Halen, Bon Jovi (on hiatus maybe?), Warrant.

Possible re-unions - Giant, the original White Lion, Mr. Big, Blue Murder, the original Dare line-up, and once again for good measure, or at least wish value - Rainbow, Little Angels, Damn Yankees.

,
Dickhead Of The Year Award

Oh brother. I debated whether to even put some of this crap online as it really is crap. Puerile, stupid, unintelligent, worthless drivel. But hey, I didn't write it, it is not my doing and people should be aware of who they are dealing with when tangling with this clown.
I am not even going to give him the satisfaction of naming him, but if you read through the 2005 Awards, you should recognize his handiwork. What a waste of oxygen, seriously.

There is plenty more e-mails, but why waste your time with his issues? Here are just a few for a laugh - posted in order of their arrival in my in box over the last 12 months. Congrats to our 2006 Dickhead Of The Year, back for more...

1) As for my past behavior, I am sorry. I think I'll pass on the ass kissing...thanks anyway.

2) Don't get your panties in a bunch Andrew. Lighten up. I have no hatred for you or anyone else.

3) ....Hmmm...kiss Andrew's ass or be banned for good. ...SCREW YOU!!!! You're lucky you're Down Under Harry Potter.

4) 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...;)

5) Could I at LEAST have the chance to read the forum boards? Thanks Andrew.

6) I think I'll start a blog of my own McNeice...oh...and DO expect my spam to be coming your way....do I get a trophy for winning your award??? Great choices of awards!!!!! Kudos D-bag!!!

7) Hello Andrew, Hope all is well with you and the family. When you said I won 2005 Dickhead of the Year I thought you were being facetious. When I saw it was an ACTUAL award, my jaw dropped...;). I admit, I had a good chuckle. I'd hate to see what THAT trophy looks like...LOL...;) Keep up the good work at the site!

8) Please remove the Dickhead of the Year section of your front page or I WILL be contacting a lawyer.

9) I ALREADY showed the front page to a lawyer and I DIDN'T make myself out to be a saint by any stretch. He's salivating at the thought of suing you for defamation...for starters.

10) Hope all is well. Went to the show Saturday night and it was great. I was wondering if you could possibly allow me back into the forum...It's been a while and I enjoy the topics and posts. If you say no, could you at least not forbid me from looking at the posts without registering.

11) no luck reading reatding the forum lately...If douche bag, fraud ***** is in your head get the fuck over it weakling. That fat fucking, dribbling, can't drive a train murderous slob drunk came to Boston, I called him out to meet me and he never returned my emails...you have a C*** on your boards Potter. Deal with him or consider yourself a fraud in my home and the homes I forward this email to.
If it's a technical gliich....forget that middle paragraph....it was a typo.

12) There are two conclusions...1. One, I went over the line with my Harry Potter comment. or, 2. You are indeed that fat, drunken, slobbering fool's doormat (you're too lenient of his shit). Let me add too that he is a coward. With all the posts of busting me up, I call him out on it when he comes to Boston and am met with stone silence.
Typical. Fat bastard can't get out of his own drunken way. DO pass this on to him Andy. He has no balls. Tell him I own him...I was ready to kick his fat ass and not even a word from him. What a useless slob.

13) LOL!!! Be still Andy!!! I am VERY MUCH posting in your site. Only you are TOO STUPID to realize it....This is fun for me. Tell that fat, narly slob I said Hi...Oh, wait. I always do. I was this close to reeling in that clown in Mansfield. What a disgrace his is...now shoo Potter and deliver the news to El Guapo while I play nice in you JSS blowfest!!!

14) Hey Harry Potter.....wake up you dumb c***. We are ALL the same person you dumb motherfucker!!! Christ, I laugh my ASSSS of when I pull the John thang over your dumb ass heads! Dumb c***! LMFAO!!! Yeah, he doesn't sound much like me..because I made him that way you silly c***..get a clue Andrew!!! Andrew, gee wiz motherfucker, I don't even know what you're talking about....Shine up that trophy you dick!!!! I relish winning that award you stupid, cockless piece of bile.

15) I guess that makes me the Robert De Niro of outing douches like yourself and big fat slobbering train driving murderer....LOL!!!! Print THAT you C***...
....I'm having a fucking BALL on your site posting up as a "good guy." Dumb motherfucker!!!! I'm reeling that c*** in for a visit....another dumb c***. See you in court when they find his fat body.

16) tell me, why is it that punk Soto doesn't take me on in at alt.music? I know you wouldn't because you don't own the site. Your site is loaded with a bunch of whiny maggots, Andy. I love the fact that Def Leppard hates your fucking guts. Say hi to the two-headed kid!

Oh, that's enough...seriously....that's about half of the e-mails. Enough though, you get the picture! What a dickhead!

,
What The Labels Have To Say

Mario De Riso @ Frontiers Records, Italy.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
Of course TOTO Falling In Between . Other successful releases included GLENN HUGHES Music For The Divine , SURVIVOR Reach , HOUSE OF LORDS World Upside Down , WINGER IV , PRETTY MAIDS Wake Up To The Real World and THUNDER Robert Johnson's Tombstone.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
As usual I don t have one recommended or favourite release since we try to put everything we can into all of them. Of course since TOTO was such an important release that brought us into the charts everywhere, I will admit that especially under a professional point of view, this was an great experience and release.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
I'd say that I have mostly bought reissues and oldies this year. I didn't really like much new stuff. One new release I think I can mention is probably PAUL STANLEY's latest solo album... which by the way got stolen when some thieves had the brilliant idea to break my car's window and take away the stereo. anyone got a spare copy for me?
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
Some for sure even though I would say that we have had some real highs as well... Under a general business point of view the major disappointment is to see this piracy thing going on an on. It is frustrating to see people not realizing the value of the artists and the label's work. Everyone complains about pricing of the cds, but we have been keeping the same price levels in the past 5 years and the cost of life has been increasing... still music has a lower and lower value... is this the price of progress we have to pay?
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
There are some incredible Metal releases coming on Frontiers - from Timo Tolkki new Rock Opera to Primal Fear and another great signing to be announced quite soon. On the Melodic Rock and Hard Rock side, we have great expectations from the upcoming PC69, Night Ranger, Joe Lynn Turner and Allen / Lande which will all be released before the summer. There will also be another 2 or 3 major come back albums (one of which is already getting a good buzz like MECCA) which I am sure will delight the fans and we are also looking for some new names such as PLACES OF POWER (Turgon/Bardowell) and TWR (which is a name under which some familiar names hide& wait and see what will come). We're cooking some really cool stuff anyway... just wait and see!!!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
I don t have a crystal ball, but personally I would be very pleased if, together with the big names, we could have some real newcomers getting some good expeusre and sales. This is always really important for the scene!

Khalil Turk @ Escape Music, UK.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
1-Psycho Fantasy, 2-Shadowman " Different Angles", 3-Saracen "Vox In Excelso", 4-Phenomena The Complete Works".
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
1-Last Autumn's Dream, 2-Shadowman, 3-Psycho Fantasy.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
1-Feeling, 2-Pride Of Lions, 3-Killers, 4-Slammer.
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
Too many to mention...
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
1-Heartland "Mind Your Head", 2-White Wolf "Eyes Of The Storm", 3-The Ladder "Sacred", 4-Pleasure Dome, 5-Alliance.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
I wish I knew )..as for Pop Music I will say MIKA absolutely fantastic very talented like Freddie Mercury and George Michael.

Geoff Gillespie @ Majestic Rock Records, UK/Japan.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
Tytan's 2 disc 'Rough Justice' reissue and the Moonstone projects 'Time To Take A Stand'.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Great to get the Strangeways discs out, Anarion's 'Unbroken' was a personal highlight and I was also very pleased with the Heavy Pettin' box.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Interestingly enough, Isahn's 'The Adversary' (any fan of technical metal should hear this record) and Jorn's 'The Duke' and House Of Lords 'World Upside Down' were all great.
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
You're kidding, right? 2006 was one big disappointment from a business perspective. The year as a whole led me to ask why I was doing this in the first place and whether I wouldn't do well to change horses. Of course, that isn't gonna happen...
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
I have a band from Sweden called Twilight Illusion who are, I believe, going to change the face of melodic metal forever. Watch this space to see if I'm right....
Likewise, new releases from Anarion, Rekuiem, Power Quest and (hopefully!) M.ILL.ION all give me cause for great optimism.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
I hope the Masterplan record does well, I expect the Night Ranger record to perform...other than that, I really don't know. My crystal ball has been playing up recently...

Lasse @ Lion Music, Sweden.
Comments Pending...

John Kivel @ Kivel Records, USA.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
BOMBAY BLACK Anger Management and Ted Poley Collaterol Damage.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Ted Poley, Bombay Black, Snake Eye "Ritual Instinct"
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Gotthard "Lip Service", Wig Wam, Harem Scarem, Winger "IV"
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
None really worth mentioning....majority of the year was very good for us here...knock wood. 2007 is set to be a GREAT YEAR I think for both this label and the MR.com scene. We have four bands set to go into the studio between Feb and April to work on follow ups/new releases. So, I'm more excited than I have been in a longtime.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
Alot of new releases from Kivel this year. We are planning a increase of releases this spring, and are very excited about some of the new blood as well the current blood releasing cds this year.Expect some surprises!!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
Hands down GOTTHARD. No question...! Great band live, on album and a bunch of good guys all together. Other then that im not sure what I would predict. Hopefully one of mine! LOL. I am looking fwd to the new VAUGHN CD.

Georg Sigel @ AOR/Metal Heaven, Germany.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
Riot / Army Of One, Phenomena / Psychofantasy, Kajiyama-Turner / Fire Without Flame, Bloodbound / Nosferatu.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Riot / Army Of One, Heed / The Call, Bloodbound / Nosferatu.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Europe / Secret Society, The Poodles / Metal Stand Tall, Paul Stanley / Live To Win.
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
Biggest pain in the ass is still the thing that as soon as we sent out promotional copies they'll get uploaded to obscure websites for free downloading.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
New Bloodbound album and a few more surprises which I can't announce, yet.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
Bloodbound, Chris Caffery and a few more new siginings which I can't announce, yet.

Andy Bramhall @ AngelMilk Records, UK.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
One only NEXX - ANOTHER DAWN.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
TOTO'S NEW ALBUM- ANYTHING THAT JORN HAS SUNG ON...THAT GUY IS THE BEST.... THE NEW MINDS EYE RECORD- GREAT BAND...
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
YES MATE....THE MAJOR HASSLE THIS YEAR.... GETTING COMPLETED SCREWED OVER BY GOI MUSIC SPAIN FOR, SELLING OUT OF AREA, NEVER RETURNING E-MAILS-NEVER SENDING STATEMENTS. NEVER PAYING FOR ANYTHING THAT THEY TOOK OFF ME....TOTAL BUNCH OF IGNORANT SPANISH WANKERS I'M AFRAID!!!!!!
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
A COUPLE OF THINGS MATE.... RELEASING A REMIX AND REMASTER OF NEXX COLOURS..... ALSO RELASING A SPANISH VERSION OF COLOURS AND RELEASING A SPANISH VERSION OF ANOTHER DAWN.. PLUS... NEW SIGNING HARDWAY FROM ARGENTINA...TRACKING AND MIXING A NEW ALBUM THIS YEAR PLUS...A BAND CALLED JEALOUSY CURVE FROM PHILLY USA..... NOT HEAVY ROCK BUT....GREAT SONGS AND A GREAT SINGER.... MIKE SPIKE STENT TO MIX (MASSIVE ATTACK- MADONNA- BJORK). ONE TO WATCH IN THE UK, POSSIBLE MAJOR LABEL LICENSE FROM WARNER FOR THE UK.
SOLO ALBUM FROM RALPH SANTOLLA.... ONE TO WATCH WITH JORN LANDE GUESTING ON A COUPLE OF TRACKS- SOME HEAVY WEIGHT GUYS ON BASS DRUMS AND KEYBOARDS!!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
FOR US THE BIGGEST RELEASE WILL BE JEALOUSY CURVE INTO THE UK FOR ANGELMILK IN 2007 - THEN WE HAVE THE NEXX REMIX'S INTO SPAIN (NOT WITH THOSE JOKERS GOI MUSIC) THEN THE RALPH SANTOLLA SOLO ALBUM...THEN THE HARDWAY ALBUM...THE HARDWAY ALBUM WILL BE COMPLETELY STUNNING AND I MEAN STUNNING!!!! I'LL BE PLAYING A FEW SOLO'S ON THAT ALBUM IF THE LADS LET ME GET NEAR TO A GUITAR!!!

Sebastian @ MTM Music, Germany.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2006?
TNT Live In Madrid, VENGEANCE Back In The Ring, WARRANT Born Again
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
VENGEANCE Back In The Ring
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
SLAMER s.t. from Frontiers
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2006?
A few & but nothing for your award!
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2007 releases?
MARCELLO will be killer!!!!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2007?
A New POLICE album.

THE END:
I know it seems like mere minutes since you started, but this concludes the 2006 MelRock Awards.
If there's something that needs adding or some particular feedback responses that come in, I'll do a frontpage update.

I really look forward to hearing from everyone following the launch of the awards, so please drop me a line with your thoughts and comments.
Feedback is ESSENTIAL!

Best wishes to everyone, thanks for reading and all the best for 2007!

PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!

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.

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:
  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 3
04-07
08-11
12-15

 

The Year That Was - The Best Music Results

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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The Year That Was: The Predictions Made

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!

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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.

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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!

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2005 Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards

A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

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...

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2006: The Year Ahead

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!

Welcome to the annual MelodicRock.com end of year summary and Awards page!
This is my personal take on what I consider to be the best releases for the year 2004, with a nod to other recommended songs and albums in the Honorable Mentions lists. The MelRock Awards covers the Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year, plus a recap on the events of 2004 (both good and bad) and a look ahead to what we might expect during 2005.
After all is said and done - your chance to post your own lists and opinions. Anyway - enjoy! I could go on editing this for another month, but I guess I should just get it online! Oh, and sorry it's late (again)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

(Ranked In Order)

 

1

TNT

My Religion

A perfect album - this received the only 100 score for the year and in my mind is the perfect mix of classic TNT with an updated and contemporary feel. A fan favourite and a well deserving winner. A varied and diverse album, yet it's best quality is a clean and easy flow of songs.

 

2

 

Tak Matsumoto Group

TMG 1

The pairing of Jack Blades and Eric Martin was always going to be special, but the power of guitarist Tak, plus a monster recording budget made this a truly formidable release. Another great example of hard hitting rock, with big melodies, but a strong contemporary feel. The heaviest album either Blades or Martin has ever recorded. More please.

 

 

 

3

 

Pride Of Lions

The Destiny Stone

Proving the debut wasn't just a one-off, Jim Peterik and band put together an even better follow-up of brilliant AOR. Any other year would have found this release at #1, but the competition was strong in 2004.

 

 

4

Adriangale

Crunch

The surprise release of 2004 - not only surprising fans when it was announced, but surprising all with it's much bigger production sound and some truly memorable songs.

5

Jeff Scott Soto

Lost In The Translation

Another classy release from Jeff and band, with an update tougher sound that really matched some of the energy these guys have on stage. Brilliant songs, with some great hooks that got better every listen. A revised track running order would have made it even better.

6

From The Inside - From The Inside

7

 

 

Soul SirkUS - World Play

 

 

8

 

 

Seventh Key - The Raging Fire

9

 

 

Rick Springfield - Shock Denial Anger Acceptance

10

 

 

House Of Shakira - First Class

11 Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
12 Stan Bush - Shine
13 Over The Edge  - Over The Edge
14 Kick - New Horizon
15 Stage Dolls - Get A Life
16 Ten - Return To Evermore
17 Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
18 M.ill.ion - Kingsize
19 Tesla - Into The Now
20 The Ladder - Future Miracles

 

21 Jaded Heart - Trust
22 Pete Lesperance - Down In It
23 Jorn - Out To Every Nation
24 Danny Danzi - DanziLand
25 SR-71 - Here We Go Again
26 Final Frontier - The Second Wave
27 Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal
28 Grand Illusion - Ordinary Just Won't Do
29 Crossfade - White On Blue
30