Firstly - the RIP list: 2003 was one of the worst years for losing those valuable to the music world. Not only that, but nearly 100 fans died in the Station Club Fire in Rhode Island.
RIP 2003 - Each and every soul lost in the Station Fire on February 20, 2003 including Jeff Radar and Ty Longley.
And....Bruce Waibel (Firehouse), Graham Bonnet's Dad - Lou, Michael Kamen, Tony Thompson (Power Station, The Distance, Chic), Guy Speranza (Riot), Steve Hoffman, JD Kimball (Omen), Robert Palmer, Shawn lane, Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon, Ado Makita (Sony Japan A&R), Greg Guidry, Erik Brann (Iron Butterfly), Bobby Thompson (Ozzy Tour Manager), John Purdell (Producer, Lou Gramm, Rick Springfield, Session Musician), Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix), Maurice Gibb and Matt Moffitt.
2003 was a challenging year to say the least. A number of curve balls were thrown during the year and one can only hope 2004 is a smoother ride for all.
Musically speaking 2003 was an underachieving year. There were of course some great albums released - that list is reflected above. But most of the big-gun releases for 2003 failed to materialize, or were disappointing. Some of those big releases have vanished altogether, but the majority have been bumped to 2004, so if this year materializes as planned, then it will be the best year for melodic rock since I started this site. 2002 currently holds that title.
I'll get to all the music for 2003 and 2004 shortly. There's a lot to get through. First, let's take a look at some of the events of 2003 and how they affected the scene as a whole and this site.
2003 was the hardest year I have experienced in dealing with this site and everything that entails. Keeping the site alive was harder than ever. Several other factors caused difficulties through the year.
The most upsetting was the February Rhode Island, Station Fire disaster, where nearly 100 dedicated rock n rollers lost their lives.
The fire, at a Great White show, was something that affected everyone involved in this tight knit community of fans and is something that I still can't believe. To try and write about it nearly 1 year on is no easier than it was on the day of the tragedy, which saw hits to my site top an all time record, as fans worldwide tuned in for updates.
I've spent the year promoting the Station Family Fund, which continues to raise money for the families of those affected by the tragedy. Don't forget them and never forget the souls of those who perished.
That fire indirectly affected this site, as Great White's record label (Knight Records) were at the time a sponsor of the site. Naturally their attention was diverted elsewhere after the fire, but I thank them for their time with the site.
As far as other extraordinary occurrences go, the biggie for the year was the whole Z Records circus. I have never seen anything like the events that followed a number of artists coming out against their own label and doubt I ever will again.
In January, a group of Z Records artists put out a press release, raising their concerns over numerous questionable business practices and failed obligations. The artists were led by Tommy Denander and Marcel Jacob, but joined also by members of Humanimal, Great King Rat, Human Race, Eclipse, Southpaw, Damned Nation, Amaze Me, Snakes In Paradise, plus Pontus Norgren and Ricky Delin.
I initially tried to stay out of the argument. I thought it best that the situation was dealt with by the label and the artists themselves, but agreed to leave the Noticeboard free as a forum for debate.
My initial reservations about doing this were soon realized, as the forum quickly descended into mass chaos. Some of the debate was healthy and needed, but much of it wasn't any better than a playground fight. Some 1800 posts relating to the Z Records debate were posted, with the arguments continuing for some months!
But the Noticeboard debate did serve some purpose, as several other artists joined in with similar complaints. Several magazines such as Powerplay, Sweden Rock Magazine and Rock It! joined in to say none of them deal with Z any longer.
Over the course of the time that followed the initial burst of publicity, other artists voiced their concerns.
The list of above artists weren't the only ones to leave Z in 2003. Over the course of the year Danny Danzi, Phil Naro, Danny Vaughn, Shiva, Seven Wishes and Shy all left the label.
At the time Z Records were a sponsor of this site as they were over the last few years. I was really disappointed that the label chose the path of inaction. Following the release of the artists' statement, I thought the label should have made some effort to rectify the problems publically, through some sort of defense or explination. That didn't happen and with that and a few other factors in mind, I chose to cut my formal ties with the label.
What else happened in 2003? I released my first ever CD - MelodicRock.com Volume 1 "Revealed & Revisited".
It was another idea to keep the site alive and running! The work that went into putting that together gave me a new insight into another area of the industry I work in, not to mention being a huge learning curve. I made a few mistakes, plus there's a few typos in the booklet which was disappointing, but like I said - lessons learnt.
I'm still really proud of the end result and really hope I can keep it going as a series. But the amount of work needed to get it done and ready for release means it won't be a regular thing, that's for sure.
I must again thank the artists who said yes and followed that through to be included. There are many others that paid lip service to the idea, but never followed through. Hopefully you will see them on Volume 2 or 3!
For the record - I sold about 800 copies of the CD. Unlike most record labels, I am not scared to share those stats with you.
Moving on....Let's talk about the scene itself. Things continued in 2003 pretty much as they have been for the last couple of years.
CD Burning remains a problem, with MTM Music coming out with a statement asking fans not to. Good for them.
Frontiers Records have started adding extra content to that of the musical content on their major releases, with Vertigo an example of what they are trying to do - adding a video and interview footage to the CD release to encourage purchase of an original copy. Well done again, I hope it works. I think other labels may follow suit.
There remains the never ending question of how many releases = too many releases? That remains a hard question to answer. My belief has always been that market forces will dictate that. If the releases are good, they should theoretically sell and if they are not, they won't. Simple!
But there is always the question over whether some of the more deserving releases get the promotion they deserve. The labels concerned do their best, but hungry melodic rock fans seem content to devour what's on offer each month then move on to the next "in waiting" release. Music these days seems to have a short promotional lifespan.
One example I can think of - Harem Scarem's fabulous Higher didn't seem to create the buzz Weight Of The World did, despite being even more traditionally melodic in style.
The Gods 2003 was another awesome event, but the foot traffic didn't match that of the anniversary show the year before. That was expected and the show didn't disappoint, but fuck me people - an event of this type in any other genre of music would have sold out 2 days after it was announced. Where else would you find - anywhere in the world - an event that runs 2 days with 15 bands playing the greatest selection of music, all for the price of a slab of beer?
I'd love to see something like The Gods in the USA, but can't see how it will ever happen.
Classic Rock Magazine in the UK put together a horrid review of the Festival. The truth is that it was nothing short of an embarrassment to the magazine and the "writer" sent to attend. The review was full of inaccuracies and left out most of the bands that appeared over the weekend and was used as another tool for Classic Rock to take the piss out of the melodic music scene. But no amount of protesting or e-mail writing will change those guy's view of the scene, which is too bad, as there are readers out there that want such coverage and deserve to have it included without prejudice.
Talking of touring, on the way to The Gods, I saw the Journey, Styx & REO Speedwagon show in LA. That tour did great business and was attended by many classic rockers in the US. Pity these bands can't lower their requirements to do a European tour. Yes, they make great money in the USA, but a venture into Europe is long overdue and some of these bands (and others) would be wise to pay some respect to their European fans, as these are the guys that are still buying their records.
The LA show was at the huge Staples Center Arena and was chock full of fans of all three bands, singing along, waving hands and clapping for more. Sadly though, I think I was the only one standing while Journey played Higher Place and Styx played their couple of new tunes. Some asshole in front yelled out for Styx to play something he knew. What ignorance. But he was not alone. The band were selling copies of Cyclorama in the merch area, but the classic T's were what was being snapped up by all.
So here's an idea...with the cost of a concert ticket these days seemingly not stopping 30,000 LA area fans showing up for a show, why not increase (or incorporate) the price of the ticket to include a copy of the performing band's new CD?
With each ticket comes a copy of a new release, which fans can then take home and actually play and realize that new material has actually been recorded after 1985. What's more, get Soundscan to somehow accredit these sales and via them, a band could logically achieve a charting album, which in turn would place pressure on retailers to carry the title and programmers to play it! With such a concept in place, Styx's Cyclorama could have been a #1 record last summer. And it IS possible - check it out! www.soundscan.com/venue.html
One of the biggest mail reactions I got in 2003 was from a story about an Asia gig in Minneapolis, with the Lec Zorn Project making their live debut as support act.
Only 40 odd people turned up to the gig and it seems most of them e-mailed, including the band, management, the gig organizer and more. Asia were in the midst of playing a series of low profile "lounge room" gigs, so they were unfazed and put on a professional show for those in attendance. Lec Zorn however, didn't have a good day, with his hired singer Casey Michaels half drunk and reading lyrics off cue sheets stuck to the floor. And Lec also stopped and re-started one song 3 separate times after the piped in intro was missed by Michaels. That didn't go down well with the crowd - at least not with those that e-mailed in. Oh well, everyone has their Spinal Tap moment, so I hope for Lec that his moment is now out of the way.
The other was The Darkness. I've got nothing against these guys, but the saddest things about them is that they attracted more passion (both for and against) during the year than any other melodic/AOR release. They are taking the piss - no matter what anyone says - and I don't think they will last any length in time. Now, I don't have anything against them, I think they are a lot of fun and good to get drunk to. But they won't save rock n roll. Not with a vocalist like that! It's a pity the best bands within this scene cannot get the same chance at the publicity The Darkness get.
There is something else I have to get off my chest. Press Releases. As a journalist, I have to deal with them on a daily basis. They get sent by labels, bands, PR people, fans, street team members, managers – you name it.
That's great – but seriously – they should all be required to pass through quality control procedures before continuing on to their destinations!
Some of these items that arrive in my in-box are simply unprintable! They either make no sense, or are written in pigeon English, are factually incorrect (with errors, overstatements or just flat out lies!) and then there are the ones that arrived without any punctuation!
Oh, and I can't forget the ones that mention the artist's name 25 times – as if you are going to forget who you are reading about!
I make reference to the fact some of the press releases are in pigeon English. I get many statements from non-English speaking countries. That's fine. But some of the worst offenders are from the USA! What's their excuse?! I spent far too long already correcting and re-writing press releases in order to make them good enough to be able to feature and be understood.
Basically, if companies want to look as professional as possible, then some form of improvement in what is currently being sent out to media worldwide! Ok, rant over….
Music Musings of 2003:
There were far too many tribute records released again - none of them near classic, with the barrel well and truly bled dry for artists worthy of such tributes. Those not yet paid tribute to that deserve it include Rick Springfield, Night Ranger, Mr. Big (oh, wait - they did that themselves) and David Cassidy (ok, so that one wasn't serious).
Coming in 2004 - at least 2 maybe even 3 Journey tributes and God knows who else...
Disappointments - musically speaking - of 2003: The new Meatloaf album didn't live up to expectations. Just what was he thinking doing a rap song? And has Bon Jovi totally lost contact with reality? What the hell were they thinking while recording This Left Feels Right? That album has sunk quicker than the Great Kat comeback and is currently being flogged via late night TV in the States. In Australia there wasn't even any press done for it. A bad sign in a previously solid market for the band. The album has sold half of what Bounce did, which sold half that of Crush.
Styx had possibly the worst excuse for live album in a long time via the horrible Sanctuary Records cash-in compile 21st Century Live.
Bonfire went modern and underachieved. Now, after everything that so many bands have done before them, why would ANY classic melodic/hard rock band contemplate going modern in this day and age? Stick to what you are best at folks, it will work to your advantage in the long run. Take a listen to the new Jaded Heart soundbytes. This is what folks want.
Britny Fox released their long awaited album - again with an updated sound that didn't suit. What a horrible comeback. Too bad, as the live album before it showed real spark.
Same again for Metallica....when a producer (Bob Rock) has to come out and actually explain why a record sounds the way it does, it means the public didn't get it. Sales figures prove that point.
Diamond David Lee Roth released a record with character, but the vast majority didn't warm to it.
MSG released an album which continues their downward trend.
A few other disappointing albums - Pat Benatar, Queensryche, Ensign, Jani Lane, Wild Horses, Pain & Passion and Kenny Loggins.
Best Re-Issues of 2003: Awesome to see Virginia Wolf available on CD, but Wounded Bird really need to take a look at their packaging/quality control. Several booklet errors spoil the release. The label also released Streets, Airrace and Holland during the year.
Escape Music did the best job of re-issues in 2003 - some fine releases with packaging to match. Included in their output was Statetrooper, FM, Zon, Orphan and Body Electric.
Majestic Rock came up with Heavy Pettin and Black N Blue re-issues, but could use some better artwork transfers. Otherwise the releases were cool.
MTM Classix was born, so expect more competition to re-issues in 2004.
Nothing announced from Van Halen, but the year was still filled with enough rumors and strange happenings to keep most amused!
The most amusing was Eddie's bizarre appearance at NAMM in January. His late entry and dishelved appearance, as well as his behavior, had some really questioning his sanity!
Then there was the surprise interview by Dwyer & Michaels at the other end of the year - Ed was no clearer, but still entertaining. Don't forget the whole story surrounding Limp Dogshitz frontman Fred Durst explaining that Eddie had auditioned for his band some time back. Not so, Eddie just jammed and left his gear behind and later couldn't get it back. Legend has it that he apparently turned up with a gun to finally retrieve it!
And lastly, Eddie's only other public appearance was for a DVD shoot for Leslie West's Mountain. Sadly Ed vetoed his appearance making the final DVD cut.
I'm looking forward to more in 2004!
The Journey tour was a smash success (so it wasn't all bad), but Neal Schon's vision for Planet Us failed to materialize after Sammy Hagar decided Van Halen was his best meal ticket back to glory days.
Fans also patiently await a solo Best Of album, which John Kalodner wants to release, and his completed solo instrumental album Eye On You. I hope to catch up with Neal soon.
SR-71 dumped their line-up again. The band only features 1 original member, Mitch Allan, but at least their new single hinted at a return to their more melodic debut.
Icon's Danny Wexler returned to recording duty with the project Thieves In The Temple. I believe it's now defunct, but who knows... Getting information out of those involved was impossible, as was actually getting a copy of the album. Like many in the past, once the press release has been printed and album plugged, there is suddenly no reply to e-mails and no promo copy of the album ever arrives. Asses!
Pulse continued to confuse fans by swapping their new lead singer for their original singer and starting work on their second album again, which had been initially scrapped to start work on a new album with the new singer, but was scrapped when he was fired. And original singer Simon is also working on a solo album. Ok...
Krokus were the surprise packet of the year, with a thoroughly enjoyable classic hard rock album. Another example of giving the fans what they want. Bands take note! Play to the fans you still have - don't go looking for new fans in areas you won't find them. Play your best classic rock and new fans will come.
Stage Dolls and TNT both scored big hits in their native country with new best of compilations via Universal. Now only if their labels put the same effort into their new albums!
Mail order company Melody Boulevard announced a 20CD+ box set of Westcoast favourites, but the project has since vanished due to some issues regarding track inclusion and artist permissions etc. No surprise there!
FM decided they couldn't be called FM and will go under the name The Ladder. Watch for that release in 2004!
Speaking of ladders, Harlan Cage's Roger Scott Craig fell off his and landed himself in hospital for an extended stay.
It was a year of "signs". Urban Tale started the ball rolling with Signs Of Times. Newman modernized it with Signs Of The Modern Times, Pride wanted Signs Of Purity, while TNT we asking Give Me A Sign. Section A borrowed Van Halen's The Seventh Sign and don't forget Ensign! However, 2003 saw no sign of The Sign. They'll be back in 2004!
Gene Simmons re-launched Simmons Records, but is yet to announce a signing. Aside from his own solo album that is. He also pulled production of his Tongue Magazine, which really was only a 100 page advert for Kiss merchandise. But the band did hit Melbourne for a special Symphony show, which was a treat to see. Pity much of their released performance was recorded the night before without an audience present.
Queensryche welcomed back Chris DeGarmo, put out the usual "this is our best album in years hype", then said Degarmo really didn't do so much on the album and won't tour - then released another average album.
Aussie nu-breeders Invertigo lost their vocalist, but vowed to go on, before admitting defeat and splitting.
Michael Schenker finally gave away his involvement in UFO. He agreed to relinquish the rights to the name and continues on his merry way.
Def Leppard's potential #1 smash hit Long Long Way To Go was ignored by most and was only released as a single in the UK. The band's US label couldn't be assed and promotion of the great X album faded before it started.
Doug Aldrich issued a press release to state his commitment to Dio and how he can't wait to record a new studio album, before announcing he was quitting Dio to join Whitesnake. Warren DeMartini replaced Doug, only to be squeezed out in favor of Craig Goldy - who at last count was still the band's guitarist.
Meanwhile former Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell says Ronnie James Dio was a horrid human being in an interview for DefLeppard.com.
Adriangale's Eddie Campbell quits the band to join another label as a solo artist. He hasn't been heard from since. But things in the AG camp may not be much better. Will there be a third album? Who knows. The band's in-the-can live album should appear sometime later this year.
One of the biggest laughs for the year occurred when the entire line-up of Circle II Circle quit, leaving frontman Zakk Stevens to make nicey nice and proudly boast it was business as usual. He toured with a new line-up in Europe, but met with some less than favorable reviews. It seems the band were not getting paid by management for their time or work on tour, forced to pay out of their own pocket to remain on the road.
Circle II Circle weren't the only band to suffer meltdowns. Nothing tops that of Stratovarius frontman Timo Tolkki, who posted a very moving message on his message board about internal band troubles and his many mental problems. The posts resulted in half the band leaving and Timo himself having to hire security to protect him from angry fans. Great stuff.
And Royal Hunt has lost Steen Mogensen and Jacob Kjaer from their line-up, leaving only John West and Andre Andersen in the band.
Also - The Angels have reformed - twice (two line-ups!) - how sad is that? Jon Stevens quits Inxs without making an album in over 3 years at the helm. Styx loses Glen Burtnik, but replaces him with Ricky Phillips and word has it that Jizzy is out of Ratt. Time will tell on that one.
Mike Tramp started putting White Lion back together, but apparently Vito wants nothing to do with it.
Sony Music lose their resident A&R legend John Kalodner to Sanctuary Music. I'm hoping 2004 sees some interesting projects emerge from that.
News of David Glenn Eisley's Dr. Dave's Maths CD got a great response when I posted it. The CD is the times table done musically for kids. Now that's a long way down from Giuffria and Dirty White Boy.
Maybe Sebastian Bach should get a copy of David's CD. His new band, the Bach Tight 5 features only 4 guys. None of which can play if live reviews are anything to go by.
Steve Lukather found a unique way of attracting worldwide attention to Toto, by announcing that David Paich was unavailable to tour because he was about to undergo a sex change. When media worldwide asked for interviews and the trans-gender lobby contacted the band to congratulate them, he knew things had gone too far!
What happened to the proposed Blue Murder re-union? The band were set for a re-union, but as all things John Sykes, nothing has come of it and no news updates. My bet is don't count on anything in 2004...I hope I'm wrong, as I love that classic original album.
LRB decided to reform as BSG, but the current holder of the rights to the name LRB lodged a court paper protesting that BSG couldn't promote themselves as BSG, featuring the original members of LRB. The dispute continues!
Kiss claimed another Gold record for their Kiss Symphony record, but the fact is it shipped Gold, but has only sold a quarter of the number needed to be officially awarded that Gold status. Nice bit of PR boys!
While contemplating what to do with their finished record, Nelson start hocking various bits of odd memorabilia at impressive prices via E-Bay and then finished off the year by releasing a new 16 minute doco-DVD priced at a mere $25US! That's $1.56 per minute entertainment.
Motley Crue's Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx spent most of the year contradicting each other on possible details of a band reunion in 2004, 2005 or not at all. I'm hearing not at all. Stay tuned...
Quiet Riot split at the end of the year, bowing out with a new DVD release.
That's the news and events of 2003.
How about the actual music released and what was predicted for the year some 12 months back? Let's take a look at the music, releases and artists of 2003.
First to my favourite part of each year's summary - the predictions for the year ahead. Let's take a look at what I predicted for 2003 when I wrote up the 2002 awards last December/January.
- The Guns N Roses album will get postponed again and if released, won't be until late 2003 at the earliest. 2003 tour dates will be a similar disaster to 2002.
TRUE! It did get postponed and has yet to see the light of day and who knows if it will even in 2004 or ever!
- The Slash and fellow ex-Gunners album will get better reviews than Gunners themselves.
Well, it will come true, but as neither were released, we'll have to move this one to 2004's predictions!
- Skid Row won't find a label for their new album (unless Spitfire step in), will release it themselves (finally) and will re-unite with Sebastian Bach for the summer of 2004.
Partial credit for this one - The Skid's didn't find a label in the US (they licensed it to SPV for Europe) and eventually released the album themselves, but as yet, no sign of Sebastian returning to the fold. And to be honest, I now don't think he will anytime soon.
- Judas Priest will start talking with Rob Halford again.
TRUE!! Despite getting denials from management denying such plans on Jan 25, Jan 28, Feb 3, Feb 11 and March 11, the band finally got a grip on reality and announced the return of Rob on July 12!
- Eddie Van Halen will do a few more guest spots, but come no closer to talking about the band, or getting a new singer. No new VH in 2003
Another partial credit. There was certainly no VH in 2003 in any form, but Eddie did make a couple of appearances - on the Lukather Christmas album and a rather strange cameo at NAMM in January and that bizarre radio interview in November.
- Sony will release another Toto compilation.
TRUE! Ok, so that was an easy one....
- BMG will release another Rick Springfield compilation.
TRUE! Again, an obvious choice :)
- A new nu-breed band will break through for a US #1 album.
Sadly, no such luck. I really thought 2002 was a strong year for nu-breed acts, but 2003 hasn't been so kind. There remains a major opening for such a band to come from nowhere, maybe Waltham can do it in 2004?
- Boston will only play a few select dates - no big tour.
Bombed out on this one....while it wasn't the biggest tour event of the year by a long shot, it was bigger and longer than I thought it would be!
- Metallica's album will under-achieve.
TRUE! Yep, the sales dived, the critics and the fans mostly hated it and last I heard, Metallica were disappointed in this. One of the year's worst releases.
- The biggest melodic rock tours of 2003 will be the Meatloaf, Whitesnake and Styx tours.
Well, the Whitesnake tour did great business and the Styx tour with Journey and REO was huge, so credit for those...the Meatloaf tour was so big, but is still going on doing decent business.
- Biggest tour of all: Duran Duran
I wouldn't call it the biggest of the year as predicted, but what dates the guys have played have met with great reviews and an amazing response!
- Sammy Hagar will release some sort of new album / Van Halen won't.
TRUE! Sammy released his live album with Mikey guesting and Van Halen released zip!
- Bobby Kimball will release a new solo album / Toto won't.
No luck on this one...while there was no Toto album, Bobby's album also remains "in the works."
- Jim Peterik will release a new album / Survivor won't.
TRUE! Jim released the wonderful Pride Of Lions album while Survivor only managed a few live dates.
- House Of Lords will finally release their new album / Bourgeois Pigs won't.
Arrgh...who would be silly enough put money on the HOL album being released?! Well, it's finally coming out in March, so that's some good news. The BP album however will never happen. Just where is Michael Guy these days?
- Bobby Barth will release an album / Axe won't.
Bobby's still working on it - does that count?
- Kelly Keagy will release a new studio album / Night Ranger won't.
Correct for Night Ranger, but also nothing from Kelly. 2004 I hope!
- Dare: even money on whether the album will be released this year or next!
Glad I didn't bet the house on this one...no sign of the album.
- Planet Us will not tour (just a hunch)
Correct and for all intents and purposes, the project is now dead.
So they were the predictions!
What about my additional general ramblings about what albums to look out for and expect good things from? We had better take a look at that too then...as if I don't, you'll only look back and e-mail me about it!
On The Rise and Jim Jidhed impressed most as expected, both feature prominently in my own best of 2003 lists.
The Lec Zorn Project album failed to materialize. Several factors contributed to the delay. I think Lec has learnt a lot from the issues that have arisen during the preparation of this album. Hopefully fans of early 80's keyboard AOR will have something to enjoy later this year.
The Ramos album was very enjoyable, some of Josh Ramos' best work to date. More please...
The new Departure album surprised me and many others. It took a serious Journeyesque twist and featured some great 80's AOR.
Ambition and the new Mecca album were two of the year's most high-profile MIA's. Ambition will never happen - sorry folks. Why is not an issue I'm going to get into. I'm not that more confident for Mecca. The band's frontman and spokesperson Joe Vana has disappeared (again). He has been tied up dealing with personal and family problems, so I wish him the best. But I haven't heard a single word from Joe since his last announcement, which is a disappointment, considering that Joe was a good friend.
Jim Peterik followed-up his work on the debut Mecca album with his return to full time melodic rock writing and recording with Pride Of Lions. Classic fans of Jim and Survivor could not have asked for more. Singer Toby Hitchcock was a great find and with a little extra warmth to his voice (through getting out there and playing live), he will be hard to beat on future albums.
Harem Scarem released another perfect combination of AOR and melodic rock with a slight modern twist. I still get e-mails from people just discovering this classic band.
Mike Tramp's new album didn't blow me away as did his last. It just wasn't as intense or as well recorded, but remained enjoyable and did please fans.
As predicted, new albums from Styx, Mark Spiro, Bob Catley, Drive She Said, Khymera, Gotthard, Pride, Radioactive, Harem Scarem, Brian McDonald, Firehouse also pleased fans.
Michael Sembello's album wasn't so fortunate. Sadly the label were unable to have their vision of a Sembello rock album come to light and a European release of his own US released archive material album with a few bonus tracks was what eventuated. Michael then blew off all interviews including mine, so we will never know why this was the case.
He wasn't the only lad to blow off an interview with me....Khymera's Steve Walsh did the same. And I wasn't alone....the couple of interviews he did do were pretty cringe worthy - I don't expect to here Steve's name involved in any other projects anytime soon.
Rick Springfield's new album was not surprisingly pushed to 2004 and we are still waiting to hear the results. I fear for the sales results, as there has been zero promotion of the album outside the RS fan club/street team and no press interviews conducted!
40ft Ringo put out one of the year's catchiest records, but caught a little flack for not varying the album enough from the widely circulated demos.
Paul Laine's will be a nu-monster I said...true enough - Shugaazer's debut is a fine cross between melodic rock and modern rock.
Mars Electric and Harry Hess did well with their individual releases, Harry further adding to his tag as a genius songwriter.
Vertical Horizon released a solid effort, but failed to make any commercial ground in the US. Blame the label for that one...
Colin Blades released a wonderful pop/rock debut album, which gives his dad a run for his money. Not for fans of the rocking stuff.
The long awaited Kick album is yet to be released. In fact, it's yet to be signed, which is a fact I find hard to swallow. The EP was brilliant. Is a label finally about to snap these guys up?
Still coming out of Australia will be Red Circle and Square One - 2004 please guys.
The new Nelson album was a huge disappointment and it hasn't even been released!!! The guys announced a track listing and offered sound samples mid-year, but the advance in their sound isn't there and the album is unfortunately set to include re-recordings of several already released songs. Sorry guys, this is not the way to go. And fan feedback seemed to agree with that. The masterpiece Life deserves a proper sequel. What will they do in 2004 and will the album actually get released?
Duran Duran's reformed comeback album is another for 2004, as is new albums by Bob Segar, Bryan Adams, U2
Hall & Oates proved they are again the smoothest middle aged men in pop and Fleetwood Mac underachieved, but received some positive reviews.
What of some other albums that didn't materialize?
No one would put money on a date for the new Guns N Roses album. 2003 passed without a sign.
Dare's Darren Wharton postponed the release of their new album and most recently wrote and recorded more songs for it. It's no secret the guy is a perfectionist, so one has high hopes for a release by Christmas this year!
Hugo has just finished his new album, with more work added to that too.
Diving For Pearls - well, it's just about to move to the mixing stage - I am assured that it will be out mid-year!
Raine's new album also failed to appear. I'm not sure where to start with these guys. They really have done themselves no favors and will basically have to start all over again when ready to release something. Their debut is long gone and the public is now well confused as to their intentions with style, their name and when something might actually be finished.
The guys made a gutsy decision to play this year's Gods, but the album that was finished at the time is yet to appear and I have now learnt it has been scrapped in favor of new material that is still modern, but heavier and a little more melodic. It's time to get it done guys!
The House Of Lords album was a challenge for all involved, but it's done, 100% ready and will be released in March. Will the 4 year wait be worth it? I'm not sure to be honest, that's a huge expectation to fulfill. But it will certainly be great to hear new material from the boys. I am disappointed Gregg Giuffria chose not to be involved at the last minute.
I am wondering where the Leif Johansen Life project is? It seems to have dropped off the Z Records release schedule.
That's enough of the re-capping and reminiscing....let's move to The Awards and to 2004...