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FAIR WARNING
STILL I BELIEVE

AVALON MICP-10182
Produced by: Fair Warning

Released: OUT NOW /
Closest Relative: Jaded Heart
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 83%
Not a bad little EP for those willing to pay the over the top Japanese prices. The EP hold special value to Europeans who have their local addition of the album. This single features the unreleased Japanese bonus track, a new unreleased track, plus 4 alternative versions of new album tracks. Fans only.

RUBY FAITH
BEST OF...

AOR Heaven TD 0400
Produced by: Various

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Fiona
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 80%
Ruby Faith is a new one to me. Yep, she's one of those underground cult AOR acts whose legacy is fondly remembered in Europe. AOR Heaven have once again come to the rescue for AOR collectors and remastered a set of tunes from a few difference sources and compiled it as an album. And not a bad album at that.
For anyone that owns a Fiona album or any Heart, Robin Beck or Patty Smyth record will find something to like here. Understandably a little dated in places, but full of great hooks, melodies and fine vocals from Ruby Faith. Truly an underrated talent.

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN
ANTHOLOGY

Pony Canyon PCCY-01446
Produced by: Various

Released: OUT NOW
Closest Relative: Impellitteri
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 82%
Not much for fans here. If you are a Yngwie die-hard, you will have most of these tracks. Lifted from his most recent solo work (1994-1999), the album is chock full of great hard melodic guitar antics. But for fans there is little other than a very cool and heavy Abba cover Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie and 2 new instrumental tracks. This is better suited for a casual Yngwie fan that is yet to commit to an album purchase. Generally a good collection of songs.

MICHAEL SCIUTO
EDGE

AOR Heaven
Produced by: Michael Sciuto

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Mr. Mister
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 79%
I heard comparisons to Rick Springfield and I can see that a little, but I fancy it as a more Mr. Mister type of very high tech AOR, but with an original voice.
Michael can count himself very unlucky not to have had this album released back when it was recorded, the late 80's.
AOR Heaven have released it and I recommend any fans and collectors of high tech AOR like Starship, Mr. Mister, Rick should listen to this / check it out.
The opening track is prime USA melodic radio circa 1986 and the album contains few tacks that don't hold up the pace.
In a few words - Sentimental, emotional, powerful, keyboard/guitar dominated high tech AOR / pop rock.

THERAPY
SUICIDE PACT - YOU FIRST

Deadline
Produced by: HEAD

Released: OUT NOW / Website
GENRE: Modern Rock
OVERALL: 55%
These guys are not your average melodic band. I never got into them in their first run of albums a few years back and there is probably little chance of me getting into them now.
But they do have a loyal following and this album is available across Europe and now in the USA. Their style is brash, in your face aggressive alternative rock. Alternative in the true sense of the word.
If you have their previous work - here you go! A new album. Otherwise, listen before you buy.

RED HAZE
KEEP ON MOVIN'

Indie release
Produced by: Marco Faasse

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Jimmy Martin
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 60%
This is an Indie release by new comers Red Haze. Playing good raw and melodic rock, these guys have some good tunes to their name and a good feel for melodic hooks.
I quite like the music and the vocals - once you get used to the sound and feel.
But there is a problem. Production. The sound so thin and demo like and the drum sound is way hollow. It takes away from the music, which is unfortunate, because given half a chance and a decent budget, these guys will still be around in a few years and will still have a lot to contribute.

CHRISTIAN TOLLE
BETTER THEN DREAMS

Indie
Produced by: Christian Tolle

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative:
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 78%
Christian has put a great deal of time and effort into this, his debut album. I was looking forward to hearing it and am more than happy to pass on that I have not been disappointed.
This is a class release from a guitar player beyond his years. A great maturity is part of the music. It's pretty much his own sound, with touches AOR, Westcoast and straight pop rock.
Christian's vocals have a distinct tone and the album has an overall laid back, but guitar driven feel. Check it out.

PLANET X
UNIVERSE

Inside Out
Produced by: Planet X

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Dream Theater, Platypus
GENRE: Progressive Rock
OVERALL: 75%
I am pleased to say that of the 11 tracks here, only one goes over 6 minutes.
This is a very good instrumental album with a little bit of prog thrown in, but generally, just a few talented musicians getting showy.
Australia's ex-Southern Son Virgin Donati is the drummer and guitar God Tony MacAlpine is the guitarist, but ex-Dream Theater keyboard Derek Sherinan is the main man.
If you also enjoyed the Bozzio, Levin, Stevens albums, check this out. Definitely only for instrumental fans, but a good example of it nevertheless.

LYNYRD SKYNYRD
THEN AND NOW

CMC International
Produced by: Various

Released: OUT NOW / Website
GENRE: Southern Rock
OVERALL: 10%
This is a useless release that merely combines various tracks from the band's past 3 CMC releases over the past 3 years.
If you have them, this is pointless. If you don't, then you probably don't want this either!
Useless waste of record label resources. Put the cash into backing a new act for heaven's sake.

HOUSE OF SHAKIRA
BEST OF TWO

MTM Music 0681-14
Produced by: House Of Shakira

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Journey, Styx
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 90%
A perfect companion piece to the band's new album - that is of course if you haven't been wise enough to befriend this band from the start. Perfect AOR as we love it dished up.
This compilation come from their 2 deleted albums (thanks to their original label going under) and adds three unreleased tracks. Two of them worthy of having for sure, but for the track Susan - this is one of the great anthem AOR rockers ever! Why didn't this make the original album? Who knows, but at least we have it now. Killer stuff! Killer band...

DON HENLEY
INSIDE JOB

Warner Bros 9362470832
Produced by: Don Henley & Stan Lynch

Released: OUT / Website
Closest Relative: Danny Wilde
GENRE: Pop Rock
OVERALL: 88%
Don is possibly the smoothest man in rock and quite literally the elder statesmen of Westcoast and AOR in the US.
This album is a little mixed, with mostly fine middle of the road and Westcoast moments. There are a couple of times when it slips up and becomes a little slow, but there are enough other great mature pop moments to make the album essential.
As far as songwriting, Don is in a league of his own, for both lyrics and melodies. Highlights for me were Taking You Home, Everything Is Different Now, Goodbye To A River, They're Not Here and the closing My Thanksgiving. As you can see, plenty of high points.

NATION
FALL OF AN EMPIRE

Septima Records
Produced by: Nation

Released: OUT NOW / Info
Closest Relative: Yngwie
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 86%
Wow, big time European hard rock fans should check this out. Unfortunately, due to the lack of major label backing, many won't get to hear this. It's a fine slab of Yngwie Malmsteen inspired over the top Euro metal and guitar heroics. The production is really quite good and the songs all consistent in quality.
You pretty much get everything here - a little keyboards, souring vocals, harmonies, big time guitar solo's and heavy rhythm. Recommended for fans of the genre.

ALBERT CAREY PROJECT
TEN CENTS SHORT OF A DIME

Deadline
Produced by: Paul Orofino & Jody Gray

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Flesh & Blood
GENRE: Blues rock
OVERALL: 74%
There are quite a few names attached to this release. Try New York producer Paul Orofino at the desk with guest performances by Al Pitrelli, Danny Miranda, John Reilly and backing vocals from Danny Vaughn and Tony Harnell.
Not what you would consider hard rock, this is more a great laid back rootsy blues rock album.
If you have heard the Danny Vaughn lead Flesh & Blood album, you might have a fair idea where Albert Carey is coming from. Well worth a listen for fans of something a little more laid back and blues based. Great musicianship.

ARK
ARK

Indie
Produced by: Ark

Released: OUT NOW /
GENRE: Progressive Rock
OVERALL: 79%
Ark features the very talented vocalist Jorn Lande. He is quite the vocalist and does his usual impeccable job on this 7 track debut album.
This is an album for the musically adventurous. It's progressive, experimental and complex. While also containing a few classic rock references, the majority of the music is progressive in nature and requires repeated listens.
Jorne has a killer Coverdale like voice, but is not always singing straight ahead, so like I said, if you are adventurous and like something a little challenging in your music, this might offer such rewards. Given time, these songs catch on big time. A second album is planned.

8084
SO FAR

GB Music
Produced by: Hirsh Gardner

Released: OUT NOW / Website
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 78%
I should have reviewed this a while back, but better late than never. This is a great album for fans of 80's keyboard driven AOR.
Also noticeable is producer Hirsh Gardner, from cult favorites New England.
The sound is somewhat comparable to New England. The production is pretty good and the songs as catchy as any of the like.
Nothing new and not for those looking toward the future. But it is another good example of songs that filled the decade of pomp rock.

AXMINSTER
AXMINSTER

GB Music GB1006
Produced by: Hirsch Gardner

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Manowar, Judas Priest
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 80%
Another new project from producer Hirsh Gardner. Not to be confused with his work on 8084, this album is a lot heavier. This is old school commercial melodic metal. This album is compiled from the band's history stretching several years from the late 80's to modern day.
What can I say, this is pretty good! Full on balls to the wall cock rock with totally over the top music, guitars and vocals and totally sexist lyrics. A tip of the hat to the glory days of MTV and Twisted Sister film clips.
Given the tracks vary in age, there is a little sound difference across the album, but the production is fairly consistent. For those who miss the heyday of Manowar, Axe and Judas Priest.

THRILLS
3

REWIND 50004-2
Produced by: Mike Frenchik

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative:
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 82%
After many years an unreleased Thrills album. The band's debut was released in 1980 and this album was originally recorded in 1983.
This is a great throwback to the early days of commercial AOR. Similarities in musical style to early Journey and plenty of keyboard heavy harmonies and melodic twists. Like the 8084 release, this is more for those that like their nostalgia and the odd trip down memory lane. If that's you, there are going to be few better examples of 80's pop rock than this album. And the guys are still around, so how about a new album?

DAKOTA
LITTLE VICTORIES

Thoughtscape
Produced by: Dakota

Released: OUT NOW / Website
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 77%
This album has been out a little while and due to the demise of Thoughtscape should be searched fro thru the band's website linked above.
Dakota perform a modern update on the classic AOR sound. This album is a little more uptempo and aggressive than their mostly Westcoast past. There are some fine melodic pop rock moments here, with fine vocals and well crafted simple songs.
I am hard pressed to recommend them for listeners to any other act. Basically they are worth checking out if you like mature American pop rock and modern melodic rock.

DAKOTA
THREE LIVE TIMES AGO

Thoughtscape
Produced by: Dakota

Released: OUT NOW / Website
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 75%
This is obviously only going to be a fan release, but for those who are fans of Dakota and were/are interested in this release - let me tell you that the sound quality is superb and the concert captured here is of the highest order. More sweet Westcoast sounds throughout as the band run thru over a dozen of their best songs. A more than worthy addition to any Dakota owning music fan.

CHAIN
EROS OF LOVE AND DESTRUCTION

GAWD Music 007
Produced by: Jerry packer & Chain

Released: OUT NOW
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 59%
Chain feature Jem Davis, Ashley Limer and Doogie White on vocals. Doogie was last seen in the last incarnation of Rainbow.
This is a hard rock album that is sometimes heavy, sometimes more keyboard friendly, but always in the vein of traditional straight forward UK rock n roll.
It's not bad, but it's not that original and not that well produced, so there is seemingly always going to be something better in front of it to be bought.
Which is a shame really, as there are some commercially catchy tunes here and good performances, just lacks that killer blow. For fans only.

LANCE POWERS
LANCE POWERS

Japan Release
Produced by: No Details

Released: OUT NOW
Closest Relative: Petra, Kansas
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 75%
Christian rocker Lance Powers is the subject of this self-titled Japanese best of. Being I have never heard his tunes before, I am not sure these are his absolutely best songs, but they sound pretty good to me.
I am not totally converted, but anyone into over the top pomp AOR mixed with Christian values and an excellent production in the vein of 80's commercial Kansas should get into this quite nicely.
A good collection of songs for those looking for something new. But steer clear if you don't like it sickly sweet.

VOLLMER
WHEN PIGS FLY

Indie Release
Produced by: Brian Vollmer

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Iron Maiden, STP
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 50%
Vollmer is of course Brian Vollmer's side band to his best known role in Helix.
This is NOT Helix!! But it is him still on vocals and for that reason should find a loyal following.
Vollmer is heavier and a lot more contemporary in sound than one would imagine. A lot of 90's friendly heavy guitar, plus some screaming vocals and generally hard hitting songs.
There is a few goofy experimental moments with vocal effects and loops and the like, but also some straight up hard rockers.
Basically for dedicated fans and newcomers that dig the modern scene.
Not for Helix fans not ready to hear anything other than their classic sound.
Well produced for an indie.

ODD MAN OUT
Y2K

Samsung VACM-1148
Produced by: Torpey, Regan, Cordola & Wright

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Smashing Pumpkins
GENRE: Modern Rock
OVERALL: 65%
Odd Man Out is the side project fronted by Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey and helped out on by most of his LA friends. Such buddies as Lanny Cordola, Chuck Wright and Pat Regan.
Mr. Big this isn't! In fact it's nothing like I expected. I was kinda thinking it might be something like Paul Gilbert's Beatles like solo albums.
There's a little Beatles in there but it's more like a Smashing Pumpkins album. There would be a lot to like here for fans of modern rock and alternative pop / rock.
I am not sure how much fans of Mr. Big's happy go lucky commercial sound will get out of this, me included.
But I will say that for what it is, it is supremely well crafted, well produced and mixed and the songs are fantastic. Just not in my taste. It's also a lot darker and heavier than I expected. Pat puts in a good vocal performance. Listen to it first!
BTW, if you like this, check out the debut also. A little lighter, but more of the same classy modern rock.
BTW 2, there's a cool cover of Ain't That A Shame on here also....

STEINHARDT-MOON
MOONSHOT

Thoughtscape
Produced by: Steinhardt & Moon

Released: OUT NOW
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 57%
This project features Robby Steinhardt and Rick Moon, well known names amongst the prog/pomp symphonic rock circles.
The album might be a little hard to find these days now that Thoughtscape have unfortunately shut up shop.
It's kind of a real mixture the CD, there's a bunch of songs spread over a double CD and styles as vast as blues, southern country, jazzy rock, straight rock, blues with musical backing with strings, the violin and horns etc....
An interesting CD suitable for fans of diverse styles, but primarily for fans of southern rock and blues.

CHERRY STREET
BUSTER CHERRY

Perris Records
Produced by: Cherry St & Mixed by Pat Regan

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Helix,
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 85%
Cherry Street has been around a year now, so I thought I should review it already (?)
Why now, well because it should get a mention somewhere and maybe someone will buy it because of this review!
Why? Because it's bloody good. Good straight up sleaze hard rock with vocals from Helix's Brian Vollmer. Jaimie Scott (Vaughn) helps out on bass briefly and the rest of the band are original to this outfit.
If you like US hard rock with a touch of sleaze and a touch of AC/Dc, plus some heavy blues riffs in between some fine screaming and the odd LA Guns comparison, then this should be checked out. Better late than never!

HELIX
B-SIDES

Indie
Produced by: Brian Vollmer

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Themselves
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 79%
More Helix related releases. This time it's Helix themselves with a selection of unreleased tunes from their classic era.
This is strictly a fan only release, but there is or was at least, plenty of them, so die-hards need read no further.
The songs though, for the record, are mostly classic Helix in sound, although the reason a few of them were never released is fairly clear.
But, there are tracks like the classy ballad Wanting You and old time rocker You Got Me Chained that defy logic for not being available before now. Great tunes.
All in all, a great release, but mainly for the benefit of the old fans. They will love this.

KENNY McGEE
KENNY McGEE AND LEFTY

Indie
Produced by: Kenny McGee

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Juliet
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 84%
There was a little debate over the origins of these songs, I will leave that alone for now. Right now they are available on this album and Kenny McGee is the singer and the album rocks!
Kenny's last band was Juliet, whose debut was produced by Survivor's Frankie Sullivan.
This isn't as produced as that, the budget is obviously smaller and it shows, but the songs are still stack full of rock n roll attitude and those fans of Juliet should equally dig it.
The album overall is moodier, mellower by a little than Juliet, but feature one major key ingredient. I think the songs are actually better! The only thing lacking is a better production.
The style should suit any fans of Cinderella, Juliet or hard rock with that bluesy slice of raspy vocals. very good indeed, roll on album number 2!

GARY SCHUTT
PLAYTHINGS

Impulse Music PUL116
Produced by: Gary Schutt

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Takara
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 73%
This is ex-Takara member Gary Schutt's second solo album and sees him carry on from where he left off last time.
It's a musically varied affair that is essentially a hit and miss affair.
The album rocks pretty hard, dominated by guitar and occasionally funk rocker.
Gary screams in places and finesses on other songs. When it hits, you get tracks like the melodic metal of the opening track In the Middle, the more melodic Don't Come Crying To Me and the awesome AOR ballad This Might Be The Last Time. it is so AOR, it almost seems out of place, the vocal is totally alternate to the screaming of the tracks preceding and following the track.
Also good is Do You Still, another heavy, but more melodic tune.
When it misses, with tracks like the moody and over long 7 minute Act Of Sympathy and Animal Man, a grungy track that struggles to find a rhythm.
Not a bad album at all in the end. Fans of Gary's should be pleased, but new comers might still come away indifferent.

ERIC CARR
ROCKOLOGY

Spitfire Records
Produced by: Various

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Himself
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 76%
A final tribute to Eric Carr. This collection of songs comes from the vault of the great drummer's collection and is a final release to the fans. It uncovers a few gems and a few others that are just OK.
All the tracks were recorded while he was in Kiss and it is obvious that was a great influence on him. Several of the tracks feature Eric on vocals and he does a fine Paul Stanley inspired job!
Just check out Eyes Of Love. The moody ballad Somebody's Waiting is a great example of the cool songs that deserved to be finished and released.
Unfortunately they never were. Great to hear them here, but the production is very scratchy on several tracks. No one's fault, but that the shortcomings these types of release normally have.

BRUCE TUNKEL
SETLIST

Indie
Produced by: Bruce Tunkel

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Bruce Springsteen
GENRE: Pop rock
OVERALL: 82%
Bruce is a killer song writer. He voice and style is a cross between the Rembrandts/Danny Wilde and Bruce Springsteen. The songs are guitar driven, but vary in pace. From Tom Petty-ish rockers to laid back soulful organ filled blues based tunes.
But one thing is for sure. If the singer songwriter thing is your bag, then give Bruce and one of his three albums a go. Stripped back Midwestern rock n roll with a hint of New jersey thrown in. Highly recommended for fans of the above.

SINNER
END OF SANCTUARY

Nuclear Blast NB 4741-2
Produced by: Mat Sinner

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Iron Maiden
GENRE: Heavy Metal
OVERALL: 80%
Damn, Sinner just keep on going! These guys have been making records consistently for over 15 years now and this is their latest. There are side projects and solo records, but this is still the main love of the guys concerned.
And as expected - it's as heavy as hell! This is heavier than my normal fare, but what I really like about it, the vocals are always excellent and the music is always no bullshit metal.
12 hard and heavy tracks will have most fans of European metal well pleased and the production is top notch. For head bangers!

TWIST OF FATE
NEW SKIES

Cellar Records
Produced by: Twist Of Fate

Released: OUT NOW /
Closest Relative:
GENRE:
OVERALL: 61%
I am totally unfamiliar with Twist Of Fate and the album has taken me a little by surprise. It looks so calm and relaxed, yet from the opening bar, this sounds like a guitar driven melodic metal album. But after the first track the sound is somewhat progressive, like maybe Kansas, or Yes. Not sure where this is going or how to get into it. Too varied and with a production that sometimes overtakes the songs The mix doesn't sound even.
Not bad, but I feel this will get lost amongst better releases.

MAGIC SHIP
SONGWAVES PROJECT

CBM CBM101
Produced by: Dave Amato & Ron Wikso

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative:
GENRE: Pop rock
OVERALL: 84%
Sorry Dave and Ron for not getting to this sooner...! But here we are and if you haven't heard of this album yet, then read carefully as it might just sound perfect.
This is not an average melodic rock or AOR album, nor is it a hard rock record.
It is a finely crafted pop rock record with a slew of guests. There's Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon) and Ron Wikso (DLR, Cher, Foreigner) obviously and more REO's in Neal Doughty and Bruce Hall, plus Brett Tuggle, Cher and Mick Taylor.
The music has a degree of blues rock, a degree of 60's pop and 70's rock, some Rolling Stones and some of it's own. I also pick up little comparisons to John Mellencamp, Ray Lyell (especially track 5) and Elvis Costello.
It's not going to appeal to every rock fan, but for those that like te sound of this and take the chance I think you will be rewarded with a fine and classic filled American pop rock album.

NATIVE CAIN
THE PRIMITIVE SOUL

Pro Active PROCD2011003
Produced by: Mark Stuart & PS

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Dream Theater
GENRE: Progressive AOR
OVERALL: 83%
I should also have reviewed this long ago, but while I am on a roll with some catch up reviews, here is another one.
These guys, once again, are not going to be for everybody, but this has a lot to admire.
I appreciate any band that are clearly talented musicians and are prepared to sound a little out of the norm to hopefully make a break.
Talented musicians and very good songwriters. This is great stuff for fans of progressive and for the more adventurous fans of AOR. The guys have the intensity of Dream Theater and Rush and the melodies of Journey and Toto.
The production is also a credit to the smaller label this is on. Check it out.

BIG BANG BABIES
3 CHORDS AND THE TRUTH

Swollen Records
Produced by: Keri Kelli & Mike Slamer

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Closest Relative: Poison
GENRE: Glam Rock
OVERALL: 70%
Now for a few glam rock reviews for good balance. How about that, I never knew the great Mike Slamer was involved in production of these guys. Listening to it I can see why, it's pretty tight.
Vocally and musically I can see Poison as their closest relative, with a big LA Glam rock sound. There are some really good tunes on this compilation. I can't help but think the guys really missed the train - they could have been much bigger. Just listen to the Leppard-ish pomp ballad Hear You Say. There is a few fillers in this compilation of 12 tracks, but overall it's a good representation of what the band were about. Good time glam fans investigate!

EROTIC SUICIDE
PERSEVERANCE

Indie Release
Produced by: Erotic Suicide

Released: OUT NOW /
Closest Relative: Motley Crue, Poison
GENRE: Glam Rock
OVERALL: 86%
Another album long overdue for a review. These guys are glam all the way, but a degree heavier than many others. That's puts them up in the Motley Crue range of heaviness are pure rock attitude.
There's a little Faster Pussycat, Guns N Roses and the aforementioned Motley Crue. This album is also light years ahead of their debut. Much better production (extremely good for an indie release) and better playing, singing and most importantly, better melodic songs.
They are heavy and contain the required amount of sleaze and attitude, but also plenty of hooks and melodies.
Shit, if this was released in 1988 or 1990, this would have been a top 120 smash. Check out the Bang Tango/Poison influenced melodic rocker I Want. A huge radio hit if there was ever one.
Sorry for not reviewing this sooner, but sleaze fans, this is ESSENTIAL!

REVIEWS
IN BRIEF - PAGE 6!