|BLUE STONE MUSIC BSM 1018|
House Of Shakira provided one of the best and most promising debut album's in many years with their album 'Lint'.|
It's been a couple of years down the road and finally we have the new album 'On The Verge'.
The guys have formed their own distinct sound and with heavy influences from Journey, Styx and a little Night Ranger created a great first album.
Now the guys have had a chance to develop a little and grow and 'On The Verge' is the result. Well I am happy to report it is good news all round. This is a great album.
The guys have certainly developed and there is less of the obvious Journey influence on this record.
In fact the guys are probably closer to a Tommy Shaw lead Styx than anyone else.
The songs on 'On The Verge' take a few listens to get to know and to hear all the hooks and layers of instruments. Much more so than the fairly instantly likeable Lint.
This is because the guys have more obviously matured into their own sound and style to the point where now the influences play the back seat role.|
The playing is tighter, heavier and groovier, the song writing is even better and there is no point on this album where the album fails to keep the listener totally involved.
But fans of the first album need not panic! There is still a strong mix of the best of Night Ranger, Styx and Journey to enjoy, just less obvious than before.
The opening track The Song Remains is tough and heavy but still features those unmistakable backing vocals and again features a less than conventional intro. Nice to hear an Australian Diggeridoo in there.
Best Of Times reminds me of Styx. This is an acoustic driven mid tempo rocker with a big big House Of Shakira chorus. Grows more with every listen.
Time Bomb is a funky sort of number. Heavy bass and guitars and a rapping vocal. another big chorus. Good but not a favorite.
Ghost In Town on the other hand is. This is a tough rocker with moody vocals and a chorus that isn't as big as some others, but is none the less effective.
Yesterday's Gone is different! Starting as a solo acoustic track complete with camping sound effects and that 'outdoorsy' feel, it builds into a ful band mid tempo ballad. Some good vocals.
Four Reasons is another half funky tune with the big guitars returning. An AOR chorus that comes from nowhere and stays lodged in your brain for days.
Mbaloumouna is great! A minute and a bit trop fest that momentarily transports the listener to an Hawaiian island. Should have been longer, but I guess it doesn't really fit in here!
The Chance starts slowish and builds to an anthem chorus and plenty of big soaring vocals. One of the best tracks. Lots of acoustic guitars.
Free Your Mind is a harder edge track with a tougher vocal and a heavy chorus.
After The Fall is a big acoustic ballad that ends with an orchestra arrangement. Good ballad.
Warp heads back into that murkier heavier side of the band. A modern track that switches from electric to acoustic. The chorus switches again to a mix of both. Big melodic moodiness!
Enemy is again heavy and more modern and takes a few listens to like as much as the rest of the album. But you will.
And as an added bonus there is alive version of the Journey classic Separate Ways. Not much I can say about this. Classic!
A great listen and along with Change Of Heart and Goo Goo Dolls, it has been a very good month for me.
This should pick up a legion of new fans and will hopefully strengthen their reputation as one of the 90's best melodic rock bands.
|PRODUCTION: 95%||SONGS: 91%||VIBE: 92%||ATTITUDE: 93%|
|USG RECORDS 1026-2|
This is not good! USG will hate me for this, but you have to wonder what audience the label is hoping to appeal to here.
Mudslick are from Switzerland and make making a shot towards modern a 90's audience.
This is an album of heavy 90's alternative rock with the odd rap tinged section and some techno or keyboard generated effects thrown in - not unsimilar to something like Cypress Hill.
Except they are white boys and write bad songs.
The inclusion of Rap star Culio's Gangsta's Paradise is laughable and is the only track I listened to more than once. But for the wrong reason.
It has to be heard to be believed!
So don't buy this because of the label what ever you do!
This is to be avoided like the plague.
|PRODUCTION: 20%||SONGS: 5%||VIBE: 5%||ATTITUDE: 20%|
|FRONTIERS RECORDS FR CD 006|
This Touch re-issue - the first time it has appeared in one condense form and the first time on CD - is the second of a trilogy of Mark Mangold related releases.|
The first was the excellent Drive She Said release and the next and final release will be the Mystic Healer release.
Touch was the first band for Mark and also Craig Brooks and Doug Howard.
They made two albums that are both featured here. Also add are several bonus tracks listed above.
The tracks from Disc 2 are probably the better of the set.
There is not a lot you can add to an album that has already made it to cult status in many countries, but this package is very well put together and sounds great after the re-mastering.
The Bonus Tracks include a live version of an old classic and some original takes on a couple of tracks that have found their way onto other Mark Mangold projects.
Also included is the original version of the Cher / Laura Branigan classic 'I Found Someone'. Good version!
It's nice to be able to collect all the tracks on one package and especially at the price of a single disc release.
AOR collectors should already be well on their way to owning this and if you haven't - what's holding you up?
|PRODUCTION: 76%||SONGS: 83%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|BLUESTONE MUSIC BSM 1017|
I quite liked this. It is not a classic, nor will I play it a bunch, but it does have an interesting collection of mellower and more melancholy songs than we would usually get from Sandberg's regular job in Midnight Sun.|
There are a few hits and misses, but generally the more atmospheric ballads hit the mark. The popier tracks in between keep the album rolling along at a good pace and vary the delivery a little.
A few listens are needed to let the songs grow.
There are varying styles played out on Back In Business. The opening two tracks play like 80's pop songs, keyboards and pleasant vocals bringing comparisons to something like Go West or Roxette.
Stay A While is a big pop ballad, as is Closer To Heaven and the last track Need Your Lovin', which is just a little too nice.
There are a couple of high tech pop rockers, which draw comparisons to artists like Mr Mister and Rick Springfield in the 80's, but not quite in the same class as.
As much as this album is geared towards the American 80's FM AOR, there is no escaping the European feel of the songs and of Pete's voice.
There are some definite winners here though - including the opener, the atmospheric tracks Pretty Angel and Babe, the fun rock of Unchain Your Heart and the high tech of A December Monday and Cold Hearted Woman.|
If you are looking for something a little more laid back with some atmospheric ballads and pleasant European/American pop rock, check this out.
|PRODUCTION: 79%||SONGS: 76%||VIBE: 77%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|STEAMHAMMER SPV 085-18142 CD|
I knew from a fair while back that this album was going to be something special. Axel was originally looking for James Christian to sing on this material.|
When he was not available, it was suggested that ex-Hardline singer Johnny Gioeli be looked into.
Indeed he was and on listening to this record, I think after all is said and done, his voice fits the material fantastically.
Johnny is a voice long missed and it is great to hear him back. His voice hasn't lost a thing. Maybe it's even better than ever! On Oceans Of Time he sings lower than ever before and has definitely been influenced by Axel's songs. His voice bares an uncanny resemblance to that of ex-MSG vocalist Robin McAuley.
And with no offence at all to Axel's impressive back catalogue, it seems that on all levels the quality of this album has lifted 100% to create a really powerful rock album.
Axel hasn't abandoned any of his famous traits of epic European melodic hard rock, or his love of medieval themes and epic recordings. It's all here and more.
But with Oceans Of Time we have songs that are more complex and mature. We have songs of great length that travel the gauntlet of emotions and speed. And most importantly we have really strong and well structured songs.
Previous albums have tended to be played out a hundred miles an hour, while this album is more evenly paced, with moments of momentous rocking and furious solo's mixed with some mid and slow paced balladry and epic storytelling.|
The songs have all been written by Axel and are amongst the best I have heard him write. And adding to this potent mix is a truly world class singer that really lifts the feel of the album.
Axel has had a long partnership with Jeff Scott Soto and again, with no disrespect for him, I really hope that this new partnership will last and develop.
Slaves is an instrumental intro that's sets the scene....mood music.
Pay the Price kicks in at a hundred miles per hour and is up front fairly similar to the style we are all used to from Axel.
Carousel is the next track and the first I think to feature the new sound.
At 8 minutes in length this song has it all. A crunching guitar intro, a vocal from heel from Johnny and a big hard rock chorus. And don't forget the guitar solo's!
A killer hard rock tune that would work on European or American airwaves.
Ashes From The Oath is the first big epic track. A simple piano backing the lead vocal with some atmospheric backing leads the track through it's first couple of minutes.
After some slow guitar soloing the song erupts and runs through the not too over the top chorus. The track appears to be a big epic ballad until the last couple of minutes when Axel just looses all control and it's guitars everywhere. Fast drums, big fat bass and solo's everywhere. Love it!!
Ride The Rainbow is a more standard 5 minute hard rocker. Fairly European in style and classy. More great vocals.
The Gates... is another epic. At 10 minutes, it starts as a mid paced hard rocker with a cool chorus and some nice moody melodies. It doesn't follow the usual path of starting slow and going off, but has a instrumental mid section that is ambient, moody and superb. Then it's back into the vocals.
The title track is a big epic ballad that doesn't warm up for a couple of minutes. Heavy still, but a really good ballad.
Prelude is a solo instrumental number that fits between songs rather well.
Living On The Wildside is more traditional European hard rock but also mixes a little Hardline and maybe some more Robin McAuley.
Holy Creatures is a hard edged rock song that starts mid paced and ends at a furious pace. More guitar than you can poke a stick at! Solo's everywhere.
And that's it. A sometimes exhausting rise, but at no point a boring one.
This is going to be the best European hard rock record of the year and maybe of the next couple of years.
If you like your music a little more challenging and don't mind those European influences and some heavy guitar, I could not recommend better. This album rocks!
Hardline fans won't get a repeat of Double Eclipse, but they will get a bloody solid hard rock album that should please American stadium rock fans also.
|PRODUCTION: 90%||SONGS: 93%||VIBE: 95%||ATTITUDE: 95%|
|INDIE RELEASE WLCD1998|
Winterland are from Germany and play a heavy blend of melodic rock with just a little more intenseness than your average act!|
Almost a little progressive without being too self indulgent, these guys have an album of songs that rock to some heavy guitars and riff's and the odd sudden time change to vary the pace.
Now I was warned that their vocalist gets comparisons to that of Gary Hughes of Ten. I have to concur with that, although his voice is probably deeper still.
If you like Ten and progressive, then Winterland may be worth looking into further.
Having said that, if that deep brooding style of vocal does not appeal, then this album may be harder to appreciate.
Plenty of melodies and guitar solo's back by a solid rhythm section, Winterland obviously have talent.
The band come out rocking hard on the first two tracks, then on three and four gather a little composure and add some more melodies and character.
Highlights include the opener The Damnation Game, those third and fourth tracks - Walk On The Sun and Shadows.
|PRODUCTION: 77%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 83%|
|BLUE STONE MUSIC GERMANY|
No Track Listing
Million's album came out about 2 months back and it is about time I reviewed it!|
Released by blueSTONE Music in Germany, these guys offer more great European style melodic hard rock. Good solid guitars and vocals and pretty consistent songs highlight this debut album.
Once again more Euro flavored than Americanised, Million still let a little of the US hard rock scene influence them.
This is as heavy as! Crunching hard riffs are only slightly less intimidating thanks to some fine melodic vocals. Big backing and chorus vocals also help.
Best tracks include the fast as opener Wrong Side, the crunch of Candyman and the anthemic Step On The Breaks.
With not a single slower or ballady track to be found, there are twelve hard rocking songs that stick to the 3 to 4 minute range and never out stay their welcome.
A great addition to their career and a band that given the chance may be able to add to their following.
|If you like stuff like Million label mates Stream, and other strongly German flavoured hard rock, check these guys out and their other 2 records.||PRODUCTION: 81%||SONGS: 79%||VIBE: 76%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|NUCLEAR BLAST 324-2|
Sinner's new effort Nature Of Evil is possibly the strongest and most consistent album that the band have made.|
But this is definitely not for the faint of heart and may only appeal to the band's already established audience.
Having said that, if you like good solid European styled metal, or dabble in a little Judas Priest of Motorhead, you will find in Sinner better material and style than those two acts have produced on their won in recent times.
The band have progressed a long way since their early days of being a mellower hard rock act that followed rather than lead. But with much of the competition dropping off, the boys have established themselves as being the real powerhouse hard rock act of Europe.
Best tracks include the pounding opener Devil's River,
Solid guitars, rhythm and good solid vocals make this an album metal fans should investigate.
|PRODUCTION: 82%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 79%||ATTITUDE: 81%|
|AOR HEAVEN ROCK CLASSICS|
I thought these guys may have been more AOR, but as it turns out they are heavier than I expected.|
And very good too! This is a really solid collection of tunes. Given your tastes, this album could impress very much.
Now those tastes must include European rock, Dream Theatre, progressive concept records and big, big songs!
Desert Of Lost Souls is a short intro that leads into Walking On Top Of The World which opens with an absolute ear shredding mix of guitars and some of the heaviest keyboards I have ever heard! Lance King is the singer.
He has a voice that suits the music but is not as scream prone as some others I have heard with heavy prog. But believe me he can scream.
He sounds like a mix of Ian Gillan and James La Brie. The narration that appears between songs sounds like a solemn David Coverdale!
So after the first track intro there are eight songs of fairy long length here, that I am not even going to try and dissect.
Also because it just isn't needed.
Prog fans will love this record. It has all the essential ingredients:|
Huge keyboards, crunching guitars, fast riffs and big epic instrumentals, strong vocals and that familiar medieval theme.
Add to that a monstrous DDD recording and this record is a winner.
Prog haters stand clear - but I am sure that is plain to see by now. But fans should embrace this now.
|PRODUCTION: 81%||SONGS: 78%||VIBE: 79%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|AOR HEAVEN ROCK CLASSICS|
Talk Of The Town were a Swedish act that I think are now but have left a collection of tunes that were finished and ready to go.|
This album is available exclusively from AOR Heaven, who are responsible for getting this release out.
Like these compilations that put together unreleased and unfinished tracks there are few hits and misses.
But the good news with these guys is that the material all round is very good.
The Swedish have a style of AOR that they have made their own and TOTT are no different. It also helps to have Thomas Vikstrom helping out on vocals on some of the tracks.
One of those is the opener which has some of the biggest backing vocals and harmonies that I have heard for a while.
Definitely European and Swedish in style, this is the stuff that pure AOR fans will love.
Late For Love sees the second of three vocalists used. Totten is the guy.
Who I am not sure, but good lungs anyway. Good, but the chorus lets them down a little.|
Take Me High sees singer number 3. A heavy synth bass/keyboards mix similar to that used on some of the Sahara Snow tracks. The singer is Conny Lind. Once again, good singer and bigger chorus.
Thomas is back on track four, as his is also used on tracks 6, 8, 9 and 10.
The whole song is immediately lifted with Thomas' vocals. Great stuff.
Huge screamer of a chorus!
Broken Promises is a little more bluesy. Totten sings this one.
Waiting is one other track I really wanted to mention. This is a smooth keyboard driven ballad with Thomas lending a nice and restrained vocal effort. Big backgrounds on the chorus.
Not legendary but pretty good.
Check this out if you like the following: Big Swedish AOR, European AOR, keyboards and Thomas Vikstrom!
|PRODUCTION: 70%||SONGS: 78%||VIBE: 75%||ATTITUDE: 77%|
|USG GERMANY 1023-2|
Paul Sabu is back with the second album in this his current vechile for his talents.|
Sabu is more a European style hard rock band, rather than the AOR past that Sabu was idolized for.
But he has never forgot his roots and Sabu offers plenty of melodies and hooks, just heavier guitars and drums! Between The Light offers more of what the debut 'Sabu' album did 18 months back. Big Euro hard rock with crunching guitars and big vocals.
Spitfire is loud, heavy and guitar ruled. Sabu is in good voice and screaming away.
Let A Sleeping Dog Lie and Mind Over Matter continue the rocking, but maybe a little more restrained.
Bring Us Love has a kind of cool accapela intro into a guitar/keyboard driven tune that is quite original. A mid paced rock ballad.
If I'd Never Asked You To Dance is a true Sabu ballad. Big vocals and a nice chorus, but still not strictly the old AOR style.
'Til Your Heart's Calm is not a ballad, but rather a uptempo, vocally multi-layered, rocker.
More of the same to finish the record off. If you liked the last Sabu, check this out. As for older fans of the man, this will offer several tracks, but a few fillers also.|
Lots of European hard rock meets Def Leppard and older Paul Sabu. Not bad.
Still sounds like Sammy Hagar. Somebody get him to call Eddie. No, maybe he is a big hairy for Van Halen!
|PRODUCTION: 79%||SONGS: 78%||VIBE: 74%||ATTITUDE: 75%|
|FRONTIERS FR CD 002|
I was never really into Drive She Said. They were one of those UK bands on the Music For Nations label that never got released locally in Australia and could only be found on import. And the only press they got was the occasional one page feature in Kerrang (back when it had a point).|
So I was neither here nor there before the arrival of this disc. And after listening to it I have been forced to re-evaluate my opinion of the band that features Mark Mangold and Al Fritsch.
Maybe I have mellowed over the years, or maybe it is the lack of collections of pure AOR tunes like this, or maybe I just didn't hear the guys best material.
And possibly all of the above!
Either way, this collection is a lot stronger than I expected and includes the best songs from the few albums that Drive She Said made.
Include five unreleased tracks which are as strong as the known material and you have a pretty solid disc.
For those who aren't familiar with the band, the vocal and musical style is a blend of Michael Bolton at his AOR best, Stan Bush and even a little Foreigner.
The feel is definitely 80's power rock and the instruments mix keyboards with guitar leads liberally.
Mix those with the British AOR feel and DSS it is!
Some of the unes may have dated a little, but like I saud, it really is a strong collection of tunes of the era. The collection also does not out stay it's welcome, as any more tracks may have been a little too much. As it is, it is just right.|
If those kind of comparisons get your curiosity up, then take a look at these guys and above all else - take a look at this Best Of release as your introduction to the band and their future releases.
|PRODUCTION: 74%||SONGS: 82%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|AOR HEAVEN / POINT MUSIC|
LA Cowboys until now has been a Japanese only release and one that was for some time unavailable there also.|
This is a classic Westcoast AOR record that has joined cult status amongst Westcoast die hards. For good reason too, as it is a very good and extremely smooth record. But for those that aren't fans of Westcoast and Middle Of The Road pop rock, there may not be much here to attract you.
Those that are and haven't heard of this record, keep reading!
The LA Cowboys are ex- Little River Band bass player Wayne Nelson, who sings on this release and James Studer, who I am not as familiar with, on keyboards and vocals also.
The guests on this Totoish, Chicagoish keyboard driven pop record include Mick Fleetwood, George Hawkins, Richard Bryant and the one and only Joseph Williams on vocals on the track Something In My Heart.|
Now the first few tracks are just TOO soft, but Endless Summer is rather good.
On Say You Love me there is a hint of a more AOR sound and on Holding back The Tears with vocals from Richard Bryant, we get a fully blown big Totoish AOR ballad. Almost worth the price of this alone!
Back to the smooth niceties on Know Me By Heart and then it's another Totoish track on Eye Of the Storm. Very good Westcoast.
The other great track is the last one featuring Joseph Williams. It is a big piano ballad with plenty of AOR and a little saxophone for good measure.
A nice and very smooth record for those who think King Of Hearts are the greatest and who think Corey Hart is a little too heavy!
Go to AOR Heaven.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 74%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 76%|
|AOR HEAVEN / POINT MUSIC|
Takara is one of Jeff Scott Soto's creative outlet, along with the half a dozen other projects that he is involved in. When an artist spreads themselves so thin I have to believe that the material has to suffer a little. After all, no-one writes that many classic tracks in a certain time frame.|
So while this release could possibly be Jeff Scott Soto by numbers, or merely continuing to do what he knows, it is actually still pretty good.
A guy with Jeff's talent and sensational voice is capable of much better, but even when it is just average it still beats out 80% of the competition.
Blind In Paradise thankfully sees Takara rocking out a bit more. The album is quite guitar heavy and sees plenty of solo's.
Jeff sounds great and sings the material here well. There are some keyboard parts to add melody and plenty of backing vocals and harmonies.
Long time fans may think the material isn't as strong as previous work, but by the time you reach the end of the album, there is no doubt in my mind you will be happy with what you got.|
Most of the album rocks hard with only Love Is Gone, Don't Wanna Be Alone and Say U'll Stay heading into softer territory. Good ballads too.
Highlights of the rockers include No Love's Enough, What Do U Want From Me, Your Love 2Night and Time Waits 4 No One.
A good solid hard rock record that doesn't reach the height's of their previous efforts, but if I had a choice of this or no new JSS record, I would take this anyday.
Fans go directly to AOR Heaven to find your copy.
|PRODUCTION: 70%||SONGS: 75%||VIBE: 76%||ATTITUDE: 74%|
|DREAM CIRCLE DCD 9839|
Warrior was the band to feature one time Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys vocalist Parramore McCarty. Now they're back and Perry is live and kicking for the first time in a while.|
So the guys are back and rocking as hard as ever.
This album sounds as good as it should, but it should be said that this is for heavy fans only! No AOR lovers here please.
Perry's vocals are also a little give and take. They are big and loud, and I think they are okay, but the screaming grates on me a little.
But the songs here are not really strong enough. The band have Bruce Dickenson's buddy Roy Z co-writing on 6 tracks but that doesn't seems to have made much difference.|
Fans of the band's first couple or records will find not much has changed here, except maybe the production is more updated.
Highlights include the opener, Pray (the guitars not the lyrics!) and Tonight We Ride.
The rest is okay but for die hards only.
If listening to this album, please turn off to the lyrics, as they are amongst the worst and corniest I have heard for many moons.
The guys should have stuck to singing about girls and cars rather than take on the world's problems and social ills. Not great!
An average heavy metal record with some good points but also some bad. Die hards only.
|PRODUCTION: 75%||SONGS: 45%||VIBE: 48%||ATTITUDE: 60%|
|FRONTIERS / USG|
Stream is Bob Daisley on Bass, David on vocals, Peter Scheithauer on guitar and Eric Singer of Kiss on drums.|
Anyone looking for singer David Glen Eisley to return to his AOR glory days of bands like Giuffria and Dirty White Boy, are not going to find anything like this here.
This album is HEAVY as!
Fortunately it has a ton more class and style than the last David Glen Eisley band Murderer's Row, and a great deal more melody.
David has brought with him some of the heavy elements of Murderer's Row, and like Bruce Kulic took part of Kiss' last record Carnival Of Souls with him to Union, Eric Singer has brought his part of that record to Stream.
The album was described as mix of elements of WASP, Motley Crue and the more technical Kiss, I really felt that I had to approach with caution.
I normally appreciate but never fully get into the heavier side of metal, but something's got me here.
All I can say is listen to with an open mind! If you liked Carnival Of Souls and Union, I think this is better than both.|
Chasin' The Dragon is as heavy as I have heard David Glen Eisley sing, and a stomping heavy riff.
Snake Eyed Moon is another very heavy track that is of a totally 90's mind.
Rock Bottom is a slow paced big bass driven track that sounds very Kiss.
Camouflage is Soundgarden all over and contains some really tough talking lyrics!
Fade To Black is almost like Metallica, but with no link there in the song titles. A little lighter in the verse, but real heavy on the chorus.
Bed Of Fire is sure fire rip your heart out rocker and has David singing his absolute head off.
Blood For Gold is another mid paced sonic blast, that may have your ears bleeding by the end of it.
Far From The Maddening Crowd doesn't let up, just intensifies things. The speed must be nearing fatal!
The Other Side is a rocking instrumental and to end up the record Still Believe proves there is still life in the old melodic dog that is DGE. This tune is an acoustic ballad, that really sounds like another band, but is a welcome ending after the sonic blast that was the last 40 minutes. The song has a cool harder edge finish.
So for the fans of the heavier and more alternative side of hard rock - this record has your name on it!
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 82%||VIBE: 85%||ATTITUDE: 88%|
|AOR HEAVEN/POINT MUSIC 10066|
Hush are a new band out of Norway and have the honour of having TNT main guy Ronie Le Tekro oversea the production of their debut album.|
The guys have obviously been studying the American AOR handbook, and have presented an album of great US style melodic rock, with rockers like the opener, mid paced tunes like Babe, and big ballads like Let It Rain.
Their specialty is the mid paced AOR of bands like Bad English, with a heavy emphasis on the keyboards and multi-layered harmonies.
It really is a great effort, and should see them highly acclaimed given time.
While they are surely American influenced, there is still a tinge of a European feel, which there should be!
Special mention should be given te the BIG ballads Let It Rain and This Side Of Love, which AOR ballad fans will love.|
Rockers will love the anthem's Heaven Ain't, Talk To Me and Believe.
Lead vocalist Patrick Simonsen has a great voice that lends it self to the songs brilliantly. Seek this out and have a listen, and also watch for these guys to make a name for themselves. The strength of these songs should see them around for a while.
|PRODUCTION: 84%||SONGS: 87%||VIBE: 84%||ATTITUDE: 83%|
|BLUESTONE MUSIC BMS 1015|
Speed are a new band out of Norway, and look to have a good future in front of them. This album is full of well produced solid hard rock, with very much in a European feel.|
They have a great guitar sound, and the album's first two tracks I Will Not Believe It and Skeletons In The Closet both have enough originality and big hard rock punch to warrant further listening.
While I have heard the style of the music before, the structures and class of the songs will make Speed a worthwhile investment.
Like the track Die For Love, just when you have the song figured out, the chorus blasts in and changes your perception.
So Many Tears is the kind of acoustic number that is just right to break the album up a little, and along with Memories are perfect ballads.
There is a strong mix of modern hard rock with old style melodies, and a degree of the bands' own originality that combine to make this album a very strong debut.|
Fans of European melodic hard rock should trip over to the bands' website for a few soundbytes, and investigate further.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 75%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 81%|
|SONY MUSIC GERMANY|
These sorts of albums are always great to see being released, especially when you are a fan of the band, but for outsiders, there is probably little appeal.|
Anyone who is only a casual follower of Toto may find more here than other band's similar releases, as there are some classic slices of pop rock AOR on offer.
Die hard Toto fans will of course be going sick over the band releasing a selection of tracks from it's archives.
Great too see the return of Joseph Williams to the mike stand, even if it is through archive performances. But, if the band get along well on the brief promo tour to support this release, you may just see the man himself involved in the next studio album, late this year.
Taken over Toto's 20 year recording period, the song quality and sound varies a little over the course of the record, but it's all pretty good fun.
Highlights include the original version of 'Going Home' with a Steve Lukather guitar lick that I wish was up more in the mix, and the live version of Africa that simply smokes.|
I would love to see a whole record of that live gig. Awesome use of the South African musicians.
There are a few older numbers like 'Tale Of A Man' that are strictly for the die hards, as they reach way back into the years.
So Toto fans embrace with love, and for the rest, approach with caution. Personally I will play half of the album a lot, and the other half not so much!
|PRODUCTION: 75%||SONGS: 82%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 81%|
|DREAM CIRCLE DCD 9838|
I have to admit to being very disappointed by Rob's last solo record, about 18 months back.
Being a huge Riverdogs fan, I was expecting something a little softer, but got the mellowest album ever recorded!|
The lyrics were brilliant as you would expect, but it really was a little to introspective.
So with the arrival of the new solo record, I was hoping Rob would set things straight and rock out a little.
Well, he hasn't quite done that, but this is definitly a better record than the previous. True enough, it is still lyrically very deep and brilliant, and mellow once more, but just not quite as soft.
Instead there are hints of that Riverdogs sound, and noticeably more guitars that pick up the pace some more.
After a few listens, it starts to sound quite good indeed.
Clean opens with a liad back guitar, and builds into some nice soloing towards the end.|
Misery has a great stripped back guitar sound, a real earthy feel. Very laid back, and a cool chorus.
Between continues the guitar lead feel, but remains fairly quiet. It even sounds a little 90's, which I haven't previously detected in Lamothe.
When You Go Down is a very quiet, acoustic driven ballad.
Saracen Blade features sparse instrumentation, and mainly Rob's voice. It is a very personal and intense track. I like it a lot.
Blue Ray livens things up a little with an electric lead, and a few more riff's.
Ship Song is another track lead by Rob's vocals and an acoustic guitar. There are also some acordians thrown in for texture. Quiet, and again, introspective.
Circus Song is much the same. More electric guitar influenced.
Mantr is the rockiest track, featuring some distortion and nice effects. Great vocals. The closest thing on the record to the Riverdogs.
Twelve Moons closes out the album, with a moody vocal lead ballad. A haunting vocal that maybe only Rob Lamothe would be capable of.
A solid album of lyrically challenging and personal songs. Good, but not a classic.
|PRODUCTION: 78%||SONGS: 75%||VIBE: 60%||ATTITUDE: 62%|
|MICHAEL THOMPSON / THE WORLD ACCORDING TO|
|VIA INTERSCOPE GERMANY||1. Intro 2. Sajabelle 3. A Change Is Gonna Come 4. Chocolate-White 5. Diamonds 6. Goodnight Moon 7. Miracles 8. Dark 9. Zoobie-Dee 10. Midwestern Sky 11. Hey M.T. 12. The Real Book||
|Total Score 85%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 90%|
What can I possibly say about studio legend and all round wizard Michael Thompson. He has played on more Westcoast / AOR / Hard Rock / Pop / Rock albums than I can possibly list here. In fact, if I listed all the sessions the great man has played in, I would have to go through two thirds of my CD collection. |
Over the years, Michael has only made two albums under his own name. Michael Thompson Band was the last in 1988, with Moon Calhon as vocalist. It was a really smooth slice of guitar driven Westcoast/ AOR. It featured some awesome slow solo's and a few classic riff's and all.
It's now 1997, and Michael has found time in his busy schedule to put his name onto another masterpiece. And for fans of instrumental (mainly), Westcoast rythms and soft electric melodies, fine instrumentation - this is one of those masterpieces.
There will be many of you, for who this will be definately too soft. But Westcoast fans will be falling over themselves to get this.
I say mainly instrumental, because there are a few guest vocals. 'A Change Is Gonna Come', is a cover of the Sam Cooke number, and features a great Bobby Womack vocal. His voice just flows over the soft R&b number.
'Miracles' is the next vocal, by Jennelle Sadler. The track was also written by MT with Jeff Paris.
'Midwestern Sky' you should all know, for it appeared on the last Mark Spiro album. Here again, is a re-working of it, with Sprio on vocals, and finds the track even more stripped back and acoustic. Nice vocal, great guitar!
In between these vocal gems, are the awsome talents of MT the guitarist/songwriter. If you are a fan of Westcoast or instrumentals, then please investigate this.
|INTERCORD/IRS GERMANY||1. If I Had A Wish 2. Standing Here Beside Me 3. You Found The One 4. Mah Jongg 5. San Felipe 6. Fade To Black 7. Somewhere In Between Us 8. Stolen Years 9. Carry On||
|Total Score 65%||Production 70%||Songs 70%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 65%|
I guess it is just the way things go sometimes, but I semed to be overwhelmed with AOR and Westcoast releases. I guess it must be their time of the year!|
After Mark Spiro's effort, I think it is going to be hard going for the rest of the field.
This is Westcoast star Jason Scheff's new record.
This is more the pure Westcoast sound. Great vocals, nice soft keyboard driven harmonies, and an overall feeling good record.
Opener 'If I Had Wish' reminds me a little of the vocals of Peter Cetera, and the style of Chicago at their AOR peak. Nice rising chorus, settling back into a soft verse.
I have the feeling though, this may be one of the more uptempo numbers here.
'Standing Here Beside Me' is indeed a nice smooth number, but mellow indeed. The chorus once again lifts a little, with some great vocals and nice harmonies.
'You Found The One' is a pure Westcoast ballad. Soft background melodies and a strong lead vocal.
From here on in, it remains similar and vein. Soft instrumentation lead by the strong and distinctive vocals of Scheff, who sounds like a cross between Joseph Williams and Peter Cetera.
Not entirely my taste, bit soft and nice for me, but take note fans of the Westcoast scene. If you haven't already got this album, then I recommend you investigate immediately - you should find a good addition to your collection.
|WHITESNAKE/STARKERS IN TOKYO|
|EMI EUROPE||1. Sailing Ships 2. Too Many Tears 3. The Deeper The Love 4. Love Ain't No Stranger 5. Can't Go On 6. Give Me All Your Love 7. Don't Fade away 8. Is This Love 9. Here I Go Again 10. Soldier Of Fortune||
Most Recent Discography
|Total Score 78%||Production 75%||Songs 85%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 75%|
Before casting judgement on this album, to judge it, you must be in the mood for it!|
Initially, I wasn't - and subsequently, I found it a little boring.
But after a few listens, and one in particular, when I needed something a little more laid back, I found new appreciation for what really is a showcase for some very fine tunes.
Whitesnake in this instance is mearly David Coverdale and Adrian Vandenburg, playing to a polite auditorium of Japanese fans. One vocalist, one acoustic guitarist, and 10 of Whitesnake's finest tunes.
So if you haven't got the innuendo by now, let me spell it out. You don't get much more laid back or softer than this. It is quiet, restrained and subdued. A couple of the tracks are slowed down, but all of them are stripped right back. The only guiding force is the vocals of DC. There is no shouting or screaming of lines, just straight singing.
It is a fairly emotion charged set of songs, with hits from 1987, Slip Of The Tongue, Slide It In and a few new tracks off Restless Heart.
If you are buying this, be warned - it is stripped and raw. But if you are a fan of Whitesnake like I am, then this record offers new insights into how the tunes were originally composed.
Great for fans, but I doubt it would create any new ones.
|MOGG/WAY / EDGE OF THE WORLD|
|ROADRUNNER RR8804-2||1. Change Brings A Change 2. All Out Of Love 3. Gravy Train 4. Fortune Town 5. Highwire 6. Saving Me From Myself 7. Mother Mary 8. House Of Pain 9. It's A Game 10. History Of Flames 11. Spell On You 12. Totaled||
|Total Score 65%||Production 70%||Songs 60%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 80%|
I really like Phil Mogg's vocals. The last UFO album in particular was a fine slice of well crafted rock. It had a unique style, which I guess can be attributed to the example set by Michael Schenker. I have never heard him play as brilliantly than on that record. It is a shame he couldn't restrain his ego to stay a little longer. (Yeah, I know he's back again!)|
The fact is, combine the two elements (Mogg/Way) and Schenker, and it brings the best from both of them.
So, without the use of the UFO name (Schenker wouldn't allow it), the guys have instated guitar wiz George Bellas, and legendary drummer Ansley Dunbar to record Edge Of The World.
And the whole point I am trying to make here, is that without Schenker, this album really lacks the style and finess Walk On Water had. I can't help but wish for another record like that.
But all this talk sounds like I amnot into this album. Not so - It is just different!
Opener 'Change Brings A Change', is as good as anything on the last album, and the guitar sound is great. A real restrained rocker.
But the first track is the definate high light od the record.
From there on in, it remains much of a muchness.
Track three worries me a little bit. Kind of what you used to expect from Schenker, lots of widdle diddling on the guitar and break neck speed drum rhythms. 'Fortune Town' is a good mid paced hard rock tune, as is 'Highwire'.
The rest of the tracks are all good, but none stand out as brilliant. The album is solid, well played and well produced, but without any of the flare of the previous record.
I wouldn't say steer clear, but I would say don't expect it to be as good as 'Walk On Water'. And it would also be fair to say that I have been pretty hard on the album, but I did expect more.
|USG RECORDS GERMANY||1. Walk Away From Love 2. If You Say It's Over 3. Standing In The rain 4. Brand New Start 5. Among Friends 6. Could You Be The Only One 7. Where Does Love Go 8. In The Eyes Of A Woman 9. If You say It's Over 10. Borrowed Time||
|Total Score 80%||Production 80%||Songs 80%||Vibe 85%||Attitude 85%|
Street Talk are natives of Sweden, and the good folk at USG records Germany, have had the good though to sign these fellers to a contract. And so they should, because Street Talk have made a fine record here.|
While the guys have come up with ten pure in style original AOR tracks, they have left their AOR influences shine through, with plenty of Journeyesque riffs and solos.
Infact, the guitar playing of Fredrik Bergh is a highlight through out. If it isn't some great riffs, it is some fine Neal Schon soloing.
The vocals are somewhat shared, with Kristian Andren on three, Goran Edman on four and daniel Jonsson on one track. Throw in a couple of instrumentals, and it equals a smooth ride for AOR fans.
The changing of vocalists does not effect the flow of the album, as they sound remarkabley similar.
The songs are of the classic AOR vein. Big harmonies and choruses, with a mix of guitar and keyboards. The flavour is distinctly European, with the Swedish melodic rock flare highlighted throughout. The production, while not of big budget standards, is considerably better than many of the independant or minor label releases we see.
For an album of 10 smooth AOR ballads, both up tempo and slower, in the European flavour, I recommend you investigate Street Talk.
|MERCURY NORWAY 532 796-2||1. Run When It's Over 2. It's Only Love 3. Dig 4. Good Times 5. Talkin' To Me 6. Cold Air Breezin' 7. A Little R&R 8. Like It 9. Ain't Seen You 10. Queens 11. Do You Love Me||
|Total Score 92%||Production 90%||Songs 95%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 90%|
Stage Dolls hail from Norway, but their sound is far from it. Infact over their few albums, they have managed to create a few of the most memorable AOR tunes out there, all with that huge American AOR sound that elludes many European bands.|
Just recall 'Still In Love' and 'Wings Of Steel' from the debut album, and the legendary 'Life In America' and 'Love Don't Bother Me' from the Stripped album.
Well, several years and a solo record later, the Dolls are back. And bloody hell, if they aren't better than ever! Yes, this is the album of their career. It is stronger, more consistant, musically superior and generally brilliant than anything they have recorded before. Now that is saying a lot, because they do have a strong catalogue of tunes.
And for the avid AOR fan - there are more hooks, melodies, choruses and moody songs than ever before.
Opening with 'Run When It's Over', the band indicate where they have landed in 1997. Strong melodic guitar, but laid back with that big AOR feel. The tune has a great sing along multi layered chorus, and rolls along in a restrained sort of way.
Like the 'Stripped' album, 'Dig' goes from rocker to ballad and back again. The ballad here is 'It's Only Love', and is an absolute killer. Huge chorus, huge sentiment, great emotional vocal. Bryan Adams only wished he could write a track like this - and if he did, it would be a #1. That just goes to show what a little marketing will do. How about investing a little more in these guys, Mercury?
back to another rocker, the title track rolls a long at a nice pace. Another great chorus. 'Good Times' is another killer ballad, some nice organ featuring with an acoustic guitar. In fact it is a little Pink Floydish. And God damn - if it isn't another killer chorus.
'Talking To Me' is more uptempo again, a mid paced acoustic rock track. 'Cold Air Breezin' is another huge ballad ending with one of those unresistable sing a long nah nah type things! The album ends on the rockier side of things with 'A Little R&R' along with 'Do You Love Me' are about the heaviest I have heard Stage Dolls get. Along with Queens, they are all great uptempo rockers.
I can only praise an album so much, so I had better end it here. Just to close, I would rate this as one of the best pure AOR albums of the year. Where Hugo was a great example of AOR with all the Journey like keyboards ect., Stage Dolls is an example how the craft of great AOR is done using guitars as the focus.
Find it, buy it!!
|USG RECORDS GERMANY USG 1020-2||1. Fragments 2. Beg And Please 3. Sin 4. Silvermoon 5. Gun In The Cradle 6. Crucify 7. Who Do You Think You Are 8. Man In Flames||
|Total Score 67%||Production 75%||Songs 62%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 70%|
Mr. Hate are based in Germany, and have recently released this album of guitar-riff heavy European hard rock.|
The production is strong and the band sound pretty tight. Carsten's vocals are particularily strong.
The band have obvious influences of American hard rock, with a touch of sleeze rock.
While only 8 tracks long, the album will still offer hard fans a worthwhile purchase. The opening two tracks are standard hard rocking fare, while Sin offers a distorted vocal and something a little more towards 90's territory.
The majority of the record is however still firmly entrenched in melodic hard rock.
Track four - 'Silvermoon' is a stand out track, and features some nice laid back guitar in the intro. It also gives singer Carsten a chance to stretch.
Overall a solid debut that should win them a few fans. With any luck, the second album will get them noticed outside their home country as a possiblr force for the future.
Before then a little more variation is need in the song writing. But for a debut - good job!
|PROMOTION/NOT FOR SALE|
|INDIE RELEASE||1. One In A Million 2. Wanted Dead Or Alive 3. After All 4. On My Own 5. Higher Love 6. Make A Turn 7. Pack Of Lies 8. Rollercoaster Ride 9. Nothing For Granted 10. Tomorrow||
|Total Score 72%||Production 75%||Songs 68%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 70%|
Promotion is the name of the band, Not For Sale is the album title. Simple, right?!
These guys are out of Sweden, and have created an album of very slick and smooth pop rock, AOR and Westcoast.|
Infact there is probably something here for fans of all three genre's of our beloved music. Throughthe album of smart song writing is strong influences of Toto and Chicago, with less prominent infulences from Journey.
Tracks like the instantly likeable and extremely hook filled opener 'One In A Million' or 'Higher Love' contain enough guitar to keep rock fans happy, while On My Own and After All are more the Westcoast approach.
Certainly the album is diverse and varied in tempo, but it doesn'teffect the flow, as all the tracks are well sung and produced.
The feel is essentially European, but coming from Sweden, they have a knack for sounding more 'western'.
Stand out tracks include 'One In A Million', 'Make A Turn' and 'Wanted Dead Or Alive'. If I had to recommend this to one select category of listener, it would have to be Westcoast AOR fans, as this is the strongest influence over the whole project.
Like Chicago there is prominent use of horns, sax and brass, like on 'Tomorrow' If you like a solid dose of melodic and varied AOR, please check out Promotion.
Available thru mail order at AOR Heaven
|STRANGEWAYS/ANY DAY NOW|
|1. It's Alright 2. Come And Dance 3. What About Me? 4. Blue Line 5. Northern Town 6. Sweeter Than This 7. Shillean 8. All I Want 9. Losin' My Friend 10. And The Horse 11. Fallen Angel 12. Bye Bye Johnnie||
|Total Score 37%||Production 48%||Songs 31%||Vibe 25%||Attitude 30%|
Well, the much loved Strangeways have returned for a new album, unfortunately without key vocalist Tony Brock, leaving Ian Stewart to handle the duties.|
this album unfortunately has little to do with the original Strangeways sound.
Instead this album is more a new age AOR experiment, mixed with strong Pink Floyd tones. Any Day Now is a mixture of complex guitar and keyboard textures, sounds and layers, in the atmospheric style normally reserved for such acts on the Higher Octave or Windham Hill labels.
In fact, so laid back is this blend of soft vocals and haunting instrumentals, that I have trouble telling when the tracks have actually changed and where one starts and another begins. All the songs are very much of a muchness.
I found it quite pleasent when I put it on as background music, and the hour passed rather quickly. But none of the songs stood out on their own, and I suspect that once I passed track three, the CD could have been on repeat, and I would not have noticed. Not exactly what the fans were looking for.
|BRAZEN ABBOTT/BAD RELIGION|
|USG RECORDS GERMANY USG 1017-2||1. The Whole World's Crazy 2. Nightmares 3. Two Of A Kind 4. I Will Rise Again 5. Day Of The Eagle 6. We Don't Talk Anymore 7. Wings Of A Dream 8. Bad Religion 9. Father To Child 10. Love Is On Our Side 11. Empire Of The Sun||
|Total Score 76%||Production 80%||Songs 79%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 75%|
This is the third album from Nikolo Kotzev operating under the Brazen Abbott banner.|
There is no doubting the previous two albums were classy records of pure European flavoured hard rock. You know the type, the Deep Purple or Rainbow influenced heavy melodic rock. And I have heard this album maybe the most consistent yet.
Once again the vocals are shared between the equally awesome Joe Lynn Turner, Goran Edmon and Thomas Vikstrom.
The only comment I would make about the use of three vocalists, as was done on the first two records, is that they are all class vocalists, it would be great to hear one the one singer fill an entire record.
But despite using three vocalists the record does not suffer one little bit, as they all sing exceptionally well, and match each others style excellently.
So onto the new record 'Bad Religion'.
What I would like to see is a couple less of the traditional fast paced heavy screamer tracks, and more of the classy melodic mid paced tunes that Kotzev is easily capable of.
There are three or four really classy big ballads on Bad Religion which sound as big anything on record this year. Just check out the Joe Lynn Turner sung 'We Don't Talk Anymore'.
It is just that these seemed a little overshadowed when the bombastic over drive of the rock numbers took over. The pace went from superb to what seemed to be a little rushed.
But, having said that, as fas as big hard rocking European metal albums go, this is still a fine record. Consistant, very well recorded and produced and of sound musicianship.
If you own either one of the first two or both, get this quick.
|MIDNIGHT SUN/ANOTHER WORLD|
|ROASTING HOUSE PRODUCTIONS/MASSIVE MUSIC||1. Another World (Intro) 2. Moneymaker 3. No Way Out 4. Over And Over 5. All I Want 6. Looking For Love 7. Black Night 8. Hold Me Back 9. On And On 10. Power Of Greed 11. Front Page News 12. Deep In My Heart 13. Name Of Love||
|Total Score 68%||Production 79%||Songs 64%||Vibe 73%||Attitude 77%|
Midnight Sun are from Sweden and are lead by one of that countries leading AOR men Pete Sandberg.|
At 14 full tracks, the album is a little long, and could have done with cutting a couple of songs.
The album starts out with a couple of big rockers, 'No Way Out' sounding very Rainbow indeed. The vocals are particularly strong here.
Midnight Sun have their share of hard rockers, and party tunes, but I find them at their best when they take the time to slow down a little, and really groove.
The ballads Black Night, On And On and Power Of Greed are fine examples of Scandinavian brand AOR, where some of the straight up rockers leave me a little cold. They also excel at the mid paced more AOR friendly tunes like Over and Over. These are the tracks that highlight their talents. Not where they are trying to rock too hard, or sound like Rainbow or the like.
Maybe it is the Japanese label pushing for this, who knows. But I think the band should stick to what they are good at for a complete album. Then we will get the best Midnight Sun record possible.
|HOUSE OF SHAKIRA/LINT|
|BLUESTONE MUSIC 1010||1. Morning Over Morocco 2. Lint 3. Method Of Madness 4. No. 8 5. Who's Lying Now 6. Elephant Gun 7. Love Was Good 8. The Story's The Same 9. Canned Laughter 10. Remember 11. Everything's Fine||
|Total Score 92%||Production 95%||Songs 89%||Vibe 93%||Attitude 95%|
Wow, this really hits you like a brick wall!|
The first thing I can think of when hearing the hard rocking fist in the air melodic bliss of Morning Over Morocco, is why haven't I heard this album earlier!
And why wasn't I told that House Of Shikara are a powerful blend of a solo Tommy Shaw, Night Ranger and a little Journey.
Vocalist Andreas Eklund is a great Tommy Shaw like singer, with as good a set of lungs. The second track Lint temporarily stops me going completely off, with it's more laid back rock feel. But from that song we go straight into Method Of Madness, which by the time it's finished, with it's catchy and original harmony vocals, and big sing a long finish, it will be embedded in your mind forever.
Damn this is good!
The first ballad up is No.8 , which continues the awesome harmony vocals, and mixes Tommy Shaw/Styx with a little of The Storm and the Journey connection.
This album was rated one of the best albums of last year in Frontiers/The Rock magazine. I am not going to waste my time wishing I had discovered this earlier, just take my advice and don't leave it any longer yourself.
From that we move straight into another huge melodic feast of harmonies, choruses and Journey comparisons with Who's Lying Now.
Just imagine Journey's Who's Crying Now on speed!
Elephant Gun is a little more laid back, and once again brings out Tommy Shaw comparisons. Great melodies!
Love Was Good is a mid paced groover of a track which leads into The Story's The Same, a softer ballad, that could have come off any Tommy Shaw solo record, with the harmonies of the Shaw/Blades album.
Canned Laughter is another mid paced rock tune, but not quite as catchy as the first half of the record.
Remember is an acoustic driven pop rocker, with a little organ thrown in for good measure. The chorus is again very catchy, with nice harmonies, and a very smooth delivery.
The album is rounded out with Everything's Fine, which is a harmony ballad sung with only the backing of an acoustic guitar, and an inspired Cello solo.
The best songs are probably the first 6 of the album, but the difference between the first half and second is negligible, showing how strong this album is.
A great record. Go get it!
|BIG WAVE / BIG WAVE|
|ROASTING HOUSE/MASSIVE SWEDEN - MASS507||1. Mind Of A Murderer 2. Heaven's Edge 3. I Can't Believe 4. Changes 5. Wall Of Pride 6. Shine On 7. Cold End Blues 8. Leave Me 9. Crying Eye 10. Lonley Moon||
|Total Score 72%||Production 79%||Songs 71%||Vibe 69%||Attitude 75%|
Big Wave are one of the 'new wave' of European hard rock acts that are trying for the big time.|
These guys are from Sweden, and judging from this disc have a better chance of cracking that next level. In an interesting mix of Slaughter, Kingdom Come and Led Zeppelin, the guys crank out some tough rocking songs, with a really nice beefy production that does the songs no end of harm.
There are plenty of guitar riff's and solo's and vocalist Stefan Haugsnes has a great voice.
The opening track will give you a fair idea of where the band are at, with some great big metal vocals, very much in the style of Lenny Wolf or Mark Slaughter.
There are some mood variations, with a couple of ballads, a couple of slower hard tracks and of course the big rockers.
Highlights include 'Heaven's Edge' for the mood, 'Changes' for the acoustic pace change, and 'Shine On' for the big hard rock sound and nice backing vocals.
Fans of the above mentioned bands, and that Europe meets America style hard rock should definately check out Big wave.
|SHOTGUN SYMPHONY / ON THE LINE OF FIRE|
|BLUESTONE MUSIC GERMANY||1. Gerneration Clash 2. Tell My Why 3. On The Line Of Fire 4. Hard To Hold Onto 5. Thaw 6. Solitary Zone 7. Into The Vibe 8. What It's Like 9. Salvation 10. This I Know 11. Big Mistake 12. Still The Same||
|Total Score 68%||Production 75%||Songs 60%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 70%|
Shotgun screamed onto the scene a few years back when they made their debut on Now & Then.|
They then recorded a second album and a live Japanese thing. The second album was a change of direction that both won and lost them fans.
This third record came out late last year, and sees the band paying respect to both styles they have previously embraced.
'On The Line Of Fire' returns the band to their melodic best, while maintaining the heavier 90's friendly feel of Pray For Rain.
Generation Clash opens with a sonic boom of guitars and surprisingly background keyboards. As heavy as it sounds, the vocals are back to big melodic best.
This album is hard to categorise, but it carries a solid production, a big hard rock sound, and some tough melodies.
The band are based in New Jersey, but have a strong European fan base, which kind of explains the reason why the band's sound is a mixture of both continents influences. There isn't so much any anthem's here, but the music does contain hooks.
Highlights include the great opener, the softer title track, and 'Hard To Hold Onto' for it's moody feel.
The album tends to get heavier toward the middle and end of the record, and the songs a little more same-ish. Still, overall, the record is a tough uncompromising example of what a band can create when it wants to.
|ANDY TIMMONS/EAR X-TACY|
|USG RECORDS GERMANY USG 1020-2||1. That Was Then, This Is Now 2. Last One 3. Is This What You Want 4. A Night To Remember 5. Sometimes I 6. Down The Wire 7. To Your Knees 8. Groove Or Die 9. Wishing Well 10. Slips Away||
|Total Score 62%||Production 72%||Songs 61%||Vibe 73%||Attitude 58%|
Out on his own for a while now, this CD from the Danger Danger guitarist has been out in Japan for a while, but now sees the light of day in Europe.|
The album is only partly instrumental, with lead vocals being handled by Andy himself.
Reb Beach guests on one track, but apart from that, it's Andy on all guitars and Dan Wojciechowski on Drums and Mike Daane on Bass.
The album opens with a smoking hard rock instrumental and slides into a bluesy vocal number second up. Still fairly rocking, but bluesy nevertheless.
Track three is another blues based soft vocal track, while 'A Night To Remember' is a big building instrumental track.
'Sometime I' is the first full rock track where to feature Andy's vocals.
The album otherwise rolls along, shifting between the vocal numbers and the instrumentals.
Surprisingly, I think the album's highlights lie with the instrumentals. Andy has an okay voice, but the instrumentals just seem like stronger songs.
Not a bad record, but probably one that should appeal to wanna be axe slingers, for that is where the album's strength lies.
|PAUL SABU/ONLY CHILD 2 & SABU|
|SEAGULL & USG RECORDS||No track listing because who really cares about songs like 'Kiss My Boomerang' and 'Slippin' And Slidin'!!||
|Total Score 50%||Production 60%||Songs 45%||Vibe 50%||Attitude 50%|
|I am actually a fan of Paul Sabu's work, and when hearing a bad review for these albums, I was still confident they would continue his high standard of work. Unfortunately not. The second Only Child record features the same line up as #1, and states it was recorded in '96, yet sounds like demo outtakes fromthe first album, nearly ten years ago. The Sabu album, features the guys from Bonfire, and is generally very average Euro metal. Not all is bad here, there are a few good tracks and even enjoyable ones, but when compared to his first Only Child record and to the excellent In Dreams CD, these songs just don't stack up. By all means pick up cheap in the bargin bins, but don't go out of you way to order them in on import!|
|ABRAXAS POOL/ABRAXAS POOL|
|HAPCO/IRS 993.172||1. Boom Ba Ya Ya 2. A Million Miles Away 3. Baila Mi Cha-Cha 4. Going Home 5. Szabo 6. Guajirona 7. Cruzin' 8. Don't Give Up 9. Ya Liego 10. Jingo||
|Total Score 80%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Packaging 50%|
One look at this album, and you know it's going to be something different! Formed out of the original line-up of Santana, it features two famous names who went on to stardom with Journey - Neal Schon and Greg Rolie, and drummer Michael Shrieve, along with three other original band members.
Formed out of their love for the music, this is not your average record.
The sound is primarily based on Latin/Tribal/South American/Jungle/Jazz roots, with big tribal drum sounds, congas and associated instruments.
There are a few instrumentals, which are the showcase for the heavy duty influences, while the vocal tracks (sung by Greg Rolie) are more melodic and accesable.|
Fear not though, there are more melodic moments bordering on AOR, which combined with the other influences, make for quite awesome listening. Tracks like Boom Ba Ya Ya and Million Miles Away, have great depth and highlight the talents of all involved.
This is an album, which when I am in the mood will really enjoy from start to finish, but on other occasions will play the tracks I love, and skip the rest.
Definately worth the addition to the Journey/Schon/Perry/Cain/Rolie/Storm section of your CD collection.
|DREAM CIRCLE/IRS DCD 9626||1. Pull Me Under 2. The Light Of You 3. Blair Mountain 4. Kevin Was My Cousin 5. House Of The Rising Sun 6. Strongest Man In The World 7. Home 8. Gone 9. Starting To Feel 10. My Head||
|Total Score 70%||Production 75%||Songs 85%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 90%|
| The Riverdogs are one great band. They have produced some of the best melodic straight ahead rock from the last few years. This is their vocalist's debut solo album. But if you were looking at getting into the Riverdogs, and thought you might check out this solo release as a way in, please don't. I would say that this album is more for die hard Riverdogs fans, in that it will appeal to those people, but to others may be harded to get into. In the vein of Bruce Springsteen's 'Ghost Of Tom Joad' record, this is a sparse, acoustic, highly introspective and very personal album. This album highlights what a great and under rated lyricist Rob Lamothe is. There are songs of love, heartache, personal loss, anxiety, you know the stuff. The instrumentation is sparse, and only used when it will add to the song. Acoustic guitar is prominent throughout, piano is used, (to awesome efect on 'Stongest Man'), and a host of non standard rock instuments are put to use including violins, strings, a dulcimer, saxaphone, organ, ukulele and a choir on 'Blair Mountain'.
Drums are used rarely, and bass occasionally. Spencer Sercombe of the 'Where Are They Now File' band Shark Island helps out with the bass and a couple of co-writing credits.|
There really is some beautiful ballads on this album, best of which are 'Stongest Man', 'Light Of You' and 'Starting To Feel'. I highly recommend the album, but mainly for a late night, or personal listening point of view. For the rockier and feel good side of things, stand by for the next Riverdogs album.
|USG RECORDS 37651-422||1.All Night Long 2. Heartattack 3. When I'm Gone 4. I've Got You 5. One Way Dead End Street 6. Sanctuary 7. Sweet Temptation 8. Love Comes Easy 9. Angel In Black 10. Turn Up The Radio 11. Angela (Demo Version)||
|Total Score 65%||Production 60%||Songs 65%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 70%|
Missing Pieces is basically what it says! Songs that have been found and rediscovered and unreleased and put together to for the first Autograph record in many years. They are a band that never got to the big time, although lead by the great talent of Steve Plunket, came very close.|
The trouble with these compilationas is that there is normally a reason that the songs included never made it onto the official albums! (i.e. They weren't good enough!). But you are clearly warned that most of these tracks are demo's only, so full production isn't always evident. But you know what? For demo's they stack up quite well. The tracks are from as late as 1988, when the band were going to record a new album before calling it quits.
For fans of the band, there is definately going to be something here for them. Steve isn't the greatest singer in the world, but at their best Autograph were a tight little unit. Best tracks are the first 5, all from the 1988 sessions, showing that it could have been a breakthrough record for the band.
However, if you didn't like the band then, you aren't going to like them now. If you have never heard the band, stick to the above albums. If you have the lot - then add this to your collection.
|MASSACRE/IRS 972.399||1. Resurrection 2. Freakshow 3. Dead Or Alive 4. Die With Your Dreams 5. Fly Me Out 6. Live Until It Hurts 7. Spooked 8. Twisted 9. If It Can't Be Love 10. Never Too Late 11. Your Mind Is Where The Money Is 12. Hard Luck Woman 13. The One That Should Not Be||
|Total Score 70%||Production 70%||Songs 75%||Vibe 60%||Packaging 60%|
|Quite an intense bunch of guys are Pretty Maids! This is actually heavier than I expected. Out of all the tracks here ther is only one ballad, making this album one for the fans of good pounding hard rock. This is very much in Euro-Metal territoy, a mixture of all those classic German hard rock bands. Something like Accept, but with much better vocals. On the ballad Twisted, the band stretch themselves to a higher plain, and it's good to hear. On the remainder of the tracks there is plenty of screaming guitar, strong melodies and a good singer thrown in for free. Good album, but take note, if you hate that Euro-Metal sound, stick to what you like.|
|KING OF HEARTS/MIDNIGHT CROSSING|
|INTERCORD IRS 993.167||1. In So Many Words 2. Closer To The Edge 3. Hold On To Love 4. I Heard Heaven Is A Better Place 5. Joy Will Come 6. I Surrender All 7. Dancing With The Light 8. Only You 9. Remember When 10. Stranger In A Strange Town 11. Midnight Crossing 12. Was It Good For You||
|Total Score 70%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Packaging 75%|
This is about as soft as you can get, but if you have the bands first album, you will know what I mean. King Of Hearts features Richard Marx's guitarist Bruce Gaitsch and vocalist Tommy Funderburk. |
K.O.H are essentially a 'good news' band, with nice lyrics and nice songs. It will definately not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really like them. If you like it soft, well played and well sung, then this is where you should be looking. Comparisons could be made to Mr. Marx and the likes of Joseph Williams and is best described as MOR Westcoast AOR.
King Of Hearts are at their best with the uptempo tracks like the opener, which is almost worth the price alone. Like their first album there are guests abound, with Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy the main one, returning to drum and provide backing vocals on four tracks. It is these four tracks which are the best on the album. His vocals mix perfectly with Tommy's, making you wish he had stuck round for the rest of the album. It also seems strange that these four tracks are the only real uptempo tracks on the album. Further evidence that the guys need an outside infuence to liven things up.
But that's okay, because the slow tracks are still good. But that said, there has now been two records like this, the third one will have to be different.
If you liked the first, then there are plenty of reasons to grab the new one. If you want to start out on the band, pick up the debut album first, then if you want more 'midnight Crossing' is your album.
For the record, other guests include George Hawkins, CJ Vanston, Alex Acuna, Bill and Tamara Champlin, and Kelly Keagy is featured on tracks 1,3,9 and 12.
|JOSEPH WILLIAMS/I AM ALIVE|
|INTERCORD IRS 993.173||1. Perfectly Clear 2. Heroes 3. Cool Night 4. I Am Alive 5. Babylon 6. Dirty Little War 7. Unarm Your Heart 8. Out Of Harms Way 9. I Believe In You 10. I'd Rather Dance By My Self 11. Never Let You Go (Bonus Track) 12. Afterlife (Bonus Track)||
|Total Score 80%||Production 80%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Packaging 75%|
I first got this album as a Japanese import a few months back now, and ended up giving it to a mate, who is a Toto nut like myself. I thought it sounded good, but was a little soft for my tastes. But low and behold, I have really missed this album. And now it has a European release with two bonus tracks, I can not think of any logical reason why any Toto, Westcoast or AOR fans should be without it.|
True that it makes Richard Marx sound like Metallica, but there is no denying that there are 12 extremely strong tunes here. Joseph is sounding in great voice, and quite simply this is a well crafted record.
The songs may take a little while to build character, but once they do, there will be no stopping them from invading your brain, and repeating themselves over and over, until you get he CD out and play it again.
There will be the inevitable comparisons to the Toto records, but that is what we all bought it for anyway, isn't it? A good addition to any soft rocker's collection. Highlights include 'Perfectly Clear', 'Heroes' and 'I Am Alive'.
|DAN LUCAS/BEST OF - HEART OF AMERICA|
|MALBOROUGH MUSIC||1. Heart Of America 2. Hold On Me 3. By The Riverside 4. It's Only Money 5. Waiting 6. Someone's Girl 7. Close Your Eyes And Say Goodbye 8. Can't Hold Back 9. If You Need Me Tonight 10. Canadian Dream 11. Stranger 12. I'm Not Looking For An Angel 13. The Bridge||
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 85%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 85%|
|Right on top of the new Lucas album 'News', comes this compilation from his former label. Dan is no doubt one of the great AOR songwriters about, and is suitably underrated.
Both his Canada and 2000! albums are essential items in one's collection.
This compilation unfortunately offers nothing new. It is mearly five tunes from Canada and eight from 2000! Now I am not going to sy a single bad thing about the songs, because they are awesome! But it has to be said that there is not much point to this release. If you have both his first two albums then there is no point!|
If you don't then this is a good compilation, but I would rather recommend you purchase the individual album you are missing instead. That way you won't miss a single one of Dan's brilliant tunes, and won't waste your money on something you have already got.
|ARCADE RECORDS||1. Heart Of America '96 2. Love Is The Answer 3. Please Don't Ever Try To Change Her 4. In The Rain 5. Desperado 6. One Woman Man 7. Music Is The Enemy Of War 8. No One Loves You More Than I 9. Believe In Magic 10. Face Another Day 11. You're My Life 12. Be Mine Tonight 13. Tonight 14. Heart Of America||
|Total Score 60%||Production 60%||Songs 45%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 70%|
|I cannot believe that this is the very same Dan Lucas that brought us two AOR
masterpieces in 'Canada' and the totally awesome '2000!' CD.
I am struggling to even recognise his voice as he sings at a lower octave and
with less presence than his first two outings.
2000! was one of the musically tightest recordings I have heard in a long time It
was sharp, well produced, and features the cream of American hard rock players
and writers, including guitarist Kane Roberts.
That, I think, is the difference here. This time around Dan has swapped to
German musicians and co-writers, to detrimental effect on the whole sound.
Where as 2000! will still remain fresh in the year 2010, 'News' sounds dated
already, almost a muddy, unprepared sound.
The songs aren't as catchy, the production is nowhere near the standard of the
first two, and his singing doesn't quite go off like before.
Now, all that said and done, by some artists standards, this is still a good record,
and if you like 80's AOR, in the solo artist vein, like your Tim Feehan's ect, you
may still like this.
But, be warned, if you are buying it out of shear respect for the man's name,
then this time around, you may be a little disappointed.
P.S. The cover of the Eagles tune 'Desperado', is totally unnecessary!
|STEVIE SALAS/BACK FROM THE LIVING|
|USG RECORDS||1. Tell Your Story Walking 2. Crack Killer Apple Jack 3. I Once Were There 4. Wonderin' 5. Start Again 6. Born To Mack 7. The Lying Truth 8. Without Love 9. A Journey Into The Middle Ages 10. Much Ado About Buttin' 11. Amelia 12. God I'm Going Down 13. Shake This Town 14. Start Again - Live 15. The Walls Came Down - Live||
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 80%|
|Stevie Salas is one of those hard working guys that reliably get an album out
every year, but seemingly fail to break new ground or sell more records.
This may change this time around with his newest album 'Back From The Living'.
What we have here is a fourteen track collection of diverse, well crafted and well
There is a real mixed bag of tunes here, without sounding disjointed or out of
Tracks 1,2,6,8,13 and 14 are typical Salas, you know, the big thumping bass, the
funk driven hard rock that he has made his name by.
Tracks 3 and 9 lend from the Lenny Kravitz school of songwriting, so you know
what to expect there.
The biggest surprise I got was in tracks 3,4,5 and 12, where one can find a little
more of Lenny, but also was a lot like an artist not many people are familiar with,
Australia's hard rock blues drenched pub king Nick Barker. At times I thought I
was listening to one of his records. Great stuff! If you have this album and like
the above songs and style, then I suggest you drop me a line, and I will steer
you towards Nick Barker and The Reptiles!
Other highlights was the great bluesy ballad 'The Lying Truth', and the absolute
scorcher 'Start Again'.
If you haven't heard Salas before, or in a while, this is would be a great point to
become a new fan.
|BRAZEN ABBOT/LIVE AND LEARN, EYE OF THE STORM|
|USG RECORDS||Live And Learn: 1. Extraordinary Child 2. No Way Out Of Nowhere 3. Live And Learn 4. Russian Roulette 5. Clean Up Man 6. When November Reigns 7. Miracle 8. Big Time Blues 9. Feeling Like A Rolling Stone 10. Children Of Today 11. Shadows Of The Moon|
Eye Of The Storm: 1. Eye Of The Storm 2. Twist Of Fate 3. Fool In Love 4. Line Of Fire 5. Wake Up Everybody 6. Everything's Gonna Be Alright 7. Common People 8. The Road To Hell 9. Restless In Seattle 10. Highway Cindy 11. I'll Be There For You
|L.A.L: Total Score 80%||Production 80%||Songs 85%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 70%|
|E.O.T.S: Total Score 70%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 70%|
|Mmm, not one, but two Brazen Abbot CDS. Where do I start?
Well, the first album has been out in Japan for a year or so now, so you probably
all know about that one, and now we have the second album (also a few months
old now). Both albums are built around the guitar, keyboards, piano, violin,
production, arrangement, engineering and general supervising of one Nikolo
With the first record he also brought along some friends in one Mr Glenn
Hughes, Goran Edman, Thomas Vikstrom and the usual obligatory ex-Europe
backing band of Ian Haughland and Mic Michaeli.
Now I am not really into these ten singers on one album deals, I don't think it
gives the albums a good flow or balance, but in this case the album flows quite
nicely, from start to finish. Along the way it passes you usual dose of Deep
Purple influenced Euro-hard rock, with the obvious highlights being the three
Glenn Hughes sung tracks, including the title track - the big power ballad/anthem
'Live And Learn'.
His vocals on 'Miracle' are also quite superb, a little in the soul vein.
Thomas sings 6, and Goran sings 2, both sounding rather good as well.
The music, apart from the Hughes tracks, is typically loud European hard rock,
so you must be a fan of that to appreciate the whole album, but apart from that it
works rather well.
'Eye Of The Storm' is the second release, this time featuring vocalist Joe Lynn
Turner in place of Hughes. This time around Turner sings 4, Goran sings 5 and
Thomas sings 2. The remaining band stays the same.
Overall I think this album is heavier and even more Euro-metal than the first, but
once again the music and songs gel rather well, and the vocalists blend into
each others songs with little disruption to the flow.
There is a couple of big ballads, some all out stompers and a couple of mid
paced tracks for you, but all in all, if you like the first one, you'll like the second.
If you don't have either, start with the first and then experiment with the second!
I favour the first for the mere presence of Sir Glenn Hughes!
|VAN STEPHENSON/RIGHTEOUS ANGER, SUSPICIOUS HEART|
|MCA RE-ISSUE||Righteous Anger 1. Modern Day Delilah 2. I Know Who You Are 3. What The Big Girls Do 4. Don't Do That 5. Others Only Dream 6. Righteous Anger 7. The Cure Will Kill You 8. You've Been Lied To Before 9. Heart Over Mind 10. All American Boy |
Suspicious Heart 1. We're Doing Alright 2. Together Tonight 3. Suspicious Heart 4. Never Enough Night 5. Confidentially Yours 6. Desperate Hours 7. Dancing With Danger 8. Fist Full Of Heat 9. Make It Glamorous 10. No Secrets
|R.A: Total Score 80%||Production 80%||Songs 90%||Vibe 85%||Attitude 80%|
|S.H: Total Score 95%||Production 90%||Songs 95%||Vibe 95%||Attitude 100%|
|Van Stephenson has long left the AOR fold for a life in Nashville, TN,
singing new country with his band Blackhawk. But his status as a cult
AOR figure will always be with us thanks to his two awesome MCA
albums from 1984 & 1985. |
So much has the demand been for these albums, they have finally been picked up to CD.
They are quite possibly the finest example of ballad rock ever recorded. Providing, of course, you like this style/approach. Both albums are helped along nicely by a backing band, featuring the team responsible for THE finest ever AOR stadium rock album, Giants' 'Time To Burn' - Dann Huff (guitar) and Alan Pasqua (keyboards).
For the record, Van also co-wrote most of Giant's 'Time To Burn', with Dann.
His debut album 'Righteous Anger' came out in '84, and featured the single, the lead in track 'Modern Day Delilah'. Van possesses one hell of a voice, and would give Steve Perry a run for his money any day. This is the rockier of the two albums, with only two ballads between the mix of mid pace tunes and rockers. It is impossible to highlight any track in particular, being that both albums are so strong with material. Van is surely the master AOR songwriter of our time. The second album, released late '85, goes one step further to reach AOR heaven. I am not kidding either. There is not a fault to pick on this album. It sounds as fresh today as it did ten years ago. It is even better produced and features songwriting at it's highest level. 'We're Doing Alright' leads off the album with another classic anthem, the style of which you just don't find anymore. Shame that too! What follows are some of the slickest, smoothest up tempo ballads in AOR, whick lead into a storm home with three consecutive anthems, climaxing with 'No Secrets', the biggest of them all, to complete the album.
Van! Dump that country act and call Dann! If you like Giant's albums, own Fee Waybill's records, love House Of Lords, Journey, Rick Springfield - and don't own these two discs, then I must insist you invest in them immediately. There is no equal.
|JOEY TEMPEST/AZALEA PLACE|
|POLYDOR JAPAN POCP-7233||1. The Match 2. If I'd Only Known 3. The One In The Glass 4. Dance For You 5. Not Welcome Anymore 6. Losing You Again 7. Revolution Of Love 8. Better Than Real 9. If We Stay Or If We Go 10. In Confidence 11. Further From The Truth 12. Lucky 13. New Beginning* 14. New Years Eve* (Bonus Tracks for Japan)||
|Total Score 87%||Production 90%||Songs 90%||Vibe 88%||Attitude 85%|
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises from the past few years was the release of Joey's debut solo album. He took a quantum leap in style and class from his days with Europe, into the heartland of American rock, in the best tradition of artists like Jackson Browne and Tom Petty.|
The great news is Joey has continued his foray into this style, except for this time round he has taken even more risks in style and approach. Azalea Place is even more stripped back and acoustic driven than Place To Call Home, yet it retains the urgency and conviction of it's predecessor. It was recorded in the genuine heartland of country music, Nashville.
To say I am bloody impressed with the talent and style it takes to pull and album like this off, is an understatement, but Joey Tempest does it with ease. The opener 'The Match', is a killer tune, with gret personal lyrics. A great love song. Track 2 would fit in with the last record, while The One In The Glass features a funky guitar lick, which would normally be reserved for a George Benson record. It is just one of the experimental tracks on the record that works.
Dance For You features horns, Revolution Of Love features conga's and a female co-lead in Spanish and In Confidence features an organ and some great guitar.
If they are not featured anywhere else, it would also be wise to check out the two bonus tracks on the Japanese version. Well worth the inclusion.
I am not sure whether I will like this as much as or more than 'A Place To Call Home', only time will tell that. But regardless of that fact, this album is as clever and as well played, (if not even better), and deserves to be placed along side the last record. Great record.
|COLUMBIA RECORDS||1. Real Truth 2. Broken Machine 3. Tears Of My Own Shame 4. Love The Things U Hate 5. Hate Everything About U 6. Reservations To Live (Thewayitis) 7. Don't Hang Me On 8. Always Be There For Me 9. Open Your Heart 10. Bag O' Tales 11. Bluebird||
|Total Score 85%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Bad Vibes 90%||Attitude 85%|
You only have to read the song titles to see that something with Lukather ain't quite right! And from the opening track to the last song 'Bluebird', this is one dark, brooding, bad ass record. |
Much of Luke's and even Toto's material has always been on the moody side, but here the songs are darker than ever, and the tone is mellow, to say the least.
Even the hard core Toto fans would admit the last Toto record, and Luke's last solo outing 'Candyman' were dissapointing affairs, but this rights all wrongs, and may prove to be the best Lukather album of the three. It is the first time I have ever heard any Toto or related artist sound 90's, with a much more in your face guitar sound. In fact the sound is so raw and hard edged, 'Kingdom Of Desire' would be the closest reference point. It is truely a guitar driven album.
There are less big choruses and an overall mellow sound, but the tracks remain heavy and raw, even in this slow mellow vein. The drum rythms are as complex as I have ever heard, and the soloing is just magnificent. There are new solos discovered with every new listen.
The album kicks off with the heavy but laid back 'Real Truth', a musically complex track, with that really in your face guitar sound crunching through the speakers. No real big chorus, but melodic none the less. 'Broken Machine' offers some vocal effects, almost an industrial tinge to the guitar sound, and one very dark melody. Again no real chorus, but tonnes of chord changes and solos. 'Tears Of My Own Shame' is the first true ballad, it is more acoustic in approach. 'Love The Things U Hate' is the first sign of an uptempo track, a noticeable chorus and great guitar. 'Hate Everything About You' has to be a hit single! It is a ballad, driven by acoustic guitars and laced with a heavy country feel, steel guitars and everything! The chorus is pure magic, an anthem if I have ever heard one. Also very dark.
'Reservations To Live' also has a little steel guitar in it, but is primarily a 90's hard rock tune, with the biggest chorus to date. Another classic Lukather/Toto tune. 'Don't Hang Me On' is the most 'grunge' tune on the album, a real 90's rocker with vocal effects and a mellow chorus. 'Always Be There For Me' is a slow starting tune that lead sto a great chorus and bridge, adding another sing along anthem to the record. 'Open Your Heart' is a nice acoustic driven ballad, with again, another great, if not a little laid back, chorus. 'Bag O' Tales' is another hard edged guitar diven track with an alternative vibe, and some more vocal effects, and no real chorus. 'Bluebird' is another dark 90's influenced hard rocker, with no real chorus again.
This is Luke's best albu since 'Lukather' and 'Kingdom Of Desire' and is one for the guitar freaks, more than the fans of stuff like 'Seventh One'. Personally I love it, for it is big, it is loud, it is in your face and it is still Lukather all over. The guitar playing is awesome!
|USG RECORDS 37652-422||1. Sacred 2. Twisting In The Wind 3. Last Chance, Last Ride 4. Life Of My Broken Heart 5. Last Act 6. The Solitary Life 7. Everybody Dies 8. I'm Losing My Mind 9. She Said, She Said 10. Prime Of Love 11. Requiem For Stevie Ray||
|Total Score 60%||Production 80%||Songs 70%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 70%|
There have beena number of artists that have returned to their roots over the past couple of years. Foreigner, Joey Tempest, Shaw/Blades, Glen Burtnik, Whitesnake and others have all recorded more rootsy, acoustic driven albums than their older material. The same goes for Jeff Paris, who has explored his love of blues and a more stripped back raw live feel on this his newly released album.|
The only thing is, I am not sure that this is what everyone wants to hear. It is certainly beautifully recorded and played, and sounds great, but AOR purists who are looking for another 'Wired Up' will not find it here.
Last Chance, Last Ride, Jeff's take on the track he co-wrote with the Mojo line-up of Night Ranger, is probably the closest thing to pure hard rock heaven on this record, but even then it's raw and more laid back than the N.R. version. The classy blues ballads 'Life Of My Broken Heart' and 'The Solitary Life' are magnificent and add real class to the album.
'She Said, She Said' sounds a little like the Rembrandts, while 'I'm Losing My Mind' is Paris at his experimental best.
Jeff Paris doesn't even sound like his trademark self on most of this album, and gone completely is the vocal tone of 'Lucky This Time', which I thought got a bit much after track 10 or so. The good thing with 'Smack' is that Paris does his thing and then gets out, without making the album overly long, or repedative. Good pick up for fans of the guy, or those who like a little blues influenced rock. But be warned that it certainly isn't AOR anthems and big choruses. Pity really!!
|KITTY RECORDS JAPAN KTCM-1064/IRS GERMANY||1. I'm Giving Up On You 2. Going Home 3. For Your Love 4. Love In The Rear View Mirror 5. One Imperfect Heart 6. Everywhere I Go 7. Top Down Girl 8. She's Gone 9. Love To Spare 10. Man In Me 11. In My Life (Live)||
|Total Score 70%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 70%|
Aw, Joseph! I was really getting into this album! Then.......Well, here we have Mr. Toto vocalist #31, and his brand new solo record. Following the very enjoyable, if not a little soft, 'I am Alive' record, this albums starts in smoking style with 'I'm Giving Up On You', and it sounds like Joseph has gone baaaaad. This track rocks! It's closely follwed by a classic Toto-ish AOR rocker Going Home' (with a killer chorus), and a feel good pop track 'For Your Love'. But then, just when you think Joseph is going for his version of the Toto album 'Kingdom Of Desire', he goes soft. Now that ain't a bad thing, because there are quality songs here, and Josph sounds great, but you are always left wishing he had beefed it up more. |
Between track three, and the end, we will only find one more rock track, while the rest fall into comfortable middle of the road territory, similar to the last record and Toto's 'Farenheit'.
Now for Toto freaks - this album features not only the entire band of now, including guitarust Steve Lukather. but also other ex-vocalists Bobby Kimball and Fergie Fredekisen. Both can be heard audibly on backing vocals.
The second half is all ballads or mid paced tracks, but they are of extemely high quality, and you can't help but be tapping along, and being reminded of classic Toto.
Best tracks...1, 2, 3, 6, 9. Offending tracks....4, 5, 8.
Like I said before, it is an album every Toto and Westcoast fan sould have, but the only let down is a few tracks bordering on too M.O.R. But there is more guitar than 'I Am Alive' and bigger vocals, so check it out.
One last thing. I can't get past the fact 'In My Life' reminds me of Bette Midler, so until I can, I can't enjoy that track either!
|ADVANCE TAPE||1. Don't Fade Away 2. All In The Name Of Love 3. Restless Heart 4. Too Many Tears 5. Crying 6. Stay With Me 7. Can't Go On 8. You're So Fine 9. Your Precious Love 10. Take Me Back Again 11. Woman Trouble Blues|
And not heard yet - the three Japan bonus tracks Can't Stop Now, 01 and Anything You Want
|Total Score 85%||Production 80%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 80%|
Holy shit. I was not expecting this. Start a Whitesnake album with a ballad? Yes sir people, and it's a KILLER!!
This is more than I could have ever expected to hear. Even when the album reverts back towards tradtional Whitesnake, in the latter parts of the album, it still sounds remakably different than what we have all heard before. What we have got here is a parts of a bunch of past albums - Coverdale/Page, 1987, Slide It In and even the 70's albums - but with an all new sound. And the biggest surprise influence over the whole album seems to be David's tune from the Days Of Thunder Soundtrack 'Last Note Of Freedom'. Anyone who thought that song was a bone chiller, wait till you here some of this!|
The opening ballad Don't Fade Away sees David singing with as much passion and soul as I have ever heard. It is a smouldering killer! Second track is a mid-paced love tune, whch pretty much sums up the whole record. There are some typical sort of tunes like 'Crying' and 'You're So Fine', but the overall feel is of blues and soulful rock. Dave doesn't even start screaming until track 5! I think that's great, because he always sounds better as a soul vocalist.
But nothing prepared me for the title track, which is as smooth as I have ever heard, it's a mid paced rocker with an amazingly original laid back chorus.
There is nothing here that you could definately say you have heard before, although there are the obligatory Led Zeppelin tribute songs and some smooth ballads, but for the most part, it's an all new Whitesnake. Just check out sing a long anthems 'Stay With Me' and 'Can't Go On'. Adrian Vandenburg plays his ass off, proving he is one of the great masters of the guitar, at times sounding like Neal Schon in style. There is also healthy doses of the Manic Eden album here. Denny Carmassi carries over the drum style from Coverdale/Page, and Guy Pratt and Brett Tuggle both feature well. The album, although immaculately produced is tough, raw and stripped right back, similar to the overall sound of Slide It In.
Big time blues, big time ballads, and bloody big time vocals. I had a good think about it, and I would like to add the album is a blues/AOR record. Don't buy it for a hard and heavy album. There will be those that write it off as a soft and tame record, but you have to listen deeper than that. Dave what's got into you? Someone get me Mr Coverdale on the phone! We have to talk!!!