|MTM MUSIC 199668|
The sheer line up and quality of acts on this new MTM compilation makes it pretty good value.|
I initially wondered how the album would play, but after finishing it, I can say that it runs very well and is a pleasant listen. There is only one new track on the compilation, as the rest of the material is from currently and previously released MTM product. That new track is the highlight of this release. Axe have cut aversion of the Kevin Chalfant ballad 'Loves Changes Everything'. Great version guys! Bob Harris' vocal style and sound is certainly a different approach than that of Kevin's, but great none the less. The other tracks are taken from many of MTM's great releases over the past year and include the best ballads from the bands listed here. It is actually a nice way to showcase some tracks that may have otherwise gone a little overlooked. Such tracks like Velocity's excellent Janine, Von Grooves power ballad April May, Harlan Cage's As You Are and Ransom's Let The Night Be The Night. There is also a sample of the newer material out now, like RTZ's Turn This Love Around. Good value and a nice collection of laid back tunes.
|PRODUCTION: 77%||SONGS: 83%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|MTM MUSIC 199663|
RTZ are an off shoot of Boston and feature the talents of Brad Delp (vocals), Barry Goudreau (guitars), Brian Maes (keyboards), Dave Stefanelli (drums) and Tim Archibald (bass).|
RTZ recorded their debut album for Giant in 1991 and after far from disappointing sales were dropped.
This is the long awaited and long unreleased second album that the guys recorded before several years break. But the good news is that they will now consider joining forces again for a new third album.
Despite sitting on a shelf for a couple of years this album has lost nothing and I think it is easily better than the debut.
Plenty of Boston-esque riffs and arrangements proving a pop rock alternative to Progressive. Keyboard fans will delight in many songs being led by Brian and his impressive keyboard talents.
Basically Lost is full of simple pop rock AOR tunes with an even mix of guitars and keyboards and some great vocals that you would expect from Brad Delp.
The album has a bit of everything. There are big Boston like tunes that blend guitars and keyboards with multi layered vocals and harmonies like the opening track When You Love Someone and Talk To Me.|
There are plenty of moody ballads of varying pace like One In A Million, Don't Lead Me On and the best ballad - the atmospheric Turn This Love Around.
You will also find a few guitar driven tracks like the darker epic feel of Change For Change, the party rocker Giving You Up For Dead and the pop rock of Violent Days.
My pick for best track goes to the very simple but effective good vibe feel of Someday. A great pop rock guitar tune that sounds a little Rick Springfield-ish and has a nice big Boston like chorus.
Owners of the debut should invest immediately and other fans of good pop rock and Boston influenced acts should investigate asap.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 90%||VIBE: 84%||ATTITUDE: 86%|
|MTM MUSIC 199662|
Sunshine Jive have a few things going for them. Like Restless, their album harks back to the glory days of hair and big guitars, keyboards and backing vocals.|
The album has been self produced - probably to ready it for this release - but the original mixing and engineering was done by Bob St. John and on several tracks Nuno Bettencourt.
The album has dated a little but is overall a better release than the Restless album.
The criterion for appeal is also similar. If you like big hard rock releases in the traditional US stadium 80's style.
But it also has the power of growing on you and over each listen harmonies and hooks make them selves known and the songs gather more depth.
Good vocals and fairly solid songs will help this album find fans.
You can actually see a little of Extreme in some of the tracks. That is probably the Nuno connection, eh?!
You Got What You Wanted is the closest link with some added funkiness.
In fact the heavier opening of the first three tracks soon gives way to a more melodic and AOR influenced album. The funk returns a little later on in the form of Stop This Crazy Ride and the party rocker Trapped.|
Lost In Love is a cool Journey-esque (again) ballad with plenty of backing vocals and a Perry-ish vocal.
The big power ballad Under Summer Skies is almost exactly what we look for in a classic AOR track. A slow start that builds to a bridge and chorus that climbs a little but not as much as expected. Some nice piano/keyboards.
Other highlights include the obviously singable pop rocker Sha La La La, the mid paced ballad When You Love Someone and the power vocal ballad of Something More.
A good solid enough album, with some cool songs that will grow with subsequent listens.
The production is OK and no doubt is helped by the guys behind the desk.
Unlike a couple of others reviewed here today, I will go back for some more of Sunshine Jive.
|PRODUCTION: 70%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 81%||ATTITUDE: 79%|
|MTM MUSIC 199661|
Restless come straight from a page in the 1990 American Handbook for MTV rock. This album was mainly recorded back then and was victim of the MTV washout.|
The album is a mix of guitar driven 'hair-band' rock and a healthy dose of keyboards.
The trouble is, if this album was released back in '90/'92 I think there is a very good chance it would have been missed anyway. It is on the lower end of the scale for similar albums released at that period.
Today with less competition and more emphasis on these indie releases to a very well informed market there is still not a lot more to offer.
The album has not aged as well as many others and sounds like very early Bon Jovi. All is not entirely bad news though! If you like keyboard driven rock with plenty of the usual ingredients like big guitars and easy going lyrics then this will still appeal.
The opening track Guilty is solid enough, the mid paced Keep The Fire Burning is also OK. Lightnin' Strikes is a good Journey-esque rocker and the ballad Willing is better.
The production is also a little up and down with some songs sounding a little hollow and a little rough.|
MTM releases have been fantastic over the past 12 months and that is the problem with this album. It is just that there are better albums out there right now and the quality of the songs aren't consistent enough and I have heard it all before.
|PRODUCTION: 45%||SONGS: 60%||VIBE: 50%||ATTITUDE: 52%|
|MTM MUSIC 199657|
It has been great to see all these new bands produced by the various AOR labels and they have provided some great tunes.|
But you know what I still really miss?
Solo albums! If I look back through my collection, most of my favorite records have been produced by solo singers.
There is something to be admired from placing your name aloft on a record sleeve, ultimately to solely take responsibility for the contents of the record.
There is something unique to a solo record. A sound that carries it apart from a band or group effort.
Thankfully the absence of such records has been filled slightly by two excellent releases from MTM Music.
Jimmy Lawrence is first up.
Jimmy has made a great album of AOR anthems. Touches of Jimmy Harnen and Jimmy Martin. Hey, is it something in the name?
Various producers have been used through the album, being recorded in a couple of different sessions. That hasn't however produced a disjointed record. There are varying sounds, but all fit together rather well. featured producers include Robert White Johnson, Tom Werman, Rick Neigher and Peter Wolf.
There are also some big session names involved.
Featured throughout the album are Dann Huff, Tim Pierce, John Pierce, David Huff, Stan Meissner, Rick Neigher, Peter Wolf and Bill Cuomo amongst others.|
All We Have is a perfect start and a true AOR anthem. A killer chorus and melodies flying high.
One Night Like This is a little more laid back, but still has plenty of AOR hooks and is a little Lou Gramm-ish in the vocals.
Under The Influence has a more mid western feel to it and leads to a real guitar driven chorus. A more stripped back guitar tune. Test Of Time is a slower big ballad with a rock feel and some great higher vocals.
Ain't No Thing is a happy pop rock tune. Not bad.
Tonight I Got The Wind is a better piece of pop rock with a little more mid-western influence and maybe a little Danny Wilde in there.
Rose Tattoo is the next best track on the album behind the opener. A real moody intro and raspy vocal that breaks into a chorus that is only slightly more uptempo, but really captures the feel of the song.
Cool Blue is a mid paced very smooth AOR pop ballad that includes a nice sax solo towards the end.
Fight For Your Love and After The Fire are both easy going pop rockers.
A Little More Blue Sky is a funky slice of mature pop and is different to the rest of the album's feel, but quite cool.
This album is a more pop rock AOR than the heavier guitar driven variety and offers plenty for both guitar and keyboard fans.
If you already own the other two Jimmy's - add a third to your collection!
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 83%||VIBE: 85%||ATTITUDE: 85%|
|MTM MUSIC 199658|
David Carl is a native of the Midwestern USA and like Jimmy Lawrence has gone straight to the top to enlist some key players in his debut album.|
The good news for melodic rock fans is that David's main partner for this project is none other than Jim Peterik of Survivor.
Jim co-writes a number of tunes with David and produces the whole affair.
As expected this puts the sound of the David Carl band into Survivor territory.
Not strictly the pure AOR Survivor, but the harder-edged sound that was evident on their last 'Too Hot To Sleep' record.
David adds that hard guitar driven sound to some bluesy riffs mixed in that compares a little to Aerosmith in the approach and sound.
Add in a little Tim Karr, Loverboy and that Survivor sound and Dave's your man.
Innocent Kiss kicks off with a bluesy upbeat rock swagger that doesn't immediately make the Survivor connection recognizable. A little Tim Karr-ish.|
For Jackie continues that style but a more laid back version of.
The first couple of tracks and maybe the last couple lack a little in production, but the middle section sounds pretty good.
Trapped is the first killer of the record. A raspy and moody rock anthem that rips through it's chorus. A Loverboy-but heavier vibe and a great tune.
Arms of Love is the first ballad of the record and is a typical Survivor-ish ballad with a keyboard and vocal style I am sure you will recognize. Would fit into a late 80's movie soundtrack with ease.
Love Is Like Heaven might just be my favorite track of the album. Another moody guitar driven starter with cool raspy vocals that rises to a bridge and an anthem chorus that lifts a mile. Cue backing vocals...
Crazy Love is a mid paced hard party rocker.
Can't Slow Down is pretty fast paced pop rocker that reminds me a little of 80's Journey.
Dreamin' is a mid paced song that is a really nice tune that isn't a ballad and isn't a rock song. The type of tune Bon Jovi used to do with ease.
Insatiable is just a good fun mid paced blues rocker with some nice Survivor overtones and a nice solo.
Make Love Shine is a good 'More Than Words' style laid back acoustic ballad featuring only Dave and his guitar.
Hungry Woman returns to blues hard rock - good fun and with a hint of Paul Dean solo. Cost Of High Lovin' uptempo pop rocker.
So it's a good solid guitar driven solo rock record that would fit along side any other of it's genre.
|PRODUCTION: 75%||SONGS: 85%||VIBE: 82%||ATTITUDE: 84%|
Bad Habit have somewhat refined their sound and their look. Now they appear have a more pure AOR sound and are as smooth as a baby's bum.|
This record is going to appeal to fans of that pure pop/rock AOR sound and to the softer side of the rock spectrum.
This is a high quality product with a really smooth production and some good songs. The first set of five songs are the best of the record. My only thought is that towards the end of the record things get a little less interesting.
But the first half more than makes up for that.
Shine The Light is a great little pop rock anthem with some memorable hooks and a bridge to an anthemic chorus. A little like a Van Halen ballad in style.
Heart Of Mine, Everytime I See You and Miss It When It's Gone continue to offer the AOR fan plenty. Some great songs, with biggish choruses and harmonies galore. On their own, some of the best pure AOR of the year.
I mention those songs in particular, as they really are the highlights. That doesn't take away from any of the other songs, as they are all fairly strong, but they are the ones that stand out the most.
The rest of the album continues along in a pleasant soft rock vein. The feel is distinctly Scandinavian, who have their own strong identity, which fans of these records should already know Bad Habit.
If you don't and just follow MTM, then this is a worthy addition.|
A hard edge or guitar driven record this isn't but if you like some pleasant pop rock with some pretty good vocals, the Bad Habit will rank highly on your playlist for weeks to come.
|PRODUCTION: 86%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 79%||ATTITUDE: 83%|
|MTM MUSIC 199659|
Almost 8 years on since their debut and it takes Heaven's Edge all of three seconds to hit the groove that their debut was acclaimed for.|
Rock Steady opens with some hard rocking guitars and a big budget production that will immediately appeal to classic hard rock fans.
Heaven's Edge have one of those Def Leppard / Van Halen / Firehouse style stadium rock sounds which sees this album in prime late 80's territory.
That is thankfully backed by a production that retains the freshness of their sound and doesn't allow for a dated record.
Infact, this is one of the catchiest and consistent hard rock records I have heard this year.
This album has hooks, bridges and choruses embedded everywhere.|
Lead vocalist Mark Evens has a great voice pitched somewhere between Honeymoon Suite and Firehouse.
The title track is a great up tempo acoustic backed rocker that grows on you with every play, as indeed does the rest of the album.
Jacky is one of the highlights of the album. A mild intro that leads to a guitar driven bridge and a mid paced anthem chorus.
Jump On It is a more Extremish funky hard rocker with big grooves.
Just Another Fire is a big acoustic ballad a la 'More Than Words' and almost borrows from the Extreme camp once again, but is original enough to stand alone.
Backseat Driver pretty much leaves the title to say it all. Typical party rock and as cheesy as it is, it's bloody catchy!
Cuts Both Ways is a Van Halen style tune. Call My Name is a uptempo anthemic track. Great melodic rock with a big AOR chorus. One of my favorite tracks.
Cry is a big ballad. plenty of guitars and a few keyboards. Another big AOR chorus. As good as any ballad on the debut. Rollercoaster ends the album with a big funky hard rocker. The production however, lets this track down a little.
Overall a great solid melodic rock album with enough hooks for the AOR fans and enough of the good ol' hard rocking 80's for the die hards.
If you own the debut album, this will be much loved. And if you are like me and don't - you will probably go out and finally find it!
|PRODUCTION: 74%||SONGS: 84%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 84%|
Public Domain is the team effort of Billy Trudel (one of Elton John's backing vocalists) and principle songwriter and keyboard player David Young.|
Other team players include Bruce Watson, Larry Antonino and Matt Laug.
This is another very smooth AOR record from MTM and will definitely find it's way into many collections.
I actually compare this release to another one of MTM's softer AOR releases Fake ID.
Fans of Westcoast music and artists like Larry Tagg, Rembrants and King Of Hearts should find plenty to like in Public Domain.
Billy Trudel has one of those soft and high vocal styles, but isn't afraid to let it go and really power into some tunes. Opener Radio Nights is one of those.
This album is driven by keyboards and acoustic guitars with the vocals of Trudel complimenting the sound.|
Some tracks like No Shame, Saving Grace and have a more earthy mid-western feel while others like the title track, Clues and the anthemish Marching On are pure AOR class.
Immortal Way is one tracks that gets a little tougher and a little alternative pop flavored, but for the most part it is straight ahead pop AOR.
Highlights include the tracks juts mentioned, the big AOR anthem tracks Shadow Of Eden and Silence Of Your Heart and the final track which was written by Elton John, Burnie Taupin and Davey Johnstone and given to Billy to use for this album.
That track will surely turn up on some FM stations worldwide as it has immediate appeal and can cross over to an audience of Elton fans.
if you like your AOR pure, or like some of the softer records out there, this album has vocals, songs, production and general quality seldom reached by others. Check it out.
|PRODUCTION: 88%||SONGS: 85%||VIBE: 81%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|MTM MUSIC - 199653|
CITA had some problems using that name (see showcase for expination), so here they are back as Guild Of Ages.|
And you know what - they are back better and bigger than ever. This is the best record they have recorded.
There is nothing that immediately stands out as an anthem or a hit single, but on every listen this album grows and grows on you, until you are humming choruses you never thought were there. I guess that is the sign of some strong songs.
Into The Night immediately gives notice that CITA are back and with a sound that is tougher, tighter and this song in particular highlights the bands original sound and knack of cool song writing, the songs' chorus is a killer.
Although American, the band posses an ability to cross borders and have a blend of European/ American hard rock that bands like Europe strived their whole careers for.|
Live To Fight is a more laid back rocker, that grows on you with every listen. It has a number of hook and a bridge that leads into the chorus, while still holding your interest.
Will I Surrender starts with a haunting and slow vocal that leads us through a couple of changes before building to a big yet restrained chorus. A mid paced ballad.
River Of Desire is a cleaver track. This is one of the best tracks the band have recorded, and definitely one of the best on this album. The vocal in the verse is raw and in your face.
I Believe has great tough riff and an equally tough vocal. The chorus has a great harmony mix and hook.
Walk The Line starts with a great slow solo and builds to a tougher verse. Another song that grows with every listen. A mid pacer.
Something Inside is another mid paced rocker, with harmony vocals throughout. Another great 'backing' lead vocal and cool hook.
Heaven Is Waiting is a mid paced rocker that requires some growing. Not as immediate as some of the other tracks.
Looking For Love is a highlight, it's a mid paced ballad that picks up pace to a laid back anthem like chorus with plenty of harmonies.
On The Wire is another good uptempo rocker, and Angela finishes the album with a big rock ballad, that mixes some of the more contemporary sounds of Guild Of Ages. Not a typical ballad by any means.
In short - the best album these guys have created yet, and one that surely should win over some new fans. Check out the showcase for some song samples.
|PRODUCTION: 92%||SONGS: 88%||VIBE: 83%||ATTITUDE: 85%|
|MTM MUSIC 199649|
It has been a long time coming for the comeback of British AOR Gods Dare.|
Darren Wharton was a man so frustrated with the whole scene it lead him to say the whole AOR scene was dead. Thankfully things are on the up and Darren has returned to his melodic rock roots to record one of the most vital pure AOR records in years.
The band now feature Darren with Andrew Moore on guitar, Julien Gardner on Drums and Martin Wilding on Bass. The album was recorded over the past couple of years with additional help from Richard Dews on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Sue Quinn on vocals and Kevin Whitehead on drums.
Dare's debut has long since been classed an all time classic, as it should be. The album was full of moody multi-layered power ballads with angst ridden lyrics.
The band's second album Blood From Stone used the basis of the moody Dare sound, but was more in the guitar driven hard rock approach, like Hardline, and contained only two ballads.|
After that the band went their own ways, and guitarist Vinny Burns has since formed the other UK AOR supergroup Ten.
Well the long awaited third release is here, and the best way to describe the record is superb!
Fans of the debut are going to love this record. Some of the songs have been around in demo form for a while, so there may be a few of you out there that have heard these songs already. Walk On The Water was also featured on the last MTM sampler. But the final product has been improved even more, with added layers of guitars and vocals recently added.
Reverting to their original sound, the new Dare is absolutely chock full of moody ballads, soaring choruses, multi-layered harmonies and music and those heart-torn lyrics are back in force. And it is long! only a couple of tracks under 5 minutes and half over 6.
Walk On The Water is originally a Blood From Stone recording, that has been re-recorded and greatly improved. Most should have heard it via the MTM sampler. Since then there has been added a great acoustic outro, that leads the song's harmonies on for another minute or two. Sounds great!
Some Day kicks off with a combination acoustic and electric guitar combination. A mid paced song with a chorus that the band have become famous for.
The title track slows things down a little for an eight minute plus journey into monster ballad territory. Acoustic guitars and keyboards and Darren's dark vocals running through a song that changes pace a few times and a huge chorus. The song builds to a climax that equals any great moment of the debut.
Rescue Me is as moody and melodic as the rest of the tracks, but in a more uptempo fashion. The chorus is a real anthem, and gives Darren a huge workout.
Silence Of Your Head is possibly the biggest anthem ballad on the record. It starts with a great piano sound and backing layers of keyboards and haunting vocals. The chorus is an anthem of huge proportions. Another six minute plus track. I love the ending - once again it is a song that leads to a climax and then lets you down slowly. A great blend of slow guitar solo's and piano.
Rising Sun is another heartfelt ballad, but more a mid paced ballad.
Ashes starts slowly with those lush acoustic guitars mixed again with keyboards and an electric solo. It builds towards the chorus where the drums and electric guitars crash in and the vocals soar again.
Crown Of Thorns is another uptempo rocker. Still moody and angst ridden, but more focus on the guitars and drums. A great chorus (again!). I love Darren's vocals here. Very stripped back.
Deliverance is one of the surprise tunes on the album. It is instantly different, with a really full guitar sound on top of maybe a dozen layers of extra instruments. The vocals don't appear till well into the second minute. It even has a ring of Pink Floyd to it. Then the vocals just catch you off guard. A slow pace has you entranced until this monstrous new age like multi-layered harmonized chorus hits you. And after a couple of chorus the songs just sort of trails off. Quite different and quite brilliant.
To end the album is a cover of the old Thin Lizzy tune Still In Love With You. While noticeably different to the other original material on the record, the band still manage to make it their own. A good version of an old classic.
So you don't really need to be told, but if you are a regular visitor to this page then this album requires buying. Do it now! (Or at least on the 25th, when it is released).
|PRODUCTION: 95%||SONGS: 92%||VIBE: 94%||ATTITUDE: 94%|
|MTM MUSIC 199652|
Big Bad Wolf is Craig Chaquico from Starship on guitars, Brett Bloomfield on Bass, Kenny Stavropoulos on Drums and newcomer Rolf Hartley on vocals and keyboards.|
And wow! This thing rocks! Craig must be letting loose after all his years of restraint in Starship and most recently making lovely new age influenced instrumental albums for Higher Octave. In fact, I think Craig hold the honor of having the highest selling album on the label's books.
Opener Midnight Angel has more in common with Slaughter or Firehouse than it does with Starship. Some really sharp sounding guitars, and Rolf is one hell of a singer, and not too removed from the other Starship legend Micky Thomas. Just more of a screamer!
Whereyawannago is little more standard hard rock fare, but leads into an acoustic intro for the killer anthem of the album I Can't Get Over You.
This is the closest thing to Starship on the record, and a real Def Leppard like mid paced anthem. Just check out the awesome vocals on this track.|
Walk Don't Run gets right back into rocking, and is as heavy as anything on any old Motley Crue record.
Crystal starts off a little LA Guns Hollywood Vampires style, but again heads into hard rocking anthem territory.
Shot Down By Love continues the hard rocking that continues until the end of the record, with the only excpetion being the big duo of Def Leppard style ballads, Light On For You, and the slightly heavier Don't Say Goodbye.
This album reminds me of LA hard rock circa the late 1980's. The sound and production is great, and for fans of that era and bands like Warrant, Firehouse, Def Leppard and LA Guns, I think you will love this album. A surprisingly different record from Craig Chaquico.
|PRODUCTION: 82%||SONGS: 84%||VIBE: 86%||ATTITUDE: 87%|
|MTM MUSIC 199650|
This is the eagerly awaited second Tower City album.|
And while the guys have certainly continued their run at big time pop anthem AOR, the album is a mix of highlights and some not so great moments.
Due to unfortunate timing, the album contains three Mike Slammer tunes that were co-produced by the man, two of which were also included on his excellent Steelhouse Lane CD. While these songs (Fire With Fire, I Won't Surrender and Two Sides Of Love) are cool, the better versions are probably with the Steelhouse Lane CD.
While Hot Water and Hungry get the album of to a big rock start, and Fight Fire With Fire has already proven itself, the killer tune In These Arms is what does it for me!
One of the great tunes of the album All Or Nothing is a killer anthem, but seriously let down by a substandard production. It unfortunately makes the track unenjoyable.
No Regrets and Another Brother are also out of style with the rest of the album, and fail to match up to the rest of the material.|
I Won't Surrender gets us back into anthem territory, and also gets the production quality back up.
Rush is a little heavier, and guitar driven than Tower City normally run with. Stockholm is a nice acoustic driven number and I Just Want To Be The One is another big AOR number, but could have used an improved production.
The album finishes with a hidden track Surrender. This is a number re-donefrom the debut album from last year.
Not a bad anthem style AOR record, but between the couple of older songs redone, and the Mike Slammer tunes, there is not enough classic new material to make this an essential release.
|PRODUCTION: 68%||SONGS: 60%||VIBE: 69%||ATTITUDE: 66%|
Take a close listen to Ernie White, because this won't be the last your hear of him.|
Ernie is pure stripped back midwestern USA acoustic rock, and is the part time writing buddy of Richie Sambora. In fact, Ernie covers one of the tunes they wrote together for the Undiscovered Soul record.
Finely written songs are the highlight of this record, with Ernie's Joe Lynn Turner like raspy vocals supplying the added melodies.
Picture a more stipped back or country influenced version of Sambora or JLT, and mix that with a little John Kilzer (remember him?) and you get Scenes From America.
The title and opening track deserves to be on every FM station in the States, while the quality of the other tracks should see him continue to be highly sort after as a songwriter. The Richie Sambora co-written track is 'Chained', which on Sambora's record is titled Rescue Me.
Amongst the other tracks, there is an equal mix of uptempo and slower bluesier numbers.
With John Kilzer, I always liked his rock tracks better than his ballads, but with Ernie White I have no such preference. Either are as strong as the other.|
The only track I really can't get into is the jazz/blues infuenced 'Something To Kill The Pain'. This album is a fine collection of very rootsy midwestern pop, with both feet firmly placed in the heartland of American rock.
|PRODUCTION: 82%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 74%||ATTITUDE: 74%|
|MTM MUSIC 995.648|
The opening two tracks on Stun Leer's Once album give you an impression that this is going to be one hard rocking album.|
Both Love Is A Liar and Go Don't Go are splendid slices of melodic heavier rock, that send one back to the era of the classic Scorpions 'Rhythm Of Love' sound.
But after those two, the album heads in an even more melodic direction, with some really smooth mid paced rockers and some nice Def Leppardesque balladry. If You Want Love is a prime example of a big anthem like ballad, with those great layered harmonies that the Lep's do so well.
Eye To Eye continues in the more melodic vein, a medium to fast paced pop rocker, with some great vocals and melodies that really do remind me of the mid to late 80's, but recorded without being remotely dated.|
Foolin' gets heavy again, similar to the opening track. No Words Can Say is another mid paced ballad, with a laid back anthem of a chorus. Come To Me is a big rocker, with a cool groove. Same with All The Kings Horses.
Vocalist Doug Howard at times reminds me a little of Vince Neil and a little of Richard Black from Shark Island. And there is smacks of another snger in there also - but I just can't seem to recall who! Do you?
But he also has the ability to switch to a really smooth ballad and sing like an angel!
Hungry Eyes is an example of that, a really cool mid paced rocker with a big Def Leppard like layered chorus.
Deliver rounds out the album, it's another mid paced rocker with yet another cool chorus! A treat for fans of the harder melodic rock of the mid to late 80's, but without sounding dated.
|PRODUCTION: 75%||SONGS: 78%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 81%|
|MTM MUSIC 199647|
Now this is a good record! This must be the best pure bombastic AOR release since Hugo's solo debut earlier last year.|
Mike Slammer is the man behind the band AOR legends 'Streets'. Not only that, but he has written a fantastic buch of songs for other artists.
This album has collected some of those tunes for Mike to do his original interpretations, and added some newly written songs. Add to that the legendary Chris Thompson on backing vocals, and you have a real winner.
First up is Mike's version of 'Metallic Blue' covered by House Of Lords on the album 'Demons Down'. Slightly different, and a few keyboards added, but just as big and just as rocking.
'Addicted' is a track that has been covered by Wall Of Silence. What a killer tune this is.
A chorus to die for!! Big heavy guitar, keyboard melodies and vocals layered deep.|
'I Won't Surrender' is a classic hard AOR tune, I have heard it before, but can't recall where!! Again - big big big!
Another reprised track 'Dr. Love' is a somewhat tamer version of the Hardline classic. Still, Mike Slammer has a great voice and manages to make the track sound as menacing as the original.
'Still' is a killer AOR anthem, with all the essential ingredients. One of the album's smoother tracks.
'Find My Way' is another class song, a new one for this project. A big AOR ballad, with a great vocal performance. The chorus will rate as an all time classic given time.
'Fight Fire With Fire' I have heard elsewhere (I think!), a high class AOR anthem. (sorry - I don't have the liner notes yet!!).
'The Best Years Of My Life' is a slower ballad, another original for this album.
'Can't Find Love' is another tune from the House Of Lords 'Demos Down' album.
'Feel My Love' tonight is mid paced rocker with a harder chorus, some nice 'ohh, ohhing' and big harmonies throughout.
The album is rounded off with 'Brighter Day', this time from the solo album by James Christian (these two guys are obviously tight!).
This album is for fans of big time guitar driven AOR and anthems galore. Big USA stadium rock is alive and well. Hardline and Giant have some competition! Great production, great vocals. What a great ride - an essential purchase
|PRODUCTION: 85%||SONGS: 91%||VIBE: 85%||ATTITUDE: 89%|
|FIORE/TODAY TILL TOMORROW|
|MTM MUSIC||1. Out Of Love 2. All Along 3. It Can Only Get Better 4. Anything 5. Don't Take It Too Fast 6. Today Till Tomorrow 7. Strong Enough 8. How Many Times 9. Corner Of My Mind 10. Whatever I Want 11. Someday Soon||
|Total Score 87%||Production 91%||Songs 89%||Vibe 85%||Attitude 83%|
Fiore is a four piece featuring singer Jon Fiore, who for a time ran with the band Preview.|
The rest of the band comprises three ex-Fall From Grace members.
The great thing here is however, the whole thing is co-written, Produced, Mixed and Engineered by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance of Harem Scarem. Add to that the whole band play on it in the role as additional musicians, and you have a sure fire reason to sell your Grandmother in order to buy it.
And as sure as the pedigree would suggest, this is almost another Harem Scarem album.
Discounting all the Scarem influences, this is a bloody fine melodic rock album.
Musically it is as close to Harem Scarem's more melodic debut album. Most of the songs on Today Till Tomorrow could have featured on that debut.
'Out Of Love' is a strong opener, setting the record straight for what you are in for for the remaining tracks.
There are some tracks which fly higher than the others. The others all track in that familiar style of Scarem's debut.
But the ones that warrant high praises are the second track 'All Along', with it's huge anthem chorus and raspy desperate vocal verses. An instant classic that keeps growing.
'It Can Only Get Better' is a huge mid paced power ballad, with some acoustic backing. Another monsterous chorus, with all those famous Harem Scarem multi layered vocals.
'Anything' is a great pop rock feel good tune with again, those vocals and that type of chorus!
'Strong Enough' and 'Corner Of My Mind' are both acoustic driven ballads, while inbetween those and after it, lies a couple of cool rockers.
Without raving on too much, which I probably already have done, Today Till Tomorrow is a classy melodic hard rock album that every Harem Scarem fan should own, and file next to their own albums.
For those who have wanted Harem Scarem to return to their melodic best, this is also the answer you have been looking for.
|MTM MUSIC||1. Calling The World 2. Two Nights In Tokyo 3. Chameleon 4. Mission Man 5. When Love Comes Back 6. The Snake 7. April May 8. All For Rock N Roll 9. Disbeliever 11. Propaganda 12. Stop Sleeping Your Dreams Away 13. Soldier Of Fortune 14. Barely Human||
|Total Score 82%||Production 83%||Songs 84%||Vibe 88%||Attitude 88%|
Chameleon is apt title for Von Groove's new record. becasue it is actually in disguise from it's original form - the Japanese release Mission Man.|
I reviewed Mission Man as a good return to basics, but not quite complete. I am not actually sure if it is the added three new tracks of 'Calling The World', 'April May' and 'Soldier Of Fortune' that make this album almost essential, or the fact that this time around I have had a greater time to listen to it and absorb it better. What ever it is - this is Von Groove's best album to date, and a solid melodic hard rock album if there ever was one.
The songs speak for themselves. Good strong vocals, pounding guitar and cool melodies.
'Calling The World' features some particularilily strong vocals, that some times remind me of the awesome Heavy Bones.
The album features hints of Motley Crue, Def Leppard and fellow Canadians Triumph and vocally - Mike Reno of Loverboy, as well as the fore-mentioned Heavy Bones (RIP!)
'When Love Comes Back' is a great ballad, while 'The Snake' heads into alternative meets old Motley Crue.
'April May' is a very cool acoustic driven mid paced ballad.
There are some very heavy tracks on Chameleon. Just check out 'Disbeliever', 'Mission Man' and 'Barely Human'.
Mix those heavier rocking tracks with the stylish melodic ballads and mid paced tracks, and the album has a balance I don't think it had before.
Fans of traditional American/Canadian fist pumping stadium hard rock should look towards checking the new Von Groove out. Anyone with their debut should buy this immediately.
|FAKE ID/DREAMING EZEKIEL|
|MTM MUSIC 1996||1. Above And Beyond The Call Of Love 2. Heartbreak Moon 3. Nothing Next To You 4. Tied To The Mast 5. Half A Heart 6. Even The Strong 7. Tears Don't Put Out The Fire 8. Hearts Break Like Promises 9. Go Easy 10. I'm A Fighter||
|Total Score 77%||Production 75%||Songs 80%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 80%|
This is about as pure an AOR release as you are going to get.
You don't get much smother than the first two tracks on this record. Two tracks, 'Above And Beyond The Call Of Love' and 'Heartbreak Moon' that almost together could sum up AOR.
In circumstance and in style there are some comparisons to be made between this album and Mark Free's Now & Then records release 'Long Way From Home'.|
Both albums were written entirely by two pairs of women. The material on 'Long Way From Home' was written by the Randall sisters, while the Fake ID record has been composed by the duo of Pamela Moore Barlow and Janet Morrison Minto. They also supply backing vocals. The style of the two is also similar. Coming from a female perspective, the songs are definitely softer going and all very nice, if you know what I mean.
But this is by no means a criticism, because as with the Mark Free release, there is a great voice behind the mike, adding real strength to the recordings.
The man in question is one Gene Miller. He has a similar voice to that of Free (or what Free used to have!), maybe a little higher again.
The melodies are fantastic, with hooks and bridges to keep most satisfied, and some lush keyboards courtesy of Pat Regan. In a fine show of balance, there are also a couple of 'meatier' tracks with some nice guitar thrown in.
An all round good performance from Fake ID, with something for everyone. Two notes - If you have this album and are looking for a companion release, I highly recommend two albums. Mark Free's album and Jimmy Martin 'Kids Of The Rocking Nation'. Likewise, if you have those two albums and enjoyed them, then Fake ID will do the same for you.
|RANSOM/TROUBLE IN PARADISE|
|MTM MUSIC 199627||1. Bring It On Home 2. Trouble In Paradise 3. Wounded By Love 4. Middle Of The Night 5. Good Lovin' Gone Bad 6. Was It Worth Goodbye 7. Can You Fall In Love Again 8. Can't Live Without Your Love 9. Long Hot Summer 10. Can You Take The Heartache 11. Let Tonight Be The Night We Remember 12. In Love Again||
|Total Score 70%||Production 70%||Songs 65%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 75%|
These guys must have the longest song titles in AOR! What a mouthful. Nothing too outstanding here, nor original. But what they do, they do well. Twelve solid tunes in the pure AOR vein, comparisons vocally to Tommy Shaw, and those like him with a higher range. Musically, European keyboard driven AOR, with plenty of choruses, hooks, ballads, and some nice guitar sounds thrown in for good measure.|
Highlights include the title track, and well, actually the whole album is fairly solid, so have a quick listen and if you like what you hear, you will like the whole affair.
There has been better releases, but there have been much worse. So if Euro style keyboard AOR is your thing, Ransom you will enjoy!
|THINK OUT LOUD/SHELF LIFE|
|MTM MUSIC||1. Castles On Quicksand 2. Way Beyond My Reach 3. Don't Throw It Away 4. From Where I Stand 5. Answer To The Why 6. Moonlight On Water 7. Just Like That 8. Let's Talk About Love 9. I'll Find My Way Again 10. Calm Before The Storm 11. Dancing On A High Wire 12. Invisible Man||
|Total Score 77%||Production 75%||Songs 80%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 80%|
You don't get any more American than the duo of Peter Beckett (LRB and Player) and Stephen Kipner (writer for Chicago & Whitney Houston) that is Think Out Loud.|
This album, while consistant in quality,really blends some styles, and varies from one track to the next.
Opening track 'Castles On Quicksand' sounds like a killer AOR anthem, crossing Tim Feehan with John Parr.
From that point we get some similar styled tracks, but also the odd experimental track (track 3), and tracks that take their sound influences from Chicago, Mr Mister, classic Westcoast and traditional AOR.
I think you can gett he feel for what this is.
We have a few straight AOR tunes, some keyboard driven songs, some totally machine driven numbers, horns, saxaphones, guitars.....
This is a very smooth collection of American style Westcoast / AOR, in the vein of classic acts like Chicago.
I would not recommend this to hard rock fans, but rathe rthose already converted to the softer vein of pure Westcoast. For lovers of that style, Think Out Loud will be a treat.
|AXE / 20 YEARS FROM HOME - BEST OF|
|MTM MUSIC 199633||1. Running The Gauntlet 2. Rock N Roll Party 3. Burn The City Down 4. Heat In The Street 5. Now Or Never 6. Life's Just An Illusion 7. Eagle Flies Alone 8. Living On The Edge 9. All Through The Night 10. First Time, Last Time 11. Forever 12. Back On The Streets 13. Heroes And Legends 14. Sting Of The Rain||
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 75%|
Axe have come back to life in the last couple of years, with a new studio album 'Five' and lead man Bobby Barth's involvement in CITA.|
Their back catalogue, from the early days is still awol on disc, but this compilation may keep both hardcore and new fans quiet.
The band have put together a nice 12 track hits package, and added 2 other tracks from the 'Five' album. But the nice difference here, is that the band have actually returned to the studio and re-recorded these classics, to update them to a fresh 90's production. The songs themselves have not changed much, just the technology that they were recorded with.
This has maintained the sanctity of the originals, ensuring that the songs live into the next century.
People who picked up on the band with the 'Five' release, may find this hits package a better option than buying into the old catalogue, and old fans may find renewed life with these classics.
|DANGER DANGER / FOUR THE HARD WAY|
|MTM MUSIC 199634||1. Still Kickin' 2. Sick Little Twisted Mind 3. Jaded 4. captain Bring Me Down 5. Going All The Way 6. The Girl Ain't Built To Sleep Alone 7. Goin' Goin' Gone 8. Afraid Of Love 9. Heartbreak Suicide 10. I Don't Need You||
|Total Score 97%||Production 95%||Songs 96%||Vibe 97%||Attitude 98%|
Thank God for albums like this.|
It is albums like this that reconfirm my faith in rock n roll, and in the artists that make it.
However, only occasionally do we get a treat like this. Ten no bullshit, hard rocking melodic tunes that redefine what Danger Danger are, and in turn redefine what a great hard rock album should sound like. The band have had two lives now. One with Ted Poley as the good times boys, and the second with Paul Laine as the more serious musician 'rockers'. They have gone from the girl friendly pop rock sound of their first two Ted Poley albums, to the alternative 90's sound of their first all original Paul Laine album.
With 'Four The Hard Way', the band have meshed those two styles, and added a new dimension, and brought out the best in both those worlds, while creating a world of their own.
This is an album that experiments with sound, but never loses focus and it never sounds like a track shouldn't be there. To compare would be unfair, but for an example of the sound, take Paul Laine's 'Stick It In Your Ear' record and add a little Motley Crue 'Generation Swine' and a little of Danger Danger's debut album.
The album kicks off with two hard modern 90's fuelled rockers, with monsterous guitar riffs and a really hard vocal. Laine really knows how to scream! These first two tracks apparently originate from the 'Cockroach' sessions.
The third track 'Jaded' is another modern rocker, more melodic and a hit if any could be. The style is similar to Motley Crue's 'Afraid'.
'Captain Bring Me Down' is a psychadelic Beatles influenced hard edged ballad, with another killer vocal. 'Going All The Way' is a more traditional fast paced feel good rocker, it could have easily come off 'Stick It In Your Ear'. 'The Girl....' is another more straight ahead rocker, and leads into 'Goin' Goin' Gone', a modern rocker which builds to a frantic blazing guitar and vocal finish.
'Afriad Of Love' is the first and only sign of a ballad, and could have come from any Def Leppard album (even with the backing vox), but only better!
'Heartbreak Suicide' is the killer anthem of the album. With a mildly punkish riff and verse, the chorus is as catchy as it's going to get, and by the end of the song, you will never forget it.
'I Don't Need You' finishes the album in grand style, a hard rocking anthem, with hallmarks of a classic all over it.
If you love 'em loud, and you love them big, then it doesn't get any bigger or better than this. Ten tracks of pure hard rock heaven. Possibly the album of the year, definately the album of their career.
|MTM MUSIC 199632||1. Didn't I 2. The Ghost Of You 3. You Can Jump Alone 4. Shelter 5. Victims Of The Night 6. Hands Of Time 7. Love By The Numbers 8. Not In The Mood For A Heartache 9. I Know Better Than You Do 10. Love's A Loaded Gun 11. Love Takes 12. Back Under Fire||
|Total Score 90%||Production 85%||Songs 85%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 95%|
Baton Rouge's third album re-unites legendary producer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Ponti with the hard rock vocalist of the moment, in Kelly Keeling.|
I like some of Keeling's work - such as his vocals on John Norum's 'Another Destination' and 'World's Away'. I also don't like some of it - such as the 'Guitar Zeus' record.
I also am not a huge fan of the the previous Baton Rouge albums. The first was good, but I thought the second was below average.
But you know what? All previous efforts by both parties have just been eclipsed well and truely!! This is a killer record!
I haven't heard Kelly sing as well as this, and as for the guitar - just supurb.
Thanks to Mr. Ponti, the guitar sound is well and truely in you face and well up in the mix. The riffs are crunching, yet melodic, and surprisingly raw.
The whole project has been nicely put together. The vocals are strong and consistant, the songs are of high quality and chock full of riff's, melodies, hooks and solo's.
The rest of the band sound tight and well drilled.
Opener 'Didn't I' gets my vote as song of the album, with an awesome bridge into the chorus. Melodies, hooks and riffs everywhere.
The album is incredibly consistant, with no fillers at all. But highlights include the moody power ballads 'The Ghost Of You' and 'Not In The Mood For A Heartache', and the anthem rock tracks 'Victims Of The Night', 'Hands Of Time' and 'Shelter'. But to single these tracks out is almost unfair to the rest of the record, the songs really are that good.
I am almost spoilt this month, with the Danger Danger as well, but these two albums will keep me going for a while I think!
If you are a fan of previous works, then thismay prove to be the best effort yet - I think so. And if like me, you were never that huge a fan - it is definately time to take a look. Otherwise you may be missing out on one of the best albums of the year.
|VARIOUS/MTM SAMPLER VOLUME 2|
|MTM MUSIC 199642||See Review for Track listing||
|Total Score 90%||Production 90%||Songs 90%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 90%|
As far as compilation albums and AOR samplers go, you are not going to find anything better than this.
It is also a great taster for what MTM has instore for us in 1998.
And on the strength of this, it looks pretty good from here!|
And as an added bonus, there are unreleased tracks from a couple of 1997's best releases. The album kicks off with what can only be described as a breathtaking AOR masterpiece. Dare's new track 'Walk On The Water' has all the ingredients of their awesome first album like heavy keyboards, huge moody vocals, killer hooks going in all types of direction and some tasty guitar thrown in.
This new Dare album will be a serious contender for '98. Darren Wharton has managed to mix the melodic brilliance of the debut with the increased guitar presence on the 'Blood From Stone' record. Classic track.
By now you should have all heard the Danger Danger. If you haven't, if this track track doesn't convince you to buy the album, nothing will.
Fantasy Of Love is an Japanese bonus track from the 'Twenty Years From Home' record. Domino is a crunching hard rocker from the Japanese release of Loverboy's Six album. Another cool track.
Tower City provide our first glance into their upcoming All Or Nothing album. A cool track that takes up where the last album left off.
One of the most essential tracks of the compilation is the hilarious Love Receiver from Rick Springfield's Sahara Snow project. Listen carefully to the lyrics! Hurricane Town is another cool unreleased track, this time from Robert Tepper. Another highlight is the preview of the European re-release of Von Groove's Mission Man album retitled Chameleon. This is the title track, which truly rocks big time. Watchout for this album early this year.
Tracks from Ten, mark Spiro and Ransom all come from their album's available now. Storyteller's We all Go Marching On, is the title track from their upcoming debut. This album could also be worth keeping an eye out for.
Beggars And Thieves offer Piece Of My Heart from their upcoming album due mid next year. This track came from the sessions of Look What You Create, but couldn't be included for contractual reasons. This album is promised to be a real hard rocking anthem album. Finishing up the sampler volume 2 are four tracks from upcoming albums. Mike Slammer's Steelhouse Lane record his own version of the track he wrote for Hardline 'Dr Love'. A not unsimilar version. Killer tune!
Stun Leer's Go, Don't Go show that they may have one of the hardest rocking albums of 1998, while Fiore is Harry Hess of Harem Scarem produced. That means this track is almost classic Scarem, and a classic example of melodic AOR at it's best.
Harlan Cage's Blow Wind Blow, is a preview of their Tickets For Dreamer's album. For the last track, CITA provide a live rendition of Silent Soldiers. The full live disc will be a bonus with the first pressing of their new album, due in March or April. At any price. this compilation would be grand value and essential, at the reduced cost, it is vital.
|MTM MUSIC||1. My Devotion 2. Rhythm Of You 3. Rain Came Tumblin' Down 4. Time Keeps Ticking 5. Love Is War 6. Kiss The World Away 7. Sunset City 8. Better With A Broken Heart 9. Campbell River Road 9. Valdez 10. Don't Leave Me 11. Guardian Angel 12. Desert Bloom||
|Total Score 93%||Production 95%||Songs 95%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 95%|
This is Now, Now Is Then was a great example of how smooth an album can get.|
There were some tremendous songs on that album, which was for sure the best of Mark Spiro's career.
Fortunately, I think 'Devotion' has even topped that. The opening track just sets the scene for an amazinr record.
'My Devotion' has to be the biggest anthem, as for layers, vocals, and pure style that Spiro has recorded. Huge track!
Infact the album as a whole seems more uptemp than the previous record.
Check out 'Rain Came Tumblin' Down', 'Sunset City' and 'Time Keeps Tickin' for examples of a tougher, dirtier and more urgent sounding Mark Spiro.
The huge production and the comparisons to the last record and all the big choruses are there, but this is a definate step forward.
'Love Is War' is a great example of what Iheven't heard from Spiro before. It is more guitar driven, a little more stripped back than normal, urgent and totally convicing.
As for what traditional fasn would want, they will not be dissapointed. Spiro's vocal performance is nothing short of fantastic.
They will enjoy the more subtle tracks like 'Kiss The World Away', 'Better With A Broken Heart' and 'Campbell River Road' for their pure Westcoast fix.
This album is 13 tracks of pure AOR brilliance.
If you liked the last album, you will love this. If you found the last album okay - you will love this this. If you wanted a few more guitars - you got 'em!!
This is a great American AOR super album.
|NEH USA/MTM EUROPE||1. Intro 2. Magic 3. Heroes And Legends 4. Sting Of The Rain 5. Life In The Furnace 6. Burn Me Once 7. Where There's Fire 8. Holding Onto The Night 9. Anyplace On This Highway 10. Battles||
|Total Score 70%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Packaging 70%|
I have to admit, I have never previously heard an Axe record. But I can be forgiven for that, as their last album was released in 1983. But here they are, lead by guitarist Bobby Barth, fresh from his own succeses in producing and writing with C.I.T.A.|
I will have to take this CD on face value, not having heard any previous albums, but from here it sounds like the band have not missed a beat in their absence. The sound is tight, production excellent and overall balance makes the album roll along nicely.
The style is hadr to pigeon hole. There are some great balladds in AOR, some rockier moments that lend themselves to 80's hard rock, and other tracks sound like Euro rock/metal.
I can see this CD going over well in Europe, cause of the style, but it is definately not a one sided record. It is best described as being a solid collection of melodic gard rock tunes, with a little keyboards, a few ballads and a lot of guitar. Safe to say, if you own both the C.I.T.A albums,and own all the MTM label records you will like this also. Highlights include the opener 'Magic', 'Burn Me Once' and 'Holding Onto The Night'.
|STORMING HEAVEN/LIFE IN PARADISE|
|MTM MUSIC 199610||1. Razor Farm 2. Wanda Wire 3. Crossing My Heart 4. Jessie's Journey - The Suite a)Cross The Line b)Red Knight c)The Passage d)Dream House 5. Time Machine 6. Don't Find It Amusing 7. She Wolf 8. Life In Paradise||
|Total Score 60%||Production 70%||Songs 55%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 70%|
|This is Storming Heaven's debut disc, which has been described as progressive AOR. Not far from the truth, but in my opinion, the band sound better when they are sticking to their four minute songs. They have a great vocalist who sounds a little like Jeff Scott Soto in places, and a little like Harem Scarem's Harry Hess in other places.|
They have a good sound, good hard edged guitar with a not too over baring mix of keyboards, and importantly, some good melodies.
If you like the above vocalists, and a little progressive in your life this wouldn't be a bad album to pick up.
However I think the only let down here, is the lack of a few more killer tunes. Maybe if they continue on, we might find theor next album, just that, and that could only be a good thing. I, for one, would buy that! Stand out tracks include the two opening numbers and the heavier Harem Scarem like 'She Wolf'.
|MTM MUSIC 199620||1. Fighting The Good Fight 2. The Ultimate Touch 3. Can't Sell Me Love 4. Not A Dat Goes By 5. Promises 6. Run For Your Life 7. Youngblood 8. Right Before My Eyes 9. Hit Where It Hurts 10. Hard Fall||
|Total Score 80%||Production 90%||Songs 75%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 85%|
|Straight from the big Bon Jovi book of songwriting comes Stone Soup, a U.S band that have been around since 1985 and had their share of record company crap. That is the main reason their debut has waited until 1997 to see the light of day.|
But here they are, and it was probably worth the wait. Ten tracks of melodic guitar and keyboard driven rock and hard rock, with a couple of ballads for good measure.
The songs are easily recognisable as 80's material, with the biggest influence probably Bon Jovi's 'Slippery When Wet'. But that doesn't add or subtrack from the record. Simply stated, the songs stand on their own as strong melodic hard rock. If you are not into commercial rock, or don't like much keyboards in your music, then I wouldn't recommend this. However if you do, don't look any further.
Singer Patrick Klein thankfully isn't a Jon Bon Jovi clone, and has quite a good voice on him. There are a couple of great hooks and plenty of choruses, so if you miss big 80's American stadium rock, then look this disc up!
|TOWER CITY/A LITTLE BIT OF FIRE|
|MTM MUSIC 19966||1. Talking To Sarak 2. A Little Bit Of Fire 3. Ain't Nobody To Love 4. I'll Sleep Tonight 5. Moonlight 6. Surrender 7. Closer To The Heart 8. Stop Running 9. When It All Falls Down 10. Something About You 11. Hooked On Home 12. Down All Night 13. Love And Money||
|Total Score 80%||Production 80%||Songs 80%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 80%|
|This has been out for a while now, but I have just been able to get a copy, so I though I would review it anyway. Based around the talents of one Larry Saltis, Tower City have a tough hard edged guitar album that mixed with a great production, have turned up the heir to the Def Leppard throne!|
A Little Bit Of Fire is basically a mix between 'Adrenalize' era-Leppard and early Harem Scarem, with a little Bon Jovi commecialness thrown in. Yep, there is a heavy likeness to the mighy Leps, with the big vocals, the multi-track guitar sounds and even the drums. But that is only part of the attraction of the album. There are the big ballads like 'Surrender' and 'I'll Sleep Tonight', big rockers like 'Talking To Sarah' and 'Hooked On Hope' and even some mid paced tunes like 'Something About You'.
Overall, some great tunes, great melodies and big big sound that some bigger bands are sadly missing. I recommend you have a listen, regardless if you are a fan of the forementioned bands. You should find a lot to like.
|MTM MUSIC 199613|
|1.Roar 2.Love Is The Ritual 3.Womans Point Of View 4.Everyday Of My Life |
5.Don't Give Up On Me 6.Love (And Love Alone)
7.There's A Hero In Every Heart 8.River Of Fire 9.Keep Open Your Heart 10.Someday 11.Local Hero 12.Love Is More Than A Four Letter Word
|Total Score 90%||Production 85%||Songs 90%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 90%|
|This album is a compilation of some old and some new. Regardless of where they have come from, these songs are classics. I cannot stop playing this cd. From the opening track 'Roar', the subdued rocker with a huge end (and featuring one-time Hooter Mindy Jostyn), to the closing track 'Love Is More Than A Four Letter Word', this album show cases Glen in his classic vein, a rocker with heart. There are a few tracks here from the scrapped follow up to 'Heroes And Zeros', tracks 3,4,5 and the second track 'Love Is The Ritual', whick Glen used with Styx.|
There are also a couple of new tracks (7, 12) and the original version of 'River Of Fire', covered by Canadian AOR great Stan Meissner and 'Every Day Of My Life', covered by US band Open Skyz.
Where as 'Palookaville' could be termed the new Adult Contempory Glen Burtnik, this showcase is for the fans of his two classic A&M recordings, and a fine addition to any fans collection.
And for the record, there is plenty more archival tapes ou there. I have a five tracker from the sessions to follow up 'Heroes And Zeros', of which only 'Everyday Of My Life' is included here. Stay tuned!
|ST CLAIR/ST CLAIR|
|MTM MUSIC 199626||1. 3 Words 2. San Fernando 3. Stay 4. Fire And Ice 5. After The Fire 6. Siren Song 7. Not For Me To Say 8. Wise 9. Something For Somebody 10. Shadow Of Myself 11. Rocket To The Promised Land 12. Turn The Wheel||
|Total Score 70%||Production 80%||Songs 70%||Vibe 72%||Attitude 75%|
St Clair is guitarist Scott Sheets of Pat Benatar fame, and Ron Corbett on guitar and vocals. This album is definately going to strike a chord with many AOR fans out there.|
It is acoustic driven classic style AOR, in a very similar vein to The Rembrants and Glen Butnik's more recent work, with a little Van Stephenson thrown in for good measure.
The album features a few guests, with the likes of Tim Pierce, Donnie Nossof (John Waite) and Rudy Sarzo.
For the most part, the album is laid back acoustic AOR, a good example would be to compare the feel to that of King Of Hearts. But there are a few moments where they hit out and come up with a couple of great AOR anthems. After The Fire, 3 Words and Something For Somebody are the best examples.
This album may be a little too laid back for some, but if you are already a fan of the bands mentioned above, then you will be playing this for a while. Otherwise there are a few classic tunes, on a generally above average release.
|THE KEY/THE WORLD IS WATCHING|
|MTM MUSIC 199626||1. Down We Go 2. Freedom Calling 3. The Caretakers Of The Garden 4. Lonley As The Rising Sun 5. Wanted You To Be The One 6. The American Dream 7. The Love We Had 8. I'll Always Be There 9. The World Is Watching 10. Love Leads Us On||
|Total Score 65%||Production 60%||Songs 65%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 70%|
The Key is Billy Sherwood of World Trade and Yes fame teamed with Marty Walsh, known for his work with Supertramp, and Hugh Meign on drums. Together they form a power trio that don't mind pounding out a few tunes!|
The production isn't as clear or as sharp as the last couple of MTM releases, but don't let that turn you off. The songs are still strong, and the sound big. It will appeal to fans of big bombastic rock, in the vein of Yes and World Trade. There are plenty of choruses, big guitar and keyboards, and a huge bass sound. There are also enough meldies to go round for any hook hungry fan.
I am finding it hard to make any comparisons, but I guess stuff like Styx and Alliance could compare. At least, if you don't like them, you probably won't like this.
Good strong vocals, great playing, but maybe the production lets the side down a little. Anyway, have a listen and if you have any comparisons for me, let me know! Maybe I am missing something obvious.
|BEGGARS AND THIEVES/LOOK WHAT YOU CREATE|
|MTM MUSIC 199619||1. What's Going On 2. Red Rose Parade 3. Price Of Mercy 4. Soul Confession 5. Stranger 6. Shine A Light 7. Mystify 8. Mad Dog Wine 9. Bittersweet And Blue 10. True To Yourself 11. Look What You Created||
|Total Score 95%||Production 95%||Songs 95%||Vibe 95%||Attitude 95%|
|I previously reviewed the original version of this album, that was the intended release. Now a few years on, the product is finally out, but there have been a few changes which unfortunately take away from the album.|
Why these changes have been made, only the band can answer, but in my opinion, it is definately worse off for it. The difference is that the band have taken the original third tack to open the album, and dumped completely the first two tracks, which were both up tempo hard rock tracks. The other loss to the new record is the original closing track 'Midnight Train', which was also a great upbeat rocker.
And here is the problem. The replacement songs are three blues laced tunes. When added to the already present couple of blues songs, they leave the album more a blues record, rather than the sharp, hard edged guitar sound we have come to love from the band.
Now don't get me wrong, every track is pure class, but I am left wishing there were more happy rock tunes, you know!! What is missing is those anthems we love from the debut. The three newly added tracks are 'Look What You Create', 'Red Rose Parade' and 'Mad Dog Wine'.
Despite the critisism, it is still one of the finest records of the year.
|PSYCHOACTIVE/MTM||1. Come Back, Marie 2. Chain Letter 3. Hand In Hand 4. Drive Away 5. Don't Say You Want To Be My Friend 6. If You Make Your Train 7. The Turnaround 8. We Go Way Back 9. Next Big Thing 10. After This Love Is Gone 11. You Make Me Hate My Morning Coffee 12. What Will Survive||
|Total Score 77%||Production 80%||Songs 85%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 70%|
Larry is one of the veterans of Westcoast style AOR and therefor has reached legend status.
This means that this is the brand new solo record from Westcost legend Larry Tagg.|
Larry travells down the same roads that has made himself and the guys whose records he plays sessions for famous, yet Larry still manages to do it with more style and more grace than all who have followed in his footsteps.
This is one very smooth record and will have fans of that laid back Westcoast feel wetting themselves with joy.
There are a couple of definate highlights, the main one is the featured collaboration with former Rembrandts frontman Danny Wilde.
'Hand In Hand' is an instant classic, and could have come off any Rembrandts album. And that is a good reference for the style of material on Rover: Rembrandts meets Richard Marx and Shaw/Blades, and the like. Other stand out tracks include 'Come Back, Marie', 'Don't Say You Want To Be My Friend' (very Rembrandts and Shaw/Blades) and from the Eddie Money 'Love And Money' album, the track 'After The Love Has Gone'.
Guests on 'Rover' include Lance Taber, Brent Bourgeois and Chris Rodriguez.
Another fine album from one of Westcoast's most loved players. Full of great musicianship and class songs.
Great for Westcoast and laid back AOR fans, and not a bad intro to those wondering what Westcoast has to offer. However, be prepared for something very laid back!
|HARLAN CAGE/DOUBLE MEDICATION TUESDAY|
|MTM MUSIC 199644||1. Blow Wind Blow 2. Half Way Home 3. Lola's In Love 4. Solitary Dance 5. My Mama Said 6. Dearborn Station 7. Defend This Heart Of Mine 8. Restless Hearts 9. Lights Out For Losers 10. As You Are 11. Turn Up The Radio 12. Joker On Kings Highway||
|Total Score 79%||Production 85%||Songs 77%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 80%|
Harlan Cage open their second album with an immediate crown pleaser.
Infact, I think it's the best tune they have ever written. An anthem of sorts that will go down awesomely live.|
Blow Wind Blow has a killer chorus, but it doesn't hang around and wear thin, guaranteeing that you will be coming back for more.
The album on a whole is a definite progression from their debut, which it should be, as the band (the duo of LA Greene and Roger Scott Craig) have written this album together off the back of their successful debut. This is more a band effort with keyboard wiz Billy Liesegang joining the fray.
The sound is tighter, the songs more consistent.
For those unfamiliar with the band, they are formed out of and have an equal blend of guitars and keyboards that know their place.
A lot of what Harlan Cage produce, are songs that aren't instantly memorable. They just kind of grow on you.
Some tracks are more instantly likeable. These are tracks like Half Way Home, Dearborn Station My Mama Said Lights Out For Losers and the ballad Solitary Man.
The others, which is pretty much the rest of the album are neither anthems or ballads, just something in between. Just strong songs.
Strong vocals are a highlight throughout, and the mix of guitars and keyboards is so neither instrument has domination, but gets a fair hearing.
Fans of the debut should immediately jump into this, others should introduce themselves to the band.
Not everyone's melodic cup of tea, but a nice drop nevertheless.