|Z RECORDS ZR 1997002|
After a couple of years break the guys are back with a new label after their previous one Long Island Records ceased operation a while back.|
This album doesn't really have a lot in common with their debut. It was a good album but was more pop rock AOR with a production that was a long way from the monster sound of their new album Garden Of Eden.
The Snakes have beefed it up big time and have fattened the sound of all instruments and the vocals.
Now the guys are more similar to the blues sound of Whitesnake and have the similar moodiness of Gun in their heyday.
After a nice extended intro Seventh Wonder kicks in and serves notice that this is going to be an almighty record!
There can be some comparison to vocalist Stefan Berggren sounding a little David Coverdale-ish, but he also retains a degree of his Swedish accent.
The song is big and rocking and has a great hook for a chorus.
Don't Let Love Turn To Hate has an acoustic base and intro that turns more urgent and leads to rock anthem chorus. A great hook again and some strong vocals.|
Voice Inside has a great moody intro and nice guitar lick and big Dave vocals. A moody song throughout with a mid paced chorus.
Child Of Yesterday is one of the best tracks and is a big play on Here I Go Again. Keyboards, moody vocals and the rest! Actually sounds a little like Whitesnake in their Slide It In era.
Gypsy In Your Blood starts and remains funky throughout, but reverts to a moody AOR chorus in between. Different!
Key To Your Heart has an original keyboard intro and is a mid paced ballad with some nice melodic guitars. Good vocal again.
Hard Day Long is moody again. The chorus rises a little, but the pace is maintained throughout.
Vagabond is an uptempo pop rocker with a cool spoken intro and strong chorus with several layers of guitars underneath.
Can't Let Go is an acoustic driven ballad with a big full band anthem chorus. Good song.
Without Love is another moody uptempo rock track with a big stadium chorus. Strong guitar lead.
I Want It All is a mid paced moody rocker with added keyboards and piano for good measure.
Garden Of Eden ends the record with a funky 90's influenced number that has some good vocals. It probably ends the record because it is a little different and wouldn't quite fit in with the rest of the record. OK though.
All I can add to the hype is that it is true! This is on of the best melodic records of the year and should be sought out by all fans of the genre. Especially those that have a particular liking for moody melodic hard rock.
Very good indeed.
|PRODUCTION: 88%||SONGS: 90%||VIBE: 92%||ATTITUDE: 93%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM036|
Change Of Heart is a very good AOR record. |
It twists the keyboard and guitar pop rock mix of the band with Escape Music's well known and well liked team of Chris Ousey and Steve Morris of Heartland with additional help from Chris' Distance partner Kenny Kaos.
In the end you get a blend of the talents of all involved with C.O.H vocalist Alan Clark providing some great vocals.
There are easy comparisons to Heartland with Chris and Steve producing and playing and Chris providing all of the backing vocals.
But like where other bands like Ten have moved into side projects and made it work well, so does this.
And above all else, the songs are just very good, providing the necessary backdrop for a good record.
There is actually a few comparisons to other Escape acts at hand. The strong keyboard influence on a few tracks brings Departure to mind and the style of the album is well and truly 80's AOR with a modern production, which is becoming a trait of Escape's excellent building catalogue.
For the most part, Change Of Heart have written most of the tunes themselves, the principal song writer being lead vocalist and co-guitarist Alan Clark.
Steve Morris helps out on a few tracks with the music, while Chris Ousey provides lyrics to three tracks.
The album starts well but really fires up after a few tracks and the second half is compulsory AOR listening.
Sweat It Out opens with an uptempo beat and plenty of swirling keyboards and style similar to that of Departure and maybe a little Loverboy.|
The Fire Is Gone is another track featuring strong keyboards, but with more emphasis on guitar than the opening track. The chorus is and vocals are very 80's Honeymoon Suite. Great stuff!
A Place In Your Heart is the first ballad and a really likable track. It is here that Chris Ousey's influence starts to make it's mark. A mid tempo chorus features Chris on backing vocals and then the chorus is pure Heartland. A really good chorus with a nice hook.
When It's Gone is an uptempo rocker with plenty of keyboards. Some more Honeymoon Suite.
Someone Else is mid paced ballad with dual keys and guitar driven. Not as catchy as the rest of the record.
Always Be The One pumps it up again and is one of the most solid tracks on the album. A nice verse that leads to a faster chorus with Chris joining in again and a very Distance/Heartland feel.
Until The End Of Time starts slow, in very Aldo Nova/Bon Jovi style. The song builds to an anthem ballad chorus with Chris joining in and some soaring vocals. A really good track.
Don't Walk Away is a moodier and heavier track, with plenty of dark guitars and a heavy drum sound. The vocal is very Chris Ousey. Mid paced throughout.
All I Need is a uptempo feel good pop rocker with a more melodic anthem chorus with Chris once again lending his vocals to good effect.
Stranger is a laid back and sort of bluesy track. Good vocal and not a bad track.
Somebody To Love is slow to start and rises to a big ballad chorus. A good way to finish the album.
I seriously think Alan Clarke has been playing his Canadian record collection flat out, because this is where I think this album's roots are. Not from the North East of England!
This is an essential album for fans of The Distance and Heartland and should be on most melodic fans' shopping lists.
While not ground breaking, it is very very good melodic pop rock.
|PRODUCTION: 86%||SONGS: 92%||VIBE: 90%||ATTITUDE: 92%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM034|
It only takes 30 seconds to see that Silent Witness are in party mode and that's pretty much where the album goes.|
The guys don't take themselves too seriously and have recorded a good fun hard rock record with a couple of sentimental ballads to break up the party.
The opener is as classically 80's as they come and I love them for it. Great lyrics!
Thunder & Lightning is almost a little like Giant's own song of that name, but is a little faster and without the bigger production.
One Winged Angel is the first ballad of the record and should appeal to most AOR fans. A slow moody ballad with some high vocals.
Blood Is Thicker Than Water is a moodier guitar track with some deeper vocals.
Best tracks include the opener, Thunder & Lightning, Run Thru The Night and the uptempo Somebody Beat Me To The Punch.
The ballad Without You also deserves honorable mention.
I think anyone that bought the debut Silent Witness album will see an improvement here. The songs are more consistent and the production is also more even.
Not bad considering it was self produced.
The loss of singer Robert Mason is more than compensated for in new boy Anthony Lee Fontayne. His voice is not unsimilar to Mason's and suits the tunes included here.|
Overall a good follow up to the debut and good cover art too!
|PRODUCTION: 78%||SONGS: 82%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|Z RECORDS ZR 1997006|
Well Southpaw don't pull any punches!|
This is a brutally heavy record that is equally unapologetic as it is fierce.
This is a heavily 90's influenced album. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that as you can hear in some other Z Records releases, this one just doesn't work for me.
And that may be the problem. I am not sure who it will work for.
You are going to have to be fans of very heavy music in order to absorb the talents behind this record.
There is sure no lack of talent with vocalist Mats Leven and bass player John Leven joining guitarist and master shredder Frederik Akesson and drummer Richard Evensand.
This album contains some of the fastest and most brutal guitar riffs since the early days of Metallica!
But there is an unfortunate lack of melodies and hooks in the songs.|
The better tracks Christmas, Caught In The Middle and All That I want all contain at least one hook and a chorus that is recognizable from the rest of the song.
The ending track Holy water is also Ok. It is the only track on the whole record that slows down a little.
The Great Unknown, Permanent, Vertigo, Oh Yeah and Surprise all offered little except for brutal guitars, distorted 90's style vocals and little distinction between verse and chorus.
Fans of the heavy side of metal or those sympathetic to 90's metal may get something more out of this release as the production is certainly big and tight.
But the pure lack of melodies and the little breathing space between tracks will turn off melodic rock fans.
|PRODUCTION: 65%||SONGS: 35%||VIBE: 40%||ATTITUDE: 45%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM035|
Thanks to Escape Music, Franke and The Knockouts are back for a second round of re-issue nostalgia.|
Blow The Belt was the second of three Franke albums that are all being re-issued by Escape after 2 years of negotiating.
And this time around Franke continues on his path of Foreigner influenced pop hard rock with 9 original album tracks and one bonus track.
There is not a lot I can say because those who own the vinyl original are already converted and re-issues target that specific audience.
But I will add that this album, although nostalgic is very good and offers some great tunes, even to a new listener.
Tracks like Have No Fear, Never Had It Better and Without You are going to sound good in any day or age and they are plain good songs.
Older AOR fans that know this album should get it and those younger ones that are still learning should at least have a listen so to see how a cult classic can be formed.
|PRODUCTION: 78%||SONGS: 84%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 84%|
|NOW & THEN / FRONTIERS|
The legendary Stan Bush has resurrected the Barrage name to record harder edged records for Now & Then, who are responsible for one of Stan's finest efforts in the 'Everybeat Of My Heart' record.|
That record was the start of the mellowing out in Stan, to the point where he will retain his solo name for recording more middle of the road albums for the US. But thank God he still has an avenue to rock!
So here is Heaven, the first product of this re-union of sorts.
This album is a collection of unreleased songs, both new and previous, but re-mastered and compiled with the proper flow of a rock album in mind. There is something for everyone on Heaven.
From the lush ballads Stan is famous for, to the mid paced AOR anthems that no one does better, to some distinctly harder rocking stuff - which I think may just be the heaviest I have heard Stan sing.
The album is varied in the co-writers used and in the musicians used. Some tracks feature a one man band set up, others feature a full band. |
Indeed it is on these full band tracks that the full force of Stan Bush is allowed to shine and they come across the best.
I heard a comment that the production on this is weak. Now there is no doubt that the full band tracks rule supreme and the sound is unashamedly 80's - but to me the sound is more than fair! Bloody good in fact. Just download the samples and see for yourself.
But that isn't downplaying the others. Here is the album, track by track.
Hard To Find Easy Way is the Bush/Brett Walker track that has already appeared on Brett's Nevertheless record.
Not too much different here, just another fine voice at the helm. Great uptempo guitar driven pop/rocker with all the necessary hooks.
Cross That Line is similar in vein. The sound varies from the opener as like each track the musicians vary. But there is another nice chorus and a little hard edge to Stan's voice.
Didn't I is the collaboration between Bush and the great Jack Ponti. This has already been covered on the recent Baton Rouge record. I love this track to death, it is just too cool. I do have to say I like the Baton rouge version better, only because it was a lot musically tougher and has a lot more menace in it thanks mainly to Kelly Keelings raspy vocals. This version still rocks though and features keyboards over the guitar driven BR version.
Joanna is one of the best tracks of the record and is one of the full band tracks. A nice guitar ruled track with a punch in it's stride and a great rock vocal by Stan. Cool chorus!
Beginners Luck is a typical big Stan Bush ballad that could probably have been included on the Every Beat Of My Heart record with ease.
Heaven is one track that may be considered a little thin on production. The track is another almost typical SB rock anthem.
Promises is another legend of a song that features the full band. Very similar to Joanna. Great tough vocal and nice guitars.
Dreamin' compares to Heaven, but with a better sound. A nice big anthem with an especially smooth chorus and harmonies.
Love Don't Come Easy is a mid paced ballad with a nice laid back anthem chorus. Another track that could have been lifted from the Every Beat...album.
My Father's Son is an acoustic driven mid paced pop rocker that could have easily come from any of Stan's last two or three records. A nice softer track to finish the record.
This is an essential for Stan Bush fans old or new. If you haven't got some of the older classic rock material, then check this out for starters. Overall a recommended record for all regulars to the Hot Spot.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 95%||VIBE: 94%||ATTITUDE: 95%|
|NOW & THEN / FRONTIERS|
It has been some weeks since I got the eagerly awaited advance of The Tower.
My first impressions went from love to not sure and back again.|
The thing I had to get over was preconceptions of what I wanted and my long time love of all things Magnum.
The first thing that hits you about this album is that the sound, the songs and the production are just huge. The album is an unapologetic mix of Ten and parts of Magnum.
The sound is a tribute to pomp and big epic guitars, keyboards and vocals.
The album was written and produced by Gary Hughes of Ten and the musicians are Gary, Vinny and Greg from Ten, with Bob supplying the vocals and the inspiration.
So straight away there are going to be the inevitable comparisons to Ten. But these guys are not hiding from that. |
In fact it should not only appeal to all fans of Ten, but others who have been skeptical, or haven't been a huge fan of Gary's voice - this will surely offer another avenue into these guys and their talents.
Already converted fans will have no trouble calling this an instant classic.
Magnum fans will have relative ease letting this record into their hearts. There may be a few that are harder to convince, but like this record has done to me, it will continue to grow and burrow it's roots deeply into your mind.
Bob's vocals sometimes mirror the feel that Gary may lend to a song and then swing to that marvelous style that he has made his own. He is a great singer without doubt and rules this record.
Even for me a die hard fan, there are still a couple of tracks that I am not fully into and I think others may also feel the same.
But saying that, for a most part it represents some of the best tunes I have heard from Bob since Wings Of Heaven and Sleepwalking.
Everyone had different views of their favorite Magnum record, but the overall leader surely is Storyteller's Night. That is the album that the main inspiration for this album was drawn from. I wouldn't automatically compare the two, but the feel is definitely there.
The opening two tracks are two of the biggest and most pomp driven tunes I have ever heard. They run into and through each other and for me are the highlight of the album.
The big big into leads to a massive combination of keyboards and guitars and a wonderfully tough vocal from Bob. His voice just snarls through the speakers!
Nearly 7 minutes later the song leads into Scream. It starts with a simple piano backing his vocal and blasts into another potent mix, this time with the keyboards leading a real anthem of a riff.
The chorus races along at a hundred miles an hour in full blown mode. great stuff. More Ten than Magnum here, but sounding great with Bob at the helm.
Far Away is a big epic ballad that could have come from any Magnum record. Much in the style of 'It Must Have Been Love'. Lots of texture and lots of keys.
Deep Winter is a mid paced pop ballad that is far more striped back than the opening three tracks. Bob's vocal is also clearer and more subtle. A nice change of pace and a really nice chorus. This track could be compared to 'The Tall Ships' from the Rock Art album.
Fire & Ice is again more straight ahead Magnum than the pomp supremacy of the openers.
A mid paced rocker that compares to 'Endless Love' or 'Just Like An Arrow' in pace.
Madrigal is the one track that I am having trouble getting my head around.
It is a big lush slow paced pomp track with a real medieval/mystical feel to it. The chorus doesn't really rise from the structure of the song, just Bob's raising the pace a little and some big backing vocals.
This could have fit on either of the last two Ten records with ease. At 7 minutes, it's just a bit too long.
Steel is another great highlight. A mid paced pop ballad again, it features a wonderfully smooth vocal and bridge and chorus that lift up superbly. Sort of like Ten meets a 'Sleepwalking' style of Magnum.
The Tower is another dark epic number, but one that is considerably better than Madrigal. The guitars are stronger and the vocal and delivery far more emotionally charged. In the style of those big epic Magnum tracks like 'How Far Jerusalem', without actually being it!
Fear Of The Dark starts with that piano intro again that sort of warns you that there is something big to come. But then Bob's voice enters all calm and composed and winds around several lines before some further keyboard backing joins him.
And then the song rises a little and the chorus is there. Another dark and brooding epic number that Gary Hughes seems to rise with ease. The song ends almost surprisingly un-dramatically then there is a 2 minute instrumental that reprises the Madrigal tune.
And that my friends is Bob Catley's solo debut.
Without going too much - it is an album that will please most fans, even if it does take some time to grow. But given that time it should develop into a firm favorite.
Those totally unconvinced by Ten may still find room for doubt here, but like I said, it should also give a new access point to the talent behind the scenes.
Regardless of various views it is a musically complex and accomplished record that all involved in should be very proud of.
|PRODUCTION: 90%||SONGS: 95%||VIBE: 90%||ATTITUDE: 96%|
Z Records first sampler is our first real glimpse into what the label has to offer ands what we can look forward to in the future.|
Z have a range of artists that compliment each other and are of a similar vein. Like one and there is a good chance the others will also appeal.
This sampler features 16 tracks from about 13 bands.
Jeckyll & Hyde and Amaze Me have already reviewed. It is the new bands that I am looking out for. First up is two new tracks from a leaner, tougher and improved Snakes In Paradise. From the sounds of this new track 'Without Love' and 'Voice Inside', their upcoming album is going to be a real highlight. Their approach is tighter and have a bigger and better production than their debut. Big time melodic rock.
Savannah offer a track of their new album 'Two Young Hearts'. A prime piece of Journey influenced AOR.
Human Race offer up 'Remember When' a solid hard hitting rocker.
Eyeball also make their debut with the track Thy Will Be Done. This is one heavy track! Very Skid Row style sleaze with a modern 90's twist.
Rainmaker are another one of Z's American signings. By the sound of There For You, these guys have been raised on great melodic rock like Journey, Slaughter, Warrant and Van Halen. Keep an eye out for this release.
Push are a band I don't know anything about, but the song Never Again is great moody melodic rock and the singer sounds flat out like the vocalist from local Aussie rockers BB Steal or Tesla even. A really classy rasp!|
Next up is Norgren Leven Project. That is John Leven and Pontus Norgren [Great King Rat, Jekyll & Hyde and currently on loan to Talisman.
This track is a heavier 90's style melodic rock with a little progressive style thrown in. Montana Screams are another US act that have a 90's friendly feel without losing the melody. Heavy and tight.
Picture Perfect I know nothing about. 'Hold On' is a simple AOR tune that maybe doesn't have the polish of the rest of the compilation. But this may not yet be a finished version.
Lifeline's 'My Days Are Counted' is a big AOR number with a great vocal and some tasteful piano as an intro. A heavier chorus and a great song. Typical early 90's American rock. And finally Scudiero are one of the label's bigger names. Their song is OK, but not as good as what I had expected. Still, once again it may not be the finished product. A mix of keyboards and guitar.
Overall a very slick and consistent compilation that offers a great deal and gives a lot to look forward to.
A great start for Z Records.
|PRODUCTION: 83%||SONGS: 88%||VIBE: 84%||ATTITUDE: 89%|
Savannah are Z Records first US signing.|
These guys offer a hard hitting and musically tight range of melodic rock, with various American influences, but most noticeably is that of a harder Journey. Singer Earle Lord has one of those Steve Perry like voices and the mix of guitars and keyboards also lends to that comparison.
Down Every Road open with a heavy but very much AOR driven sound. A great guitar and drum mix emphasizes this. The backing vocals throughout this record are of a very high standard.
Track one leads into Left Out In The Rain a moody ballad that follows a very Journeyish keyboard intro. Great stuff.
Never Too Late is another good quality rock ballad. Reminds me a lot of the straight ahead rock of Survivor or the band I am about to mention...
Check out the big Tyketto style rocker Two Young Hearts! Huge!!
Never let It Go is another smooth rocker. Guitarist Dario needs to be told he can play!
Useless Alibis is the final big ballad of the album. Fits in nicely just when you were thinking things needed to slow down a bit.
Savannah have created a great debut rock album that should have found it's way to a major label, had this been 1990.|
Big American rock that will go down a treat with some. Nice packaging and a band to watch for future releases. But get this one first!
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 85%||VIBE: 82%||ATTITUDE: 84%|
|NOW & THEN / FRONTIERS FR CD 007|
The Shock are a bunch of lads from the UK and are the Now & Then Productions first foray into something a little heavier.|
These guys have created a modern hard rocking album that thankfully includes enough hooks to keep the biggest melodic fan happy.
Mind you, this album is for fans of the heavier end of the melodic rock scale.
The Shock don't immediately relate to any other heavy band out there, but comparisons to early days Skid Row could be fair. The singer however is not as much of a screamer as Sebastian Bach.
So the posts on the Noticeboard proclaim The Shock Rocks! Indeed it does.
There is only the one or two slower tracks on the whole album. The opener Nothing Lasts Forever is a uptempo rocker with an anthem styled chorus.
Sign Of The Times is a real rocker! Great fast and hard guitars and some good vocals.
|Other highlights include the hard hitting Can't Stop, the acoustic driven One Way, the fast Fruits Of My Disease and the loose and thrashy The Suit. Not every track on their album is a classic and overall it requires a couple of listens. But it is a consistent and strong album and something different for Now & Then. Good effort!||PRODUCTION: 82%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 81%|
|NOW & THEN / FRONTIERS FRCD 009|
The story of Mark free is way too complicated for this review, so more of that later.|
This album was recorded toward the later part of Mark's career and was one of the original Now & Then releases. Five years on, the album has been digitally re-mastered and re-released with a bonus disc of live and unreleased tracks.
For those have heard only part of Mark's career, this review may open some new doors.
Basically, this album was an AOR classic when it was released and still is today. The fact that it has been digitally re-mastered only adds to that claim. Many remasters leave me wondering why they bothered, but the sound on Long Way From Love is better and noticeable from the first note and is reason enough to re-purchase or look this album up for the first time.
The songs were all written by the Randell sisters and suit Free's voice impeciably.
Mark free has one of the most powerful and diverse voice in melodic rock and was capable of singing power rock, a la the Marcie free Tormented record, to the pure AOR of Signal and this record.
Signal was a little more guitar orientated than this record, but if you like that, you should love this.
The songs are all of ballady nature, ranging from the pure reflective ballads like Coming Back For More, to the more uptempo AOR anthem's of Never Be A Next Time, Hard Heart To Break and State Of Love. There are also the really classy big ballads Long Way from Love and The Last Time.
The remaining tracks are mid paced AOR lush with plenty of keyboards, guitars and Free's awesome vocals.
The bonus disc makes this CD doubly essential for AOR fans.
The first 10 tracks come from Mark's only European live performance, at the 1993 Gods Of AOR festival.
These are some great sounding live tracks. Nice and raw and pure live recordings. The band and also Free make a few mistakes, but that only enhances the great feel of the gig.
It is so nice to hear a warts and all performance again. Far to often these live albums are over polished and offer nothing other than a crowd mixed into a studio perfect performance.|
There are also more guitars than keyboards in the performance, giving the tracks a nice hard edge. Only wish there were more tracks!
I have been playing this flat out and think it is one of the best live discs I have ever heard. the atmosphere created on this disc is awesome.
Of the 10 tracks, the first 5 are from the Long Way From Love release, 2 are from the great Signal release (Liar & Wake Up You Little Fool), Only The Strong Will Survive is from King Kobra. Who Cries Now is from the Unruly Child album and Iron Eagle is a King Kobra song from the movie of the same name.
And if that isn't enough, following that are 6 unreleased tracks that were recorded and written in the same sessions for the original album.
These tracks are obviously in the same mold as the original album tracks and are of a continuing high standard.
In a couple of cases you can see why they didn't make the original album, as they are just not quite as punchy as the previously selected tracks, but in the case of In It For The Long Run, Never Could Call It Love and especially Smoke And Mirrors, it is hard to see why the were left off, as they are that good. great to hear them at last.
State Of Love is also included as a duet with Diana Dewitt and is a great version of the track. Fans of pure AOR and who want to see a vocal talent at his best should get into this right now. Those who have the original, this is a very worthy upgrade.
Far from being overhyped - Mark Free is a singer that should have been a household name. Enjoy the legacy that has been left behind.
|PRODUCTION: 88%||SONGS: 95%||VIBE: 95%||ATTITUDE: 92%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 033|
Firefly is an interesting AOR release, in that is a solid collection of straight ahead rock tunes that through the coarse of the record never pigeon hole themselves into sounding like any one band for more that a couple of songs.|
Vocalist John Pratt has a voice that moves from traditional high powered rock singing into a smoother and moodier vibe with ease. It is original sound without being ground breaking. This probably helps the album and the material sound immediately familiar.
AOR stars Ricky Phillips and Ron Wikso help out on the recording of this record.
The band mixes their sound with a bunch of big AOR names. Second track Holes In The Wall is a Journey like AOR anthem with out going too over the top. Some really smooth guitars!
Money sounds like Bulletboys meets Poison, if you could possible picture that. A good fun laid back rocker, while the next track Calling Out Your Name is more a keyboard driven track a la Kansas or Boston. Just check out the remarkably smooth chorus.
Scion is again a Bulletboys type rocker and One Silent Voice is killer Kansas again I am sure!|
What Will Be There Tomorrow is almost a slice of mid 80's Rush. Big keyboards and a great vocal.
Take Me Back builds to a great anthemic chorus that just when you expect it to go over the top, stays dark and heads back into the verse.
On other tracks you can hear influences of Van Halen and even though the album pre-dates them, I can surely hear hints of Heartland in the songs.
If you like a little variety in the albums you purchase, take a look at Firefly. As you can see I have mentioned some great rock acts as comparisons, so that should give you some clues. This is pretty different.
Dare I compare track 10 Lydia to Love/Hate meeting Def Leppard? Thought not....
Basically it is a high class collection of songs played and produced very well by some high class individuals. A lot has gone into this record and it shows.
|PRODUCTION: 82%||SONGS: 84%||VIBE: 82%||ATTITUDE: 84%|
|EAGLE ROCK UK EAG 069-2|
Vixen are back! While not in their original form, line up or musically, we still have a strong record on our hands.|
The girls now comprise of Janet Gardner on vocals, Gina Stile on guitars and Roxy Petrucci on drums. Mike Pisculli handles the studio bass duties.
The band have thrown off their anthem and multi layered good girl songs approach for a more 90's hard and raw feel. They haven't totally sold out to the alternative crowd, but this is certainly not going to appeal to the light and fluffy crowd.
This is a tough and gritty record that sounds loud and sounds raw. Fortunately the songs are still great. They may have taken a new path, but they still remember how to write a good tune.
All the songs have some sort of catch and a couple have a real 80's style chorus hidden underneath 5 layers of distorted guitars!|
Page opens and is the most alternative number of all. Not bad, but not my favourite.
Tangerine has the same raw and 90's approach but offers a great hook for a chorus. Never Say Never is the type of track that shows these gals still have a lot to offer. Sonically as heavy as hell, the chorus is like a melodic oasis that just rocks my world. A great anthem!
Peace slows things down to start with, but has a heavier chorus that again hides their melodic roots behind some loud guitars and modern arrangements.
Barely Breathin' is as heavy as it sounds. A rough vocal with a few effects and a very 90's track. Not a favourite.
Bleed is an angst ridden number with a great chorus and some good vocals. A little more restrained overall.
Stay is a jazzier number and more laid back with some nice harmony vocals. Different.
Shut Up is big 90's rock with all the distortion of Nirvana. Not bad though.
Machine is similar but has a few more melodies and a catchy chorus. good vocals too.
Air Balloon again flirts with a jazzier/bluesier style. Breaks the album up Ok and builds to a cool harmony chorus.
Can't Control Myself ends the album with a track full of time changes and a little more progressive in nature. Sort of alternative, but with a Stevie Nicks style vocal. Might be a grower this one!
Track 12 is a hidden instrumental groover and just OK.
So after several years break, that is the new Vixen album. I think the girls have successfully re-invented themselves and recorded a very contemporary album that sees them break new ground and should also see them find new fans.
the only disappointment is that there may not be enough here to maintain the old fans.
Listen with open ears and approach with caution if you are looking for something like their debut.
|PRODUCTION: 78%||SONGS: 82%||VIBE: 74%||ATTITUDE: 85%|
|NOW & THEN / FRONTIERS FR CD004|
Gary Hughes is a busy guy to say the least!|
His band Ten have recorded three albums in three years and have a double live best just unleashed, the Bob Catley album has been just finished.
On top of that, there was also the work contributed on Hugo's great solo record of last year.
In between all of that Gary has written a swag of new tunes for his second solo record 'Precious Ones'.
The style is still undoubtedly Gary Hughes. The album sounds like there were still a few tracks that would suit any Ten record, like Give My Love A Try, Divided We Fall and the excellent moody Don't Ever Say Goodbye, but for the most part Gary has purposely side stepped into a slightly mellower field.
The majority of the songs are somewhat more stripped back and straight forward arrangements than the gi-normous production of the Ten records.
And you know what? I like this record as good as any of the Ten records.
Maybe for no other reason than I am just in the mood for this record - a softer more melodic approach with some nice mid paced pop rock like the opener In Your Eyes and the great big ballad The Colours Of My Life.|
Other highlights include the strong vocal performance and very smooth balladry of The Night The Love Died and the title track Precious Ones, the darker and heavier Heart Of A Woman and pure hard rock of Wrecking Machine.
Another solid release that may find a broader appeal than the already established base of Ten fans. Of those already familiar with the band, this solo release comes closest to their more AOR debut.
|PRODUCTION: 84%||SONGS: 81%||VIBE: 79%||ATTITUDE: 79%|
|NOW AND THEN / FRONTIERS RECORDS|
How good are these guys? Yep - bloody good! It's been a couple of years, but Jean and the guys are back and are in full melodic glory, with some of the best hard rocking tunes this year.|
Crown Of Thorns have created a couple of classic rock albums, but there are some that favoured the debut over their last record.
Good news for you here. The band, while retaining the heavier flavour and the Led Zeppelin influence of the second album, seem to have re-captured the urgency and the flair of the debut. True also that this record has more hooks and choruses than ever.
The band couldn't have picked a better opener than Lost Cathedral, with it's huge guitar sound building towards that kind of a chorus that gives you goosebumps, and makes you want to replay it over and over. A great anthem and a COT instant classic.
Live & Die takes a couple of listens to get into, it is darker and less immediate. A really moody track that is lyrically even darker. Still, once a few listens have passed, the chorus is there for good.|
Motorcycle Loretta is one of my favourite tracks, with a very Zepish and heavy guitar riff that leads into another anthem like chorus, that never hangs around long enough to get sick of.
Lyin' is a big, overblown and fairly fast paced power ballad, that really rocks. A great vocal and some killer harmonies.
Free Me is another moody mid paced tune that will also take some listening to. Another great vocal.
Greed Of Love gets things rocking again. The band use some female backing vocals to add to the already huge sound, and the chorus is almost like a bridge to the next verse.
Cold Blooded Bitch isn't as heavy as it sounds, and is the closest thing to the old COT on the record. A good mid to uptempo rocker.
End Of The Road is a great power ballad, and one of the best tracks of the album.
Although We're Fools is a hard guitar driven number until the chorus, where it turns into one of the most commercial number the band have ever recorded. Something like the Beatles on speed! Great chorus and harmonies.
Waisted Prime is a moody mid paced ballad, and again, another very commercial number compared to the rest of the album. Another highlight.
Hell Of A Night is pretty different! An electronic drum backs the tune with a keyboard accompaniment and a sound I can't really describe. Maybe something Prince would record?!
If You Need Me wraps up another great Crown Of Thorns record. A huge ballad, if not the biggest on the record, and one that AOR and hard rock fans should love regardless. A lighters in the air kind of song.
Any fan of the bands' previous work should get into this right now, and hopefully with a wider promotion, the band will pick up new fans. A very contemporary record, while retaining everything we love about this sort of music. Great record!
|PRODUCTION: 94%||SONGS: 93%||VIBE: 92%||ATTITUDE: 94%|
|EMI UK 4 94973 2|
Brian May's debut solo album 'Back To The Light' was written in the middle of his divorce and showed that he didn't need the backing of Queen to make outstanding records.|
Several years later, and after many months of recording, Brian's new album is finally upon us. Back are the successful team behind his debut (Neil Murry on Bass and Cozy Powell's final and magnificent performance on Drums), and back are the trademark Brian May sounds.
The guitar and vocals are as distinct as ever, and the songs are once again based around Brian's personal termoil, both struggling, and seemingly on the rebound, as a couple of the songs have a more positive light.
The album isn't as instantly memorable as the debut, and it took me about 4 or 5 listens to start to know the record.
Space is a mere opener to Business, which is a strong as anything off the debut, and one of the better and more angst filled songs on Another World.|
China Belle is another good rocker that defines the Brian May style.
This album has some more diverse tunes than before, and I think as good as the songs are, the direction isn't quite as intact on this record.
Why Don't We Try Again and Wilderness are quiet moody ballads that are good but are in strike contrast to the urgent hard rock of the other tracks.
On My Way Up is a 'I Want To Break Free' style mid paced acoustic driven rocker, and a cool track, while Cyborg is a gruf alternative style distraction that leads into one of the other great Queen style rockers The Guv'nor.
Towards the end of the album we have three covers. The Larry Williams track 'Slow Down', the Hendrix ballad 'One Rainy Wish' and a sort of live version of 'All The Way To Memphis'. And while all three tracks are also good, I am not sure where they fit in with Brian's better own tracks.
The album ends with a big ballad Another World.
So I think you will also find this album a little hard to figure, but I don't think that will stop yours or my enjoyment of it. I just find it a little up and down, or a little too mixed.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 66%||VIBE: 59%||ATTITUDE: 75%|
|EMI / CMC INTERNATIONAL|
Deep Purple were starting to sound tired. I liked the Joe Lynn Turner fronted album Slaves And Masters, but after that I was losing interest.|
Alas even with Ian and Richie back, I never bought the Battle Rages On record.
But after Richie's 23rd departure and the hiring of Steve Morse, the band went on to re-invent themselves and record what has become my favourite DP album ever, in Purpendicular.
Now after 18 months of touring under the new line up, this album is bound to be tighter and more adventurous, after the band have found it's comfort zone.
And that's exactly what has happened. Ian Gillan is incredibly sounding better than ever, and the rest of the band are right up there, with Steve Morse shredding, Ian Paice and Roger Glover fired up andJon Lord prominent throughout on those unmistakable Organ keys.
Any Fule Kno That opens as one of the coolest songs that I have heard Deep Purple record. Full of that new spirit of discovery that Steve Morse has brought to the band.|
Almost Human sounds more groove laiden and blues influenced like the old mixed with the new. A great more laid back chorus.
Don't Make Me Happy sees the band heading back to their roots more, with a blues soaked ballad.
Other highlights are Fingers To the Bone, which sees the band using the new sound and feel that they discovered while recording the Perpendicular record, and the blues heavy Seventh Sign and Jack Ruby.
This album is loose and bluesy, while retaining the tightest production possible. There is a real live vibe going on.
'69 really rocks and Bloodsucker is as mean as it sounds!
A refreshing album that proves there is plenty of life in the boys yet. This album is being compared to the freshness of the band's first Gillan led recording, and sounds like it could have been recorded in any era of the band's history.
A great mix of the style of Perpendicular and the blues rock style of days past.
The only thing missing is maybe a little more of that Perpendicular sound.
Maybe a little harder to get into than that album, but get into it you will.
|PRODUCTION: 90%||SONGS: 81%||VIBE: 85%||ATTITUDE: 88%|
|CHRYSALIS 4 93712 2|
I think I will spend as much time reviewing this record as Simple Minds spent writing this dire collection of crappy tunes.|
I love these guys, they have always been a great alternative to AOR or hard rock, for something with substance and some thoughtful songs.
But it had to happen. Finally Jim Kerr and the boys have completely sold out to the 90's sounds of that other horrible band U2. Just worse. We are know that u2 were great, but have just totally lost the plot. Why then would anyone be silly enough to want to immitate that???
Not even the sin of using synth's and drum loops, layers of samples and horrible dance grooves over these tunes will hide the fact that they are just plain boring and irrelevent.
Killing Andy Warhol has to be one of the most annoying songs ever recorded.|
Gone also are the distinctive guitar sounds and Kerr's voice has been replaced with little more than a whisper.
I just can't get into this, and recommend that if you haven't bougght this yet...don't!
And if you just have to fill your collection, then send me $5 and it's yours. I want to remember the band for how they used to be. The innovators, not the poor cousins of another band that also turned crap more than 5 years ago.
|PRODUCTION: 30%||SONGS: 12%||VIBE: 5%||ATTITUDE: 1%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC 031|
Phantom's Opera are an unusual bunch. Their style could hardly be defined easily, and vocalist Colie Brice's voice is unusual to say the least.|
I have heard the band's other 2 records, but really haven't got into them.
The sound is heavily influenced by Queen, and could best be described as a mix of that band with some very over blown pomp/prog rock, with a big dose of Yes like keyboards and plenty of time and style changes in each track.
There is definitely a large section of people that would simply not get this record, and had it not been done quite well, could be laughed off by the majority.
But thankfully, this seems to be the best record the band have yet recorded. While the style is certainly not for all, this time around they have better songs and a better production. The songs at least go some place, and are fairly tight.
If you like your dose of pomp rock, progressive and don't mind the band borrowing heavily off Queen, then have a listen to tracks like Play My Guitar, I'm So Tired and Have You Ever Been Alone.|
Some tracks were a little too much for me, but others like the balled I've Had My Share are pretty cool.
I am still not sure that I have accurately conveyed the style of this record, but if this review has raised your curiosity, then look further.
If you have heard either of the other two records and not liked what you have heard, this is probably not different enough to convert you. But it is the better of the three by a fair distance.
|PRODUCTION: 81%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 75%||ATTITUDE: 82%|
Josette Miles has a fine voice, with a resemblance to that of Heart's lead vocalist Ann Wilson.
Josette is from Pennsylvania, and her music is in the straight ahead rock, with a dash of harder edge guitar.|
The vocals and playing are fine and the album is delivered with enough passion to convince most listeners, and make this a worthwhile purchase.
The only thing that the album could use to make it even better, is a few more catchier songs, or some bigger choruses.
Given the benefit's of some more playing, the songs grow on you, but there is room for a little more.
I hope that Josette continues writing and recording, because on the foundation of this record, I am sure a second one would be even better.
Recommended for fans of female rockers, and those who dabble in a little Alannah Myles and Heart.
|PRODUCTION: 70%||SONGS: 75%||VIBE: 72%||ATTITUDE: 76%|
|Z RECORDS ZR 1997003|
With Human Race Z Records have uncovered another great rock band with a sound firmly planted in the 90's, but with enough melody and attitude to please most melodic fans.|
Being Scandinavian, they certainly have a European feel, but really do have a sound all to themselves.
The best way I could describe is something like a younger European Ozzy Osbourne, but there is really a stack more to the band than that.
The opener The Web has a great hard riff, but with an anthem like chorus.
The guys describe themselves as being influenced by everything from pop to the heaviest heavy metal. I would have to agree!
There are some pop melodies on For The Sake Of Your Soul, that lead into some of the heaviest hard rocking I have heard for a while.
Just take Remember When for example.|
Highlight's of the album include the moody 90's ballad Them, and the pure hard rockers of Free Your Mind and Mothership. Just check out the riff's!
Another great example of taking melodic rock some where new is Into The Light. Check out the drum rhythms, and the looping effects.
This album is even going to take me a few listens to get my head around, but once you do, there is plenty on offer.
Might I suggest that anyone who is a little tired of the standard arrangements, and set styles of rock to check out these guys.
A mix of old style attitude with modern effects and pure guitar driven hard rock. A great start.
|PRODUCTION: 88%||SONGS: 85%||VIBE: 81%||ATTITUDE: 88%|
|Z RECORDS ZR 1997008|
This is Amaze Me's debut album, strangely released after their last record. Z Records had the legalities straightened out, and here we are with the long awaited record.|
These guys do nothing new, but do the melodic AOR thing really well.
Fans of strong vocals and big anthemish choruses, with plenty of harmonies will really like this.
God's Gift is a big heavier intro to the album, that leads into what Amaze Me do best - the frantic uptempo anthem of You Say You Never Cry.
A little bit heavier than the standard AOR, Amaze Me still offer all the other ingredients of acoustic guitars, keyboards and big vocals and production.
Highlights include what I have just mentioned, Tough Ain't Enough, the awesome power anthem Next Train back with it's killer chorus, the Leppardish Love Is Like A Fire and the ending keyboard driven ballad Tell Me Why.
The album's first half is heavier than the second keyboard driven half, but both offer fans of pure AOR some good new tunes.
The highlight is definitely Next Train Back, and the opening few songs.|
Good to see the album out, and it makes me look forward to the new studio album later this year.
|PRODUCTION: 79%||SONGS: 83%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|MAINFRAME RECORDS MF101|
Mark is the one time singer for UK NWOBHM band Praying Mantis.|
This is his comeback solo record, and sees him in good voice, singing a range of melodic old style hard rock friendly tunes.
The songs mix guitars with a healthy dose of background keyboards, and some fairly distinctive vocals.
There are some big name guests on this record that will be sure to turn some heads. David Rosenthal guests on keyboards on Lay Down Your Guns and Mike Walsh plays guitar throughout.
This is going to appeal to those fans of the NWOBHM style, and European style hard rock.
|Fans of Rosenthal's Red Dawn and fans of Mike Walsh's departure will find some more to like from Mark's solo album.||PRODUCTION: 66%||SONGS: 78%||VIBE: 72%||ATTITUDE: 75%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM027|
The legendary re-issue of Robert Berry (of solo, Alliance and 3 fame), sees a surprisingly fresh sounding release.|
Considering that the album is now nearly 20 years old, it has held up very well.
The tracks are what you could probably expect from Berry, with keyboard driven pop rock the order of the day. There is plenty of guitar and comparisons could be made to the simple pop rock brilliance of Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog release, just a little more dated.
Fans of Berry should immediately invest in this. If they are a new convert to his talents, like myself, it is a good collection filler, and example of where the man started.
For those who have this on vinyl, just waiting to dust it off, now there is no need! Buy the disc now!
|PRODUCTION: 75%||SONGS: 83%||VIBE: 79%||ATTITUDE: 81%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 029|
With Heartland's fifth album 'Miracles By Design', Chris Ousey and Steve Morris have moved to confirm themselves as two of the best songwriters in Britain.|
Add to that, the improved production team of Steve Morris and Paul Dean of Loverboy (who also mixed the album), and this album sees Heartland finally finding the perfect mix.
The mix is clearer, the songs stronger, and after the awesome Distance album, Chris Ousey is in better voice than ever.
The album is not heavier, but tougher than previous albums, and the songs more complex, with timing changes and some neat harmonies.
Into The Flame is a good track to start the album, for it is strong, without being the best track on the album. Chris really gets to stretch his vocal chords near the end, and while the chorus isn't instantly memorable, it is a strong grower.
Catch You If You Fall has a killer hook in the guitar lead, and will be an instant favourite amongst Heartland fans, and newcomers alike. A great chorus and one of the album's best songs.|
Total Eclipse is an up tempo ballad if there is such a thing. A great emotional vocal from Chris, and some smooth backing vocals that add texture to the song.
A Leap In The Dark once again has a nice guitar hook and a rougher vocal featured. Another chorus that will grow on you. There are a few layers of guitars going here. The more listens the better the effect. A good fast paced rock song.
X Marks The Spot starts with some nice guitar soloing from Steve. The track is a little darker than the others so far.
Even Angels Cry sees Chris singing lower and rougher, an effect I really like from him. The chorus comes and goes in a second, so it will take a few listens to really appreciate this track. Original sound for Heartland.
I Count The Days has the album's first taste of acoustic guitar. Great sound, as there are at least two layers of them, with another electric lead over the top of the chorus. The first true ballad of the album, and a great uprising chorus.
Miracles Take Time was the original album title, and this track has once of the killer choruses that have come from the voice of Chris Ousey. The vocals are a little further back in the mix with this track, as guitars rule the day. Not a heavy track, but a fast paced anthem, with plenty going on.
Always The Love Will Survive is another rock track to feature duel acoustic and lead guitars. Nice hooks and another great chorus.
Show Me The Way is one of my favourite tracks on the album. After the third listen the chorus will never leave you, despite is being short. Another moody track.
Let It Roll is another original Heartland track and something I hope the band run with on the next album. The vocal is huge, right in your face and the chorus features some great female backing vocals. It just adds that little something to the sound. Great track to close any album.
Okay, so the new Heartland, while not radically different than any of the bands' previous work, is tighter, stronger, more consistent and certainly better recorded, produced and mixed.
It should be noted that the band have added Kenny Kaos as a second guitarist, and his input cannot be understated. There are noticeably more guitars on this album, and more texture with an increased keyboard presence.
Another great Ousey performance, and one that should continue to pick up new fans for the band.
If you love Heartland or just picked up on The Distance record, you will love this.
If you are still oblivious to them, take a listen and I think you may get hooked.
|PRODUCTION: 92%||SONGS: 89%||VIBE: 91%||ATTITUDE: 95%|
|FRONTIERS / NOW & THEN FR CD 01|
Anyone that knows Gary Hughes, Vinny Burns and Co. will know by now that they like things big.|
The guys are rapidly becoming the hardest working team in town, with three studio albums down and credits on the Hugo record and the soon to be finished Bob Catley record. And then there is the solo records....anyway, back to the point!
Each album has grown in sound and in depth, to the point where maybe they can't get any bigger.
And that is where this new double live album comes in. You don't even have to put the thing on to see 'large' elements are at play!
A double disc of over 20 tracks, a full colour 24 page booklet, and 4 bonus studio tracks from last years 'The Robe' sessions.
But what about the music?
Well, the recording is big and it's loud and it contains just about about every classic Ten tracks from the past three or so years.
The album features recordings from 'The Robe' tours of 97/98. The songs are lifted from all three albums and serves as a great Best of package.
A good way to get into the band, as the live versions are fairly faithful to the studio versions, maybe even a little more bombastic, and certainly with a few more lead guitar breaks.
Ten don't shy away from, the epic's live, as the first track reaches 9 minutes plus!
Gary is the voice and the one to react with the crowd and sounds like he is having fun.
The rest of the band are tight, and keen.
The four studio tracks are more of the same that we have come to expect from the band. Much in the vein of the rest of The Robe record.
If Only For A Day is a little different. Sounds a little like Sykes meets the Beatles, and clocks in at 7 minutes. Very cool!
Give Me A Piece Of Your Heart is a more melodic AOR track, while Black Moon Rising and Venus And Mars are both big hard rocking guitar lead anthems.
A must buy for Ten fans, and a very well priced introduction to the band for those new to them.
Big, big, big!
|PRODUCTION: 88%||SONGS: 85%||VIBE: 85%||ATTITUDE: 89%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 026|
Shyboy's main claim to fame is being produced by Hirsh Gardner of New England fame.
So as you would expect, there are elemts of N.E in Shyboy.|
This is a little heavier than I expected. A little more in your face. The vocals are tough and raspy, you know that growling effect!
Have A Little Faith is a fairly standard hard rocker to open the album, it is actually the second track Good Girls and the third All In The Name Of Love that really get the record kicking.
A good mix of guitars and keyboards with vocals and some nice harmonies. There are some good tracks on this album, and safe enough, if you like a couple of them, you will get into the hole album.
Track five is a cool unplugged number. Reminds me a little of a solo Paul Laine track. Now that can't be a bad thing!|
This album is a mix of New England meets Firehouse and maybe a little Paul Laine thrown in the mix. All in a 80's melodic hard rock style, with guitars and vocals more prominent, but with a healthy dose of keyboards.
A cool hard rocking album. New England fans should check it out immediately.
|PRODUCTION: 77%||SONGS: 76%||VIBE: 79%||ATTITUDE: 80%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 030|
Although classic as a cult classic in Europe, I must admit that I have never before heard any of Franke's three records. This was the third of the series.|
Despite featuring Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres, the album has never easily been available in the second hand stores down under.
But thanks to the guys at Escape, this 1984 classic sees it's first time on CD.
European fans that chase these albums like Aviator and Touch, and create the cult status tag, will no doubt be climbing over themselves to get this, and rightly so!
I may not have heard it before, but it only took one listen to see why this album has been highly sought after.
Classic very early eighties FM rock, with no shortage of cool guitar licks and some very fine vocals indeed from Franke Previte.
This sounds very in touch with the Foreigner sound of the same era, and close to the band in song writing class.
Franke has a killer Lou Gramm like voice, and it must have only been bad luck that prevented the band going on and becoming a force in commercial hard rock.|
I won't rate the tracks, as they have had enough time to rate them selves.
Suffice to say, if you have the vinyl, then buy the disc. If like me, you have never heard it before, then round out your collection with a piece of classic 80's rock.
|PRODUCTION: 79%||SONGS: 84%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 82%|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM028|
Prog fans rejoice! This is the album for you.|
Departure features guitarist and prog legend Mike Walsh, with special guest David Rosenthal on some keyboards. Vocals are handled by Kenny Michaels.
The concept was formed for this album in the mid 80's, which is when this album sounds likeit was recorded! But fear not, that is not in any way a bad thing. Just wanted to point out the feel of the album. The bulk was demoed in 1990 and recently poilshed and finished up.
The result is an album that fans of Kansas, and early Toto, Styx and Chicago will love.
This is an album where keyboards rule the world, and vocals and arrangements are only measured with big, bigger and biggest.
Kenny has a great voice and absolutley blasts through the speakers.
Styx and Dennis De Young in particular could only wish they could write stuff like the epic ballad The Way You Show Your Love. Huge indeed!|
Other highlights are the rocking Searchin', Tonight's The Night. Styx fans should search out these tunes and have a listen.
Also very good are Anymore, the mid paced All So easy and the very cool guitar driven Eyes Don't Lie.
This album is going to really rate well with those who love keyboards, prog rock and big arrangements. If you like the bands I mentioned before, then please check Departure out.
Boston fans should also have a listen.
But if you want a 90's rock album, you are heading in the wrong direction. Not for all, but if it is, you probably won't find better this year.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 90%||VIBE: 85%||ATTITUDE: 89%|
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-60231/32|
Thunder Live has been out for a while in the UK now, but has just been releaseed with 3 binus tracks in Japan.|
There is not a lot one can say about this release.
Just that Thunder are awesome!
If anyone wants to get into the band, Live would be agreat way to do it, as every great track the band have written are performed here.
The record is a double to ensure that every track makes it on to the record.
The recording is slick while still being the genuine live thing, not an overdubbed studio upgrade. It just shows how slick Thunder have become over the years.
The crowd are in typically loud British form, and get included in the mix, unlike the Journey live record.
The band sound well at home with either the rocking tracks like Backstreet Symphony and Does It Feel Like Love, as well as the smoother Don't Wait Up, Low Life In High Places and Like A Satellite.
The album was recordng over four nights in London and Wolverhampton, and is a prime example of how to mix a record from different nights, without it sounding dis-jointed.
Vocalist Danny Bowes said of the release, that it is the best record Thunder have ever released, and much better than the 'Best Of' release. I agree.
A great party record. A great record.
|PRODUCTION: 90%||SONGS: 91%||VIBE: 95%||ATTITUDE: 95%|
|JEKYLL & HYDE/HEAVENLY CREATURES|
|Z RECORDS ZR1997001||1. Breaking The Silence 2. I Am 3. King Of Pain 4. In Your Dreams 5. Jekyll & Hyde 6. Peace Child 7. Holy Ground 8. Blood On My Hands 9. Point Of No Return 10. Legends Of the Fall 11. Everlasting 12. Last Time 13. Ten Years Gone||
|Total Score 85%||Production 88%||Songs 83%||Vibe 84%||Attitude 87%|
Right off the top, this album comes out firing on all cylinders.|
The guitar sound hits you smack in the face, with it's dual guitar assault.
Breaking The Silence is a fast paced hard rocker, that quickly establishes Jekyll & Hyde's intentions. The production is worthy of any major label release, with sharp vocals and a mix that gives each player their share of the limelight.
Jekyll & Hyde's style is varied and original, but one could say that if there was to be a re-established Los Angeles hard rock/sleeze scene like the late 1980's, these guys would be leading the pack into the late 1990's.
Not bad considering that they are Scandinavian!
In Your Dreams is the first track to slow things down even a fraction, with some nice harmonies on an acoustic driven song.
These guys have a knack for sounding modern and very 90's, without sacrificing the essential ingredients of the past, that have lead us to shun 'modern rock'.
Peace Child is another great assault on the senses. A grooving verse into a more traditional hard rocking chorus.
Blood On My Hands is another lowing of the pace, to shift to a moody acoustic backed mid paced ballad.
Other highlights include the infectious hard rock of Point Of No Return, and the big bluesy ballad Ten Years Gone.
To pickout best tracks is hard, as they are all strong well written and consistant.
I suggest you head towards the Showcase and have a listen to it yourself.
An album for rock fans who love the traditional hard rocking sound of LA's best, yet have being hanging out endlessly for a new band to carry the torch into the next era.
|SILENT WITNESS/SILENT WITNESS|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 015||1. Can't Keep From Falling 2. Living A Lie 3. Pouring Rain 4. I'll Wait 5. Tell Me 6. Take Me Back 7. Don't Let A Good Thing Slip Away 8. Get Right Back Up 9. Wrapped Around Your Finger 10. Make This Night Last Forever||
|Total Score 85%||Production 90%||Songs 80%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 85%|
This record has been hyped up a bit, so I was suspicious to start with. Add to that the fact I hated Robert Mason's vocals on the second self titled Lynch Mob album. They just didn't stack up next to Oni Logan's on the 'Wicked Sensation' album. |
But for the record, this is a huge step forward. Where do I start? Well, the songs are better than I had hoped for, the production is superb, thanks to David Pratter (Diving For Pearls, Dream Theatre, Night Ranger, Glen Burtnick), and the singing is a world from the 'Lynch Mob' record. Now sounding more traditional hard rock, and even Euro hard rock, Mason sounds a dead ringer for Goran Edman. Or maybe it's that the tracks on here sound like John Noram's 'Total Control' album - which Edman sings part of. Either way I don't care, cause I love that sound, and there isn't much of it about these days. In fact, apart from a good 90's production, this record could have come from 1988.
The songs are part stomping hard rock a la Norum and Lynch Mob, part melodic rock a la Diving For Pearls, and even part prog, especially with the drum sound. But what a coincidence! David Pratter had a part in the two latter mentioned projects. Maybe he is the talent behind this! It doesn't actually say who wrote the songs.
But in the end, who does care. The fact is that for lovers of pure hard driving melodic rock, this album is going to go down a treat.
It could be said that it is also the finest release to date from Escape (mind you I am yet to hear the second Neverland record - hint hint!)
High lights - tracks 1,2,3,4,7,10. But it!
|GUN/0141 632 6326|
|A&M RECORDS 540722-2||1. Rescue You 2. Crazy You 3. Seventeen 4. All My Love 5. My Sweet Jane 6. Come A Long Way 7. All I Ever Wanted 8. I Don't Mind 9. Going Down 10. Always Friends||
|Total Score 45%||Production 65%||Songs 35%||Vibe 10%||Attitude 15%|
Why, oh why in God's name would any band want to hire as a producer, a member of a band who lost the plot sound wise, over 7 years ago? Andrew Farris of INXS was hired to bring Gun into the 90's, and to bring North American success.|
What is the result is a bloody fantastic band with it's heart and soul ripped out and left to shrivel and die.
Taking On The World featured some fine moody rock tunes. Gallus was an amazing lepa forward, with the band gainning a bigger sound and better songs. Then Swagger, produced by Englishman Chris Sheldon had the balls of an elephant. Huge, loud, raw, rocking, moody, brilliant and inspired, if you want to hear a record with it all, seek it out.
It would have been a minor miracle to have come close to that album, but the band have totally lost the plot here, and are being pulled in five different musical directions, none of which suit. Much like INXS in the 90's.
Rescue You is a tame lead in, not bad chorus, but already the drum sample are out and there is this annoying background sound in the chorus. Crazy You is the most obvious hit single and a more 90's sounding Gun, but the feat is not repeated elsewhere. Seventeen, only track three, and the rot has well and truely set in. Dance beats and drum machines and barely a guitar to be heard. Track 4 and 5 are similar, but a little more listenable. In fact track 5 has a good chorus, but it just sounds so weak next to Swagger.
Come A Long Way ain't bad either, but it sounds like a bad U2 song, Joshua Tree era.
I'm afraid I can't go on...it's too upsetting. Let's just say that it is a bit U2, lot INXS, and only a small portion of Gun, the original. Emergencies only. Buy Swagger instead. (And shame on you if you don't have it already)
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM017||1. Front Line 2. Back On The Street 3. Don't Turn Away 4. Wrong Place Wrong Time 5. Never Let The Rock Stop 6. Come Back 7. Magic 8. Can't Stop 9. Too Young 10. Every Schoolboy Knows 11. Through The Night 12. Woman In Love* 13. Holding On* (Bonus Tracks)||
|Total Score 65%||Production 60%||Songs 65%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 65%|
This is one of those cult vinyl releases from the 80's that has found it's way to CD courtesy of the lads at Escape Music.|
Now being in Australia, and removed from the underground circles that make these albums cult classics, sometimes we miss these releases all together. So for those who love the vinyl original, I will only be preaching to the converted. For the rest of us, I will have to take the album on face value, without years of love embedded in the review!
The album has been re-mastered and had a couple of bonus tracks added, so that is always going to please the punters.
The sound is typical guitar/keyboard driven AOR tinged rock. Big pompus choruses and big vocals, harmonies and hooks. Produced by Neil Kernon, it is also quite snappy!
But I am afraid, and I will probably get hate mail for this, I don't really find it totally listenable in 1997. Different maybe if I had known it all these years, but for now - I find the lyrics fairly lame, and the songs a bit sameish. There are discs from the same era that I find clasic, and I think hold up better than this, but some may find of them what I think of this!
So taking into account it is your own opinion, and pre-determined love of this record, take it or leave it. From what I have heard though - there will definately be a few taking it!
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM019||1. Say It Ain't True 2. Pray For The rain 3. Love Is No Stranger 4. Walk That Walk 5. Hands Of Time 6. Some Kinda Lady 7. These Are The Words 8. Eyes Of A Stranger 9. Why Do We Kill 10. Love Ain't Pretty 11. Carry The Torch||
Formed out of....
|Total Score 79%||Production 60%||Songs 75%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 80%|
There seems to be quite a buzz around over these guys. The pedigree is certainly something to get excited about, but are they any good as the Innocent?|
Well, mainly the answer is yes! There is some classic moments of great late 80's hard rock, with more than enough power, melody and style to satisfy mostfans of the genre.
Jesse Bradman's vocals are great, with hints of David Glen Eisley shining through. Bob Gilles guitars make their presence known, and the mix of guitars, vocals, drums and keyboards is fine.
The problem? In one word - production. Maybe with the success of this project, more money coul be lent to recording a sequal. And if it is, I think, that record would outshine this one, and be a compulsory purchase.
The songs are strong, so the production is the only let down. There are records out there that are produced worse than this, but sound better, because they are held within their bounds.
But if you can get my drift, this is a big record, with big songs and it deserves a bigger sound.
But, in considering the songs, it is indeed a welcome return for the guys. The opening track is a killer, while 'Pray For Rain' could pass for classic era Billy Squier. 'Walk That Walk' is a little average, but the first ballad 'Hands Of Time' makes up for that. 'These Are The Words' also shines as a highlight. Nice anthem.
Actually, after a couple of fillers in the first half of the record, the album really kicks in after this number.
In summary, this is an album of strong hard rock songs, with all the classic ingrediants we miss from 90's records, but with a production that takes away from the efforts of the band.
But, in the absence of other great records, it would still be a wise purchase for fans of American LA style hard rock.
|TEN / THE ROBE|
|NOW AND THEN RECORDS||1. The Robe 2. Bright On The Blade 3. Standing On The Edge Of Time 4. Virtual Reality 5. Arcadia 6. Battletimes 7. You're In My Heart 8. Fly Like An Eagle 9. Ten Fathoms Deep 10. Someday||
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 80%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 79%|
Full credit to Ten, for this is their third album in as many years. It is their first album outside the original recording sessions that netted their debut and the 'Name Of The Rose' album.|
It is both good and bad news that their is nothing remarkably different with the new album. The biggest surprise is the heaviness of the album, with Vinny Burns really 'going off' in places. The title track for example is an epic, moody, uptempo number, far heavier than any track on the previous two records.
In fact, the heavy metalesque riffs don't abate until half way through the record, where it gives way, to more familiar styles.
However heavy the songs get, there is no mistaking the style. Still laiden with more riffs, layers, melodies, harmonies than most compeditors, Gary Hughes knows how to write complex tunes.
The songs on 'The Robe' are more to the point than the previous 'Name Of The Rose' album. But they are also more complex than the debut. There is still room for the occassional epic, as demonstrated on 'The Robe' and 'Arcadia', but generally the songs are shorter.
The downside for me, is the sameness between the songs, a problem on all three albums I think.
Gary Hughes is a fine talent, but is never going to be an awesome singer. Instead me makes great use of what range he has. But that is what will seperate Ten from other legendary AOR/ Hard Rock acts - An outstanding vocalist.
If you liked the previous two albums, then this will become another favourite. If you didn't, then there is not a lot new here. I think the fourth album wil need to be a real departure for the band in order to reach new fans. Only time will tell.
|BRAD DARRID/BRAD DARRID|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 016||1. Coral Stones 2. Guilt Trip 3. If Loves Not Enought 4. Friday Night 5. Broken 6. Only One 7. Trying To Forget 8. Misery 9. Midnight Train 10. dancing In the Streets 11. Given Up 12. The Jester, The King||
|Total Score 80%||Production 80%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 80%|
Canadian's have a curious tendency to produce artists like Australia used to. That is, great solid artists playing good old rock. Not necessarily AOR or hard rock, just straight up rock n roll, with a little heart and a lot of passion.|
The days of Australia doing just this seemed to have past, but there are still a few gems coming out of Canada.
Brad Darrid is one of them. With an album chock full of guitar penned melody driven tunes produced by fellow Cunnuk Paul Laine (He of Danger Danger), you can bet you are in for something special.
Highlights include opener 'Coral Stones', a real moody mid paced rocker, the ballady 'If Love Is Not Enough', and the immediately catchy 'Friday Night'.
I wouldn't want to compare Darrid to John Mellencamp, but that's the kind of territory we are covering here. Maybe though, the feel here is a little more contemporary. There is definately a hint of the 90's here. Just unplugged 90's.
Definately a solid singer/songwriter. If you like that solo style guitar sliger sound, then please have a listen to Brad Darrid and youmay find something a little familiar, yet with a new twist.
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 021||1. Chill 2. Kiss The Fire 3. Act Out Your Fantasy 4. Trouble In Paradise 5. Runaway 6. Been There, Done That 7. Livin' To Ride 8. Land Of Denial 9. World Comes Tumbling Down 10. Schizophrenic 11. Blame It On The Night||
|Total Score 77%||Production 80%||Songs 80%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 80%|
Blackstone feature the combined talents of singer Marc La France and his buddy Paul Dean of Loverboy. Also joining in as guests are Matt Frenette and Scott Smith also of Loverboy, Eric Webster from the Tom Cochrane Band and David Steele of Blue Murder and Dave Lee Roth Band.|
The sound is hard, and the vocals are even harder! La France has beefed up his sound since the 'Out Of Nowhere' debut a couple of years ago. Not totally unresponsible for this is guitarist Paul Dean, who has been getting heavier, rootsier and bluesier as each year passes.
The sound is not totally unfamiliar from the Loverboy 'Six' sound either. Only that La France, while a good vocalist is not a Mike Reno. And it's heavier!
The songs are solid, hard edged and rocking. It is more like a heavy metal Loverboy.
And you know what - I really like it.
The production is at the mercy of Dean, who has a great flare for upping the levels on everything. Big guitars, big bass and big vocals.
Check it out if you like Loverboy, and are maybe looking for something heavier.
The vocals are not as strong as Reno's, but that is a small price to pay for some great guitar driven melodic metal.
|ARCARA/A MATTER OF TIME|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 020||1. Gunshy 2. Lost In Time 3. Eternal Affair 4. Never Tell Your Dreams Goodbye 5. Walk Away 6. Fight Ain't Over 7. A Matter Of Time 8. Blonde & Blue 9. Far Cry From You 10. Let It Ride 11. Love In The First Degree 12. Believer||
|Total Score 80%||Production 85%||Songs 90%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 85%|
Arcara is the latest offering from ex-Prophet vocalist Russell Arcara.
The songs belong to guitarist / engineer and album producer Stephen Deacutis.|
The album is a little hard to define, as it is a little different from what you may expect. Prophet were a good band while they were about, and were unlucky not to crack the big time. In what is probably a wise move, Arcara is neither a blanket copy of Prophet, nor a total avoidance of it. Just a good mixture of the melodies, harmonies and similar song structures of Prophet, blended together with some new moves.
The good news, is that the songs are strong, the sound excellent, and Russell's vocals are as good as ever.
The album is filled with hook filled rock songs. It is actually lighter than I had expected, with some great mid paced pop rock songs. The album is definately hard rock, just coming from the pop side of things.
There are some heavier moments, so don't avoid this album if you were worried about that. The instrumentation is simple. Just guitars, bass, drums and vocals, with a few guest spots for the odd keyboard bit.
Prophet had a habit of having a stripped down sound, and with that Arcara is similar. I recommend anyone who has a Prophet album to check this out. I also recommend that anyone with an ear for good melodic rock check this out also.
|RADIO SILENCE/RADIO SILENCE|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM018||1. Primitive Man 2. Don't Hold On 3. Convertable Car 4. Let It Rain 5. Radio Silence 6. Big Wide World 7. Tower Of Strength 8. God Only Knows 9. A Mighty High Horse 10. Love In A Stranger's Arms 11. Can't Stand Still||
|Total Score 78%||Production 85%||Songs 75%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 75%|
This is another album that kind of defies a category. While not pop, or rock or even AOR as such, it certainly requires reviewing.|
In fact, I would say that it is a mix of all of the above. What it definately is, is a vechile for some finely crafted pop/rock songs.
Radio Silence nearest neighbor is one of my favourite vocal groups Hall & Oates. Yes, these guys use keyboards and smooth vocals and harmonies to quitely burrough their way into your head with some of the more infectious melodies I have heard for a while. Mind you, this is not going to appeal to everyone, as it is very soft, and laid back. But anyone who likes the odd mellower in their collection, or others that like me, think Hall & Oates are still cool, will probably find a woth while investment in radio Silence.
Album highlights include the opener 'Primitive Man', the huge ballady title track and the smooth 'Let It Rain'.
There are a couple of tracks I didn't get into, but out of 12 tracks, that's pretty good. This is not as AOR as someone like King Of Hearts, but should still hold much attraction for fans of soft pop rock.
And like I have mentioned, that connection to Hall & Oates is unavoidable, so if that's your thing, so Radio Silence will be.
|THE DISTANCE/THE DISTANCE|
|ESCAPE MUSIC||1. I Want To Have It All 2. The Brighter You Burn 3. Tail Of A Hurricane 4. Life Got In The Way 5. Loose Control 6. Woman In Your Head 7. Human Race 8. Something My Heart Has To Take 9. Written In Stone 10. Hand In Hand With Love 11. One More Second Chance||
|Total Score 92%||Production 90%||Songs 90%||Vibe 95%||Attitude 90%|
Here is another singer that I have admired for years, but always felt that post Virginia Wolf, has always lacked something. Big guitars!|
This album restores the balance. Heartland I enjoy, but this album places all the ingredients into the right mix, which has resulted in a huge record!
Thanks to the production, mix and guitars from Kenny Kaos (of Canada's Pokerface), everything on this album is BIG!
The songs are of top class, and the vocals are right in your face, the guitars not far behind.
Opener 'I Want To Have It All' is just a great rock tune. Ousey's voice has not sounded so strong!
'The Brighter You Burn' is a heavy massive anthem, and keeps the pace up with one of the best choruses Ousey has ever sung. One of my favourite tunes from 'The Distance'.
'Tail Of A Hurricane' continues with a perfect melody. It is little less urgent than the two openers, which is a good thing, otherwise I don't think I would have the energy to get to the end!!
'Life Got In The Way' slows things down for a few minutes, pacing the album nicely. An awsome ballad, with Ousey again in great form.
'Loose Control' heats things up again, some nice guitar from Kenny here. Great chorus too. 'Woman In Your Head' starts off with no real hook, but my the first chorus you are hooked, and will have it on the brain for a good while. 'Human Race' is a mid paced rocker, while 'Something My Heart Has To Take' is a classic Chris Ousey power ballad.
'Written In Stone' and 'Hand In Hand With Love' are a pair of moody rockers.
'One More Second Chance' finishes off the album with another big rock tune. This song was covered by Mark Free somwhere down the line (correct me if I'm wrong!) Great tune, great chorus, and great end to what has to be one of the best hard AOR albums of the year.
Well, I have really raved about this one, but truely, it is the best album from Chris Ousey that I have heard since the Virginia Wolf debut. And I love that album!!
This should be investigated and purchsed by all Hearland fans, and should bring a new legion of fans on board, who like the heavier end of AOR.
Killer vocals, killer tunes! Buy it!
|HARD RAIN/HARD RAIN|
|1. Rage On 2. Shame For The Bad Boy 3. You'd Start A Fight 4. Stop Me From Loving You 5. Looking For A Way 6. Cry Cry Cry 7. I Must Have Been Blind 8. Perpetual Commotion 9. Different Kind Of Love 10. Another Nice Mess 11. That Ain't Love (Bonus Track)||
|Total Score 85%||Production 75%||Songs 90%||Vibe 85%||Attitude 80%|
| Well if you haven't already heard about it, or read it in these pages, Hard Rain is the indespensable duo of Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley of Magnum. I was sad to see Magnum's demise, as they were always a class act. I could not imagine either of these two working with other people, and lo and behold - they're not!
So what we have here is essentially a new Magnum record. Despite the name change and the fact Tony Clarkin plays all the instruments himself, you can't get away from the fact, this is (almost) Magnum!
As Magnum, the band consistantly had a different sound for each album, and the same applies here. The sound is closest to the last studio Magnum album 'Rock Art', with touches of 'Wings Of Heaven', and some definately new sounds added for good measure. Those new sounds come in the form of female backing vocals (Jim Steinman style), and some new harmony styles and different drum textures (a couple of those almost dance style beats - you know the type!).
But for the main part, this album is everything one could want. It is definately a harder edge than previous Magnum records, especially 'Rage On' and 'Shame About The Bad Boy'. But for fans of the big ballad Magnum, you won't be dissapointed either, with huge 'It Must Have Been Love' style ballads like 'Cry Cry Cry' and 'Stop Me From Lovin' You'.
Produced by Clarkin and recorded in his home studio, there is little difference from a band effort in a big studio, but maybe it would have sounded even better with that treatment.
For now, this is a fine addition to the Magnum legacy, and will be on high rotation for a while to come.
This is hardly a negative comment, but I think with the last few Magnum albums, they have almost always left you with a sense they 'almost' made the perfect record. Same this time round!
|NOW AND THEN RECORDS NTHEN29||1. Dangerous Music 2. Let It Burn 3. The Language Of Love 4. The American Way 5. Oxygen 6. I Believe In You 7. Jury 8. Losing You 9. In The Night 10. Face To Face 11. Love Power And Peace 12. The End Of The Line||
|Total Score 85%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 85%|
This is more like it!! Big choruses, huge vocals, soaring guitars. Love it!!|
Well, after much delay Robin George is back. After creating the awesome, but hard to get into Notorious album, with Diamond Head singer Sean Harris, and watching it crash big time due to the usual dickhead record label antics, guitarist Robin George is back in full swing with his new outfit Life.
There are naturally plenty of comparisons to Notorious, and it doesn't take long to see just who wrote the songs from that album. In fact a couple of them are resurected here. Both 'I Believe In You' and 'Losing You' are given a tougher edge. And that is the difference between the two acts. Life has a toughter more cohesive sound. Heavier, more updated, better produced. The problem that Notorious had was that Robin George was in New York and Sean Harris was in L.A, and the album was recorded via Federal Express!
Having a full band situation has helped the sound enormously (as you would expect). So to get to the point, Life is a tougher, heavier and better sounding version of Notorious. Like that and you will love this. As for the new singer Nick Tart, he sounds like a hybrid between Sean Harris and L.A. Guns singer Phil Lewis. In fact, if I hadn't seen the proof of a photo, I would swear that Phil was here in person. So add a little of 'Hollywood Vampires' era L.A. Guns to the mix, and you have Life.
Highlights 'Dangerous Music', 'Let It Burn', 'Losing You' and 'In The Night'.
|LOST WEEKEND/LOST WEEKEND|
|NOW AND THEN RECORDS NTHEN 34||1. Don't Walk Away From Love 2. Baby Don't Leave Me This Way 3. One Step Closer 4. Is It Love 5. Find My Way Back To You 6. Desperate Love 7. Hopeless Romance 8. Don't Want To Be So Lonley 9. Cry Through The Rain 10. I'm Gonna Make Her Mine||
|Total Score 55%||Production 40%||Songs 60%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 60%|
This is the debut CD for UK AOR hopefulls Lost Weekend. The sound is classic European 80's pop/rock AOR, with healthy doses of keyboards, guitars and a good vocalist. The songs are all okay, although I have heard it all many times before. The band have real potential but are let down big time by the production, which is a little hollow.|
The good news is that Ten frontman, and Now And Then in house producer is taking the helm for their next album, due to be recorded later this year. That I will look forward to, as I think it could add what the band are missing here. In the mean time, check this out if you can, especially if you like European 80's AOR. Just don't expect something awesome.
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM-013||1. True Meaning Of Love 2. Sleepless Nights 3. Second Chance 4. Turn Around 5. Rosie's Cantina 6. So All Alone 7. Best Of Me 8. (The World Is) Changin' 9. Endless Nights 10. You've Changed 11. Hurts So Bad 12. Find A Way||
Recent solo Discography
|Total Score 80%||Production 85%||Songs 80%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 85%|
Alliance, if you haven't already heard of them, are a session supergroup of sorts. Featuring prog guru Robert Berry, Night Ranger keyboardist Fitz Fitzgerald, Boston guitarist Gary Pihl, and David Lauser, drummer for Sammy Hagar. Their debut album saw the light of day in Japan late last year, but that wasn't the end of the story. You see, sometime label requirements are not for the best!! The album was released, but the band were far from happy with the final mix.
The new label are very keen to tell everyone this is not a European release of the Japanese release 'Bond Of Union'. From that album tracks 'My My My', 'Cross That Line', 'Tonight' and 'Change' have been left off in place of new tunes, and the whole album has been re-mixed.|
The label (Zero) wanted more guitars, less keyboards, and a more live sound. What they got was basically a hollow sounding record, that I thought laked texture.
But good news, as it has been rectified here!
There are new tracks, and the whole album sounds far superior to that of the original. The originally intended keyboards are given their full glory in the mix, and the texture of the album just sounds so much better for it. The sound is now lush and full, and the production comes alive.
For those who haven't heard it, the songs are keyboard and guitar driven pop rock tunes, with great harmonies and strong vocals. Mix a little AOR with very small doses of hard rock and prog, mix a little Boston with Night Ranger and a bunch of Robert Berry, and you have the end product.
Basically good strong pop rock tunes, that highlight good playing and stong song writing, and mix a little of all the players previous jobs into an original sound of it's own.
If you have 'Bond Of Union', I strongly recommend getting this version, if not - go directly to this release. Cheaper too!!
|HEARTLAND/BRIDGE OF FOOLS|
|ESCAPE MUSIC ESM011||1. Tomorrow Won't Wait 2. Castles In The Sand 3. Where The Pieces Fall 4. I Will Wait For You 5. Elena 6. Front Page News 7. Only A Heartbeat Away 8. Not Till Heaven Falls 9. Hardworking Man 10. Feels Like Magic 11. Still Got My Feet On The Ground 12. Don't Let The Fire Die||
|Total Score 70%||Production 60%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 80%|
Heartland started out as a band, and had their debut released through Polygram back in 1990. Soon after that, the band were dropped by the label and singer Chris Ousey went into semi-retirement. A few years passed until Long Island Records in Germany pou together a package of demo's and called it a second Heartland album. Chris returned to using the band name, although it was primarily just himself. The album contained good songs, but lacked the production, obviously as they were mainly demo's. Another couple of years pass, and the newly formed Escape music release Heartland 3, a full new album, with Chris joined by Ian Gillan guitarist Steve Morris. Together they continue to form the nucleus of Hertland.|
Now we have the brand new record 'Bridge Of Fools'. This has to be the strongest record since the debut, easily overtaking 'Wide Open' and '3'. The first few tracks are hook filled AOR, killer vocals, great songs. Chris has one of the best voices in AOR. The middle of the album slackens off a little, when a few of the tracks sort of blend into one. But the songs shine through once again with the great ballad 'Only A Heartbeat Away' kicks in. The remaining songs are also strong. The whole affair is strengthened by Steve's great guitar work, and the songs are as strong as they have ever been.
The only down side is the production. Someone like Richie Zito would make this band a world class outfit. But as he costs somewhere in the vacinity of $234 million, it ain't going to happen yet. The guitars sound a little muddy in places, and the mix maybe could be sharper. But that is where a big time producer would help. They would also probably help the problem of the songs sounding a little much the same-ish.
That aside, if you like keyboard/guitar driven AOR, with a great singer at the helm, I would recommend this album. Also - if you own the other Heartland albums, the next thing you should buy is this!
|FLESH AND BLOOD/BLUES FOR DAZE|
|NOW AND THEN RECORDS NTHEN 37||1. Feel The Power 2. Shake Ya Tail Feather 3. Bed Of Roses 4. Boogie Chile 5. Riverside 6. Jenny Doesn't Live Here Anymore 7. I Know Where You've Been 8. Voodoo Man 9. Blues For Daze 10. Man Enough 11. Sweet Sister Rose 12. Judgement Day||
|Total Score 75%||Production 85%||Songs 70%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 70%|
Talking of blues and roots and stripped back live tunes, these guys just about provide the definition. Taking the combined talents of these guys and making a record is quite a mission, but here it is. And like the title says, Blues is the order of the day.|
Vaugh is one extraordinary talent, his vocals in Tyketto are just magnificent. Thankfully he hasn't lost any of it, and sings his little heart out on Blues For Days. Pitrelli is of course a dead ringer for Eric Clapton, it seems he can turn his hand to anything.
There is thankfully mostly uptempo blues rockers featured here, the highlights are 'Boogie Chile', 'Blues For Daze' and 'Feel The Power'. The ballads however show glimpses of where they guys have comes from, with Vaughn almost slipping into his awesome 'Standing Alone' vocals. Check out 'Bed Of Roses' and 'Man Enough'.
So there you go, exactly what to expect if you purchase this record. Black Crowes, Gary Moore, Zack Wylde's solo record. Trouble is, that ain't what I want!! I want another Tyketto record, I want a big American hard rock record. I want big over the top choruses, ballads, arena anthems and some screaming guitars!! That is what these guys can do, and I wish they would. But for now we will have to settle for some rootsy rock n blues. I will score it well, cause if this is what you are into, it sounds great. But personally, I will wait for a Tyketto reunion.
|MTM RECORDS/ NOW AND THEN RECORDS||1. We'll Find Away 2. Walk Away 3. So Many Tears Ago 4. Crazy 5. All That You Wanted 6. All The People You Love 7. If You're Ever Lonley 8. Desire 9. Standing Alone 10. A Tear In L.A.||
|Total Score 90%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 90%|
SOMETHING I had neglected to mention is that the whole project was produced by Hugo with TEN mainman Gary Hughes. Actually the complete line up of Ten, including guitarist Vinny Burns fill out the band duties, making this album also similar in style to their albums' sound, but closer to the debut thatn Name Of The Rose.|
Hugo, the voice of a couple of classic AOR albums in the bands Valentine and Open Skyz returns with his debut solo album, and boy was it ever worth the wait.
Fans of Journey, AOR, his two previous bands should all line up to buy this album 'cause it's a beauty!! Retaining the ever obvious Steve Perry comparisons, Hugo's voice is sounding stronger than ever and shines over this collection of 10 pure ballad driven AOR/pop rock tunes. In the same vein as the recent Storm album 'Eye Of The Storm', Hugo has collected a strong crop of tunes that run smooth fromstart to finish. First listen round, this may sound a little more laid back than previous efforts, but due to a great production job, the tunes lay more deply in the music, and it takes only a couple of listens before you realise that this is one of the more hook and chorus laiden albums in a long while.
Standout tracks like 'We'll Find A Way', 'Walk Away', 'All The People You Love' and 'If You're Ever Lonley' contain some of the best choruses this side of 'Trial By Fire'.
So, there is part classic Journey, part The Storm, part Steve Perry solo, and part Valentine and Open Skyz, and mostly - all new great songs. Now, any new records will be have to be good to compete with this album, I will be playing it for a while to come!
|MONKEY SEE/MONKEY SEE|
|ESCAPE MUSIC/FANDANGO RECORDS TKCF-45018||1. What You Give 2. Monkey Business 3. Tough Guys 4. It's You 5. Eight Seconds After Love 6. Silently She Cries 7. Mindless babble 8. Wish Me Well 9. Show Me The Way 10. Was It The Woman 11. Living In Twilight 12. Bandaid Solution||
|Total Score 72%||Production 70%||Songs 75%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 75%|
This album has been around for a little while now, but I haven't reviewed it yet - so here it is!
Being Canadian, the band have a firm grip on what good AOR or melodic hard rock is.|
The band pump out their own brand of commercial hard rock, with some varied influences ranging from the original Danger Danger pop rock style, to Honeymoon Suite moody rockers, to more powerful heavy rockers where vocalist David Rusland gets to scream his lungs out.
Throughout Monkey See maintain their knack of a catchy melody and groove laiden guitar licks.
The songs are solid from start to finish with only a couple of fillers or below average tracks. The album is very much set in the 80's, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if that style isn't your thing, Monkey See may not be.
The mix has been kind to the band though, mixing keyboards and guitar without over doing it, and the vocal has a nice position in the context of the sound.
So I would recommend the album to fans of commercial 80's melodic rock. especially fans of early Danger Danger, Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy.
A solid and enjoyable record.
|DAKOTA/LAST STANDING MAN|
|Total Score 60%||Production 75%||Songs 55%||Vibe 55%||Attitude 65%|
Dakota posses a fairly tight sound, and have made definite progress on their debut.
The songs are stronger and more consistent. |
The singer has a interesting voice. I can't quite get into it like I should, not sure why! The opening track is as good as it gets, a nice slice of melodic rock. I can't quite pin point the style of Dakota. They play straight ahead rock, with twists of AOR, a little blues, and some harmony vocals for good measure.
My main problem is the songs are a little samish and the vocalist just doesn't have a great AOR voice. It is probably more suited to blues.
If you liked the first album, this will slot easily into your collection.
|ESCAPE MUSIC||1. One World 2. Never Forget 3. Don't Let Me Know 4. Heart In My Mind 5. Human Condition 6. Somebody 7. Speaking In Tongues 8. Just Say Tonight 9. Maybe It's Time 10. Perfect Heart 11. She Wants Blood||
|Total Score 65%||Production 70%||Songs 65%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 65%|
Agent are from Canada and are the latest release from British AOR label Escape Music.
The band have produced a selection of stylish, sometimes laid back, keyboard driven AOR tunes.|
While the album is keyboard driven, it does not sound too dated or risks being over run by them.
Basically, we are talking a big time eighties AOR feel. And fans of that, like Escapes' re-release of the Aviator album, will love this.
The album starts off with a couple of routine numbers, but warms up and leads into some memorable AOR pop rockers.
There are also a couple of cool ballads, that give singer a better chance to get a work out his fine vocals.
Infact, on the opening track, he sounds like a dead ringer for Fee Waybill.
Basically. Agent is an album of smooth eighties influenced AOR, with an equally smooth production and instrumentation. Keyboards rule and the style fluctuates from a blend of Toto to that of Aviator and the like.
One for pure AOR fans.