The Best Of


ALBUM OF THE YEAR - 2019 MelRock Awards

1. ECLIPSE – Paradigm
Another near-perfect slice of ass kicking hard rock. Sweden’s most consistent masters of hard rock drenched in melody, delivered an album that stayed true to the band’s sound, while bringing in a few new tricks. Bottom line - instantly catchy, powerful, memorable and melodic as hell. My most played album of 2019 and the best.
2. THE DEFIANTS – Zokusho
The dreaded second album curse was avoided simply by delivering another perfect mix of modern meets classic melodic hard rock. Steve West on drums added a new dynamic and made it even more ‘dangerdangerous’. Killer songs and killer performances. If anything…I felt a few songs were a minute longer than they needed to be, but very minor point.
3. DEGREED – Lost Generation
I love every record these guys are done as they increasingly modernise and deliver wonderfully written songs that really could (should) be all over commercial radio. This album is so utterly infectious and the production is world class. More melodic brilliance from Sweden. I thought the intro and mid-album interlude hindered the pacing, but very minor point there.
4. CRAZY LIXX – Forever Wild
The guys have dabbled with styles in the past, but for album six they went full 80s, with blazing guitars, anthemic songs and killer choruses. A monster production made this album one of their very best – maybe their best ever. Whatever they did here, they nailed it and need to keep this going!
5. WORK OF ART – Exhibits
For the band’s final album, they simply did what they’ve always done – they delivered a piece of ultra-smooth, ultra-cool, ultra-AOR heaven. These Swedish wizards use the template of past masters of the genre, yet manage to sound fresh and original. Not their best album, but still essential.
It's like, everything good is from Sweden, and sleaze-rockers Crashdiet don’t buck that trend. They too have varied up their sound over several records and several singers, but each and every time they have delivered something memorable. They do it again right here – nice to hear something fresh and original alongside more familiar sounds.
7. UNRULY CHILD – Big Blue World
A little bit of extra grunt and some excellent songs. Possibly the smoothest melodic rock band this side of anywhere, Unruly Child create a unique style of commercial American AOR. I hope they keep making records for many years to come. Marcie Free remains a revelation on vocals.
8. VIANNA – Forever Free
The surprise package of the year for me. Just a really great dose of high energy melodic rock/AOR with big choruses, melodic verses and some fine performances all-round. New-comer AOR vocalist Bryan Cole and vocal legend Terry Brock supply lead and backing vocals, making this an even sweeter sounding record. 
9. STARBREAKER – Dysphoria
The dynamic Tony Harnell finally teamed up again with the talented guitarist/producer Magnus Karlsson for a new chapter in the Starbreaker name. And we got exactly what we wanted – powerful modern hard rock with breathtaking vocals and rifftastic guitars, both driven by a monster production.
10. ALLIANCE – Fire And Grace
Production quality was down on the last near perfect album, but plenty to like here with the outfit's usual style and grace. Robert Berry’s perfect AOR vocals drive the album as always.
11. LEVERAGE – Determinus
A big vocalist change and a long time between drinks for these guys - that placed a big question mark against Leverage before this release. Urban Tale’s Kimmo Blom uses the rough side of his powerful voice (didn’t know he had one!) and as in previous efforts, the songs are excellent – a slightly progressive melodic hard rock/metal style. Great stuff in the end.
12. TESLA – Shock
I’m surprised more fans didn’t go for this. There seemed to be a decent number of complaints online after its release, but this Def Tesla record stands on its own as a quality piece of music. Sure it was a little light and Phil Collen obviously over-influenced production and writing, but it’s a cool record. Cooler than the last few Leppard albums!
13. GATHERING OF KINGS – First Mission
A lack of distribution and the availability of physical copies didn’t dampen the hype around this super prog-pomp melodic rock record. Some terrific performances and lots of great vocals. Another big Scandi winner.
14. FIRST SIGNAL – Line Of Fire
It's Harry Hess. It's essential. Daniel Flores takes over some instrumentation and production, so it has that 'wall of keyboards' sound that he brings to most records, but a good selection of songs from the Frontiers regulars, and Harry getting to do something out of the Harem sound always makes for a good listen.
15. X-ROMANCE – Voices From The Past
House Of Shakira’s Andreas Novak featured on vocals – some catchy and traditional Scandi melodic rock that does the job nicely.
16. PRETTY MAIDS – Undress Your Madness
Battling cancer, Ronnie still manages to deliver more energy and attitude than most and while this could simply be described as ‘another Pretty Maids album’, it’s the quality throughout and the consistency of the band that makes it an album to admire.
17. NITRATE – Wide Open
More classic 80s melodic rock with a modern production. Midnite City in vibe and sound thanks to Rob Wylde's co-writing with founder Nick Hogg, plus Osukaru’s Philip Lindstrand jumps in for vocals this time around.
18. ROULETTE – Now
It's Scandi, it’s powerful, it's melodic and it's wonderful! Another band to add to the list of new-era modern melodic rock bands to devour for their classic melodic rock style.
19. SOLEIL MOON – Warrior
Soft and smooth, a little AOR and a little Westcoast; a quality record largely thanks to the vocals of Larry King.
20. WAKE THE NATION – Heartrock
It's Scandi, it's powerful, it's….you know the drill. This time the band are Finnish, and their second album moves them up in the power rankings for bands to watch out for.
21. FIND ME – Angels In Blue
Still quality, but perhaps the weakest album of the project’s 3 releases, but still good enough to make the Top 30. Overdone on the keyboards again, but Robbie LaBlanc sounds amazing.
22. CARL DIXON - Unbroken
He most certainly is unbroken. Another high-quality release from the Coney Hatch founder. It may be a solo record, but it has the 80s Hatch feel, with a modern touch.
23. TOBY HITCHCOCK - Reckoning
Well short of the debut, with Daniel Flores in charge of production this time around. The album is buried in too many keyboards (a Flores trademark), but the songs are mostly memorable and Toby’s voice shines as one of America’s best ‘new-era’ AOR vocalists.
24. SOTO - Origami
Jeff Scott Soto’s own band for delivering modern hard rock/melodic metal delivers album number 3, which continues the growth of the band and their sound. The best of the 3 without doubt.
25. LOVEKILLERS – Lovekillers
Tony Harnell strikes again! Two albums in the Top 30 for 2019 is quite the accomplishment. This is another of those ‘project’ releases, with Alessandro Del Vecchio the man alongside Tony, working somewhat collaboratively. The style is something many fans have wanted to hear from Tony for a while now and some (but not all) of this album works to satisfy that demand. It's very good – but not quite great. More song consistency and a move away from a standard 'Frontiers project sound' would help album number 2.
26. RESTLESS SPIRITS – Restless Spirits
Lords Of Black​ guitarist Tony Hernando assembled an album’s worth of melodic songs and some of the genre’s leading vocalists including Johnny Gioeli, Deen Castronovo, Dino Jelusic​ (Animal Drive​), Alessandro Del Vecchio. A few outstanding songs but its also a little inconsistent.
27. TONY MILLS – Against The law
Talk about saving your best for last. Another very consistent artist and an all-round good guy. Tony delivered one of his best ever performances before bowing out after a long fight with cancer. RIP Tony. Thanks for the tunes.
28. JIM PETERIK & WORLD STAGE – Winds Of Change
The ever reliable Jim Peterik always delivers. Great songs and great singers once again such as Mike Reno, Dennis DeYoung, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, Danny Vaughn and Lars Safsund. There’s enough info right there to ensure a purchase.
29. HARDLINE – Life
Not as immediate as some Hardline releases and that’s a little strange to say considering the sound is more along the traditional style the band is most loved for. But as with all Hardline releases, there is quality here worthy of inclusion in the Best Of list.
30. EDGE OF FOREVER – Native Soul
Alessandro Del Vecchio tops off another busy year with his third mention in this list. This time it's back to where he came from, bringing a tasty new slice of traditional European melodic rock with his own band Edge Of Forever.
ROCKET LOVE – Greetings From Rocketland
HOUSE OF SHAKIRA - Radiocarbon
AXE - Final Offering
LONERIDER - Attitude
MORANO - Incognito
91 SUITE - Starting All Over EP
DAVID GLEN EISLEY - Tattered, Torn and Worn
ART NATION - Transition
JIMMY BARNES - My Criminal Record
STATION - Stained Glass
GREGG ROLIE - Sonic Ranch
ROBERT TEPPER - Better Than The Rest
BLACK STAR RIDERS - Another State Of Grace
MIKE TRAMP - Stray From the Flock
BURNING RAIN - Face The Music
DREAM THEATER - Distance Over Time
FIGHTER V - Fighter
ROXY BLUE - Roxy Blue
WHITESNAKE - Flesh And Blood
DAVE BICKLER - Darklight
SHARK ISLAND - Bloodline
THUNDER - Please Remain Seated
QUIET RIOT - Hollywood Cowboys
L.A. GUNS - The Devil You Know
BRYAN ADAMS - Shine a Light
KANE ROBERTS  - The New Normal
TORA TORA - Bastards Of Beale
NOTE: There are NO MRR titles included in my Best Of, which is the usual method I employ. While I love them all, it for for others to judge those and I think MRR had a great year, if feedback is anything to go by.
1. ECLIPSE – Delirious
2. DEGREED – Summer Of Love
3. VIANA – Forever Free
4. THE DEFIANTS – It Goes Fast
5. WORK OF ART – Misguided Love
6. CRAZY LIXX – Wicked
7. CRASH DIET – Rust
8. ALLIANCE – Good Life
9. UNRULY CHILD – Living In Someone Else’s Dream
10. RESTLESS SPIRITS – Stop Livin' To Live Online



The Better Never Than Late ‘MelRock Best Album Of 2018’ Awards

The Better Never Than Late ‘MelRock Best Album Of 2018’ Awards
1. Treat – Tunguska
Classic. Modern and contemporary, yet absolutely old-school in its melodic approach.
2. W.E.T – Earthrage
The combo of Soto/Martensson/Sall produced another extraordinary anthemic masterclass.
3. Shinedown – Attention Attention
They don’t do bad albums, but this still one of their best. Amazing emotional journey.
4. Perfect Plan – All Rise
The brightest newcomer of 2018 and a seriously stunning slice of Scandi melodic rock on their debut.
5. Halestorm – Vicious
Another glorious slice of female fronted hard rock.
6. Creye – Creye
Another bright Swedish newcomer. A pink and fluffy AOR dream.
7. State of Salazar – Superhero
Another unique and truly special “new old school” Scandi band. I love these guys.
8. Magnum – Lost on The Road to Eternity
My favourite “New Magnum” release since reforming. A little more uptempo and more keys.
9. Station – More Than The Moon
Consistent, memorable, anthemic and well produced. And American!
10. Snakes In Paradise – Step Into The Light
Another welcome return. Unique band with a unique sound.
11. Care Of Night – Love Equals War
Second album and more quality pure AOR for old-school fans.
12. Vega – Only Human
Always solid, always classy and still the holders of the British AOR crown.
13. Kenny Leckremo’s Spectra – Spectra
A little different than expected and quite laid back, but that voice and these songs, winner.
14. Dynazty – Firesign
Their heaviest yet. Kick ass anthemic European hard rock. Eclipse meets Masterplan.
15. Ted Poley – Modern Art
Ted switches up his 80s sound for a modern melodic rock masterpiece.
16. Groundbreaker – Groundbreaker
The second album featuring Robert Sall. This one with FM’s Steve Overland. Smooth as silk.
17. Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain't Enough
The 70s meets today. Styx meets ELO. Brain food for melodic rock fans.
18. FM – Atomic Generation
Two from two for the master vocalist Steve Overland.
19. Ghost – Prequelle
A surprisingly melodic album for an artist that’s particularly ‘out there’.
20. Dallas – Dallas
The mix and sound unfortunately varied, but holy hell, the songs! 80s anthems galore.
21. 7th Heaven – Color In Motion
Their best album since vocalist Adam joined. A short 10 track statement – impossibly catchy as usual.
22. Age Sten Nilsen's Ammunition – Ammunition
Not quite as consistent as the debut, but Wig Wam meets Eclipse? Every day of the week please.
23. Core Leoni – Greatest Hits Part 1
Great songs from the Gotthard early days and some amazing vocals from Ronnie Romero.
24. Atlas – In Pursuit Of Memory
Production could have been better, but this classy debut mixes genres into something memorable.
25. Steve Perry – Traces
It should have been number one. It’s an almost album - almost suitable for any occasion. The voice is almost there, the songs were almost there, but the tempo was AWOL. Still…any Steve MF Perry is good SMFP to many and his legion of dedicated fans.

The 2017 MelRock Awards

2017 MelRock Awards
Album Of The Year
A wonderful year for music. One of the best. Pretty easy to pick my favourites and even though I haven’t had time to review a good many of these, they have all been in high rotation over the last 12 months. And yes, I will still run through some Reviews In Brief and add as many of these titles to the site. Past my Top 10, the rest were all very hard to put in order – some outstanding titles here, with quality music for all tastes released in 2017.
If you haven’t heard some of these titles, don’t waste another minute, check them out!
01. Harem Scarem – United
02. Eclipse – Monumentum
03. One Desire – One Desire
04. H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
05. Threshold – Legend Of The Shires
06. Night Ranger – Don’t Let Up
07. Heaven & Earth – Hard To Kill
08. Degreed – Degreed
09. [TIE] Mr. Big – Defying Gravity
               Tokyo Motor Fist - Tokyo Motor Fist
               Kryptonite - Kryptonite
10. Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
11. Wayward Sons – Ghosts Of Yet To Come
12. Black Country Communion – BCCIV
13. Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic
14. Brother Firetribe – Sunbound
15. Jorn – Life On Death Road
16. All 4 1 – All 4 1
17. Art Nation – Liberation
18. Code Red – Incendiary
19. Houston – III
20. Riverdogs – California
21. Styx – The Mission
22. Inglorious – II
23. Wildness – Wildness
24. Lionville – World Of Fools
25. [TIE] Newman – Arial
               Pick Cream 69 - Headstrong
26. Jeff Scott Soto – Retribution
27. Pride Of Lions – Fearless
28. Ten – Gothica
29. Revolution Saints – Light In The Dark
30. Tony Mills – Streets Of Chance
31. ColdSpell – A New World Arise
32. Midnite City – Midnite City
33. Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright
34. Crazy Lixx – Ruff Justice
35. The Radio Sun – Unstoppable
36. Santa Cruz – Bad Blood Rising
37. Dirty White Boy – Down And Dirty
38. Deep Purple – Infinite
39. Steve Walsh – Black Butterfly
40. Thunder – Rip It Up
41. Kee Of Hearts – Kee Of Hearts
42. Unruly Child – Can’t Go Home
43. Eden’s Curse – Eden’s Curse Revisited
44. Tales From The Porn – H.M.M.V
45. Jim Jidhed – Push On Through
46. Raintimes – Raintimes
47. Age Of Reflection – In The Heat Of The Night
48. Phantom 5 – Play To Win
49. Martina Edoff – We Will Align
50. Bonfire – Byte The Bullet
Song Of The Year
Threshold – Small Dark Lines
Harem Scarem – Here Today Gone Tomorrow
One Desire – Turn Back Time
H.E.A.T – Redefined
Revolution Saints – I Wouldn’t Change A Thing
Harem Scarem – Heaven And Earth
Eclipse – Vertigo
Eclipse – Never Look Back
H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
Threshold – Stars & Satellites
Heaven & Earth – Hard To Kill
Heaven & Earth – The Game Has Changed
One Desire – Hurt
Sons Of Apollo – Coming Home
Sons Of Apollo – Signs Of The Times
Night Ranger – Somehow Someway
Night Ranger – Say What You Want 
Mr. Big – Mean To Me
Mr. Big – Defying Gravity
Night Flight Orchestra – Jennie
Night Flight Orchestra – Something Mysterious
Unruly Child – The Only One
Pride Of Lions – All I See Is You
Riverdogs - The Revolution Starts Tonight
MelodicRock Records 2017 Releases
A special mention for the MRR releases of 2017. I would personally rank them all in the Top 50, but in an attempt to remain unbiased, I’ve left them out. But I am really proud of what the label has managed to achieve this year, it’s been MRR’s biggest year for number of releases, plus for sales in total and for individual titles setting sales records.
So what this means – I’ll have to make 2018 even bigger and better and so far it’s looking just that way! Stay tuned for news soon!
A huge HUGE thanks to the artists for believing in MRR and making this small label your home.
Another big thanks to all the journos, media outlets and magazines that featured MRR releases during the year.
And finally a big BIG thank you to all the stores and distribution outlets that also supported MRR and did such a great job getting these out there to fans.
To every single person that bought one or all of the releases this year – you guys ROCK!
Johnny Lima – Johnny Lima / Made In California (Reissues w/Bonus Tracks)
Shotgun Symphony – The Last Symphony (Reissues w/Unreleased)
Don Barnes – Ride The Storm (Previously Unreleased)
Arti Tisi Trilogy – New York City, Back Again & The Reeperbahn (All Previously Unreleased)
Jimmy Davis & Junction – Kick The Wall (Deluxe Edition)(Reissue w/Bonus Live Disc)
Jimmy Davis & Junction – Going The Distance (Previously Unreleased)
Rian – Out Of The Darkness (Debut Album)
Jan Akesson's Shadow Rain – Ascension (Debut Solo Album)
Scherer / Batten – Battlezone (Featuring Songs by Jim Peterik)
Boulevard – Luminescence (Comeback Classic)
Devoid – Cup Of Tears (Debut Album)
Fiction Syxx – Talk Dark Secrets (Debut Album)
Madman’s Lullaby – Sins Of Greed
Mecca – The Demos (Previously Unreleased)

MelodicRock's BEST OF 2016

2016 Album Of The Year
01. Rick Springfield – Rocket Science
02. Treat – Ghost Of Graceland
03. The Defiants
04. Vega – Who We Are
05. Ted Poley – Beyond The Fade
06. Dare – Sacred Ground
07. Hardline – Human Nature
08. Glenn Hughes – Resonate
09. Dynazty – Titanic Mess
10. Nordic Union
11. Station
12. Seven – Shattered
13. Tyketto – Reach
14. Roth Brock Project
15. Rage Of Angels – The Devil’s New Tricks
16. First Signal – One Step Over The Line
17. The Theander Expression – Wonderful Anticipation
18. Eden’s Curse – Cardinal
19. Pretty Maids – Kingmaker
20. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker
21. Kissing Dynamite – Generation Goodbye
22. Reckless Love – InVader
23. Soto – Divak
24. Circus Maximus – Havoc
25. Michael Sweet – One Sided War
26. Sunstrike – Ready II Strike
27. Tainted Nation – On The Otherside
28. White Widdow – Silouette
29. Wigelius – Tabula Rasa
30. Mitch Malloy – Making Noise
2016 Songs Of The Year
Rick Springfield – We Connect
The Defiants – Waiting on a Heartbreak
Dynazty – The Human Paradox 
Vega – Every Little Monster
Treat – Do Your Own Stunts 
Ted Poley – Everything We Are
Kissin’ Dynamite – Hashtag Your Life
Tyketto – Reach
Seven – Light of 1000 Eyes
Nordic Union – Every Heartbeat 
Hardline – Take You Home
Dare – Home
Sunstorm – Edge of Tomorrow
Up Next: 2017 Album Of The Year

20FROM20 (1996-2016) - 20 Essential Melodic Rock Guitarists

20 Essential Melodic Rock Guitarists
20 essential guitarists that we couldn’t have lived without over the past 20 years. There are of course many more, but this is 20 that have really stood out for me and contributed so many records to my collection. Hopefully this list will remind you of their contributions to this scene over the past 20 years.
In no particular order:
- Magnus Karlsson (Allen/Lande, Starbreaker, Freefall, Primal Fear, Last Tribe, Kiske Sommerville)
- Erik Martensson (Eclipse, W.E.T, Toby Hitchcock, Jimi Jamison, The Friday Nights, Ammunition, Nordic Union)
- Magnus Henriksson (Eclipse, W.E.T, Toby Hitchcock, Jimi Jamison, Nordic Union)
- Steve Lukather (Toto, Solo, Ringo Starr)
- Mike Slamer (Steelhouse Lane, Terry Brock, Overland, Ozone, Chris Ousey, 7th Key)
- Vic Rivera (Adriangale, Ted Poley, Poley/Rivera)
- Jim Peterik (Pride Of Lions, Solo, Kelly Keagy, Marc Scherer, Mecca, Jimi Jamison)
- Mike Aquino (Pride Of Lions, Kelly Keagy, Marc Scherer, Mecca, Jimi Jamison)
- Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem, Fair Ground, Solo, Hess, Fiore)
- Brad Gillis (Night Ranger)
- Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Solo)
- Rob Marcello (Danger Danger, Marcello/Vestry, Solo)
- Rick Springfield (Solo)
- Jimi Bell (House Of Lords, Maxx Explosion, James Christian, Robin Beck)
- Stevie Janevski (The Radio Sun, Black Majesty, Square One)
- Neal Schon (Journey, Solo, Santana, Planet US, Soul Sirkus)
- Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Night Ranger, Joel Hoekstra’s 13, Jack Blades, Michael Sweet)
- Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
- Vivian Campbell (Riverdogs, Def Leppard, Last In Line)
- Tony Clarkin (Magnum, Hard Rain)



20FROM20 (1996-2016) - 20 Underrated But Essential Melodic Rock Albums

2016 is of course the 20th Anniversary of – my online presence began in October 1996 with a basic news website (under a couple of different names) before the domain was adopted in 1998 (or thereabouts!)...
To celebrate 20 years covering the music we all love, I am posting a number of 20FROM20 features, counting down some of the best music and artists of the last 20 years, 1996-2016.
So let’s get started!
01. HUMANIMAL - Humanimal
Named after a Talisman album, this one off project featuring JSS, Marcel Jacob and Pontus Norgren, it’s a masterclass in melodic, yet heavy and groovy hard rock. And the songs are simply unforgettable. Still one of my favourite JSS albums ever.
02. THE SIGN - Signs of Life
The production didn’t do justice to the quality of the songs, but this teaming of Terry Brock, Randy Jackson, Mark Mangold and Billy Greer was a true masterstroke. The guys wrote the material together, so it reflected a new band, not a project and the mix of progressive and AOR created some stunning music that is every bit as wonderful today.
03. KHARMA - Wonderland
One of my favourite Goran Edman fronted albums ever. Glorious Swedish album that has sadly never been followed up. Its pomp meets classic rock meets Scandi melodic rock. It’s brilliant.
04. MILLENIUM - Hourglass
Still one of the best Jorn Lande fronted albums and a brilliant mix of commercial hard rock and soaring chorus melodies with the power of Whitesnake or Blue Murder. Ralf Santolla and crew rule.
05. SNAKES IN PARADISE - Dangerous Love
Stefan Berggren remains one of the best vocalists around and he is sadly underrated as is this band. This is their best album and still one of my all time favourites from Sweden.
06. SR71 - Now You See Inside
The band defined the modern rock sound in the late 90s, a really promising band, terrific melodic yet powerful songs. Want to know what the nu-breed of melodic rock sounds like – it’s this album!
07. NELSON - Life
The Nelsons took a step back from their normal sound to deliver one of the finest pop/rock harmony records ever. This is still my favourite Nelson album – its pure pop, but it’s also pure melodic bliss. And the songs are unbelievably catchy.
            A little controversial because Jimi was fighting Frankie over the name, and the album had a
rough time in production, with the band having their own issues, but in the end it got made and the songs were moody and wonderful and the vocal performance from Jimi was glorious.
09. WESTWORLD - Westworld
TNT’s Tony Harnell and Riot’s Mark Reale with Bruno Ravel. This is the first of four albums and it perfectly demonstrates what I love about Tony when he turns slightly heavier and darker. Brilliant.
10. BOB CATLEY - The Tower
Bob’s debut solo album saw the Magnum vocalist turn heavier, darker and with the backing of Ten and the songs of Gary Hughes, he delivered a masterpiece. Ten meet Magnum, but heavier than both. Still sounding fresh and vibrant.
11. CROWN OF THORNS - Lost Cathedral
The debut album is the one that gets all the love, but don’t leave this one out of your collection. The sometimes patchy COT deliver their most consistent and strong album after the debut.
12. WHITESNAKE - Restless Heart
David Coverdale turns down the screams and sings in the tone of an older, mature vocalist, who may not have the range, but had lost none of the charisma and warmth only he could deliver. And some terrific mid-tempo songs too. Wish he’d come back to this style.
13. KIP WINGER - Thisconversationseemslikeadream
Personal tragedy provided lyrical depth not seen before from Kip, or just about any other artist for that matter. Musically it is like an opera, it is a true masterpiece and immediately become a long-time favourite. Mood, melody, intelligent arrangements and impossible not to love and respect.
14. SHUGAAZER - Shift
Paul Laine does modern melodic rock with the same class and talent as he does everything else. Hugely underrated album with some truly amazing songs, none better than the heart wrenching ballad Something Worth Waiting For.
15. ATTRACTION 65 - Attraction 65
Another modern album, but as with everything the late, great Gregg Fulkerson does, its filled with deep melodies, moody Springsteen-esque Americana. The difference here is the more modern sound and to be honest, these songs could have been on any radio station in the world, such was their quality.
16. LEVERAGE - Tides
Vocalist Pekka Heino and guitarist Torsti Spoof form the backbone of this album – another glorious slice of Scandinavian melodic hard rock/metal. Power, finesse and a big fat production equals an album that has not yet been topped.
17. BEGGARS & THIEVES - Look What You Create
Like Crown Of Thorns, B&T get all the love for their debut – well deserved to. But this is a fine quality album too and really showcases the awesome vocals of Louie Merlino. Another one of my favourite bands because they are different than the majority.
18. VON GROOVE - Test of Faith
Another instance of a band stepping back from heavier origins to concentrate on songs and delivering big time. It’s more melodic than any other album in their catalogue, and it really suited them. Easily my favourite Von Groove album.
19. ALFONZETTI - Ready
Matti Alfonzetti delivers a commercial melodic rock album with a few covers and a few originals, but all great performances and one for all fans of classic melodic rock.
20. STRANDED – Long way To Heaven
This album goes back to 1999 and I’m still waiting for a sequel! Agent’s Troy Reid brings his gruff, quirky vocals to a project fronted by Canadian guitarist Kenny Kaos (Pokerface/The Distance). Once again, it’s the songs that rule the day. I hated this on first listen, but just to demonstrate you never review anything until it’s worn in, I came to love it and still do.

2015 MelRock Awards (Abbreviated)


(Insert usual disclaimer and apologies for lateness)

(Insert usual disclaimer stating that it's never too late to revisit past releases and make sure you're not missing anything!)
Thanks for reading and sharing - this is the Best Albums Of 2015 and some of the very best songs from those albums. Apologies for the abbreviated format this year.
The 2015 MelRock Awards
2015 Album Of The Year



  1. Eclipse - Armaggedonize
  2. Toto - XIV
  3. Degreed - Dead But Not Forgotten
  4. Revolution Saints - Revolution Saints
  5. Peterik/Scherer - Risk Everything

  6. Maxx Explosion - Dirty Angels
  7. Art Nation - Revolution
  8. Europe - War Of Kings
  9. Def Leppard - Def Leppard
  10. Room Experience - Room Experience

  11. Find Me - Dark Angel
  12. Khymera - The Grand Design
  13. Soto - Inside The Vertigo
  14. Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Dying To Live
  15. The Radio Sun - Heaven Or Heartbreak
  16. Station - Station
  17. Constancia - Final Curtain
  18. Shinedown - Threat to Survival
  19. Halestorm - Into The Wild Life
  20. Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall - Kingdom Of Rock

  21. Rick Springfield - Stripped Down
  22. Radio Exile - Radio Exile
  23. Care Of Night - Connected
  24. Skintrade - Scarred For Life
  25. FM - Heroes And Villans
  26. Talon - Fourplay
  27. Cain's Offering - Stormcrow
  28. Stryper - Fallen
  29. Sweet/Lynch - Only To Rise
  30. House Of Lords - Indestructable

  31. S.A.Y - Orion
  32. Ten - Isla De Muerta
  33. The Poodles - Devil In The Details
  34. Serpentine - Circle Of Knives
  35. COP - State Of Rock
  36. Blood Red Saints - Speedway
  37. Issa - Crossfire
  38. Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful
  39. The Winery Dogs - Hot Streak
  40. Praying Mantis - Legacy
  41. Cats In Space - Too Many Gods
  42. Jorn Lande and Trond Holter - Dracula - Swing Of Death
  43. Tonk - Ruby Voodoo
  44. Serpentine Sky - Serpentine Sky
  45. Trixter - Human Era
  46. Romeos Daughter - Spin
  47. Iron Maiden - Book Of Souls
  48. Voodoo Hill - Waterfall
  49. Martina Edoff - Unity
  50. Royal Mess - Nalle Pahlsson's Royal Mess
  51. Impellitteri - Venom
  52. Murder Of My Sweet - Beth Out Of Hell
  53. Bonfire - Glorious
  54. Mike Tramp - Nomad
  55. Royal Hunt - Devils Dozen
  56. Nelson - Peace Out
  57. Black Star Riders - The Killer Instinct
  58. Ozone - Self Defence
  59. Dennis Dries - I
  60. Michael Bormann - Closer 
2015 Best Songs (Just a few...)



2014 MelRock Awards

2014 MelRock Awards
Album Of The Year
01. H.E.A.T - Tearing Down The Walls
02. Harem Scarem - Thirteen
03. Work Of Art - Framework
04. Night Ranger - High Road
05. Mr. Big - The Stories We Could Tell
06. Adriangale - Defiance
07. Seven - Seven
08. Magnum - Escape From The Shadow Garden
09. Vega - Stereo Messiah
10. Ammunition - Shanghaied
11. State Of Salazar - All The Way
12. The Radio Sun - Wrong Things Right
13. Dark Horse - Dark Horse
14. Brother Firetribe - Diamond In The Firepit
15. 7th heaven - Spectrum
16. Billy Idol - Kings & Queens Of The Underground
17. Night X Night - Night X Night
18. Stan Bush - The Ultimate
19. Ten - Albion
20. In Faith - There's A Storm Coming
21. LRS - Down To The Core
22. SunStrike - Rock Your World
23. Grand Design - Thrill Of The Night
24. Alien - Eternity
25. Johnny Lima - My Revolution
26. Within Temptation - Hydra
27. White Widdow - Crossfire
28. Winger - Better Days Comin'
29. Outloud - Let's Get Serious
30. Secret - End Of The Road
31. Dynazty - Renatus
32. Allen/Lande - The Great Divide
33. Dalton - Pit Stop
34. Free Spirit - All The Shades Of Darkened Light
35. Gotthard - Bang
36. Angels & Kings - Kings Of Nowhere
37. X-Drive - Get Your Rock On
38. Miss Behaviour - Double Agent
39. Overland - Epic
40. Crazy Lixx - Crazy Lixx
41. Threshold - For The Journey
42. Mike Tramp - Museum
43. Michael Sweet - My Suicide
44. Neonfly - Strangers In Paradise
45. Pretty Maids - Louder Than Ever
46. Rated X - Rated X
47. Sound Of Eternity - Visions & Dreams
48. Ferreira - V
49. Tango Down - Charming Devil
50. Unruly Child - Down The Rabbit Hole (Side 1)
51. Vanden Plas - Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path One)
52. Three Lions - Three Lions
53. Loud Lion - Loud Lion
54. Axel Rudi Pell - Into The Storm
55. California Breed - California Breed
56. House Of Lords - Precious Metal
57. Slash - World On Fire
58. Evergrey - Space Police - Defenders Of The Crown
59. Ace Frehley - Space Invader
60. Guardian - Home Again
2014 Song Of The Year
H.E.A.T - Point Of No Return
Harem Scarem - Midnight Hours
Ammunition - Wild Card
Work Of Art - How Do You Sleep
Night Ranger - High Road
06. Mr. Big - Fragile
07. H.E.A.T - A Shot At Redemption
08. Vega - Whenever We Are
09. LRS - Living 4 A Dream
10. Harem Scarem - Troubled Times
11. Adriangale - Defiance
12. Billy Idol - Can’t Break Me Down
13. Seven - Shoot To Kill
14. Magnum - Midnight Angel
15. The Radio Sun - Wrong Things Right
16. Stan Bush - Unstoppable
17. H.E.A.T - Tearing Down The Walls
18. Work Of Art - Time To Let Go
19. Billy Idol - Bitter Pill
20. Brother Firetribe - For Better Or For Worse
21. Harem Scarem - Saints And Sinners
22. H.E.A.T - Eye For An Eye
23. Vega - All Or Nothing
24. Mr. Big - Gotta Love TheRide
25. Work Of Art - Can’t Let Go


Vocalist Of The Year
Erik Gronwall - For the brilliant performance on H.E.A.T and for being the frontman everyone wants to see.
Guitarist Of The Year
Eric Rivers (H.E.A.T) - A killer effort all on his own for the first time.
Bass Player Of The Year
Jack Blades (Night Ranger) - Still the most energetic bass player on the planet.
Keyboardist Of The Year
Lars Safsund & Robert Sall (Work Of Art) - For the finest AOR keyboards this side of 1986. Incredible!
Drummer Of The Year
Pat Torpey (Mr. Big) - For overcoming considerable odds and still kicking ass.
Producer Of The Year
Tobias Lindell - H.E.A.T - Tearing Down The Walls. One word: perfection.
Best Compilation/Live
WET - One Live: In Stockholm
Toto - Live In Poland
Dennis DeYoung - …And The Music Of Styx, Live in Los Angeles
Stryper - Live At The Whisky
The Angels - 1974-2014 40 Years of Rock, Vol. 2: 40 Greatest Live Hits
01. Boston - Life Love & Hope
02. Love Rich - Respect The Rich
03. Swedish Hitz Goes Metal Vol. 2
04. Red Dragon Cartel
05. Sammy Hagar - Lite Roast
06. Timo Tolkki's Avalon - Angels Of The Apocalypse
07. Ring Of Fire Battle Of Leningrad
08. Heart - Home For The Holidays
09. Ted Nugent - Shut Up & Jam
10. Richard Marx - Beautiful Goodbye





Welcome to the 2013 MelRock Awards.

Thanks again for reading and the great enthusiasm for these awards each year. For anyone new to this - this is not a vote or a poll; this is my own personal take on the music and news that I covered on over the course of 2013. These are my favourite songs, my favourite albums and whatever else...

In listing these artists and also handing out some awards, it is my hope as always that it will help remind folks of some music they missed or help them appreciate some of the artists behind the music for their efforts in 2013.
Enjoy the read and do let me know what you think!




Rise Up

Following up an acclaimed debut is no easy task, but these guys moved from a project to a band with this excellent sophomore release. A tougher, more cohesive album that contained some more stunning melodic rock songs.




Harem Scarem

Mood Swings II

This has to be the best effort at re-recording a classic album/old material by any band yet. The guys captured the energy and vibe of the original and still managed to add a few little twists. And the three new songs were as stunning as possibly could be.






7th Key

I Will Survive

A sum of its parts more than individual highlights, but in the end it was everything that folks expected from the highly accomplished pair of Greer and Slamer. A more technical and progressive slice of melodic rock this time around, and so much depth to the production.





We Don't Belong

With hardly any promotion and a label that disappeared soon after the release of this album, the Swedish lads still managed to push a genre forward with a highly addictive and memorable set of songs that helps modernize the classic melodic rock sound we all love.


The Poodles

Tour De Force

Proof that a band can still continue to learn and improve, even on their fifth outing. The band struggled with the album prior to this, but stormed back to the forefront of Scandi melodic hard rock here.




Magnus Karlsson's FreeFall - Magnus Karlsson's FreeFall

- Powerful, passionate and right in your face from start to end!





Eden's Curse - Symphony Of Sin

- From diversity comes the rewards...and EC storm back with their most melodic work yet.




Adriangale - Suckerpunch

- Great to have these guys back and.




Heaven & Earth - Dig

- The return of classic rock - in a truly classic sense. An epic album right out of 1977.




The Winery Dogs - The Winery Dogs

- You can teach an old dog new tricks! An inspired pairing of musicians here. /font>

11 House Of Shakira - Pay To Play
12 Steve Lukather - Transition 
13 Vega - What The Hell 
14 Find Me - Wings Of Love 
15 Revolution Road - Revolution Road 
16 The Theander Expression - Strange Nostalgia 
17 John Elefante - On My Way To The Sun
18 Newman - Siren 
19 Brett Walker - Straight Jacket Vacation 
20 Faith Circus - Turn Up The Band  


21 Covered Call - Impact
22 Stryper - No More Hell To Pay
23 Fergie Frederiksen - Any Given Moment 
24 Crashdiet - The Savage Playgound 
25 Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For 
26 N.O.W. - Bohemian Kingdom 
27 Burning Rain - Epic Obsession 
28 Deep Purple - Now What?! 
29 Sparklands - Tomocyclus 
30 Jesse Damon - Midnight In The Garden Of Eve  


31 Bai Bang - All Around The World
32 Laneslide - Flying High
33 Tainted Nation - F.E.A.R
34 Tom Kiefer - The Way Life Goes
35 FM - Rockville
36 Fate - If Not For The Devil
37 Pretty Maids - Motherland
38 Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose 
39 Coney Hatch - Four
40 Robin Beck - Underneath 


Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Dream Theater - Dream Theater
  • LRB - Cuts Like A Diamond
  • Guru - White
  • Hardcore Superstar - C'mon Take On Me
  • ColdSpell - Frozen Paradise
  • Code Of Silence - Dark Skies Over Babylon
  • Redrum - Victims Of Our Circumstances
  • Houston - II
  • Michael Schenker - Temple Of Rock
  • Dream Theater - Dream Theater
  • Bombay Black - Bullets And Booze
  • Edge - Heaven Knows
  • Mad Max - Interceptor
  • Human Fortress - Raided Land
  • Reckless Love - Spirit
  • Pink Cream 69 - Ceremonial
  • Gary Schutt - Moving Parts
  • Arc Angel - Harlequins Of Light
  • Snowfall - Cold Silence
  • Fair Warning - Sundancer
  • Jorn - Symphonic
  • Vertical Horizon - Echoes From The Underground
  • Starship feat. Mickey Thomas - Loveless Fascination
  • Ra - Critical Mass
  • Angelica - Thrive
  • James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance
  • Daryl Braithwaite - Forever The Tourist
  • Rage Of Angels - Dreamworld 


  1. Magnus Karlsson's FreeFall - Magnus Karlsson's FreeFall
  2. Tainted Nation - F.E.A.R.
  3. Dream Theater - Dream Theater
  4. Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For
  5. Human Fortress - Raided Land
  6. James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance
  7. Jorn - Symphonic
  8. Pamela Moore - Resurrect Me
  9. Death Dealer - War Machine
  10. Stormzone - Three Kings

..(New Band/Artist/Solo Debut, Not Project)

  1. The Winery Dogs - The Winery Dogs
  2. The Theander Expression - Strange Nostalgia
  3. Tainted Nation - F.E.A.R.
  4. Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose
  5. Laneslide - Flying High
  6. Code Of Silence - Dark Skies Over Babylon
  7. Angelica - Thrive
  8. Rage Of Angels - Dreamworld
  9. Sparklands - Tomocyclus
  10. Snowfall - Cold Silence
  11. De La Cruz - Street Level
  12. LaValle - Dear Sanity
  1. Def Leppard - Viva! Hysteria
  2. Europe - Live At Sweden Rock
  3. John Waite - All Access! Live
  4. Whitesnake - Made In England
  5. Lita Ford - The Bitch Is Back, Live
  6. Nightwish - Showtime, Storytime
  7. Ted Nugent - Ultralive Ballisticrock
  8. Hartmann - The Best Is Yet To Come
  9. Great White - 30 Years, Live From The Sunset Strip
  10. Axel Rudi Pell - Live On Fire
  1. Sammy Hagar - Standing Hampton/VOA/Three Lock Box/Sammy Hagar (Japan Re-Issues)
  2. HSAS - Through The Fire (Japan HM-CD Re-Issue)
  3. Crashdiet - The Demo Sessions (Indie)
  4. Blue Murder - Blue Murder (Rock Candy)
  5. Stan Bush & Barrage - Stan Bush & Barrage (Rock Candy)
  6. Honeymoon Suite - HMS, The Big Prize, Racing After Midnight (Rock Candy)
  7. Alcatrazz - No Parole From Rock n Roll, Live Sentence – No Parole From Rock'N'Roll, Disturbing The Peace, Dangerous Games (Metal Mind)
  8. Streets - Streets, Crimes In Mind (Rock Candy)
  9. Various Titles - Swedish Metal Classics (EMI Digital Sweden)
  10. Lou Gramm - Long Hard Look (Rock Candy)
  1. Harem Scarem - World Gone To Pieces

    Classic melodic rock. Period. Brilliant, infectious and my most played song of 2013!

  2. W.E.T. - Walk Away

  3. Degreed - What If

  4. Harem Scarem - Anarchy

  5. Revolution Road - Shooting Star

  6. W.E.T. - What You Want
  7. 7th Key - I Will Survive
  8. Newman - Feel Her Again
  9. Degreed - Blind Hearted
  10. Revolution Road - Wings Of Hope
  11. Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For
  12. W.E.T. - Broken Wings
  13. John Elefante - On My Way To The Sun
  14. House of Shakira - Bending The Law
  15. Find Me - Dancing To A Broken Heartbeat
  16. Robin Beck - Wrecking Ball
  17. Steve Lukather - Judgement Day
  18. Degreed - Access Denied
  19. House of Shakira - Pay To Play
  20. Adriangale - The Black And Blue
  21. The Theander Experience - Conception Of Life
  22. 7th heaven - We Live Life Young
  23. N.O.W. - I'm Alive
  24. Royal Hunt - One Minute Left To Live
  25. Rage Of Angels - Over And Over
  26. Eden's Curse - Unbreakable
  27. Crashdiet - California
  28. Degreed - Inside of Me
  29. AOR - Secrets In The Shadows
  30. Eden's Curse - Evil & Divine
  31. Newman - Scar Of Love
  32. John Elefante - This Is How The Story Goes
  33. Faith Circus - Sunshine Radio
  34. The Winery Dogs - Elevate
  35. Tainted Nation - Never Promised You Anything
  36. Steve Lukather - Do I Stand Alone
  37. Bai Bang - Gonna Make It
  38. Jesse Damon - Black Widow
  39. Deep Purple - A Simple Song
  40. Brett Walker - Reaching For The Stars
  41. Covered Call - Lorainne
  42. Gary Schutt - Half A World Away
  43. Eden's Curse - Break The Silence
  44. Rage Of Angels - See You Walking By
  45. Faith Circus - Inside The Circus
  46. The Theander Experience - Strange Nostalgia
  47. Covered Call - When The Lights Are Out
  48. Revolution Road - Pretending Hearts
  49. Arc Angel - California Daze
  50. Laneslide - Flying High
  51. Dogface - Back On The Street
  52. Fergie Frederiksen - When The Battle Is Over
  53. Fergie Frederiksen - Price For Loving You
  54. LaValle - Don't Cry
  55. Reckless Love - Night On Fire
  56. Dream Theater - The Looking Glass
  57. The Poddles - Shut Up!
  58. Coney Hatch - Revive
  59. Covered Call - Hold On
  60. Adgriangale - Could Have Been Me
  61. Harem Scarem - Brighter Day
  62. Seventh Key - The Only One
  63. Heaven & Earth - A Day Like Today
  64. Houston - I'm Coming Home
  65. Revolution Road - Revolution Road
  66. Adriangale - The World We Knew
  67. Lost Weekend - Perfect
  68. House of Shakira - Same Old Story
  69. Dogface - Back On The Streets
  70. Hardcore Superstar - Above The Law
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Steve Lukather - Creep Motel
  • The Winery Dogs - I'm No Angel
  • The Winery Dogs - The Other Side
  • The Winery Dogs - Not Hopeless
  • Angelica - Breaking My Heart
  • Angelica - Can't Stop Love
  • Angelica - Nothing Else You Can Break
  • Faith Circus - Turn Up The Band
  • Faith Circus - Restless Heart
  • Houston - Back To The Summer Of Love
  • Houston - Glory
  • Bombay Black - Helluva Time
  • Bombay Black - All The Same In The Dark
  • Bombay Black - Queen Of Denial
  • Bombay Black - Bad Boy
  • House of Shakira - Dopamin Junkie
  • House of Shakira - Two Things
  • House of Shakira - All You Want
  • Arc Angel - Harlequins Of Light
  • Adriangale - Believe
  • Adriangale - When I Said You'd Be The One
  • Black Star Riders - Kissin' The Ground
  • Black Star Riders - Bound For Glory
  • Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose
  • Burning Rain - Sweet Little Baby Thing
  • Burning Rain - My Lust Your Fate
  • Burning Rain - Our Time Is Gonna Come
  • Coney Hatch - Blown Away
  • Coney Hatch - Down & Dirty
  • Crashdiet - Cocaine Cowboys
  • Crashdiet - Change The World
  • Crashdiet - Got A Reason
  • De La Cruz - Turn It Up
  • De La Cruz - Legions On Love
  • Degreed - In For The Ride
  • Degreed - Black Cat
  • Degreed - Just Another Heartache
  • Diamond Dawn - Take Me Higher
  • Diamond Dawn - Cryin'
  • Diamond Dawn - The Hunter
  • Dream Theater - The Enemy Inside
  • Dream Theater - The Bigger Picture
  • Fate - If Not For The Devil
  • Fergie Frederiksen - Last Battle Of My War
  • Fergie Frederiksen - Candles In The Dark
  • Find Me - Road To Nowhere
  • Find Me - One Soul
  • Goo Goo Dolls - When The World Breaks Your Heart
  • Goo Goo Dolls - Caught In The Storm
  • Hardcore Superstar - C'mon And Love Me
  • Little River Band - Cuts Like A Diamond
  • Little River Band - Forever You Forever Me
  • Little River Band - The Lost And The Lonely
  • Magnus Karlsson's Freefall - Freefall
  • Magnus Karlsson's Freefall - Higher
  • Magnus Karlsson's Freefall - Heading Out
  • Magnus Karlsson's Freefall - On Fire
  • Code Of Silence - Dark Skies Over Babylon
  • Pink Cream 69 - Land Of Confusion
  • Pink Cream 69 - Wasted Years
  • Pink Cream 69 - The Tide
  • Place Vendome - The Power Of Music
  • Pretty Maids - The Mother Of All Lies
  • Pretty Maids - The Iceman
  • Pretty Maids - Motherland
  • Ra - Beautiful
  • Ra - Awake
  • Reckless Love - Bad Lovin'
  • Reckless Love - Edge of Our Dreams
  • Reckless Love - Dying To Live
  • Seventh Key - Lay It On The Line
  • Seventh Key - I See You There
  • Seventh Key - When Love Sets You Free
  • Sparklands - The Game
  • Starship feat. Mickey Thomas - It's Not The Same As Love
  • Starship feat. Mickey Thomas - Loveless Fascination
  • Starship feat. Mickey Thomas - What Did I Ever Do
  • Stryper - No More Hell To Pay
  • Stryper - The One
  • Stryper - Water Into Wine
  • The Poodles - Happily Ever After
  • The Poodles - Misery Loves Company
  • The Poodles - Viva Democracy
  • LaValle - Scared To Love
  • LaValle - Break Your Heart
  • 7th heaven - Pages
  • W.E.T. - The Moment
  • W.E.T. - Learn To Love Again
  • W.E.T. - Rise Up
  • Royal Hunt - Hell Comes Down From Heaven
  • Vertical Horizon - You Never Let Me Down
  • Gary Schutt - A Million Miles An Hour
  • Heaven & Earth - Victorious
  • Heaven & Earth - No Money, No Love
  • Paris - Dancing On The Edge
  • Paris - South Of Love
  • Paris - America
  • Reece - Someone Beautiful
  • Human Fortress - Raided Land
  • Maxx Explosion - Devil's Locomotive
  • Maxx Explosion - Falling Away
  • Maxx Explosion - Don't Wanna Break
  • FM - Tough Love
  • FM - Only Foolin'
  • FM - Story Of My Life
  • Newman - Had Enough
  • Newman - When It Comes To Love
  • Brett Walker - What About You
  • Brett Walker - Better Than Goodbye
  • Jesse Damon - Garden Of Eve
  • Jesse Damon - A Chance For Us
  • Jesse Damon - Save Me
  • Guru - Straight To Your Heart
  • Tom Kiefer - Solid Ground
  • Tom Kiefer - It's Not Enough
  • Tom Kiefer - Cold Day In Hell
  • Tom Kiefer - Ain't That A Bitch
  • Eden's Curse - Symphony Of Sin
  • Eden's Curse - Rock Bottom


  1. Dream Theater - The Enemy Inside
  2. Magnus Karlsson - Free Fall
  3. Tainted Nation - Dare You
  4. Royal Hunt - A Bullet's Tale
  5. Human Fortress - Child Of War
  6. Death Dealer - Hammer Down
  7. Timo Tolkki's Avalon - A World Without Us
  8. Dream Theater - Surrender To Reason
  9. Jorn - Traveller
  10. Taberah - Burning In The Moonlight
  1. Magnus Karlsson's Freefall - Stronger (feat. Tony Harnell)
  2. Steve Lukather - Once Again
  3. Robin Beck - I Swear The Nights
  4. Heaven & Earth - I Don't Know What Love Is
  5. W.E.T. - Still Believe
  6. Steve Lukather - Right The Wrong
  7. Fergie Frederiksen - How Many Roads
  8. N.O.W. - Strong Enough
  9. Robin Beck - Underneath
  10. Seventh Key - What's Love Supposed To Be
  11. Faith Circus - Tears You've Never Cried
  12. Eden's Curse - Fallen From Grace
  13. Bai Bang - How About Now
  14. John Elefate - This Time
  15. Jesse Damon - Save The World
2013 Best Artwork
2 3


2013 Best Promotional Videos





2013 Artist Awards

Fergie Frederiksen (R.I.P.) & Brett Walker (R.I.P.)
Fergie and Brett win for Vocalists Of The Year not only for their superb albums delivered this year, but for their career spanning influence on the melodic music industry. Both were friends of mine and both will be dearly missed.

Honorable Mentions - Jeff Scott Soto (W.E.T), Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), Joe Retta (Heaven & Earth), Robin Ericsson (Degreed), Stefan Berggren (Revolution Road), Nikola Mijic (Eden's Curse), Jamie Rowe (Adriangale).

Past Winners:
2012 - Rick Springfield
2011 - Eric Martin
2010 - Marcie Free
2009 - John Elefante
2008 - Arnel Pineda
2007 - Mike Reno
2006 - Pekka Ansio Heino
2005 - Jorn Lande
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto
2003 - Harry Hess.


Thorsten Koehne (Eden's Curse)
A guitarist who I think is underrated when it comes to handing out praise for their work, so hopefully this recognition will go some way to correcting that. His work on the latest Eden's Curse record is simply stunning as is his efforts on the previous albums. Impossible to replicate!

Honorable Mentions - Stuart Smith (Heaven & Earth), Steve Lukather, Mike Slamer (Seventh Key), Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem), Magnus Karlsson (FreeFall), Vic Rivera (Adriangale), Stu Marshall (Death Dealer, Empires Of Eden) and Richie Kotzen (The Winery Dogs).

Past Winners:
2012 - Eddie Van Halen
2011 - Neal Schon
2010 - Steve Lukather
2009 - Erik Martensson
2008 - Doug Aldrich
2007 - Thorsten Koehne
2006 - Steve Lukather
2005 - Magnus Karlsson


Mike Mangini (Dream Theater)
A sublime effort on the latest Dream Theater album, giving the band a renewed focus on songwriting and delivering a classic DT album with all the quality and feel of their best work.

Honorable Mentions - Pete Newdeck (Eden's Curse), Richie Onori (Heaven & Earth), Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs), Mats Ericsson (Degreed).

Past Winners:
2012 - Alex Van Halen
2011 - Pat Torpey
2010 - Jamie Borger
2009 - Steve West
2008 - The Drum Machine
2007 - Kelly Keagy
2006 - Simon Phillips
2005 - Daniel Flores.


Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs)
Because he's simply amazing!

Honorable mentions - Billy Greer (Seventh Key), Paul Logue (Eden's Curse), Chuck Wright (Heaven & Earth).

Past Winners:
2012 - Wolfgang Van Halen
2011 - Billy Sheehan
2010 - Nalle Pahlsson
2009 - Bruno Ravel
2008 - Matt Bissonette
2007 - Jack Blades
2006 - Marcel Jacob


Eric Ragno (Jesse Damon, Mecca, London, Redrum, Chasing Violets, Rockers For St. Jude)
Mr. Keyboards is now named the honourary title holder for future Keyboardist Of The Year Awards. So Eric, that means you have to let others have a turn now! Another awesome year for one of the best guys around.

Honorable mentions - Arlan Schierbaum (Heaven & Earth), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Revolution Road, Fergie Frederiksen, Silent Force, AOR, LaValle, Laneslide, Axe), Steve Williams (Eden's Curse).

Past Winners:
2012 - Alessandro Del Vecchio
2011 - Eric Ragno
2010 - CJ Vanston
2009 - Darren Wharton
2008 - Eric Ragno
2007 - Eric Ragno.


Alessandro Del Vecchio (Fergie Frederiksen, Revolution Road, Paris, Charming Grace, Code Of Silence)
Moving from Keyboardist Of The Year in 2012 to Producer OTY in 2013. And 2014 looks no less busy for the Italian maestro who is putting his stamp on a number of high profile projects - all of which have come up winners so far!

Honorable mentions - Dave Jenkins (Heaven & Earth), Paul Logue (Eden's Curse, Code of Silence), Erik Martensson (W.E.T.), Mike Slamer (Seventh Key), CJ Vanston (Steve Lukather)

Past Winners:
2012 - Erik Martensson
2011 - Kevin Shirley
2010 - Steve Lukather, CJ Vanston, Steve MacMillan
2009 - Erik Martensson
2008 - Dennis Ward
2007 - Dennis Ward
2006 - Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem)
2005 - Dennis Ward
2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi
2003 - Tommy Denander.

2013 Rest In Peace

Lou Reed, George Kristy (White Widdow), Jan Kuehnemund (Vixen), Fernando Perugino Sr. (father of Frontiers Records president Serafino), Allen Lanier (Blue Oyster Cult), Peppi Marchello (The Good Rats), JJ Cale, Shaun Kirkpatrick (Bronz), Magnus Kristensson (Mister Kite), Petra Degelow (Bad Sister), Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Jeff Hanneman (Slayer), Michael Sundén (Swedish rock n roll manager for the likes of ColdSpell and others), Richie Havens, Chrissy Amphlett (The Divinyls), Storm Thorgerson (cover artist), Andy Johns (Producer), Peter Banks (Genesis), Clive Burr (Iron Maiden), Alvin Lee (Ten Years After).

Worst Of 2013


  1. Bret Michaels - Jammin' With People I Paid A Lot Of Money Too
  2. Boston - Life, Love & Hope
  3. Sammy Hagar - Sammy Hagar & Friends
  4. Thunderfuck & The Deadly Romantics - Starfucker
  5. Tribute Albums - All Of Them! Down at the Whiskey: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe's Greatest Hits - 1981 - 2013; Still of the Night: A Millennium Tribute to Whitesnake; Fly Like An Eagle – An All-Star Tribute To Steve Miller Band; All-Start Tribute To The Who; All-Star Tribute To Supertramp.
  6. Amaze Me - Guilty As Sin
  7. Hedley - Wild Life
  8. Berlin - Animal
  9. Kingdom Come - Outlier






2013 WTF?

W. T. F!

Boston - underdone. That one word should sum that whole release up. My review was very critical, yet some others called for my 65% to be further reduced by tenfold! I did receive one single email in the album's defence - a lengthy letter outlining all the reasons why my review was too critical and the score too low, but nothing could ever change my mind there. I'm convinced it will be the final Boston release. Not even the cover art was worthy of the Boston name. Good one Tom!

Bret Michaels - if he's got any friends left after that last solo release I'd be surprised. I can't imagine anyone will ever be talked into future 'special guest' slots on any recording projects. Just get Poison recording again already!

FireFest - final fling indeed. Can't say I blame them. Busting your ass to put on a huge event like that with no financial backing or sponsorship and working within a finite pool of bands that folks will pay to see is a hard task. I should know! MRF4 will likely be the last one for a while also - not because it has/will lose money (not so) - but merely because the investment required to bring in bigger names is too much of a risk without corporate backing. Simple economics. It's a hell of a job to put together, so time for a year off.

I guess we know who won the battle of the Queensryche's!

7th heaven had their own brush with lead singer disease in the form of former Idol contestant Anthony Fedorov. They continue their search for a new long term frontman.

Yngwie Malmsteen issued his own version of history with his Relentless memoir, but the Anders Tengner written unofficial one is far better!

Note to Jon Bon Jovi - you can run your corporation as you see fit, but don't expect fans to want to buy shares in your corp without question if your MVP isn't there - don't forget what made the corporation what it is today!

Is there a silly band name than State Cows? Please no more naming bands with farm animals.

Best speech EVER - Alex Lifeson for the Rush Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame induction -

Worst album title for 2013 - Michael Des Barres - Hot And Sticky Live. And the cover does him no favors either...


Air Drums. That is all.



1991 MelRock Awards

I often get asked what my favourite albums of past years (before this site) were. So I am beginning to address that by filling in the gaps. These are pretty simple Top 30 lists of the best (or my favourite at least) albums of that particular year. It was really interesting going back over those years and remembering just what albums came out when and how they stack up against each other now...some 15-20 years later! Amazingly....not too much has changed as far as my tastes and opinions.

Presenting what I call my favourite albums of the year 1991...

  1. Mr. Big - Lean Into It
  2. Bad English - Backlash
  3. Tyketto - Don't Come Easy
  4. White Lion - Mane Attraction
  5. Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
  6. Richie Sambora - Stranger In This Town
  7. Shadowking - Shadowking
  8. Harem Scarem - Harem Scarem
  9. Tom Cochrane - Mad Mad World
  10. The Storm - The Storm
  11. Skid Row - Slave To The Grind
  12. Little Angels - Young Gods
  13. Eddie Money - Right Here
  14. Queen - Innuendo
  15. Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears
  16. Tesla - Psychotic Supper
  17. Baby Animals - Baby Animals
  18. BB Steal - On The Edge
  19. Neverland - Neverland
  20. Screaming Jets - All For One
  21. Stage Dolls - Stripped
  22. MSG - MSG
  23. LA Guns - Hollywood Vampires
  24. Dare - Blood From Stone
  25. Foreigner - Unusual Heat
  26. Guns N Roses - Use Your Illusion I & II
  27. Contraband - Contraband
  28. Bryan Adams - Waking Up The Neighbours
  29. Honeymoon Suite - Monsters Under The Bed
  30. Tall Stories - Tall Stories

BEST OF 1993

I often get asked what my favourite albums of past years (before this site) were. So I am beginning to address that by filling in the gaps. These are pretty simple Top 30 lists of the best (or my favourite at least) albums of that particular year. It was really interesting going back over those years and remembering just what albums came out when and how they stack up against each other now...some 15-20 years later! Amazingly....not too much has changed as far as my tastes and opinions.

Presenting what I call my favourite albums of the year 1993...

  1. Harem Scarem - Mood Swings
  2. Coverdale Page - Coverdale Page
  3. Meatloaf - Bat Out Of Hell 2
  4. Winger - Pull
  5. Aerosmith - Get A Grip
  6. Crown Of Thorns - Crown Of Thorns
  7. Rush - Counterparts
  8. Poison - Native Tongue
  9. Mark Free - Long Way From Love
  10. Mothers Army - Mothers Army
  11. Riverdogs - Bone
  12. Blue Murder - Nothing But Trouble
  13. Talisman - Genesis
  14. Def Leppard - Retroactive
  15. Henry Lee Summer - Slamdunk
  16. Mr. Big - Bump Ahead
  17. Jeff Paris - Lucky This Time
  18. Vince Neil - Exposed
  19. Robert Plant - Fate Of Nations
  20. Joey C Jones & The Glory Hounds - Joey C Jones & The Glory Hounds
  21. Paul Sabu - In Dreams
  22. Red Dawn - Never Surrender
  23. Shotgun Symphony - Shotgun Symphony
  24. Heart - Desire Walks On
  25. Deep Purple - The Battle Rages On
  26. Freaks Of Nature - Freaks Of Nature
  27. Carl Dixon - One
  28. Magnum - Keep The Nite Lite Burning
  29. Kings Of The Sun - Ressurection
  30. Gotthard - Dial Hard 

BEST OF 1997



  1. Night Ranger - Neverland
  2. Danger Danger - Four The Hard Way
  3. Sahara Snow - Sahara Snow
  4. Hugo - Hugo
  5. Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity
  6. Stage Dolls - Dig
  7. Whitesnake - Restless Heart
  8. Harem Scarem - Believe / Karma Cleansing
  9. John Waite - When You Were Mine
  10. Kevin Chalfant - Running With The Wind
  11. Motley Crue - Generation Swine
  12. Baton Rouge - Baton Rouge
  13. The Distance - The Distance
  14. Night Ranger - Rock In Japan Live
  15. Sammy Hagar - Marching To Mars
  16. Mark Spiro - Devotion
  17. Beggars And Thieves - Look What You Create
  18. Loverboy - 6
  19. Kip Winger - This converstaion (late '96 I Know!!)
  20. Steve Lukather - Luke 


  1. Rick Springfield - Lust
  2. Whitesnake - Restless Heart
  3. Night Ranger - Sunday Morning
  4. Danger Danger - Heartbreak Suicide
  5. Hugo - If You're Ever Lonley
  6. Rick Springfield - Rovianne
  7. Danger Danger - I Don't Need You
  8. Night Ranger - My Elusive Mind
  9. Harem Scarem - Victim Of Fate
  10. Dream Theater - Hollow Years
  11. Rick Springfield - Stranger
  12. Danger Danger - Still Kicking
  13. Harem Scarem - I Won't Be There
  14. The Distance - Brighter You Burn
  15. Stage Dolls - Cold Air Breezin'
  16. Dream Theater - Take Away My Pain
  17. Whitesnake - Don't Fade Away
  18. John waite - Suicide Life
  19. Loverboy - Big Picture
  20. Hugo - Walk Away 
BEST OF 1996


  • Tom Cochrane - Ragged Ass Road
  • Journey - Trial By Fire
  • Stan Bush - Higher Than Angels
  • Glen Burtnick - Retrospectacle
  • Glen Burtnik - Palookaville
  • Glenn Hughes - Addiction
  • Rush - Test For Echo
  • Cyclone Tracy - One Eyed
  • Aldo Nova - Nova's Dream
  • Mark Spiro - Now Is Then, Then Is Now
  • Ten - Ten
  • Storm - Eye Of The Storm 

Best of 1998

r e c o m m e n d e d l i s t e n i n g's
BEST OF 1998 - final edition! My personal Top 30 for 1998:



  1. Rick Springfield - Karma (Was there ever any doubt?)
  2. Night Ranger - Seven
  3. Stuart Smith - Heaven And Earth
  4. Tom Cochrane - X-Ray Sierra
  5. Unruly Child - Waiting For The Sun
  6. Fiore - Body Electric
  7. Bob Catley - The Tower
  8. Richie Sambora - Undiscovered Soul
  9. Mark Free - Long Way From Love Re-Issue
  10. House Of Shakira - On The Verge
  11. Dare - Calm Before The Storm
  12. David Carl Band - Can't Slow Down
  13. Snakes In Paradise - Garden Of Eden
  14. Axel Rudi Pell - Oceans Of Time
  15. Harem Scarem - Big Bang Theory
  16. Emerald Rain - Broken Saviours
  17. Crown Of Thorns - Lost Cathederal
  18. Jimmy Lawrence - The World Is Round
  19. Fiore - Today Till Tomorrow
  20. Heartland - Miracles By Design
  21. Change Of Heart - Change Of Heart
  22. Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up The Girl
  23. Steelhouse Lane - Metallic Blue
  24. Corey Hart - Jade
  25. Hush - If You Smile
  26. Ten - Never Say Goodbye
  27. Men At Work - Brazil
  28. Gary Hughes - Precious Ones
  29. Nelson - Silence Is Broken
  30. Stream - Stream 


  • Journey - Remember Me
  • Rick Springfield - Ordinary Girl
  • Rick Springfield - It's Always Something
  • Rick Springfield - In Veronica's Head
  • Goo Goo Dolls - Slide
  • Tom Cochrane - I Wonder
  • Tom Cochrane - Heartbreak Girl
  • David Carl Band - Love Is Like Heaven
  • David Carl Band - Trapped
  • Jimmy Lawrence - Rose Tattoo
  • Jimmy Lawrence - All We Have Is Our Dreams
  • Southpaw - Christmas
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Carousel
  • Motley Crue - Enslaved
  • Unruly Child - Heart Run Free
  • Unruly Child - Man Inside
  • Corey Hart - So Visable
  • Emerald Rain - Broken Saviors
  • House Of Shakira - Best Of Times
  • House Of Shakira - Ghost In Town
  • Stuart Smith - When A Blind Man Cries
  • Stuart Smith - Heaven & Earth
  • Stuart Smith - Do You Ever Think Of Me
  • Bob Catley - Scream
  • Bob Catley - Dreams
  • Intruder - Yesterday's Gone
  • Harem Scarem - So Blind
  • Harem Scarem - Climb The Gate
  • Dare - Deliverance
  • Dare - Crown Of Thorns
  • Dare - Silence OF Your Head
  • Crown Of Thorns - Lost Cathedral
  • Van Halen - One I Want
  • Van Halen - From Afar
  • Fiore - Good For Nothing
  • Fiore - Fool Yourself
  • Night Ranger - Sing Of The Times
  • Night Ranger - Mother Mayhem
  • Night Ranger - Revelation
  • Richie Sambora - All That Really Matters
  • Richie Sambora - Harlem Rain
  • Change Of Heart - Always Be The One
  • Mark Free - Who Cries Now (Live)
  • Mark Free - Iron Eagle (Live) 

Best Of 1999

r e c o m m e n d e d l i s t e n i n g's


THE FINAL WORD.'s ESSENTIAL RELEASES (and final comments) OF 1999.

So here we are. Another year gone by and another new one just about underway.
I am going to cover a few things with this end of year coverage - starting with a list of my favourite releases and favourite songs of 1999.
Then some awards! A lighter look at what's been...



  1. Steelhouse Lane - Slaves Of The New World
  2. Nelson - Life
  3. Fergie Frederiksen - Equilibrium
  4. Jimi Jamison's Survivor - Empires
  5. Westworld - Westworld
  6. Rick Springfield - Karma (US Release)
  7. Glenn Hughes - The Way It Is
  8. Stranded - Long Way To Heaven
  9. Von Groove - Test Of Faith
  10. TNT - Transistor
  11. Harlan Cage - Forbidden Colors
  12. Henry Lee Summer - Smoke & Mirrors
  13. Harem Scarem (Rubber) - Rubber
  14. Jaded Heart - IV
  15. Eddie Money - Ready Eddie
  16. Sammy Hagar - Red Voodoo
  17. Def Leppard - Euphoria
  18. Johnny Lima - Shine On
  19. Badlands - Dusk
  20. Beggars & Thieves - The Grey Album
  21. Emerald Rain - Age Of Innocence
  22. Danny Danzi - Somewhere Lost in Time
  23. Rick Price - Another Place
  24. Alliance - Missing Piece
  25. Mike & The Mechanics - M6
  26. Ten - Spellbound
  27. Fiore - Body Electric
  28. Burning Rain - Burning Rain
  29. Michael Morales - That's The Way
  30. Dream Theaer - Metropolis Part 2

15 BEST SONGS: In Order

  1. Steelhouse Lane - Seven Seas
  2. Nelson - I Would If You Want Me To
  3. Jimi Jamison's Survivor - Cry Tough
  4. Def Leppard - Promises
  5. Rick Springfield - Big Beautiful Friday Night
  6. Steelhouse Lane - Slaves Of The New World
  7. Nelson - Let's Talk About Me
  8. Fergie Frederiksen - Equilibrium
  9. Harlan Cage - Two Ships In The Night
  10. Beggars & Thieves - Gypsy
  11. Harem Scarem - Trip
  12. Jaded Heart - When You Hear The Thunder
  13. Toto - Caught In The Balance
  14. Stranded - Only Human
  15. TNT - Wide Awake

Honorable Mentions: (In No Order)

  • Steelhouse Lane - All I Believe In
  • Phoenix Down - Love Gone Wrong
  • Bob Catley - Where The Heart Is
  • Jaded Heart Take My Soul
  • Emerald Rain - Don't Tell The Rain
  • T'Pau - With A Little Luck
  • Robin McAuley - Every Little Thing
  • Harem Scarem - Stuck With You
  • Harem Scarem - Its Gotta Be
  • Jimi Jamison's Survivor - Empires
  • Jimi Jamison's Survivor - First Day Of Love
  • Phoenix Down - Walk With You
  • Alliance - I'd Give Anything
  • Michael Morales - Blood
  • Aerosmith Tribute - Sweet Emotion
  • Aerosmith Tribute - Rag Doll
  • Stranded - Coming Of Age
  • Stranded - Heart So Cold
  • John Elefante - If You Believe
  • John Elefante - The Stream
  • Tal Bachman - She's So High
  • Danny Danzi - I Want To Spend My Life With You
  • Harlan Cage - Hard Yellow Line
  • Rick Price - Baby It's You
  • King Of Hearts - Hold On To Love
  • TNT - No Such Thing
  • Ratt - We Don't Belong
  • Nelson - She Sheila
  • Def Lepaprd - Demolition Man
  • Badlands - Sun Red Sun
  • Badlands - Walking Attitude
  • Great White - In The Tradition
  • Eddie Money - Can't Go On
  • Eddie Money - Don't Say No Tonight
  • Henry Lee Summer - Earth To Suzi
  • Johnny Lima - Star
  • Johnny Lima - My Country 'Tis Of Thee
  • Johnny Lima - Only The Strong Survive
  • Sammy Hagar - The Love
  • Sammy Hagar - Right On Right
  • Glenn Hughes - You Kill Me
  • Amaze Me - Wonderland
  • Fergie Frederiksen - All For Love
  • Fergie Frederiksen - Mata Hari
  • Toto - Mad About You
  • Ten - Inside The Pyramid Of Light
  • Ten - We Rule The Night
  • Von Groove - Test Of Faith
  • Von Groove - It Should Have Been Me
  • Fiore - Fool Yourself
  • Fiore - The Only Way We'll Know




The major question!! What will be the best albums of 2000?
Surely if Journey actually get an album recorded and released, it will be hard to beat.
Same goes for Damn Yankees! And speaking of Night Ranger (sort of), the other guys in the band are all planning releases, so they should register highly in the 2000 best of lists.
I have already heard the Danger Danger, so I can safely say that will be on the best of 2000 list.
House Of Shakira hopefully will get their album done and signed. That's bound to be solid AOR, as is the new Kevin Chalfant/Josh Ramos project Two Fires.
Jim Peterik's world Stage is classic AOR /Midwest pop rock at it's best and on a heavier note, if Impelliteri can get it together, their albums are always a highlight.
The Danny Vaughn album has huge potential, but does he want to record classic AOR or something a little more modern?
Signs Of Life could be awesome, especially with Terry Brock back on deck.
Could Big Bad Wolf pull off a Steelhouse Lane and go from a pretty good debut to a sensational follow up? And how about the two Slamer projects - Steelhouse Lane 3 and Slamer/Thompson...
Could the new Heartland be as heavy and raw as the demo's played to me?
And the new Westworld album will surly come highly anticipated by all.
And don't forget two new albums from Danzi and Lima.

A Tongue in cheek look at the year past...

Firstly (and sadly..) RIP: Bruce Fairbairn, Cozy Powell, Zero Records, Bareknuckle & the band Thunder.

Vocalist Of The Year: Keith Slack - for his work on Steelhouse Lane and on tour with Michael Schenker.

Worst Albums of the Year :
Lynch Mob, Zimmers Hole, Scorpions, British Rock Symphony (except for Jack and Tommy's tune...), Appetite For Reconstruction.

The 'Survivor' award for BAND NAMING RIGHTS: Saxon - for their sad recent dispute.

The 'Japanese Label' one last cash-in award: TIE! Bryan Adams for his horrible new 'Best Of Me' release, Harem Scarem (or Warner Japan) for 'Ballads' and Queen for the totally unnecessary 'Great Hits 3' release.

The Success In Replacement Vocalist Award: Journey

The Failure in Replacement Vocalist Award: Van Halen

The 'Kiss' Most Money For Least Work Award: Europe - for their upcoming 20 minute reunion gig!

The Biggest Packaging Screw-up: Europe (again) - for one re-release pressing of their Final Countdown single, missing a vitally placed letter 'O'.

The Passing Themselves Off As Something They're Not Award: TIE! Axel Rose for his contempt for fans calling Oh My God a new Guns N Roses single & George Lynch for releasing his rotten new album under the Lynch Mob banner.

The About Time Award: Sony Music for releasing the new Toto album in the US 3 months after it's international release.

The Just Release The Bloody Thing Award: TIE! Danger Danger (Return Of & Cockroach), Poison (Crack A Smile), John Sykes and Brian McDonald

The Welcome Back Award: TIE! Marcie Free, Mitch Malloy & Terry Brock.

The Go Away Award:Krokus

The Three Musketeers Award: Johnny Lima, Jimmy Lawrence & Danny Danzi.

The Bite The Hand That Feeds Award: Beggars & Thieves for announcing in an interview with German magazine 'Melodic Journey' that they hope the Internet will shut down all record labels 'like MTM'....(?!)

The Villan of The 90's: MTV Yep, not grunge or Kurt Cobain...MTV for single handedly deciding to pull the rug from under commercial hard rock and replace it over night. Shame Shame Shame.

The Positive Sign Award: VH1 For dedicating time and resources to fine music. Both in terms of developing shows (The List, Storytellers, Where Are The Now) and actually playing new video clips (from the bands that still bother to make them).


BEST OF 2000

+ Y2K melodicrock AWARDS!!'s final word on the
best releases and recommended listening for the year 2000.


(Ranked In Order)


  1. Danger Danger
    - Return Of The Great Gildersleeves
  2. Journey - Arrival (Japanese Version)
  3. Millenium - Hourglass
  4. Mitch Malloy - Shine
  5. The Sign - Signs Of Life
  6. Kharma - Wonderland
  7. House Of Shakira - III
  8. Raine - Peace
  9. Rick Springfield - Alive
  10. Westworld - Skin
  11. Jim Peterik & World Stage - World Stage
  12. Hugo - Time On Earth
  13. Alfonzetti - Ready
  14. Sammy Hagar - Ten 13
  15. The VU - Phoenix Rising
  16. Street Legal - Thunderdome
  17. Two Fires - Two Fires
  18. Ten - Babylon
  19. Adriangale - Feel The Fire
  20. Brad Gillis - Alligator
  21. Vaughn - Soldiers & Sailors On Riverside
  22. Dreamhunter - Kingdom Come
  23. Higher Ground - Perfect Chaos
  24. Newman - Dance In The Fire
  25. David Coverdale - Into The Light
  26. Melodica - Long Way From Home
  27. Burning Rain - Pleasure To Burn
  28. Kip Winger - Songs From The Ocean Floor
  29. Marvelous 3 - Ready Sex Go
  30. SR-71 - Now You See Inside

Honorable Mentions....(in no particular order)

  • Henry Lee Summer - Live
  • Teer - Teer
  • Paul Rodgers - Electric
  • Poison - Power To The People
  • Slash's Snakepit - Ain't Life Grand
  • Rob Rock - Rage Of Creation
  • T'Bell - Replay
  • Bon Jovi - Crush
  • Praying Mantis - Nowhere To Run
  • Halford - Resurrection
  • Heartland - As It Comes
  • Talk Of The Town - The Ways Of The World
  • Higher Ground - Perfect Chaos
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Holy Man
  • Alice Cooper - Brutal Planet
  • Britton - Alien Romper Room
  • Frontline - Right Attitude
  • Hair Of The Dog - Rise
  • Damned Nation - Grand Design
  • Attraction - Get Up And Shake
  • Change Of Heart - Continuum
  • Axel Rudi Pell - The Masquerade Ball
  • Van Halen Tribute - 2000
  • Union - Blue Room
  • 101 South - 101 South
  • Crown Of Thorns - Destiny Unknown
  • Impellitteri - Crunch
  • Tribe Of Gypsies - III
  • John Norum - Slipped Into Tomorrow 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Journey - Higher Place
  2. Danger Danger - Dead Drunk & Wasted
  3. Millenium - Wheels Are Turning
  4. Mitch Malloy - You Lift Me
  5. Journey - Signs Of Life
  6. Millenium - Power To Love
  7. Raine - I Am
  8. Mitch Malloy - When I Try
  9. Westworld - Uneasy
  10. Newman - Burned
  11. Harem Scarem - Remember
  12. Journey - To Be Alive Again
  13. Kharma - Wonderland
  14. The Sign - Crossed The Line
  15. House Of Shakira - Unforgiven
  16. The VU - Keys To The City
  17. Hugo - This Love Song
  18. The Sign - Forever Again
  19. Kharma - Free Yourself
  20. Jim Peterik w/ Dennis De Young - To Miss Somebody
  21. Henry Lee Summer - My Turn Train (Live)
  22. Kip Winger - Resurrection
  23. Two Fires - Surrender
  24. House Of Shakira - Miracle
  25. The Sign - I'm Alive
  26. Dreamhunter - Kingdom Come
  27. Brad Gillis - Heart Shaped Wings
  28. The Sign - The Wait
  29. Millenium - Chasing Time
  30. Sammy Hagar - Tropic Of Capricorn
  31. Raine - Blinded
  32. Danger Danger - I Do
  33. Marvelous 3 - Little Head
  34. Brad Gillis - Bigger Than Life
  35. Vaughn - Is That All There Is?
  36. Danger Danger - Grind
  37. Jorn Lande - Edge Of The Blade
  38. The VU - So Long
  39. Ten - Give In This Time
  40. Two Fires - River Of Destiny 
Honorable Mentions....(in no order)
  • Millenium - Superstar
  • Millenium - Rocket Ride
  • Alfonzetti - Better Than Goodbye
  • Alfonzetti - Blue Hero
  • Sammy Hagar - A Deeper Kind Of Love
  • Sammy Hagar - Ten 13
  • SR-71 - Last Man On The Moon
  • SR-71 - What A Mess
  • Kharma - Cold As Ice
  • Firehouse - Unbelievable
  • Snakepit - One Mean Bone
  • Mitch Malloy - It's About Love
  • Westworld - Get A Life
  • David Coverdale - The River Song
  • David Coverdale - Wherever You May Go
  • Ten - Barricade
  • Ten - The Heat
  • Heartland - Eyes Open Wide
  • Heartland - Starring Down The Gun
  • Marvelous 3 - I Could Change
  • Jorn Lande - Starfire
  • T'Bell - Illusion Of Love
  • Britton - Who's Your Daddy?
  • Storyteller - Corridors Of Windows
  • Mars Electric - Someday
  • Melodica - Long Way From Home
  • Melodica - It's Not Enough
  • Bar 7 - 4 Leaf Clover
  • Bar 7 - Got A New Life
  • Glenn Hughes - The State I'm In
  • Higher Ground - Ghost In My Head
  • Higher Ground - Everlasting Love
  • UFO - Love Is Forever
  • House Of Shakira - In Your Head
  • House Of Shakira - Unspoken
  • House Of Shakira - Unforgiven
  • Raine - What I'd Rather
  • Raine - Never Alone
  • Dreamhunter - When Heaven Calls Your Name
  • Message - Beat Before The Heartbreak
  • Alice Cooper - Sanctuary
  • Dokken - Too High To Fly (Live)
  • Bon Jovi - It's My Life
  • Jim Peterik & World Stage - Zig Zag
  • Jim Peterik & World Stage - Between Two Fires
  • Jim Peterik & World Stage - To Miss Somebody
  • Two Fires - I Won't Give Up On Us
  • Kip Winger - Two Lovers Stand
  • Kip Winger - Only One Word
  • Frontline - Any Other Way
  • Hair Of The Dog - Five To Nine
  • Hair Of The Dog - You're The One
  • Damned Nation - Desperate Call
  • Damned Nation - Heart On The Run
  • Good Rats - Cover Of Night
  • Brad Gillis - Eyes
  • Brad Gillis - Circle Of Light
  • Von Groove - Blue Murder
  • Attraction - More Than You Know
  • Attraction - Things Were Better
  • Vaughn - Healing Hands
  • Vaughn - Shadowland
  • Change Of Heart - You Can't Hide
  • Change Of Heart - I Don't Wanna Be Lonely
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Voodoo Nights
  • Push - Waitin' In Line
  • Prisoner - Don't Wanna Waste
  • Pink Cream 69 - Seas Of Madness
  • Good Rats - Cover Of Night
  • Street Legal - Powertool
  • Union - No More
  • Union - Everything's Allright
  • Norway - One Night Alone
  • Norway - Sending A Prayer
  • 101 South - Boat Out On The Water
  • 101 South - She Walks On Water
  • John Norum - Waiting On You
  • Henry Lee Summer - Turn It Up (Live)
  • Harem Scarem - Why
  • Crown Of Thorns - Lonely Is The Rose
  • Crown Of Thorns - Heaven Tonight
  • Hugo - FINE
  • Hugo - Last One More Time 

So 2000 has come and gone. It has been an interesting year to say the least, with plenty of melodic rock to talk of and plenty that also didn't happen.
To start my recap and commentary of the year just past, let's go back to my 1999 wrap up and see if my predictions for 2000 came true!

It started with me stating that if the Journey album actually gets released it will be hard to beat.
Well, for those that bought the Japanese release it should indeed feature highly, as it does with me. The rest of you will have to wait for April and your Best of 2001 lists.
As for the album itself, it was the best produced album of the year, but should have been with a budget of a quarter of a million dollars.
The US version will make it even better and I predict it will be THE album of 2001.
House Of Shakira and Danger Danger both got their albums out finally - both well worth any wait and high on my personal favorites of the year.
Chris Impelliteri released his new album, but then promptly dumped Rob Rock who went solo and produced an even better album.
Impellitteri is now shackled with original singer Graham Bonnet. Now that will be interesting.

Danny Vaughn went for the modern route of the classic melodic rock strains of Tyketto, but it was still a cool effort and the next one will hopefully be even more melodic.
The Sign proved to be as good as expected, maybe even better, taking the more adventurous route. A classic in the making and I look forward to more.

Scheduled to be released in 2000 was a new Big Bad Wolf album. That never arrived and still has no ETA. But my hopes for it remain high for 2001.
Also due in 2000 was the much anticipated Mike Slamer / Chris Thompson project. Well at least that album is almost done, but don't hold your breath for a release. I have no idea when it might appear. As good as some of the tunes I have heard are, with the huge Steelhouse Lane style production, the style is just not what I was hoping for and I doubt what most other fans of these artists are looking for. The songs are not overly in an AOR vein.
As for a new Steelhouse Lane album - I won't place any money on betting when or if that will happen. For the sake of melodic rock - I hope it does - and this year!

Also in 1999 I made a comment regarding the upcoming Heartland album.
No, it wasn't as heavy or as raw as it could have been, but it was still the best effort since the debut. I would however, love to hear the band go either really raw and heavy, or soften up and record a pure AOR album.

Johnny Lima and Danny Danzi worked hard on their new albums, neither made it to the store shelves, but are high on my expectations for best of 2001.

Van Halen anyone? Well....2000 was certainly not their year. I hope 2001 will be.

OK, some general thoughts on the year that just was...
The year began with what was easily the worst experience of my website running career. The whole February Van Halen fiasco was a disaster after I was fed and believed some bullshit information. I still believe someone in the VH camp set me up, to gauge public reaction. That I don't think I will ever know for sure!
The fan reaction to the news wasn't pleasant, nor was some of the things written on various message boards. Fair enough to some of it, as the info was crap! But a few did cross the line. One in particular you will see when you read on!
Not to mention that my own message board was hacked into and destroyed! At least that forced through the upgrade of the current board, which is easily much better.
Things improved with my follow up reports, but the year ended without a single word from the band.
There was word of Eddie's health scare, which again was played down without any real public statement.
Listen to the fans guys - let's hear some news soon!

There was a few lawsuits going around, with Dennis De Young VS Styx and Lou Gramm VS EMI, not to mention Saxon VS Saxon....the big surprise of the year was Survivor VS Jimi Jamison being settled, only to lead into Survivor VS Survivor the TV show!
House Of Lords VS Michael Guy was thankfully avoided thanks to some good will on both sides of the fence.

Tribute albums continued to flow freely...with more on the way, it seems 2001 will continue to feature some good and some crummy ones.

Quite a lot was said towards the end of the year about the quality of melodic rock. To be honest, I believe things are looking pretty damn good as far as most releases are concerned.
Of course there are always a few Dogs out there, that will always be the case as it has been since the dawn of time. I think the independent AOR labels are aware that fans want an increased production value and that will continue to improve.
As far as 2000, it was better than 1999, which was better than 1998, which was better....
I believe things will continue to get better and better, even though I do not believe that things will ever truly be mainstream again. Classic AOR I think is always going to be a cult thing. But as long as the labels we have now continue to put out strong product and continue to improve their product - and we support that - things can only improve.
At least there are some rockers out there that are willing to do this partly just for the love of it!
And believe me, if there are any dud releases; send the labels and artists a clear message by not buying it. That is the only way to getter better quality over time.


What's in store?
Releases to look out for:
If it ever gets here, the US release of Journey's Arrival will be huge, I am also expecting big things from the new Danny Danzi, Bob Catley, Dreamhunter, Von Groove, Hurricane & Johnny Lima albums.
The Van Halen album is my number one anticipated release. Eddie and Co know this has to be their best album in years, if not ever, so I am eager as hell to hear any of this. Can you imagine the value of an advance tape?!!
Mike Tramp e-mailed me from Denmark to say his new record was almost done and he believes it could be his best yet, so I am hanging out to hear that - hopefully when he lands back home here March 1!
Another big solo record will be Terry Brock's upcoming release. It's more pure AOR than The Sign and should go down a treat.
Snakes In Paradise are hard at work on making their best album ever, that's one to look for, along with new Diving For Pearls and Riverdogs releases!
After the sensational debut album from Stranded, their new album is highly anticipated.
Jeff Scott Soto's long awaited return in Humanimal should be a killer - mid year is looking good for that.
Let's hope a Night Ranger record can be made, but if not, the march release of Kelly Keagy's solo masterpiece will be more than ample. Wait until you hear these songs!!
Other Night Ranger releases include Brad's cool album getting European release and Gary Moon's unreleased work is taking shape to be released Those are also very cool tunes.
There will be NO Damn Yankees release :(
A new Aerosmith album is upon us, but at this point I have lost much of my interest in the band. I really thought Nine Lives was a little below par.
If House Of Lords can get it together, they will be in the Top 5 for the year I am sure. Same goes with Magum's re-union.
As will Zebra and Dare - IF the albums ever get finished!!
One big question that would create a KILLER rock record - will Jack Blades and Neal Schon get together for a project?

Who won't make records this year?
I unfortunately doubt Survivor will get it together, nor will this line up of Styx - especially if the lawsuit rolls on, same with Foreigner....
Rick Springfield plans to write all year, but we won't see a studio album until 2002. We might get a new EFX soundtrack though.
Heaven are still trying to finish their new album, but who knows when that might get release...same goes for the Slamer / Thompson project. MTM may now not release it.
Mike Reno solo album anyone? Wouldn't place money on it...
And I heard something funny this week. The webmaster for Boston's site has apparently said that Tom Scholtz is HOPING for a 2001 release!! Oh my God...put me down for July 2002.

12 months from now, let's take another look back and see what happened!

The 2000 melodicrock AWARDS:
A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:


Firstly (and sadly..) RIP: Loverboy bass player Scott Smith, Benjamin Orr, Mike & The Mechanics vocalist Paul Young, Ian Dury, NYC drummer John Guido and Harem Scarem, UFO, Portrait Records, Fair Warning.

Vocalist Of The Year: Steve Augeri - for both his work on Journey's new album and on tour with the guys. This man deserves a lot of praise for filling an un-fillable void. Runner up - Jorn Lande for the awesome job on Millenium and his solo project and having the guts to work with Yngwie!

The Best Producer Award: Kevin Shirley for the 'spanking' sound of Journey's Arrival CD. Runner up - Ralph Santolla for Millenium and Teer & Roy Z for Rob Halford, Rob Rock & The Tribe Of Gypsies.

Worst Albums of the Year :
Yngwie Malmsteen, Southfork, The Liberators, Rock Superstars (crappy label's fault), Bigelf, John Farnham, 58, King Prawn.

The 'Survivor' award for BAND NAMING RIGHTS: TIE! Frankie Sullivan - winning his own award for suing the TV show for releasing a CD titled Survivor and Styx for their upcoming dispute.

The 'Japanese Label' one last cash-in award: Warner Bros. Japan for the second year running! Well done guys! They get this award for another year of Harem Scarem releases, with yet more to come!
Close runner up - Styx and REO Speedwagon for that awful effort on the Arch Allies release.

The 'Journey' Award for Successfully replacing a Vocalist: Van Halen - even though it hasn't been announced or confirmed!

The Failure in Replacement Vocalist Award: Impellitteri - for throwing out the great Rob Rock.

The 'Kiss' Award for Most Money Made For Least Amount Of Work: Tribute Albums - For those regulars that pop up on every tribute album released.

The Just Release The Bloody Thing Award: TIE! Journey (Arrival USA Version), Danger Danger (Cockroach), Slamer / Thompson and Dare (Belief), Wicked Alliance & Alias 2.

The Welcome Back Award: MULTIPLE TIE! House Of Lords, Magnum, Hardline, Tesla, Winger, Drive She Said, Oni Logan & Jeff Scott Soto.

The 'Krokus' Go Away Award:Michael Bolton

The Donald Trump Award: Goes to Greg Giuffria and his new attire. One hopes he will alter his appearance for the House Of Lords photo shoot!

The Worst Case Of Publicity Award: Rick Springfield for that unfortunate arrest.

The Worst Record Label Award: Blue Dolphin Records for having a courier standing by at the studio to pick up master tapes because the band had run over draconian deadlines.

The Beat The Bootleggers Award: Marcie Free for making old demo MP3s available from her site. Great job!

The 'Spinal Tap' Award: UFO for that fabulous UK tour and their added onstage antics.

The Best Fan Website Award: - That's my favourite place to cruise and listen to Van Halen fans debate everything and anything. Great site.

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award: Pazzo - Who the hell is Pazzo? I wish I knew, but that's the handle he goes by. He's a Van Halen fanatic that sent me several e-mails in the early stages of this year. They are so seriously funny, I had to share them with you. I can only hope any of you don't have the misfortune of crossing this clown's path.

E-Mail One: (On discovering there was no update as promised)
There isnt shit at your fuckin site. I thought you were full of shit now I know it. ha ha fuck you.

E-Mail Two: (On seeing the Van Halen update)
Andrew, Your site was just updated here in MA. so first I want to apologize to you for thinking you were full of shit. Second I want to apologize for the other stuff I said and I want to thank you for sending me mail when you didnt have to. The site didnt update until I went to "lots new in review" and then back to the frontpage. But whatever thats hindsight. Thanks again for your confidence and I'm sorry I blew it with my big mouth and (not that it matters to you ) I will continue to use your site above all others for music news.

E-Mail Three: (On not liking the update!)
Hey Andrew there are a lot of people out there who think your full of shit!!! Your info better be legit or you better start wearing a disguise!!! lol or maybe a cup!!! ha ha
You will have to shut down your site if your the piece of shit they are saying you are!!!
I hope for your sake it's legit. Or maybe I don't after what you wrote to me!
see ya jerky boy

E-Mail Four:
You little piece of shit! Your a fraud and to think I was dumb enough to actually waist keystrokes mailing your pussy ass.
Your site is in trouble now as the major Van Halen and David lee Roth sites are calling you melodi Your just trying to get extra play on your site by posting rumers. You have no sources asshole, your a punk and I'm the one laughing . Hang it up your done...
Last time you chump!


Hope you have all enjoyed the 2000 run down!

BEST OF 2001

+ The Annual MelodicRock AWARDS!!'s final word on the
best releases and recommended listening for the year 2001.


(Ranked In Order)


  1. Mr. Big - Actual Size
  2. Kelly Keagy - Time Passes
  3. Urban Tale - Urban Tale
  4. Danger Danger - Cockroach (Both Versions)
  5. Giant - III
  6. Dogface - Unleashed
  7. Terry Brock - Back To Eden
  8. Journey - Arrival (US Version)
  9. Rubber - Ultra Feel
  10. Seventh Key - Seventh Key
  11. Ten - Far Beyond The World
  12. Jorn - Worldchanger
  13. Glenn Hughes - Building The Machine
  14. Vaughn - Fearless
  15. Dare - Belief
  16. Henry Lee Summer - Big Drum
  17. Under Suspicion - Under Suspicion
  18. Kick - Sweet Lick of Fire
  19. Bob Catley - Middle Earth
  20. Melodica - Lovemetal
  21. Invertigo - Forum
  22. Skin Tag - Beauty Mark
  23. 91 Suite - 91 Suite
  24. Westworld - Live & In The Flesh
  25. Hurricane - Liquifury
  26. Radioactive - Ceremony Of Innocence
  27. Rembrandts - Lost Together
  28. Heaven & Earth - Windows To The World
  29. Grand Illusion - The Book Of How To Make It
  30. Hush - II 
Honourable Mentions....(in no particular order)
  • Brad Gillis - Alligator (US/European version)
  • Cheap Trick - Silver
  • Pride - Far From The Edge
  • Eclipse - The Truth & A Little More
  • Stan Bush - Language Of The Heart
  • Emerald Rain - Perplexed In The Extreme
  • Von Groove - The Seventh Day
  • Gotthard - Homerun
  • Pink Cream 69 - Endangered
  • Guild Of Ages - Citadel
  • Pulse - Pulse
  • Sons Of Angels - Slumber With The Lion
  • Dreamtide - Here Comes The Flood
  • Shakra - Power Ride
  • Gregg Rolie - Roots
  • Adriangale - Under The Hood
  • Sahara - Sahara
  • Haven - The Road
  • David Glen Eisley - The Lost Tapes
  • The Cult - Beyond Good And Evil
  • JK Northrup - JK Northrup
  • David Isaacs - Timebomb
  • Burning Rain - Pleasure To Burn 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Kelly Keagy - The Journey
  2. Mr. Big - Wake Up
  3. Rubber - Forgive
  4. Urban Tale - One Day (I'll Make You Mine)
  5. Giant - You Will Be Mine
  6. John Waite - Thinking About You
  7. Kelly Keagy - Time Passes
  8. Mr. Big - Shine
  9. Seventh Key - Forsaken
  10. Kick - Inhibition
  11. Kelly Keagy - I'm Still Here
  12. Mr. Big - Lost In America
  13. Giant - Don't Leave Me In Love
  14. Bob Catley - City Walls
  15. Kelly Keagy - The Moon
  16. Rubber - Hopeless
  17. Danger Danger (Paul Laine) - Don't Break My Heart Again
  18. Dogface - I Will Be There
  19. Hush - Don't Say Goodnight
  20. Urban Tale - The Devil In Me
  21. Mr. Big - Mary Goes Round
  22. Urban Tale - King Of Hearts
  23. Terry Brock - I Wanna Love Someone
  24. Heaven & Earth - World's Apart
  25. Under Suspicion - End Of The Game
  26. Henry Lee Summer - Prime Of Life
  27. Dare - Silent Thunder
  28. Journey - World Gone Wild
  29. Ten - Scarlet And The Grey 
Honourable Mentions....(in no particular order)
  • Jorn - Sunset Station
  • Rubber - Spinning Around
  • Melodica - Summer Nights
  • Melodica - Crazy
  • 91 Suite - Time To Say Goodbye
  • Giant - Can't Let Go
  • Pulse - Inspiration
  • John Waite - NYC Girl
  • Ten - High Tide
  • John Waite - I Drove All Night
  • Seventh Key - The Kid Could Play
  • Terry Brock - Your Man Again
  • Rembrandts - Big Plans
  • Journey - Nothing Comes Close
  • Dogface - Spit It Out
  • Dogface - I Don't Care
  • Danger Danger (Paul Laine) - Shot O Love
  • Terry Brock - Native Sons
  • Seventh Key - No Man's Land
  • Kelly Keagy - Before Anyone Knows I'm Gone
  • Dogface - A Single Reason
  • Danger Danger (Paul Laine) - Good Time
  • Dogface - Don't
  • Heaven & Earth - If Only Love
  • Elements Of Friction - If Your Tomorrow Never Comes
  • Dare - Run Wild Run Free
  • Terry Brock - Up All Night
  • Adriangale - Stealin' Hearts
  • Rembrandts - Lost Together
  • Under Suspicion - Love Without A Net
  • Gregg Rolie - Give It To Me
  • Glenn Hughes - Can't Stop The Flood
  • Skin Tag - You Gotta Love It
  • Ten - Strange Land
  • Contagious - The Calling
  • Ten - Black Shadows
  • Kick - Kaleidoscopic Eyes
  • Pulse - Don't Wanna Lose You
  • Radio Silence - Poson Ivy
  • Glenn Hughes - Highball Shooter
  • Henry Lee Summer - Dancing To The Big Drum
  • Eclipse - I Believe In You
  • John Waite - Touch
  • Danger Danger (Ted Poley) - Tip Of My Tongue
  • Grand Illusion - Feeling Strangely Fine
  • Kick - Time
  • Kick - Born Again
  • Empire - Fool In Love
  • 91 Suite - Down To You
  • Pulse - Just For A Moment
  • Sons Of Angels - Love You Too Much
  • Giant - Oh Yeah
  • Giant - Over You
  • Dreamtide - What You Believe In
  • Skin Tag - Rainy Monday
  • Skin Tag - All The Way Home
  • Shakra - Why Don't You Call Me
  • Jorn - House Of Cards
  • Jorn - Worldchanger
  • Under Suspicion - Hold On
  • Baileys Comet - One Love One Life
  • Grand Illusion - I Don't Wanna Know
  • Bob Catley - Return Of The Mountain King
  • Danger Danger (Paul Laine) - Don't Pull The Plug
  • Danger Danger (Ted Poley) - Shot O Love
  • Pride - Saviour Of A Broken Heart
  • Pride - Best Of Me
  • Eclipse - The Only One
  • Eclipse - Message Of Love
  • Emerald Rain - Numb
  • Emerald Rain - You Do It To Yourself
  • Von Groove - Lily
  • Von Groove - Oxygen
  • Aerosmith - Beyond Beautiful
  • Asia - Ready To Come Home
  • Gotthard - Everything Must Change
  • Gotthard - Reason To Live
  • Kingdom Come - Joe English
  • Guild Of Ages - Wicked Game 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Jorn - Worldchanger
  2. Ark - Burn The Sun
  3. Nikolo Kotzev & Cast - Nostradamus
  4. Artension - Sacred Pathways
  5. Empire - Hypnotica
  6. Bruce Dickinson - Best Of
  7. Royal Hunt - The Mission
  8. Dr. Sin - Shadows Of Light
  9. Megadeth - The World Needs A Hero
  10. Masi - Eternal Struggle

2001 has come and gone in a flash - unbelievable.
The last couple of months of 2001 will for me be remembered for the time that I finally began work on this site full time. Until now I have been in catch up mode, with several things still to do and a better design to be worked on. That will come in 2002.
But most importantly, I would like to thank each and every visitor to this site for coming here and more so to each and every person that e-mailed me any form of support or encouragement over the course of the year.
Those positive vibes go a long way. Thanks also to those that made a donation via the PayPal link. Words are not enough - but thank you!
Thanks also to my dedicated sponsors and the artists and labels that find this site a worthy place to be featured.

Ok, enough of the sentiment. Before I talk a bit about 2001 I will reflect a little. This time last year I wrote a passage of text, detailing what I was looking forward to in 2001.
Let's take a look at that and see what came true and what didn't....

Well, Journey's Arrival did eventually get a US release, but here in Australia we are still waiting...thanks for nothing Sony Music. As far as US sales went, it was disappointing to say the least. The album came and went in a flash, although Trial By Fire didn't fare much better chart wise - but it did sell twice as much.
What went wrong? Napster? about the 6 month delay between the Japanese and US release? I would be curious to see what the Japanese export figures were - even though officially you couldn't import it. store I know of didn't have it!!

I went on to say that I was expecting big things from Danny Danzi, Bob Catley, Dreamhunter, Von Groove, Hurricane & Johnny Lima albums.
well, I got about a 50% success rate on that...Danny and Johnny are STILL crafting their next releases, working like busy little hobbits continually improving what is bound to be 2 of the best releases for 2002.
Dreamhunter had the songs and attitude, but failed on the production quality. Better luck next time guys...
Slamer/Thompson also didn't live up to my expectations, especially given the immense talent of both involved.
However, Hurricane turned out as hoped - darker and heavier - but quality for sure and Bob Catley's album was his usual high standard, completing a trilogy of releases with songwriter Gary Hughes. Von Groove had their Z Records studio debut and maintained their high standard with an enjoyable release.

Last year I was also silly enough to think that Van Halen might release something. I should have known!
But the rumours continued to fly and the CIA secrecy around the band continued unabated.
It was confirmed that 3 songs are in the can from sessions midway through 2000...can anyone send me a copy?!! LOL!!

Mike Tramp thought his new album was his best ever and I agree, but due to things taking longer to come together, it'll have to wait until this time next year to make my Best Of list.

Of the other releases due I spoke of, Snakes In Paradise, Riverdogs, Diving For Pearls, Stranded, Night Ranger, House Of Lords, Hardline, Zebra, Magnum and the Mike Reno solo album all failed to materialize, although several are already scheduled for the first half of 2002.
My anticipation of the above remains high, although a couple may still be on the wait list come December 2002.

Jeff Scott Soto's long awaited return in Humanimal was indeed killer as I hoped, but again, it will be the 2002 best of lists that will feature this release.

On my 'Who won't make records this year?' list was Styx and Foreigner. True enough. But things look brighter for Styx, but Lou Gramm remains on the AWOL list...

There were predictions that Boston's new album would appear. I said no...I was right! I actually said I would bet on a July 2002 release - I'll stick to that.

That out of the way - what else happened in 2001?
Well, the year will be dominated by the events of Sept. 11 and the worldwide ramifications. We will all grow stronger in resolve out of those events and my thoughts and best wishes go to those that were effected by it.

Musically there were a few surprises. Mr. Big's record was a monster, recording a very commercial, yet guitar driven record that (thanks to Richie Zito) sounds like a million bucks.
Mind you - their public split with Billy Sheehan was disappointing. Especially in the wake of such a fine album. We still don't know what exactly went on, but I hope the band find some way to continue.
And still the album remains unreleased outside of Japan!!!!!!!! C'Mon guys...

Mecca have recorded a timeless melodic rock record, something I have been playing since I got it, several months back now. I suggest that it will be high on many personal Best Of 2002 lists.
Urban Tale proved on of the other big surprises - recording an album of such pure Journey-ish AOR that others should take note. Especially take note of how good the production quality of the album is.
It was great to see Giant's return and their album is (I think), excellent. A few noted that it wasn't as strong as their glory days - well of course not! These tracks didn't make those albums, but provide a strong platform for the band to return more permanently. And they had better!! I expect to see them at the 2002 Gods festival and I expect a new studio album. Dann and David - you can tease the fans, so commit to a record soon please!

2001 saw the Nu-Breed take a stand, but in the end it really didn't amount to too much. Marvelous 3 split, Mars Electric split, the Tories split and Neve and several others are label-less.
If this sound was to make any break thru's 2001 should have been their year. I was disappointed, I was hoping for more. 2002 will have to produce something huge to get the genre going again, otherwise melodic fans will have to wait for something else to strike at mainstream.
Australia's great Nu Breed/pop hope Invertigo are now 2 months over die for their US release, with no sign of being scheduled...who knows what's going on there, but have the label lost faith, or have the band been acting like idiots? It happens...

Yngwie managed to get himself in to trouble with two high profile incidents, and there is more, but read on through the 2001 Awards for details!

The 2001 melodicrock AWARDS:
A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

Firstly (and sadly..) RIP: It was an unfortunately big year for losses in the melodic rock and pop world in general.
Among those that departed our world this year were: Starship/VOCR guitarist Erik Torjesen, Van Stephenson, Stuart Adamson (Big Country), Chuck Schuldiner (Death), George Harrison, Leon Wilkeson (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Jude Wilder (wife of rocker Michael Monroe), John Lee Hooker, Joey Ramone, Aussie Icon Shirley Strachan (Skyhooks), Australian cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman.
Band Wise: RIP Great White, The Tories, Marvelous 3, Mr. Big (TBC!), The Angels...

On a lighter note:

The Elvis Presley Almost RIP Award: Street Legal's Bjorn Boge for surviving a horrific bus crash while on tour.

The 'WWF' Worst Stunt While Performing Live Award: Rick Springfield for falling on his ass from a great height during a performance of his EFX Alive stage show. Lucky to walk away with only a broken arm.

The 'Yngwie J Egosteen' Award For Best Backstage Antics: Yngwie J Malmsteen taking the award unanimously for his backstage punch up with Millenium's Jorn Lande, which in turn saw several dates on his tour cancelled while singer and drummer were replaced.

The 'UFO' Award For Best Onstage Antics: Yngwie J Malmsteen (again) for telling his South American crowd to go fuck themselves, when they displayed a less than favourable response to his drawn out playing of the American Anthem.

The 'Ted Nugent' Wild Man Of Borneo Award: Michael Schenker for that less than impressive new look. The ZZ Top fan club would not be impressed. Neither am I!

The 'Mutt Lange' Production Award For Slowest Album Recording Process: *TIE* Danny Danzi & Johnny Lima - both perfectionists and both continue to work on their new albums! Good luck gentlemen, we're here when you're ready!

The 'ELO' Will They Turn Up If We Play Award: Axel Rose who thinks that people will actually pay $250 to see him, the one original member left, play live with a guy who wears a KFC bucket on his head. In VEGAS! Or did the Bucket guy have a breakdown? I can't remember...

The Back From The Dead Award: *TIE* - Push, Harem Scarem, Mickey Thomas, Michael Sembello, Rembrandts (Danny & Phil together) & Duran Duran nice to see you all back guys!

The 'Sony Music' When Is A Label Not A Label Award: Portrait Records who have, despite denying it, all but evaporated. But they did release 3 albums in 2001 - all re-issues.

The Worst Case Of Mislabelling Award: King Kobra for trying to make a 'comeback' with a new line up and a sound totally alien to their original style & David Glenn Eisley for a solo album that should have mostly been credited to Giuffria.

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Metallica for suing anyone that looked sideways at them - including a furniture store, a tyre manufacturing firm, Napster and a few others...

The Best Case Of Telling It Like It Is Award: Herbie Herbert - Journey's ex-manager who spilt the beans on the band's behind-closed-doors agreements.

The 'Holy Masquerading Impostors Batman' Award: Blue Tears - well not really Blue Tears, but the individual in America's south, who has been pretending he is Gregg Fulkerson. Thankfully Gregg e-mailed me to set it straight.

The Joint 'Yngwie J Malmsteen/Michael Schenker' Disappearing Band Members Award: *TIE* Vinny Burns (Ten), John Sepetys (Hair Of The Dog), Matthew Gerrard (Von Groove)

Vocalist Of The Year: Jorn Lande - Definitely Europe's, but possibly also the world's best and most diversely talented singer. In 2001, Jorn released a killer solo record, finished up work ont he yet to be released Millenium cover's record, sang on Beyond Twilight's new album and also the raved about second epic prog rock album by Ark. And in between time, he managed to staty on tour with Yngwie, before it all ended backstage in a very rock n roll punchup. What could he possibly do in 2002 to top that?!!

The Best Producer Award: Richie Zito for the fabulous job with Mr. Big. Honourable mentions to Anders Theander (Urban Tale), Martin Kronlund (Dogface), Harry & Pete (Rubber), Tommy Newton for his various production and mixing work & Mike Slamer (Seventh Key).

Worst Albums of the Year:
Always popular - King Kobra, Horakane, Val Halla, Robert Sweet, 707.

The 'Survivor' award for BAND NAMING RIGHTS: Little River Band - who's complicated set up is bound to carry them into 2002's headlines.

The 'Japanese Label' one last cash-in award: BMG America - will you guys stop already with the Rick Springfield and Hall & Oates compilations???.

The 'Kiss' Award for Most Money Made For Least Amount Of Work: Kiss - who else! Now there's even a Kiss casket to die in after you shell out for their box set and can't afford to eat.

The Just Release The Bloody Thing Award: *TIE!* Van Halen (release anything - we don't care how finished it is anymore!!), Millenium's Covers Album (C'Mon Ralph!!), Sammy Hagar - Greatest Hits Live, Damn Yankees 3 and from last year - still Wicked Alliance & Alias 2.

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album in 2002 Award: *TIE* Mr. Big, Dream Theater, Kiss & Styx - what are the odds?!!

The Worst Record Label Award: *TIE* Massacre Records, SPV & Noise Records who between them failed to reply to a single e-mail sent by me to them in the whole 12 month period of 2001.

The Best Record Label Award: Frontiers Records / Now & Then Productions - Can't go past this label partnership that has supplied us with Kelly Keagy, Urban Tale, Terry Brock, Giant, Seventh Key, Bob Catley, Hurricane, Heaven & Earth, Ten and Jorn Lande. Well done guys...The competition for 2002 will be greater than ever - already anticipating the results from all labels.

The Best Noticeboard Username for 2001 Award: *TIE* Melv Smellpaisley & Ferrari Sparklepants - I have nothing to add to that!

The Beat The Bootleggers Award: Chris Thompson for making both his classic, but deleted, 80's solo album's available for MP3 download from his website. FANTASTIC!!

The Best Fan Website Award: - again - where else can one lurk for some intelligent VH related discussion?

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award: We'll call him BP.
I don't want to giveaway this guy's full name here, as I am not that kind of person. But I will show you a few funny extracts from a few e-mails from him.
No one is perfect, but BP likes to point out parts my reviews he doesn't agree with, plus comment on the % marks when they don't match his opinion.
I have always been happy to take points on board when sent to me, but I think in this case we are dealing with someone who has a severe personality disorder.
I might add that BP claims he writes for a rock magazine...must be a great magazine, no one I know has heard of him!

BP's E-Mail Highlights 2001:
".....Then, you gave Demon 80% and Warrant 81% You got to be kidding me Andy. That basically tells me everything about you. How can you dishonor a band like Demon with a lower grade than one of the most pathetic bands ever lived in Warrant? Unbelievable!!!....."

"Last but not the least, how about that ass licking review of Mike Tramp´s new CD Andrew? Right on mister!!!! Yeah right, like that was not expected from a guy like you......Merry Christmas Mike Tramp. At least you can count on your buddy Andrew in wet and dry he-he......"
I did like the length on the short reviews. Why don´t you stick to that length all the time instead of rambling on with reviews long like novels?
Don´t you realize how tiredsome that is and who cares about that percentage info below the actual review anyway?
Just a few tips for your site....."

"NOTE For some reason, you have a very limited taste and that is pretty annoying. Then you went on and rave about really cheesy stuff like Michael Monroe, who can't sing, Poison and Tuff, who can't play, and Tuff, not to mention Tiffany, who just plain out suck. The reason for that is because you like cheesy stuff...."

"I listened to the new Neal Schon album "Voice" and I was blown away.
But what happen? Yes of course, Mr. Andrew gives the album a 79%, while he rates mediocre albums like "Beyond The Thunder" and the double CD (which is so awful I forgot the name of it) Schon did above Voice. On top of that, Mr. Andrew gives crap bands such as Mr. Big (was is 99%?) and Danger Danger 100%. You are aware of the fact that it was because of crap like Danger Danger, Poison and Warrant that Nirvana and Pearl Jam plagued the charts during the entire 1990s aren´t you?
By the way, do not sit and speculate what other Journey fans would think about the Voice CD....."

There's plenty more, but that'll do for now!



Here is a vain attempt to predict the future for melodic rock - in 2002 at least!
I predict it will be even more colourful than 2001 - which will take some beating, but with guys Like Yngwie on the road, there is always an opportunity for fun.
2002 will see some really hot melodic releases in stores finally. Records from Mecca, Mike Tramp, Harem Scarem, Humanimal, Baron, Magnum, Two Fires and Heartland are finished, ready and awaiting their release dates.
The Glenn Hughes/Joe Lynn Turner album is also done and guess what? I love it! What a credit to these two guys, who sound like angels singing together. Hughes/Turner is a blistering hard rock record with touches of everything the guys have done in the past. Look forward to this one!

2002 is also likely to see several already popular melodic rock acts return with new albums. Big albums too I hope.
Planned for release sometime this year are new studio records from Def Leppard, Hardline, Goo Goo Dolls, Dokken, Westworld, Dogface, Melodica, Street Talk, Cornerstone, Norway, Damned Nation, Adriangale, Impellitteri, Toto, Rush, Frontline, Burning Rain, 21 Guns, Drive She Said, Duran Duran, Mickey Thomas, Bon Jovi, Stranded, Rain and Raine. Not a bad line up if I dare say so!!
The best of those? Well....I think at the end of the year, they all will be solid and people will look back and consider most of them to be pretty good, but I have personally high hopes for Def Leppard, Duran Duran, Stranded, Toto, Rush, Goo Goo Dolls, Dogface and Westworld....just to name a few...
The teaming of George Lynch & Jeff Pilson should also be interesting, but can George Lynch get back what he lost after the last Lynch Mob record?
Harem Scarem's release is bound to create debate over who prefers what sound and era of the band. Personally I love them all, although some albums have been stronger than others - you can't go past Mood Swings as their all time classic though can you?

Making promises of a 2002 release are Boston, Night Ranger, House Of Lords and Tesla.
Personally I don't think the Tesla album will make it....Night Ranger should - and will be BRILLIANT if it does get completed, House Of Lords is line ball, but should make it out and will again be a strong release and as for Boston? I'll maintain my prediction of 12 months ago for July 2002. But will all the fans be kept happy?

Who won't make records in 2002? Van Halen is odds against - Foreigner is the same - Meatloaf is even money and Survivor? Well, I personally doubt there will be a new studio album, even though one is scheduled.
I also doubt the long delayed Skid Row record will eventuate. Riverdogs and Motley Crue are just about even money.

The classic debate over the quality of melodic rock continues. I personally think that we have some great albums being released and I am generally happy with the way the scene is progressing.
The main melodic labels clearly demonstrate that world class releases are possible and are increasing in number. However, these same labels must take more care with some artists to avoid some below average sounding releases still making it onto the market. These releases do nothing to increase the strength of the scene.
Out of all the problems covered in reviews this year, the main one was a lack of a better production. Let's make 2002 the year to improve that aspect of our beloved melodic rock / AOR scene.

So, in another 12 months from now, let's take a look back and see what happened!

Just before I finish this wrap up - what about the labels themselves? What are they looking forward to in 2002? I thought I would find out!

Former MTM and Empire Records A&R guy + general scene legend - Magnus Söderkvist:
Im all excited about being part of this new Swedish based record label being started and launched in January.
The label is called Atenzia and is being set up as part of a bigger already existing enterprise in the retail over here [Sweden].
A presentation will be made early in the year both as for collaboration partners and as for the first releases/artists.
I'm a huge fan of good songwriting and that's what the label will be all about...the direction will be from pop/rock to melodic rock to hard rock.
I am most sure that what we have to offer and deliver will be of highest interest for the readers of

I am also much excited about some releases coming through my former label MTM. The new Swedish band IGNITION will much certinly rock the world. I have a big involvement in this release bringing it to MTM and also in the A&R work as for songs and direction.
The second one being DIVING FOR PEARLS. I am all hyped up about this one getting the chance to work with David Prater and the amazingly talented band leader Danny Malone. The material they have in the pipeline is nothing less then stunning!!
I also believe that my good friend and former compadre Mario and his gang will have other cool releases....I know that they lining up more stuff in the melodic rock genre again for the new year.

And in general do I hope to see yet another phenomenal year with a huge amount of superb releases in US from all this new generation of modern melodic rock/pop....I have heard some which been picked up by the majors recently and they for sure is got what it takes!!
As for the classic melodic rock which I'm raised on, do I hope that the genre shall find its way back on track.
Too many releases being put out lacks spirit, passion and songs.
Well look out for Atenzia for the new year - It will be a force to count on.
That's what I have for now....take it easy and happy holidays.

Now & Then Boss Mark Ashton:
Well, we sit here on the brink of 2002, which will be the Tenth Anniversary of NOW AND THEN RECORDS. Looking back on 2001, I'd say it was our most successful year ever as a company, culminating in two of the biggest releases we've ever had in Europe, namely Giant "III" and Ten`s "Far Beyond The World", but the biggest success of the year for us had to be The Gods.
None of us will ever forget the events of September 11th 2001 in the U.S. and it's subsequent repercussions all around the world. By not giving up and putting on a show that not only raised a lot of money for the victims of the tragedy but also went down as one of the best Gods ever, we hope we did our bit to return some sense to the world and to give people an opportunity to get together with their friends from distant countries and forget about things for a couple of days.
2002 will be an even better year for us, of that I`m sure, with new product from well established names such as Two Fires, Reb Beach, Harem Scarem, Hardline, House Of Lords, Mitch Malloy, Bob Catley and Saracen to come plus a whole bunch of great new talents like Pulse, Johnny Lima, Savannah, Talon, John Taglieri and Hysteria ready to burst onto the scene. On a personal note, I'm really looking forward to Gary Hughes "Once And Future King" concept album finally being recorded and released in 2002.
I've been discussing this album a lot with Gary over the past few weeks and the whole thing is falling into place very nicely and looks set to include some great (and different ) names. The quality of the material is assured and it's going to be something truly special I feel. Ultimately, we'd love to put it on as a rock opera at some point, but that's for the future!
We are determined to bring more acts over to Europe to tour and to put on a really great Gods 2002 later in the year. The live scene has been hit bad the past twelve months with many tours not doing as well as they could or should. I won't go into why I think that is, but we are determined to improve things this coming year.
On a personal note, I'm looking forward to new albums from Humanimal, AdrianGale, Magnum, Danny Danzi, Cornerstone, Symphony X and a bunch more.
Also, I'd like to see a larger audience for the better nu-breed acts.
The Invertigo "Forum" album is stunning and deserves to be huge, although I still think that too many of the nu-breeders lack identity. These guys have great songs that border on the pop idiosyncrasies of The Backstreet Boys but still rock out. I'm sure that any AOR fan giving this band a chance will end up being a fan.
Best regards, Mark.

Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino
The past year has been for Frontiers Records a year to remember ! We have been able to experience a growth in sales and interest from the medias like never before and the new year looks as promising like last year if not more!
Thanks to the release of new albums from Giant, Ten, Royal Hunt, Seventh Key and several others, the scene looks more vital than ever! For the new year I wish to promise our highest commitment to push even further the bondaries for this music and to give all the fans a lot of solid rock'n'roll to have fun with!
I personally wish to take this occasion also to thank some other people in this business which I have had the pleasure and the fun to work and join forces with. I wish to list here in particular Khalil Turk, Mario Lehmann, Harry Enzian, Lasse Mattson, Dane Spencer, John Kivel, Mag Soderkvist and my foremost and dearest friend and partner Mark "daddy" Ashton. May our partnership last forever!
Of course the biggest and most sincere thanks goes out to all the fans that make this scene going on. Our gratitude for you is going to be everlasting !
Last but not least... thanks to Andrew for voting us the best label of 2001 ;) !

Z Records Boss Mark Alger:
Jeez, it's nearly 2002 this year has flown by.
2001 was a year Z as a label made a few mistakes most notably Z2001 pt2. It was also a year that will be etched into my memories forever after September 11th, our worries here at Z where very high as John Blaze of Arabia had described the disaster over the telephone from his Manhattan office shortly before the 2nd attack.
Thankfully John and the other members of our NY based acts where all safe and sound.

2002 will be a great year for Z, Humanimal is our huge wake up call and will be released during January.
Also coming we have brand new albums from Burning Rain, Silent Rage, Westworld, Vaughn and 21 Guns all due within the first 5 months of 2002 need I say more.
We also have the new album from Arabia which is guaranteed to be awesome, the band did very well with their debut. Late 2002 will see new releases from Von Groove, Brighton Rock, Rainmaker, Shy, Danny Danzi and many more.
Me personally, well the new Dokken is eagerly awaited o)

Escape Records boss Khalil Turk:
Hi Andrew, We are very much looking forward to releasing of course all our titles specially Total Stranger, Fury & the Phantoms Opera new album with out standing world class singer well known and well respected to every body we shall announce his name shortly (Not Dean Fasano), and of course the new Heartland album which is their best.
I personally would like to see and hear some changes in the melodic rock scene, and the fan to be open minded about the new breeds of rock. As you know with no disrespect to anybody there has been too many Journey, Whitesnake, and Survivor, plus Clones. The scene is becoming tiresome.
Take care, Khalil

Lasse / Lion Music:
Lion Music would also like to thank you for your support during 2001. Next year we will work even harder and start off the new year with our new release from MIKE TERRANA (featuring Steve Lukater) to be followed by MASI, TAKARA, MISTER KITE, KELLY SIMONZ, UNDER-RADIO, BYRD, MATTSSON and many more.
Best Wishes, Lasse

Song Haus / Rewind Records boss Dane Spencer:
The big news at Rewind Records is AIRBORNE!!! Beau Hill contacted me and we have made a deal to release an album of unreleased Airborne material recorded just after the first album was released. The album will have at least 16 tracks about an hour of killer unreleased Airborne.
Beau personally mastered the tracks for Rewind. Kip Winger and his two brothers sing back-up on several tracks, Beau just needs to figure out which ones.
Its a mix of vintage Styx-Foreigner circa 80-85. The vocals are killer and big, lots of keys and guitars, its really the find of the year.
Silver Condor is about complete and I am really looking forward to the release Brad Love's solo album. I am hoping more unreleased gems come our way next year.
Brian McDonald Desperate Business and Speedway Blvd are also on tap for 2002 at Rewind.

Record Heaven Music:
This has been a very interesting year and a lot of positive things have happened that makes us look at 2002 with a lot of hopes for another great episode in the history of Record Heaven. You all have been a great help and we hope for a continued relationship for the future in this tough business, that now see the MP3's giving the sales a hard time !! 2002 will see the releases of (among others)
KEN HENSLEY - Running Blind (Scandinavia Only) / February
SOUTHERN ROCK ALLSTARS - Danger Road / February/March
THE REGULATORS - Bar & Grill (Remixed, remastered + bonus) / February
LOCOMOTIVE BREATH - Heavy Machinery / March
APRIL WINE - Back To The Manison (W/bonus) - t.b.a
TURNING LEAF - t.b.a / Fall of 2002
SLOW TRAIN - t.b.a / Fall of 2002
+ alot more interesting stuff that will be announced soon.
A merry christmas to you all and a happy new year.
Cheers, Johannes Lindstrom.


Hope you have all enjoyed the 2001 run down!
Let me know what you think!




The Best Albums of 2002

  1. Harem Scarem - Weight Of The World
  2. Mecca - Mecca
  3. Def Leppard - X
  4. Mike Tramp - Recovering The Wasted Years
  5. Westworld - Cyberdreams

  6. Humanimal - Humanimal
  7. Eric Martin - I'm Going Sane
  8. Snakes In Paradise - Dangerous Love
  9. Butch Walker - Left Of Self Centered
  10. TaxiRide - Garage Mahal
  11. Goo Goo Dolls - Gutterflower
  12. Jeff Scott Soto - Prism
  13. LA Guns - Waking The Dead
  14. Sammy Hagar - Not For Sale
  15. Avril Lavigne - Let Go
  16. Hardline - II
  17. Cornerstone - Human Stain
  18. Heartland - Communication Down
  19. Hughes / Turner - Hughes Turner Project
  20. Jaded Heart - The Journey Will Never End
  21. Alfonzetti - Machine
  22. Phil Naro - Glass Mountain
  23. Honeymoon Suite - Dreamland
  24. Dokken - Long Way From Home
  25. Unruly Child - Basement Demos
  26. Jack Russell - For You
  27. Grand Illusion - View From The Top
  28. Shy - Unfinished Business
  29. Adriangale - Re:Program
  30. Boston - A Tribute To 
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
  • 7 Months - 7 Months
  • Dio - Killing The Dragon
  • Jim Peterik - Rock America Live
  • 7 Months - 7 Months
  • Northwind - Seasons
  • Mollo/Martin - The Cage 2
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Shadow Zone
  • 21 Guns - Demolition
  • Last Tribe - Witch Dance
  • Two Fires - Ignition
  • Loud & Clear - Disc-Connected
  • Vital Signs - Vital Signs
  • Baron - Baron
  • Magnum - Breath Of Life
  • Talon - Talon
  • AOR - LA Reflection
  • Willie Hines - Yeah Right
  • Lillian Axe - Live
  • Rain - House Of Dreams
  • Rush - Vapor Trails
  • Crown Of Thorns - Karma
  • Matchbox Twenty - More Than You Think You Are
  • Frontline - Against The World
  • 101 South - Roll Of The Dice
  • Tom Cochrane & Red Rider - Trapeze: The Collection
  • Shiva - Shiva
  • Venice - Welcome To The Rest Of Your Life
  • Biloxi - Right The Music
  • Evidence One - Criticize The Truth
  • Poley Pichler - Big
  • Final Frontier - The First Wave
  • Hughes Turner - Live
  • Street Talk - Restoration
  • Rondinelli - Our Cross Our Sins
  • Ted Nugent - Craveman
  • Yngwie Malmsteen - Attack!
  • John West - Earth Maker
  • Dave Meniketti - Meniketti
  • Fury - Fury
  • SR-71 - Tomorrow 


(Ranked In Order)


  1. Humanimal - Humanimal
  2. Hughes Turner Project - HTP
  3. Cornerstone - Human Stain
  4. LA Guns - Waking The Dead
  5. Rush - Vapor Trails
  6. Dio - Chasing The Dragon
  7. Rondinelli - Our Cross, Our Sins
  8. John West - Earth Maker
  9. 7 Months - 7 Months
  10. Yngwie Malmsteen - Attack!  
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Mecca - Mecca
  2. Frontline - Against The World
  3. Crown Of Thorns - Karma
  4. Poley Pichler - Big
  5. Street Talk - Restoration
  6. Biloxi - Right The Music
  7. 101 South - Roll Of The Dice
  8. Two Fires - Ignition
  9. Shy - Unfinished Business
  10. AOR - LA Reflection
  11. Final Frontier - The First Wave 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Butch Walker - Left Of Self Centered
  2. TaxiRide - Garage Mahal
  3. Goo Goo Dolls - Gutterflower
  4. Avril Lavigne - Let Go
  5. Alfonzetti - Machine
  6. Matchbox Twenty - More Than You Think You Are
  7. SR-71 - Tomorrow
  8. BBMak - Into Your Head
  9. Tonic - Head On Straight
  10. Kevin Lee - Loaded 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Westworld - Beautiful
  2. TaxiRide - Saffron
  3. Harem Scarem - Killing Me
  4. Mecca - Silence Of The Heart
  5. Harem Scarem - End Of Time
  6. Mecca - Falling Down
  7. Goo Goo Dolls - Big Machine
  8. Eric Martin - Untouchable
  9. Humanimal - Find My Way Home
  10. Mike Tramp - Falling Down
  11. Westworld - Righteous One
  12. Avril Lavigne - Complicated
  13. Hardline - Face The Night
  14. Def Leppard - Long, Long Way To Go
  15. Mike Tramp - Darkness
  16. Snakes In Paradise - Move On
  17. Humanimal - Road 2 4giveness
  18. Harem Scarem - Charmed Life
  19. Eric Martin - Goin' Sane
  20. Boston - I Had A Good Time
  21. Jeff Scott Soto - 2 Late 4 Goodbyes
  22. Mecca - Without You
  23. Bon Jovi - Bounce
  24. Def Leppard - Now
  25. Butch Walker - Sober
  26. Snakes In Paradise - Fire & Rain
  27. Jaded Heart - On The Rise
  28. Dogface - Not Wanted
  29. SR-71 - They All Fall Down
  30. Goo Goo Dolls - Think About Me
  31. Harem Scarem - Weight Of The World
  32. Mike Tramp - Living A Lie
  33. Hardline - Y
  34. Two Fires - Ignition
  35. Jaded Heart - Only Human
  36. Humanimal - Again 2 B Found 3
  37. Rick Springfield - Faithful
  38. Matchbox Twenty - Downfall
  39. Avril Lavigne - I'm With You
  40. Avril Lavigne - Sk8ter Boi  
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Snakes In Paradise - Dangerous Love
  • Def Leppard - Torn To Shreds
  • Hughes Turner Project - On The Ledge
  • Harem Scarem - You Ruined Everything
  • Mike Tramp - Mr. Death
  • Def Leppard - You're So Beautiful
  • Mecca - Velocitized
  • Snakes In Paradise - Come On Join The Party
  • Venice - Think Again
  • Def Leppard - Scar
  • Def Leppard - Unbelievable
  • Eric Martin - Fly
  • Alfonzetti - The Bitter End
  • Harem Scarem - This Ain't Over
  • Hughes Turner Project - Devil's Road
  • Hughes Turner Project - Heaven's Missing An Angel
  • Humanimal - Who Do U Think U R
  • Mecca - Close That Gap
  • Mecca - Wishing Well
  • Westworld - How Good It Feels
  • Westworld - A Million Miles
  • Goo Goo Dolls - Here Is Gone
  • Eric Martin - My Disease
  • Jaded Heart - Lucky Son
  • Rain - Anywhere The Wind Blows
  • Rain - Talkin' To My Heart
  • Push - Heart Is An Empty Space
  • Butch Walker - My Way
  • Sammy Hagar - Things've Changed
  • Sammy Hagar - Not For Sale
  • Boston - Corporate America
  • Bon Jovi - The Distance
  • Street Talk - Why Is My Heart Feeling Lonely Tonight
  • Alfonzetti - Barbie Doll
  • TaxiRide - How I Got This Way
  • LA Guns - Waking The Dead
  • LA Guns - Don't Look At Me That Way
  • Rush - One Little Victory
  • Butch Walker - Suburbia
  • Cornerstone - Some People Fly
  • Phil Naro - Find My Way Back To You
  • Fury - No For An Answer
  • Adriangale - If
  • Adriangale - Part Of Me
  • Grand Illusion - Who's It Gonna Be
  • Heartland - All Her Own Way
  • Honeymoon Suite - Radiant
  • Frontline - Lightning Eyes
  • Dokken - Sunless Days
  • Magnum - Still
  • Baron - Ship Of Fools
  • Dogface - Sleeping With The Enemy
  • Jack Russell - Any Kind Of Love
  • Kick The Kangaroo - Last Kiss
  • Nick Carter - I Got You
  • Tom Cochrane - Pictures From The Edge
  • Biloxi - Out On The Streets
  • Joey Tempest - Forgiven
  • Sammy Hagar - Make It Alright
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Don't Wanna Say Goodbye
  • Venice - I'm Not Myself
  • Eric Bazilian - Lucky To Be
  • Matchbox Twenty - Unwell
  • Shiva - Down Jones Index
  • Nightwish - Bless The Child
  • Tom Cochrane - Just Like Ali
  • Evidence One - Trust Vs Heart
  • Poley Pichler - Better Off Dead
  • Poley Pichler - You're The One
  • Boston - Stare Out Your Window
  • Toto - Burn Down The Mission
  • Robert Fleischman - Heaven To Me
  • Soul Doctor - Good Times Slipping Away
  • Bon Jovi - Love Me Back To Life
  • Street Talk - A Place In The Sun
  • Alfonzetti - My Machine
  • Rondinelli - Meaning Of Evil
  • Shameless - She's Not Coming Home
  • TaxiRide - Forrest For The Treets
  • Ted Nugent - Damned If You Do
  • Yngwie Malmsteen - Rise Up
  • Silver - Head Or Heart
  • John West - When World's Collide
  • Dave Meniketti - Messin' With Mr Big
  • Hardline - Only A Night
  • Crown Of Thorns - Till You've Had Enough
  • Crown Of Thorns - Gotta Get Next To You
  • Rush - Earthshine
  • Lost Weekend - Feed On Emotion
  • Cornerstone - Unchosen One
  • Butch Walker - Alicia Amnesia
  • Phil Naro - Heartbreak In The Night
  • Fury - Higher Ground
  • Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
  • Bruce Springsteen - Lonesome Day
  • Shy - Skydiving
  • Shy - Breakaway
  • 7 Months - Change
  • 7 Months - Stay
  • Adriangale - Heartbreak Guaranteed
  • Grand Illusion - Between Dark And Dawn
  • Grand Illusion - I Refuse
  • Bowes & Morley - Dancing The Night Away
  • Bowes & Morley - Change
  • Dio - Better In The Dark
  • Heartland - Time And Tide
  • Heartland - Imagine My Surprise
  • Poison - Wishful Thinking
  • Slav Simanic - People Say
  • Honeymoon Suite - Dreamland
  • Honeymoon Suite - So Hard
  • Silent Rage - Unchained
  • 101 South - Don't Stop Believing
  • Frontline - One Night
  • Talon - Wrecking Ball
  • Talon - Still You Run
  • Vicious Mary - Love Or Hate
  • Mollo/Martin - Terra Toria
  • Dokken - Little Girl
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Edge Of The World
  • Magnum - This Heart
  • Jeff Austin Project - So You Ran
  • Loud & Clear - Time To Let Go
  • Baron - All I Want Is You 


(Ranked In Order)


  1. HTP - On The Ledge
  2. Humanimal - Road 2 4giveness
  3. Cornerstone - Some People Fly
  4. LA Guns - Waking The Dead
  5. Rush - One Little Victory
  6. Rondinelli - Meaning Of Evil
  7. Vicious Mary - Love Or Hate
  8. Hardline - Weight
  9. Dogface - Not Wanted
  10. Talon - Still You Run 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Mecca - Silence Of The Heart
  2. Def Leppard - Long Long Way To Go
  3. Hardline - Face The Night
  4. Mike Tramp - Darkness
  5. Avril Lavigne - I'm With You
  6. Bon Jovi - Love Me Back To Life
  7. Journey - Walking Away From The Edge
  8. Butch Walker - Sober
  9. Rick Springfield - Faithful
  10. Def Leppard - Unbelievable  
(Ranked In Order)


  1. TaxiRide - Saffron
  2. Avril Lavigne - Complicated
  3. Butch Walker - Suburbia
  4. Alfonzetti - Barbie Doll
  5. Joey Tempest - Forgiven
  6. Honeymoon Suite - Radiant
  7. Kick The Kangaroo - Last Kiss
  8. BBMak - Out Of My Heart
  9. Butch Walker - My Way
  10. SR-71 - We All Fall Down  
2002 In Focus

2002 was an interesting year. On a personal note it was the single most amazing year in my life - I got married, Cathy got pregnant and then went through a really tough few months, little Nicholas was born and then it was over! Thanks to everyone that e-mailed or posted well-wishes. It was fantastic fun to read and shows what a great community of people we have here.
So what could 2003 come up with to top that?
Professionally speaking, it was the first year of working on this site full time - which presented new challenges and a few problems, but also a lot of big positives.
The site re-design was finally completed, but needed an immediate overhaul as some parts just didn't work in practice. Some more tweaking in 2003 is expected.
I also dropped a few changes along the way, as I want to concentrate on the core elements of the site. That will be the aim in 2003 too - more news, reviews, soundbytes and interviews. That core of the site is the most important and that's where my energy will be going. That and the MR-X Members area! Thanks to all those that have shown their belief in the site by joining that area - I hope to continue bringing you all cool exclusives throughout 2003.

Traffic continued to rise to the site over the course of the year - currently the site is getting nearly 250,000 frontpage hits a month. Melodic rock ain't dead yet!

The site Noticeboard continues to be an interesting area of the site. I get countless e-mails and messages from melodic rock fans saying that they appreciate the ability to be able to post and talk with like minded individuals and many have also picked up new music thanks to others posting their thoughts on recent purchases.
For that reason alone it remains a vital part of the site. But the fact that it's an open forum means there are a few problems. The board gets abused regularly by those looking to push their own agenda and that is one thing I am going to do my best to eliminate once and for all during 2003. I hate deleting posts, as it sometimes leads to people crying fowl, but the reality is that the majority want to enjoy the board for what it is and would like it to be a bullshit free zone.
That's the plan!
I didn't want to roll out the usual we have to work together clique's, but...the scene does not need fragments working against the better good of the community as a whole.
I hope to do my part to bridge gaps and solve problems during this year and into the next.

One other story is worth mentioning for a laugh. I was asked by a band's management to present a unofficially "leaked" full-length MP3 by them on the frontpage, which I did. I unfortunately let slip somewhere where that directive came from, which was promptly posted over at the band's official website message board. It then hit the fan and the song was later removed quietly. The band's forum was also later closed down and I haven't heard from the band or their management company since. Live and learn I more agreeing to hair-brained ideas.

So that's enough site and scene about the music? What happened in 2002?
The bad news is that there really weren't too many scandals to make fun of. Hopefully ego's will be bigger in 2003 to ensure a few more laughs.
2002 was the best year for music that I have seen since doing this site. I had more trouble compiling the Best Of lists this year than any year previous and that suggests that there is more great music out there. Naturally there is some shit, or below average releases - but that's ok. The higher the quality of the rest of the CD releases in the market place, the less the shitty titles will sell and become unviable for release.

Kurt Torster will love this - but I have to confess that nu-breed rock made a major impact in 2002. It was only last year when I said that nu-breed would have to produce something huge to get the genre going again, otherwise melodic fans will have to wait for something else to strike at mainstream.
It seems 2002 saw that very thing happen with some monster releases and a ton of new names enter the fray. Now I don't believe many of these made huge chart impacts, but the fact that the music is being made, sounds great and some of it released on major labels is at least keeping the flame alive.
The year's biggest seller was Avril Lavigne, who's spunky debut album continues to sell by the truck load. Hopefully those that dig that album - new and old fans - will look for more along those lines and that in turn will lead them online and right into our lair....

So nu-breed came back with a hit, but what about classic melodic rock and AOR. No such luck as far as any major label interest - but I don't expect that anyway. What I did see in 2002 was a further increase in the quality of releases from the melodic rock labels. There was also several new arrives on the label front. All of them seem to have their own little flair and I wish them all the best of luck.
Things are certainly more active and interesting then they were back in 1994-97. Now & Then were the only label at one stage and now look at it!
One thing is for sure - all labels need our support for them to continue to prosper, improve and offer an outlet for our favourite artists to continue to record our favourite music. Don't think I mean blind enthusiasm - there will be some releases that are not up to the standard of others. But whether it's pure AOR, melodic rock, hard rock, progressive or metal - support your favourite artists!

2002 - Predictions from last year...
One of my favorite things to do over the last few years has been to predict what the year ahead holds.
I'll do it again a little bit further down the page, but right now I guess it's time to see just how close I got it with my 2002 predictions from last year's awards page.

My first prediction was that it would be an even more colorful year than 2001 was. Well, it was better musically, but scandals were way down. Disappointingly so! Yngwie's only negative publicity came from a lame 12 year old tape recording and UFO didn't even attempt a tour. Axl Rose really was the only major twat of the year, so let's hope there are a few more scandals in the coming 12 months.

First were my hot tips for albums to watch for in 2002. A few hits and a couple of misses. Mecca, Mike Tramp and Harem Scarem all nailed it, with albums that would make any best of list in any year.
Heartland also released their best effort yet, with a great production featured. Now, if they add the anthem style choruses of a Journey album, there would be no stopping them.
I also mentioned Baron as one to watch. They delivered a good album, but it hasn't lived up to it's promise over the 12 months and in hindsight, could have been more consistent.
Magnum's comeback album was for me, also disappointing. Below average songs and a really programmed feel to it. High hopes for the next one. I know some will disagree with that assessment though.
What about the other 2002 predicted highlights?
Albums that turned out winners as hoped/expected: Def Leppard, Westworld, Street Talk, Cornerstone, Adriangale, Frontline, Goo Goo Dolls, Rain, Hughes/Turner.
Now, of these albums, Def Leppard and Westworld really pleased me. The Leps got a bit of stick for being all soft and not rocking enough, but those ignoring this album really are doing themselves out of some of the finest adult pop/rock songs available. Tony Harnell proved he still has a monster voice, with the band's most commercial and fabulous album yet.
Adriangale was well received, but I still think it could have been beefier. The Goo Goo Dolls showed they still write some of the finest nu-breed out there, but for the love of God, kill the vocals from Robby.
Albums that received a mixed response: Rush (some love it, some hate it....I'm in-between), Hardline (love it/hate it....I think it's cool, but it could have been even better), Dokken (I like it, but they didn't use Norum to their advantage) and Bon Jovi (better than Crush, but relatively boring in the end).
Bombs: Boston's 8 year trek to release new material failed to inspire most. It feature some killer songs, but just isn't a very cohesive album. Sales flop. Toto's covers album was met with similar mixed responses. Dogface forgot to write any choruses, so their much anticipated follow up didn't go too well.
The biggest disappointments from the 2002 predictions: Boston, Toto and Dogface.
I predicted Harem Scarem would spark debate with their new release and sure enough it did - combining the best elements of their classic sound and those closer to their recent Rubber work. For me, releases like these are what bridges the gap between fans of the old and the new. It will be interesting to hear what the next album will bring.

Some anticipated albums that didn't make it out: Duran Duran, Mickey Thomas, Raine, Stranded, Norway, Lynch/Pilson, Burning Rain and Drive She Said!
Also promised for 2002 that didn't show - House Of Lords, Tesla and the possibility of a Night Ranger album. Three possible classics, three strikes!
Now, I copped some flack for predicting that Tesla wouldn't get their new studio album out in 2002. Sure enough, it didn't happen, so those that mailed can e-mail apologies now!
Who else did I say won't make records in 2002? Van Halen - Correct; Foreigner - Correct; Meatloaf - Correct and Survivor - Correct; Skid Row - Correct!

What else transpired?
Westworld released a classic album that saw them get some major press coverage, including praise in the widely circulated LA Weekly, but they remain an independent artist in the US - but so is Journey now, so who cares?
As long as we support the artists, the music will continue. Be nice though if mainstream media gave a little more credit where due.

2002 saw a few events take place that you couldn't have predicted. How about Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth touring together? Strange stuff indeed. It was from all accounts a great tour, but the B.S. back and forth between the guys to generate publicity was kind of sad. So to was Roth's refusal to jam with Sammy for the encore each night. That would have been something to see.
Michael Anthony joined Sammy on stage and also talked up new of a VH release, but alas, nothing ever eventuated.
In fact the Van Halen fiasco sunk further into a farce, with the band left without any support staff or a record label and remain without a singer.
What was hardest to swallow was the complete lack of any kind of statement or update from the VH camp. Sure, Eddie told us he was healthy again in a 2 line statement, but otherwise the dwindling legion of VH fans (me included) were left sucking our thumbs. For each month that passes there are less people that care...

Hagar released a new album - which, even though it was rough as guts, was pretty good again. I hear that he's pretty upset with the lack of label support for it and it not willing to record anything else unless a good deal is in place prior. Can't blame Sammy for think that, but he has just joined the ranks of most other classic rock artists out there.

Yngwie made the headlines again - this time for going nuts at a woman some 15 years ago. How sad that something like that should surface now. His new studio was pretty good though, making up for last year's release. Too late for Spitfire though, who after re-releasing all his back catalogue last year, weren't interested in the new album.

Def Leppard released their new album X, which came as a pleasant surprise to me and won some favorable reviews. But alas, the record label could give two shits and the album has sunk without much fanfare. The guys played a few US dates, but with little push behind them, it wasn't surprising to see the album slip from the charts. But, I'm ever hopeful, it's a classic and rather commercial album, so there isn't any reason why it can't be a sleeper, just like Hysteria was. Of course, some fans accused the guys of selling out and going soft. Cried of selling out to outside influences also – but check the album credits people – there are only 2 songs on the whole album written outside the band.
Those dissing the album for being too soft are missing some classic melodic rock songs.

Bon Jovi released their new album – again preaching their worth as a hard rock band and talking up the album. But on arrival it's chock full of ballads again. A major let down…but at least it was better than Crush.

Whitesnake are back together - well Coverdale's band are at least - with an all new line-up, aside from drummer Tommy Aldridge. Should be good to hear, although I can't help but be disappointed that John Sykes and Coverdale couldn't reach terms on a new union.

Guns N Roses made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. With only half a tour completed, that being with an out of shape singer who was the only original band member means that there is a lot of work to be done to make the band's next album a success.

Jorn Lande confused everyone by leaving-joining-leaving Millenium, also dropped his own solo band, left Ark and joined Masterplan. Could 2003 get any more complex?

Another with a string of bad press behind him was Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil. He stumbled blindly through 2002, abusing a crowd of his own fans, punching one guy out and apparently even his girlfriend most recently.

Sebastian Bach made a dick of himself on UK TV and threw a friend of mine out of his tour bus, threatening him with his life after he pulled out a promo of the new Skid Row single.

Kiss are still going....sometimes without Ace, sometimes without Peter...occasionally without both. Paul Stanley made the most bizarre claim of the year, giving in principle support to a Kiss line up without any original members!

Sony Music sent out copies of the new Pearl Jam album glued into Discman's, but I still got a copy off the net!

Gotthard split with their long-time producer/writing partner Chris Von Rohr. The result of that will be heard shortly, with the release of their new album.

MTM Music released a press release urging people to buy, not copy. It seems CDR copying is really heavily eating into all label profits. Fair call - personally, if I like an album, I want everything, original art, original CD etc.
However, the answer does not lie with CD copy protection. On more than one occasion this year I was left without the ability to listen/review and feature soundbytes of an artist, due to having bought a protected CD.
I can't sit at this PC and listen to it, or write a review, as the CD-Row won't recognize the disc and I can't format any MP3 soundbytes for you all to sample. People won't buy unless they can sample, so who's the winner here?

As I said earlier - Nu-breed made an impact - with some great music released by Avril Lavigne, Butch Walker, Simple Plan, SR-71, TaxiRide, matchbox twenty, Goo Goo Dolls. A few melodic rockers went nu-ish, with Eric Martin's album a rocking surprise and Alfonzetti's new album quite modern. Eric was well received, but Alfonzetti seems to have failed to excite. Shame - I think he's a cleaver writer and the album does contain some great tunes.
Honeymoon Suite's is it too - and again I think there were some great tunes there, but the fact the album is now available in 3 formats and two titles could have confused the public. Just one version next time please...

There were some great pure AOR releases - Mecca being the standout as far as I'm concerned. Both albums Shy and their singer Tony Mills were solid, as were AOR releases by Frontline (always reliable), Crown Of Thorns (back in form), Snakes In Paradise (brilliant blues rock AOR?), Street Talk, Jaded Heart, AOR, Biloxi, Poley/Pichler and the double of Harlan Cage and 101 South.
Sad thing is - not all of them worked commercially. I know for a fact 101 South/Harlan Cage's Roger Scott Craig can't see another album happening anytime soon. That's too bad - again, more great music going begging.

Some classic melodic rock releases in the shape of Harem Scarem, Westworld, Mike Tramp, Jeff Scott Soto, Heartland, Adriangale and Def Leppard appeared - all worthy of reaching Top 10 lists everywhere.
Hard rock fans weren't left out either - high quality records from Humanimal, Hardline, Cornerstone, Hughes/Turner, LA Guns, Talon, Mollo/Martin and Dio meant that there really was something for all hard music fans.

2002 MelRockAwards
A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

Firstly (and regrettably...) RIP: Another year and another set of names to add to the RIP list. Among those that departed our world this year were:
Gus Dudgeon, Tom Dowd and Mike Stone (producers), Judith Randell (songwriter), Robin Crosby (Ratt), James Dewar (Robin Trower band singer), John Entwistle (TheWho), Timothy White (Billboard Editor), Dee Dee Ramone (Ramones), Kevin Macmichael (Cutting Crew, Robert Plant), Joe Strummer (The Clash), Ray Palmer (Kerrang Photographer).
Other notable RIPs: Midnight Oil, Mr. Big and Gold Circle Records.

On a lighter note:

The 'Harem Scarem' Please Release It Under One Name Award: Honeymoon Suite - for Honeymoon Suite Lemon Tongue (Canada), Dreamland (Europe) and Dreamland (Canada)

The Welcome Back in 2003 Award: *TIE* Europe, Hugo, 220 Volt, Twisted Sister, White Sister, Freddy Curci, Brian Spence, Cats In Boots, TNT, FM and Living Color

The Please Go Away Again Award: The Doors.

The Just Release The Bloody Thing Already Award: Lots of deserving winners: Danger Danger - Rarities, Skid Row - Thick Is The Skin; and from last year - still waiting for Millenium's Covers Album!

The Just Finish The Bloody Record Already Award: House Of Lords, Danny Danzi, Johnny Lima, Diving For Pearls, Millenium's covers album!

Due in 2006 Award: Van Halen - But will they get it together by then?

Best Packed Album With Cool Bonus Stuff Award: Racer X for their new album packaged with no less than a bonus double live album. Makes that Japanese retail price a little less ugly! Runners up: Unruly Child for that cool DVD and Tom Cochrane for the bonus 7 track live CD on his new Greatest Hits package.

The Too Much Weed Smoking 'I'm Paranoid' Award: Jorn Lande for quitting Millenium, Ark and firing his solo band.

The Screw What The Readers Want Award: Classic Rock Magazine for putting together a tasteful AOR feature only to edit out anything that made the scene look positive and then refused to cover the Gods 2002 gig.

The 'Yngwie J Egosteen' Award For Best Backstage Antics: Axl Rose/Guns N Roses - for not evening making it backstage on more than one occasion during the all too breif US tour!

The 'UFO' Award For Best Onstage Antics: *TIE* Vince Neil for calling his fans in Colorado a bunch of losers and storming off the stage and Don Dokken for storming on stage demanding the support act get off after running over time.

The 'Mutt Lange' Production Award For Slowest Album Recording Process: *TIE* Danny Danzi & Johnny Lima - Winners for the second year running!!! Both artists are perfectionists and both continue to work on their new albums! Whenever your ready guys!

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: David Lee Roth for suing Van Halen for unpaid royalties. That'll help the re-union!

Vocalist Of The Year: Jeff Scott Soto for his amazing work on Humanimal, his own solo album, a new live Talisman album and an awesome live performance at the Gods 2002. Plus more to come in 2003!

The Best Producer Award: Jim Peterik and Larry Millas for the amazing work on Mecca's debut. Other notable efforts Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance, Mike Tramp & Westworld.

Worst Albums of the Year:
Always popular - Corey Feldman (someone gave him money to record that!), Last Hard Men (ditto), John Oates and John Fanham.

The 'Japanese Label' one last cash-in award:. Castle Music for still producing those Magnum Best Of's.

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album in 2003 Award: Styx, Bruce Springsteen, Dio, Kiss, Goo Goo Dolls & Yngwie Malmsteen - Just some guesses!
Of those nominated last year - Dream Theater and Styx did, Mr. Big did a DVD instead and Kiss took a year off - but only because the label and band couldn't agree.

The Best Noticeboard Username for 2001 Award: Swami Prabhavananda Runners up: Monkey Nuts, Doctor Doom's Rumour Surgery, Bighairnolonger & frehleysvomit.

The Beat The Bootleggers Award: *TIE* The Scream and Sayit for making full albums available for download via their websites.

The Best Website Award: Ebay Seems melodic rock & AOR really featured heavily on EBay in 2002 and I am guilty of parting with a little too much cash for a few OOP gems!

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award: Reginaldo "AOR" Rod.
Oh boy, where do I start! This year's Dickhead Of The Year Award was decided months ago and remained several miles ahead of his nearest competitor. The feedback I get over each year is 99% fantastic, but there's always one isn't there?
well, this year's winner - Brazilian trader AOR ROD (otherwise known as José Moreira Da Silva or Reginaldo Rod) single handedly caused more disruption to the site than any other individual user in the history of the site.
He is without question the single most hated person within the AOR trading network, ripping off countless people over a number of years.
From time to time he pops his head up looking for fresh prey, but most folk know him all too well these days. He was banned again from both my message boards, but after an admin error allowed him back in, he proceeded to post 100 messages at a time on a daily basis for several weeks. He also hit the Noticeboard, but has been successfully eradicated from that board. He caused the Trading Board to crash, which in turn, lead to it being replaced, so I guess some good came out of it!
But being banned from both boards wasn't enough....then he proceeded to mail bomb both my e-mail accounts, with hundreds more messages - all the same. I had to get e-mail filters installed with my ISP to bounce all his messages back to him.
But that wasn't enough either....he then began e-mailing other sites under my name telling them how crap I thought my own site was....LOL....only he didn't spell my name correctly.

So, here are a few examples of his classy e-mails to me and to the various message boards. Keep in mind that each message was sent around 150 times and several more were deleted before I started saving the odd few for this award!
A true dickhead if ever there was one!

I hate to say this, but your site is much better and nicer than my horrible Melodic Rock page!!!
P.S. Viva Brazil!!

Hey dear Sir Andrew McNeice &!!! Education is always good and I like too!!! You is a stupid person...?!! Greetings from BRAZIL!!! Thank you!!!

Hello dear buddy Andrew McNeice,
Your friend Reginaldo Rod. & AOR ROD. from BRAZIL wants you to check out the cool "Signs" website (http// ! Click the link below, or copy and paste it into your web browser, to experience the mysterious and thrilling world of "Signs"!

Andrew McNeice,
Reginaldo Rod. has vital information that you need to be aware of. Follow this news link to find out what it is..
You Can't Hide
Get Ready to Run
June 21, 2002

I love you Andrew J. McNeice...
Hi dear dude Andrew J. McNeice...
Hehehe...YESSSSSSSSS! AOR ROD. is back...Thanks a lot for the warning too. I love you Andrew J. McNeice...
Your brazilian baby...

2003: The Year Ahead

2003 looks great for fans of hard music. Already there are indications that it could be as good as 2002 for variety and quality and possibly even better.
AOR fans have some hot new albums to look forward to. I have already heard the huge On The Rise debut and the new Jim Jidhed. Both will be hard to beat for pure AOR brilliance and prove that great AOR is still being made.
Lec Zorn Project is pure Survivor style 80's AOR, as is the new Josh Ramos project Ramos and the excellent new Departure album. Ambition (Thom Griffin, Joe Vana) looks like being Mecca's sequel, and could also rank as one of the best AOR albums of 2003. And don't rule out Jim Peterik's project in progress, which sounds like it will be right up there.
Mike Tramp is even more enthusiastic about this new album then the last. It's being mixed in Berlin right now, so I hope to have a copy by the end of the month at the latest!
So what else do melodic rock and AOR fans have to look forward to? How about new albums from Styx, Mark Spiro, Dare, Bob Catley, Alliance, Drive She Said, First Shot, Diving For Pearls, Khymera, Gotthard, Pride, Radioactive, Hugo, Mickey Thomas, Michael Sembello, House Of Lords, Heart, Meatloaf, Harem Scarem, Brian McDonald, Firehouse, House Of Shakira, Vaughn and Glen Burtnik.
And I couldn't go any further without predicting Rick Springfield's new album will be an absolute classic. Rick describes the new demos as "..3 minute angry rock songs.." - yeah, baby, yeah...

Nu-breed fans have their own range of hit titles to look forward to. Atenzia Records are embracing this format without forgetting classic melodic rock, which I think is a great thing to do - not to mention an intelligent balanced approach.
They have 40ft Ringo to kick things off - a great album - but I hope the widespread circulation of the band's great demo's will not hurt sales of the finished product. They also have Mitch Malloy's new project Fluid Sol, which sees Mitch crossing over to the nu-side. Add new comers Sweet Water and Melodine - no word on these guys yet, but they sound promising. Watch these releases!
And don't forget Paul Laine's new band - from the demo's I heard (over the phone!), this will be a nu-monster! Atenzia are also behind the new Mars Electric album.
Now & Then will offer us Harry Hess' solo debut, which from what I have heard will be a power pop monster. The three demos I heard were instantly catchy and even more pop than Rubber.
There will be another Harem Scarem album recorded soon - the guys bound to differ things again a little - that should be out late 2003 and a major highlight! The band's drummer Creighton Doane has his own solo album planned - another power pop styled release, which should be another worthy highlight.
Other nu-breed to watch for - Everclear, Avril Lavigne (late 2003...if it gets done in time), Kick, Vertical Horizon, Supermint, Colin Blades and former Candlebox singer Kevin Martin.
Coming out of Australia will be Red Circle, a band that you will be hearing more of in the future and hopefully Square One - another bright hope - will complete their debut album.

Just to the side of AOR and nu-breed, are the pure pop releases. And there are a couple of them due in 2003. None bigger than a new Nelson album, which better get released! How about Duran Duran's reformed comeback album? Or Fleetwood Mac? Hall & Oates are back in February and if their last album is anything to go by, this will be another great slice of mature pop rock. Raine might also surprise pop rock fans and also watch for new albums by Bob Segar, Bryan Adams, U2 and Inxs.

For those that like it hard and heavy, 2003 has more for you also. Watch for new albums by Lynch/Pilson, AC/DC, Zebra, Seven Wishes, Damned Nation, Talisman, Black Label Society, Autograph, Thunder, Queensryche, Guns N Roses, Britny Fox, Skid Row, Leif Johansen, Tesla, Hodson, Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner, HTP, Von Groove, Gary Hughes, Ten, Anthrax, Metallica, TNT (EP) and Masterplan.

So you've read through the 2002 Summary and seen what became of my predictions from last year - what's going to happen in 2003?

Predictions? (No this is not news - it's just some crystal ball gazing...)
- The Guns N Roses album will get postponed again and if released, won't be until late 2003 at the earliest. 2003 tour dates will be a similar disaster to 2002.
- The Slash and fellow ex-Gunners album will get better reviews than Gunners themselves.
- Skid Row won't find a label for their new album (unless Spitfire step in), will release it themselves (finally) and will re-unite with Sebastian Bach for the summer of 2004.
- Judas Priest will start talking with Rob Halford again.
- Eddie Van Halen will do a few more guest spots, but come no closer to talking about the band, or getting a new singer. No new VH in 2003.
- Sony will release another Toto compilation.
- BMG will release another Rick Springfield compilation.
- A new nu-breed band will break through for a US #1 album.
- Boston will only play a few select dates - no big tour.
- Metallica's album will under-achieve.
- The biggest melodic rock tours of 2003 will be the Meatloaf, Whitesnake and Styx tours.
- Biggest tour of all: Duran Duran
- Sammy Hagar will release some sort of new album / Van Halen won't.
- Bobby Kimball will release a new solo album / Toto won't.
- Jim Peterik will release a new album / Survivor won't.
- House Of Lords will finally release their new album / Bourgeois Pigs won't.
- Bobby Barth will release an album / Axe won't.
- Kelly Keagy will release a new studio album / Night Ranger won't.
- Dare: even money on whether the album will be released this year or next!
- Planet Us will not tour (just a hunch)

2003's Best Albums?
AOR - On The Rise, Jim Jidhed, Ambition, Jim Peterik, Departure....Urban Tale already qualifies.
Melodic Rock - Rick Springfield, Harem Scarem, Diving For Pearls, Dare, Mike Tramp, House Of Lords, Pride, Styx, Alliance, Hugo, Glen Burtnik, Brian McDonald, House Of Shakira...Unruly Child already qualifies.
Nu-Breed - Harry Hess, 40ft Ringo, Sweet Water, Melodine, Paul Laine, Kick.
Hard Rock - Talisman, Masterplan, Glenn Hughes, HTP, Thunder, Lynch/Pilson, Tesla, TNT (EP)
Pop - Hall & Oates, Inxs, Nelson

Albums that might not make the December 31 deadline (for whatever reasons): Mickey Thomas, Michael Sembello, Firehouse, Guns N Roses, Creighton Doane, Avril Lavigne.

Just before I finish this wrap up - what about the labels themselves? What are they looking forward to in 2002? I thought I would find out!

Mario Lehmann - MTM MUSIC
1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
1. SNOWY WHITE - Restless, 2. PETER GREEN - Best Of, 3. MAURO GIULIANI - Concerto A.dur op. 30
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!

Khalil Turk - ESCAPE MUSIC
1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
1-Heartland, 2-Grand Illusion, 3-FURY, 4-Total Stranger, 5-Sugarcreek
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!?
Phantoms Opera, Shadowman, Aftermath, Newman

1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
Harem Scarem Weight Of The World, Hardline II, Journey Red 13, Mecca S/t, Mollo / Martin The Cage 2
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
No favourite from our label & I love them all!
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
Def Leppard X , Taxiride Garage Mahal , Westworld Cyberdreams , Hughes/Turner HTP , Matchbox Twenty More Than You Think You Are , Goo Goo Dolls Gutterflower ; Jars Of Clay The Eleventh Hour & I may forget some though...
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
Some of them have not been announced yet so I won t make any name. Out of the ones announced I d say a quest between Ambition and House Of Lords (yes this one WILL be out in 2003!!!).

Your favourite releases of the year?
For myself Hardline was a special one as we have worked so hard on this and the result has been very positive. Other personal favourites include Mecca and Jeff Scott Soto. Journey has been a dream come true and I hope to do more for them in the future!
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
Def Leppard "X"; Pink, Westworld, Jennifer Paige, Hughes / Turner
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
As Mario said I am SURE this year will be the one for House Of Lords return. We hope all the work and inputs we have made on this one will be really well received. We have about 4 or 5 new amazing signings to shoot, but this will be revealed very soon after the Christmas holidays. One nice exclusive I can give you is the signing of the brand new Glen Hughes album to be released in June 2003 on Frontiers Records.
Glen promised to deliver a kick-ass melodic hard rock album so we are all hopeful he can be out big ace this year. All details to be announced soon!
I also wish to mention a few other upcoming great releases such as the newcomers On The Rise, Talisman, Zion and Khymera... I hope our releases made everyone rock during 2002 and be sure we'll give you a lot of good times in the coming year as well !!!!

Mark Ashton - NOW & THEN RECORDS
1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
I guess Mario already answered this one!
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
Harem Scarem, Mecca, Last Tribe, Jeff Scott Soto, Pulse and I thought Lost Weekend really stepped up a level with their album. They will continue to grow and should be given a chance by more people.
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
Faith Hill, Spock`s Beard, Loud & Clear, Threshold, Westworld, Taxiride, Grand Illusion, Disturbed, Star One, Seven and The Sun. Others worthy of note were Venice, Meniketti, Shy and Highway 9.
Oh and Audiovent was good, but not as good as Harem there, Surfpunk! :-)
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
We`ve got some great albums lined up for 2003. The new Ken Tamplin album is simply melodic hard rock perfection with powerful AC/DC like rhythms and huge Whitesnake/House Of Lords choruses plus a list of guitarists to die for.
Harry Hess` solo album will please most Harem Scarem fans plus those who were more accepting of the Rubber era and a lot of nu-breed/Jellyfish fans.
Gary Hughes` "Once And Future King" opus will finally be released and all I can say is that the material is stunning.It`s the first time new Ten guitarist Chris Francis will have been heard within a `song` context on record and he does not disappoint.
Bob Catley`s new album will please all his existing fan base and maybe even open up a new audience as Paul Hodson`s material retains the elements we all loved on his first thre solo albums whilst adding a classic rock (a la Dio/Rainbow) feel in places.
The same can be said of the Hodson album which will be one of the big surprises of 2003 along with the brilliant debut album from Spanish sensations Nexx. Their "Colours" album is a joy to behold from start to finish and truly lives up to the potential shown to everyone who has seen them perform live. The production is clear and crisp, the performances even better than we imagined (especially considering most of the band had never been in a `real` studio before) and the songs are as good as any other band out there whilst not sounding particularly like anyone else. If AOR has a future then it`s bands like Nexx who could supply it as long as people give them a chance.
Another act worth giving a chance is Burns Blue, featuring Vinny Burns (Dare/Ten) and Sam Blue (YaYa/Ultravox). They have just been putting down the rhythm tracks for their debut album, "What If", with Pete Jupp (Wildlife/FM/So!) and Bob Skeat ( Wildlife/So!/Wishbone Ash). The album is really coming to life now and it will definitely surprise quite a few people. There are some pure AOR/Melodic ROck tracks as one would expect but there are definite influences from Aerosmith/AC/DC in the rhythm section and Tom Petty/Paul Gilbert in the song structures. The material sounds lik eit will really work well in the live setting and as long as people are willing to approach it with an open mind and not expect some rehashed Dare/Ten songs then this will be in many top tens of the year.
2003 will also see the release of Johnny Lima`s long awaited new album, "Made In California". OK, he`s taken a long time to record this one but he`s been a tad busy with his personal life (the small matters of getting married, having/bringing up a baby and moving house!) and it will be worth the wait. The songs are as catchy as ever but this time the sonic quality will match the material.
We also aim to release several albums featuring Ralph Santolla in the coming year. As well as the Millenium covers album, we hope to release a new album from the band (for which the music is already written) and a new Eyewitness album (for which everything is written and it`s simply a matter of scheduling the recording).
Towards the Autumn of the year there will be a new Harem Scarem album, which we plan to take the band up a notch with. "Weight Of The World" was a huge critical and commercial success for the label and the next album will be even more so, we are confident.
Some other new artists to watch out for in 2003 are Hysteria (some of you will have seen them at The Gods and been impressed with their amazing musicianship and quality songwriting) and Livesay who are a great band from the U.S. with progressive hard rock pomposity meets Leatherwolf/Impelliterri guitarwork meets Y&T style melodic rock choruses. These guys will make a big splash this coming year.
"I also think that Escape should be highly commended on the Tribute to Boston that they released. It was obviously lovingly put together with great performances and a love of the music at heart. Probably the best tribute album so far."

Bruce Mee / NOW & THEN
Your favourite releases of the year?
Harem Scarem, Talon, Mecca, Pulse, Lost Weekend
Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
Loud & Clear, Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, Jaded Heart, Avantasia
What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
Gary Hughes - King Arthur project, Ten album - with new guitarist, Burns/Blue - amazing stuff. Fair Warning meets FM/Dare, Harem Scarem new album, Bob Catley new album (with Paul Hodson writing the songs), Kane Roberts solo album (follow up to 'Saints & Sinners', with Desmond Child, Kip Winger, Steve Vai etc), Saracen new album 'RED SKY' (reformed after 20 years. Epic rock!!), Gods DVD releases
Hopefully, another Gods festival at some point!!

Mark Alger - Z RECORDS
1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
Westwolrd, Shy , Silent Rage, Humanimal and 21 Guns where our top albums.
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
I think it would be unfair to answer this question as I believe in all of our acts hence why I signed them ;o)
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
1] Sammy Hagar - Not For Sale, 2] Valentine - Believing is seeing, 3] Def Leppard - X, 4] Pretty Maids - Planet Panic
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
We have many things that are yet to be announced, but I guess the new releases from TNT, LRT and Prophet will shake a few trees. 2003 will be a fantastic year for the label we are already confident of that fact.

1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
ADRIANGALE "ReProgram", TNA "Finger On The Trigger", RAIN "House Of Dreams", BARON "Love Valley", FUNNY MONEY "S/T"
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
ADRIANGALE "ReProgram" BARON "Love Valley" Rain "House of Dreams"
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
JSS "Prism", DAMNED NATION "Grand Design" , HAREM SCAREM "w.o.w", Butch Walker, D2 "C-Roach", there are so many! We will just leave it with that!
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
The most anticipated release right now without a doubt would have to be, PYN SIREN!!!! The response on the two MP3s that you made available to your site visitors has been overwhelming. We wanted to end the year with it, but due to the manufacturing delays we will kick of the NEW year with this great release instead of ending the past one with it. We are also very much looking fwd to NO MORE JOHNNY, DAMN CHEETAH(Finally ready for release!!!) As well as a few others we arent ready to announce just yet. You can also expect some NEW things from Adriangale in the new year as well.
To all the labels, magazines,websites, web dwellers, stores and bands...Heres to a great new year

Dane Spencer - SONG HAUS MUSIC
1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
1.1.speedway blvd, 2.Brad Love-Through Another Door, 3.Airborne-The Dig, 4. Daniel Ash-Foolish Thing Desire, 5. Silver Condor-Trouble at Home
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
Tie: Airborne-The Dig, Brad Love-Through Another Door
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
1. Beck-Sea Changes, 2. Queens of the Stoneage-Songs for the deaf, 3. Chris Robinson-New Earth Mud.
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
1. Ken Tamplin-Wake the Nations, 2. New Machine-S/T

1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
Zinny J Zan/The Erotics/The Bang Gang/Electric Magic Sideshow/Needle Park.
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
Zinny J Zan 'City Boy Blues' and Needle Park 'C'mon Get Real' stand-out.
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
Butch Walker 'Left Of Self Centered'/Eric Martin 'Going Sane'/LA Guns 'Waking The Dead'/Gemini 5 's/t'/
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
Mars Needs Women were extremely anticipating due to the extremely talented frontman Shawn Mars and his incredible knack for hooky/melodic rock songs.. as well as Romeo's Dead and the Babylon Bombs. Philadelphia's Midnight Angel are also a stand-out band in the hard rock vein. And a early spring release of Castle Blak 'Glamour And Damnation'..and much more planned from FastLane Records for 2003 as well.

1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
1. George Lynch 2. Pretty Boy Floyd 3. Bruce Kulick 4. Warrant 5. Every Mother's Nightmare
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
too many to name
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
Giant III , Broken Teeth 'Guilty Pleasure', Shameless 'Splashed'
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
More great music that people can enjoy!!! Pretty Boy Floyd, EMN, Roxx Gang, Hollywood Hairspray II, etc...

1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!

1 - What were your label's best selling releases of the year?
Richie Kotzen - Slow, Mike Terrana - Shadows of the Past, James Byrd - Anthem, Star Queen - Faithbringer, Chris Poland - Return to Metaliopolis 2002
2 - Your favourite releases of the year?
Jason Becker Tribute vol II
3 - Favorite releases of the year that were NOT on your label?
The last Dream Theater album
4 - What you are most anticipating from your label scheduled for 2003!!
New releases from Empire, Winterlong, Section A; Mattsson, Condition Red...

Our top sellers are 1. Cry Havoc, 2. Ivory Tower
My favorite release for none other then our first is Mystery Bloom.
For other releases I liked AdrianGale - ReProgram, Julliet, Nightengale.
We anticpate a bigger presence in the indie industry, more releases and to become a biggr player in the melodic scene.

Rank, Post & Vote!
Hope you have all enjoyed the 2002 run down!
Let me know what you think!



The Best Music of 2003



Pride Of Lions

Pride Of Lions

This was a line-ball decision. Harem scored the only perfect 100 this year, with POL next in line with a 99. But come the end of the year, I felt that overall, this album gave me and many fans the best enjoyment and value for money in 2003. It was a fan pleaser, and really showed that traditional AOR/melodic rock can be a force, if done well.




Harem Scarem


A perfect 100 score for a perfect album. Another classy effort, filled with songwriting brilliance, proving that melodic rock can still sound classic while moving in a forward direction. I found this album to be a cool alternative to the more traditional approach by Pride Of Lions. Chock full of anthems and big choruses, Harem can do no wrong in my book. Except maybe make an album that runs a bit longer!







Permission To Build

This year's best new band on the scene and also this year's best nu/modern rockers, even though the real vibe of the album is just an updated version of classic melodic rock a la Rick Springfield. A band that really believes in what they are doing and playing. Great melodies, great choruses, great fun - these boys will be huge!.




On The Rise

On The Rise

OTR are another new band that made a spectacular debut in 2003, but have recently split. That casts a bit of a cloud over their achievements, releasing one of the best AOR debut's in recent years, which is full to the brim with breezy, feel good pop/rock anthems.


Bob Catley

When Empires Burn

Another veteran of the melodic scene made his best ever solo album this year. Bob's album was brilliant in every way - from the production, to the song style and delivery. The force behind the music was Paul Hodson, who deserves equal credit. The magic of the album is completed with a flawless performance by all.




Nexx - Colours





Vertigo - Vertigo




Attraction 65 - Attraction 65




Shugaazer - Shift




Masterplan - Masterplan

11 Johnny Lima - Made In California 
12 Jim Jidhed - Full Circle 
13 Radioactive - Yeah 
14 Glenn Hughes - Songs In the Key Of Rock 
15 Talisman - Cats & Dogs 
16 Cornerstone - Once Upon Our Yesterdays 
17 Cauterize - So Far From Real 
18 Thunder - Shooting At The Sun  
19 Styx - Cyclorama 
20 Firehouse - Prime Time


21 Colin Blades - Colin Blades
22 Eric Martin - Destroy All Monsters
23 Mike Tramp - More To Life Than This
24 Kee Marcello - Melon Demon Divine
25 Brian McDonald - Voyage
26 Ken Tamplin - Wake The Nations
27 Once And Future King - Part 1 & 2
28 Brazen Abbot - Guilty As Sin
29 Perfect World - Perfect World
30 Burns Blue - What If


Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Khymera - Khymera
  • Skid Row - Thickskin
  • Newman - Sign Of The Modern Times
  • Mars Electric - Fame Among The Vulgar
  • Ramos - Living In The Light
  • Harry Hess - Just Another Day
  • Miles Above - Further
  • Hughes Turner Project - 2
  • Pride - Signs Of Purity
  • Urban Tale - Signs Of Times
  • Unruly Child - UCIII
  • Mike Tramp - Rock N Roll Alive
  • Skin & Bones - Speak Easy
  • Last Tribe - The Uncrowned
  • Toto - Live In Amsterdam
  • Damn Cheetah - Primal
  • Sun Caged - Sun Caged
  • Alice Cooper - The Eyes Of Alice Cooper
  • Petra - Jeckyl & Hyde
  • Zon - 2 CD Reissue
  • Vertical Horizon - Go
  • Rob Rock - Eyes Of Eternity
  • Billy Falcon - Songs About Girls
  • Kiss - Kiss Symphony (Alive IV)
  • Joe Lyn Turner - JLT
  • Crystal Blue - Detour
  • Cage - Darker Than Black
  • Circle II Circle - Watching In Silence
  • Royal Hunt - Eye Witness
  • 40ft Ringo - Funny Thing
  • Gotthard - Human Zoo
  • Hall & Oates - Do It For Love
  • Drive She Said - Real Life
  • Krokus - Rock The Block
  • Departure - Corporate Wheel
  • Phantom's Opera - Act IV
  • Frontline - Almost Unreleased
  • Ignition - Ignition
  • Mikael Erlandsson - The Gift
  • XYZ - Letter To God
  • TNT - Taste EP
  • Pride Of Lions - Sound Of Home EP 


(Ranked In Order)


  1. Masterplan - Masterplan
  2. Cornerstone - Once Upon Our Yesterdays
  3. Once & Future King - Parts 1 & 2
  4. Brazen Abbot - Guilty As Sin
  5. Hughes Turner Project - 2
  6. Last Tribe - The Uncrowned
  7. Royal Hunt - Eye Witness
  8. Cage - Darker Than Black
  9. Rob Rock - Eyes Of Eternity
  10. Circle II Circle - Watching In Silence  
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Pride Of Lions - Pride Of Lions
  2. On The Rise - On The Rise
  3. Nexx - Colours
  4. Vertigo - Vertigo
  5. Johnny Lima - Made In California
  6. Jim Jidhed - Full Circle
  7. Urban Tale - Signs Of Times
  8. Ramos - Living In The Light
  9. Newman - Sign Of The Modern Times
  10. Pride - Signs Of Purity
  11. Departure - Corporate Wheel 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Waltham - Permission To Build
  2. Shugaazer - Shift
  3. Attraction 65 - Attraction 65
  4. Cauterize - So Far From Real
  5. Harry Hess - Just Another Day
  6. Mars Electric - Fame Among The Vulgar
  7. Miles Above - Further
  8. 40ft Ringo - Funny Thing
  9. Vertical Horizon - Go
  10. Jamie Meyer - It's All About Me 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Pride Of Lions - Sound Of Home
  2. Harem Scarem - Waited
  3. Shugaazer - Something Worth Waiting For
  4. Waltham - So Lonely
  5. Pride Of Lions - It's Criminal
  6. Harem Scarem - Lost
  7. On The Rise - Lift You Up
  8. Jim Jidhed - Full Circle
  9. Nexx - Arches of Faith
  10. Bob Catley - I'll Be Your Fool
  11. TNT - Live Today
  12. Attraction 65 - In Another Life
  13. Shugaazer - Beautiful
  14. Vertigo - Not Enough Hours In The Night
  15. Skid Row - Born A Beggar
  16. Waltham - All I Want Is You
  17. Harem Scarem - Lies
  18. Once And Future King, Part 1 - Danny Vaughn - Avalon
  19. Vertigo - Straight To Your Heart
  20. On The Rise - Pride
  21. Waltham - Cheryl
  22. Cauterize - Something Beautiful
  23. Masterplan - Enlighten Me
  24. Johnny Lima - Best Night Of My Life
  25. Harry Hess - Miles Away
  26. Eric Martin - What's The Worst That Could Happen
  27. Cornerstone - Man Without A Reason
  28. Newman - Last Known Survivors
  29. Khymera - Living With A Memory
  30. Thunder - Loser
  31. Harry Hess - Everybody
  32. Waltham - Hopeless
  33. Pride - Say Your Not Lonely
  34. Glenn Hughes - In My Blood
  35. Talisman - Sorry
  36. Jim Jidhed - I'll Be Ready Then
  37. Perfect World - Here With Me
  38. Cheap Trick - Scent Of A Woman
  39. Firehouse - Crash
  40. Brazen Abbot - Mr Earthman 
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Colin Blades - Been Too Long
  • Clay Aiken - Invisible
  • Kee Marcello - Hey Romeo
  • Johnny Lima - Another Girl
  • Vertigo - Never Let You Go
  • Brazen Abbot - Bring The Colours Home
  • Crystal Blue - Back On Track
  • Radioactive - I Should Have Known Better
  • Bob Catley - Gonna Live Forever
  • Masterplan - Enlighten Me
  • Departure - Sacrifice
  • 40ft Ringo - Book Of Virtues
  • Cauterize - If You Go
  • Pride Of Lions - Interrupted Melody
  • Miles Above - Further
  • Hughes Turner Project - Revelation
  • Ken Tamplin - Falling Houses
  • Styx - Kiss Your Ass Goodbye
  • Styx - One With Everything
  • Shugaazer - Song 4 Lennon
  • Shugaazer - Enough
  • 40ft Ringo - Anyway
  • Drive She Said - Real Life
  • Radioactive - Don't Give Up
  • Delp & Goodreau - What You Leave Behind
  • On The Rise - Beat Of Your Heart
  • On The Rise - Memories of Forever
  • On The Rise - Leaps & Bounds
  • Skin & Bones - Mr. Downtown
  • Secret Smile - Into The Night
  • Last Tribe - Healer
  • Last Tribe - The Chosen One
  • Last Tribe - Sacrifice
  • Eric Martin - I Woke Up Too Late
  • Eric Martin - Janie Won't Open
  • Cornerstone - Welcome To Forever
  • Cornerstone - When The Hammer Falls
  • Cornerstone - Hour Of Doom
  • Johnny Lima - We've Got Tonight
  • Johnny Lima - Something About You
  • Johnny Lima - Where Are You Now?
  • Damn Cheetah - Without Your Love
  • Damn Cheetah - Forever And A Day
  • Pride Of Lions - Last Safe Place
  • Pride Of Lions - First Time Around The Sun
  • Pride Of Lions - Gone
  • Perfect World - Leaving Lonely
  • Perfect World - Just Like A Pill
  • The Darkness - Growing On Me
  • Colin Blades - All I Ever Ask
  • Colin Blades - Far Far Away
  • Colin Blades - Million Miles
  • Miles Above - Me & You
  • Miles Above - When You Hold My Hand
  • Dreamtide - Dream Real
  • Vertical Horizon - When You Cry
  • Vertical Horizon - I'm Still Here
  • Firehouse - Body Language
  • Firehouse - Perfect Lie
  • Once And Future King - Part 2 - DC Cooper - Kill The King
  • Once And Future King - Part 2 - Gary Hughes - There By The Grace Of God
  • Once And Future King - Part 2 - Doogie White - The Hard Way
  • Once And Future King - Part 1 - Gary Hughes & Lana Lane - At The End Of The Day
  • Hughes Turner Project - Alone I Breathe
  • Hughes Turner Project - Going My Way
  • Cauterize - My Everything
  • Cauterize - Killing Me
  • Harem Scarem - Run & Hide
  • Harem Scarem - Gone
  • Attraction 65 - Train
  • Attraction 65 - Rise Above
  • Attraction 65 - Swept Away
  • Rob Rock - Eyes Of Eternity
  • Rob Rock - Rock The Earth
  • Outland - One More Night
  • Outland - Love Alive
  • Outland - Valerie
  • Robin Black - Suburban Sci-Fi
  • Skid Row - Ghost
  • Skid Row - One Light
  • Newman - Save Me Tonight
  • Newman - Watching You
  • Richie Kotzen - Get A Life
  • Cheap Trick - Too Much
  • Kee Marcello - Enemies
  • Kee Marcello - EMD
  • Brazen Abbot - Eyes On The Horizon
  • Brazen Abbot - Slip Away
  • Waltham - Back To You
  • Ramos - Don't Go
  • Ramos - Living In The Light
  • Joe Lyn Turner - In Cold Blood
  • Joe Lyn Turner - Love Don't Live Here
  • Pride - Could You Believe
  • Mars Electric - Descend
  • Mars Electric - Bemused
  • Crystal Blue - Damage
  • Crystal Blue - Move On
  • Circle II Circle - Into The Wind
  • Royal Hunt - Can't Let Go
  • Royal Hunt - The Prayer
  • Glenn Hughes - Lost In the Zone
  • Glenn Hughes - Standing On The Rock
  • Glenn Hughes - Gasoline
  • Emerald Rain - Wanted To Believe
  • Burns Blue - Straight
  • Burns Blue - Don't Wanna Know
  • Burns Blue - Deadly Sin
  • Talisman - Break It Down
  • Talisman - Outta My Way
  • Brian McDonald - Where Are You Where Am I
  • Brian McDonald - In The Shadows Of Angels
  • Brian McDonald - The Night You Said Goodbye
  • TNT - Satellite
  • Nexx - Remember
  • Nexx - Wake Up
  • Bob Catley - Someday Utopia
  • Bob Catley - Every Beat Of Your Heart
  • Ken Tamplin - The Story Of Love
  • Ken Tamplin - We've Jihad Enough
  • Radioactive - 7 AM
  • XYZ - All I'm Asking
  • Harry Hess - Just Another Day
  • Khymera - Love Leads The Way
  • Khymera - Who's Gonna Love You Tonight
  • Mike Tramp - More To Life Than This
  • Mike Tramp - I Wont Let Go
  • Mike Tramp - The Good The Sad The Ugly
  • Gotthard - Human Zoo
  • Gotthard - What I Like
  • Gotthard - Top Of The World
  • Thunder - Shooting At The Sun
  • Thunder - Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor
  • 40ft Ringo - Inside Your Head
  • Hall & Oates - Do It For Love
  • Hall & Oates - Someday We'll Know
  • Hall & Oates - Forever For You
  • Drive She Said - What's It Gonna Take
  • Gary Moon - Call Of The Wild
  • Gary Moon - State Of The Heart
  • Wild Frontier - Wild Wind Blows
  • Nuclear Valdez - Wonderland
  • Styx - Do It My Way
  • Styx - Fields Of The Brave
  • Jim Jidhed - Falling In Love
  • Jim Jidhed - I Will Never leave You Now
  • Jim Jidhed - Anyway You Want It
  • Departure - Listen Yo What I Say
  • Departure - Time
  • Masterplan - Spirit Never Die
  • Masterplan - Kind Hearted Light
  • Masterplan - Into The Light
  • Phantom's Opera - Etched
  • Frontline - My Innocence
  • Ignition - Tell Me You're Mine
  • Ignition - Goodbye To The Good Times
  • Ignition - Fire With Fire
  • Mikael Erlandsson - Out Of Champagne
  • Mikael Erlandsson - Stop (Following Me)
  • Mikael Erlandsson - Million Dollar Girl
  • Unruly Child - Tear Me Down
  • Unruly Child - Falling
  • Unruly Child - Bring Me Home
  • Urban Tale - Starship of Giants
  • Urban Tale - Still Strong
  • Urban Tale - Open Your Heart
  • Thunder - Someone Get Me A Spin Doctor 


(Ranked In Order)


  1. Masterplan - Enlighten Me
  2. Brazen Abbot - Mr. Earthman
  3. Kee Marcello - Everyone Must Die
  4. Cornerstone - Welcome To Forever
  5. Masterplan - Spirit Never Die
  6. Royal Hunt - Can't Let Go
  7. Kee Marcello - Enemies
  8. Skid Row - Thick Is The Skin
  9. Dreamtide - Dream Real
  10. OAFK Part 1 - DC Cooper - Kill The King  
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Shugaazer - Something Worth Waiting For
  2. Cornerstone - Man Without A Reason
  3. Jim Jidhed - I'll Be Ready Then
  4. Pride Of Lions - Last Safe Place
  5. Harry Hess - Miles Away
  6. Attraction 65 - Swept Away
  7. Urban Tale - Still Strong
  8. Mike Tramp - The Good The Band & The Ugly
  9. Johnny Lima - We've Got Tonight
  10. Brian McDonald - The Night You Said Goodbye 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Waltham - So Lonely
  2. Waltham - All I Want Is You
  3. Cauterize - Something Beautiful
  4. Shugaazer - Beautiful
  5. 40ft Ringo - Book Of Virtues
  6. Mars Electric - Bemused
  7. Waltham - Cheryl
  8. Miles Above - Further
  9. Shugaazer - Enough
  10. Harry Hess - My Way 
2003 - Looking Back - The Year In Review

Firstly - the RIP list: 2003 was one of the worst years for losing those valuable to the music world. Not only that, but nearly 100 fans died in the Station Club Fire in Rhode Island.
RIP 2003 - Each and every soul lost in the Station Fire on February 20, 2003 including Jeff Radar and Ty Longley.
And....Bruce Waibel (Firehouse), Graham Bonnet's Dad - Lou, Michael Kamen, Tony Thompson (Power Station, The Distance, Chic), Guy Speranza (Riot), Steve Hoffman, JD Kimball (Omen), Robert Palmer, Shawn lane, Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon, Ado Makita (Sony Japan A&R), Greg Guidry, Erik Brann (Iron Butterfly), Bobby Thompson (Ozzy Tour Manager), John Purdell (Producer, Lou Gramm, Rick Springfield, Session Musician), Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix), Maurice Gibb and Matt Moffitt.

2003 was a challenging year to say the least. A number of curve balls were thrown during the year and one can only hope 2004 is a smoother ride for all.
Musically speaking 2003 was an underachieving year. There were of course some great albums released - that list is reflected above. But most of the big-gun releases for 2003 failed to materialize, or were disappointing. Some of those big releases have vanished altogether, but the majority have been bumped to 2004, so if this year materializes as planned, then it will be the best year for melodic rock since I started this site. 2002 currently holds that title.
I'll get to all the music for 2003 and 2004 shortly. There's a lot to get through. First, let's take a look at some of the events of 2003 and how they affected the scene as a whole and this site.

2003 was the hardest year I have experienced in dealing with this site and everything that entails. Keeping the site alive was harder than ever. Several other factors caused difficulties through the year.
The most upsetting was the February Rhode Island, Station Fire disaster, where nearly 100 dedicated rock n rollers lost their lives.
The fire, at a Great White show, was something that affected everyone involved in this tight knit community of fans and is something that I still can't believe. To try and write about it nearly 1 year on is no easier than it was on the day of the tragedy, which saw hits to my site top an all time record, as fans worldwide tuned in for updates.
I've spent the year promoting the Station Family Fund, which continues to raise money for the families of those affected by the tragedy. Don't forget them and never forget the souls of those who perished.

That fire indirectly affected this site, as Great White's record label (Knight Records) were at the time a sponsor of the site. Naturally their attention was diverted elsewhere after the fire, but I thank them for their time with the site.

As far as other extraordinary occurrences go, the biggie for the year was the whole Z Records circus. I have never seen anything like the events that followed a number of artists coming out against their own label and doubt I ever will again.
In January, a group of Z Records artists put out a press release, raising their concerns over numerous questionable business practices and failed obligations. The artists were led by Tommy Denander and Marcel Jacob, but joined also by members of Humanimal, Great King Rat, Human Race, Eclipse, Southpaw, Damned Nation, Amaze Me, Snakes In Paradise, plus Pontus Norgren and Ricky Delin.
I initially tried to stay out of the argument. I thought it best that the situation was dealt with by the label and the artists themselves, but agreed to leave the Noticeboard free as a forum for debate.
My initial reservations about doing this were soon realized, as the forum quickly descended into mass chaos. Some of the debate was healthy and needed, but much of it wasn't any better than a playground fight. Some 1800 posts relating to the Z Records debate were posted, with the arguments continuing for some months!
But the Noticeboard debate did serve some purpose, as several other artists joined in with similar complaints. Several magazines such as Powerplay, Sweden Rock Magazine and Rock It! joined in to say none of them deal with Z any longer.
Over the course of the time that followed the initial burst of publicity, other artists voiced their concerns.
The list of above artists weren't the only ones to leave Z in 2003. Over the course of the year Danny Danzi, Phil Naro, Danny Vaughn, Shiva, Seven Wishes and Shy all left the label.

At the time Z Records were a sponsor of this site as they were over the last few years. I was really disappointed that the label chose the path of inaction. Following the release of the artists' statement, I thought the label should have made some effort to rectify the problems publically, through some sort of defense or explination. That didn't happen and with that and a few other factors in mind, I chose to cut my formal ties with the label.

What else happened in 2003? I released my first ever CD - Volume 1 "Revealed & Revisited".
It was another idea to keep the site alive and running! The work that went into putting that together gave me a new insight into another area of the industry I work in, not to mention being a huge learning curve. I made a few mistakes, plus there's a few typos in the booklet which was disappointing, but like I said - lessons learnt.
I'm still really proud of the end result and really hope I can keep it going as a series. But the amount of work needed to get it done and ready for release means it won't be a regular thing, that's for sure.
I must again thank the artists who said yes and followed that through to be included. There are many others that paid lip service to the idea, but never followed through. Hopefully you will see them on Volume 2 or 3!
For the record - I sold about 800 copies of the CD. Unlike most record labels, I am not scared to share those stats with you.

Moving on....Let's talk about the scene itself. Things continued in 2003 pretty much as they have been for the last couple of years.
CD Burning remains a problem, with MTM Music coming out with a statement asking fans not to. Good for them.
Frontiers Records have started adding extra content to that of the musical content on their major releases, with Vertigo an example of what they are trying to do - adding a video and interview footage to the CD release to encourage purchase of an original copy. Well done again, I hope it works. I think other labels may follow suit.
There remains the never ending question of how many releases = too many releases? That remains a hard question to answer. My belief has always been that market forces will dictate that. If the releases are good, they should theoretically sell and if they are not, they won't. Simple!
But there is always the question over whether some of the more deserving releases get the promotion they deserve. The labels concerned do their best, but hungry melodic rock fans seem content to devour what's on offer each month then move on to the next "in waiting" release. Music these days seems to have a short promotional lifespan.
One example I can think of - Harem Scarem's fabulous Higher didn't seem to create the buzz Weight Of The World did, despite being even more traditionally melodic in style.

The Gods 2003 was another awesome event, but the foot traffic didn't match that of the anniversary show the year before. That was expected and the show didn't disappoint, but fuck me people - an event of this type in any other genre of music would have sold out 2 days after it was announced. Where else would you find - anywhere in the world - an event that runs 2 days with 15 bands playing the greatest selection of music, all for the price of a slab of beer?
I'd love to see something like The Gods in the USA, but can't see how it will ever happen.

Classic Rock Magazine in the UK put together a horrid review of the Festival. The truth is that it was nothing short of an embarrassment to the magazine and the "writer" sent to attend. The review was full of inaccuracies and left out most of the bands that appeared over the weekend and was used as another tool for Classic Rock to take the piss out of the melodic music scene. But no amount of protesting or e-mail writing will change those guy's view of the scene, which is too bad, as there are readers out there that want such coverage and deserve to have it included without prejudice.

Talking of touring, on the way to The Gods, I saw the Journey, Styx & REO Speedwagon show in LA. That tour did great business and was attended by many classic rockers in the US. Pity these bands can't lower their requirements to do a European tour. Yes, they make great money in the USA, but a venture into Europe is long overdue and some of these bands (and others) would be wise to pay some respect to their European fans, as these are the guys that are still buying their records.

The LA show was at the huge Staples Center Arena and was chock full of fans of all three bands, singing along, waving hands and clapping for more. Sadly though, I think I was the only one standing while Journey played Higher Place and Styx played their couple of new tunes. Some asshole in front yelled out for Styx to play something he knew. What ignorance. But he was not alone. The band were selling copies of Cyclorama in the merch area, but the classic T's were what was being snapped up by all.
So here's an idea...with the cost of a concert ticket these days seemingly not stopping 30,000 LA area fans showing up for a show, why not increase (or incorporate) the price of the ticket to include a copy of the performing band's new CD?
With each ticket comes a copy of a new release, which fans can then take home and actually play and realize that new material has actually been recorded after 1985. What's more, get Soundscan to somehow accredit these sales and via them, a band could logically achieve a charting album, which in turn would place pressure on retailers to carry the title and programmers to play it! With such a concept in place, Styx's Cyclorama could have been a #1 record last summer. And it IS possible - check it out!

One of the biggest mail reactions I got in 2003 was from a story about an Asia gig in Minneapolis, with the Lec Zorn Project making their live debut as support act.
Only 40 odd people turned up to the gig and it seems most of them e-mailed, including the band, management, the gig organizer and more. Asia were in the midst of playing a series of low profile "lounge room" gigs, so they were unfazed and put on a professional show for those in attendance. Lec Zorn however, didn't have a good day, with his hired singer Casey Michaels half drunk and reading lyrics off cue sheets stuck to the floor. And Lec also stopped and re-started one song 3 separate times after the piped in intro was missed by Michaels. That didn't go down well with the crowd - at least not with those that e-mailed in. Oh well, everyone has their Spinal Tap moment, so I hope for Lec that his moment is now out of the way.

The other was The Darkness. I've got nothing against these guys, but the saddest things about them is that they attracted more passion (both for and against) during the year than any other melodic/AOR release. They are taking the piss - no matter what anyone says - and I don't think they will last any length in time. Now, I don't have anything against them, I think they are a lot of fun and good to get drunk to. But they won't save rock n roll. Not with a vocalist like that! It's a pity the best bands within this scene cannot get the same chance at the publicity The Darkness get.

There is something else I have to get off my chest. Press Releases. As a journalist, I have to deal with them on a daily basis. They get sent by labels, bands, PR people, fans, street team members, managers – you name it.
That's great – but seriously – they should all be required to pass through quality control procedures before continuing on to their destinations!
Some of these items that arrive in my in-box are simply unprintable! They either make no sense, or are written in pigeon English, are factually incorrect (with errors, overstatements or just flat out lies!) and then there are the ones that arrived without any punctuation!
Oh, and I can't forget the ones that mention the artist's name 25 times – as if you are going to forget who you are reading about!
I make reference to the fact some of the press releases are in pigeon English. I get many statements from non-English speaking countries. That's fine. But some of the worst offenders are from the USA! What's their excuse?! I spent far too long already correcting and re-writing press releases in order to make them good enough to be able to feature and be understood.
Basically, if companies want to look as professional as possible, then some form of improvement in what is currently being sent out to media worldwide! Ok, rant over….

Music Musings of 2003:
There were far too many tribute records released again - none of them near classic, with the barrel well and truly bled dry for artists worthy of such tributes. Those not yet paid tribute to that deserve it include Rick Springfield, Night Ranger, Mr. Big (oh, wait - they did that themselves) and David Cassidy (ok, so that one wasn't serious).
Coming in 2004 - at least 2 maybe even 3 Journey tributes and God knows who else...

Disappointments - musically speaking - of 2003: The new Meatloaf album didn't live up to expectations. Just what was he thinking doing a rap song? And has Bon Jovi totally lost contact with reality? What the hell were they thinking while recording This Left Feels Right? That album has sunk quicker than the Great Kat comeback and is currently being flogged via late night TV in the States. In Australia there wasn't even any press done for it. A bad sign in a previously solid market for the band. The album has sold half of what Bounce did, which sold half that of Crush.
Styx had possibly the worst excuse for live album in a long time via the horrible Sanctuary Records cash-in compile 21st Century Live.
Bonfire went modern and underachieved. Now, after everything that so many bands have done before them, why would ANY classic melodic/hard rock band contemplate going modern in this day and age? Stick to what you are best at folks, it will work to your advantage in the long run. Take a listen to the new Jaded Heart soundbytes. This is what folks want.
Britny Fox released their long awaited album - again with an updated sound that didn't suit. What a horrible comeback. Too bad, as the live album before it showed real spark.
Same again for Metallica....when a producer (Bob Rock) has to come out and actually explain why a record sounds the way it does, it means the public didn't get it. Sales figures prove that point.
Diamond David Lee Roth released a record with character, but the vast majority didn't warm to it.
MSG released an album which continues their downward trend.
A few other disappointing albums - Pat Benatar, Queensryche, Ensign, Jani Lane, Wild Horses, Pain & Passion and Kenny Loggins.

Best Re-Issues of 2003: Awesome to see Virginia Wolf available on CD, but Wounded Bird really need to take a look at their packaging/quality control. Several booklet errors spoil the release. The label also released Streets, Airrace and Holland during the year.
Escape Music did the best job of re-issues in 2003 - some fine releases with packaging to match. Included in their output was Statetrooper, FM, Zon, Orphan and Body Electric.
Majestic Rock came up with Heavy Pettin and Black N Blue re-issues, but could use some better artwork transfers. Otherwise the releases were cool.
MTM Classix was born, so expect more competition to re-issues in 2004.

Nothing announced from Van Halen, but the year was still filled with enough rumors and strange happenings to keep most amused!
The most amusing was Eddie's bizarre appearance at NAMM in January. His late entry and dishelved appearance, as well as his behavior, had some really questioning his sanity!
Then there was the surprise interview by Dwyer & Michaels at the other end of the year - Ed was no clearer, but still entertaining. Don't forget the whole story surrounding Limp Dogshitz frontman Fred Durst explaining that Eddie had auditioned for his band some time back. Not so, Eddie just jammed and left his gear behind and later couldn't get it back. Legend has it that he apparently turned up with a gun to finally retrieve it!
And lastly, Eddie's only other public appearance was for a DVD shoot for Leslie West's Mountain. Sadly Ed vetoed his appearance making the final DVD cut.
I'm looking forward to more in 2004!

The Journey tour was a smash success (so it wasn't all bad), but Neal Schon's vision for Planet Us failed to materialize after Sammy Hagar decided Van Halen was his best meal ticket back to glory days.
Fans also patiently await a solo Best Of album, which John Kalodner wants to release, and his completed solo instrumental album Eye On You. I hope to catch up with Neal soon.

SR-71 dumped their line-up again. The band only features 1 original member, Mitch Allan, but at least their new single hinted at a return to their more melodic debut.

Icon's Danny Wexler returned to recording duty with the project Thieves In The Temple. I believe it's now defunct, but who knows... Getting information out of those involved was impossible, as was actually getting a copy of the album. Like many in the past, once the press release has been printed and album plugged, there is suddenly no reply to e-mails and no promo copy of the album ever arrives. Asses!

Pulse continued to confuse fans by swapping their new lead singer for their original singer and starting work on their second album again, which had been initially scrapped to start work on a new album with the new singer, but was scrapped when he was fired. And original singer Simon is also working on a solo album. Ok...

Krokus were the surprise packet of the year, with a thoroughly enjoyable classic hard rock album. Another example of giving the fans what they want. Bands take note! Play to the fans you still have - don't go looking for new fans in areas you won't find them. Play your best classic rock and new fans will come.

Stage Dolls and TNT both scored big hits in their native country with new best of compilations via Universal. Now only if their labels put the same effort into their new albums!

Mail order company Melody Boulevard announced a 20CD+ box set of Westcoast favourites, but the project has since vanished due to some issues regarding track inclusion and artist permissions etc. No surprise there!

FM decided they couldn't be called FM and will go under the name The Ladder. Watch for that release in 2004!

Speaking of ladders, Harlan Cage's Roger Scott Craig fell off his and landed himself in hospital for an extended stay.

It was a year of "signs". Urban Tale started the ball rolling with Signs Of Times. Newman modernized it with Signs Of The Modern Times, Pride wanted Signs Of Purity, while TNT we asking Give Me A Sign. Section A borrowed Van Halen's The Seventh Sign and don't forget Ensign! However, 2003 saw no sign of The Sign. They'll be back in 2004!

Gene Simmons re-launched Simmons Records, but is yet to announce a signing. Aside from his own solo album that is. He also pulled production of his Tongue Magazine, which really was only a 100 page advert for Kiss merchandise. But the band did hit Melbourne for a special Symphony show, which was a treat to see. Pity much of their released performance was recorded the night before without an audience present.

Queensryche welcomed back Chris DeGarmo, put out the usual "this is our best album in years hype", then said Degarmo really didn't do so much on the album and won't tour - then released another average album.

Aussie nu-breeders Invertigo lost their vocalist, but vowed to go on, before admitting defeat and splitting.

Michael Schenker finally gave away his involvement in UFO. He agreed to relinquish the rights to the name and continues on his merry way.

Def Leppard's potential #1 smash hit Long Long Way To Go was ignored by most and was only released as a single in the UK. The band's US label couldn't be assed and promotion of the great X album faded before it started.

Doug Aldrich issued a press release to state his commitment to Dio and how he can't wait to record a new studio album, before announcing he was quitting Dio to join Whitesnake. Warren DeMartini replaced Doug, only to be squeezed out in favor of Craig Goldy - who at last count was still the band's guitarist.

Meanwhile former Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell says Ronnie James Dio was a horrid human being in an interview for

Adriangale's Eddie Campbell quits the band to join another label as a solo artist. He hasn't been heard from since. But things in the AG camp may not be much better. Will there be a third album? Who knows. The band's in-the-can live album should appear sometime later this year.

One of the biggest laughs for the year occurred when the entire line-up of Circle II Circle quit, leaving frontman Zakk Stevens to make nicey nice and proudly boast it was business as usual. He toured with a new line-up in Europe, but met with some less than favorable reviews. It seems the band were not getting paid by management for their time or work on tour, forced to pay out of their own pocket to remain on the road.

Circle II Circle weren't the only band to suffer meltdowns. Nothing tops that of Stratovarius frontman Timo Tolkki, who posted a very moving message on his message board about internal band troubles and his many mental problems. The posts resulted in half the band leaving and Timo himself having to hire security to protect him from angry fans. Great stuff.

And Royal Hunt has lost Steen Mogensen and Jacob Kjaer from their line-up, leaving only John West and Andre Andersen in the band.

Also - The Angels have reformed - twice (two line-ups!) - how sad is that? Jon Stevens quits Inxs without making an album in over 3 years at the helm. Styx loses Glen Burtnik, but replaces him with Ricky Phillips and word has it that Jizzy is out of Ratt. Time will tell on that one.

Mike Tramp started putting White Lion back together, but apparently Vito wants nothing to do with it.

Sony Music lose their resident A&R legend John Kalodner to Sanctuary Music. I'm hoping 2004 sees some interesting projects emerge from that.

News of David Glenn Eisley's Dr. Dave's Maths CD got a great response when I posted it. The CD is the times table done musically for kids. Now that's a long way down from Giuffria and Dirty White Boy.

Maybe Sebastian Bach should get a copy of David's CD. His new band, the Bach Tight 5 features only 4 guys. None of which can play if live reviews are anything to go by.

Steve Lukather found a unique way of attracting worldwide attention to Toto, by announcing that David Paich was unavailable to tour because he was about to undergo a sex change. When media worldwide asked for interviews and the trans-gender lobby contacted the band to congratulate them, he knew things had gone too far!

What happened to the proposed Blue Murder re-union? The band were set for a re-union, but as all things John Sykes, nothing has come of it and no news updates. My bet is don't count on anything in 2004...I hope I'm wrong, as I love that classic original album.

LRB decided to reform as BSG, but the current holder of the rights to the name LRB lodged a court paper protesting that BSG couldn't promote themselves as BSG, featuring the original members of LRB. The dispute continues!

Kiss claimed another Gold record for their Kiss Symphony record, but the fact is it shipped Gold, but has only sold a quarter of the number needed to be officially awarded that Gold status. Nice bit of PR boys!

While contemplating what to do with their finished record, Nelson start hocking various bits of odd memorabilia at impressive prices via E-Bay and then finished off the year by releasing a new 16 minute doco-DVD priced at a mere $25US! That's $1.56 per minute entertainment.

Motley Crue's Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx spent most of the year contradicting each other on possible details of a band reunion in 2004, 2005 or not at all. I'm hearing not at all. Stay tuned...

Quiet Riot split at the end of the year, bowing out with a new DVD release.

That's the news and events of 2003.
How about the actual music released and what was predicted for the year some 12 months back? Let's take a look at the music, releases and artists of 2003.

First to my favourite part of each year's summary - the predictions for the year ahead. Let's take a look at what I predicted for 2003 when I wrote up the 2002 awards last December/January.

- The Guns N Roses album will get postponed again and if released, won't be until late 2003 at the earliest. 2003 tour dates will be a similar disaster to 2002.
TRUE! It did get postponed and has yet to see the light of day and who knows if it will even in 2004 or ever!
- The Slash and fellow ex-Gunners album will get better reviews than Gunners themselves.
Well, it will come true, but as neither were released, we'll have to move this one to 2004's predictions!
- Skid Row won't find a label for their new album (unless Spitfire step in), will release it themselves (finally) and will re-unite with Sebastian Bach for the summer of 2004.
Partial credit for this one - The Skid's didn't find a label in the US (they licensed it to SPV for Europe) and eventually released the album themselves, but as yet, no sign of Sebastian returning to the fold. And to be honest, I now don't think he will anytime soon.
- Judas Priest will start talking with Rob Halford again.
TRUE!! Despite getting denials from management denying such plans on Jan 25, Jan 28, Feb 3, Feb 11 and March 11, the band finally got a grip on reality and announced the return of Rob on July 12!
- Eddie Van Halen will do a few more guest spots, but come no closer to talking about the band, or getting a new singer. No new VH in 2003
Another partial credit. There was certainly no VH in 2003 in any form, but Eddie did make a couple of appearances - on the Lukather Christmas album and a rather strange cameo at NAMM in January and that bizarre radio interview in November.
- Sony will release another Toto compilation.
TRUE! Ok, so that was an easy one....
- BMG will release another Rick Springfield compilation.
TRUE! Again, an obvious choice :)
- A new nu-breed band will break through for a US #1 album.
Sadly, no such luck. I really thought 2002 was a strong year for nu-breed acts, but 2003 hasn't been so kind. There remains a major opening for such a band to come from nowhere, maybe Waltham can do it in 2004?
- Boston will only play a few select dates - no big tour.
Bombed out on this one....while it wasn't the biggest tour event of the year by a long shot, it was bigger and longer than I thought it would be!
- Metallica's album will under-achieve.
TRUE! Yep, the sales dived, the critics and the fans mostly hated it and last I heard, Metallica were disappointed in this. One of the year's worst releases.
- The biggest melodic rock tours of 2003 will be the Meatloaf, Whitesnake and Styx tours.
Well, the Whitesnake tour did great business and the Styx tour with Journey and REO was huge, so credit for those...the Meatloaf tour was so big, but is still going on doing decent business.
- Biggest tour of all: Duran Duran
I wouldn't call it the biggest of the year as predicted, but what dates the guys have played have met with great reviews and an amazing response!
- Sammy Hagar will release some sort of new album / Van Halen won't.
TRUE! Sammy released his live album with Mikey guesting and Van Halen released zip!
- Bobby Kimball will release a new solo album / Toto won't.
No luck on this one...while there was no Toto album, Bobby's album also remains "in the works."
- Jim Peterik will release a new album / Survivor won't.
TRUE! Jim released the wonderful Pride Of Lions album while Survivor only managed a few live dates.
- House Of Lords will finally release their new album / Bourgeois Pigs won't.
Arrgh...who would be silly enough put money on the HOL album being released?! Well, it's finally coming out in March, so that's some good news. The BP album however will never happen. Just where is Michael Guy these days?
- Bobby Barth will release an album / Axe won't.
Bobby's still working on it - does that count?
- Kelly Keagy will release a new studio album / Night Ranger won't.
Correct for Night Ranger, but also nothing from Kelly. 2004 I hope!
- Dare: even money on whether the album will be released this year or next!
Glad I didn't bet the house on this sign of the album.
- Planet Us will not tour (just a hunch)
Correct and for all intents and purposes, the project is now dead.

So they were the predictions!

What about my additional general ramblings about what albums to look out for and expect good things from? We had better take a look at that too if I don't, you'll only look back and e-mail me about it!

On The Rise and Jim Jidhed impressed most as expected, both feature prominently in my own best of 2003 lists.
The Lec Zorn Project album failed to materialize. Several factors contributed to the delay. I think Lec has learnt a lot from the issues that have arisen during the preparation of this album. Hopefully fans of early 80's keyboard AOR will have something to enjoy later this year.
The Ramos album was very enjoyable, some of Josh Ramos' best work to date. More please...
The new Departure album surprised me and many others. It took a serious Journeyesque twist and featured some great 80's AOR.
Ambition and the new Mecca album were two of the year's most high-profile MIA's. Ambition will never happen - sorry folks. Why is not an issue I'm going to get into. I'm not that more confident for Mecca. The band's frontman and spokesperson Joe Vana has disappeared (again). He has been tied up dealing with personal and family problems, so I wish him the best. But I haven't heard a single word from Joe since his last announcement, which is a disappointment, considering that Joe was a good friend.
Jim Peterik followed-up his work on the debut Mecca album with his return to full time melodic rock writing and recording with Pride Of Lions. Classic fans of Jim and Survivor could not have asked for more. Singer Toby Hitchcock was a great find and with a little extra warmth to his voice (through getting out there and playing live), he will be hard to beat on future albums.
Harem Scarem released another perfect combination of AOR and melodic rock with a slight modern twist. I still get e-mails from people just discovering this classic band.
Mike Tramp's new album didn't blow me away as did his last. It just wasn't as intense or as well recorded, but remained enjoyable and did please fans.
As predicted, new albums from Styx, Mark Spiro, Bob Catley, Drive She Said, Khymera, Gotthard, Pride, Radioactive, Harem Scarem, Brian McDonald, Firehouse also pleased fans.
Michael Sembello's album wasn't so fortunate. Sadly the label were unable to have their vision of a Sembello rock album come to light and a European release of his own US released archive material album with a few bonus tracks was what eventuated. Michael then blew off all interviews including mine, so we will never know why this was the case.
He wasn't the only lad to blow off an interview with me....Khymera's Steve Walsh did the same. And I wasn't alone....the couple of interviews he did do were pretty cringe worthy - I don't expect to here Steve's name involved in any other projects anytime soon.
Rick Springfield's new album was not surprisingly pushed to 2004 and we are still waiting to hear the results. I fear for the sales results, as there has been zero promotion of the album outside the RS fan club/street team and no press interviews conducted!

40ft Ringo put out one of the year's catchiest records, but caught a little flack for not varying the album enough from the widely circulated demos.
Paul Laine's will be a nu-monster I said...true enough - Shugaazer's debut is a fine cross between melodic rock and modern rock.
Mars Electric and Harry Hess did well with their individual releases, Harry further adding to his tag as a genius songwriter.
Vertical Horizon released a solid effort, but failed to make any commercial ground in the US. Blame the label for that one...
Colin Blades released a wonderful pop/rock debut album, which gives his dad a run for his money. Not for fans of the rocking stuff.
The long awaited Kick album is yet to be released. In fact, it's yet to be signed, which is a fact I find hard to swallow. The EP was brilliant. Is a label finally about to snap these guys up?
Still coming out of Australia will be Red Circle and Square One - 2004 please guys.

The new Nelson album was a huge disappointment and it hasn't even been released!!! The guys announced a track listing and offered sound samples mid-year, but the advance in their sound isn't there and the album is unfortunately set to include re-recordings of several already released songs. Sorry guys, this is not the way to go. And fan feedback seemed to agree with that. The masterpiece Life deserves a proper sequel. What will they do in 2004 and will the album actually get released?
Duran Duran's reformed comeback album is another for 2004, as is new albums by Bob Segar, Bryan Adams, U2
Hall & Oates proved they are again the smoothest middle aged men in pop and Fleetwood Mac underachieved, but received some positive reviews.

What of some other albums that didn't materialize?
No one would put money on a date for the new Guns N Roses album. 2003 passed without a sign.
Dare's Darren Wharton postponed the release of their new album and most recently wrote and recorded more songs for it. It's no secret the guy is a perfectionist, so one has high hopes for a release by Christmas this year!
Hugo has just finished his new album, with more work added to that too.
Diving For Pearls - well, it's just about to move to the mixing stage - I am assured that it will be out mid-year!
Raine's new album also failed to appear. I'm not sure where to start with these guys. They really have done themselves no favors and will basically have to start all over again when ready to release something. Their debut is long gone and the public is now well confused as to their intentions with style, their name and when something might actually be finished.
The guys made a gutsy decision to play this year's Gods, but the album that was finished at the time is yet to appear and I have now learnt it has been scrapped in favor of new material that is still modern, but heavier and a little more melodic. It's time to get it done guys!
The House Of Lords album was a challenge for all involved, but it's done, 100% ready and will be released in March. Will the 4 year wait be worth it? I'm not sure to be honest, that's a huge expectation to fulfill. But it will certainly be great to hear new material from the boys. I am disappointed Gregg Giuffria chose not to be involved at the last minute.
I am wondering where the Leif Johansen Life project is? It seems to have dropped off the Z Records release schedule.

That's enough of the re-capping and reminiscing....let's move to The Awards and to 2004...

2003 MelRockAwards

A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

Vocalist Of The Year: Harry Hess - Harem Scarem's frontman had a very good year one would have to say. There was his debut solo album Just Another Day, then the Harem retro release The Early Years and the fab new album Higher. Plus guest appearances on Eric Martin's album, plus a lead vocal on Once And Future King 2 and with Jack Frost. Not bad at all for one year!

The Best Producer Award: Tommy Denander. The man was everywhere in 2003 - his own Radioactive album sounded a million bucks, but there was also the great Jim Jidhed album and pal Sayit's album that he produced. And there was also Spin Gallery, which is done, but out soon. Not to mention several other guest spots. Well done Tommy.

The 'Kiss "I'm Going To Bang Bang You, I'll Shoot You Down With My Love Gun" Best Use of Sexual Lyrics' Award: Eric Martin for the lyric "I'll show you Mr Toad's Wild Ride" in What's The Worst That Could Happen.

The 'Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor' Award For Best Piece Of Self-Serving BS PR: Fred Durst for trying to convince the public (via MTV) that Eddie Van Halen auditioned for that vacant guitarist's role in Limp Bizkit.

The 'Great Kat' Award For Best Escaping Of Reality in 2003: Stratovarius' Timo Tolkki who has taken a leave of absence and hasn't given any indication when he will be back!

The 'Kerrang Worshiping Current Trends Whilst Ignoring The Facts' Award: Rolling Stone Magazine for their horrendous Top 100 Guitarists Of All Time article.

The 'Dead, Jail or Rock N Roll (Jail Option) for Worst Change In Career Decision' Award: Michael Morales, who will spend the next couple of years wishing he didn't get into blackmail and politics.

The 'Guns N Roses Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date' Award: Cheap Trick for their Special One album. I think there was only 9 or 10 changes in the planned date. At least it got released, which is more than GNR can boast!

The 'Announced But Never Seen Again Disappearing Albums' Award: *TIE* Chrissy Steele, Ambition, Leif Johansson, Raine and Bobby Barth.

The 'Wiggles Big Red Car - This Is Better Paying Than Doing Melodic Rock' Award: David Glenn Eisley for his move into the children's CD market!

The 'Jani Lane Drunk Best On Stage Antics' Award 2003: Jani Lane (of course), Vince Neil (several times) and Sebastian Bach. All were reported DOS during 2003 - shame on you folks!

The 'Marcie Free Welcome To The Club' Award: Toto's David Paich - if Steve Lukather was to be believed!

The 'Not Very Rock N Roll Way To Cause Grievous Bodily Harm To Oneself' Award: Ronnie James Dio for cutting off his thumb in a freak gardening accident.

The 'Worst Case Of Bad Timing' Award: Gregg Giuffria - the day before a press release announcing a new solo album was due, Gregg's studio burns down in a Las Vegas fire.

The 'Spinal Tap Drummer's Worst Case Of Spontaneous Combustion' Award: Poison's Tour Semi - it bursts into flames on route to a show! All their gear was lost.

The Welcome Back in 2003 Award: *TIE* Europe, Hugo, 220 Volt, Rhino Bucket, McQueen Street, 1927, Go West, Moxy, Daniel McMaster, The Hooters, Bulletboys, Lionsheart, The Romantics.

The Please Go Away Again Award: Kenny Loggins.

The Just Finish & Release The Bloody Thing Already Award: *TIE* Millenium - again! This year's the year Ralph! Guns N Roses - goes without saying and how about that Robin Beck album?

Due in 2006 Award: Bryan Adams - Where is he and what has he been doing with this record?

The Screw What The Readers Want Award: Classic Rock Magazine for their continued piss-take of all things AOR.

The 'Kiss' Award For Best Non-Involvement in Recording One's Own Album: Michael Schenker - for not even turning up to the studio to record some of his solos. The job then went to Night Ranger's Jeff Watson.

The 'Mutt Lange' Production Award For Slowest Album Recording Process: Inxs - 3 years, one single. Nice!

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Boston's Tom Scholz for suing his own record label (again), unhappy with their promotion resulting in another underachieving album.

The 'Japanese Label' one last cash-in award:. Sanctuary - hands down winner for their awful Styx live release and several other cash-in compilations from the likes of Eddie Money and UFO.

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album in 2004 Award: Iron Maiden, Meatloaf, Thunder, Nelson, Dream Theater - Just some guesses!
Those nominated last year - Styx, Bruce Springsteen, Dio, Kiss, Goo Goo Dolls & Yngwie Malmsteen.
Styx sure did, so did Kiss, Bruce did a DVD, nothing from the Goo's and Yngwie held off until Feb 2004, so I wasn't far off!

The Best Noticeboard Username for 2003 Award: Justin Hawkins' One Good Tooth Runners up: HandsomeDick, Portnoys Tiny Tadger & Bighair_in_the_works.

The Beat The Bootleggers Award: Tony Carey for his updated website release of the unreleased Planet P material.

The Best Website Award: of again. Haven't found a site that comes close.

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award:
The Dickhead Of The Year Award is one of the most popular awards. The last couple of winners have been clear winners, but this year there were sadly more candidates than I would have hoped for!
Several people came under consideration for Dickhead of 2003. MSG singer Chris Logan was a candidate after delivering several e-mails detailing his displeasure with my MSG review. Sorry Chris.
Then there was Wild Horses singer John Levesque who was also unhappy with my review. But when I suggested I put his point of view on my newsdesk, he attempted a recovery, suggesting his son had sent the e-mail as a joke. Sure buddy....
Then there was the owner of a record label in the USA who was again most upset that I had killed off the sales of both the label's new titles because of bad reviews. But he wasn't alone in one likes a bad review. What can I say? Release a bad album, get a bad review. There's an easy fix for that problem.
Then there is the Noticeboard pain-in-the-ass of 2003 - definitely a strong contender for overall DH of The Year. This year it was the posts by Mister Sister and Tommy Gunn that gave me and most readers the shits.
Funny then that these two people are actually the same person. It beats me why someone would waste so much time posting away. The truth is they are just pushing their own agenda, whatever that may be, and don't have the balls to e-mail me about it. I should be used to it!
John Waite was another strong contender. He had his webgirl e-mail me a cease and desist message for the Jesse Harms track I was to feature on the CD. No balls to do it was Jesse's demo (co-written with John and featuring his vocal), but it didn't suit him to have the track featured, gain him some positive PR and also help out the site. Thanks John.
But to the announcement you have all been waiting for!
The Winner of Dickhead Of The Year 2003 is the individual that offered me a substantial amount of money to keep the message board offline during a period in which this individual was being discussed at length!

2004: The Year Ahead

Ahh, 2004. Most of the high-impact releases of 2003 were bumped to 2004, which is going to make this year sweet, but add in a bunch of other albums due and I think this will truly be the best year out of the last 10.
So what's on offer for all? Let's take a look.

Melodic/Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2004: Jaded Heart, Shiva, Axxis, Pink Cream 69, Seventh Key, Shylock, Jack Blades, UFO, Axel Rudi Pell, Josh Todd, TNT, Danny Danzi, Brides Of Destruction, Tesla, House Of Lords, Kingdom Come, Velvet Revolver, Von Groove, AC/DC, Beautiful Creatures, Damned Nation, Seven Wishes, Daniel McMaster, Dokken, Europe, Gene Simmons, Hardline, Heart, Helix, Hodson, House Of Shakira, Northrup/Shortino, Jeff Scott Soto, Jack Blades/Eric Martin Project, Lionsheart, Scorpions, The Sign, Thunder, Voodoo Hill, Wicked Sensation, Kick Axe, Liberty & Justice, Liesegang/White, Statetrooper and more.
Firstly, what I have actually heard - The biggest contender for album of the year is already in my hands. The new TNT has already been mentioned on the frontpage, and every word of it is right - the band have nailed it this time around and have mixed past history (what the fans want) with something new and exciting (what the world needs), all wrapped up in a monster production. I can't wait to hear fan feedback on this release. For the record, the album is out Feb in Japan and March in Europe, but the European release through MTM has a far superior running order. The Japanese bonus track is for once not the strongest track, so definitely go for the Euro release, which seriously rocks.
Tesla has also been mentioned, so I won't add to that too much, but safe to say I think it will be another fan pleaser. Another solid hard rocking album.
Jaded Heart will blow away all fans with their return to a hard rocking, but melodic formula. This is what fans want folks...
Danny Danzi's album is a guitar shred fest for fans of classic melodic rock and Seventh Key's newie is another high-tech melodic rock gem from the hands of the infallible Mike Slamer.
And House Of Lords have delivered an album that updates their sound and add new elements of coolness, but will require a lot of listening to to get to know, as there aren't any real anthems as has always been the case on past records.
On to other titles due in 2004:
I get the vibe that expectation for the new Aerosmith is almost non-existent. I hope they really come up with the goods this time around. They have underachieved the last couple of times out, so it will be interesting to hear them change course a little.
Black N Blue make their comeback shortly - with 4 of the original 5 members involved. This is another one I am not confident with. I heard 3 demos that were being shopped to labels and none of the 3 tracks did anything for me. So one hopes thing improved during further writing/recording sessions.
House of Shakira have really been working long and hard and are toughening up their sound. Expect a monster. Preview tracks have really been excellent.
UFO's newie could be one of the hat, with a revitalized line-up. Damned Nation and Seven Wishes both need to impress and have been putting in the work to ensure that happens.
The two releases that will gain the most media attention are Brides Of Destruction and Velvet Revolver.
Both will have to be good to capture the imagination of the general public. VR should win the battle between these two and will certainly beat out Guns N Roses if their album is actually released.
What do Dokken (or Don and friends) have planned. I enjoyed the last album, but it could have rocked more. This one is said to be more classic styled. Hope so...
If the awesome Bob Catley release is anything to go by, Paul Hodson's debut (under the moniker Hodson) will be one to get excited about, but there's no sign of any release date? I hear it's to be released independently - what happened with their Now & Then deal? And sadly, I have heard Paul has declined to be involved in the next Catley solo record. A big disappointment there.
Hardline will be doing their best to re-capture the glory of their debut, after the last album got mixed reviews. Scorpions are another band looking to repair past errors. Their last album was a dog, but don't expect any flees on the new album, which should be a return to their best.
Heart have been working long and hard - depending on what you expect from it, should be a classic and looks set to rock. AC/DC will also be looking to do it all over again, hopefully with a small twist on the old formula. Watch for the new Europe release to blow away any competition. Just a vibe, but given the poor performance of Joey's solo album, I expect a classic return from them.
Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2004: Pink Cream 69, Seventh Key, Jaded Heart, UFO, Axel Rudi Pell, TNT, Danny Danzi, Tesla, Velvet Revolver, Von Groove, AC/DC, Beautiful Creatures, Europe, Hardline, Heart, Hodson, House Of Shakira, Northrup/Shortino, Dokken, Jeff Scott Soto, Scorpions, Seven Wishes, The Sign, Thunder, Liberty & Justice, Liesegang/White.

What? No mention of Harem Scarem or Def Leppard for 2004? Well folks...I am yet to hear Harem's plans for the year, but given the activity from the band in the last year or two, a release later in the year or early next might be their best bet.
As for Def Leppard - they are apparently at work now - but what on? There's not much info around, but I am not brave enough to predict the result of their work will actually be released this year!

Highest profile albums due for 2004: Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Tony Harnell (solo), Final Frontier, Hugo, Shadowman, Rick Springfield, Spin Gallery, Jean Beauvoir, Frontline, Danny Vaughn, Magnum, David Roberts, Over The Edge (Mickey Thomas), 1927, Asia, Crystal Blue, David Roberts, Diving For Pearls, Grand Illusion, Heartland, The Ladder, Gregg Giuffria, Lec Zorn Project, Lawrence Saltis, Martie Peters, Jean Beauvoir, Shy, Stage Dolls, Zion (Freddy Curci), Safe Haven.

A fine start to 2004 with Last Autumn's Dream - and the new Street Talk compilation. The 2 new songs included are two of the band's best ever, so one can only hope there will be a forth album later on down the track. The Best Of set shows off what a fine band they really are.
Final Frontier scored some fans with their debut, and their second album is an even better slice of commercial 80's AOR in the vein of Journey and Styx.
Still no exact ETA on the Hugo album, although it is now done! February/March might be the time. I predict another fan pleasure, but there will still be those comparisons to the debut to overcome.
Glen Burtnik's album will be one to wait for - a return to his rocking ways will please fans. Danny Vaughn, James Christian and Tony Harnell all have high profile solo plans to announce for 2004 - these three releases will no doubt rate very highly with fans and critics alike.
The Rick Springfield album is almost upon us - Rick got through 2003 without the predicted release of the new album, but it's due up next month, so there's no stopping it now! It will impress, but just how good will it be?! Wish I knew - wish anyone knew - sadly Rick has gone very quiet and hasn't done any advance press ahead of the album's release, nor has he sent any preview/review copies of the album out to press people.
Spin Gallery is another fine release from the stable of Tommy Denander. This one is more for Westcoast fans, but along with Crossfade will prove the smoother form of AOR is alive and well in 2004.
Mickey Thomas makes an overdue to return to duty with Over The Edge, a new project along the lines of Vertigo and Perfect World. I've heard one track and Mickey sounds in top form. Looking forward to this one.
Diving For Pearls might actually get released mid-year, but for whatever reason (and as much as I love the debut), I'm not sure what is delivered will be classic. I hope I'm wrong.
Martie Peters is getting close to wrapping up his first set of solo demos to shop around for his post-Push debut. Expect the album later this year.
Safe Haven is one of the more interesting releases planned for 2004. This sees metal master Mike Vesera ready to make an AOR album. Should prove interesting.
On The Rise are no more - what a shame. But from it comes a new solo project for one of the guys, which I'm told will rock harder. Interesting I'm sure.
Another long in the making album is Zion - the Freddy Curci project. Another highly anticipated project will have to deliver the goods to make up for the wait, but I'm confident it will!
The Gregg Giuffria project will be an interesting one. Really not sure what to make of this as the plans are to feature different vocalists throughout - which is not one of my favourite concepts. After missing the House Of Lords album, fans will want to hear the best from Gregg. He has always been a class act, so there's no reason to doubt him now.
A new Heartland is planned for later in the year. The only thing stopping these guys from recording a total classic is even stronger choruses. And Dare is finally due in the first (or second!) quarter of 2004. Rockier and moodier. One can only hope!
Tommy Denander and everyone involved is excited about the new David Roberts album, so I'm positive that will be a highlight.
Magnum's return to action in 2002 was a disappointment, so I'm interested to see if they can turn that around with their new release in 2004.
And watch for a new Kip Winger album soon - an acoustic driven affair that will eb his first album for a new deal with Universal! Go Kip...
What could be the biggest release of the year won't happen until next. A new Journey album might get started later in the year, but don't expect it released until into 2005.

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2004: Rick Springfield, Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Tony Harnell, Hugo, Kip Winger, Danny Vaughn, Over The Edge, Lawrence Saltis, David Roberts, Stage Dolls, Zion, Heartland.

Albums due for 2004: Silvertide, Swirl 260, Butch Walker, Panic, Fluid Sol, Raine, Seven And The Sun, Plunge, Creighton Doane.
Wow, not much to talk about really. At least not yet....plans for a nu-breed assault on 2004 seem to be fairly vague right now, with no major releases yet announced as due. What do the Swedish have to offer us this year?
Of course there will be a new Butch Walker release, but can it possibly live up to expectations? Escape Music's new signing Panic looks interesting - watch for that one.
Glen Burtnik's newie will have modern touches, so some nu-fans will enjoy that as will the solo Larry Saltis record.
Mitch Malloy's new project Fluid Sol will get the singer/songwriter back on the map, but will his traditional fans go with him? I'm not sure to be honest.
And let's hope the Creighton Doane record finally gets released. It's due in May now I believe - I'm keen to hear what the Harem Scarem drummer has to offer.

2004 looks bleak for glam fans, but TB Records in the UK and Perris Records in the USA are doing their best to make sure there are some highlights to come.
With the big names like Poison skipping 2004, it could be left to emerging new bands to give fans what they are after.
A new Pretty Boy Floyd album is due shortly. But I hear it's more punky...too bad.
Something glam releases really need to address is production quality. Recent efforts have been spoilt due to poor sound quality.
Roxx Gang is Perris' biggest up and coming release, but I am confident more will be revealed as the year goes on. But don't count on 2004 as a milestone year.
Canada's Robin Black looks set to move his glam/attitude machine forward, his new album might be one to watch.

Highest profile albums due for 2004: Jorn, Magnitude 9, Mister Kite, Empty Tremor, Alteria, Genius, Anthrax, WASP, Power Quest, Warrior, Jon Oliva.
More releases to come obviously - but these are the ones lined up at this early stage.
Magnitude 9's new album will impress fans of European melodic metal as will the melodic, but heavy Power Quest album. Anything from Jon Oliva is going to be warmly welcomed and Alteria impressed last year, so they will be worth watching.
Empty Tremor's album will have strong appeal to Dream Theater / progressive fans.
Why have I left it until now to mention the new Jorn album? Well, I was tipped off that the album isn't as good as it should be or has good as Jorn hoped/wanted it to sound. There has apparently been trouble during the recording of the album and budget issues, leaving the album with a battle to beat it's awesome predecessor. I hope this is not the case, but keep an eye on this.

Highest profile albums due for 2004: U2, Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, Avril Lavigne, Bob Segar, Duran Duran, The Who, The Hooters.
I'm not putting any money on the Bryan Adams album getting released (just what is he doing?), but I will get very excited at the prospect of a new Hooters album. Will work be completed and a label set for a release in 2004? 50/50 I think.
Duran's comeback album will finally see the light of day. That's another album I hope will be fabulous, but have reservations about just how good it could be.
BMG will re-released the 80s' Hall & Oates catalogue, remastered and restored, plus a clips DVD and a new Ultimate compilation. Watch for those during the year.
Richard Marx is promising to return to his rock roots, but the amount of times I have heard that from other artists that haven't come through is far too high. But if true, Richard's album will be a popular pick for the fans of his much love style.
And can Avril Lavigne possibly top the catchiness and commercial success of her awesome debut? I think not...sadly. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

The Overall Best Of The Best for 2004 - if all are released!: Rick Springfield, Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Tony Harnell, Hugo, Danny Vaughn, Over The Edge, Stage Dolls, The Hooters, Seventh Key, TNT, Tesla, Velvet Revolver, Europe, Heart, Hodson, House Of Shakira, Northrup/Shortino, Jeff Scott Soto, Scorpions, Thunder, Harem Scarem & Def Leppard.

So what won't be released in 2004? What are line-ball releases?
Guns N Roses will be the biggest will they/won't they, but how about Von Groove? I'm not sure if the guys have even started that one, I'll have to do some investigating.
1927 are said to be working on a new album, but I'm not confident of that arriving pre-Christmas! And what of Liddle Rush Thrall? How many times was the release date of that album changed in 2003? Don't count on it in 2004. And where is the new Arabia album?
Survivor? New album? No way....forget it....
Nelson's new re-recorded album? 50/50 chance of finding a label and will no doubt be released at some point via their website only.
Mecca? Sadly I think not. I do not see a new album being recorded and/or released this year.
Will Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell 3 get released? No....not in 2004 at least. Jim Steinman will need longer than 12 months to get this baby ready!
Will Burning Rain return to active duty? No. Don't expect another album from these guys, as Doug is way to caught up in his far more lucrative Whitesnake role.
Riverdogs? Well, the guys are moving forward, but it could be as late as early 2005 when this anticipated release is finally ready and signed away.
Just a few random thoughts - let's see the results in 12 months time.


There will be at least 3 Steve Perry is returning to Journey rumors, but there will be no new music from the band. One of it's members will announce a new side project that will rock!

Neither Brides Of Destruction, nor Velvet Revolver will do much damage at retail. That's not slamming the albums - I haven't heard either yet - but I just don't see them selling a shitload.

Styx will this year, NOT release a live album!! (They couldn't could they???)

Sony will release a new Toto compilation (Ok, I'll try and make my predictions a little harder...)

Could there be a new USA released Survivor compilation later in 2004?

Vito Bratta will not re-join White Lion on the road.

Whitesnake will not record/release any new material. That live album is a maybe...

2004 will be the year of Jeff Scott Soto.

At least one classic hard rock band will reform. How about a new Rainbow album with Joe Lynn Turner? Not likely, but that's one of my "out there" predictions.

Stratovarius - now who would be stupid enough to predict anything for these guys in 2004. We already know there will be no new music until early 2005, but if Timo continues on his way, I predict at least 3 headline causing outbursts and I would place even odds on the band dissolving before the end of the year.

Impellitteri's new album will be a major flop (sadly), with old fans alienated and little interest shown from any new record buyers.

Van Halen will finally announce Hagar's return and will release their Best Of Volume 2.

A top American melodic rock act (now defunct) will release a lovely compilation of unreleased tunes.

Guns N Roses will head to Europe for some live dates, which could be cut short, but in any regard will end in more controversy.

The Bon Jovi box set will be another disappointment from the band. Not enough rare/unreleased tracks. Again I hope I am wrong. The guys have some work to do to impress fans after the lame live album and 2003's This Left Feels Right.

Paris Hilton will be hit by a meteor. Justin Tiberfake will be hit by another meteor. Britny Spears will be hit...ok, you get the idea...

Heart's new album will rock.

At least one melodic record label will cease business.

Europe will finally release a new studio album, Giant won't.

Just before I finish this wrap up - what about the labels themselves? What are they looking forward to in 2004? I thought I would find out!

Magnus @ Atenzia Records Sweden:
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?
The Rembrandts, ACT, 40 Ft Ringo, Mark Spiro and Jim Jidhed has all been doing good for us - also great early feedback and attention to our just released ones such as Attraction 65, Shugaazer and Melodine.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Every one of Atenzia´s releases is very special and dear to me/us - ACT making amazing progress and development, and main writer Jerry Sahlin is such a genius - Their next one will be absolutely stunning.
I am very found of 40 Ft Ringo´s catchy and fun power pop - good attitude combined with really strong songwriting - The Rush of Usher album is nothing less than brilliant and we hope that 2004 shall be a special year for the talents of Daniel O'Brien.
Shugaazer delivered a debut which is making waves in the industry and is a GEM of a album - Gregg Fulkerson showed with his Attraction 65 what a amazing talent he is - and Melodine is a must for anyone into clever modern power pop.
I'm happy about the result of Mark Spiro´s album and its a real pleasure having the opportunity to work with such a unique and strong profiled songwriter.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
That's a tough one as there is so much amazing music around - But some albums which I love include the absolute monster debut from Revis - The incredible album from Spymob - Bleu is splendid - New Hoobastank which just came out sounds like it will be spinning a lot in my player - There's so much more.
- Any disappointments from 2003?
Well its obviously disappointing viewing the music industry in general - But lets hope for a more creative and strong comeback of a new model music industry to take shape in the years to come.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
Our hopes and beliefs for Atenzia in 2004 is very positive - were hoping that some big pieces of the puzzle as to make this music company and successful one to fall into place during the first half of 2004.
Our expectations for our young Swedish signings looking real good - Watch out for the strength of Stereolith, WhiteSilver, Kid Down and Mantra.
The debut from Spin Gallery is really strong - In US we have Plunge who is working on their debut - and that will be superb! London Calling and Fluid Sol is other cool bands which we will have products out from - New Jersey based The Way is another one.
Swirl 360 will have their Atenzia debut out - and that will be a dynamic power pop cracker!
Its also exciting to be involved in the new Glen Burtnik album - and the long time in the making Diving For Pearls.
40 Ft Ringo is to cut their second album - And 40 Ft´s Stevo has also turned us on to a few other projects and bands which were looking at much likely to be involved in. ACT will be working on their new studio album - Were hoping to be working some more with Jacob Bunton of Mars Electric.
There is also a bunch of other "hot prospects" which is under development and in negotiation.
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
There's all kind of artists that you would love to get the chance to work with - But we rather take on a hot and exciting new band/artist rather then a old one which lost the spirit and passion. I have learned through the years that a lot of so called "hero's" don't cut it anymore - and even if I admired their previous work would I not like to be involved with anything half decent that doesn't live up to the artists heydays.
But there's obvious also cases where artists and musicians aged in style and class - you can't judge anything just by a name - its the music that shall do the talking.

Mario @ Frontiers Records Italy:
- What were your labels best selling titles in 2003?
Glenn Hughes Songs In The Key of Rock; Bob Catley When Empires Burn; Gary Hughes Once and Future King (both volumes); Harem Scarem Higher; Royal Hunt Eyewitness.
It is actually six, but it s up to you whether you want to count Gary Hughes as one or two. The second volume has obviously sold less than the first volume (it came out later!) but it is already over Royal Hunt (but behind Harem Scarem).
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Well, tough one - they're all legitimate children, so I will save myself in corner like I have done last year - all of them!!
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
In no particular order - July For Kings Swim, Switchfoot The Beautiful Letdown, Dishwalla Opaline, Martin Stenmark One, Seven And The Sun Back To The Innocence, Mark Schultz Stories and Songs, Across The Sky S/t, Wave State of Mind, Porcupine Tree In Absentia, Mago de Oz Gaia, Attraction 65 S/t, Hughes / Turner 2, Vertical Horizon Go, User User, Jeremy Camp Stay plus some others that don't spring to my mind at the moment.
- Any disappointments from 2003?
The latest Steven Curtis Chapman All About Love was way below what I have been expecting. Another big disappointment was the new Jars of Clay CD Who We Are Instead. There were also other disappointments but it would be too long to list them all and I have already done a huge one for the good releases.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
Definitely we are going to have a very busy start of the year. Personally I'd say the Over The Edge project is what excites me most. What has been completed so far is unbelievably good, way beyond our best expectations and I am looking forward to the completion of the remaining tracks. I am also very excited with the new Hardline and Jeff Scott Soto which will come after the summer. There is another very very big project which we are building right during these days which is going to be the highlight of the year in the hard rock field & this one is going to be massive. We have many other projects in the works and I promise that no-one will disappoint the fans.
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett.

Khalil @ Escape Music UK:
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?

- What were your favourite releases of the year?
milesABOVE, PHANTOMS OPERA, FM, ZON, ORPHANS, Aftermath, Demon Drive
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
PRIDE OF LIONS, Radio Active "Yeah", LeAnn Rimes Greatest Hits, Ryan Adams Roll & Rock
- Any disappointments from 2003?
DREAM THEATRE "Train Of Thought"
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
The greatest opportunity I had to work with one of the most gifted, talented and perfect gentleman STEVE OVERLAND it has been a pleasure!!
I would love to have opportunity to work with no other than Lou Gramm, and Steve Perry!! Would be very nice Christmas gift for 2004.

Sebastian & Mario @ MTM Music Germany:
- What were your label s best selling titles in 2003?
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
We like all our releases!
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
- Any disappointments from 2003?
A few, but we don't criticize our partner labels.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
TNT "My Religion"

Georg @ AOR Heaven Germany:
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?

1. Altaria/Invitation 2. Pride/Signs Of Purity 3. Silver/Dream Machines 4. Emerald Rain/Short Sighted 5. AOR/Dreaming Of L.A.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
1. Vonray 2. Matchbox Twenty 3. Attraction 65 4. Masterplan 5. Last Autumn's Dream
- Any disappointments from 2003?
not really
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
David Roberts!
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?

Lasse @ Lion Music Finland:
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?
Empire - Trading Souls, Sun Caged - Sun Caged, Mattsson - Power Games, Section A - The Seventh Sign, Winterlong - The Second Coming
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Sun Caged - this band is gonna get big!
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Dream Theater's new album
- Any disappointments from 2003?
Assholes who don't pay their bill unless they are sued...
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
Vitalij Kuprij, Book of Reflections, Tears of Anger, Mister Kite all have very good albums that should do really well.
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
Dream Theater and the Beatles.

John @ Kivel Records USA:
What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?

1. DAMN CHEETAH "Primal" 2. TNA "Branded" 3. ADRIANGALE "ReProgram" (still selling strong) 4. NO MORE JOHNNY "S L A M" 5. PYN SIREN "Slave To Your Master"
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
That's a tough one. Well, I can honestly say every single one. Each one of our 03 releases offered up its own sound. I wouldn't say CHEETAH sounded like NO MORE JOHNNY, and neither sounded like PYN SIREN or TNA. So I can say each one was a fave of mine for its individual sound from the other. If you asked me which was my favorite cover was...that would be easier! lol. For that I would say NO MORE JOHNNY and TNA "Branded". Special kudos to and for helping another two releases shine visually for us.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Well, a lot of people are aware I am a FAN of this very scene and market. I buy and collect all the same CDs and bands your site goers do from N+T to Frontiers and Metal Mayhem. But right now I would have to say the BEST CD I have recently gotten my hands on is on none of the above or any of the other UK labels. I highly HIGHLY recommend you all check out the band 7th Heaven with their new release SILVER. The song CELLOPHANE alone will make it worth the $10!!! Its like DEF LEPARD! I can't gush enough about this CD.
- Any disappointments from 2003?
Hmmm....The Yankees losing? My only disappointment is not having more releases this year. Not to worry though, I plan on making up for that this coming 04.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
Just bringing some great new bands and a few old faves to the fans of our genre. Expect some of the same from me and a few surprises this year.
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
Well there are two, I'm sure they are both reading this. We have been talking about it for a while now and I think it will happen in 04. Not going to say who the two are, but im sure at least one will happen for sure. Sorry for being so cryptic, but better not to spill the beans till it happens.

Ulf @ Ulftone Music Germany:
What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?

NOT IN ORDER - Steve Lukather - Santamental, David Poe - The late album, Mike Tramp - More to life than this, Skew Siskin - Album of the year, Pat MacDonald - strange love.
What were your favourite releases of the year?
Hard to say which one of your kids you love most, eh...I really can't tell!
Favourite releases from outside your label?
Maroon 5 Songs about Jane, Rush in Rio DVD, jeez, there's been too many but really nothing I would still remember in five years.
Any disappointments from 2003?
The Great White-disaster where we lost our friend Ty Longley and having to overcome a lot of frustrated people in the music industry that are thinking that the CD-market as such is a dying market. Otherwise, the year was fine.
What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
I am looking forward to a renewed and stronger approach in some of our markets since we realize that you need to have a strong presence in a market to create an impact. Our release schedule is already stronger than it has ever been for the first six months so I am really looking forward to it.
If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
Kiss 20 years ago!

Geoff @ Majestic Rock UK:
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2003?
Grand Slam 'Twilight's Last Gleaming' digi-pack edition; UFO - 'Big Apple Encounters'; The Plot - S/T; Black n' Blue - 'Without Love'; Black n' Blue - 'Black n' Blue'
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
John Sloman - 'Dark Matter'; UFO - 'Big Apple Encounters'; Heavy Pettin' - 'Lettin' Loose'
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Dream Theater - 'Train Of Thought'; Transatlantic - 'Live In Europe'; David Bowie - 'Alladin Sane' digital remaster...must be loads more, but I can't think right now.
- Any disappointments from 2003?
Why don't people get 'Dark Matter' and proclaim John Sloman undisputed ruler of the planet (OK, the lat bits a little OTT)
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
The most exciting thing for me - and its very personal because I've been chasing the bloody thing for five years! - is getting to release Tytan's 'Rough Justice' album. Ever had an itch that you just couldn't scratch.....?
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
There are two. Stevie Salas, who's an old friend of mine, and Glenn Hughes, who's my idol. I know they've worked together before, but how about a Hughes Salas Project!!!

Mark @ Now & Then Records UK:
- What were your labels best selling titles (Top 5) in 2003?
Bob Catley "When Empires Burn", Harem Scarem "Higher", Gary Hughes "Once And Future King", Nexx "Colours" and Saracen "Red Sky".
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
I was very happy with all the releases from the label this year. I really believe that we stuck to our quality not quantity motto and released nothing but great titles. The sales figures and end of year polls appear to bear that out.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
In no particular order - Pride Of Lions, Masterplan, Circle II Circle, Pride, Brainstorm, Waltham, Crystal Blue, Radioactive, Talisman, Brian McDonald, TNT E.P., Human Fortress, Star One DVD, The Rasmus, Taxiride, Newman, Last Tribe, Gotthard, Kee Marcello, Neal Morse, Cornerstone, Sonata Artica, Evanescence, Dreamtide, Ion Vein, Closure and of course, the mighty Darkness. "Growing On Me" is my son Tommy`s favourite song of last year for sure. We even got camcorder footage of him headbanging to the song aged 18 months!!!
- Any disappointments from 2003?
The negativity in the AOR scene in general and the constant arguing and bickering that goes on. I was slo very disappointed at the turnout for The Gods 2003. After the huge success of the previous year`s show I was hopeful that we`d established the event as something that people would attend for the vibe and the chance to discover new talent as well as for the `name` artists, but that wasn`t the case. It seems that other genres have a much more faithful and excitable fan base. One of our bands, Power Quest, played at the Bloodstock Festival last year and the crowd reaction was better than a headliner at The Gods can expect. The crowd was chanting their name between songs and bouncing up and down all the way to the back of the hall throughout the performance. It was a real eye-opener to the difference in the scenes.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your 2004 releases?
Finally finishing the new Millenium album -) Seriously though, this is going to be a huge release for us. It`s a step further into melodic metal territory for the band but then I`ve never considered them to fit in with the AOR scene particularly. The new CD will blow fans of "Hourglass" and "Angelfire" away but we`re looking to take the band to a new audience as well as anyone who likes Savatage, Circle II Circle, Masterplan etc will love this one.
I`m also really looking forward to unleashing some new talent onto the scene in 2004. Power Quest for instance, our Anglo-Italian power metal act is already causing ripples in Japan and the vibe for their new CD "NeverWorld" is building up in Europe very nicely. We have a lot of faith that this band will deliver a lot in 2004.
We`ve also got several new signings that we`ll announce in more detail over the coming weeks but look out for the likes of Cloudscape, Magistral, Seasons Of Storms, Circular Logik, Tragik and a very different band (for us) called Virgin Sin all coming up this year.
Of the existing roster of acts that we have product coming up by I`m really excited about the second Nexx CD. This band for me is the way forward for the scene. They are young, enthusiastic, hugely talented and most importantly they are a real band that plays live. Not some `put together` studio project that far too many releases are these days.
The Saracen concept album about the Knights Templar will also be released this year and that`s going to be very interesting after the success of their comeback album and live display at Bloodstock last year.
- If it was at all possible, what artist would you like the opportunity to work with for a brand new release?
I`d love the chance to work with Ted Nugent as he`s pretty much my all time hero. Maybe in some Damn Yankees style supergroup so that other vocalists could be involved. Hey, I love the guy but he ain`t no Jorn is he? -)

Questions were also sent to Song Haus, Metal Mayhem, Perris and Z Records. No replies were received.

Hope you have all enjoyed the 2003 feature! It's taken too many hours of work to complete this, but it's very enjoyable to write and a good way to sum up everything current in the world of melodic rock. You may not agree with everything written within this feature, but I do hope you all found it to be a good read.
Do let me know what you think!


The Best Music of 2004

Welcome to the annual end of year summary and Awards page!
This is my personal take on what I consider to be the best releases for the year 2004, with a nod to other recommended songs and albums in the Honorable Mentions lists. The MelRock Awards covers the Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year, plus a recap on the events of 2004 (both good and bad) and a look ahead to what we might expect during 2005.
After all is said and done - your chance to post your own lists and opinions. Anyway - enjoy! I could go on editing this for another month, but I guess I should just get it online! Oh, and sorry it's late (again)


(Ranked In Order)




My Religion

A perfect album - this received the only 100 score for the year and in my mind is the perfect mix of classic TNT with an updated and contemporary feel. A fan favourite and a well deserving winner. A varied and diverse album, yet it's best quality is a clean and easy flow of songs.




Tak Matsumoto Group


The pairing of Jack Blades and Eric Martin was always going to be special, but the power of guitarist Tak, plus a monster recording budget made this a truly formidable release. Another great example of hard hitting rock, with big melodies, but a strong contemporary feel. The heaviest album either Blades or Martin has ever recorded. More please.






Pride Of Lions

The Destiny Stone

Proving the debut wasn't just a one-off, Jim Peterik and band put together an even better follow-up of brilliant AOR. Any other year would have found this release at #1, but the competition was strong in 2004.






The surprise release of 2004 - not only surprising fans when it was announced, but surprising all with it's much bigger production sound and some truly memorable songs.


Jeff Scott Soto

Lost In The Translation

Another classy release from Jeff and band, with an update tougher sound that really matched some of the energy these guys have on stage. Brilliant songs, with some great hooks that got better every listen. A revised track running order would have made it even better.


From The Inside - From The Inside




Soul SirkUS - World Play






Seventh Key - The Raging Fire




Rick Springfield - Shock Denial Anger Acceptance




House Of Shakira - First Class

11 Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
12 Stan Bush - Shine
13 Over The Edge  - Over The Edge
14 Kick - New Horizon
15 Stage Dolls - Get A Life
16 Ten - Return To Evermore
17 Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
18 M.ill.ion - Kingsize
19 Tesla - Into The Now
20 The Ladder - Future Miracles


21 Jaded Heart - Trust
22 Pete Lesperance - Down In It
23 Jorn - Out To Every Nation
24 Danny Danzi - DanziLand
25 SR-71 - Here We Go Again
26 Final Frontier - The Second Wave
27 Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal
28 Grand Illusion - Ordinary Just Won't Do
29 Crossfade - White On Blue
30 Hugo - Fire In The Night


Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Chris Catena - Freak Out
  • Iommi with Glenn Hughes - The 1996 DEP Sessions
  • Megadeth - The System Has Failed
  • Higher Ground - A Thousand Pieces
  • Second Heat - Second Heat
  • Charade - II
  • James Christian - Meet The Man
  • Shadows Fade - Shadows Fade
  • Heartplay - Where The Deadends Meet
  • Asia - Silent Nation
  • Europe - Start From The Dark
  • Jean Beauvoir - Chameleon
  • Bonrud - Bonrud
  • Magnum - Brand New Morning
  • Zillion - Zillion
  • Frontline - The Seventh Sign
  • Dokken - Hell To Pay
  • Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth
  • Scorpions - Unbreakable
  • Edge of Forever - Feeding The Fire
  • Shortino / Northrup - Afterlife
  • Genius - Episode 2
  • Alyson Avenue - Omega
  • Hugo - Fire In The Night
  • Altaria - Divinity
  • Tim Donahue - Madmen & Sinners
  • Eclipse - Second To None
  • Panik - A Page Torn
  • Power Quest - NeverWorld
  • Deacon Street Project - Deacon Street Project
  • Iron Horse - Bring It On
  • Statetrooper - The Calling
  • Hobbit - All For The One
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Kings & Queens
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Last Autumn's Dream
  • Shadowman - Land Of The Living
  • Street Talk - Destination
  • Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin 



(Ranked In Order)

  • Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  • Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  • Iommi/Hughes - 1996 Dep Sessions
  • Million - Kingsize
  • Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal
  • Megadeth - The System Has Failed
  • Altaria - Divinity
  • Zillion - Zillion
  • Power Quest - NeverWorld
  • Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth 
(Ranked In Order)
  • Pride Of Lions - Pride Of Lions
  • Stan Bush - Shine
  • Over The Edge - Over The Edge
  • Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
  • Stage Dolls - Get A Life
  • The Ladder - Future Miracles
  • Shadowman - Land Of The Living
  • Final Frontier - The Second Wave
  • Hugo - Fire In The Night
  • Crossfade - White On Blue  
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  2. SR-71 - Here We Go Again
  3. Glen Burtnik - Welcome To Hollywood
  4. Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
  5. Panik - A Page Torn
  6. Plunge - Hometown Hero
  7. Higher Ground - A Thousand Pieces
  8. London Calling - You're So Lucky
  9. Suburban Love Junkies - Weightless
  10. Fluid Sol - Fluid Sol  
  • TNT - She Needs Me
  • Tak Matsumoto Group - Everything Passes Away
  • Rick Springfield - Will I
  • Soul SirkUS - Coming Home
  • Pride Of Lions - The Courage To Love Somebody
  • House of Shakira - You Are
  • Adriangale - Long Gone
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Find My Way
  • SR-71 (Mitch Allan) - In Your Eyes
  • TNT - My Religion
  • Soul SirkUS - New Position
  • From The Inside - Is Anybody Watching Me?
  • Adriangale - Crunch
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Soul Divine
  • The Ladder - Closer To Your Heart
  • Rick Springfield - Your Psychopathic Mother
  • Kick - Something To Hold On To
  • From The Inside - Blessing In Disguise
  • Pride Of Lions - Second Hand Life
  • House Of Shakira - Landing
  • John Waite - The Hard Way
  • Shadowman - These Days Are Gone
  • Asia - Long Way From Home
  • Rick Springfield - Every Night I Wake Up Screaming
  • Stage Dolls - Runnin' Back To You
  • Seventh Key - Always From The Heart
  • Ten - Sail Away
  • TNT - Invisible Noise
  • Final Frontier - Lost Inside A Dream
  • Tak Matsumoto Group - The Greatest Show On Earth
  • Street Talk - Astray
  • Tesla - Caught In A Dream
  • Glen Burtnik - Roses
  • Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  • From The Inside - Nothing At All
  • Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  • Kick - Forever Yours
  • Europe - Start From The Dark
  • Heartplay - Never Again
  • Plunge - One More Time
  • Stan Bush - Falling
  • Spin Gallery - Satisfied
  • Million - Rock N Roll Nation
  • Magnum - The Last Goodbye
  • James Christian - Strong Enough
  • Fluid Sol - Fear
  • Butch Walker - Maybe It's Me
  • Voodoo Hill - Make Believe
  • TMG - I Wish You Were Here
  • Jaded Heart - Burning Heart 
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • TNT - Lonely Nights
  • House Of Shakira - Ain't Your Crowd
  • Soul SirkUS - My Sanctuary
  • Soul SirkUS - Soul Goes On
  • The Ladder - Like Lovers Do
  • Plunge - Running Away
  • Plunge - One More Time
  • Fluid Sol - Down
  • Higher Ground - Speechless
  • Higher Ground - Inside Me
  • Second Heat - Anything For Love
  • Second Heat - What Am I Gonna Do
  • Million - Eyes Of A King
  • Million - Backdoor Queen
  • Pride Of Lions - The Destiny Stone
  • Pride Of Lions - Falling Back To Then
  • Charade - In The End
  • Charade - Like The Way It Is
  • Renegade - Angel Of Love
  • Butch Walker - Uncomfortably Numb
  • Statetrooper - The Calling
  • Bryan Adams - Open Road
  • James Christian - Leave Well Enough Alone
  • Shadows Fade - Sooner Or Later
  • Europe - Got To Have Faith
  • Europe - Wake Up Call
  • Heartplay - Don't You Ever Fall
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Drowning
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Sacred Eyes
  • Asia - What About Love
  • Jean Beauvoir - Something To Believe In
  • Jean Beauvoir - Where The River Runs Deep
  • Bonrud - Desperate Heart
  • Magnum - It's Time To Come Together
  • Magnum - We All Run
  • Grand Illusion - Back To Yesterday
  • Grand Illusion - Love Lies Buried
  • Zillion - You And Me
  • Zillion - Kryptonite
  • Frontline - This Lie
  • Frontline - Where's The Love
  • Dokken - Don't Bring Me Down
  • Dokken - Escape
  • Stan Bush - Do It All Over
  • Stan Bush - Say It Ain't Love
  • Ten - Even The Ghosts Cry
  • Ten - Evermore
  • Voodoo Hill - Dying To Live
  • Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth
  • Glen Burtnik - Welcome To Hollywood
  • Glen Burtnik - Another
  • SR-71 - Here We Go Again
  • SR-71 (Bowling For Soup) - 1985
  • Stage Dolls - Get A Life
  • Pete Lesperance - Scars
  • Pete Lesperance - Say You Will
  • London Calling - Beautiful Day
  • Scorpions - Deep And Dark
  • Scorpions - Love 'em Or Leave 'Em
  • Dare - Beneath The Shining Water
  • Edge Of Forever - Feeding The Fire
  • Shortino / Northrup - Afterlife
  • Shortino / Northrup - Crazy Mind
  • Adriangale - Question
  • Liberty & Justice - Noise
  • Alyson Avenue - When Dreams Fall Apart
  • Alyson Avenue - Do You Ever Miss My Passion
  • Over The Edge - Over The Edge
  • Hugo - Hand In Hand
  • Hugo - It's The Love
  • Altaria - Darkened Highlight
  • Altaria - Prophet Of Pestilence
  • Impellitteri - The Writings On The Wall
  • Impellitteri - Propaganda Mind
  • Rick Springfield - Perfect
  • Jorn - Living With Wolves
  • Tim Donahue - Million Miles
  • Eclipse - Always Standing
  • Eclipse - As I Do
  • Kick - Paralysed
  • Kick - New Horizon
  • Crossfade - Did You Really
  • Crossfade - You
  • Panik - Find A Way
  • Panik - Harder
  • Spin Gallery - My Heart
  • Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
  • Deacon Street Project - Radio
  • Deacon Street Project - Before I Loved Just You
  • Chris Catena - Crazy Man
  • Chris Catena - Freak Out Tonight
  • TNT - Everybody's Got A Secret
  • Danny Danzi - Eternity
  • Danny Danzi - Just A Matter Of Time
  • Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  • Pink Cream 69 - Here I Am
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Cold Heaven
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Strong As A Rock
  • Tesla - Words Can't Explain
  • Tesla - Miles Away
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Again And Again
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Break The Chains
  • Shadowman - Medicine To Me
  • Shadowman - Touched By An Angel
  • Final Frontier - Somebody's Got To Pay The Price
  • Jaded Heart - Feels Like Home
  • Jaded Heart - Love Is Magic
  • Seventh Key - You Cross The Line
  • Seventh Key - The Sun Will Rise
  • Street Talk - Made For Paradise 


(Ranked In Order)


  1. Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  2. Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  3. Altaria - Unchain The Rain
  4. Megadeth - Die Dead Enough
  5. Million - Backdoor Queen
  6. Jorn - Young Forever
  7. Axel Rudi Pell - Cold Heaven
  8. Voodoo Hill - Dying To Live
  9. Impellitteri - Hurricane
  10. Jorn - Living With Wolves  
(Ranked In Order)


  1. Soul Sirkus - Coming Home
  2. Pride Of Lions - The Gift Of Song
  3. Heartplay - Never Again
  4. Ten - Sail Away
  5. Kick - Something To Hold Onto
  6. Pride Of Lions - Back To Camelot
  7. Spin Gallery - My Heart
  8. Pink Cream 69 - That Was Yesterday
  9. Adriangale - Without A Moment's Notice
  10. Stage Dolls - Naked In The Rain 
(Ranked In Order)


  1. SR-71 - In Your Eyes
  2. Rick Springfield - Every Night I Wake Up Screaming
  3. Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  4. Glen Burtnik - Welcome To Hollywood
  5. Plunge - One More Time
  6. Butch Walker - Maybe It's Me
  7. Pete Lesperance - Say You Will
  8. London Calling - Beautiful Day
  9. Butch Walker - Uncomfortably Numb
  10. Europe - Wake Up Call 
2004 - Looking Back - The Year In Review

The Best Of Results:
30 killer albums, 50 classic songs - and a well deserved selection of honorable mentions. This year's best were culled from around 250 reviews and at least another 100 titles featured on the site as soundbytes. That's at least 4200 songs and what you see above are the best of the best as far as I see it. In these circumstances there is always a lot that miss out, but a tough decision on what to include in the very best has to be made.
No doubt there will be as many that disagrees with some results as there are those that agree. But within the majority of 2004 Best Of lists, I would expect the above titles and songs to feature regularly. They are all outstanding releases.
Below is quite a read - I hope you enjoy it and look forward to feedback. Feel free to print the Awards Page out and read it on the can. It runs at about 24 pages in case you were wondering!
Although there were plenty of releases out in 2004, I felt the melodic/AOR scene itself was a little quiet - almost in a state of survival mode, waiting to be pushed in a new direction. This goes for the both the European and American scene. The Best Of 2004 results are quite interesting I think. These are the titles that held my interest throughout the year and held up the best as far as how I view them personally.
Of the Top 30 albums, all melodic labels are represented, which I think is a very good thing (Frontiers, MTM, Escape, Lion, Majestic, Kivel, Atenzia, Z). Titles released by Frontiers Records again feature heavily, but not as dominant as in last year's results and for the first time, several Indie releases - self-released by the artists themselves - make the cut.
Rick Springfield, Ten, Soul Sirkus and Hugo all did the hard yards of getting their albums into the public's hands themselves. Some with the help of distributors, some purely from self-promotion and online sales. I'm sure there will be more of this to come, but to reach the masses - all possible fans out there - will definitely require some creative thinking and possible co-operation with others.
I am disappointed I could not feature Van Halen anywhere in my Top albums or songs. Sammy Hagar is a long time favourite and I love that band, but those new songs - the vibe is just so flat.

You will notice that the titles featured in the Best Of lists do not have their respective record labels listed alongside them. I have never done this for the end of year lists because I really don't care what label the titles are on - it's about the music and the above titles are featured without prejudice. I shouldn't really have to make that statement, but it seems each year someone tries to read a pattern into the results. Don't bother - there isn't one!!

State Of The Nation!:
12 months ago I wrote that 2003 was a challenging year. Little did I know that 2004 would out do that and 2005 is already heading in the same direction. To date I have managed to overcome the various issues and problems thrown at me, but sitting here in only Mid-January 2005, I really can't predict if I will have the resources to come through 2005 unscathed. If I am sitting here typing out my thoughts in January 2006, I'll be a happy man.
Times are tough, business is tough and everyone is looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope it's there.
I also stated last year that 2003 was the most difficult year for dealing with running and maintaining the site. 2004 easily topped that and I am finding that maintaining constant sponsor support for the site is harder than ever. The main reason behind this, is the basic fact that times are tough and there really isn't much money to spare - that goes for readers busy raising families, record labels trying to break new ground and retailers and labels alike trying to inspire people to purchase new product.
2005 will see this trend continue - which I why I really haven't been able to predict where things will end up. One hopes for the best naturally - better titles, bigger sales, bigger comebacks, etc. For those able to rise to the occasion, benefits will flow. But to say that of the whole scene is being very optimistic.
I also note that there is an air of negativity with some folk. This happens from time to time, especially when watching the cycles of the Noticeboard. I am always glad people decide to stop by the site and check it out, and remain hopeful contributions to the Message Board communities can be a positive one.

The Scene:
2004 offered no major surprises. Frontiers Records continued to build their stable of artists and the number of titles they release; MTM Music built on their Classix sub-label with a number of re-issues, while for their frontline releases, the label put a lot of faith in newcomers - hoping to continue and build the profiles of these artists over the coming year.
Lion Music continued to tread the same path they are best known for, but scored big on the AOR side of things with the classy House Of Shakira release and Escape Music did much the same, providing fans with 2 cracking AOR releases in Shadowman and The Ladder, plus more traditional AOR and some impressively done re-issues. AOR/Metal Heaven continued to add to their stable of releases, with some well chosen titles released through the year.
Majestic Rock Records were one of the few emerging labels for the year. The new label started off as a re-issue house, but quickly snapped up some great talent such as Kick and Million for a move into the new release market.
The biggest worry for 2004 was Atenzia Records, who have and continue to promise a great deal, but to date have delivered little, with only a handful of sporadic releases during the year.
2003 was the year of Z Records - or the non-year of....depends on your take of the situation. The label was publicly lynched several times over in 2003, with things mellowing somewhat during 2004. Periods of discussion and controversy appeared, but quickly died down. The label released a few albums, but their biggest problem remains the stream of press releases touting dates that never eventuate - which puts doubts into the minds of the record buying public.
A number of outlets carry Z news and I am considering running the occasional Z update - in the good name of supporting the artists signed to the label - but I continue to have doubts over the content of those press releases and the accuracy of upcoming release dates.

But Z were not alone in announcing CD releases that would not eventuate. Now & Then Records had a slow year where only a few titles were released (in conjunction with Frontiers) with others announced not yet seeing the light of day. Their big problem came from a partnership with French label NTS - only weeks before the label went bankrupt, causing big problems for all. Good news though - the original AOR label will return in 2005, with it's first releases scheduled for February.

2004 saw the second CD released. I thought the first one gave me trouble - putting it together was a huge learning curve! - but this was a real headache to get sorted. In the end, I thought it was more consistent and better quality than the first volume. Sold about 850-900 I guess, but was considerably more expensive to put together given that it was a 2-Disc set. I for one was really pleased to be able to offer some new and unsigned bands a bit of exposure, as it's one thing I never seem to have enough time to do on the site itself.
The feedback I got has been great, with just as many people liking Disc 2 over the more established names on Disc 1. Time to think about a third volume!

The biggest event for me professionally in 2004 was my debut as a tour manager/promoter for the Jeff Scott Soto Australian tour. I'll use the term manager lightly...I'm sure Howie would love to comment on that! That two weeks was another huge learning curve, let me tell you! I had some idea of what I was getting myself into and what had to be done, but that wasn't the half of it.
I have spoken at some length about the tour, so I'll just add that Jeff was happy, I was happy and we both learnt a lot about what we should do next time around - and we would like to do it again, no doubt.
I'd love to do this for more bands, but the bottom line is that I can't see any other artists putting their own money on the line to do it. Shows can be booked, publicity done, but it takes a lot of money to get here and no promoter is going to buy into a small tour on this scale from any melodic music band.
Selling merch will help any artist break even if they want to come on their own dime, so if there is anyone that wants to further their music horizons and say G'Day to some Aussie fans, it came be done, but you have to be brave about it! Full credit to Jeff for diving in head first.

Musically speaking, I think the biggest news of 2004 was the return of Van Halen. As promoted in November by myself (and denied by all right up until the actual announcement), Sammy Hagar made his return to the band for what was a very interesting time. I have to say that I was really excited by Hagar's return, but the events that transpired really left me with a bad taste. This is my favourite band in the world, but their 2004 Tour just didn't seem natural and the Best Of Both Worlds release was extremely sub-par in every aspect. The whole re-union seemed staged and presented to fans as a cash making exercise.
The new tracks lacked spark, and while on tour, it was still clear to see that it was a band with two camps - Sammy and Mike and Eddie and Alex. No one, no matter what they say will convince me otherwise and I don't see any change for this should their be a future.
Should the band record a new studio album (My guess is they will, but not this year), I hope it has a better vibe than the 3 pieced together new tracks that appeared this year.
Speaking of that compilation - when the producer has to come out and explain certain parts of the album, you know something is wrong. Glen Ballard did just that - doing his best to explain away a few errors on the compilation. That sentence I just typed gives me a huge sense of deja-vu...oh yeah, Bob Rock and Metallica in 2003.
When VH did eventually hit the road, reviews ran the full range - brilliant to sloppy - with Eddie copping most of the flack. I handed out some of my own when it come to him nixing Soul SirkUS supporting the band on 2 Californian dates. Bad show Eddie!
Meanwhile, David Lee Roth headed off to NYC and trained as an Emergency Response Technician. Always good to have a back-up career incase music doesn't pay the bills.

The biggest stir of the year for me personally however, does not go to Van Halen. Yes, Eddie's drunken stage antics provided plenty of headlines - as did the back and forth PR generating comments from Alex and Sammy, but once the re-union was announced, the frenzy died off a little.
Besides, the Van Halen announcement I made fell under 2003 scoop of 2004 was the exclusive unveiling of news that Def Leppard's new album would be an all-covers affair - which was followed by a second scoop featuring the track listing. At least, I thought it was!
The band were keeping a lid on their plans and did not appreciate my leaking the news of the covers - especially as at the same time I suggested that it was a daft idea. After all, the band do covers every album they record - they are just issued as b-sides and I believe we have plenty of those already.
Anyway, the band were not happy and out of the blue comes an e-mail with the full track listing from the album....the rest of the story you know. Lesson learned. If you are going for a scoop, be wary of a reprisal and make sure it ain't a set-up!
At least I eventually got my scoop when I printed the real track listing online Feb. 1.

Arguments of 2004: one of the best I think goes to my buddy Chris Logan - last seen as vocalist for MSG. This guy sent me some good abuse after my review of the last MSG album and I hadn't really heard any news of him since then. But it seems someone within the MSG camp attacked him from behind and he left the tour that night.
This from Chris at the time: "Unfortunately, there was an altercation which took place after the show tonight (Nov. 14) (after a killer show at Klubben in Stockholm, Sweden tonight, I might add). I was attacked twice from behind by a member of our tour, who was too big a coward to face me from the front. I was severely injured in the process, and I cannot continue under the current conditions."
I feel bad for the guy actually, as the spin doctors have clearly kept the name of his attacker out of the headlines, but I'm sure we can all guess who it was. Well, at least I thought it was you know who, but it seems Chris is still lined up to add some vocals for the new MSG album afterall. All is well that ends well?

Who else - well there was Eddie Van Halen's onstage blow up near the end of the VH tour, and Sammy's tell it like it is radio interview just before that, but we can't forget Mark Mangold and The Sign vs Frontiers Records - much of it played out on my own message board. Seems Mark did not appreciate the label making changes to his record and the label didn't appreciate what was originally delivered. Regardless, one can safely say the two will not work together again in the future.

I wouldn't say it was an argument as such, but Diamond Head employed a new singer and announced it, much to the surprise of original singer Sean Harris, who saw the news on my frontpage and wrote in a rather well worded response. Another pairing unlikely to work together again.

WASP made the headlines several times over with frontman Blackie Lawless clearly having a few bad weeks, canceling a number of shows for what one could describe as some 'creative' excuses. Food poisoning was one, unsafe stage barriers was another and the best of all was the one where Blackie's over-sized mike stand was too heavy for the stage to take - therefore the show had to be cancelled. Funny stuff.

The biggest argument of all was one no one ever saw. Perhaps they should have, as I was mad as hell at the time, but chose to keep the issue offline. In fact, even now I'm torn between telling all and keeping it to myself. Perhaps a compromise as I don't want to be misunderstood as being pissy. It's not like that - it's more a funny story and one I am still amazed at. I'll refrain from naming names and just use the incident as an example of some of the things I have to deal with behind the scenes!
It's also a great example of no matter how much great publicity you can give any given artist, to some you are only as good as your last review and the first sign of anything negative and you are public enemy #1. Thankfully that's not the case to often, but certainly more often than it should be and it's an issue I deal with every year.
So - to the case in point....
In the lead up to a certain big new release from a favourite artist, I was giving out a ton of press - mentioned 7 or 8 times in the first 2 months of the year alone. As the release drew nearer, the info dried up and a veil of secrecy descended over the release, the likes of which I have only seen a few times before.
I started to mention this on the site and was publicly pressing for more publicity as that's what happened in the past and so I could better promote this release. That never came, and I ended up pre-ordering a copy of the album myself, as I never heard back from anyone involved in the album's release. Funnily enough, out of the blue a promo CD did finally arrive - on the day after it was released.
Little did I know, all my online/site comments and e-mails of contact had been logged and recorded by a certain individual, which would come to my attention shortly.
I did a review of the album after enough listening time had passed and gave it a pretty good score overall - very good even - with a few side comments on how it could have been even better still. There was also a special version of the album released, with extra tracks. For the purpose of a quick and accurate review, I had a bud in the USA who got it delivered straight away, e-mail me the extra tracks before I got the special version myself. The extra tracks on offer for the extra price being charged is where I had my biggest problem and stated so in the review.
Those comments were also recorded!
Here's what happened next. As a supporter of this artist and someone who has each and every release to date, I paid out my $$ for the limited edition as soon as it was available for pre-sale. Some 4 weeks after the publicized shipping date I made an enquiry as to where my CD might be. That was 6 weeks from payment date. A generic e-mail was sent stating all international shipments of pre-orders have been completed. I waited another 2 weeks - some 8 from original payment and 6 weeks from shipping date. Another request for information was sent. This time demanding to know a ship date. No response.
Another request was sent the next day and again the day after that...and again the day after that! The last e-mail threatened to lodge a complaint with the online payment carrier. I added the line: "I'm regretful that you have chosen not to reply and treat your customers with such contempt."
I received a simple reply that stated: "Trust me Andrew, *you* are the only one I treat with such contempt."
It was followed up by another e-mail the following day. It stated "I'm just passing a little bit of the love back to you...After those bad reviews and nasty remarks about *******'s new CD and all...Turnabout is fair play!"
Now, if they want to think that way fine, it happens from time to time...but they still have my money. I sent back a suitable reply (!), adding one last line: "You are yet to address the issue of where my order is. Would it be too much trouble to ask that you respond to that?"
I then got the biggest surprise of all. This was the reply to that question "I've never shipped your order...I'll go ahead and refund your payment in the morning and we'll be all square. Adios...."
That e-mail arrived over 2 months since I paid out my money. I eventually got my refund, but not for another 10 days!!!
It was sent with one last e-mail, containing this comment: "I know this will probably garner only more negative spin and statements to you....but I truly believe it's time to cut ties with you. I just can't see you ever being a help, in anyway, to ****** or his organization. I only see more sour grapes and nasty statements, which don't do anybody any good."
Sadly I have not had any contact with this artist since and haven't posted a single news item until one item recently, which I though my readers would be interested in. I didn't print anything negative and haven't since, but I thought this story should be told - if only as an example of how my reviews upset some artists! I remain extremely disappointed in them and the people in their organization. But I doubt they care...Funny stuff eh? And I still haven't tracked down this Limited CD!

This Year's Unrelated To Anything Rant:
Last year I included a rant about the quality of press releases being sent out. 2004 wasn't much better! Some labels out there need to re-think who is writing their news up and re-check it again before hitting that send button. Two new pet peeves from the press releases sent last year - 1. Yelling! Far to much use of CAPITAL LETTERS folks!! Tone it down a little!
2 - The mis-use of the term "is back"!!!!! Mis-use or over-use - it has to stop! The funniest example is a press release for a certain artist's new solo album stating "***** is back!!", when the artists last album was a mere 12 months ago and they haven't stopped being in the press all along anyway. Please restrict the use of the term "is back!!!!" to an artist that is genuinely returning from a period in the wilderness! Ok, rant over...

Noteworthy Musical Events of 2004:
Former Survivor vocalist Dave Bickler continued to make waves with his inspired tributes to ordinary working folk in a long series of Budweiser commercials. Speaking of Survivor, the band announced they had commenced work on a new album on January 5, 2004, but I now have it on good authority, there is no chance in hell of a new studio album this year - instead perhaps in 2006. As my contact suggested to me - Survivor are officially the Guns N Roses of the melodic rock world. Shit or get off the can already.

Rush had an interesting year - with another successful tour and a series of European dates plus a new anniversary celebrating covers EP and then there was that thing with guitarist Alex Lifeson. His arrest on assault charges was unfortunate, but it did sound like he was well and truly pissed.

Alex wasn't along in being arrested. What year could possibly go past without Vince Neil making the headlines for punching someone and/or getting arrested? This year he did both, before taking to getting a makeover, which saw a new nip and tuck version of Vince revealed. He also found time to do the chicken dance at some festival, which saw well deserved ridicule heaped upon him.

Ted Nugent put a chainsaw through his leg, which wasn't the smartest thing I ever heard of, but he recovered fully to hit the road as usual.

Several artists upped the ante as far as flogging their own merchandise. Nelson continued to do it via their site and e-bay, Kelly Keeling has CDRs for sale for $15 via his own site, Lanny Gordola, Neal Schon and even Eddie Van Halen had guitars up for sale. Kiss continued to put their name on anything, with a line of specialist stores almost ready to go. Expect KissWorld to open in 2005 and close in 2006!

Speaking of Nelson - the band have recorded a brand new studio album which went unreleased in 2004, re-recorded their greatest hits for a Japanese release that got cancelled and Matt Nelson joined a new project called Red 37, who's album (you guessed it) remains officially unreleased and available only via self-made CD on the band's website. What is going on with the guys and can they get it together to actually release anything? The band are super talented and Life was such a classic and released through a range of small labels - why not just get these releases on the market?

A few musicians opened their own record labels in 2004 - Jack Ponti formed Bardic Records in March, but I really haven't heard much about it since then. The label's roster of artists shows it ain't a melodic rock label, that's for sure!
Also heading off to work was Corey Hart, who formed Siena Records, in conjunction with WarnerBros Canada. Again, not much movement since, but a new solo record might be nice!
Stuart Smith and partners have also formed their own label - Black Star Records. Expect a few interesting releases from them this year.

Satellite Radio made increased head roads into the market place, with a few new hard rock shows making their debut - both in the UK and the USA. This is definitely the way forward and is radio's answer to the Internet as far as a freer range of uncontrolled playlists being available.

Boston mastermind Tom Scholtz spent much of 2004 re-mixing, re-recording and adding new material to the Corporate America release, before releasing it again on a new label. No ETA on it's release!

The Alarm get credit for being the most ingenious band of 2004 - they recorded a new single and album and achieved a #28 chart position in the Uk on the back of a video that featured a sub-in teenage band to give the appearance of being cooler than they might otherwise be perceived. Seems it worked!

No White Lion re-union for 2004 and right now most likely never. Mike and the rest of the guys couldn't come to terms and I think any doors open from the possibility are now well and truly shut. Especially now that Mike is on the road as Tramp's White Lion, doing the music of his former band himself.

Guitarist extraordinaire Ralph Santolla joined Sebastian Bach's band, which could prove to be very interesting indeed. So far no sign of trouble and I'm anxious to hear some results!

There were a few big splits that need to be talked about.
Jesse Harms left Sammy Hagar's band, after some 20 years of service. That was really sad - it seems Sammy's band was no longer a democracy and Harms could see VH coming a mile off. Jani Lane left Warrant to be replaced by Jamie St. James - which isn't a bad move, but we are yet to hear any new music from the band.
Lou Gramm left Foreigner, or at least, was requested to leave after his voice simply didn't hold out while on tour. He continues on as a solo artist, but reviews reaching me paint a very bad picture for the once flawless and great vocalist.
Drummer Phil Verone left Skid Row, only to re-join a few months later. Buckethead left Guns N Roses (are they still together?!), Ron Taylor left Lillian Axe, Tony Martin fell out with M3, Morty Black left TNT, Paul Shorinto failed to make magic with Heaven & Earth and Stratovarius leader Timo Tolkki left himself during a mental crisis.
In fact, let's jump to Timo Tolkki - who gets the wally of the year award hands down. Not only did he drive everyone from his band, he recruited a new vocalist no one liked, argued with his record label that then went after him for the return of his massive advance and he was attacked by a crazed fan, clearly unimpressed with his actions. The pinnacle of this came when Timo made this statement:
"World peace, tolerance to other people's feelings and opinions, systematically refusing to cooperate with EVIL, world without armies, world without hate, love... My eyes have opened finally. These fucking things are just UTOPIA. They can never be achieved. I was once stupid because I honestly, wholeheartedly believed that these things could be achieved and that we human beings could learn from the past and just live in peace. I've got news for you baby, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So why not just have good time, you never know when your days are numbered. It could be tomorrow you know! So don't wait ANY MORE! MAKE YOUR LIFE A MASTERPIECE! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! FUCK EVERYBODY WHO WANTS TO STOP YOU!! ADOLF HITLER IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE WORLD. I FUCKED HIM LAST NIGHT. WE ARE ALL HITLER AND WE ARE ALL CHRIST. AND HITLER IS WINNING!!"
Nothing I can add to that - it pretty much speaks for itself.

2004 wasn't all about splitting though - Ted Poley re-joined Danger Danger and has been touring with them; Joey Allen re-joined Warrant; and late in the year Timo Tolkki found himself again and promptly put Stratovarius back together.
Aussie rockers Noiseworks are pretty much back together, although Jon Stevens is keeping quiet about their plans. I think he is retaining hope someone might actually buy his God awful solo record. His manager expressed a certain displeasure at my review, which actually ranked Stevens' album as the very worst release in 2004. That it is. Even worse than the Gene Simmons album. Man what a record that was though! It's title and the album itself is equal to the contents emptied from the body part it represented.
Another cult Aussie act - Ice Tiger also reformed, with moves to make a new album in 2005.

To switch attention back to touring briefly, I found there were not as many smaller tours this year - there also was no Gods Festival (sadly) and everything seemed just a little subdued there. Getting people from the comfort of their homes in this day and age is a challenge. I hope there is a little more life during 2005. The announcement of The Gods 2005 is a good step in that direction.
One of the bright spots was Sweden Rock Festival selling out for the very first time, and with 2005's line-up announced, look like doing that again with ease.
Credit to another individual for putting his money where his mouth is goes to Kieren Dargan, who organized and promoted the Tyketto / Teer / Deadline tour of the UK, not to mention the well received Firehouse / Vaughn tour. Well done Kieren. I here more plans are underway, so power to you mate.
There wasn't a Gods, but Z Records did put on a show - but sadly only 70-odd people showed up. I don't want to get into a negative Z thing here - credit to them for trying a show - but there were a few artists advertised that didn't show or cancelled at the last minute and it's this continuing factor of conflicting information published by Z that has given the community considerable cause to question what information is actually valid and which is correct. I hope 2005 brings a change there. Consumers need to have confidence.
The Munich Open Air Festival was another highly publicized event that went badly wrong on the day. An outdoor summer festival sounds like a safe bet, but not even the line-up of Dare, TNT, Gotthard, Kingdom Come and Primal Fear could convince the majority to brave a day long torrential down pour that caused organizers to lose a lot of money, not to mention make filming the whole event for DVD releases next to impossible.
Thankfully it was still doable and the first DVD featuring Dare will be released soon.
UFO toured America - eventually - the band got turned back first time around, due to incorrect visas, but even then a re-scheduled tour took place without Pete Way, as his visa still wasn't correct. Not overly professional, but Barry Sparks stepped in to save the day.
Journey continued to tour, with the new set list featuring everyone having a go at vocals - the most impressive being the ultra smooth Perry-like vocals of drummer Deen Castronovo.
A number of other groups toured, but I won't get into each and everyone. I would say that I hope ticket prices can be kept down and affordable and fans get out of their houses should these bands come to town. A great deal of an artists money is now derived from touring alone, with little coming from making new CDs. Support their tours and new music will continue to be produced - at least, it better be!

Disappointments & Re-Issues Of 2004:
The Disappointments of 2004: Sadly, 2004 saw the biggest selection of disappointments released in a single year since I started this site. From time to time I hear a comment regarding the number of good reviews posted, but take a look at the number of bad or average reviews I posted this year! Quite honestly, if any album doesn't make the cut - you will hear about it.
The worst album of 2004 has to be the Jon Stevens solo album - which saw the rocker return to his soul/R&B roots, but no one cared.
Kiss' Gene Simmons was the next worst, with his album absolutely devoid of any sense of cohesiveness. One could see how thrown together the album was, and surprisingly I didn't receive half the abuse I expected from Kiss fans after posting the review - so it really must have been bad.
The Tygers Of Pan Tang release wasn't much better - and their vocalist has now departed; Hall & Oates proved their originals are far better than their attempt at covers; and Stephen Pearcy's album saw him so far from what he is best known and loved for, I cannot imagine who would buy that album.
Another two clangers were albums from Helix and Julliet. So utterly dire and so far removed from their heyday sound, one must again question the thought process behind such a change in direction.
Dead Heart Beating was another album from a classic rocker (Airborne's David Zychek) that headed in a tuned-down grungeworthy direction. Enough of the tuned down guitars already!
Europe changed face, but managed to pull it off with some great songs - but ran out of steam half way through their album.
House Of Lords had the right ideas, but the album didn't sound finished and was lacking big choruses, which again, is what the band were best loved for.
Heart's big comeback was a disappointment for me personally and I know others agreed. But it did find some favor with other fans of their early work.
Also disappointing was Velvet Revolver, Bulletboys, Velvet Dreams, Brides Of Destruction and the Aerosmith covers album.
One last one that I found disappointing personally, was the Jack Blades solo album. Once again a case of too many styles on one record and not enough of the classic JB we all know and love. Not a bad record as such, but not what I was hoping for.
The Van Halen compilation was also a pretty shabby bit of work, with errors, a confused running order and poor booklet all part of over-priced package.
So, plenty of disappointing and sub-standard releases in 2004. More than there should have been and I'm sorry to those involved with the album that I upset with negative reviews or comments. That's sadly one of the hazards of this job.

On a more positive note -
Best Re-Issues & Compilations of 2004: Last year saw some of the best re-issues put on the market to date. French label Bad Reputation really didn't put out a lot in 2004, but their 2 major releases were all class. The re-issue of the debut Riverdogs album, with the never officially released acoustic On Air promo album was a gem, as was their rounding up of all officially and promotionally released Shark Island material on the Law Of The Order re-issue. I'd make some mention of typo's within that release, but as it was re-pressed with corrections, there is no need!
Majestic Rock saw to it that Wasyed's classic AOR record Save Your Prayers got a decent release as well as some other lost NWOBHM titles.
Mike Tramp bootlegged himself, with a self released set of 6 titles which really painted a monster picture of unreleased and demo material for fans of his and White Lion. If only every band would do so much for their fans. The market for such releases is small, but for fans of any given artist, a look into their demo vaults would be priceless.
Bon Jovi actually stuck to their word for once and delivered a fabulous 4CD, 1DVD box of mainly unreleased tracks - but still left plenty in the vault from the early years for a Volume 2.
MTM Classix helped 707 get their classic AOR release Mega-Force onto the market, as well as the previously unreleased The Bridge album. Sadly though, singer Kevin Chalfant was snubbed from participating in the liner notes for Mega-Force. His comments would have made for a complete package.
Escape Music were again involved with some great re-issues, this year delivering Surrender, Paul Janz and The Creek.

I think the best re-issues of 2004 came from Talisman. Their care in re-mastering all of their albums and packaging them in slip cases with bonus discs filled with demos and live tracks was classic and when not available, doubling up the albums as 2 for 1 releases made for a fan must have. Sitting side by side, these releases are essential for all Talisman fans.
There were also a couple of great compilations, the Survivor Essential Collection one of the best packages, thank to band involvement and a great deal of care in assembling the CD thanks to BMG.
Sammy Hagar was another great compilation, much for the same reasons as the Survivor one - Sammy's involvement, some rare and unreleased tracks and a nice package made his release truly essential and showed up the weaknesses in Van Halen's package.

2004 - Looking Back - The Predictions Made

Ok, time to look back and embarrass myself with the results from what 2004 predictions I trumpeted at the start of the year. Did any actually come true, or did I bomb out on all counts? Let's see....

There will be at least 3 Steve Perry is returning to Journey rumors, but there will be no new music from the band. One of it's members will announce a new side project that will rock!
50/50 - Only 2 Perry's is return rumors from memory - seriously time to move on folks, this isn't going to happen. No new music was true enough and I had inside info on the Neal Schon project, so I kinda cheated on that point!
Neither Brides Of Destruction, nor Velvet Revolver will do much damage at retail. That's not slamming the albums - I haven't heard either yet - but I just don't see them selling a shitload.
50/50 - Velvet Revolver actually did quite good business - more than I thought from an average album, but Brides Of Destruction certainly under achieved. Both albums could have done better still had a better vocalist been chosen for the material.
Styx will this year, NOT release a live album!! (They couldn't could they???)
50/50 - No live album but the band were subjected to yet another compilation - albeit a good one - from Universal Records.
Sony will release a new Toto compilation (Ok, I'll try and make my predictions a little harder...)
TRUE! Greatest Hits + Unplugged was released by Sony in August 2004.
Could there be a new USA released Survivor compilation later in 2004?
TRUE! But again, I cheated having inside info...shameful I know.
Vito Bratta will not re-join White Lion on the road.
TRUE! That was a genuine guess - I couldn't see this re-union coming together and sure enough, it didn't.
Whitesnake will not record/release any new material. That live album is a maybe...
TRUE! And same goes for 2005...
2004 will be the year of Jeff Scott Soto.
TRUE! (Depending on your outlook!) 2004 was definitely a huge year for Jeff, rocking with Neal in Soul SirkUS, doing his biggest ever solo tour and releasing a killer new album, playing another show with the Queen guys, not to mention those Talisman re-issues. Jeff was everywhere, but remains a couple of steps short of being a household name. It will happen!
At least one classic hard rock band will reform. How about a new Rainbow album with Joe Lynn Turner? Not likely, but that's one of my "out there" predictions.
TRUE! No Rainbow, but Van Halen and Danger Danger reformed, so I'll take that as a pass. Stratovarius - now who would be stupid enough to predict anything for these guys in 2004. We already know there will be no new music until early 2005, but if Timo continues on his way, I predict at least 3 headline causing outbursts and I would place even odds on the band dissolving before the end of the year.
TRUE! The band made the headlines several times, split, and reformed - all in the space of 12 months. Love it! Expect new music end of '05.
Impellitteri's new album will be a major flop (sadly), with old fans alienated and little interest shown from any new record buyers.
50/50 - I quite liked the album, I thought it had some great metal on it, but it certainly has not fired up the tills at retail. I hope a Euro release can still happen soon.
Van Halen will finally announce Hagar's return and will release their Best Of Volume 2.
TRUE! Well, it was Best of Both Worlds, not BO Vol.2.
A top American melodic rock act (now defunct) will release a lovely compilation of unreleased tunes.
FALSE! Again going on inside info, this release did not materialize, but we can always hope for something this year.
Guns N Roses will head to Europe for some live dates, which could be cut short, but in any regard will end in more controversy.
50/50 - There were two lawsuits (which Axl both lost) and Buckhead bailed from the band in controversial circumstances, causing Euro dates to be cancelled. No word since!
The Bon Jovi box set will be another disappointment from the band. Not enough rare/unreleased tracks. Again I hope I am wrong. The guys have some work to do to impress fans after the lame live album and 2003's This Left Feels Right.
FALSE. Happy about being wrong here - the box set was a winner. Well done guys.
Paris Hilton will be hit by a meteor. Justin Tiberfake will be hit by another meteor. Britny Spears will be hit...ok, you get the idea...
FALSE. Sadly. These buffoon's continue to waste good oxygen.
Heart's new album will rock.
50/50 - It rocked in places, but was dead boring in others.
At least one melodic record label will cease business.
TRUE. Tough times indeed as NTS in France folds and UlfTone in Germany goes into partnership with Frontiers. Everyone in the scene is doing it tough.
Europe will finally release a new studio album, Giant won't.
TRUE! Wish those Giant boys would reconsider though....

Looking back at the predicted big titles for 2004:

Melodic/Hard Rock:
Albums that didn't make it out: Von Groove, AC/DC, Beautiful Creatures, Seven Wishes, Daniel McMaster, Hardline, Thunder, Liesegang/White.
Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2004: Pink Cream 69, Seventh Key, Jaded Heart, UFO, Axel Rudi Pell, TNT, Danny Danzi, Tesla, Velvet Revolver, Von Groove, AC/DC, Beautiful Creatures, Europe, Hardline, Heart, Hodson, House Of Shakira, Northrup/Shortino, Dokken, Jeff Scott Soto, Scorpions, Seven Wishes, The Sign, Thunder, Liberty & Justice, Liesegang/White.
Ok, a big yes to Pink Cream 69, Seventh Key, Jaded Heart, TNT, House Of Shakira, Jeff Scott Soto, and Tesla. Further approval to Danny Danzi, Scorpions, Axel Rudi Pell, Dokken and Northrup/Shortino.
Heart and The Sign could have been better and Liberty & Justice and Velvet Revolver disappointed.

You can see the results from the lists at the top of the page, but to recap, the best 2004 Hard Rock came from TNT, who really nailed what fans were asking for. TMG was the surprise pick, which saw Eric martin singing like his life depended upon it and some fine songs from the pen of Jack Blades with Eric and Tak. Jeff Scott Soto also got tougher this year, with a grittier and heavier solo release. Three of my Top 5 for 2004 featured classic melodic hard rock with a slightly updated style. No one says this genre has to live in the past and these artists proved how to move forward without moving away from what people want. Same could be said for House Of Shakira and Kick, who deliver quality and classics, but always remain original in their delivery.
Adriangale did it with great songs and a killer production. No one saw this album coming, but it delivered big time and I must insist there is another album sometime soon.

Albums that didn't make it out: Tony Harnell, David Roberts, 1927, Crystal Blue, Diving For Pearls, Heartland, Gregg Giuffria, Lec Zorn Project, Lawrence Saltis, Zion (Freddy Curci), Kip Winger.
Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2004: Rick Springfield, Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Hugo, Danny Vaughn, Over The Edge, Stage Dolls.

Rick Springfield was a big surprise....great in places, phenomenal in others and disjointed in between. I would rate it as close to the best pack of releases, but not quite there overall. A good A&R guy would have fixed that record before it's release to be a more cohesive listen, rather than 2 or 3 separate styles blended into one record.
Glen Burtnik went too far to the right sadly, with some killer songs given a modern rock work over and a few other tracks better left off altogether. The album suffered in that I'm not sure who it was being pitched to. James Christian was ok, but not quite classic in that the songs were all old and the production style a little too heard it before.
Danny Vaughn's From The Inside release was spot on the money - what a vocalist! Over The Edge was a quality return for Mickey Thomas and Stage Dolls was everything a fan could ask for.
The rest of the bloody releases highlighted for acclaim never got released! Let's hope for better in 2005!
The best AOR release for the year was again Pride Of Lions, who pretty much delivered the perfect sequel to their debut. Without changing much, the band moved forward some and delivered some great songs. Seventh Key also impressed, with another knockout production job on hand. Two Westcoast releases impressed this year - Spin Gallery and Crossfade both deserved mentions. Another surprise was the new Stan Bush record. I didn't expect one, but when it came I was really pleased. Stan doing what he does best - delivering no frills, straight ahead melodic rock. Quality stuff.

Albums that didn't make it out: Swirl 360, Raine, Seven And The Sun.
Best Releases: The Panik release was pretty solid, as was Creighton Doane's solo release and Plunge was pretty good - as was FluidSol, which had some great moments, but might have been too much of a departure for established Mitch Malloy fans.
Biggest surprise of the year was the quality of the SR-71 album, which saw them return to their best sound, closely followed by the excellent Pete Lesperance solo album. Avril Lavigne impressed me, but she gets enough press (i.e. too much) elsewhere.
Bowling For Soup and Simple Plan both did good business Stateside, but American Hi-Fi disappointed and have yet to get their album out in the USA.
Hoobastank broke through for some major sales numbers and good on them for that - their second album is pretty solid. However, their biggest success came from the single The Reason, which remains bland as bat shit. If there is one thing these nu-breed bands can't do, it's a decent power ballad. Is the chart topping art form of the 80's and early 90's lost forever?

I said 2004 looked like a bleak for glam fans and that was true enough. One bright spot in all the doom (or lack of releases) can from Sweden's Wig Wam - what a glorious album! Absolutely nothing else of merit to speak of!

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2004: Jorn, Magnitude 9, Mister Kite, Empty Tremor, Alteria, Genius, Anthrax, WASP, Power Quest, Warrior, Jon Oliva.
Yes, Jorn rules...a great album that wasn't quite perfect, but a highlight nevertheless....Magnitude 9 won widespread acclaim, Altaria proved they are a name for the future and WASP met with mixed reviews.
No sure I even heard the Anthrax or Jon Oliva releases, and Power Quest was held over to 2005. Empty Tremor and Genius were ok.

Albums that didn't make it out: Bob Seger, The Who, The Hooters.
Highlights: U2, Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, Avril Lavigne, Duran Duran.

Bryan Adams partially returned to form, at least ditching the lame ass lyrics which have plagued his last couple of albums. But his album is yet to be released in the USA, which is yet another example of how mad - no, insane - this industry has become. If it is released - which it is rumored to be in May - will anyone care? Will everyone have already bought import copies or downloaded it?
U2 put out a great album, but could have rocked a little harder. They continue to proclaim themselves to be the savior's of rock n roll, but they need to reel that in a little I think.
Richard Marx and Duran Duran put out very smooth, polished and well performed records which pleased fans and Avril proved she wasn't a one-album wonder.

So - from my final list of predicted best releases for 2004 - what made the Top 10, or Top 30?
Top 10
- Rick Springfield, Danny Vaughn, Seventh Key, TNT, Jeff Scott Soto.
Top 10-30 - Hugo, Over The Edge, Stage Dolls, House Of Shakira, Tesla.
Missed the Top 30 for 2004 - Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Velvet Revolver, Europe, Heart, Hodson, Northrup/Shortino.
Not released - Tony Harnell, The Hooters, Thunder, Harem Scarem & Def Leppard.

2004's Dearly Departed:
"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, Terry Knight (ex-Grand Funk Railroad), British DJ John Peel, Doug & The Slugs vocalist Doug Bennett, Jack Pemma (lead singer/guitarist from White Eagle), Starcastle bassist Gary Strater, singer/actress Laura Branigan, Lacy Van Zant (Father of Ronnie, Donnie & Johnnie Van Zant), Jeff Reid (former bass player for SR-71, Honor Among Thieves), Ray Charles (legend), session drummer Ray Hernandez, former Enuff Z Nuff guitarist Derek Frigo, Lizzy Borden guitarist Alex Nelson, both parent to Weird Al Yankovic, Carl Anderson (Jesus Christ Superstar), Bob Mayo (Peter Frampton Band) and good mate Graeme Paine.

2004 MelRockAwards

A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

Vocalist Of The Year: Jeff Scott Soto - Could there be anyone else? Yes, I have a bias towards this fabulous performer, but it is well deserved and I am not alone in my admiration for the singer. He is the hardest working individual I have seen in my time running this site and his dedication to his craft and the energy he gives to everything has been sucking people in left, right and center. His personal fanbase has grown through hard work, dedication and extensive touring - 2004 saw Jeff tour further and farther a field than ever. He also released what was arguable his best solo album to date and the groovy Soul SirkUS record. Add to that a couple of tribute album appearances and live dates with Boogie Nights and you quite simply have a winner with no competition!

Last Year: Harry Hess

Producer Of The Year Award: Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi - Now this is an interesting one. With respect to his talent, I wouldn't rate Fabrizio the very best producer around, and I find myself tiring a little of his sound. But he is very talented and in 2004 no other individual had a greater impact on the melodic rock scene than he did. As the producer, arranger, mixer and musician, Fabrizio was behind several major albums this year, with From The Inside and Over The Edge making the Top 15 for the year, not to mention his work with Glenn Hughes, James Christian, as well as Tommy Funderburk, which was released last month. He's currently working on projects with Freddy Curci (Zion), Terry Brock, Joe Vana (Ambition) and the next Vertigo release.
Last Year: Tommy Denander

Now to the silly stuff - and I might preface by saying, although these awards are reviewed and changed every year, I am very surprised at how many awards are appropriate again this year for similar reasons, just different people! Fact is stringer than fiction I guess.

The 'Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor' Award For Best Piece Of Self-Serving BS PR: Van Halen for the constant mopping up needed to present an all-is-great picture on tour in 2004.
Last Year: Fred Durst

The 'Great Kat Best Escaping Of Reality During 2004' Award: Stratovarius' Timo Tolkki for the second year running! He started going awol last year, but really topped it off this year with some astounding comments. Good to hear he is on his way back.
Close runner up: Eddie Van Halen.

The 'Bite The Hand That Feeds' Award: Guitar World - for their 100 Worst Solos article, which pretty much bagged out 100 bands that helped them stay in business 1984-1994.

The 'Dead, Jail or Rock N Roll (Jail Option)' Award: Former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland for fooling with little boys.
Last Year: Michael Morales.

The 'Guns N Roses Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date' Award: Black N Blue - Their comeback album was originally scheduled for release April 19, 2004. It was then moved to September 04, Feb 5 2005, Feb 14 2005 and now April/May 2005.
Last Year: Cheap Trick

The 'Announced But Never Seen Again Disappearing Albums' Award: Z Records - for announcing the following albums - none of which have been released as yet - Adam Bomb, Femme Fatale, VOA (Bob Halligan Jr.), Final Frontier (moved to Frontiers), Life (Leif Johansen), Eddie Campbell, Gypsy Rose.

The 'Vince Neil Drunk Best On-Stage Antics' Award: Eddie Van Halen, for his various antics during the band's 2004 tour, the best of which were saved until the last week of the tour. Honorable mention to Vince Neil, who makes the cut each year - this time it was in Texas.
Last Year: Jani Lane, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

The 'Eddie Van Halen Best Drunk Off-Stage Antics' Award: Rush's Alex Lifeson for his NYE punch-up and arrest.

The 'Not Very Rock N Roll Way To Cause Grievous Bodily Harm To Oneself' Award: Ted Nugent, for putting a chainsaw to his leg!
Last Year: Ronnie James Dio.

The 'Welcome Back in 2004' Award: *TIE* . Ted Poley in Danger Danger, Joey Allen in Warrant, Stratovarius and Nosieworks

The 'Please Go Away Again' Award: Julliet.

The 'Just Finish & Release The Bloody Thing Already' Award: Do I even bother mentioning Guns N Roses - again!

The 'Milli Vanilli' Award: The Alarm - for using teenagers posing as the band in their video clip! Got them to #28 in the UK.

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Axl Rose! Rather than work on finishing his album, Axl spent time suing Cleopatra for their Hollywood Rose release, and also sued Geffen to try and prevent them releasing a Guns N Roses Greatest Hits album (which was pretty lame) and is currently still fighting with past band members over new publishing issues.

The 'Most Likely To Release A Live Album in 2005' Award: Kiss, Yngwie Malmsteen, Skid Row, Asia, Judas Priest, Duran Duran, Whitesnake - more random guesses!
Those nominated last year - Iron Maiden, Meatloaf, Thunder, Nelson, Dream Theater.
Meatloaf, Dream Theater both came up with live albums!

The 'This Bud's For You' Award: Dave Bickler - Hope Budweiser are paying you in cash and not discounted supplies!

The 'Honkin' On Something' Award: Aerosmith - for that awful album title!

The 'Buddy's Not Your Buddy' Award: Buddy Hayden - for passing guitarist Brett Garsed's recordings off as his own when trying to get a record deal.

The 'Best Interview Of 2004' Award: Steve Lukather - The great man didn't hold back and told it like it was! If you haven't read it yet - do it!

The 'It's 2004, not 1964' Award: Queensryche - For going Black & White on their live DVD this year.

The 'Life Is A Cabaret' Award: Gary Hughes - We hope you are enjoying your time on stage in Blackpool Gary - now get back to the studio!

The 'Ronnie Lee Keel Haystack' Award: Bret Michaels - Dude, the boys in Poison await your return.

The 'Best Noticeboard Username for 2004' Award: Harry Von Buglehorn Runners up: Broken Leg, Mid-Life Crisis, Hoversquirrel, bosnian bagel buoy, Rather Large Canine.

The Best Website Award: - spent way too much time and money there this year.

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award:
I've read through the 2004 run down and also surmised in my mind the difficulties of the year and given thought to the individuals that make my life and job harder. The one thing that keeps coming to mind is why? It's hard enough to do anything successfully and that goes for running this site and any other site or venture out there - not to mention all the artists working hard and the organizations behind them. Good luck to anyone trying to survive in this business.
I had two run-ins this year with organizations behind artists and both went out of their way to make life as difficult as possible for me. Those two organizations are the joint winners of this award.
I think it's a shame that they feel their actions were justified, when all am doing is promoting their artists. If they don't like something I say, then that's too bad. I'm not making shit up for the sake of offending. Sadly it seems one negative comment, or at least something they don't agree with can wipe out several years of positive publicity and promotion.
If you can take all the good - you must accept some of the bad and perhaps use those comments or suggestions made to improve the artist. After all, that's why negative comments are made in the first place - in hope of inspiring an improvement. I will take note of that myself too.
The Dickhead Award started out as a bit of fun and I'm hoping 2005 will see it retired, as I'll be trying hard for a smooth and pain free year ahead. Here's hoping!

2005: The Year Ahead

Melodic/Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2005: Domain, Black N Blue, Seven Wishes, Thunder, Joe Lynn Turner, Neal Schon, John Norum, Liesgang/White, Darren Smith Band, Jaded Heart, At Vance, Soul Sirkus, Edge Of Forever, Boysvoice, Gotthard, Brazen Abbot, Beautiful Creatures, Bon Jovi, Chris Catena, Def Leppard, Emerald Rain, Fate, MSG, Hardline, Harem Scarem, Khymera, Legs Diamond, Liberty & Justice, Michael Bormann, Moonstone Project, Night Ranger, Kelly Keagy, Rik Emmett/Mike Shotton, Skid Row, Street Legal, Stryper, Styx, Teer, The Darkness, TNT, Starbreaker, Von Groove, Yngwie Malmsteen, AC/DC, Guns N Roses..

Melodic Hard Rock is where it is at for 2005 - with a ton of releases due, running the spectrum of styles and influences. This seems to be the genre's strong point right now, with the art of pure AOR seemingly slowly sliding off the spectrum.
Some important albums due in 2005 for some artists. Gotthard have made changes to just about every aspect of their organization, including singing to what is essentially a metal label, so they will want to deliver - but will they update/change their style in a way that will alienate their fanbase?
Both Michael Bormann and Jaded Heart will be out to prove they can succeed without each other and it is inevitable that both releases will be compared to each other - who will be the winner? I'm hoping for a dead heat...
John Norum's album is due this month and I have already heard it - a review soon, but I'll cross it off the best of 05 list.
Darren Smith has a lot to live up to with his solo project - I think a lot of Harem fans will dig it - but it's not quite a classic.
Chris Catena continues to be a rising star, with a live album, a covers project and plans for a new studio album all on the go. Expect his name to be even more visible in 2005.
Brazen Abbot have a new label home and I think this will possibly be Nikolo's best release to date - he seems to always get a little better each release.
Will the new Beautiful Creatures album finally get released? I think so, even if it is just for Japan. Should be pretty good too I think.
The big question is will Bon Jovi finally deliver on their promise of a big rock album? They have said that the last 3 albums, but have fallen short - even if there has still been some great moments on those albums. The lead single Have A Nice Day is an instant anthem, so there is definite hope.
Def Leppard's schmozzle of a covers album will see the light of day (or will it?) and the band start touring in May I believe. My personal view is that no one will care and it could kill the band's major label career once and for all.
Emerald Rain have a Japanese release lined up for their new album and I hope a European release will follow. If the album is consistent as I know the guys can be, it will be a highlight.
The MSG album coming up this year is an 18 track album of new material, featuring a bunch of singers like Logan, Keeling, Tommy Shaw and more. Might be interesting.
I'm a little worried about the comeback of Fate - I heard the one new track on the MTM sampler and thought it was awful. Same with Black N Blue, but that has an equal chance of being released as it does not!
Hardline's 3rd studio album needs to impress all fans, as their Hardline II album met with mixed reviews. I thought they had some great songs and ideas, but didn't quite nail it. Looking forward to this - I believe it will be very good indeed.
Harem Scarem, Night Ranger & Kelly Keagy - can you imagine a finer year if all three release great albums? The Harem one already has me excited - Harry said the band were making a real effort to make this one special - but I thought the last 2 brilliant already.
Night Ranger have never ever made a bad record - it's a shame that there is only 7 of them to play! The styles vary a little and everyone has their favourites, but let's hope their plans for a new record finally come to fruition this year.
Kelly Keagy's new album on the other hand will get done this year - I'm very confident of that and will Jim Peterik producing and co-writing, expect nothing less than a monster to rival his classic solo debut.
And there's Jack's covers album with Tommy Shaw too - but I'm not as enthusiastic about that - it will be ok, but I can't see it making my Top 20 for the year.
And speaking of covers - still - the Styx covers album will bomb. There ya go...a prediction for you. I loved Cyclorama, but just can't get enthusiastic about all these covers albums.
It will be interesting to see if old school rockers Boysvoice and Legs Diamond can re-capture their former glories. I expect solid releases from both.
I'm hopeful of the Rik Emmett/Mike Shotton project making it out, but can't be sure how long the process will take. One thing is for sure, it's time for Rik to rock again!
Skid Row are making a new album - I hope it takes them less time than the 3 years it took their last album to be delivered and finally released. As much as I liked some of the more modern tracks from the Thickskin release, the guys will need to get back to their roots this time around to make any impact at retail.
Street Legal are coming back with a new line-up, so I don't know what to expect, besides knowing it will be high quality European hard rock.
The Darkness! The mere mention of their name creates mass debate - but you know what - I'm warning to them. I'm enjoying that album. I always dug the songs, but once you see the singer is only taking the piss - accept that and laugh at their antics - all designed to create headlines - you might enjoy what is some great tunes (even those vocals). Their new studio album due mid-year will be critical for them - one hit wonders, or genuine stars? I expect a very good album - and yeah, I surprise myself when I say that.
Tony Harnell has a big year ahead - a new TNT album and his solo Starbreaker project - both destined to be atop of best of lists at the end of the year. I'm listening to Starbreaker now - man, this record is heavy as! Big European hard rock and melodic metal. Fans will love it.
Tony's partner in Starbreaker is the great guitarist/songwriter Magnus Karlsson, who is also working on the project featuring Russell Allen and Jorn Lande. So I expect he and that project also will both feature highly in next year's awards.
Did you notice Soul Sirkus listed again? New guitar parts, a totally new drum track and a re-mix will see this album given a fresh new life. Maybe a new track too? A fresh deal will see it reach a winder audience.
Von Groove's long awaited album will be released and I'm looking forward to that - but by what label?
And what year ahead summery could be without a comment on Guns N Roses - will it be released? You know what - I'm going to say no. It's really anyone's guess, but I'll commit to a no!
And will the Jeff Watson / Eric Martin album get done? If so, that will (I expect) be a monster.

Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2005: Joe Lynn Turner, Gotthard, Brazen Abbot, Soul Sirkus, Bon Jovi, Hardline, Thunder, Kelly Keagy, Harem Scarem, Night Ranger, The Darkness, TNT, Starbreaker, Von Groove, Emerald Rain..

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Heartland, Shaw Blades, Lec Zorn Project, On The Rise, Return, Toto, Radioactive, Martie Peters Group, Shy, Outland, Heartbreak Radio, Final Frontier, 91 Suite, Alien, Broke [N] Blue, Change Of Heart, Frederiksen/Denander, Gregg Giuffria, John Wetton/Geoff Downes, Journey, Khymera, Mark Spiro, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Riverdogs, Zion, Noiseworks, 1927, Crystal Blue, Lawrence Saltis, Joseph Williams/Vertigo, Diving For Pearls, Slamer/Brock, Shadowman, The Ladder.

The two tracks I have from Heartland have me very excited. The songs are great quality, but the vocal production from Grand Illusion's Anders Rydhom has some extra layers and tricks which make for even more compelling listening. And Anders will also team up with Sherwood Ball for what will be an interesting release.
Yes, you read correctly - there is a new Mike Slamer album coming with none other than Strangeways/The Sign vocalist Terry Brock in charge. How cool is this release going to be? A monster?
Lec Zorn Project - a pleasant slice of pure 80's keyboard AOR - destined to be finally released this year.
On The Rise are sadly no longer a duo, so what their second album will deliver is another big question. It will have to be very good to top the awesome debut.
Toto are in the studio and what they turn up will be another mystery. The band have delivered on most occasions, although I was outspoken on their disappointing covers album. But I have been forgiven for that and as the band have never repeated themselves, I am not sure what to expect. Big thing are anticipated, but individual tastes might come into play.
Tommy Denander will keep busy as always with at least 2 big releases - a new Radioactive and the anticipated Frederiksen/Denander project. Both will feature a similar vein of classic AOR and we all know what to expect - but will one release outshine the other?
91 Suite have signed to Universal in Spain - will a major push equal a major melodic rock/AOR release? Their debut was very special, so anticipation is high.
Come backs for Alien, Gregg Giuffria and Noiseworks are all highly anticipated, but will the results stack up? I have no doubt that Alien will rule, but can't be sure Noiseworks or Giuffria will be released this year. Both are slow movers and results could vary.
One album I do anticipate will please fans of British AOR is Change Of Heart - several years since their debut, this one has been long in the making and I think will be very good.
The pairing of John Wetton/Geoff Downes I think will ensure another good year for Asia fans. Not to mention John's own solo album. A busy year ahead.
Follow-ups from Khymera and Joseph Williams/Vertigo are expected and will be expected to be even better than the strong debuts. Anything less will not cut it.
REO Speedwagon's album should be interesting - it's been some time since their last studio album.
A new album from Mark Spiro is due, but it will have to be way better than the last album, less programmed and dare I say it - something a little different?
Rick Springfield has a new release for the second year running. He hasn't don that since his golden run from 1981-1985. Although not an album of new material, expectations run very high as is always the case with this quality artist.
Will the Riverdogs actually get a full album completed? I would have said yes, but right now, I'd say 50/50, but some new material will see the light of day.
Now, where is the Freddy Curci/Zion project? C'mon Freddy - time to deliver....can the time taken to get this done equal expectations. Not so sure now.
More new material is expected from Steve Overland, with new Shadowman and The Ladder albums due. I expect both to improve further on their excellent debut's.
Tower City frontman Lawrence Saltis is lined up for a solo album, but will he turn modern or stick to what fans of this website want to hear? I love this guy's style, so I'm expecting a great release - but have those lingering doubts.
Same goes for Diving For Pearls. I desperately want the band to deliver a cracking new album - but have they moved too far to the left for AOR fans? Or with the album vary styles within too much?
Bruce Turgon is readying a solo album - a man with his pedigree does not release anything sub-par!
The biggest for last - Journey. Just how big will this album be? I was critical of Arrival to start, but the amended US release was a near perfect AOR release. Neal's been shredding of late, with Soul Sirkus and his upcoming solo album, so expectations from the whole melodic rock community will be near boiling point.
Their recent tour featured all members having a go at singing. I get the feeling the same will be transferred to the recording process, which in my opinion brings major dangers. I'm enthusiastic of what Neal has had to say about the direction and style of the album - but to have 3 or 4 singers spread over 12 tracks gives any band a challenge to make the album a truly cohesive, easy flowing affair. I think we will know by mid year, but a lot is riding on this album!

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2005: Heartland, Slamer/Brock, Toto, Radioactive, 91 Suite, Alien, Change Of Heart, Frederiksen/Denander, John Wetton/Geoff Downes, Journey, Khymera, Rick Springfield, Crystal Blue, Vertigo, The Ladder.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Miles Above, Waltham, Bad Way, Square One, Swirl 360, TaxiRide, Foo Fighters, Magna-Fi.
Not a lot to speak of here - which is much the same for 2004. A few big releases, but little new talent breaking through. Square One from Australia will impress fans of soft power pop, Bad Way offer something promising from Spain and Swirl 360 have a good chance of improving on their under performed debut.
Miles Above will continue to build on the good work commenced with their debut and could Waltham top the charts twice with the same album? I think so, as what I have heard sees the album being re-recorded with a great budget, plus newly added tracks.
Australia's TaxiRide and America's Foo Fighters both need impressive albums to guarantee their continued viability.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Hanoi Rocks, Roxx Gang, LA Guns
That can't be it can it?? I must have overlooked something - e-mail if you think I have and I'll update this, but for glam fans, it's going to take a surprise release to blow your mind in 2005. The Hanoi Rocks release should be reliable, but LA Guns may not get the new album out in 2005, as they have just commenced the writing process. Glam fans will be searching for another Wig Wam, that's for sure.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Masterplan, Power Quest, Altaria, Iommi/Hughes, Halford, Judas Priest, Circle II Circle, Lande / Allen, Midnight, Dream Theater, Stratovarius, Queensryche, Spocks Beard, Arena, Lana Lane.
Mentioned here is just a brief line-up of metal albums due in 2005. The genre continues to grow and continues to see some hard rock bands intensify their efforts to toughen their sound to break into the burgeoning metal market.
Masterplan has already been reviewed - could this be their year - what a monster!
Power Quest made great strides with their debut and I think everyone is really looking forward to their new album, due in June.
Altaria are going from strength to strength, so again, I think this will be a metal highlight for the year.
Iommi/Hughes is already being hyped and Glenn speaks very passionately about it - so expect an onslaught of PR when a release becomes due. These two guys work magic and you'd be foolish not to expect this to be a monster.
It's my personal view that Rob Halford will better his band Judas Priest when it comes time to get his new solo album done.
Circle II Circle need to win back fans after some bad PR, poor live appearances and line-up changes. I'm not expecting much - especially after a great debut.
Dream Theater are promising something different - which I know established fans will eat up. These guys are so supremely talented, it's insane. But I have personally gone off them a bit. Last album I loved was Falling Into Infinity.
I spoke of Lande / Allen before - this will be a monster! Midnight and Stratovarius are due for comebacks - not sure what to expect there.
Queensryche are making a bold move to recapture former glories with Mindcrime II, but so many years have passed and they continually disappoint long time fans, so I don't expect too much there.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Bob Seger, Billy Idol, The Hooters, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Wallflowers
Looking ahead, there doesn't appear to be much lined up for 2005 for fans of good pop. I expect some great titles to emerge, but from what we know is due, put Bob Seger down for a highlight (if he gets it together), plus Billy Idol, who with Steve Stevens on board is expected to return to former glories.
I don't expect The Hooters to get their new album done this year - those boys are waaay slow - but it could be a Top 5 finisher if it gets done.
The Who - could be good, could miss the magic.....Bruce Springsteen is set to strip it back again for his new record, so I'm not as enthusiastic about that.

The Overall Best Of The Best for 2005?
Ok - shortening the list even further - what could my Top 10 (or so) of 2005 be? It will be interesting to look back, but here goes:
Kelly Keagy, Harem Scarem, Night Ranger, TNT, Starbreaker, Heartland, Toto, Lande / Allen, Waltham, Iommi/Hughes, Change Of Heart, Frederiksen/Denander, Soul Sirkus, Masterplan, Von Groove, 91 Suite, Journey, Slamer/Brock.

So what won't be released in 2005? What are line-ball releases?
Liddel, Rush & Thrall, Nelson, VOA, Raine, Planet Mecca, Burning Rain, Femme Fatale, Bob Seger, The Hooters, Guns N Roses, Gary Moon, Mike Tramp, Daniel McMaster, David Roberts, Meatloaf, Seven And The Sun, Tsar, Leif Johansen, Rain.

Liddel, Rush & Thrall - scheduled for release for 2 years now. Gone for good is my bet.
Raine - just where did these guys go wrong? So much promise and so much talent - just release something boys!
Mecca - as much as it disappoints me to say - I can't see this new album getting completed. Not without a guiding hand, such as the role Jim Peterik played in the debut.
Rain - working on a new album, but I'm not sure how long the process will take. Looking forward to it nevertheless.

General Predictions 2005:
A punch-up/brawl will take place at a major rock festival - possibly Sweden Rock - and possible involving Yngwie Malmsteen. Or perhaps Motley Crue. Maybe both?!

One of the very best albums of 2004 will be a debut album from an artist never before heard of.

Possible band break-ups - SR-71, Stratovarius (again), Judas Priest (again), Motley Crue (again), Circle II Circle.

There will be no new Survivor album.

There will be no new Van Halen album.

There will be no new Cinderella album, but Tom Keifer's solo album will get released.

Vince Neil will be arrested.

Halford's album will be better than the Judas Priest album.

Masterplan will break through into America and a wider audience.

Bob Seger will finally hit the road for some live dates.

Waltham will score a hit single in America. Rick Springfield won't (although I hope I'm wrong there...)

The Def Leppard covers album will get scrapped in favor of an all new hard rocking studio album.

Sales of Bon Jovi's new album will top Crush and Bounce.

The Darkness will pull a series of publicity stunts just prior to the release of their new album - including getting up as many people's noses as possible to ensure good headlines.

The lead singer of a very well known and popular melodic rock group will depart the band.

Bret Michaels will be formerly proclaimed a country music star and Poison will be no more.

A European label will announce their biggest signing ever, with much pomp and ceremony.

Just before I finish this wrap up - what about the labels themselves? What are they looking forward to in 2004? I thought I would find out!

Mario @ Frontiers Records.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
The top six were Madmen and Sinners, House of Lords, Glenn Hughes "Soulfully Live", Jeff Scott Soto, Kingdom Come, Seventh Key.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
As always... too difficult to say for the records I have been personally involved in and the list would be too long. So - as always - I have to say... all of them!
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Hoobastank "The Reason", Mercy Me "Undone", Blackfield "Blackfield", Anastacia "Anastacia", Jeremy Camp "Restored", Stage Dolls "Get A Life". A few others made my listening year but ere mostly rediscoveries from the past... From our label friends I wish to mention in particular The Ladder and TNT.
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Many "big names" bands failed to reach the heights they used to. Also I think the modern rock / Nu breed scene lost a lot of the initial freshness and positive input and creativity... only a very few amount of albums really were worth of any attention this year.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
It is difficult to feel more excited than what we are now. This new year looks brighter than ever and we are simply going to drop one bomb after the other. Wait and see!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
On our label 3 would simply not be enough. Glenn Hughes, Thunder, Joe Lynn Turner, Starbreaker, Soul Sirkus, Royal Hunt, Harem Scarem, Hardline, Lande / Allen, Mike Slamer new CD with Terry Brock on vocals, Brazen Abbot, Fergie Fredriksen, Bruce Turgon new CD with megaguests plus... another couple of top secret supergroups (one from Europe and another from the US) plus the biggest melodic rock signing ever done on Frontiers... how could you just name 3 out of those for 2005?? Just not mentioning a few VERY exciting newcomers both in the progressive metal and melodic rock field...

Sebastian @ MTM Music
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
TNT "My Religion"
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
TNT "My Religion" & DARE "Beneath The Shining Water"
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
- Any disappointments from 2004?
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?

TNT new studio album and NORTHERN LIGHT new studio album.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
We only have high quality products, as you know!? Best selling album TNT for sure.

Geoff Gillespie @ Majestic Rock Records
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Tytan's 'Rough Justice' Reissue and Waysted's 'Save Your Prayers' both performed really well.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Oh, M.ILL.ION's 'KINGSIZE' was fantastic. Also great to finally make Waysted's 'Save Your Prayers' and Tobruk's 'Wild On The Run' available again.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Really liked the Feinstein 'Third Wish' album, the latest Twilightning record is excellent and Masterplan's 'Aeronautics' is out of this world!
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Last Autumn's Dream 'II' is....not very good.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
Kinrick's 'Sense Your Darkness' and Power Quest's 'Magic Never Dies' are both extremely exciting prospects for us. I also have a young band from the North East of England called Fallen Skies who wll be unleashing their Epic Fantasy Power Metal © on the world with their debut album this Spring. Towards the end of the year, M.ILL.ION will head back to the studio, and they have to make something really special as a follow up to 'KINGSIZE'. Some cool reissues lined up, too...
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
I wish I knew the answer to that question - make things a lot easier for us all, wouldn't it?

Khalil Turk @ Escape Music
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Shadowman, Casanova, Grand Illusion, The Ladder
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Tough question! (All of them) but Shadowman and Grand Illusion.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Duran Duran "Astronaut", Keith Urban "Be Here", Tears For Fears new album.
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Far too many disappointing albums last year..Bryan Adams "Room Service" one of them.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
Heartland "Move On", Change Of Heart, Anders Rydholm / Sherwood Ball and the Shadowman.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
Judas Preist new Rock genre.

Georg Sigel @ AOR Heaven
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Altaria - Divinty & Frontline - The Seventh Sign.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Second Heat & Higher Ground.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Day Of Fire, Tesla, Europe.
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Blind Alley - great album, but it didn't sell well.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
New Legs Diamond studio CD and Biss - new album with Marc Storace.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
Soul SirkUS, new Journey album, Masterplan.

John Kivel @ Kivel Records
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Adriangale "Crunch"
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Adriangale "Crunch" and Straight Wired "Color My World".
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Pink Cream 69 "Thunderdome", Blind Date, ZO2, Lynch Mob "Revolution".
- Any disappointments from 2004?
HOUSE OF LORDS and EVEN the James Christian. I love both band and singer. But im sorry didn't do it for me on either. I REALLY wanted to like both.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
Adriangale has a few things coming down the pipe line in 05 that I'm looking fwd to. I have a project I'm doing with Rif from Adriangale that I'm excited about. As well as a new band we just signed called Edens Lie. Great band! Think Michael Sweet, Think Warrants Ultraphobic, maybe a wee bit of Tesla at times as well. They are in the studio now and the album is coming along nicely. No working title as of yet though.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
Couldn't tell ya, I have no clue. I hope one of them might be one of mine! LOL.

Questions were also sent to Now & Then, Perris and Z Records. Sadly - no replies were received.

Hope you have all enjoyed the 2004 feature! Once again it's late and taken up far too much time compiling, but I love doing it and the feedback is always great / interesting. You may not agree with everything written within this feature, but I do hope you all found it to be a good read. Here's to the year ahead!
Do let me know what you think!


2005 MelRock Awards

Welcome to the 7th Annual MelRock Awards. This is the biggest single feature of the year and definitely the most popular, taking in everything that was 2005 and looking ahead into the year ahead, one which I know is going to be an interesting ride.
As seems to be the case with every Awards page, they get bigger every year and 2005 is no exception. This is the biggest awards feature put together for the site and it contains more thoughts, views, reflections and information than ever before - all written over the last month or so.
I feel very passionate about this scene and what I do, so I expect that will show through. Not everyone is going to agree with everything I have written below, but if it gets people talking and thinking, then my job is done.
There is the obligatory lists of the best songs and albums and all new Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards for 2005 - not all of them good and not all of them to be taken seriously!
There is also a lot of commentary on the scene as it is - possibly facing it's biggest test ever in the coming year and some thoughts on what I hope will be the best releases of 2006.

There is a lot to read below. For your convenience, everything is contained on the single page as usual and printing it out will require about 40 pages.
Take your time, read through the Awards and the commentary and let me know what you think. I always anticipate the feedback and appreciate the time taken to drop me a line!
Above everything - enjoy the read and please - if you are yet to check out any of the artists featured here - this is what I consider to be the very best on offer right now, so checkout their homepages, read through my 2005 Reviews (which features all of the below titles) and support the music!
If you think there is something missing, I apologize. Two possibilities - it wasn't featured due to the record label being too retarded to send out a promo copy, or I didn't think it quite made the cut. After all, there are a LOT of releases out there and not everything can make the end of year Best Of list. Perhaps next year...
Lastly...congratulations to those artists featured below!

2005 Awards: Music

(Ranked In Order)


Allen / Lande

The Battle

2005 delivered two truly great melodic metal albums. In the end I decided that Allen/Lande would be the album of the year. I came to this decision because I believe it has had the most positive influence over the scene I cover and the songs within continue to be enjoyed on a regular basis. The album is also a little more focused on melody, whereas Masterplan is more the riffs. Melody is what this site is all about. Allen/Lande is a wonderful album that features two finely woven together vocals, with the two singers perfectly complimenting each other. It has power, passion, energy and heart. It is the 2005 Album Of The Year!






Masterplan comes in a close second. Never before has a vocalist featured in two Top 5 albums and here we have Jorn Lande at #1 & 2. A definite testament to the talents of this great vocalist. Masterplan is a perfectly produced album with enormous power and some blinding guitar work. This is an album that helps melodic music fans tap into something heavier and is definitely a great ambassador for the metal community.






Harem Scarem


Of all the albums featured on this list, I will probably get the most disagreements from the positioning of this title! Harem Scarem have a passionate support base and a very vocal one when the band don't adhere to the script. I think this album is yet another example of the genius songwriting behind the band, which in this case covered a few old bases, but forged ahead as the guys always seem to do. The modern influences and darker tone didn't appeal to all, but the crystal clear sound and some stellar harmonies support what I think are some more amazing songs.




Oliver Hartmann

Out In The Cold

Oliver Hartmann is for me the surprise package of 2005. I wasn't really expecting anything from this release, yet I got so much from it and continue to do so. Oliver has opened his heart and soul on this record - the lyrics are among the most gut wrenching I have heard in a long time. Passion in music is a big one for me and anything with real passion gets my attention. Combine that with some amazing rock songs, brilliant performances and a sonically perfect sound and you get a truly special record.



Move On

Heartland have released some great albums, but perhaps only two classics - their debut and this album. Getting a little tougher suits the band, but it the quality of the songs featured here that makes the album a winner, with some of the best melodies the band have delivered, coupled with a major label quality production and some fabulous harmony vocals.


Place Vendome - Place Vendome

- A powerful melodic rock/AOR record from two unlikely partners in Dennis Ward & Michael Kiske.





Starbreaker - Starbreaker

- Tony Harnell goes into overdrive as Magnus Karlsson raises the bar for those that will follow.





Gotthard - Lipservice

- So you can teach an old dog new tricks! A fan pleasing release from this veteran Swiss band.




Bruce Turgon - Outside Looking In

- Another surprise package. This album offers some very good songs and great vocals.




Philip Bardowell - In The Cut

- Bardowell and Tommy Denander prove to be a winning formula, driving home some strong song choices.

11 Khymera - A New Promise  
12 91 Suite - Times They Change
13 Journey - Generations   
14 Thunder - The Magnificent Seventh
15 Radioactive - Taken 
16 Joe Lynn Turner - The Usual Suspects
17 Bon Jovi - Have A Nice Day
18 Darren Smith Band - Keep The Spirit Alive  
19 Novak - Forever Endeavour
20 Blanc Faces - Blanc Faces


21 Change Of Heart - Truth Or Dare 
22 Iommi - Fused
23 Brazen Abbot - My Resurrection  
24 Stryper - Reborn
25 Gypsy Rose - Gypsy Rose
26 Anberlin - Never Take A Friendship Personal
27 TNT - All The Way To The Sun
28 Waltham - Waltham
29 Wetton Downes - Icon
30 Glenn Hughes - Soul Mover



Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Balance II - Balance II
  • Liesegang/White - Visual Surveillance of Extremities
  • Inxs - Switch
  • Line Of Fire - Line Of Fire
  • Mark Spiro - Mighty Blue Ocean
  • Soul Doctor - For A Fistful Of Dollars
  • Johnny Lima - Version 1.2
  • Dogpound - A Night In The Gutter
  • Deep Purple - Rapture Of The Deep
  • Rik Ocasek - Nexterday
  • Emerald Rain - Sleepwalk
  • Secret Smile - Hurry Up And Wait
  • Ricky Warwick - Love Many Trust Few
  • Jaded Heart - Helluva Time
  • Silver - Gold
  • Edge Of Forever - Let The Demon Rock N Roll
  • Jay Miles - 9 Hours
  • Sha-Boom - The Race Is On
  • Lana Lane - Lady Macbeth
  • Supergroupies - Supergroupies
  • Wig Wam - Hard To Be A Rock N Roller
  • Billy Idol - Devil's Playground
  • Outland - Long Way Home
  • Final Frontier - High Tension Wire
  • Metal Majesty - 2005
  • Martie Peters Group - MPG
  • Shy - Sunset And Vine
  • Square One - Supersonic
  • Frost - Out In The Cold


  1. Masterplan - Aeronautics
  2. Iommi - Fused
  3. Primal Fear - Seven Seals
  4. Royal Hunt - Paper Blood
  5. Kings X - Ogre Tones
  6. Cloudscape - Cloudscape
  7. Power Quest - Magic Never Dies
  8. Rob Rock - Holy Hell
  9. Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny Of Souls
  10. Black Majesty - Silent Company
  11. Biss - Face Off
  12. Vanishing Point - Embrace The Silence
  13. James LaBrie - Elements Of Persuasion
  14. Dream Theater - Octavarium
  15. Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter
  1. Philip Bardowell - In The Cut
  2. Khymera - A New Promise
  3. 91 Suite - Times They Change
  4. Journey - Generations
  5. Radioactive - Taken
  6. Novak - Forever Endeavour
  7. Blanc Faces - Blanc Faces
  8. Change Of Heart - Truth Or Dare
  9. Final Frontier - High Tension Wire
  10. Outland - Long Way Home
  11. Johnny Lima - Version 1.2
  12. Secret Smile - Hurry Up And Wait
  13. Robin Beck - Do You Miss Me
  14. Shy - Sunset & Vine
  15. Martie Peters Group - MPG
  1. Waltham - Waltham
  2. Anberlin - Never Take A Friendship Personal
  3. Ra - Duality
  4. Square One - Supersonic
  5. Swirl 360 - California Blur
  6. The Click Five - Greetings From Imrie House
  7. Shannon Noll - Lift
  8. Darren Smith Band - Keep The Spirit Alive
  9. Disturbed - Ten Thousand Fists
  10. Tourist - The Relevance Of Motion
  1. Oliver Hartmann - Out In The Cold
  2. Starbreaker - Starbreaker
  3. Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter
  4. Blanc Faces - Blanc Faces
  5. Gypsy Rose - Gypsy Rose
  6. Novak - Forever Endevour
  7. Line Of Fire - Line Of Fire
  8. Square One - Supersonic
  9. Supergroupies - Supergroupies
  10. Wig Wam - Hard To Be A Rock N Roller
(Ranked In Order)
  1. Oliver Hartmann - What If I
  2. Harem Scarem - Afterglow
  3. Place Vendome - Too Late
  4. Allen / Lande - Another Battle
  5. Philip Bardowell - Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open
  6. Journey - It's Never Too Late
  7. Masterplan - Falling Sparrow
  8. Harem Scarem - Don't Come Easy
  9. Place Vendome - I Will Be Waiting
  10. Inxs - Pretty Vegas
  11. Jaded Heart - Dreams You'll Never See
  12. Oliver Hartmann - Out In The Cold
  13. Heartland - City Of Lights
  14. Journey - Faith In The Heartland
  15. Bruce Turgon - Any Other Time
  16. Allen / Lande - Reach A Little Longer
  17. Gotthard - Lift U Up
  18. Oliver Hartmann - Brazen
  19. Masterplan - Black In The Burn
  20. Inxs - Hungry
  21. Heartland - Hard Hearted Man
  22. Jaded Heart - Tommorrow Comes
  23. Gypsy Rose - Queen Of The Night
  24. Gotthard - All We Are
  25. Bon Jovi - Have A Nice Day
  26. 91 Suite - Hopes And Dreams
  27. Starbreaker - Lies
  28. Khymera - Alone
  29. Oliver Hartmann - Alive Again
  30. Harem Scarem - Forgive & Forget
  31. Allen / Lande - My Own Way
  32. Bruce Turgon - These Tears Must Fall
  33. Martie Peters Group - The Beast Inside
  34. Starbreaker - Break My Bones
  35. Blanc Faces - Edge Of The World
  36. Allen / Lande - Wish For A Miracle
  37. Change Of Heart - Hold On
  38. Heartland - Where Do We Go From Here?
  39. Harem Scarem - All You're Getting
  40. Masterplan - Back For My Life
  41. Waltham - The Fix
  42. Legs Diamond - Time Will Never Change
  43. Liesegang White - A Prayer For The Dying
  44. Radioactive - Carry On
  45. TNT - Sometimes
  46. Rob Thomas - This Is How A Heart Breaks
  47. Radioactive - Stronger Than Yesterday
  48. Bon Jovi - Unbreakable
  49. 91 Suite - Times They Change
  50. Gypsy Rose - Promise To Stay
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Novak - Nowhere To Run
  • Novak - Don't You Remind Me
  • Novak - How Does It Feel
  • Inxs - Devil's Party
  • Inxs - Perfect Stranger
  • 91 Suite - Another Reason
  • 91 Suite - I Wanna Be In Love
  • Bad Habit - I Want To Know
  • Bad Habit - I'll Be The One
  • Line Of Fire - Paradise
  • Line Of Fire - Live & Let Go
  • Mark Spiro - Mighty Blue Ocean
  • Mark Spiro - Band Of Angels
  • Rox Diamond - Heartbeat Away
  • Rox Diamond - Joann
  • Pleasure Maker - Just Thinkin' About U
  • Shannon Noll - Lift
  • Shannon Noll - Shine
  • Black Majesty - Silent Company
  • Radioactive - Premonition
  • Radioactive - Taken
  • Khymera - Looking For You
  • Soul Doctor - Best Way To Fade
  • Soul Doctor - Eatin' On Me
  • Bruce Turgon - Living A Lie
  • The Mob - Love Will Carry On
  • The Mob - Never Get Enough
  • Change Of Heart - Truth Or Dare
  • Change Of Heart - Desperate Heart
  • Johnny Lima - Drift Away
  • Johnny Lima - In Your Arms
  • Dogpound - In Another Lifetime
  • Dogpound - 5 Seconds Away
  • TNT - Driving
  • TNT - Ready To Fly
  • Deep Purple - Money Talks
  • Deep Purple - Clearly Quite Absurd
  • Rik Ocasek - Bottom Dollar
  • Rik Ocasek - I'm Thinking
  • Hotshot - Always In My Heart
  • Hotshot - Feels Like The First Time
  • Bon Jovi - Complicated
  • Bon Jovi - I Wanna Be Loved
  • Place Vendome - Cross The Line
  • Place Vendome - Place Vendome
  • Jaded Heart - Who's Foolin'
  • Silver - Wouldn't You Agree
  • Silver - All That I Wanted
  • Balance II - When I Fall Down
  • Balance II - Reptilian Crawl
  • Power Quest - The Message
  • Power Quest - Soulfire
  • Supergroupies - Bouncin'
  • Supergroupies - Low Blue Flame
  • Stryper - If I Die
  • Stryper - Reborn
  • Stryper - Open Your Eyes
  • Philip Bardowell - In The Cut
  • Philip Bardowell - Through My Eyes
  • Emerald Rain - Sleepwalk
  • Emerald Rain - Face In The Mirror
  • Secret Smile - Runaway
  • Secret Smile - Tears In The Sky
  • Journey - The Place In Your Heart
  • Journey - Out Of Harms Way
  • Waltham - Joanne
  • Waltham - Call Me Back
  • Diving For Pearls - The Colours Show
  • Iommi - Dopamine
  • Iommi - Wasted Again
  • Bombay Black - You For Me
  • Bombay Black - Bullet In My Head
  • Brazen Abbot - My Resurrection
  • Brazen Abbot - Beggar's Lane
  • Robin Beck - Do You Miss Me
  • Robin Beck - Bring It Back
  • Boysvoice - Open Your Eyes
  • Boysvoice - Lights Out
  • Gotthard - Dream On
  • Gotthard - Everything I Want
  • Royal Hunt - Not My Kind
  • Royal Hunt - Never Give Up
  • Circus Maximus - Alive
  • Circus Maximus - Why Am I Here?
  • Biss - Breathless
  • Biss - Pyromania
  • Rob Rock - Slayer Of Souls
  • Rob Rock - First Winds Of The End Of Time
  • Rob Rock - Calling Angels
  • Bruce Dickinson - Abduction
  • Bruce Dickinson - Power of the Sun
  • Harem Scarem - Rise And Fall
  • Styx - Summer In The City
  • Styx - Can't Find My Way Home
  • Wetton Downes - Hey Josephine
  • Wetton Downes - Let Me Go
  • Edge Of Forever - One Last Surrender
  • Edge Of Forever - Let The Demon Rock N Roll
  • Circle II Circle - Open Season
  • Circle II Circle - Holding On
  • Jay Miles - Everlasting Love
  • Jay Miles - Angel
  • Wig Wam - In My Dreams
  • Wig Wam - The Best Song In The World
  • Sha-Boom - My Home Town
  • Oliver Hartmann - I Will Carry On
  • Cloudscape - Under Fire
  • Cloudscape - As The Light Leads The Way
  • Billy Idol - World Comin' Down
  • Billy Idol - Rat Race
  • Liesegang / White - Worlds Collide
  • Liesegang / White - Snake Eyes
  • Starbreaker - Underneath A Falling Sky
  • Darren Smith Band - When I Was You
  • Miles Above - Little Miss Innocent
  • Miles Above - Faith Unkind
  • Outland - Borderline
  • Outland - The Hardest Part of All
  • Metal Majesty - Ready To Roar
  • Metal Majesty - We Rocked
  • Final Frontier - High Tension Wire
  • Final Frontier - Beauty And The Beast
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Power Of Love
  • Joe Lynn Turner - Devil's Door
  • Thunder - The Gods Of Love
  • Thunder - You Can't Keep A Good Man Down
  • Masterplan - Crimson Rider
  • Glenn Hughes - She Moves Ghostly
  • Glenn Hughes - Don't Let Me Bleed
  • Martie Peters Group - Riot On The 5th Floor
  • Martie Peters Group - Heart Is An Empty Space
  • Shy - Don't Jump The Gun
  • Shy - High Time
  • Shy - Open Your Heart


  1. Masterplan - Falling Sparrow
  2. Allen / Lande - Another Battle
  3. Starbreaker - Lies
  4. Allen / Lande - My Own Way
  5. Starbreaker - Break MY Bones
  6. Iommi - What You're Living For
  7. Royal Hunt - Break Your Chains
  8. Primal Fear - Rollercoaster
  9. Brazen Abbot - Godforsaken
  10. Liesegang/White - Prayer For The Dying
  1. Allen / Lande - Reach A Little Longer
  2. Oliver Hartmann - Into The Light
  3. Harem Scarem - All You're Getting
  4. The Mob - The Magic
  5. Blanc Faces - It's A Little Too Late
  6. Bon Jovi - I Am
  7. Diving For Pearls - The Truth Is
  8. Gypsy Rose - December Night
  9. Change Of Heart - Desperate Heart
  10. Journey - Beyond The Clouds
  1. Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal
  2. A-ha - Analogue
  3. Waltham - The Fix
  4. Swirl 360 - Oblivion
  5. The Click Five - Good Day
  6. Darren Smith Band - Why Do I
  7. Ra - Fallen Angels
  8. Waltham - Joanne
  9. Anberlin - A Day Late
  10. Swirl 360 - California Blur
  1. Jaded Heart - Paid My Dues
  2. Click Five - Voices Carry
  3. Harem Scarem - You Shook Me All Night Long
  4. Waltham - Fast Times At Waltham High
  5. Ra - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  6. Kurt Nilsen - Crazy Nights
  7. Divinefire - The Show Must Go On
  8. Black Majesty - Six Ribbons
  9. Secret Smile - You Can Go Your Own Way
  10. Disturbed - Land Of Confusion
2005 Best Artwork
2 3


The Year That Was - The Best Music Results

So that was 2005! There is a lot to read and take in, but most obvious are the artists listed above. Congratulations to those who took out top places, but also to any of those that made the final cut for best releases and songs of 2005.
As is the case every year, there was a lot of competition to make the final cut. The Top 10 albums are 10 extremely fine releases and deserve your attention - as do all the album's listed. If you are yet to check any of them out, take a little time to look them up via the artist's website or via the various record label homepages.
The competition this year was wide open...I didn't decide the Album Of The Year, or the Song Of The Year until almost everything was in place. Picking the Top 10 was pretty easy, but the top few spots were heavily debated before being chosen. I'm very happy with the result.
The competition for Song Of The Year was actually the most open since I started doing this. There were a few stunning songs deserving of the title, but in the end I went for a song that launched itself out of my speakers the first time I heard it, totally taking me by surprise and drawing me into the album it came from, which itself is an essential purchase. Congrats to both
Allen/Lande (Album) and Oliver Hartmann (Song).

Looking back over the year, I have to be blunt and state that I finished the year a little disappointed. It was a particularly strong year for melodic metal and the heavier side of things - as reflected in the end results, but on the more traditional AOR side of things, business was slow.
Yes, there were a few stunning albums and I hope you agree with my assessment of which albums those were. But there were easily more disappointing releases this year than any other year since I started doing the site.
And beyond those that disappointed, there were a few titles that were downright poor. There were several titles that shouldn't have been released at all and a couple that should at least serve as an embarrassment to the artists concerned.
I will be looking for improvements in 2006!
Another facet of the scene this year is the overuse of a good idea. One special project it seems soon spawned another similar one and even a third...if you have a good idea, stick to it....but nurture that one idea to it's fullest potential. There is nothing that will kill the momentum of a great project or idea than off-shoots of that idea. Overkill can kill!

As I have stated in previous years, the winning albums and songs are listed by Artist and Title. I have not plugged their corresponding record labels. Basically because I don't really give a shit what label the artists belong to. I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it might appear, but the MelRock Awards are about the music and that is the only thing I considered when compiling these lists.
I do hope the record labels take pride in what they and their artists have achieved in 2005 and at the same time, I hope the labels that aren't featured as prominently here see some way to correct that during 2006.

The Year That Was: Behind

I find myself a little shocked by the speed of which the last year passed. I should start with the fact that 2005 saw the birth of my #2. Now Cathy and I have Nicholas and Zackary and my first priority remains to look after my family.
While recapping my last couple of awards pages by re-reading through them, I found myself lamenting the ever increasing challenges of working in this business and further again, working within this particular scene.
I simply must admit that it's never going to be an easy gig - enjoyable mostly - but never easy. I'll get to those issues in a moment and hopefully provide some insight into how difficult things can get and also how bizarre some situations are. None more bizarre of course than the whole Def Leppard saga! If you thought you had heard everything to do with this, you might want to read through the update a little further down.
It's clear to all that the music business as a whole is pretty much in the toilet and the general public is poised to hit flush anytime now.
While the melodic music scene is someway behind that of the mainstream business, it is not immune to the challenges facing the industry. It also has it's own quirks and issues and for me dealing with all of the above while trying to maintain an entertainment source, a service and a business is certainly something of a challenge.
I accept this is a freeking tough business to survive in and I also accept that with a scene in decline that each year is going to be harder than the last. That does bring one to contemplate at what stage we will hit terminal?
But that is where the challenge lays. How to arrest the current situation so it does not become terminal. We shall see.

Ok, let's move to some site stats. The site itself is doing great. Front-page hits now average more than 15,000 per day, with up to a 20% drop off over the weekend - great to see everyone working hard during the week! January saw a total of 416,218 front-page hits, averaging 2.8 visits per user for a total of 149,131 unique users. Total page hits for the entire site for January were 1,669,838, or an average of 4 pages per visitor.
On average nearly 20Gig in traffic and files gets sent out from my site server every day for a total of 660G for the month! 236,857 MP3s were downloaded in December for a total of 312Gig.
I'm really happy with those stats and the fact that the hit count continues to rise. Still the site continues reach out to new people which I hope, in turn will see more people buying some of the great music this scene has to offer.

I have long term plans for the site and I want to ensure that I am in a position to be able to continue doing this as long as people want to read about it. But I am smart enough to realize I will probably have to diversify my ideas as far as where income comes from. ie. Something else away from what I am currently doing!
Actually, I have something in mind and I'm starting to get involved with this one particular idea. It's something readers might also enjoy, but certainly isn't anything to do with the site or plans for another site. I'll see how it develops and hope that it doesn't take any time away from updating the site as normal, but it is something I have to try to guarantee this site continues.

Speaking of site income....sponsors come and go - that's just the way it goes - but I am very thankful that I have a core group of sponsors to support what I am doing here and I'm sure in turn, they get some valuable exposure.
So, please support those sponsors linked on the front-page and thank you for accepting the extra banner ads taking up space this year. With that said, the MR-X Members Area continues to be the lifeblood of the site. Without that area the site would just not be viable, so I thank those that have shown their extra support of the concept and especially those that have been with it from the very start, plus the artists that contribute to it (always looking for more BTW!).

And speaking of sponsors, it might amuse some to hear of a few examples of less than honorable dealings I experienced during the year. I normally keep these to myself (as there is always some!), but I'm getting less and less patient in my old age!
In one example, one label agreed to have me run a banner ad for them. I got it online as promised, but no payment was ever forthcoming and when pressed on the issue I was told that they needed me to promote another release from them in order to help bring in enough income to pay the bills left behind from the previous release! I am yet to see that payment for the banner...
In another case, a small label approached me at the start of the year after a long time without contact from them. They asked about re-starting some advertising they once ran. I said sure - after you clear the debt never paid from the last lot of advertising (some 2 years previous!). They agreed and I stated by running a big press release for them and awaited arrival of the product required to be added to the showcase. The CDs never arrived, nor did any payment and I have not heard from the label since! Gotta love this business!
Another label took out a CD Showcase which I ran for them and again, these guys never paid up...a small pissy fee for what is a prominent advertising spot on a very popular site. Needless to say I'll store these events in the back of my mind for future reference. And it is just not me who has problems with some labels. I am aware that complaints by artists exist for these same labels. I'll be surprised if any of them remain in business at the end of 2006!

Having record labels take out advertising on the site in the form of banner ads and the CD Showcase does - as some have suggested over the years - open one up to closer scrutiny in how one handles reviews of the releases from these labels. I have no problem with this and think that 2005 actually went pretty smoothly in this regard - as far as I'm concerned at least, but I know I still pissed several people off with bad reviews.
Almost without fail I hear back from these labels if they are not happy with any review. No problem there, you have to expect this, but I definitely get more feedback from the less than positive reviews. Not as many thank you's for the great reviews!
What can I say? My reviews are my reviews and are my sanctuary away from any outside pressure. I spend more time, energy and brain power on my reviews than any other area of the site and don't take the responsibility of getting these reviews correct lightly. Feedback from you all suggest that you appreciate this effort. Cheers!

Perception can be a funny thing too...some times a label will e-mail to suggest I am favoring another label over them. But what they don't know is that same label they are referring too is at that time pissed of at me for a bad review of one of their titles. It does give me a laugh, but can get frustrating.
Here's another example. One reader tore me a new asshole after reading my review for The Mob. The next day another reader e-mails to compliment me on the review and says they agree and are glad I liked it as much as they did! (For the record I did like it, but saw areas where it could have been better). I guess a lot of people read what's written on the site and I suppose I can't expect everyone to get the same view point I'm delivering it from...I hope most do, but if in doubt, e-mail me!

I can only recall one dummy spit I am aware of by an artist over my reviews this year. Several complaints and unhappy e-mails following reviews that didn't live up to expectations, but that is something I am used to.
But one dummy spit for sure. I'll refrain from embarrassing the artist, but their record certainly pushed some boundaries as far as sound and style, but my main problem with it was a selection of seriously dull songs. The artist in question sent several e-mails over the course of a week demanding that I remove the review entirely from my site. They pointed out one error in the review, which I promptly corrected and apologized for (line-up related), but I was told I was also being inaccurate to use unfair comparisons within the review. Needless to say I did not remove it.
One other silent protest came in the form of an artist canceling their MR-X membership the day after I posted a review of their new album. Co-incidence? I don't think so... I had no idea they were a member, but appreciated the support. Sadly this is where my job gets tough - If an album is missing some ingredients, I must point those areas out. Sometimes it does upset people...

To reflect a little more on my Reviews of 2005 - I'm actually very happy with what reviews I presented during the year. Normally hindsight presents a few examples of where I could have done better, or perhaps where after time, I had a slightly different view of an album. But at the end of 2005, I think I have more or less have the same views on what I have reviewed now as I did when I wrote them during the year.
As said earlier in the piece, unfortunately there were more disappointments than ever this year and that is a trend I hope does not continue into 2006.
My gut feeling is that it won't - as the big releases that didn't eventuate in 2005 are all lined up for release this year (see looking ahead write up) and I am confident the big guns will deliver.
If anything, I will be harder on these guys with my reviews this year, as the established name artists know what they are doing and they simply must get it right. If they can't now, after all these years, what hope do fans have?

So, what else about the site can we talk about? How about Interviews? Interviews are another aspect of the site that I love, but again find it hard to devote as much time to as I'd like. I cover what needs to be covered and try and get the best response out of the artists, and along the way have the great pleasure of doing a few feature interviews that are sometimes out of need to promote an upcoming release and sometimes just because I have been hanging out to interview that artist.
I think 2005 was my best year for interviews in the last few as I had time to do more interviews out of desire rather than need. I didn't do as many interviews overall, but were happier with the result of those conducted.
My favourite interviews for the year were the 5 Journey interviews - all long, detailed phone interviews with each of the 5 guys in the band. Deen Castronovo and Steve Augeri were perhaps the most illuminating, both talking openly of the reality of life on the road.
Another highlight for me was Marcie Free. We covered quite a lot of ground with that interview, not least of which the very personal and delicate question of the sex change operation. Marcie handled the interview with her usual class.
Also leaving an impression on me was my informal chat with Freddy Curci; fun interviews with Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner and the Balance II interviews which went some way to show the efforts needed behind an indie release.
I'm going to make 2006 an even bigger and better year for interviews! I have a couple of great ones lined up that I know are going to go down well. Who you ask? The Richard Black interview is now online, so you have seen that and it seems to be going down very well. Also lined up are two more rare interviews - session guitarist Tim Pierce and hopefully Foreigner's Mick Jones. Plus also coming is an in depth Jeff Scott Soto and a special Toto spread of interviews and more. 2006 could be the best interview year yet.

2005 passed without a special CD release. I had planned to issue a third compilation, but it was a case of not having enough great songs to make it work. I have more than enough to fill a second disc for new artists, but the primary disc was well short of name artists to attract the attention of potential buyers.
I'm pleased to say that situation has improved a little and the 3rd compilation CD will be released in 2006. I'm just waiting for a few more tracks to arrive and we'll get things started again.
The focus will definitely be on new and upcoming artists though and less of the big boys of the genre. I hope to see that have enjoyed the music of the first two volumes will be up for a third installment and will like what's offered up.

Arguments? Well, nothing tops that Def Leppard one! But let's not forget the Noticeboard! No site wrap-up would be complete without mentioning the infamous Noticeboard. Man, was this a vintage year for bitching, arguing, hiding behind screen names, hurling abuse and generally taking the piss. I'm not going to get into any analysis of who did what, but intervention was needed and I am very pleased to say that since that time, the board has definitely improved in standards and continues to remain back on track. Thanks guys!
It was without doubt, the worst year for the board on record with no one spared abuse at one point or another - me included.
On a lighter note, in amongst some of that fighting was some pretty funny stuff....some of the back and forth banter and some of the more expressive over the top rebuttals were almost worthy of being saved for a book run.

The Year That Was: The Def Leppard Saga

Now, talking of writing a about that Def Leppard "saga". If you have been offline or living under a rock, here's what happened. I got an advance copy of the band's covers album Yeah! at the start of the year. The copy came from a legitimate source, although it was unknown to the band that a copy had leaked. The album has since been described as a 'rough mix' only...
As I have done several times previously with other artists, I did a track by track pre-review of the album on the front-page. The album contains a couple of cool covers, but being less than impressed with the album as a whole and the concept behind it, my comments were less than favorable.
My comments found their way back to the band's frontman Joe Elliott, who was not amused. He posted a rant on the DL website calling me an asshole and a thief - suggesting I had broken into a studio on the other side of the world somehow and stole a copy of the album!
I returned fire, as I won't accept such accusations being leveled at me. The feedback was swift and amazing. I expected some criticism of my decision to preview the album (in text, not any musical preview), but the response was 95% in my favor, with even some ardent Def Leppard fans unhappy with Joe's in the heat of the moment rant.
Joe responded in turn again, backing down only slightly and casting doubt it could have come from any Leppard associated source. In August the rhetoric continued, naming me a "scumbag journalist" in one interview and stating that he hasn't lost any sleep over what I had said.
That's where it ended...I was a scumbag and I posted something to state that I would not continue a pissing match with Joe.

That is where it ended publicly at least! Behind the scenes it continued to roll along. There has been no attempt to give the story closure, so in the eyes of some, perhaps I am still someone who might have stolen a copy of this album from the band and leaked it to the Internet. No and no...let me tell one funny story from the saga:

Shortly after the whole 'I'm an asshole' thing went on, a few Def Leppard fans e-mailed some abuse. One such fan - a girl - e-mailed a very stern 'telling off' in a ranting comical way. She would not stand for anyone daring to do wrong by her man Joe. Fair enough, but after her fourth e-mail of crap I told her I would delete any future e-mails from her. I let it go.
A few days later another girl e-mails. Another supporter of Joe, but one who had a proposal - she was a journo and she had secured an interview with Joe Elliott for her local newspaper and she would like to hear my side of the story.
I agreed - if I could present my facts I thought it was a good idea.
But something about this gal just didn't seem right - I didn't think any more of it at the time but I did her interview and she posted it and her interview with Joe on her Internet blog somewhere, as her newspaper did not want to run the story any longer. Yeah, right!
I spent a bit of time on the interview, offering my side of the story. The whole time I was suss to her intentions, as every second question was prompting me to trust her with the information of who my source was. She was baiting me big time - I guess to draw the info out of me and report back to the band and become their hero.
Nevertheless, I answered everything I could and gave some insight into my background and that of the site. I had noting to hide, so I was open and honest, and suspected that the interview was likely to go straight back to Joe and the band.
Although she later said it did...I didn't. Not initially anyway!
She remained in contact, constantly plugging at me to tell her the full story and name my source and constantly referring to long e-mails shared with Joe Elliott and shared such details as this with me: "I've come to like Joe but he can be a bit short tempered and since I am that way also, we tend to butt heads. Yes, we've sort of become friends and we clash at times. That's not to say that I am entirely in his corner where his comments for you are concerned but he's a Leo and he's stubborn so he won't listen to me but I'm never afraid of putting him in his place when he needs it. hehe. Anyway, thought you should know."
Good grief! Honestly, some people must think I'm a retard...I swapped a few e-mails with the Leppard camp via a trusted third party and sure enough, all this gal's work is pure fiction. ALL of it. ALL bullshit. Holy shit, get a life! There was never any Joe Elliott interview and there was never a follow up response and there was certainly no dialogue going between the two EVER...not in reality at least!
I did not let on that I knew this was all BS. A few more e-mails swapped highlights the depths of her delusions and her extreme fantasies about one certain lead singer.
She even tried to explain away a couple of more demanding e-mails to me, apparently sent by inventing a story of a fake boyfriend who broke into her laptop and wrote fake e-mails to me. Are you keeping up? These would be fake boyfriend e-mails to me regarding fake interviews conducted by the clearly insane girl in question!

Now I keep everything I am sent (e-mails etc) so a quick search for matching strings reveals an abusive e-mail from the start of this saga from the same gal mentioned at the start of this story...yes, she was the original over-excited fan that mailed me abusive e-mails from the very beginning.
So now I have her real name and e-mail and she is busted. I also tag her username on AOLIM and on the forums!
It goes one step further - she is caught online boasting of her exploits dealing with me plus some extra colourful talk of her lustful Joe Elliott feelings.
Someone actually forwards this to me as they think she is scary! So I'm now reading the content of a long Net conversation where she brags of her devotion to Joe and everything she has done for the band in pursuit of the truth. She also tries to drop webmaster Mark right in the poop by stating that he knew all along what she was doing. That was BS also, as I have had extensive conversations with Mark throughout all of this and as far as he and I are concerned, all is cool, all is sorted and life is back to normal.
But also included in the transcript is talk of how much she loves Joe Elliott and how one day she will tear him away from his wife and marry him!
So I forward this again and the DL organization and to Mark. It is discovered she is lined up for special meet and greet passes for upcoming USA shows. Her M&G passes are promptly cancelled and she is sent a forceful cease and desist notice from the band.
And that where we leave it! I haven't heard anything from anyone regarding Def Leppard since the last of this transpired and to be honest, I don't expect to.
I am glad it is all over and I am sorry that some fans were offended by the early preview comments on the album. It has since been delayed until at least May, so in hindsight the comments were posted far too early. But I haven't changed my view of the tracks or the general concept.
I am on good terms with Mark at and as for the leaks - well, the source of my copy spoke up and as for the wider leak of the material to the Internet and sale via bootleg at the London Market - guess who was responsible for that? Universal Records, London.
Oh, and I have all the transcripts for those fictional Joe Elliott interviews and all my replies if anyone is actually interested to read through them. Just drop me a line.

The Year That Was: Behind The Biz In 2005

Let's switch focus to the important topic of the music business in general. You have no doubt seen many of the articles posted on the site over the past year and also some of the may more written for newspapers, magazines and other online portals all year.
All speak of the numerous problems faced by the industry - illegal downloads; the dominance and inflexible attitudes of a couple of legal digital stores; audience boredom with current 'star' acts; rising prices; competition from other entertainment sources such as TV, DVD and Games....the list goes on.
The industry is in a transition phase not previously seen since the icon days of the 60's. The era that saw single releases evolve into full length LPs is now seemingly reversing back into a new age of singles or one-off releases.
This is happening right now, but it is not something I am looking forward to. There are already more than enough one-hit wonders in this world, the last thing we need is for the industry to revert to a system where this is the norm and the talent of crafting a full length album is lost.
I know that in rock terms this is some ways off, but the pop / Top 40 market is definitely heading this way now.
The voyage that a great album takes you on is something I grew up with and I know everyone else reading this did too. There is no greater pleasure (musically speaking!) than getting lost for 50 minutes in an album that takes a listener on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

What is seriously alarming right now is the lack of any real guidance from the major labels. A&R guys were once famous for discovering and nurturing talent and helping them develop through the early stages of their career. The 3 album deal is long gone.
The powers that be now demand instant gratification and if an artist can't deliver a hit album and single first go, then it's out the door with you...
Such policies are killing artists and giving this generation no hope of ever having the pleasure of growing up with an artist. Remember buying a debut album during the 80's and anticipating what might come of the second album, then the third and forth and even fifth release! And remember marveling to yourself how the artist had developed and matured with each release and then debating the merits of these?
Remember listening with amazement as the artist changed styles and blew you away all over again? Will our kids ever have that to look forward to? Will they care? I know our kids will, but will the general public's kids?
Sometimes it's just easier to take what is on offer, but fine music lovers like us love the hunt and the current business climate is making that hunt less and less possible.
This whole transition period comes at a time where no real trend exists - grunge, nu-breed, modern rock, pop, - nothing besides rap has any sort of foothold and rap is a format that really doesn't cross too may boundaries.

One problem now is labels are in a position where they almost can't afford to foster new talent. They continue to throw the public any number of generic acts with no effort and just hope that one or two of them stick. In the meantime, no label wants to put money into an act that will sell only 25-50,000 units!
Damn, they should be so lucky....indie labels would kill for such figures and would operate contently under those conditions if given half the chance.
Sony shut Portrait Records down a couple of years back because their acts were only cruising at around 75,000 - 100,000 units - what arrogance!
A good deal of our beloved music is appearing thanks to the European melodic rock / hard rock labels, but they can't afford to get artist penetration beyond their own shores. Wider sales are happening thanks to the Internet and individual local distributors. But without major backing, this is all very hard work and a step by step process.
At least these records are still getting one is making any real money off them, but thankfully the art is still there for some. Where will this all end?

We are at a point in time where we must wonder if there will ever be an era of super-groups again. Will there ever be another Led Zeppelin? Will there ever be anything like Van Halen, The Stones, The Police, The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Rush, or artists like Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Prince?
What about those closer to home - will there ever be another artist allowed to develop like Rick Springfield? How about Harem Scarem? Night Ranger, Toto, Survivor, John Waite, Journey or even Foreigner?
These guys are all getting older each year and when some bands take 3 years to put out a new record (sometimes more) - how many new albums do you think we have left to look forward to?
We need to develop new talent and we need to look to some youthful talent.
Once a label would only sign an artist if they saw potential for growth. They would sign only if they saw the number of original songs the artist had written and together they would map out a long term plan for the second and third albums. Now you get one chance and if there is not a satisfactory result, then no option is taken and the artist is shown the door.
The same can be said in some ways about this scene. How many bands have you seen with album number 2 on a different label to their debut?
Just as major labels need to start developing and evolving with the artists again, so do we within this scene. We need to discover new talent and we need to try and help artists improve and evolve and get out there and play live! Can you imagine any band playing 16 to 20 shows a week like Shark Island did in their early days?!!
I could also be doing more for new artists. I have given as much time as I can to new artists on the site, but I know I want to do more. I believe I can see where MelodicRock excels, but I can also admit shortcomings and exposure for new artists is one of those downfalls.
It is nothing something done purposely. I simply a case of lack of time. There are only so may hours in any given day and week and new artists are some of those to miss deserved coverage.
I'm working on a plan to correct that and will make it happen. Sadly it takes so much time just keeping the site in business and dealing with the regular workload that extra features and things I would enjoy doing more are sometimes left behind.

And if you read some of the more credible industry message boards, any number of people that have long experience in the industry are lamenting the fact there is no talent...there is just simply not enough great (or ever good) music for the public to want to buy.
Forget about formats and downloads and exclusive deals with specific outlets - concentrate on producing some real talent. Concentrate on breaking new ground and nurturing an artist through a multi-album deal. Offer the public something unique, something truly special, and they will buy.
Where are the superstar acts? Time for the A&R guys to re-discover what a pavement is and pound it until they come up with something that will make people want to buy CDs.
These are just a few of my thoughts. There is no quick fix for this problem...but the sooner those in power get started, the sooner the ever decreasing sales numbers might start to bottom out.
I will continue to help highlight some of the best releases available and in 2006, some of the best new talent too.

Sony BMG get a special mention for trying to single handedly fuck up the entire industry by installing fear, loathing and resentment into the record buying public - the very people they are trying to woo back to stores. Their Spyware RootKit software installed by stealth on their CDs brought so much bad publicity I have no idea how long it will take them to repair the damage. I don't think anyone in the industry has yet determined just how much damage was done by the company.
Meanwhile Sony and Warner Bros shelled out Payola settlements in just another damaging example of how the general public has no faith or trust in these big companies.

To conclude my comments here, I will say that while it is highly challenging working in this industry as a whole and within the melodic scene in particular, not to mention the open media of the Internet, I do still love what I am doing and I am honored to be in this position and I love nothing more than hearing a truly great album and passing that news along.
Let's hope I can speak more positively of some of the issues covered here in the 2006 Awards write up. I would like to think that some positive developments can take place during the year ahead.

The Year That Was: The Melodic Music Scene

12 months back I said 2004 offered no major surprises. 2005 didn't offer much more in terms of exciting gossip, but it was a different beast to 2004.
2005 was a year in which the change began. File sharing and general apathy towards buying music really started to bite and continues to get worse.
The music business is in transition, but the melodic scene is a little ways behind what is happening in mainstream USA or Europe. So what did the labels get up to?
Italy's Frontiers Records had their best year to date without doubt. They took the bull by the horns and signed more high profile names in 2005 than they have in all their other years combined.
Styx, Journey, Survivor, Toto - that sounds pretty sweet to me. Rapidly becoming the home of the genre's biggest acts, Frontiers will have to work hard with these artists and the new ones yet to be announced to ensure their best possible efforts are turned in. Toto have done it - let's see the others also can deliver their best. Together with some very high profile projects (Starbreaker, Place Vendome, Allen/Lande), no one would argue that 2005 was a great year for the label.
MTM Music had a somewhat quieter year, but pulled out a couple of well received marquee titles towards the end of the year. TNT, Radioactive and Stryper were all big in the later half of the year, with Darren Smith Band, Novak, Shy and Martie Peters highlights in the first half.
Escape Music continued their solid path, delivering a few gems like Gypsy Rose, Change Of Heart and Liesegang / White...but their ace card was definitely the best ever release from Heartland.
AOR/Metal Heaven stepped up to the plate in 2005, becoming a fully fledged label with a string of releases. Interestingly their output matched the general vibe of the whole scene - more metal than melodic.
Majestic Rock Records continued to mix their releases between archive re-issues and introducing new talent. I'll say it again, their output focused more on metal (Kinrick, Crimsonfire & Power Quest), again putting the squeeze on melodic rock. But these labels have to concentrate on what sells, so what does that say about the current state of the AOR scene?
The label spent much of the year trying to get out of a hole, which I am pleased to say they have done. Credit to them for that, but yet again, it is another sign of a struggling industry.
Sweden's Atenzia Records did bugger all in 2005. With just a handful of releases to their name, and little or no impact coming from any of them, you can sense their backers getting itchy feet.
Of the bigger rock labels, only one label did less business than Atenzia and that was Z Records. Not much to say here - just 4 re-issues and one brand new release from what my press releases tell me. I'll count the Mitch Perry album as a re-issue, as it was available previously under a different name and with alternative artwork.
But the label continue to push on, even planning a new Z-Rock show in April. I will wait with curiosity as to who shows up - both fans and artists. The last Z Rock show had just a handful of people there are after bands were pulled from appearing at the last minute.
Now & The Records released a couple of metal orientated albums in February and have not been heard from since, which is a true shame. Even while no longer being signed to the label, Ten's Gary Hughes announced in his own news item that the label has folded, but there has never been any official announcement.
AFM Records grew in stature with the release of the brilliant second Masterplan album and their stable of artists continues to grow. Sadly their founder passed away earlier in the year.
SPV I thought had a relatively quiet year, with nothing of note for melodic fans. They also concentrated on their metal side, not to mention everything else the do. But for hard rock fans, nothing of major note from SPV - aside from a cool Magnum DVD which I am yet to see.
There was the emergence of a couple of new labels in 2005. Australia's first re-issue label Suncity Records made their debut and quickly learnt the eccentricities of this scene and will no doubt continue to learn and grow in 2006.
UK journo's Derek Oliver and Dante Bonutto made their label debut with Rock Candy Records, a label that has already re-issued a handful of gems and has done an exemplary job with the packaging and remastering of all titles thus far.

Not much to report of in 2005 as far as new developments. Only 1 other new label to speak of - Angel Milk Records in the UK, who have the right idea and are investing in new talent. This should be interesting. They talk the talk for sure and I'll support them all the way, I just hope they have the finance to back them up in a market place which is suspect at best!
The label has Nexx and Enzign in the studio and I look forward to talking about those releases in due course.
It is certainly a compliment to the label, but it is also a little sad - but when they made their launch announcement on my site, over 150 bands contacted them looking for interest or a deal. Now that's a lot of artists in anyone's terms. There are so many great bands and artists out there looking for the right home and there are as many musicians looking to work more and tour. There just isn't the market or the money to see this happen.
I hope that changes in time.

I spoke of looking to new talent - there are some great bands out there and there are even some young guys performing our kind of music. Hardway, Nexx, Bad Way, The Click Five and Square One are 5 examples of where the future might lie. Then there is artists like Blanc Faces, Novak and Line Of Fire which are new, but have a strong footing in the traditional melodic rock sound.
But take a look at Nexx - a stunning debut album and a vibrant, exciting and active live band and they couldn't get a deal to record a second album until a new start-up label stepped in to save the day.
I know how tough it is out there to sell anything these days, but if a band of Nexx's talent has a hard time getting a deal, then what does that say about our scene and where it is heading? I honestly thought that some of the bigger name labels should have been embarrassed by this scenario.

Turing to live action, a couple of new Festivals came to life in 2005. This is GREAT news, but folks, more of you close to these gigs could get off your asses and support them. Support the scene, the bands, the organizers and the venues. See live music and hang with some freeking great people, all of like minded thinking. You won't get a better weekend out than these shows.
First up we have Firefest - congrats to Kieran Dargan and Bruce Mee for putting together two great shows in 2005, which were both well attended, but could still have fit more through the door. I unfortunately couldn't be at the November show, but hope to be at Firefest 3 should there be one later this year or early next year.

Then there was the well received German show United Forces Of Rock, which saw a number of labels and sponsors get together with RockIt! Magazine to put on a show. All went well and it was certainly well spoken of, but for all the labels involved, I expect to see an even bigger line-up of talent for UFOR2 later this year!

This scene is definitely unique and has it's own issues and problems. The melodic scene is like no other - probably because it is so small and everyone who is involved in it knows everyone else. And of course, those that are in competition with each other don't like to be outdone. It's not a very cooperative environment. Still, some of these rivals might find themselves needing to work together in 2006.

No labels closed their doors in 2005, but one certainly has since January 1. Should I mention them here? Perhaps not, as the official press release has not yet been issued, but this European label known for their modern rock releases has had their financial support withdrawn.

The Year That Was: Plugging The Leaks

I have another issue to raise as if enough hasn't already been spoken of. We are all very aware of file sharing and the damage that is caused by new release albums being posted onto the Internet for download. There is no doubt this is causing sales damage, although at the same time I know many fans download albums until they are in a position to buy the original.
But there is a side issue connected with this practice that is directly affecting the scene. During the course of 2005 this continued to get worse to the point where it is now a complete joke.
What am I referring to? Who the bloody hell is leaking advance copies of these albums to the Internet months ahead of release?
All labels have to issue promos - otherwise how would magazines, websites, radio get the material to feature. All labels such Frontiers, AFM, SPV, MTM and Escape have to issue promos 8 weeks in advance because magazines demand that time frame in order to feature the material in reviews and interviews. Most publications are monthly, hence the need to get the music as soon as possible.
But ALL these labels need to review their promo lists. Who are the sending these advance CDs to? I pose the question because almost like clockwork, the week a new set of promos arrive from a label, no sooner are they leaked to the Net.
Already you can search, find and download albums due in February and March such as Toto, Warrant, Phenomena and Jorn - just to name a few. They are all out there and none of them are officially released.
I can understand the general public sharing files and posting albums once released...but why would people within this scene actively work against it's success by leaking these promos that they receive for nothing some 2 months ahead of planned release dates?
We are talking fellow journalists here, or radio people or distributors...I have no idea who is doing this, but it now happens with each and every release and it is high time that these promo lists are seriously looked at.
It's just bloody wrong. This scene is struggling and we need all the sales we can get. People in a position to help this scene should not be sabotaging it at the same time.
What is the answer? Perhaps a major album should be released with absolutely no audio publicity in advance? No promos for anyone! Can you imagine the shitstorm of protests that would follow such a decision.
Personally I'm in favor of the promos - we need them. The longer I get to live with an album the better I get to know it and I do need to live with an album for a while before reviewing. This means promos that don't feature fade-ins and fade outs, or edited songs or even spoken words over the top of the music, or promos featuring the one single long file. But to re-state the point, there are some assholes receiving this product who are leaking it to the net the very day they get them. This needs to stop.

The Year That Was: The Music

I've already typed more than last year and we haven't even covered the actual music yet!
Where to start then? Well, nowhere in particular...this round up is not gathered into genre nor chronological order (not intentionally anyway!!)...let's just start and see where we end up.

Taking a look at my notes, the first thing that gets my attention is Journey. They had a huge year and of all the bands covered here, they probably caused the most commotion and debate. I'll cover the Generations album specifically elsewhere, but the guys were never far from the headlines, giving their album away for the first leg of their US tour and putting on a huge 3-hour show taking in all the band's history.
As expected, some fans didn't dig that so much and some even confused the first set of the band's earliest material for an opening act. Yes, the ignorance of some that are closed off to any new musical experience is disappointing. The brutal work load of Journey's touring schedule saw both Steve Augeri and Deen Castronovo suffering from vocal problems and to be honest, I can't imagine ANY singer surviving in tact having to sing songs of that nature (the high octaves and powerful delivery required) night in and night out.
The band are looking at European dates this year, but you know what...I wouldn't be surprised to see those dates set to minimum and the band heading back onto the US circuit where there is just too much money to be made. I'd love to see the band take in a full European/UK tour and payback those fans there for their 20 years of devotion and patience, but I'm not sure that will happen.
And should the band attack the US circuit yet again, they must consider that too much of a good thing will leave fans complacent rather than hungry for more.
Same could be said of a number of other bands, but how cool was it to see Styx touring Europe and the UK this year to sold out shows, not to mention Firehouse, Danger Danger, Deep Purple, Sebastian Bach, Rush, Kansas, Motley Crue and Jeff Scott Soto doing tours and Foreigner, John Waite, Survivor, The Eagles and Bon Jovi to name a few lined up to visit European shores in 2006.
Former Journey frontman Steve Perry also re-appeared on a couple of occasions - first to front up at Journey's moment of glory - getting their own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame - that was a very cool achievement and very cool for Steve to appear. Fans were certainly impressed.
Steve also made a surprise appearance at the Chicago White Sox play-off's appearances after the band adopted Don't Stop Believin' as their finals anthem. It worked, the guys won for the first time in a long long time and Steve helped them celebrate after the game.

Inxs were another band that was everywhere in 2005 - mostly thanks to their reality TV Show Rock Star: Inxs. The guys were criticized for taking their search for a new lead singer to a game show, but they would never have found new boy JD Fortune otherwise and they would never have had a new hit single Pretty Vegas all over the radio was it not for JD's input into the song.
Just how sincere the band are about keeping their new lead singer and working into the future after his one album-one tour contract expires remains to be seen. I think they are off to a promising start and would like to see where things develop. Should they drop JD, they might as well all retire.
As for the TV show, that remains up in the air. The ratings were solid, but not stellar, so the whole concept hinges around finding a big enough name willing to pimp themselves off via that format. Rumors suggested Van Halen were looking at it, but that was BS from the start. Inxs were 5 guys looking for a lead singer. Van Halen have a singer, but can't seem to get anything together...can you imagine the show featuring Alex and Eddie alone in the spotlight - that's if Ed even turned up to every episode!
I suspect we might have seen the last of RockStar!

Speaking of Van Halen - a quiet year as predicted last year...nothing good or positive to report at all and I suspect that will remain the case in 2006 as Sammy Hagar continues to hatch plans with Michael Anthony. Sammy will tour on the back of a new solo album with Michael in tow, but it is a well known fact that Sammy is concentrating on and making more money from his building Tequila empire and would like to score a major label deal for a musical project rather than continue experimenting with minor labels.
The big VH question for 2006 - will we get a box set and if so, will it actually contain anything interesting?

Don Dokken spoke of a new Dokken album, a new solo album, an acoustic record and an album of re-recorded hits (please don't). None of which got released, so we eagerly await word on which will come first. I presume it will be the Dokken record, which Don gave a scary description of. "It's not 1986 anymore" claimed Don. Too right mate, but that doesn't mean fans don't want to be reminded of that bygone era. His comments about the new album included this gem: "It's more a mixture of modern music with heavy guitars like Linkin Park with melodic harmonies and some fans will love it and others will say 'Hey, this doesn't sound like Dokken in 1986', but guess what? It's not 1986 anymore....People say 'I like 'Tooth and Nail', that's what I like. Do it over and over again'. That's really great, but if you like 'Tooth and Nail', go buy it. I did it. I have to go on. Some people do, but I am not Poison. We're not stuck in the '80s part."
Mmm...We'll have to wait and see what the result is there! He also described his solo album as sounding like Sting meets Coldplay. It will be an interesting year for Dokken fans!

Mike Tramp went on the road as Tramps White Lion, with a fresh unheard of line-up and a goal to perform all the White Lion tunes people keep requesting as they were intended to be played. Sadly promoters didn't get on board and after one tour and a live album, Mike retired the name. No more White Lion and his upcoming solo album and tour will be just that - solo material only.
Mike hit another spot of bother in regards to the White Lion Fight To Survive re-issue. An exclusive deal was done with AOR Heaven, but that didn't stop the selling the CD two weeks ahead of time at the Bang Your Head festival. Ouch!

Pulse disbanded again, before announcing they hadn't disbanded, but two key members had left, leaving singer Simon Abbots with yet another problem and leaving fans wondering why this small, little know UK band is the center of as much speculation, rumor and internal trouble as Van Halen or Deep Purple. RIP Pulse I dare say.

Eric Martin spent the year in relative quiet, spending a lot of his time with new baby twins, but also scoring a new first by recording the theme song for an TV broadcast Asian wrestling federation. He also did a few gigs with Eric Martin Band/415 and we should see some more shows and maybe a record in 2006.

Ted Poley joined forces with acclaimed guitarist/songwriter Vic Rivera and the duo spent most of the year making a Poley solo record for a US label which is yet to see the light of day, but hopefully will soon. The duo have already begun work on more material together for another record, so you can bank on this relationship lasing a while to come. And from what I have heard of their efforts to date, Poley fans are going to be stoked!

Jeff Scott Soto didn't rest on his laurels - he never stops. He spent a good amount of time on tour again in 2005, proving he is willing to put his money where his mouth is and work hard at breaking new ground. The guys in Queen still haven't come to their senses and hired him as singer, but surely that day will come?!
Jeff also toured with Neal Schon in Soul SirkUS, but encountered numerous problems - most of which were a management team more focused on Journey and I can't see there being another SS album or tour in the near future.

Queen did great business with their hired hand Paul Rodgers, but many still can't see the partnership as a perfect union, especially when Brian May and Roger Taylor spend half of each show singing themselves with PR off stage having a breather. Sounds like an easy gig...
The band nevertheless sold out across Europe and will tackle the USA this year. Hammered about their high ticket prices, Brian promises no one will go home disappointed (expect perhaps JSS fans!)

Night Ranger had a busy year - well, busy for a band with no new record at least. They were however, in-between touring, working on that new record and we should see that in the first half of 06. Jack also worked on a the new Shaw Blades record, which continues to sit in limbo and spent time writing more songs.
The band pulled out of a scheduled appearance on the tacky music show Hit Me Baby One More Time, where artists would sing a hit song, then cover a popular contemporary hit. I would have loved to see the band in action, but Loverboy and Glass Tiger made up for it. Mind you, none of them looked quite like they did in 1985!! (But then, not many of us do, do we?!)
Needless to say, the band was probably better off for not appearing and gave the producers a serve after they were criticized for being difficult with arrangements. The show has since been canned, so NR wins that round!
Guitarist Brad Gillis took an interesting side step and has joined a revamped line up of Vicious Rumors. That record will be out this year and should be interesting.
Frontman Jack Blades and wife Mollie narrowly escaped injury when their case was side-swiped by a crazed lunatic - both and a friend who was driving were taken to hospital and soon returned to reality when the paramedic recognized Jack and proclaimed to be a huge fan.

Nelson spent another year flogging stuff via e-bay and sadly released no new music. However, they speak of a new album (the third now that is yet to be released) that is done and you can read about it in the members area of their website. Personally I'm not paying a one month minimum fee of $10 to read about what I might be able to buy one day.

Not to be trivialized is the new of two separate shootings in 2005. First Bret Michael's tour bus was shot as - an act police believe to be deliberate and intended and then pop crooner Marc Cohen survived a car-jacking where he was shot in the head!

Rick Springfield had a varied year, He toured like crazy and promoted the release of his new covers album The Day After Yesterday. But funnily, he spoke more passionately of his last album SDAA during most interviews. He has recorded a live HDTV special that will also become a DVD (great news) and then took to a spot of acting again, returning to were it all started on the soapie general Hospital. Say what you will, but there is no doubt he is a versatile performer. Let's have a new high-tech AOR album in 2006 to keep the momentum going eh Rick?

Regrettably, lightning struck twice for Gregg Giuffria, who following a studio fire the year before was now on the receiving end of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane flattened the new Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, which Gregg had been working on for 2 years.
To speak seriously for a moment - this was a catastrophic event and Gregg himself said the would rebuild, but the most important factor was the lives of everyone effected and getting places like New Orleans repaired and getting life back to normal.
A great many artists contributed to charities helping folks out and Rick Springfield gathered a range of memorabilia to auction off - with his fan club raising thousands of dollars.
Also helping out those under fire was several artists such as Ross Valory and Paul Shortino - sending CDs to troops in the Gulf during the year.

Survivor didn't manage to get an album out, but it is now only a few months away with confirmation last week that it is finished. The band did come under some fan-fire during the year for the length of Frankie Sullivan's guitar solos when they play live. It's not the first time I have fielded complaints and someone within the Survivor camp confirmed to me it isn't the first time they have had complaints either.

Fergie Frederikson went public with his battle with HepC, which is keeping him from getting back on the road and touring. A benefit was being planned, as medical bills build fast and I hope 2006 sees him in much better shape.

USA Today released a poll garnered from readers listing the best American rock albums of all time. Surprisingly (or not), a host of classic 70s and 80s hard rock albums made the final list and even the Top 10. Proof that there is still a great fondness for albums like this and artists who actually put on a great show and write and perform their own material! What a concept! Sadly things like this remain unnoticed by the major labels, who continue to peddle manufactured crap upon the public.

Sebastian Bach made headlines a couple of times, which makes for a quiet year for the singer! Framshift's guitarist went public to complain about the singer despite fronting his critically acclaimed album and Sebastian did it all himself with some staggering headlines proclaiming a massive earth shattering announcement was imminent. No, it wasn't Seb...a special guest guitarist joining you on stage on NYC is not earth shattering!

Michael Schenker had another odd year - no surprise. He released a new CD called Heavy Hitters, only to counter later on that the record label released it under the MSG name without permission and that was contrary to their contract.
He continues to work on his proper new MSG album in-between posting all his personal e-mails and fights between his US based Ex's on his website, under the For My True Fans area. I don't think even Michael's True Fans really want to read about back-payments in alimony and the many threatened lawsuits.

The Kissworld shop closed up before even opening, that has to be some sort of record. The Aussie based store was to sell all range of Kiss merch (well, there's certainly enough of that to open a shop), but for whatever reason, the shop never got completed and the stockpiled merch is now being flogged at heavily discounted prices.

Moving To And Fro In 2005:
Swirl 360 changed their name to Killing Sky. Hurricane Party changed their name to Roadstar. Guild Of Ages (formerly known as CITA) changed their name (again!) to Relapsed and 40ft Ringo, which was once Throwan Rocks is now Stereo Fallout.
Nightwish lost their lead singer; M.ill.ion lost their guitarist; Teer lost two vocalists (!); Heaven & Earth changed theirs again (!); Pulse (well, we covered them already); Urban Tale picked up a new guitarist; Gary Schutt left the JSS band; SIN also lost a singer; James Lomenzo left Black Label Society; Def Leppard picked up new management, but still couldn't get an album released; Pat Torpey joined the David Lee Roth band; Jani Lane might have lost his sanity (verdict is still out on that) and Jay Schellen joined Asia (but now looks high and dry).
Pride split, wich is a big disappointment, but I suspect the right deal might see them reconsider. C'mon somebody! New talent remember!

The Year That Was: Disappointments

Again referring to lat year - I said 2004 delivered more disappointments than any year previous, but we have a new winner folks! 2005 delivered some truly wondrous disappointments. Some will agree and disagree on many albums - that's what life is all about, but I believe there were some really obvious clunkers in 2005 that I think most will agree upon.
Getting serious for a moment...artists and labels surely MUST know what fans want by now. They MUST see the reviews, responses and message board chatter about what albums really hit the spot and why. So why is it that these comments still go ignored by some?
I know artists like to make records for themselves and they should still be encouraged to do that. But they must also be aware of what fans want and they must pay some respect to the fans that have followed them throughout their careers and be aware of the reasons why those fans have stuck around.
And then they must deliver an album that will satisfy those fans. It all well and good to make a record for yourself (creatively speaking), but if no one buys it, then what is the point? And what label in their right mind would such an artist to make yet another record after that?
A fine line it is, but a balance there must be and ultimately, the fans will decide what rocks and what doesn't.

So, to The Disappointments of 2005:
The highest profile one for the year would have to be the sophomore Brides Of Destruction release. Without Nikki Sixx, this band is clearly left high and dry for inspiration and songwriting ability. I don't think I read a single good review or comment about this album.
Diamond Head's return to action with a new line-up certainly didn't add anything to their musical legacy and nor did Paganini's re-recorded effort, which I think achieved my lowest score for the year. What a stinker that was - yet another example of an artist completely out of touch with their fan base.
Guitarist Joe Perry proved why Aerosmith should stay together by releasing his solo record - even if the band themselves are also guilty of a sub-par release. Their 3 year old live record was a waste of time and space.
John Norum's latest solo album found some friends, but I wasn't one of them. I wasn't alone, as the album received a pretty average reception from fans.
Proving that there are way too may modern rock acts with recording contracts were Frickin' A and Not By Choice. Glam rockers Tsar went punk and left most of their fan base behind...again, these bands just don't get it.
Robert Plant released his very high profile new solo album, which I found to be dead boring. Where was the fire of Fate Of Nations? Critically the album did very very well, but the fan response was very mixed - anything from genius to rubbish.
AOR acts weren't immune to turning in some disappointments. The return of Alien was anything but out of this world. Yet another example of the band not delivering what fans wanted, which is the same case for fellow Europeans Return, whose comeback album was very average.
Last Autumn's Dream delivered their second album and promptly killed off the momentum established by their debut. Funnily enough, their new third album is possibly their best yet, but will anyone still care?
A few big Aussie names were guilty of peddling crap in 2005. The new Jimmy Barnes duets record made debut at #1 locally, but bloody hell it was bad. Most of the duets were with family members and of the 15 new tracks, only 2 rocked (sort of...). Perhaps these family members were the ones buying all the copies.
John Farnham ripped of label-mate Rod Stewart for his Songbook idea and then promptly delivered an album that was even more limp-wristed. I officially give up on John - he is now an old man with one foot planted in a retirement home.
And Australia's modern pop/rock hopes TaxiRide did what all great bands should do to follow up a killer and acclaimed record. They dropped a member, changed styles and released a dodgy record. When will they ever learn?
Dare released an ok live album, but it was the accompanying DVD that shocked many fans. Live footage pieced together with Welsh scenery and close-ups of Darren Wharton lip-syncing the songs in the studio afterwards were enough to cause a revolt.
The two most debated albums of the year were Diving For Pearls and Journey. Journey later, as I don't consider that a true disappointment. DFP however did struggle to find an audience with an album that was half classic, half updated/modern. Some loved it for it's updated feel and some loathed that is was not a carbon copy of the debut. Both David Prater and Danny Malone came online to defend the album, but it seemed a lost cause.
I think the album was ok style wise - it just lacked a few better, knockout songs.
Additionally - Loud N Nasty lived up to their name perfectly; Terrarosa showed potential, but was too diverse and badly produced; same with Sonic X and winner of the most pointless release of the year is soapie crooner Jack Wagner. His soft as a wet tissue release makes Air Supply sound like Morbid Death.

The Year That Was: Re-Issues

Just about every label dipped into re-issues in 2005. MTM Classix delivered a few gems such as Laos, Karo, Evenrude, Fate and Refugee.
Majestic Rock came up with some Y&T and Legs Diamond re-issues and the Steeler anthology, but due to their other issues didn't pack the punch expected. 2006 looks brighter.
Escape Music as always delivered a few gems, all packaged in a classy way. Another dual CD digipack from FM was delivered as was an old classic from Tantrum - all three albums in one package was a treat. They also gave the indie release Artica a more formal and deserving release.
Frontiers delivered the Bad Moon Rising anthology, with liner notes by yours truly, so that was definitely a special package :)
New UK label Rock Candy dished out re-issues from Helix, Riot, Icon, Coney Hatch and 1984 to name a few - all superbly packaged.
Aussie rock label Suncity certainly got the attention of fan with a twin CD releases of archived Blue Tears material - the tracks long bootlegged by others. Great to hear those tracks as they were intended finally.
Contrary to their name, French label Bad Reputation have a good name for their classy re-issues and 2005 saw another couple of collectable gems issued. Two FM re-issues contained plenty of bonus tracks; as did two excellent Love/Hate albums.
But their very best release was the essential round up of the collected recordings of Shark Island was a gem! The band's classic album, three soundtrack tunes and their rare promo only live EP, all gathered onto a 2 disc set and remastered perfectly wins my Re-Issue Of The Year Award!


The Year That Was: Rest In Peace

Chris Whitely, Comic actors Ronnie Barker and Don Adams, Tindrum's Paul West, Mike Gibbins of Badfinger, Eddie & Alex Van Halen's mother, Guitarist/Bassist and guitar maker Greg Curbow, Blackfish guitarist Mike Mahaffey, producer Pat Glasser, Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller, Metal Church vocalist David Wayne, former Tuff bassist Danny Wilder, Duke McFadden, Crowded House drummer Paul Hester, Foghat lead guitarist Rod Price, Blackfoot drummer Jakson Spires, Danny Joe Brown - founding member of Southern rockers Molly Hatchet, British DJ Tommy Vance, Doobie Brothers drummer Keith Knudsen, Wes Wehmiller - bass guitarist for Duran Duran in the 90s, Mark Evans - former drummer from Warrior Soul, Bread co-Founder Jimmy Griffin, Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, Frankie LaRocka (LaRocca), Andreas "Henner" Allendorfer - head of German label AFM Records and also lead singer for the band Squealer.
RIP to all these very talented and sadly missed individuals.

The Year That Was: The Predictions Made

Ok, time to look back and embarrass myself with the results from what 2005 predictions I trumpeted at the start of the year. Did any actually come true, or did I bomb out on all counts? Let's see....

Predicted in yellow. Reality in black.

A punch-up/brawl will take place at a major rock festival - possibly Sweden Rock - and possible involving Yngwie Malmsteen. Or perhaps Motley Crue. Maybe both?!
Sweden Rock went very smoothly from all reports and I can't recall any brawl's at all - besides Michael Schenker's ongoing spat with his Ex's. No points for me.

One of the very best albums of 2005 will be a debut album from an artist never before heard of.
I'd say yes to that - Blanc Faces certainly made a name for themselves, but the clear winner is the solo debut from Oliver Hartmann, which took everyone buy surprise.

Possible band break-ups - SR-71, Stratovarius (again), Judas Priest (again), Motley Crue (again), Circle II Circle.
Wow, I struck out on all counts there! All bands listed remain in tact (to my surprise!).

There will be no new Survivor album.
That wasn't a huge gamble was it? Sure album, although 2006 is finally the time for an album to arrive.

There will be no new Van Halen album.
Again, not a surprising outcome there.

There will be no new Cinderella album, but Tom Keifer's solo album will get released.
Half points, as Tom's album didn't arrive either! That should be out this year.

Vince Neil will be arrested.
Nope...Wow, well done Vince!

Halford's album will be better than the Judas Priest album.
It didn't turn up, so perhaps we will handball this one into 2006 predictions?

Masterplan will break through into America and a wider audience.
NO! And why not?!! I'm striking out here....but in this case, it will happen.

Bob Seger will finally hit the road for some live dates.
Nope...wrong again.

Waltham will score a hit single in America. Rick Springfield won't (although I hope I'm wrong there...)
No hits for either, so half points.

The Def Leppard covers album will get scrapped in favor of an all new hard rocking studio album.
Half points again I think...the covers album wasn't scrapped (yet), but it was delayed into 2006.

Sales of Bon Jovi's new album will top Crush and Bounce.
Bingo! Well done Jovi.

The Darkness will pull a series of publicity stunts just prior to the release of their new album - including getting up as many people's noses as possible to ensure good headlines.
Wrong again! The guys instead tried to portray themselves as a serious rock band and sales for the album nose dived soon after it's release. There has to be a message in there somewhere.

The lead singer of a very well known and popular melodic rock group will depart the band.
Hasn't happened...yet...

Bret Michaels will be formerly proclaimed a country music star and Poison will be no more.
Half points perhaps? No news on Poison and I guess Michaels didn't really get too much country acclaim, but his profile is higher in those circles than on the rock circuit in 2005.

A European label will announce their biggest signing ever, with much pomp and ceremony.
Yes, that was Frontiers singing Journey, but they went one further and also signed Toto. That ain't bad!

The Year That Was: Predicted Biggest Titles

Melodic/Hard Rock: Albums that didn't make it out:Black N Blue, Chris Catena, Def Leppard, Fate, MSG, Hardline, Liberty & Justice, Michael Bormann, Moonstone Project, Night Ranger, Kelly Keagy, Rik Emmett/Mike Shotton, Skid Row, Street Legal, Teer, Von Groove, AC/DC, Guns N Roses.
Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2005: Joe Lynn Turner, Gotthard, Brazen Abbot, Soul Sirkus, Bon Jovi, Thunder, Harem Scarem, The Darkness, TNT, Starbreaker, Emerald Rain.

Wow, take a look at that list of titles that didn't make it out in 2005. I think more albums didn't get finished than those that actually did. And that's a shame as 2005 certainly lacked big hits from the big names. This year's Top 30 is dominated by some new names - which in itself is a very good thing, but we need a balance between new and established artists. The big boys did not deliver in '05, so '06 should definitely be a better year for melodic music and the competition for best album placings should be hotter than it has been in years - IF everyone put in their very best efforts.
Of those albums that were released, which of the predicted best hit the spot?
A clear winner emerges - Gotthard! A new label, new producer and a new line-up only inspired these guys to deliver their best album in years and was one that was a clear favourite among fans. I don't think I have read a single bad remark about this album and to win over new fans at this stage in ay band's career is a great feat.
Joe Lynn Turner turned in a great solo album and Brazen Abbot was of their usual high standard as were Thunder with a very strong and hard rocking album delivered.
Bon Jovi didn't disappoint fans with their strongest album in years despite the fact there were still areas it could have been even better.
TNT did a solid job, but I don't dig the album half as much as My Religion and the fan verdict was about the same - very good, but not quite classic.
Harem Scarem turned in a very interesting album that caused great debate and some disappointment. The album saw the band refusing to stand still and delivering a darker, heavier and somewhat modern sounding record, which caused some to rejoice and some to complain. Harry Hess was forced to comment, but alluded to the fact that some fans have complains about each and every release, even the magic Mood Swings back in the day! Personally I think it was another very strong album, should your ears be willing to move with the band. Some of the songs within match the quality of the band's best music and I know there are others that feel the same way.
Emerald Rain followed a similar path of updating their sound while also trying to keep some songs with a taste of their classic sound. It was a solid album, but I fear fan reaction wasn't as vocal as I anticipated.
The Darkness released an album that did everything right as far as their fans are concerned - it's a pretty decent record, but the hype on these guys seems to be fading fast, which is exactly what I feared all along.
On debut project that lived up to all expected hype was the awesome Starbreaker. Tony Harnell broke new ground as did guitarist Magnus Karlsson and fans were united in their praise of the album.

AOR: Albums that didn't make it out:Shaw Blades, Lec Zorn Project, On The Rise,Toto, Frederiksen/Denander, Gregg Giuffria, REO Speedwagon, Riverdogs, Zion, Noiseworks, 1927, Crystal Blue, Lawrence Saltis, Joseph Williams/Vertigo, Slamer/Brock, Shadowman, The Ladder.
Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2005: Heartland, Radioactive, 91 Suite, Alien, Change Of Heart, John Wetton/Geoff Downes, Journey, Khymera, Rick Springfield.

Another extensive list of albums that didn't make it out. Perhaps even more important than the hard rock titles that missed out. 2005 was definitely short on high quality AOR, let's hope this year is more impressive.
Of those predicted best titles, not all delivered. Of those that did: Heartland - their best album to date. A rocking good sound, but great songs and at last, great choruses! 91 Suite and Change Of Heart delivered two classic style AOR albums that delivered exactly as was expected and I think fans were generally happy with the results.
Wetton/Downes released an album which touched on that classic Asia sound, it was certainly one of the most lush records of the year, but very slow in tempo.
Radioactive was everything the name has delivered in the past, but the big surprise for '05 was Khymera. Classic 80s yes, but Dennis Ward as vocalist proved to be an inspired move!
Of those that disappointed: Rick Springfield's covers album was just too soft and did him no favors; the Alien album was not what fans were hoping for and was very disappointing and then there is Journey.
So what about Journey? didn't disappoint me, but coming into 2005 there was one clear favourite that could and probably should have been Album Of The Year. Journey's Generations was a mixed album recorded in a short time frame that featured a very rough production sound. Some say bad production - well, it was raw, but with Kevin Elson and Mike Fraser on board it is just the style chosen by the band and perhaps the speed of recording/mixing left a product that was a long way sonically from it's predecessor Arrival.
There are some great songs on Generations, but the inclusion of a few average tracks knocked the life out of it a little and once you do that - every other track must be a classic. Then add the extra twist of 4 different vocalists and you get an album struggling to find a direction.
It should have been a classic - it wasn't, but it still features some classic tracks. Next time though - I'd much prefer a single vocalist album. What may work for Toto, Night Ranger or Styx, doesn't necessarily work for Journey.

Modern/Nu-Breed: Highest profile albums due for 2005: Miles Above, Waltham, Bad Way, Square One, Swirl 360, TaxiRide, Foo Fighters, Magna-Fi.
Not a bad year....better than 2004, but still not breaking much new ground.
Bad Way delivered a debut album of punk fueled melody and proved that an indie act can make waves on their own.
It took until December for Square One to get their album out and then it was Japan only, but what a cool pop/rock record.
Waltham delivered their big label debut and continue to blow people away, but I fear they are not making enough impact in an industry struggling to break new acts. These guys deserve to be huge...I'm hopeful it will still happen.
Miles Above delivered a solid album as expected as did Swirl 360, but they soon hit a wall and have now changed their name in hope of breaking the US again.

Glam: Highest profile albums due for 2005: Hanoi Rocks, Roxx Gang, LA Guns.
Man, what a crappy year for Glam! LA Guns' new album was pretty cool, but hampered by a crappy sound (which they admit to) and aside from that there were only 2 great albums in 2005 - Crashdiet and Supergroupies. Both need to be checked out if you haven't yet.
Wig Wam proved to be a killer, but are they glam or are they hard rock. Are they melodic rock or classic rock? A little of everything I think.

Heavy/Metal/Progressive: Albums that didn't make it out:Halford, Queensryche.
Highlights - the Masterplan and Allen/Lande double for obvious reasons....two different albums, two magnificent albums.
Iommi/Hughes delivered a great modern melodic metal record, but problems at Sanctuary Records saw it largely unprompted and no tour support was forthcoming. A true shame.
Power Quest made a few new fans with a strong follow up to their acclaimed debut and Dream Theater came close to pleasing most of their fan base with a largely likable release.
The volatile Stratovarius have managed to keep it together and turned in a relatively straight forward metal release, but one which met with mixed reviews. I thought it was pretty good.

Pop/Mainstream: Albums that didn't make it out:Bob Seger, The Hooters, The Who.
I don't really think I was blown away by any pop/mainstream albums in 2005. Billy Idol returned to rock n roll, so he doesn't really fit into the pop mould as I listed him last year, but still, a great return to form.
Bruce Springsteen won critical acclaim for his acoustic album, but personally, - I'll stick to when he rocks a little. I'm still waiting for him to nail another classic.
Backstreet Boys are probably the one group that surprised anyone, with a thoroughly enjoyable slice of mature modern pop, with some strong melodic rock overtones.
Kelly Clarkson continues to kick ass, racking up some 700,000 units in December alone. But this was a 2004 release - even though it did more business in 2005 on the back of that monster tune Since You've Been Gone.

The Overall Predicted Best Of 2005

Ok, so take out the CDs that didn't get released and these are the titles I suggested would be the possible Top 10 for 2005:
Harem Scarem, TNT, Starbreaker, Heartland, Lande / Allen, Waltham, Iommi/Hughes, Change Of Heart, Masterplan, 91 Suite, Journey.

Ok, so my eventual Top 10 looks a little different doesn't it! I got Harem Scarem, Allen/Lande, Masterplan, Starbreaker and Heartland right - so 5 out of 10 folks! The others got squeezed out by more impressive releases.

So what did I say won't be released in 2005? What were the line-ball releases?
Liddel, Rush & Thrall, Nelson, VOA, Raine, Planet Mecca, Burning Rain, Femme Fatale, Bob Seger, The Hooters, Guns N Roses, Gary Moon, Mike Tramp, Daniel McMaster, David Roberts, Meatloaf, Seven And The Sun, Tsar, Leif Johansen, Rain.

Almost a PERFECT score! Tsar was released - but many wished it hadn't been, but the rest remain well and truly lost in limbo!

2005 Hall Of Fame & Shame Awards

A sometimes serious (sometimes not) look at the year just past:

Vocalist Of The Year: Jorn Lande - No contest...well, perhaps there was, but no one artist has ever checked in at number 1 and 2 for Album Of The Year. His work with Masterplan was awesome, but Allen/Lande showed again what a legend Jorn is and how he can be metal, yet 100% melodic at the same time. Now there is the new solo album to feast upon and I guess early 2007 will see a new Masterplan record released.
Honorable Mentions - Tony Harnell (for Starbreaker, Brazen Abbot and of course TNT) and Joe Lynn Turner (for The Usual Suspects, Brazen Abbot and Akira Kajiyama).
Past Winners: 2004 - Jeff Scott Soto; 2003 - Harry Hess

Guitarist Of The Year Magnus Karlsson - Absolutely no contest! The Starbreaker and Allen / Lande projects saw Magnus' name hurled into the spotlight. Stepping away from his own band Last Tribe, Magnus proved to be an utter sensation as the band behind Allen / Lande and the part of the driving force behind Starbreaker (with Tony Harnell), not to mention supplying ALL those riffs!

Producer Of The Year Award: Dennis Ward - In an era where nearly everyone produces themselves, finding an outstanding producer that has worked on several albums is a pretty tough call. Tommy Denander again comes close to getting the nod, having taken out the prize in 2003. 2004's winner Fabrizio Grossi wasn't as busy and perhaps wasn't as effective in 2005, so the winner this year is someone that has been involved with producing a few albums (Place Vendome and Chalice) and also mixing several others (Blanc Faces for example).
Honorable mentions - Magnus Karlsson (for Allen / Lande and his role in Starbreaker) and Tommy Denander (for Radioactive and Philip Bardowell).
Past Winners: 2004 - Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi; 2003 - Tommy Denander.

Drummer Of The Year Award: Daniel Flores - Daniel was everywhere in 2005 - talking part in albums by Novak, Pavic, Xsavior and Philip Bardowell. Busy, but always top notch in his performance and along the way also supplying other musical parts and writing and producing to boot. Daniel also recorded parts for Mind's Eye, Moonstone, Chris Catena & Hubi Meisel, all due now or shortly.

The 'Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor' Award For Best Piece Of Self-Serving PR: Sebastian Bach - for his 'mind blowing, life altering' announcement that a special guest guitarist would join him on stage in New York. Gee are you going to phrase the announcement of your new solo album or your return to Skid Row?
Previous Winners: Van Halen, Fred Durst

The 'Guns N Roses Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date' Award: Def Leppard - Their covers album Yeah! was originally scheduled for release in early 2005...then late 2005, early 2006, April 2006 and now May 2, 2006.
Previous Winners: Cheap Trick & Black N Blue

The 'Vince Neil Best Drunk On-Stage Antics' Award: Jani Lane - Jani's back for another win! This time for his several embarrassing appearances on the VH1 Metal Mania Unplugged Tour, before going AWOL completely.
Previous Winners: Jani Lane, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

The 'Not Very Rock N Roll Way To Cause Grievous Bodily Harm To Oneself' Award: Roger Scott Craig - The Harlan Cage frontman fell from a ladder while repairing his roof and found himself in hospital banged up pretty badly.
Previous Winners: Ronnie James Dio, Ted Nugent.

The Welcome Back Award: *TIE* - Motley Crue, Kingofthehill, Shark Island, Asia, Fair Warning, Danny Tate, The Hooters (live in the USA), Buckcherry, Norway.

The 'Please Go Away Again' Award: Bulletboys - unless this re-union is with original members!
Previous Winner: Julliet.

The 'Just Release The Bloody Thing Already' Award: Oh man...too many winners, which is just sad. How about - Guns N Roses, Lec Zorn, Black N Blue, Nelson, Hardline, Paul Stanley, Teer, Zion - let's go folks!
Previous Winner: Guns N Roses

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: The World Vs SonyBMG - And rightly so! People queued up to sue Sony for their intrusive CD software, including entire States of America and possibly even some of their own artists. Sony have since settled with all parties and will be forced to pay up shortly.

The Most Likely To Release A Live Album or DVD in 2006 Award: Toto, Inxs, Bryan Adams, Queensryche, Eddie Money, Dokken, Tesla, Metallica, Masterplan - more random guesses!
Those nominated last year - Kiss, Yngwie Malmsteen, Skid Row, Asia, Judas Priest, Duran Duran, Whitesnake. Kiss, Duran and Whitesnake all came up with DVDs - does that count?

The 'Best Interview Of 2005' Award: Marcie Free - An enlightening and honest interview. If you haven't read it yet - do it!
Previous Winner: Steve Lukather.

Best Seduction Of A Young Nurse By Old Dude: Dr. Noah Drake (aka Rick Springfield) - The Dr is back doing his 'rounds' on General Hospital.

The You'll Be Blue Murdered Award: Valensia - for his 'borrowing' of John Sykes' sound and songs for his Metal Majesty 2005 release.

Best Upstaging Of A Headliner By The Opening Act: Butch Walker - for blowing Avril Lavigne off stage in Canada.

The 'What Are You Really Trying To Imply?' Award: Big Cock - Is the naming of a band the same as driving a big car to compensate for something?

Most Overpriced E-Bay Auction: Nikki Sixx - US$45,000 for a used car? Would you buy a used car from this gentleman?

The Second Hand Cars Award For Re-United Band Without Original Members: The Cars - are new again, but without Ocasek (and Orr) it just isn't the same.

Most Number Of All-Star Guests Crammed Onto One Album: Radioactive - For The Taken release. Wow, seriously, how many people playing minor parts can you get onto one album?

The Create Piracy Whilst Trying To Kill Piracy Award: SonyBMG - Well done folks!

The 'Stratovarius' How To Lose A Vocalist With The Most Publicity Award: Nightwish - for losing their lead singer with a long and deep letter posted online, only to see the singer post her own rebuttal. It looked messy.

The Honesty In Interviews Award: Jamie St. James - for his comment regarding the making of the new Black N Blue record - 'It's a bitch trying to get paid by the label'.

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music Award: Dare - for that DVD which featured almost as much Welsh scenery as it did live footage!

Worst Idea Suggested By Band Management: Doc McGhee - for suggesting it was feasible to put a Kiss line-up together featuring no original members. He said: "Kiss is more like Doritos or Pepsi, as far as a brand name is concerned. They're more characters than the individual person. I think (new members) have a legitimate chance to carry the franchise." Er, that's a no Doc.

The 'Holy Rotating Lead Singers Batman' Award: *TIE* Heaven & Earth & Teer. Ok guys - you have new singers, keep them and hit the studio now!

Most Unlikely Guest At An Anthrax Show: Steve Perry - Yes, the pink and fluffy one took in an Anthrax show this year. Shame he didn't turn up to one of the Journey shows!

The 'UFO' Cocking Up Work Visa Award: Rhino Bucket - for being turned away upon landing in the UK for a one-off show. Incorrect paperwork saw them shipped back home without even getting a guitar out of it's case.

The 'No Baby, No More Times' Award: Night Ranger - for saying no to TV producers badgering the band to stick to a set formula and pulling out of the show..

The 'Gene Simmons' I'll Flog Anything Award: Gene Simmons - taking out his own award for his work in 2005 flogging Coke in France (the cola, not the powder), Nascar in America and himself on TV with Rock School and a new reality series coming to you soon.

Best Manipulation Of Photoshop To Render A New Publicity Shot: Danger Danger - Their UK tour 2005 promo shot was a tidy piece of Photoshop editing, except the pictures of the 3 original members were from 1990.

Worst Promoted Release Of 2005: Danger Danger Live & Nude and Cauterize Paper Wings. Both albums were announced as released on respective websites, but without any press released or promotion and no review copies were ever sent to anyone, anywhere. Hence the reason these releases have not been heard of since.

Best Fuck You Song: Darren Smith Band 'Everybody Knows' - A lyrically damning song...glad it isn't my ears that are burning!

Most Non-Rock N Roll Moment Of 2005: Jack Blades - for getting checked out in a California hospital wearing one of 'those' robes while nurses looked him up on the Internet!

Most Likely To Find Themselves On The Country Music Channel in 2006: John Waite - It's time to rock John, let's go!

Best Noticeboard Username for 2005: Uncle St. Fester - Runners up: Bosnian Bagel Buoy, Wobble, Graham Hatton 'Prince of Lust', Rather Large Canine.

The Best Website Award: The Velvet Rope ( - such a marvelous place for some of the most sarcastic and jaded entertainment industry folk online. Always a great read and a little gossip also...

2006: The Year Ahead

Covering albums already reviewed or heard that are due for 2006:
Toto - Genius as I have been quoted! Review coming right up - but there will need to be some seriously good records needed to beat this for album of the year! I think the band should be very proud and I also think other band should take a look at this album as an exercise in learning how to move forward and be innovative while pleasing the vast majority of fans with material that is simply outstanding and representative of everything they have ever done.
Bob Catley - great songs, not the best production. I don't think the album will make the 2006 awards, but some of the individual songs will.
Tony O'Hora - very good album and should appear in the awards in some form.
Ten - very disappointing. Will have to rely on their new studio album in order to appear in the 2006 awards.
Ambition - an AOR highlight for the year to date. Get it!
Andersen Laine Readman - I have just previewed this record and can all but guarantee this will be featured in the 2006 highlights. One not only for Royal Hunt fans, but one for all fans of European melodic hard rock.
Jorn - a review is coming up, but the album sounds great and features a few great new songs. Perhaps a little too familiar overall, but very good nevertheless.
Jim Peterik - I have just previewed this album also and can guarantee fans of the excellent World Stage record will again be impressed.
Metal fans get more great music in 2006 in the form of Platitude and Bloodbound. The latter being particularly impressive.
Warrant's new album will split fans I think. It's an ok record that mixes Warrant and Black N Blue (probably more BnB), but there aren't enough classic songs present.
Mad Max and Phenomena both impress, but I need more time with these. And newcomer Main Attraction comes up short on first impressions.
Blue Tears have been busy in the last few months, with two archive releases and to kick off 2006, a brand new studio album. I like what I have heard so far as far as the songs...but I do have definite reservations over the production quality.
Edguy look set to deliver a fan pleasing dose of melodic metal, so expect reviews for all these releases as soon as I get this feature done and online! Mind you, listening to the album is a drag with that daft voice-over butting in every minute or so.

Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: AC/DC, Axel Rudi Pell, Doro, Dio, Europe, Glenn Hughes, Hodson, Man-Raze, M.ill.ion, Moonstone Project, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Sebastian Bach, Shark Island, Skid Row, Street Legal, Talisman, Tom Keifer, Dokken, Fate, Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Liberty & Justice, Pump.

Kicking off the round up of suspected 2006 highlights is one very important album. AC/DC have taken their time with their new album and one hopes that equals a record that will be an all-round fan pleaser. Yes, they have made the same record for the last 15 years, but perhaps this time might be a little different? I suspect that this will be hailed as one of the band's best albums in many years and I hope that Internet leaks and piracy don't rob it of the chance to chart prominently.
Axel Rudi Pell has maintained a very steady line up over the last few years with Johnny Gioeli up front. I suspect Axel's new album will adhere to the same formula set by the last 3 or 4 albums - epic opener, one big ballad, 9 tracks know the drill. As much as I love the Pell/Gioeli alliance and their recording efforts to date, I do think it is time for something different (style wise) and I hope this album will mix things up a little.
Doro has been building her profile with each release for new label SPV and I suspect this album will be another rung up the ladder. Not sure it will offer anything too surprising and should stick to a safe formula.
Dio's new album will be another important release for the veteran singer. His last disappointed and he will need to kick it up a gear to impress fans in an age where there are many other such hard rock artists to choose from. But few have the track record of Ronnie James, so one hopes that the return of Doug Aldrich will make for a very special record.
One of the year's most interesting releases will be that from Europe. The band split fans last time around with an updated and more aggressive sound, which I for one took a liking to, but felt the song consistency was not present for the whole album. Gather 10 or 12 really strong songs and it won't matter what style the guys chose to go in for this album. But regardless, it will be interesting to see what their decision is - move forward from where they left off with Start From The Dark, or retrace their steps a little to encompass their more classic sound?
Glenn Hughes never stops working, so it is no surprise to see a new album due from him. I expect an album that will rock a little harder, but retain the varied delivery and the blues/soul elements of Soul Mover. If that is the case and if the songs are good, a classic album could be in the making. The big one to watch - could Glenn team with Jon Lord and David Coverdale for a project?
Will Paul Hodson get his new album ready for release this year? I'm not sure to be honest, but his debut was an impressive start to a solo career, but I'd love to see him match the quality of songs as featured on Bob Catley's When Empires Burn opus.
Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen could deliver one of the more musically interesting releases of 2006 with his Man-Raze solo project. In fact, it could even outshine a release from his own band.
M.ill.ion are expected to deliver a strong follow up to what was their best release to date in 2004. The band have every chance of breaking new ground and building on their fanbase if they can nail this new album.
The Moonstone Project is another long in development superstar release featuring a base band and the songs of Matt Filippini and a range of special guests and vocalists. Of all these superstar projects, not many have a really long shelf-life...but I do have enthusiasm for this one and any album with Graham Bonnet, Kelly Keeling, James Christian, Steve Walsh and Glenn Hughes on it must be pretty good, right?
Motley Crue - well, what can one say about these guys? Defying expectations they have managed to stay on the road (which is no mean feat) and now they have tagged Bob Rock to produce a new studio album. I can only hope it's a Dr. Feelgood style thumping hard rock record and not a St. Anger tinny as shit experimental album. If they rock it will be one of the year's hard rock highlights.
Same goes for Ozzy Osbourne - if he takes a break from being a sitcom puppet for long enough to write some decent tunes and actually lets Zakk Wylde take control of the album, we can expect another cranking had rock record. If there is any sense of playing games or taking the easy road, then I will have no respect for this album and I expect fans will feel the same way. Let's have something in the vein of Ozzmosis please...
Another very hyped record is the new solo Paul Stanley record. A modern, but melodic hard rock record we hear. How modern? How melodic? Lots of questions, but the underlying feeling is that Paul will turn in a very very good record and will not follow the same lazy path set by his partner Gene Simmons and his horrid solo record. This could be one of the surprise packages for 2006, but it could be too experimental for die hards.
Sebastian Bach is set to release his new solo album. Is Ralph Santolla playing on it? I hope so...I'm actually looking forward to this as Seb's output to date post Skid Row has been pretty crappy. He knows he has a point to prove and for that reason, I think this album could rock! But if it doesn't...see him back in Skid Row by mid-year.
Skid Row are another band that like Europe, split fans with their last studio album. The need to decide which way they are swinging and stick to it. hard rock or modern rock? I'm fine with either as long as the songs quality is strong, but guys - don't do a little of each! That's not going to satisfy anyone. And I should add that the album may not even get released in 2006 if the delays associated with Thickskin are anything to go by.
Street Legal are back with a new album almost done and a new line-up in tow. The guys delivered a great debut and I hope they can come close to that with the new album.
The return of Shark Island is something which I am incredibly excited about as the band left a lot of fans wanting more and I think their new album could be another hard rocking highlight of 2006. Few bands have the chemistry and charisma of these musicians, so let's hope the pressure free situation of making this new record translates to some magic!
Don Dokken has fans worried over the direction of the new Dokken album and while I was a fan of the last album I have reservations about this new one. I'm not sure Don is going to be on the same musical page as his fans want him to be, so I'm saying here and now, I think this one could disappoint (although I hope I am wrong).
Talisman is back in the studio working on material right now. From little things I have heard I think this will be the band's best release ever - I know they are putting a lot of effort into it and don't doubt for a minute that it will be a classic Talisman sounding record.
Fate has been working on their comeback album for 12 months now. Time to release it guys....but having said that, the one song previewed on a MTM sampler was pretty bad, so I hope they have been working hard on those songs and vocals in the meantime.
Will the long in the works new Montrose album see the light of day? I'm really looking forward to this one, with Sammy Hagar, Eric Martin and Bobby Kimball just three of the great names lined up to sing on the tracks. Ricky Phillips has been working on the album withy Ronnie for a long time now, so I'm confident this one will deliver.
No new Cinderella album, but how will Tom Keifer's solo album shape up? Very well I expect...a good substitute for his main band, but please guys, sort your legal shit out and get recording soon!
Sammy Hagar is one of my favourite ever artists - both as a singer and songwriter. But I'm not overly thrilled by his direction in recent years and fear he is becoming the Jimmy Buffet of rock n roll. I much prefer it when Sammy gets serious and sings with gusto. I could quite happily never hear another song from him about partying, tequila, weed or bloody Cabo. Let's have some music like Give To Live, Eagles Fly, VOA, Two Sides Of Love and Hands And Knees. His new album I fear will not deliver what I am personally looking for, but I still love that voice.
Liberty & Justice have another interesting line up of singers on their new album, but they have to ensure that the rap elements of the last album are banished and the production quality lifted a mile before they can deliver a classic.
Pump could be one of the best new European hard rock bands to emerge in 2006, so I'm watching for their album with anticipation.

Predicted Best Hard Rock Releases for 2006: AC/DC, Axel Rudi Pell, Dio, Europe, Glenn Hughes, M.ill.ion, Moonstone Project, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Sebastian Bach, Shark Island, Street Legal, Talisman, Tom Keifer, Montrose.

AOR / Melodic Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Blue Tears, CJ Snare, Eddie Money, Brian Howe, Frontline, Shadowman, Wig Wam, Survivor, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Airtime, Cheap Trick, Cosmo, China Blue, Def Leppard, Eclipse, Eden, Final Frontier, Firehouse, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, James Christian, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Michael Bormann, Mike Tramp, Newman, Nexx, Night Ranger, Norway, Oliver Hartmann, On The Rise, Ted Poley, Rain, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Shaw Blades, Snakes In Paradise, Stan Bush, Street Talk, Tesla, The Ladder, Urban Tale, Vertigo, Von Groove, Zion.

The money man is back! God bless him....a true rock n roll legend. But what is this new Eddie Money album? I wish artists would give more information about their upcoming releases such as track listings, style info and who plays on it. It's called promotion! So until I know more about this release I can't really comment. I hope it kicks butt like the awesome Ready Eddie record, but I have some reservations.
And where is this new Brian Howe solo record announced in mid-2005? I heard one tune, which really rocked - more like AC/DC than Bad Company, so at this point I also hold some reservations about this album. Yes, I'd love Brian to rock, but in keeping with the great sound of Bad Co's classic Dangerous Age record.
German melodic rockers Frontline will deliver their new album soon, which I am sure will be solid and entertaining, but can they replicate the strength of their earliest records?
I have no doubt that the second Shadowman album will be even better than the debut and a real treat for fans of the ever-smooth Steve Overland. But with a new album from The Ladder also due, which will take out top Overland honors? He's a busy guy (more than we know!) and 2006 looks like one for his fans...My only hope is that both albums sound great, but different enough from each other to be identified on their own merits.
Wig Wam will deliver a very anticipated follow-up to their acclaimed debut. Their glamish hard rock won a lot of fans and I hope they can do what The Darkness appear unable to do - break out of a perceived style gimmick and appeal to people as a legitimate melodic rock outfit.
It is finally done...hard to believe, but the new Survivor will definitely be released in 2006 and in April no less! All the time they have taken to get this album sorted will be forgotten if they deliver an album of the quality we expect from the band. This will be no easy feat mind you! They are without the genius of Jim Peterik, but are using several Peterik written tunes from the Fire Makes Steel sessions of the 90s and they are going up against past classics are Vital Signs, Too Hot To Sleep and When Seconds Count. This needs to be a great record. Not good, but great! It's been a long time coming and fan expectation is high. I'm not sure...I'm hoping for the very best, but am realistic enough to know it may not be. I and all Survivor fans are hoping for the best!
Asia looked set to follow on from their very good last record with another strong release, helped out by the addition of Jay Schellen on drums but in breaking news have scrapped the album to concentrate on a new album featuring the original line-up.
REO Speedwagon look set to make 2006 a very interesting year musically by adding a new studio album of their own into the mix. I'm very excited about this one, while really being quite in the dark about it. It has been a long time for the band and their last few albums have come up a little short. But I do expect big tings from this release and hope fans will be pleased.
Rik Emmett is a long time favourite of mine as is Von Groove, so with Rik ad VG singer Mike Sotton together on one album, how could it not be a classic? Well, the material...that's the only key. From what Rik has said of the release it will feature a very varied selection of songs and some modern elements. So all they guys have to do is ensure the record has an easy to listen to flow and make sure there is a cohesive thread that keeps the songs together. I'm confident this will be one of Rik's best releases and look forward to hearing it.
I was quite disappointed by the last Cheap Trick album. There were a couple of absolute classics on there, but the material was not consistent and too laid back. I'm not sure how good the new album will be, but as a long time fan, hope they can step it up a few notches to make the album they are capable of.
Will Boston celebrate 30 years in the business with a new studio release? To be honest, I doubt it...but Cosmo might make up for it! Due for release mid-year, the duo of Fran and Anthony Cosmo might just turn in the super sweet AOR record we have been hoping Boston would.
Def Leppard...well, you know my feelings on this one. A stand alone covers album isn't going to excite me and judging by the wide spread comments after the unfortunate leak of the album, many agree. Better to couple it with an second CD of B-Sides and rare tracks to make a tidy little compilation rather than a full blown stand alone covers only release.
Eclipse are one of Sweden's finest melodic rock bands and I believe they know exactly what is needed to create a perfect album for them.
Eden features Kick vocalist Nick Workman and Bob Catley guitarist Vince O'Regan. These guys know great songwriting, so I'm expecting something very good here. My only reservation - O'Regan's production - I've been disappointed with the poor sound quality of both records he has produced in the last 18 months.
Another year, another Final Frontier record. I love that these guys work so hard and will again look forward to this release. They have not disappointed me at all to date, but that said, I know they can still do even better and will look for a knockout release!
Firehouse are due to begin work on their next studio album after the impressive Prime Time. Will it get completed in time for a 2006 release? I think possibly not. Why? Because vocalist CJ is still working on his solo record, which should prove to be an interesting release given that the Pride boys are heavily involved in the writing and recording. Two to watch for.
The biggest of Tommy Denander's many albums for 2006 should be the long in the works Frederiksen/Denander album. Anything featuring Fergie Frederiksen is going to be gold for me and both artists here have a considerable track record to live up to. We can predict the sound of the album - that won't be far from Tommy's usual fare, so all that is needed for a classic album is a great selection of songs.
The new Hardline album was declared near finished in April of 2005. Er, not quite it seems, but it will definitely be out this year. Again, the guys need a very strong album after not quite delivering to potential last time around as well as splitting fans with a more modern direction at times.
The promise of a classic melodic hard rock record and those great vocals, plus added input from guitarist Josh Ramos gives me a strong sense of anticipation about this one, but I will hold them accountable should they not deliver!
Same goes for House Of Lords. My comments regarding this almost mirror those of Hardline. The need for a big follow up and the fact that a new line-up is in place for this album leaves a lot up in the air. Will Gregg Giuffria be on board as a full partner? Will James deliver some knockout vocals? Will fans miss the classic line-up? Lots of questions...none of which I have answers for! It will be up to the music to do the talking.
On a related note, you can expect a live album from HOL (Live At Firefest) and possibly also a James Christian solo album. Lots to look forward to. Perhaps the JC Solo will get bumped to 07, but if it gets done in time, I will hope for something closer to his solo debut over last year's Meet The Man, which was very good, but not great.
Harem Scarem will work on another new studio release for the end of the year release...I know I'll love it, but I think at this stage of the band's career they need to make a record for all their fans. Is that possible? In any other case I would say no, but Harry & Pete are capable of anything.
Night Ranger and Kelly Keagy albums in the same year? I said last year that this would be a dream and we are still waiting for both! I know the Night Ranger album will definitely be out this year and one hopes Kelly will get his done in time too.
Kelly's solo debut was fabulous and he has a lot to live up to in order to top that album - can it be done? With Jim Peterik on board as songwriting partner, reproducing the glory of The Journey (from the debut), anything is possible! Bring it on!
Night Ranger have a lot of fans excited about their release. I have loved every album the band has ever done, but must admit to being just slightly disappointed by the last album Seven. I loved it at first and still think there are some classics there, but the style wasn't quite there for me - wasn't quite classic Night Ranger. Some say Neverland wasn't either, but I still love that album to death...some great songs on that record.
But what the fans are really calling for is an old-school Night Ranger release - Dawn Patrol or Midnight Madness for the new millennium. We know Jack loves to dabble in modern sounds, so what can the guys deliver? I say one of the great albums of 2006.
Kip Winger is long overdue for a new solo album and I have no doubt this year's new album will be another haunting and intense affair.
Get set for Mecca to return with a vengeance and deliver a knockout AOR record. I have heard some demos and know the time taken in following up the amazing debut will be justified. I hope if gets completed in time...there is a small possibility it could become an early 2007 release.
Michael Bormann...where are you? Let's go with your solo record already! Jaded Heart have moved on, but what about Michael? Should be good at any rate.
Bormann is also due to front Rain for their second album, which I hope finds a bigger audience than their debut! That was a great album, but how many people heard it?
China Blue is a new AOR project featuring Eric Ragno - keyboards, Tony Mills - vocals, Ed Platt - bass, Ernst van Ee - drums & Michael Riesenbeck on guitars. Their collective talent should prove to be an interesting listen.
Mike Tramp is due for a new solo album and one that I hope matches the brilliance of Recovering The Wasted Years. I'm told a few songs are a little different for Mike, but I remain confident in his songwriting ability. Should be a highlight.
Newman is due for another solo album and will no doubt stick to his usual high standards, but it would be nice to see him really deliver a classic.
Nexx finally have a new label and one can only hope they come close to matching the quality of their awesome debut. I am very confident that can be done and have high hopes for this.
Norway are back in business and I hope their time away has given the band time to come up with some memorable AOR tunes. Another strong hopeful.
One of the surprise packages - if not THE surprise package of 2005 was the solo debut of Oliver Hartmann. What a classic record and I only hope he is able to capture the emotion and the intensity of that amazing record. If he can, then it will be one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
On The Rise promise a follow up to their great debut, but the are now just half the line up they were, with Bennech forming Main Attraction. Can Terje still deliver something close to the debut on his own?
Ted Poley is set to rock the world with a new solo album that will finally put an end to complaints over recent material. If what I have heard to date is replicated throughout his upcoming solo record with Adriangale guitarist Vic Rivera, than all will be forgiven and Ted will be hailed for delivering one of the great good fun melodic rock records of the year.
One of the sharpest AOR records for the year should come courtesy of Richie Zito. The mastermind producer and musician is putting the finishing touches on a debut solo record which is set to feature an amazing line-up of star vocalists and guests! This is definitely one to watch and one I anticipate will deliver the goods.
Another long in the making record is the comeback for CITA, sorry, Guild Of Ages,, Relapsed. Hopefully this talented bunch will find a name they like and stick to it, but I'm confident fans of their work under past names will dig whatever they come up with now. I don't think they have recorded a bad album as yet and don't expect them to start now.
Will the bloody Shaw Blades album get released in 2006? The album of all covers will need a push when it does finally get released as in the time spent recording and getting this released, the covers concept has lost some marketplace favor. But, these two guys are unique and their chemistry together is undeniable, so consider this a soft rock pleaser.
Snakes In Paradise delivered a really strong record a few years back and anything featuring vocalist Stefan is normally high on my list of anticipated releases. He will have to overcome poor reviews for his other band Razorback first.
Stan Bush delivered a classic solo album in 2004, so the pressure is on him to deliver even better this year. Tommy Denander will try and help him do it. I have no doubt the material will be great, but I'll be listening hard to make sure the production equals the high standard set by Shine.
Speaking of production, Ten need to turn around a recent disappointment and deliver an album that makes it up to fans and says fuck you to journalists like me. I love the band, but The Essential Collection was a poor effort, so with new material on hand, what better way than to deliver a classic.
The much loved Street Talk are making a new album - something which there was doubt about 12 months ago. But the strength of two new tracks on their best of suggests the guys have a lot of life left in them and I hope to report that this was one o the year' AOR highlights.
Tesla are slated for a box set and a covers album, possibly both as one package. I hope there isn't a stand-alone covers release as I don't think these do artists any god at all.
2006 should also see the return of Urban Tale, who have been working with their new guitarist on a new album. These guys have a lot of potential and an amazing singer and just need to nail the songwriting in order to deliver an AOR classic like their debut was.
Joseph Williams will deliver a sequel to his great Vertigo album, which I expect will be another great slice of Toto-esque brilliance. My only reservation - the song content - I'd prefer to see or JW originals featured, but I think it will be mostly comprised of outside written material.
Another question marks hangs over the release of the long anticipated Von Groove release. It has failed to appear the last 2 years so it is no better than even money to appear this year. If it does appear, I'm hoping the band can deliver their very best. The last album I truly loved from them was Test Of Faith.
To finish this round up off...Zion! Will this album appear in 2006? Well, after waiting some 3 years I will never say it will for sure, but it should finally see the light of day. I seem to be saying that about a lot of albums. Another sign that this scene is doing it tough and the money needed to complete these albums is not there a lot of the time.
Anyway, Zion, the Freddy Curci star vehicle looks set to be another AOR highlight. I heard a couple of tunes down the phone in 2005 and hope the rest of the material is of the same strength. if it is, it will be worth the wait for all.

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2006: Blue Tears, Shadowman, Wig Wam, Survivor, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Airtime, Cosmo, Eclipse, Final Frontier, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Mike Tramp, Nexx, Night Ranger, Oliver Hartmann, Ted Poley, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Stan Bush, Street Talk, The Ladder, Urban Tale, Vertigo, Zion, Toto, Jim Peterik, Blue Tears.

Heavy Metal / Melodic Metal:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Altaria, Satyrian, Blind Guardian, Empire, Black Label Society, Genius, Halford, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Planet Alliance, Seven Witches, Vicious Rumors.

There are plenty of newcomers lined up for release in 2006 and I know nothing of any of them! So I won't make any predictions as to what will be the best releases, but rather will look forward to see who impressed come the end of the year.
of those notable names due to release albums in 2006, I think the very best metal releases could come from Halford, Altaria, Planet Alliance and Vicious Rumors.
Halford should rock after having his vocal chords well and truly worked out while on tour in 2005. Altaria just keep getting better and Planet Alliance look to have one of the more interesting line-ups of all groups, featuring Magnus Karlsson, Mike Andersson, Bob Daisley and Janne Stark.
I'd love to include Iron Maiden in that list and hope come the end of the year I do. But the sound on their last studio album was horrible and they will need a much cleaner sound this time around.
Megadeth should also impress, given frontman Dave Mustaine's new enthusiasm for al things metal.
And the biggest of all releases - Metallica! Will it be completed in time for release this year? I'm not sure, but we all know they need a sensational release to pull their fans back in after the horrible sound of St. Anger.
Vicious Rumors might be the surprise metal package of the year, with the addition of guitarist Brad Gillis and vocalist James Rivera.

Predicted Best Metal Releases for 2006: Altaria, Satyrian, Blind Guardian, Black Label Society, Halford, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Planet Alliance, Seven Witches, Vicious Rumors, Andersen Laine Readman, Jorn, Bloodbound.

Highest profile albums due for 2006: Supergroupies, Roxx Gang, Pretty Boy Floyd
Mmm...not a lot there for Glam fans again! Supergroupies is already out in Japan and is great, so check that out when it gets a wider release.
Roxx Gang have a good name for themselves and I hope will continue to deliver quality.
Pretty Boy Floyd are set to return and given a decent production, should deliver something impressive.
The musical direction of the Wig Wam album might see them considered for the blest galm of 2006...we shall see.

Progressive / Progressive Metal / Progressive Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Queensryche, Rush.
Two stalwarts of the progressive rock scene are Queensryche and Rush. Both for different reasons, but both should have new albums out this year. Queensryche is due soon and boy, so they need a classic! A combination of lackluster recent performances and the use of the beloved Mindcrime name mean this really has to deliver. I hope the guys nail it.
I'm a long time Rush fan and am one of those that was so looking forward to their comeback with Vapour Trails. However, it was mastered way too loud and it just can't be cranked up with comfort, so the album goes largely unplayed. I'm hoping the guys will fix that one day and get things spot on for this new album, which I have no doubt will impress. However, I know they take their time recording, so I think perhaps we will see this album drift into 2007 release.
I know there will be a ton of other high profile prog albums due later in the year, with Inside Out set with a full roster of releases. I'm hoping Threshold are one of those releases. We will have to reflect upon these this time next year.

Modern Rock / Mainstream / Major Label Commercial:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Evanescence, Live, Guns N Roses, Train, Velvet Revolver, Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls, Live, Pearl Jam, Avril Lavigne, Hoobastank, Neve, Silverchair, Simple Plan, Mitch Allen, Butch Walker.
I think nu-breed as a term is pretty much dead. It had potential as its own genre, but I think what is left of bands of this ilk can easily fit under the modern rock / mainstream banner. So with that in mind...
Evanescene will have retailers eager, but can they deliver with a new guitarist in tow?
Live, Train and Soul Asylum are all bands that are past their prime, but still have plenty to offer and given the right set of songs could do just that.
The Goo Goo Dolls need to cut back the vocal work of bassist Robby and let Johnny take over lead vocals. That and the right combo of songs could see a great album delivered. But I do fear that the GGD's time might have come and gone. They were huge there for a while and on the verge of going into that next popularity level, but lost momentum. Can they do it from here again? Depends on the quality of the album.
Avril Lavigne has a lot to prove, as she will always get knocked down if she doesn't deliver, but I like her style. Moving along to her bud - in fact everyone's bud - Butch Walker. The question continues to be asked - when will he become a megastar and a household name? Let's see what he can deliver this year with a new solo album and a new band album. I expect a definite highlight for us though.
Can Simple Plan follow up on the success of their single Untitled? Can Mitch Allen make a solo name for himself when SR-71 couldn't catch a break? Will anyone care about a Silverchair comeback? Will anyone care anymore about Hoobastank, or have they had their day in the sun?
I'm hanging out to hear Mitch Allen's release - what a genius modern rock writer...the rest I could live without!
Velvet Revolver should be able to come out with the year's biggest selling hard rock release. I still think they have the wrong frontman, but they have done the right thing as far as marketing themselves and they are great musicians.
VR Vs GNR? Only an insane asylum escapee would put money on the Guns N Roses album seeing the light of day...I say early 2007...Whatever the case, when it does come out, it could be album of the year, but what album can quench a thirst built up over 10 years of waiting?

Pop / Pop Rock / Westcoast:
Highest profile albums due for 2006: Bob Seger, Chicago, Huey Lewis & The News, Duran Duran, The New Cars, The Hooters, Meatloaf.
The vibe seems to be good for the new Chicago album. Their 30th overall, it should hopefully reflect the time taken to record it and be a very good example of smooth, commercial rock. What will be interesting is how the media will report the album. Will the band be a nostalgia act, or will those reporting put a more positive spin on things?
Rumor suggests Bob Seger's is finally due in May. I think this will definitely be a pop/rock highlight for the year if released!
Duran Duran took a long wile to get their last album Astronaut released and it was pretty good too. Time for them to step it up another level or two and deliver a fine pop/rock album.
The New Cars may not sound like a good idea and I'm one that remains disappointed there is no Ric Ocasek involved. But the brand new sample tune the band has been playing has potential, so I won't write off this project just yet.
I welcome any new album by rock veteran Huey Lewis and I expect it will be up to his usual high standards.
As for The Hooters - you know that's going to be amazing!!! But will it finally get done??? 50/50 chance I say. Another possible 2007 release.
Meatloaf is confident the new album will get done this year - Bat Out Of Hell III no less...Jim Steinman will write, but not produce, so this leaves questions unanswered. I'm not confident the album will be finished this year.

The Best Of 2006 - Predictions

What albums will occupy the Top 30 list for the 2006 Album Of The Year? 2006 has so many possibilities - maybe more than ever before if everything gets released. These are the titles I think should stand out as some of the very best of 2006:

Blue Tears, Shadowman, Survivor, Asia, REO Speedwagon, Frederiksen/Denander, Hardline, Harem Scarem, House Of Lords, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Mike Tramp, Nexx, Night Ranger, Oliver Hartmann, Ted Poley, Richie Zito, Relapsed, Stan Bush, Street Talk, The Ladder, Urban Tale, Vertigo, Zion, Goo Goo Dolls, Mitch Allen, Butch Walker, Bob Seger, Rush, Halford, Planet Alliance, Vicious Rumors, Europe, Glenn Hughes, M.ill.ion, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Shark Island, Sebastian Bach, Street Legal, Talisman, Montrose, Toto, Tom Keifer, Jim Peterik, Andersen Laine Readman, Bloodbound.

Top 10 2006: Shortening the list even further - what could my Top 10 (or so) of 2006 be? It will be interesting to look back, but here goes:
Night Ranger, Oliver Hartmann, Talisman, Toto, Harem Scarem, Kelly Keagy, Kip Winger, Mecca, Frederiksen/Denander, Shark Island, Hardline, Mike Tramp, Ted Poley, Europe.

So what won't be released in 2006? What are line-ball releases?
Firehouse, Mecca, Burning Rain, Bob Seger, The Hooters, Guns N Roses, Meatloaf, TMG, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Richie Sambora, Metallica, Montrose, The Ladder, Von Groove, Rush, Asia.
- Let's check results in 12 months time.

The Year Ahead - General Predictions

One of Britain's most beloved AOR acts will return finally!

Skid Row will finally reform, but for how long?

There will be no new Van Halen activity, but could a box set finally appear? I'll side with perhaps not.

Def Leppard and another popular AOR act will team up for what could be an eventful US summer tour.

Journey in Europe? I still think a full European tour will not happen. A few select dates perhaps?

Possible break ups - Brides Of Destruction, Korn (we can only hope), Ratt, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Warrant, The Darkness.

Possible re-unions - Winger, Rainbow, Little Angels, White Sister, Damn Yankees, Genesis.

There will be no new studio album from Foreigner. Perhaps in 2007...

Sanctuary Records will down-scale or file for bankruptcy protection.

A new Toto compilation will be released from SonyBMG.

A new Anthology style compilation on Journey could see the light of day.

No new Steve Perry solo record.

Toto in Australia?

Rumors of a Triumph re-union will again prove false. Would be nice though, don't you think?

There will be no second season of Rock Star!

A very popular lead singer might find himself out in the cold…

Whitesnake will head into the studio for a new record, but it won't get completed in time for release this year.

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award:
I didn't name the Dickhead Of The Year in 2004. I kept it subtle. Not this year. Contenders for the award this year were the genius undercover Def Leppard reporter Ramona (nice try, enjoy the asylum); Nicholas Hway, the dreg Canadian conman who was using my site name and my personal reference to book gigs in Canada while also stating that I had sold the Canadian rights of the site to him too; and a certain Noticeboard poster who spent most of the year under a pseudonym before being exposed and called for their actions (yet again).
But boy, in 2005, this dickhead stands head and shoulders above all other dickhead's I have encountered and deserves to be publicly flogged for his attitude and his clearly diagnosed multiple personality disorder. I don't think I have laughed so hard at so many e-mails from one clown.

Dickhead Of The Year 2005 is none other than Joe Reardon.
Now Joe should be familiar to anyone that has ever posted on a Journey forum or news group. He is everywhere. Or should I say was everywhere. This venomous toad has been banned from every single forum online and even has had the dubious honor of being responsible for a couple of forums being closed down.
This hate filled snake has fired off shots at just about everyone on every board. I can't understand how one person can become so filled with rage for others, but karma is a bitch and one day this ass-clown will get what he deserves.
He was a member of the forums here until finally being banned, at which point he began to unload his special brand of hatred upon me. Below are some of the e-mails I received before blocking his IP address from the whole site and creating a mail filter to block his abuse.
I must state that these individually numbers e-mails listed below are not for the fainthearted, but are so seriously bizarre that they are funny, not abusive. I still get a laugh from these and think the sooner this guy gets clinical help, the better for all. His family must be truly proud of him.

1. I apologize again for the BS. Can I get back into the forums? [Answer...NO!]
2. who's running that website andy...I knew you never had much of a backbone...spineless little c**t. But the joke IS on you you knucklehead...I am alive and well in your pathetic little website...3 times over. I knew you would ban me...who gives a crap.
but i have been posting for more than a year under THREE other names...good fucking luck!!! You see...Boston has more than one computer you Aussie bitch.
So, really, I'm not gone at all..have a nice day..and bend down and spread them wide...such a little man you are. Christ, you are a saaaaaaaaaad moderator. I'll be posting tomorrow...hint...people on the site LOVE me!!!! Good fucking luck figuring things out....ban and ban again...hehe!!!!
3. Face it don't have an answer. And what exactly did I do that was SO bad compared to what goes on in therre now? Of don't have an answer.
4. Gee...I forget why I was banned in the first place. Maybe I wasn't vile enough for your tastes!!!!
5. Blah...blah...piece of crap. I hope your kid has two heads... [Sorry Joe, only 1 head.]
6. Hey everyone your harry potter photo you little maggot. I wish I had five on one...with your smary little douche bag TRULY are a piece of shit...another ass-bending homo.
7. LMFAO!!!!! Get a clue Mr. Moderator!
8. Like I told CJ at Backtalk andrew....I'm still very much around and posting in the BT forums, just as I'm alive and well posting on the Melodicrock forums. Have a nice day! LOL!!!!
9. hi andrew....steve wanted to know who the harry potter-slimy bearded twerp was. The Voice wants me to kick your ass like a wounded dingo.
10. LMFAO.....I'm still in the forum genius...just as I'm in BT and Stuart's site...have a nice Thanksgiving...I hear kangaroo is good eatin....
11. hi andrea! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Give the kids a hug.
12. NO ONE calls me a KNUCKLEHEAD!!!!! ;) Don't get your panties in a bunch Andrew. Lighten up. I have no hatred for you or anyone else.
13. ....Hmmm...kiss Andrew's ass or be banned for good....SCREW YOU!!!! You're lucky you're Down Under Harry Potter.
14. Be still McNeice...when I say I will fuck your ass, I literally WILL fuck it, after I beat you to submission. So come visit...I WILL do as I say. I fucking DARE you.
15.'s a little secret Andy. I'm already IN your forum. I have been for quite a while now...genius. It's just that...well, I like fucking with you...buffoon. LMFAO!!!!! Good luck trying to figure out who I would be quite suprised if you had an ass chance of figuring it out. Good Luck genius...;)
16. Shucks...I can't enjoy journey music without being a part of your forum. be still and get a fucking life. Bye you little....C***. Love, Steve Perry....BWAHAHAHA. You are a tool Douche Bag.

What a repertoire! Joe - you are clearly head and shoulders above anyone else in the dickhead stakes, so congratulations, you are's Dickhead Of The Year 2005.

What The Labels Have To Say

Mario De Riso @ Frontiers Records, Italy.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Journey "Generations" and then Glenn Hughes "Soul Mover", Soul Sirkus "World Play" and Allen / Lande "The Battle".
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Speaking in general I would say this has been an outstanding year for our label and more than every other year I'd say "all of them".
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Not that many really. I have to say I was a tad disappointed with some on my most awaited releases of the year (Dishwalla, Porcupine Tree). Probably one that went beyond my personal expectations was the Better Than Ezra new record which has some beautiful tunes on it. Other than this I think many good releases, but nothing worth of major attention from my personal perspective. Some good reissues though!
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
My personal point of view is that there was no huge frustration. This is a tough job that requires a lot of time and efforts - also on a personal level. So I feel that with enough experience and a bit of patience everything can be worked out positively.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
We have a busy 2006 which started very well with the new Bob Catley album and will go ahead even more strongly with Toto, Survivor and more other great releases. Stay tuned for some great surprises!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?
Easily Toto, then Survivor and the third would be House Of Lords probably, judging from how the album is taking shape... but we are looking at some even more exciting stuff! Let's see what the future will bring...

Khalil Turk @ Escape Music, UK.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Heartland, Change Of Heart, Liesegang / White
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Heartland, Liesegang / White, Gypsy Rose
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Lee Rynn, Deep Purple
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
There are so many I can't begin to tell, how much time do you have??
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2006?

Good questions?? Let me ask Serafino....How big his Crispy Duck he likes?? [Yes, that is what I was sent to print]

Geoff Gillespie @ Majestic Rock Records, UK/Japan.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2005?
Power Quest, the Y&T reissues and the Steeler 'Anthology' release, I would think.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Power Quest's mighty 'Magic Never Dies' and Crimsonfire's stunning debut both left me with a big, dumb grin on my face. Magnificent stuff
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
I didn't feel it was a vintage year, actually. Like most who frequent this site, I obviously really liked the second Masterplan album, nice to see Escape release the Tantrum set - 'Applaud The Winner' is one of the most astonishing tracks ever! - and, in power metal terms, I thought the Hibria 'Defying The Rules' album was a belter. Unlike most others, though, I thought that the Jorn Lande/ Russel Allen album and the Place Vendome record were both pretty bog average.
- Any disappointments or frustrations that arose from doing business in 2005?
Blimey, where should I begin? Personally, it was easily my toughest year in the business in over 20 years. On a personal note, I was sad when guitarist Jonas Hermansson left M.ILL.ION. We have a long way to go with that band, but it'll all be fine in the end.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2006 releases?
Ah, now you're talking! Fantastic reissues from Strangeways & Shogun, tremendous new albums from Cry Havoc - the demos for the 'Caught In A Lie' album are simply gob smacking! - and, a little later in the year, M.ILL.ION's new record. Add to this possibly the most extraordinary debut album I've had anything to do wi