Another essential HEART album just reissued on SHM-CD / remastered by Universal Japan is the great "Bad Animals". The album continues the mainstream melodic hard rock style from the band's 1985 self-titled release, all while enjoying similar success, three times platinum.
"Bad Animals" contains the number 1 hit single "Alone", while "Who Will You Run To" reached No. 7, "There's the Girl" reached No. 12, and "I Want You So Bad" reached No. 49. All are terrific songs.
While the album is notable for containing only a few tracks with writing contributions from lead members Ann and Nancy Wilson, I have no problem at all with it.
And that's because we have the songwriting talents of monsters such as Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg, Holly Knight, Steve Kipner, Peter Beckett... wow.
Yes, again produced, engineered & mixed by Ron Nevison (the best from '80s in my opinion), "Bad Animals" sounds huge. And this remaster on SHM-CD enhance even more the deep bass groove and crisp vocals.
This is a great opportunity to get these classic, must have albums on SHM-CD in HD quality for a regular price. Order now, all are limited edition.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC Japan ~ UICY-25532
01 - Who Will You Run To
02 - Alone
03 - There's The Girl
04 - I Want You So Bad
05 - Wait For An Answer
06 - Bad Animals
07 - You Ain't So Tough
08 - Strangers Of The Heart
09 - Easy Target
10 - RSVP
Ann Wilson – lead and backing vocals
Nancy Wilson – guitar, keyboards, backing and lead vocals
Howard Leese – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Mark Andes – bass
Denny Carmassi – drums
Mike Moran, Holly Knight, Duane Hitchings - keyboards
Tom Kelly – backing vocals
Efrain Toro - percussion
Tom Salisbury - strings arrangements
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Sunday, August 30, 2015
Few weeks ago, Universal Japan started a reissue campaign of various '80s Rock artists / albums from their back catalog on SHM-CD, all remastered and with reduced price. We have ordered many of these, and the first batch just arrived to our mailbox.
Among the artists in the reissue campaign there's HEART, and their essential self-titled from 1985.
In 1985, Heart made a dramatic comeback, fueled by an equally dramatic alteration to their traditional sound. A successful hard rock band in the late '70s, the group had nearly fallen off the face of popular music in the early '80s before deciding to make a transition towards more mainstream pop&rock.
The result was their self-titled record, "Heart", which brought the Wilson sisters group its greatest commercial success, reaching quintuple platinum status and becoming their first and only chart topper.
Mid-Eighties... let's go radio-friendly, melodic and with lots of AOR melodies, keyboards and a glossy, huge production.
There's no need to talk more about it, songs like the killer melodic rock opener "If Looks Could Kill", the wonderful 'Never', 'Nothin' at All', "All Eyes", are all must haves for fans of the '80s.
Of course we have the exquisite 'What About Love', Heart's greatest hit 'These Dreams', and the underrated 'Nobody Home'.
The latter is the closest to a power ballad on the album, driven by an electric piano which leads the way under Ann Wilson’s melodic vocals, the song gives the album that added dimension as a sweet but sad song complete with a soaring lead guitar by guest Frankie Sullivan (Survivor).
"Heart" already sounds terrific with the excellent production by master Ron Nevison, but this Japanese remaster on this SHM-CD will blow you away.
This is a great opportunity to get these classic, must have albums in HD quality for a regular price. Order now, all are limited edition.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC Japan ~ UICY-25531
01 - If Looks Could Kill
02 - What About Love
03 - Never
04 - These Dreams
05 - The Wolf
06 - All Eyes
07 - Nobody Home
08 - Nothin' at All
09 - What He Don't Know
10 - Shell Shock
Ann Wilson – lead and backing vocals
Nancy Wilson – vocals, guitars, mandolin
Howard Leese – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Mark Andes – bass
Denny Carmassi – drums
Peter Wolf – piano, synthesizer
Mickey Thomas (Starship) – backing vocals
Grace Slick – backing vocals
Johnny Colla – backing vocals
Lynn Wilson Keagle – backing vocals
Holly Knight (Device) – keyboards
Frankie Sullivan (Survivor) – solo guitar on 7
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Saturday, August 29, 2015
Now this is a true pearl; new Norwegian label Preservation Records has gotten access to the original master tapes of "Cruisin", one of the most sought after albums by LAVA, releasing it exclusively on CD for the first time.
Norwegian AOR / West Coast combo LAVA is some kind of institution of these genres in Scandinavia, but it was not until the inclusion of awesome lead singer Egil Eldøen in 1982 that they become known all over Europe and Japan.
But the combo started as band two years before, first with a funky-jazz inspired debut, and later, in 1981, with his "Cruisin", clearly inspired by the LA scene with a more classic West Coast sound next to Airplay / Maxus.
Simply put, this is breezy, smooth collection of songs with some exquisite playing and wonderful melodies.
Just check lead single "Take Your Time" (which became Norway and Europe little hit), the groovy "Easy Come Easy Go", the dynamic "The Ratter" (with some Toto on it) or the cool ballad title track "Crusin".
A Must for West Coast AOR fans.
01 - Take Your Time
02 - Give It Up
03 - Sunday Morning
04 - Hideaway
05 - The Ratter
06 - Crusin'
07 - Easy Come Easy Go
08 - Sky Rocket
09 - Tears In You Eyes
Rolf Graf (bass, vocals)
Per Hillestad, Bruce Rasmussen (drums)
Marius Müller (guitar)
Svein Dag Hauge (guitar, backing vocals)
Geir Langslet (keyboards, backing vocals)
Per Kolstad (keyboards)
Sigurd Køhn (saxophone)
Jan Erik Aasland, Nina Askeland, Sidsel Endresen, Terje Bakke, Tor Vister (vocals)
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Swedes BACKYARD BABIES are back with a new studio album, the first in five years, entitled "Four By Four". The fresh recording gives an edge to their signature sound, with bits and pieces that clearly show that those five years have been used to hone their craft.
Formed in 1989, and with half a dozen studio albums to their name, the line-up of the band has never changed, and neither has the collective desire to claim a key and colorful chapter in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll.
So that’s what the PR blurb is telling me, but what are the songs saying? After a substantial time out are the Backyard Babies still relevant in 2015 or have they had their day?
The album explodes into my ears with the recently-released single “Th1rt3en Or Nothing”, which has a funky start and then sort of slides into a slow and groovy wall of sleazy swagger. The vocals are sneering, the guitars are wailing and I love the drum sound. It reminds me in places of some of the stuff that Slash has produced recently.
Second track “I’m On My Way To Save Your Rock & Roll” is an instant personal favourite. Its dirty riff has attitude, kind of like a modern-day Hanoi Rocks. This is what I would call the classic Backyard Babies sound, a bouncy singalong chorus with those low-down sleazy vocals and the twin guitars weaving in and out of it all.
“White Light District” continues in the same vein, keeping up the energy and swaggering into a potential live classic I think.
There’s a total change of pace for “Bloody Tears”, which starts slowly with acoustics then morphs into a massive power ballad. Get your lighters ready for this one.
Back to the classic Backyard Babies sound for “Piracy” which is fast and fun, featuring some excellent harmony vocals. “Never Finish Anything” is a potential single too, with a more modern sound with Nicke and Dregen throwing some two-way vocals at each other in the catchy chorus.
“Mirrors (Shall be Broken)” is another nice ballad with a more bluesy groove. In places there is a hint of 2YK Bon Jovi.
Final track “Walls” is another interesting cut, slow, but there’s no ballad here. Instead a strong and dominant bass line gives it a feel all of its own, and it then becomes an instrumental ending that wouldn’t be out of place as the theme for a Hammer House Of Horror film. There’s creaking doors, doomy guitars and even an evil cackle or two.
It seems that those years doing their other projects have enabled the Backyard Babies to come back with a sound that is stronger than ever.
"Four By Four" is close enough in style to satisfy their die-hard long-term fans but there’s also some interesting new directions to attract a new audience. Give them a listen, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
01 - Th1rt3en Or Nothing
02 - I'm On My Way To Save Your Rock 'N' Roll
03 - White Light District
04 - Bloody Tears
05 - Piracy
06 - Never Finish Anythi
07 - Mirrors (Shall Be Broken)
08 - Wasted Years
09 - Walls
Nicke Borg – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Dregen – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Johan Blomquist – Bass
Peder Carlsson – Drums
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Friday, August 28, 2015
Z Records UK started a reissue campaign of their back catalog / out of print releases, and LILLIAN AXE's "Fields Of Yesterday [Deluxe Edition]" has been put on sale today, August 28.
The schedule is a little chaotic, as some previous titles have been properly announced (some of them featured on the blog days ago) and others - like this "Fields Of Yesterday [Deluxe Edition]" - not.
Anyway, it's a good opportunity to check this very nice collection of songs.
I'd say 'collection of songs' because "Fields Of Yesterday" was / is a compilation of outtakes from Lillian Axe albums Love & War and Poetic Justice (2nd and 3rd).
All these tracks were composed & recorded in the late '80s, and while most are pre-production takes the sound is pretty good, and essentially, the material is really interesting.
Interesting as Lillian Axe were exploring different sonic 'fields', and some songs here are more darker and heavy than the usual songwriting from the band.
So, many of these tracks were originally discarded because didn't fitted the sound their recording label wanted to sell the albums, but surely not for its lack of quality.
Indeed, cuts like "Daddy Long Legs", "Blood On The Moon" or the rowdy "Become a Monster" are among the heavier stuff I heard from the band.
However, most of the material is oriented to the melodic, mature hard rock style we all know from Lillian Axe.
Opening track "Death Valley Daze", the excellent "Calm Before The Storm", the kick ass "Pulling Out The Rats" or the really melodic yet punchy "For Crying Out Loud" are great songs that could have happily graced any of their previous albums.
There's more hidden gems like the superbly sung ballad "When It Rains", the mean melodic hard rocker "Twilight In Hell" or the pumping hair metal of "The Last Time".
This "Fields Of Yesterday [Deluxe Edition]" includes two bonus tracks, the groovy and dark "Throw You Away" (really interesting arrangements), and "Thirst", a trademark Lillian Axe rocker that why it was not included into any of their albums is beyond me.
"Fields Of Yesterday [Deluxe Edition]" just shows the strength of Lillian Axe when you see the quality tracks the band discarded. Many major acts would kill for songs like these.
01 - Death Valley Daze
02 - Do It
03 - Twilight In Hell
04 - For Crying Out Loud
05 - The Last Time
06 - Calm Before The Storm
07 - Pulling The Rats Out
08 - When It Rains
09 - Daddy Long Legs
10 - Blood On The Moon
11 - Kill Me Again
12 - Become A Monster
13 - Throw You Away (bonus track)
14 - Thirst (bonus track)
Ron Taylor - lead vocals
Steve Blaze - lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
Jon Ster - rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
Rob Stratton - bass
Danny King - drums
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After the acoustically based affair from last year, White Lion frontman MIKE TRAMP returns to full band sound on his new album "Nomad", released today.
Although "Nomad" is billed as a 'rock album', it mixes electric melodic rockers with slower, mellower tunes, and I think this blend works wonderfully for Tramp.
As on his previous 4 albums, co-producer and engineer, guitar player Soren Andersen, is once again Tramp's partner in crime, joined by drummer Morten Hellborn who played with Tramp and Andersen in the Rock n Roll Circus, and bass grooving is being handled by fellow Dane Jesper Haugaard. Keyboards / Hammond B-3 organ are handled by another Tramp family member, Morten Buchholz.
The ten-track "Nomad" is Mike Tramp’s ninth studio solo outing emerging hot on the heels of 2014’s Museum, and it’s testament to the prolific songwriting prowess of this Danish composer who has made a career – unlike so many musicians from the '80s metal era – of actually writing songs fueled by emotion and personal experiences.
It’s no different with "Nomad"; the Copenhagen-born rocker completing a trilogy of sorts in regards to his journey through life beginning with the 2013 opus Cobblestone Street.
Mike hasn’t lost one iota of his range, but prefers to explore more of his lower and middle register on "Nomad" – his best melodies and choruses coming up on opener 'Give It All You Got', 'Stay' and 'Who Can You Believe', another favorite, a nice groovy rocker with a lively feel.
'Wait Till Forever' provides an extra edge; a killer organ buzzes along with another instant lick. Of course, due to Tramp’s moving tones the track is brought down to a comfortable level as the drum plods amidst the airy trickles of the guitar.
Other cuts are more mellow, like the wonderful 'High Like A Mountain' with warm vocals by Tramp, the poppy 'No More' and its infectious chorus, or the reflective 'Live To Tell'.
What sets "Nomad" apart is simply Tramp‘s voice. If you like Mike Tramp melodic raspy vocals and his songwriting, go and get it now.
I think that most of the songs on album would fit well alongside slowed down versions of the White Lion classics that Tramp has been playing live and that is really a compliment and a testament to the quality of the songs on "Nomad" that they match up in that regard.
White Lion is in the rear view memory to treasure forever – so let’s appreciate Mike Tramp and his craft as long as the songs deliver and entertain – and for my money, he's achieved the balance very well.
01 - Give It All You Got
02 - Wait Till Forever
03 - Counting the Hours
04 - Bow and Obey
05 - High Like a Mountain
06 - No More
07 - Stay
08 - Who Can You Believe
09 - Live to Tell
10 - Moving On
Mike Tramp: vocals, guitar
Soren Andersen: guitars, vocals
Morten Hellborn: drums
Jesper Haugaard: bass
Morten Buchholz: keyboard, Hammond B-3
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Thursday, August 27, 2015
That were sad news when Swedes melodic rockers Diamond Dawn decided to split after their great, only album. But frontman Alexander Strandell pick up the flag and formed ART NATION, which debut CD "Revolution" is about to appear in a few days via AOR Heaven Records.
When Diamond Dawn disbanded, Strandell soon joined guitarist Christoffer Borg from Swedish AOR band Taste to create a new project, and in late 2013 ART NATION born. Christoffer is a John Norum kind of guitarist with both feel energy in his playing.
After several shows and a couple of singles, in early 2015, ART NATION signed a deal with German label AOR Heaven for their full-length debut album, which was produced and recorded by Jakob Herrmann (Hardcore Superstar) at Top Floor Studios, together with Christoffer Borg.
"Revolution" could best be described as a Melodic Rock album that presents equal doses of Scandianvian AOR and classic hard rock.
First song 'Need You To Understand' delivers an energetic start with a blistering solo before making room for the meaty verse. A great opener that shows what ART NATION are all about.
Second track '3000 Beats' is harder, and reminds me very much of Eclipse, where Alex really shows all of his vocal capacity and the song itself is one of my favorites on the CD. But I must tell you to pick favorites from this one is really hard, as the entire album is plenty of memorable moments.
'I Want Out' is pretty much Diamond Dawn, so if tou loved their brand of punchy melodic rock you'll embrace this with open arms. Drummer Carl Tudèn gets to show his skills here with his imaginative way of playing building up for a neat keyboard solo by Hedström.
'Don’t Wait For Salvation' is another personal favorite where AOR meets powerful Hard with a stadium feel and a sing along chorus. The guitar solo makes you think John Norum's solo album Total Control.
'Start A Fire' has that lovable Scandi keyboards all over and very melodious vocals, pumped as well by a fat bass line.
Those are just a few highlights in a brilliant album full of them. ART NATION has recorded a great debut in "Revolution", with all the ingredients to make the fans of the genre rejoice.
The guys easily blend Melodic Rock, AOR and Hard Rock (all with a typical Scandinavian sound) into really well crafted songs.
Immaculately produced, "Revolution" is a really good contender to any 2015 best of list.
01 - Need You To Understand
02 - 3000 Beats
03 - I want Out
04 - Number One
05 - Don t Wait For Salvation
06 - All The Way
07 - Start A Fire
08 - Moving On
09 - Here I Am
10 - Look To The Sky
11 - Wage War Against The World
12 - All In
Alexander Strandell - Vocals
Christoffer Borg - Guitars
Johan Gustafsson - Guitars
Simon Gudmundsson - Bass
Theodor Hedström - Keyboards
Carl Tudén - Drums
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Fronted by Steve Newman since 1997, NEWMAN are ready to release their new album "The Elegance Machine" next September 11 through AOR Heaven Records.
A hard working regular of the Melodic Hard Rock, Newman consistently delivered quality music year after year and is at it once again with this new 2015 effort.
After the successful European tour (UK leg with Vega) presenting their very good previous album, Steve Newman focused on writing a new set of songs and with a fresh sound approach in mind.
A natural follow up to Siren, "The Elegance Machine" delivers a harder edge than its predecessor, but without losing the emphasis on strong hooks. The material encompasses what Newman stand for; powerful guitars, solid rhythm section, catchy choruses and huge vocal melodies / harmonies.
But this time it also brings in modern influences such as on the title track 'The Elegance Machine' and 'Halo' giving the recognizable and reliable Newman sound a more contemporary edge.
Steve has always been known for his thought-provoking lyrics, and "The Elegance Machine" is no exception with subject matter ranging from corporate business greed (the uptempo rocker 'The Suit'), through domestic violence ('She Walks In Silence'), and even onto the space themed ('Prayer For Apollo').
Once again Steve has teamed up with Rob McEwen (drummer for the last 8 Newman albums), and has also brought in the talents of Geoff Wootton and Mark Thompson-Smith (Praying Mantis, Big Life) providing backing / harmony vocals resulting in really good layers of melodies.
You can hear this on the aforementioned 'Prayer For Apollo', featuring some stunning vocal arrangements coupled with the solid riff of keys/guitar backing that Newman albums are known for.
'One Good Reason' is one of those upbeat hard rock songs that bands like FM do so well, another album stand out. 'Scars' closes the album with Steve backed just by a piano and a guitar solo midway through. Something a little different and it works well.
One of the most consistent and enjoyable bands in the Melodic Hard Rock field, Newman deliver another top quality album in "The Elegance Machine", full of memorable and enjoyable songs.
01. The Suit (Skyscraper)
02. The Elegance Machine
03. Don t Stay Lonely
07. Prayer For Apollo
08. She Walks In Silence
09. One Good Reason
10. Pretender Surrender
11. Send Us Salvation
Steve Newman - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Rob McEwen - Drums, Percussion
Geoff Wootton - Backing Vocals
Mark Thompson-Smith (Praying Mantis, Big Life) - Backing Vocals