Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased full


This one has been requested in comments for a long time: the second unreleased solo album from Cheap Trick's frontman ROBIN ZANDER, entitled "Countryside Blvd."
Zander's long-gestating solo effort has a complicated release history. It was supposed to come out in 2011 but has been stalled for reasons no one seems to know. Apparently it was for sale on iTunes for two days before the record label spontaneously removed it.
So this is a strange case of an album released, then immediately un-released.

And let me tell you, it's a shame, because it's a first-rate outing from the lead singer of Cheap Trick that has had fans flummoxed by its very (non) existence since it originally surfaced… before mysteriously disappearing within a few days of its debut.
First things first, however.
Don’t believe the online hype that "Countryside Blvd." is a 'country music' album. It’s not!
Yes, it was recorded in Nashville and, yes, Robin sports a cowboy hat on the cover (but mostly to hide his receding hairline) and, yes, it does contain elements of Americana instrumentation, including fiddles, acoustic guitars and the occasional pedal steel.
But, categorizing this as country, or country-rock, completely misses the point.

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased - inside

When I first heard this - now a collector's item - I found it likeable and catchy, at times influenced by big names from the American Rock history, at times from big acts from the other side of the Atlantic.
But, repeated listens quickly convinced me that "Countryside Blvd." is a bedpost notch for Zander, with enough nuance and palate-expanding flavors to showcase his abilities and crossover appeal, without distancing himself from those looking for a Cheap retread.
The ballads (like, “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”) are smart and appropriately sentimental, while the slight country accoutrements give the proceedings a contemporary air – a valid commerciality – without succumbing to the limited demands of modern rock radio.
Again… I didn’t hear all this so clearly the first time through. It took a few spins for Countryside Blvd.‘s compositional smarts to charm me.

Not to mention Zander’s still impressive vocal strength, as the 60 year-old easily ping-pongs from raucous rockers such as “Say You Will” or the Cheap Trick-like melodic rocker “What's Her Name” (yes, it's a melodic rock song) to overly romantic duets (“Was I Wrong”) with aplomb.
There’s also an alternate mix of “What’s Her Name” that, apparently, was mistakenly posted as one of the withdrawn downloads.
The best song, though, on "Countryside Blvd." is “Pamela Jean”. The first time I heard it I thought that my player had skipped, or that the album was over, and I was hearing Cheap Trick. This is Robin Zander circa 1991, with all that poppy melodic rock imprinted over it.

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased - photo

All in all, "Countryside Blvd." is a really satisfying stretch for Robin Zander… that fans can’t have.
Honestly I don't understand why this album yanked and it was not properly released until now, as it owns a wide potential for many audiences.
This would be an awesome record to take along on a long, moonlight drive. It’s a shame we all can't go to the store and buy "Countryside Blvd." on CD, or at least digitally.
Well, 0dayrox is here to solve it.

01 - Every Dog
02 - Walkin' Shoes
03 - The Ballad Of Jean & Me
04 - Heart Of Glass
05 - What's Her Name
06 - I Wonder What You're Doing Tonight
07 - Pamela Jean
08 - Say You Will
09 - Was I Wrong
10 - Love Comes
11 - Save The Last Dance For Me
(with hidden track You Are My Sunshine)
12 - What's Her Name (Alt. Mix) [Unofficial Bonus Track]

Not for sale


AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014)

AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014) full


Hitmakers AMERICA are not precisely amongst my favorite bands, but I always had a soft spot for their 1983 album "Your Move" which has been remastered and released in Japan on a high quality SHM-CD.
This is their more radio friendly, AOR / AC record, following the trends of the first half of the '80s. Perhaps the reason for this musical approach must be pointed to the record producer and general director: Russ Ballard.

Ballard not only wrote most the songs on "Your Move", but also arranged, produced and played almost all instruments.
You can hear his touch on songs like "She's A Runaway," "Tonight Is For Dreamers," "Honey," and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely," along with the upbeat "My Kinda Woman". "Cast The Spirit," which had originally appeared on Ballard's 1978 album At The Third Stroke, is one of the more AOR cuts.
"The Border", including strings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was a Top 40 hit, while the great title track was penned by multi-platinum-selling Westcoast guru Steve Kipner.

AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014) back cover OBI

This Japanese remaster of "Your Move" has a much better dynamic range than any reissue heard before, and adds a little extra brightness to the already ultra-polished, glossy production by Russ Ballard.
A typical product of the '80s now presented with a great sound.

Capitol Japan TYCP ~ 80051

01 - My Kinda Woman
02 - She's A Runaway
03 - Cast The Spirit
04 - Love's Worn Out Again
05 - The Border
06 - Your Move
07 - Honey
08 - My Dear
09 - Tonight Is For Dreamers
10 - Don't Let Me Be Lonely
11 - Someday Woman

Vocals – Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell
Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Russ Ballard
Harmony Vocals on 2 – Stephen Bishop
Saxophone – Raphael Ravenscroft
Strings – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014) disc photo



BAD BONES - Snakes and Bones (Deluxe Edition) (2014)

BAD BONES - Snakes and Bones (Deluxe Edition) (2014) full


BAD BONES hails from from Cuneo, Italy, have been a band since 2007 with two albums recorded, and "Snakes and Bones" is their third effort. The disc was released independently two years ago, but now Bad Bones has a deal with Madhouse Music and are re-releasing this 'Deluxe Edition' with 3 freshly recorded new tracks.

Since its foundation, Bad Bones has not stop playing in any venue available all over Europe, opening for bands such as Steel Panther, Hardcore Superstar or H.E.A.T, and touring USA as main act on places like the legendary Whiskey a Go Go and Key Club.
Occurs that Bad Bones is more 'American Hard Rock' than many bands already born in the States. Their preferred style is late '80s Californian Hard Rock, and they are quite good at it.

BAD BONES - Snakes and Bones (Deluxe Edition) (2014) inside

Since the gritty, raw opener "Don't Stop Me", Bad Bones rocks you with razor guitars, pounding drums and sleazy vocals. Follower "Gasoline Rock" is even better, more catchy and melodic.

But the good thing of the CD is the fact Bad Bones has interspersed between the hard rockers some acoustic, slow paced numbers which work really well with the flow of the record; two fast paced - one slow cut.
So you have the whiskey soaked, bluesy acoustic title track "Snakes & Bones" next, to rock hard again with the furious "Am I Walking Alone?", one of the best tracks.
There's other fine slow songs like "Desert Star Blues" (recalls Badlands) and the middle of the road "Jumping White Devil" in between solid hard rockers like "Rebel Radio", "Nowhere Girl" and "Bugs Lane".
The new tracks featured as bonus include the fine rattlesnake bluesy "Dancing On The Ceiling", the riff driven "Shake Me" and a cover of Journey's classic "Don't Stop Believin'".

"Snakes & Bones" is a good, entertaining piece of American Hard Rock including a solid batch of songs well arranged, robust like a bull's bones and flexible as serpents.
All are good musicians and it's clear they know what this genre is all about: they play with a sweaty attitude, tight and hot, while the record production is slick and organic.
Rocks Good - Recommended.

01 - Don't Stop Me
02 - Gasoline Rock
03 - Snakes & Bones
04 - Am I Walking Alone?
05 - Desert Star Blues
06 - Rebel Radio
07 - Jumping White Devil
08 - Follow The Rain
09 - Nowhere Girl
10 - Bugs Lane
11 - Indian Medicine Man
12 - Dancing On The Ceiling (bonus track)
13 - Shake Me (bonus track)
14 - Don't Stop Believin' (bonus track)

Max Bone (Max Malmerenda) - voice
SerJoe Bone (Sergio Aschieris) - guitar
Steve Bone (Stefano Balocco) - bass, bck vocals
Lele Bone (Raffaele Balocco) - drums



Monday, July 28, 2014

UNBREAKABLE - Knockout (2014)

UNBREAKABLE - Knockout (2014) full


New German Hard Rock band UNBREAKABLE will be releasing their debut "Knockout" - produced by Herman Rarebell - this July 29th 2014 via Dark Star Records/ Sony Music.
When I read this young quintet first album was produced by the legendary Scorpions drummer, mastered & mixed by Michael Voss and endorsed by MTV artists, I knew these guys had to have something good to offer.

“Knockout” kicks the disc off with a sound a bit like Rarebell’s The Scorpions era, but these playing and vocals stand on their own on this track and lays the groundwork for a great record.
“Rock The Nightlife,” the first single and video, has cool guitar riffs and prominently feature the drums in the mix. Pulling from the sound and vibe of the '80s hard rock scene, this track features a catchy hook-laden chorus.
“Bad Blood” is a riff filled track that embodies rock and its entire attitude, from the pounding bass line to the crunchy guitars to the vocals that add punch to the chorus. “Crazy Cat Lady” is a tongue-in-cheek number that features a ton of innuendo buried in the lyrics, while the rhythm section gives a killer drum-bass anchor to the song.

“Good Times” is a high energy stomper that gives the disc a genuine arena rock track that should go over well in a live setting, as the chorus screams for fist pumping.

“Game Of Life” is perhaps the more Scorpions circa 1984 influenced cut and I love it. Listen those verses then tell me.
“Come Back To Me” is a great midtempo ballad with a typical European vibe and some Scandinavian sound on it, and it's a highlight.
“Obsession” has pings and squeals galore, but not to the detriment of the track. The guitars are full and give the song a super 'oomph' at the bridges and choruses. “In Your Heart” is the other ballad, the kind of meaty and powerful tunes that Pretty Maids, Europe and... yes, Scorpions used to craft at the beginning of their careers. Great one.

“Back To The Roots” is the heavier track on the CD and the one with a more modernized sound, but the semi-gang chorus bring things to a familiar territory: the '80s.
“We Are Dreamers” brings the disc to a close on a mellow note that doesn’t detract from the other tracks on the disc, but adds another dimension to the album and sound of the band. It's partially acoustic, with nice percussions and harmony vocals.

UNBREAKABLE - Knockout (2014) inside

Unbreakable's debut album "Knockout" is a lovable collection of hard rock songs structurally and sonically inspired by the 1983-1986 Euro sound of the genre.
These guys took their heroes and influences, mixed them up with their own ideas and abilities and have created a disc that should please rockers from an era gone by, but also today’s hard rock lovers. The overall sound output it's updated to modern times, but the 'feel' is truly '80s.
Very Recommended.

01. Knock Out
02. Rock The Nightlife
03. Come Back To Me
04. Bad Blood
05. Obsession
06. Crazy Cat Lady
07. In Your Heart
08. Good Times
09. Back To The Roots
10. Game Of Life
11. We Are The Dreamers

Al Crespo (Vocals)
Martin Ries (Guitar)
Pascal Alles (Guitar)
Lukas Mittler (Bass)
Alex Ries (Drums)



Sunday, July 27, 2014

KROKUS - One Vice At A Time [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KROKUS - One Vice At A Time [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


Rock Candy Records has just remastered the first three '80s records by Swiss Hard Rock pioneers KROKUS, something the fans have been demanding for some time.
There comes a tipping point in every artist’s career where years of hard work and paying dues suddenly turn into an avalanche of praise and success.
Krokus reached this point with the release of "One Vice At A Time", a supremely crafted album boasting a clutch of tracks that elevated their appeal far beyond anything previously conceived or, indeed, achieved.

Co-produced in London by former AC/DC engineer Tony Platt and issued in 1982, with "One Vice At A Time" the band made a concerted effort to refine their sound and ambition by bringing their trademark style fully into focus.
Jam packed with a number of raucous tracks such as "Bad Boys Rag Dolls", "To The Top", "American Woman" (a metallic cover of the Guess Who classic) and perhaps their best known song "‘Long Stick Goes Boom", there is room enough for the band to drill down deep yet retain a sense of composure befitting a band safe in the knowledge that they were about to reap the rewards of years of hard work.
Look out for an appearance by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who provides backing vocals on the track "I’m On The Run".

KROKUS - One Vice At A Time [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

The early Krokus albums really needed a modern sound treatment, and this Rock Candy remaster does justice to this fun, hard rockin' band.
Much Recommended.

01 - Long Stick Goes Boom
02 - Bad Boys, Rag Dolls
03 - Playin' The Outlaw
04 - To The Top
05 - Down The Drain
06 - American Woman
07 - I'm On The Run
08 - Save Me
09 - Rock 'n' Roll

Marc Storace - lead vocals
Fernando Von Arb - lead guitar
Chris Von Rohr - bass, percussion
Freddy Steady - drums
Mark Kohler - rhythm guitar
Bruce Dickinson - backing vocals on 7



Saturday, July 26, 2014

KROKUS - Hardware [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KROKUS - Hardware [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


Rock Candy Records has just remastered the first three '80s records by Swiss Hard Rock pioneers KROKUS, something the fans have been demanding for some time.
It's fair to say that the Swiss music scene at the beginning of that decade hadn't exactly set the world on fire, but with Krokus that situation was rapidly reversed.
The band’s album ‘Metal Rendez-vous’ became a surprise success, not only in their home country (sales rocketing to three times Platinum) but also globally where they secured a strong foothold in the charts and on the live front.

The band’s no-nonsense brand of tough-guy hard rock found favour in a market that was wide open for that revolution.
"Hardware", therefore, was released into the arms of an eager fan base feeding off the energy of their previous album and it didn’t disappoint them.
The record picks up where the band left off, laying down some serious riffage on songs that display a cheeky lyrical charm; an unexpected side-effect of their Swiss/Maltese heritage.
Engineered by British studio master Mark Dearnley (Def Leppard) and recorded in London, the album makes full use of their powerful armoury, led by the ripping two guitar attack of Fernando von Arb and Tommy Keefer.

Heavy but memorable, the album contains a superb selection of tracks, including the in-concert favourites "Easy Rocker", "Mr. 69", "Smelly Nellie" and "Mad Racket", songs blessed with a swish and swagger that made it clear the Scorpions weren't the only band in Europe with big potential.

KROKUS - Hardware [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

The early Krokus albums really needed a modern sound treatment, and this Rock Candy remaster does justice to this fun, hard rockin' band.
Much Recommended.

01 - Celebration
02 - Easy Rocker
03 - Smelly Nelly
04 - Mr. 69
05 - She's Got Everything
06 - Burning Bones
07 - Rock City
08 - Winning Man
09 - Mad Racket

Marc Storace - lead vocals
Tommy Kiefer - guitar, backing vocals
Fernando Von Arb - guitar, backing vocals
Chris Von Rohr - bass, backing vocals
Freddy Steady - drums, backing vocals




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UPDATED July 29, 2014



KROKUS - Metal Rendez-Vous [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KROKUS - Metal Rendez-Vous [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


Rock Candy Records has just remastered the first three '80s records by Swiss Hard Rock pioneers KROKUS, something the fans have been demanding for some time.
You can count the amount of internationally successful European bands in this genre on one hand; Krokus are one of only a few acts that can be included on that list.

With roots reaching back to mid-seventies, the band spent several years experimenting with various line-up changes and recording three albums, before settling on a unique style that came fully into focus with the appointment of Maltese born frontman Marc Storace, formerly of Swiss heavy progressive rockers Tea.
It was this formation that signed to German record label Ariola and cut "Metal Rendez-vous", an invigorating example of explosive four-to-the floor hard rock, big on hooks and jam-packed with hell raising riffs.

Chief amongst their selling points was Storace’s signature voice and his ability to punch home some incredibly well constructed songs. In addition, guitarists Tommy Kiefer and Fernando von Arb were no slouches either, peeling out a series of ripping solos and laying down tough as nails musical support in a manner befitting the times.
Co-produced with the band in Switzerland by English producer Martin Pearson, the album contains a number of classic Krokus tracks including "Heatstrokes", "Streamer", "Tokyo Nights", and my absolute favorite the catchy "Bedside Radio", which still remain in the Krokus' live set to this very day.

KROKUS - Metal Rendez-Vous [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

The early Krokus albums really needed a modern sound treatment, and this Rock Candy remaster does justice to this fun, hard rockin' band.
Much Recommended.

01 - Heatstrokes
02 - Bedside Radio
03 - Come On
04 - Streamer
05 - Shy Kid
06 - Tokyo Nights
07 - Lady Double Dealer
08 - Fire
09 - No Way
10 - Back-Seat Rock 'n' Roll

Marc Storace - lead vocals
Tommy Kiefer - guitar, backing vocals
Fernando Von Arb - guitar, backing vocals
Chris Von Rohr - bass, backing vocals
Freddy Steady - drums, backing vocals
Juerg Naegeli - keyboards, backing vocals



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