Silently coming from Munich, Germany, the new Melodic Hard Rock band CRANE is releasing their debut CD "Refuge".
Formed by experienced musicians from local acts such as Capt'n Hammer and Revenge, the most known of the bunch is the excellent ex- Railway vocalist Armin Schueler.
Crane style is really classy and melodic, influenced by Badlands, Kingdom Come, Extreme, Dokken and alikes, with a sprinkling of The Cult or King's X.
The star here is Armin Schueler, a very good and complete vocalist with a really pleasant timbre that instantly reminds you Europe's Joey Tempest.
The guitar parts of Markus Escher are tasteful, with a hard bluesy style and a melodic vintage sound. He is good soloing, but essentially on his precise rhythm guitars are where the band found its musicality.
On "Refuge", Crane alternates melodic hard rockin' tracks with more relaxed material, resulting in a balanced CD.
Since the opener "Able To Be Yourself" Schueler stands up with his great voice, over a well structured riff and catchy melodic lines.
"Fantasies" contains a nice chorus, good rhythms lines by Markus and a nice solo. With "Wake Up" the pace turns more dynamic carried by the full band, while the subsequent "Paradise" is one of the best tracks here, that could easily become a workhorse of the band.
"King Of Trash" is fast and powerful, same with follower "If You Open Up Your Eyes", featuring a solid hard riff, but on the chorus becomes melodic and catchy.
"Soul II Soul" is the obligatory ballad, and one of the best songs on the album. Great job by Schueler on the vocal harmonies supported by melodic arpeggiated guitars.
The teutonic "Riddle" is dominated by a pounding rhythm section and strong riffage, with Schueler singing in the Coverdale style for good effect.
"Capital Fascism" is an effective rocker which, while maintaining a basic melodic hard rock structure (as is generally for many of the songs on the album), manages to keep the listener excited with a groovy riff.
"Love" starts slowly but soon is pulled by a compact full band instrumentation. This song has some tempo changes sustained by interesting guitar variations, musically linked at some point with Deep Purple.
Last track "One Life One Game" is the more Melodic Rock oriented on the album, sounding pretty 'live', a special song for the arenas.
"Refuge" is a good and consistent CD by Crane, a new and promising German band.
Not an earth-shaking release, but a more than fine debut album. Crane simply rocks in the classic Melodic Hard Rock style with good taste.
All songs are well structured, arranged and played, with a spacy production that provides the music an organic and melodic feel.
"Refuge" was mixed by Beau Hill, who we obviously know from his work for melodic hard rock bands like Winger, Ratt or Europe, so expect a polished and vibrant sound.
Well done guys.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
1. Able To Be Yourself
4. Wake Up
6. King Of Trash
7. If You Open Up Your Eyes
8. Soul II Soul
10. Capital Fascism
12. One Life One Game
Armin Schüler - Lead & Backing Vocals
Markus Escher - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Javier F. Luengo-Lopez Fernandez - Bass
Christian Klaus - Drums, Backing Vocals
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Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Prev. Unreleased - as part of Box 'O' Snakes 9CD (2011)
The definitive WHITESNAKE just released box set entitled "Box O'Snakes: The Sunburst Years 1978-1982" contains 9 CDs (every studio and live album recorded for the EMI label), one DVD (include a Washington 1980 show, the promotional singles from 1978-1982 and BBC TV performances), a limited-edition seven-inch single and a 90-page book with new interview and previously unseen photos.
While it will be easy for the critics and cynics to cry 'Cash In', this is a fairly comprehensive documentation of Whitesnake's early years with loads of extras when, in the UK, they were at one stage to EMI imprint Sunburst.
If you haven't picked up the remasters already, this box is a must have.
But many, specially the fans, already got the original albums remastered. To me it would be far fairer to have issued the DVD and both BBC shows together as a lower price option, by all means in a nice box with the book.
So, the really interesting thing of this package (apart from the quite good DVD), are the previously unreleased Reading Rock Festival recordings, originally broadcasted by the BBC.
The '79 take is a bit thin sonically, with a sporadically iffy tape sound.
But "Live At Reading Rock Festival 1980" is a terrific recording by the BBC, with a clear and crisp sound quality, enhanced by a 2011 remastering.
Besides, the band performed as well as they were received, with fire and passion.
01 - Sweet Talker
02 - Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues
03 - Ain't Gonna Cry No More
04 - Love Hunter
05 - Mistreated / Soldier Of Fortune
06 - Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City
07 - Fool For Your Loving
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Australian AOR legend John Farnham is releasing a new CD; "The Acoustic Chapel Sessions", recorded in Melbourne in July 2011 at Chapel Off Chapel.
The CD consists of 11 John's classic songs from 1984 to 1996, redone in acoustic mode but with some little electrics as well.
"The Acoustic Chapel Sessions" has been released in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of 'Whispering Jack', John's smash hit album of 1986.
Back in his heyday, John Farnham decided against going to the US to seek his fame and fortune and opted to stay in Australia and tour there instead. That said, he has had Number One hits and Top 10 hits in other countries.
At 60+ year old, careers don't blossom, they fade.
Not Farnham's voice though !
This man could out-sing any 20 year old you put in front of him. His power is just phenomenal.
This acoustic album sees John retread 11 classic hits, so at least the song quality missing over his last few albums is guaranteed.
The first highlight off the CD for me is "Pressure Down", in a version even better (or at least equal in quality) than the original version.
"Chain Reaction" kicks the album into high gear, followed by killer takes of "That's Freedom" and "Talk Of The Town" sparkled with energy and refreshed enthusiasm.
Of course the stainless classic "You're The Voice" is featured here, performed with class and elegance.
I also love "Two Strong Hearts", where the backing vocals go so well with John's voice. The acoustic version of "A Simple Life" also sounds terrific, whilst "Hearts On Fire" has a charming new approach.
Throw in a couple of sultry tunes like the timeless brilliance of "Age Of Reason" and the soulful "Simple Life" and the balance between acoustic ambience and electricity was reached.
All are truly great, but the real surprise for me, and definitively one of the most fantastic tracks here is the acoustic version of "Playing To Win". This Classic keyboard driven AOR tune originally recorded with Little River Band in 1984, sounds marvelous without its synth and electric guitars, very well arranged for this stripped version. A great song is always a great song...
On "The Acoustic Chapel Sessions", John Farnham sounds amazing.
The simple, stripped back format allows his voice to shine and blaze through these great, terrific classic songs. Amazing voice still to this day.
This is more than a worthy addition to any John Farnham fans' collections, and for those that enjoy high quality music.
Newbies might even be impressed enough to delve back into Farnham's career for some classy AOR gems.
01 - Pressure Down
02 - Reasons
03 - Chain Reaction
04 - Playing to Win
05 - You're the Voice
06 - That's Freedom
07 - Two Strong Hearts
08 - Age of Reason
09 - Talk of the Town
10 - A Simple Life
11 - Hearts on Fire
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"Time" is the full length debut album by Brazilian melodic hard rock / AOR group PARADISE INC. The band's core comprises Brazilian musicians, but their frontman is German Carsten Schulz, most known for his work with Evidence One, Midnight Club and Domain.
Music wise "Time" is quality Melodic Hard Rock with many AOR - rock touches built on the high standards of German and classy Euro style, with a polished and melodic sound.
Fans of Jaded Heart, Frontline, Midnight Club and Shylock are expected to make the most of this stellar, if not totally original album.
The start of the album is really strong with the title track "Time (Live and Learn)", the best tune of the CD, featuring superb hooklines and a catchy chorus. With this song the bar is set high and the band rise to the challenge to continuously deliver song after song.
"Close Your Eyes" is a great rocker with a good riff/chorus, a song that sounds like a mix of Frontline and H.E.A.T.
"Who's Fooling Who?" with its commercially toned approach confirms the quality of what's on offer here, a pure mid tempo AOR melody that makes me think of Heartland. Great harmonic vocal passages that, no matter how hard you try not to, you simply can't avoid your foot tapping along with the track.
The power ballad "I Will Wait" has an uplifting stadium-feel, featuring soaring vocals and nice keyboards in the background. It could have been taken from a Casanova album for sure.
Another composition effectively standing out is "No More Mistakes", clearly the most climactic moment on the Paradise Inc.'s debut. "You" intertwines piano, heavy guitar and great backing vocals that all combine to make up a not too shabby tune.
There's some hard rock overtones on the guitar driven "Wait And See", whilst "Set Me Free" is a good melodic rocker with crunchy guitars and a nice harmonic chorus.
Doogie White (Rainbow) is guesting on "Not In Paradise" and sings his heart out supported by powerful backing vocals.
We have two versions of the classy sounding "Steel Or Stone", one being radio friendly in approach, and the other, as bonus track, with acoustics added to the mix.
It is unlikely that any fan of European Melodic Hard Rock / AOR would be anything less than pleased with "Time".
Paradise Inc. has delivered a solid debut, with a songwriting inspired in the classic 80's and a sound based around melodic yet sometimes crunchy guitars, nice keyboard fills and catchy hooklines.
The production is good and clear, courtesy of Scottish Paul Logue (Edens Curse), and the precise mastering was done by the omnipresent Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) with a fine result.
"Time" is a really consistently good album, that needs to be checked out by any serious Melodic Hard Rock / rockin' AOR fan.
1 - Time (Live And Learn)
2 - Close Your Eyes
3 - Who's Fooling Who
4 - I Will Wait
5 - Wait And See
6 - No More Mistakes
7 - You
8 - Set Me Free
9 - Steel Or Stone
10 - Not In Paradise [feat. Doogie White]
11 - Steel Or Stone (Acoustic Version, European bonus)
Marcos Peres – Guitars
De Grigo – Guitars
Rick A. – Bass
Allan Juliano – Drums
Carsten Schulz – Vocals
Alessando Del Vecchio – Keyboards
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The 'real' one + bonus
CRYLORD comes from Poland and it's the brainchild of Boguslaw Balcerak, a talented guitarist which is releasing his 3rd album "Blood Of The Prophets".
Balcerak's neoclassical blistering style is certainly reminiscent of the great Yngwie Malmsteen, but his music has a more direct approach and leaves more room for the vocals and harmonies.
For "Blood Of Prophets" he brought three of the best singers out there: Mark Boals, Goran Edman and Carsten Shulz. This tell you right away of the quality of work you can expect.
Balcerak handled all the guitars and all the musical arrangements as well. He isn’t racing on his guitar neck all of the time but when he does… he is really good, trying to create a personal sound, adding many influences into his own style.
The vocals are balancing the domination of the guitars, something that is very good, and make the music a bit more interesting.
So, along with the excellent guitar works and melodies expect top class vocals, memorable parts to sing along and a touch of epic atmosphere.
Perhaps the more representative track of the album's style is last track "The Healing Hands of Destruction", featuring all three vocalists doing a great job and the band musically shining.
You can find storming rockers such as the title track "Blood Of The Prophets", "Behind The Walls Of Sadness", "Grave Of Love", epicness on "Warrior's Moon" and more melodic moments on "Face Of Destiny" (great harmony vocals) or "Angel Of Divine" were Goran Edman proves again he can sing anything and NOT in auto pilot.
"When The Time Has Come" is a power ballad very well arranged, Boals & Edman voices perfectly fit the tune. The only disappointing track is "Behind the Walls of Sadness", where surprisingly the lead vocals by Carsten sound out of place in my opinion.
On "Blood Of The Prophets" Boguslaw wants to prove how classical music can be mixed with metal without falling automatically in the Malmsteen category.
To be honest (and being a true Yngwie fan myself), this album is better than anything released by the Swedish virtuoso in the last 10 years.
"Blood Of The Prophets" is dynamic, melodic and never boring. Boguslaw's six-string job is brilliant, but the remarkable aspect of his compositions is the sense-of-the-song. He can write songs with a head and a tail.
Count to that excellent performances from the three lead singers and the unknown (and very good) Polish musicians and all I can add is that this album is a must for admirers of the neo-classical metal genre played with style.
All the things of this album are carefully chosen for the best result, special mention (Yngwie, take note) for the top notch crisp production and mastering by King Diamond's guitarist Andy LaRocque.
01. Ante Bellum Overture
02. Blood Of The Prophets
03. Grave Of Love (vocals: Goran Edman)
04. Bard's Tale (vocals: Mark Boals)
05. Warrior's Moon
06. Face Of Destiny (vocals: Mark Boals)
07. The Heretic
08. Behind The Walls Of Sadness
09. Angel Of Divine (vocals: Goran Edman)
10. Valley Of The Dead
11. When The Time Has Come (vocals: Mark Boals & Goran Edman)
12. The Healing Hands Of Destruction (vocals: Boals, Edman & Schulz)
13. The Storm (bonus track)
Boguslaw 'Bibas' Balcerak – Guitars
Carsten Schulz (Evidence One) – vocals on 2,5,6,8,10,12
Mark Boals (ex- Yngwie, Ring Of Fire) – vocals on 4,6,11,12
Goran Edman (ex- Yngwie Malmsteen) – vocals on 3,9,11,12
Tomek Zawadzki – bass
Kamil Wyzinski, Lukasz Dybalski – Keyboards
Krzysiek Kisiel Biaduń – Drums
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This is a new artist for me and I guess for most of you. His name is BRENT JAMES and with his Michigan based band The Contraband, has released a couple of months ago an interesting album called "Moment Of Silence".
Brent James and the Contraband are most certainly going places. Such a surefire statement is most probably hyperbolic, but consider the following three facts.
For starters, James possesses 'that' kind of classic American voices somewhere between Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, Mitch Malloy and Mark Spiro that fits perfectly his music style: polished rockin' road trip tunes in the vein of Better Than Ezra mixed with the more 'cowboy-esque' Bon Jovi.
Secondly, the group’s debut full-length album was produced by the ever-consistent Grammy-winning producer Brad 'Skidd' Mills, who also contributes playing and arranging.
And third and perhaps most important is that James’ possesses a confidence and swagger that would make most headliners shiver in their skin. Exuding attitude, charisma and energy, James seems destined for larger stages.
The band has performed with Alice Cooper, Kenny Wayne Shepard, and recently, with legend Ted Nugent.
“He’s a rocking young kid,” Nugent said of James. “Our manager spotted him and since I don’t get around to see other acts much between tours, I took his word for it when he said we should get Brent on the tour.
“He was right. Brent is a great performer and he really impressed me with the Detroit thing he has going on. You can feel that energy, the drive on his music.”
While "Moment Of Silence" does have a few moments of filler, there are a host of radio-ready juggernauts primed for terrestrial radio, movie soundtracks and VH1. Foremost of those juggernauts is album opener and title track “Moment of Silence”, which has everything it takes to top the charts: polish, professionalism and hook smarts.
Equally potent is the punchy “Young Love”, the anthemic “Let it Rain”, and the cerebral “Love Is An Opera”. “My Mona Lisa” is the more Melodic Rock oriented track and one of my favorites.
One of the strongest points of Brent James is his ability to write interesting and mature lyrics, in perfect junction with his music combining rockin' and tough parts with soft and tender sections.
"Moment Of Silence" is a pleasant classy, rootsy, American Rock album with very well written / performed tunes.
It has melody, cool hooks and a fun, fresh vibe. Brent James has innate talent and knows his way around a song. Production is above average, with a vital 'live feel' but really polished and expertly mixed.
The Contraband clearly had a wide range of influences, but Brent and the boys managed to create something original and fresh in any style they took on "Moment Of Silence".
I think Brent James and his guys will be headlining shows of their own in the not to distant future. Keep a eye on them.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - Moment Of Silence
02 - Furious
03 - My Mona Lisa
04 - Young Love
05 - Let It Rain
06 - Cloud Of Dust
07 - Sick And Tired
08 - Diggin' Up The Past
09 - Love Is An Opera
10 - A Little Bit High
11 - Me After You
12 - Shine Shine Shine
Brent James: Vocals, Guitar
Jason Kott: Bass
Mike Puwal: Guitars
Matt Hayes: Drums
Tim Callaghan: Guitar
Skidd Mills: Guitar, Keyboards
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Monday, December 26, 2011
Some "vanished" posts can be found HERE
Friday, December 23, 2011
United Rockers 4U, founded by Terry Ilous, Jeff Paris and Charlotte Bailey, is set to use music to raise money for disaster relief.
After the Japan tsunami in March the trio approached the Red Cross about using their talent and resources to raise money through donations in order to support the work done by the Red Cross.
In pursuit of that effort, United Rockers 4U has recorded the single “One Family”, featuring Eddie Money, Jimi Jamison, Robin McAuley, Don Dokken, Bobby Kimball (Toto), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt), Michael Thompson, Ritchie Kotzen, and members of Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Dio, Guns ‘N’ Roses and others.
All these artists donated their performances to the cause.
Beau Hill (Ratt, Winger, Warrant, Alice Cooper, Europe, etc.) mixed it and its slamming. It's a straight up Melodic Rock song, and really worth having.
“One Family” is available on iTunes, Amazon, etc., but the main purpose of the track is encourage donations.
You can do it linked to the project here;
One Family (4:14)
UNITED ROCKERS 4U includes the following artists;
* Eddie Money
* Bobby Kimball (TOTO)
* Jimi Jamison (SURVIVOR)
* Don Dokken (DOKKEN)
* Terry Ilous (GREAT WHITE, XYZ)
* Rudy Sarzo (OZZY OSBOURNE, QUIET RIOT, WHITESNAKE)
* Robin McAuley (MCAULEY SCHENKER GROUP, SURVIVOR)
* Phil Lewis (L.A. GUNS)
* Richie Kotzen (POISON, MR. BIG)
* Paul Shortino (ROUGH CUTT, QUIET RIOT)
* Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner, Billy Idol)
* Jeff Paris (hit songwriter for MR. BIG, VIXEN, LITA FORD)
* Robert Sarzo (HURRICANE)
written and produced by Terry Ilous and Jeff Paris
mixed by Beau Hill
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Thursday, December 22, 2011
Tambu is the ninth studio album by TOTO released in May 1995, which went gold certified. It includes the single "I Will Remember", which failed to chart in the USA but was the band's first chart hit in the UK since 'I Won't Hold You Back' 12 years before.
The first thing that jumps out about "Tambu" is the rather original design of the CD sleeve, giving off the appearance of a classic dime store pulp novel.
But it's not just the design of the CD sleeve that makes the album pop. This album marks Toto's first studio effort following the death of founding member and drummer Jeff Porcaro.
Perhaps what is most admirable about Jeff's replacement is that Toto didn't try to replace Jeff. They chose the well-established Simon Phillips, a drummer with a style and sound all his own and struck out in a new musical direction than the previous album 'Kingdom of Desire'.
"Tambu" is a more polished and melancholy affair. It's a band saying goodbye and seeking closure after the death of Porcaro, a closure they needed to find before being able to continue in the music business.
This is probably the band's strongest album to date (at least in the lyrical sense). There's an emotional honesty to the lyrics, weaving seamlessly with David Paich's keyboard chops, Simon Phillips soothing beats and rhythms, and Steve Lukather's gravelly voice which had become a mainstay since the previous album.
There's also a natural progression to the songs as you hear the band dealing with crushing grief and a desire to move on with their lives and careers.
"Tambu" is a varied CD with stylized AOR numbers such as "Gift Of Faith", "Slipped Away", the ethereal "I Will Remember", the groovy "Time Is The Enemy", the rocking "Drag Him To The Roof" and a jazzy-hard rocker on "Dave's Gone Skiing".
Of course we have the ballads on "If You Belong To Me", "The Other End Of Time", and the wonderful "The Road Goes On," which has become a staple of Toto's live shows in recent years.
"Tambu" is one of the most inspired TOTO albums ever, both lyrically and musically.
The sound of the songs as a whole is mature, borrowing elements from different genres with the typical class of this incredible band.
The vocal melodies throughout almost the entire CD haven't been this strong since 'IV'. Lukather's chief lead vocals are in such quality that it was puzzling why he hadn't been given the role earlier. He sings here with a deep, melancholic undertone.
Now, that "Tambu" has been brilliantly remastered including a bonus track, don't miss the opportunity to discover this marvelous album pretty ignored when it was originally released.
01 - Gift Of Faith
02 - I Will Remember
03 - Slipped Away
04 - If You Belong To Me
05 - Baby He's Your Man
06 - The Other End Of Time
07 - The Turning Point
08 - Time Is The Enemy
09 - Drag Him To The Roof
10 - Just Can't Get To You
11 - Dave's Gone Skiing
12 - The Road Goes On
13 - Blackeye (bonus track)
Steve Lukather - lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass fills, synthesizer, piano
David Paich - lead and backing vocals, synthesizer, piano, Hammond organ, string arrangements
Simon Phillips - drums, keyboards on "The Turning Point", drum loops on "Baby He's Your Man", Roland TR-808
Mike Porcaro - bass, keyboards on "The Turning Point"
Lenny Castro - percussion on "Gift of Faith", "I Will Remember" and "The Other End of Time"
Michael Fisher - percussion on "If You Belong to Me"
Paulinho da Costa - percussion on "Baby He's Your Man", "The Turning Point" and "Time is the Enemy"
Jenny Douglas-McRae - backing vocals, lead vocals on "The Turning Point" and "Baby He's Your Man"
John James - backing vocals, lead vocal on "Drag Him to the Roof"
Phillip Ingram - backing vocals
Ricky Nelson - backing vocals on "Baby He's Your Man" and "The Turning Point"
Steve Porcaro - drum loops on "Baby He's Your Man"
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OUTLOUD, the Melodic Rock quintet from Athens, Greece, featuring guitarist / keyboardist Bob Katsionis (Firewind) and New York based singer Chandler Mogel, have just released a Christmas themed single named:
"Last Days Of December".
Bob Katsionis comments on the song:
“People are getting so much negativity from everywhere these days. It’s like someone is trying to make the world feel empty and helpless, facing the problems of each country’s economy, criminality etc.
At the same time,what you get from the Social Networks is mostly negative comments, trolling, absurdity, violence and people being more rude day by day. This is reflected on music as well. Bands are trying to be harder, heavier, meaner and more evil like there’s some short of hate-contest going on!
What we tried to do with this song is to bring the rock world some melody, some peace, remind people that Love is the power that makes this world go round and contribute to the soundtrack of the Christmas Holiday Season with a song that we hope will stand the test of time.
Christmas time doesn’t necessarily mean shopping and spending but also quality time with friends and family and the people we love and to be able to share some positive energy which is definitely missing nowadays.
Written, produced and mixed by Bob Katsionis, this midtempo semi-ballad (featuring an awesome guest guitar solo by Achilleas Diamantis) confirms that Outloud is one of the most consistent and talented bands in the actual Melodic Rock scene.
Outloud - Last Days Of December (4:49)
Chandler Mogel - Vocals
Mark Cross - Drums
Bob Katsionis - Guitars & Keys
Sverd T. Soth - Bass
Achilleas Diamantis - middle Guitar solo
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
feat. Robin Beck and James Christian
"The Spirit Quest" is a multimedia project on a grand scale performed by REIGN Of KINGS, a collaborative group consisting of international musicians, artists and an author.
The author, Shawn R. Key, has created an epic Christmas story, "The Spirit Quest", which is told to a rich musical score and is available via audiobook as well as an eBook complete with elaborate illustrations.
The Reign Of Kings musicians have created an accompanying CD inspired by the story. This combo comprises several talented session players and rutilant stars of the Melodic Rock scene.
We have here awesome vocal performances by Robin Beck and her husband James Christian (House Of Lords), the expert coach Sammy Allen, and guitar contributions by Bill Leverty (Firehouse) & Pete Evick (Bret Michael's Band).
The album tells the story alternating vocal Melodic Hard Rock tunes with instrumental tracks beautifully arranged, some with a soundtrack score style, some with furious guitar parts and blasting rhythm section.
"The Spirit Quest" approach isn't in the vein of some metal bands that made Christmas albums in the past, this is more organic and Melodic Rock oriented, and follows an interesting story.
Really well composed, played and recorded, "The Spirit Quest" is a great opportunity to listen a beautiful Christmas story surrounded by good Melodic Rock music, and to enjoy two of the best vocalist in the genre; Robin Beck and James Christian.
A project appropriate for all times of the year, "The Spirit Quest" is Holiday oriented and perfect for the winter season.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - Lifeblood (feat. Robin Beck & James Christian)
02 - Dance Of The Black Cherry Faeries
03 - Interstellar Christmas
04 - Time (feat. Sammy Allen)
05 - Seven Chakras (feat. James Christian)
06 - Man In The Moon (feat. Robin Beck & James Christian)
07 - Ethereal (feat. Sammy Allen)
08 - Words Of Wisdom (feat. Sammy Allen)
09 - Dance Of The Knights
10 - Hearth Crickets
11 - Music Box Dancer
12 - Whimsical
Bass: Scott Harlan, Ira Ostrowski
Keyboards: Shawn R. Key, Jonathan McPherson
Drums/Percussion: Shawn R. Key
Backing Vocals: Hailey Key, Alexa Key, Chloe Key
Produced by: Shawn R. Key and Pete Evick
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It took more than 20 years to Swedes ANGELINE to release their very good debut album 'Confessions' last year, which surprised and pleased the Melodic Rock world.
Now they are back with a brand new recording; "Disconnected", and the truth is that Angeline doesn't sounds dis-connected at all, in fact, this album is much more rocking than its predecessor.
I would define "Disconnected" with a single word that sums up this CD: Catchy.
This is a bouncing up-tempo Melodic Rock album, with a tight sound this time cranked up a notch thanks to the twin riffing guitars and stinging solos. This new album style is comparable to Melodic acts with some hard edge as Harem Scarem, Talisman and even the late Def Leppard.
Angeline's strengths have always been their vocal harmonies, strong melodies and big hooks. These remain, but songs like "When the Light Go Down" or "Falling Into You" are kickin' tunes. A strong, cruising rhythm section bolsters these songs into the melodic hard rock category.
The kicks keep coming straight at ya with a mid tempo burner in "Run Run Run", where a boogie style rock tone dominates this slinging tune.
The title track has a little of Bon Jovi influence all over it, with a rising chorus and it sounds like a talk box is being used either way the effect works pretty on this hard edge tune.
Yet as mentioned, the melody and hook have not been overrun as the fine song "I Had Enough" demonstrates.
Things slow down just a bit on the mellower "In Times Like These" and "Found", the latter having a similar characteristics to past Harem Scarem ballads, very cool song.
But there are also songs closer to the AOR / MR feel on the previous album.
Notably the soaring "Take A Little Time" (one of the best songs on the album), but definitely with "Solid Ground" and "If It's the Last Thing I Do". Then the more assertive rock rises again to conclude the album on "First Time Around" and "Way Down".
"Disconnected" is another very good album from Swedes Angeline, firmly stepped into their Melodic Rock style with some eighties influences, this time adding a touch of edge to their music.
Angeline are extremely good at what they do, creating songs in the typical mold of the genre with bags of melody and glistening choruses, keeping the swing of each song meticulously vibrant.
The vocals of lead singer Jocke Nilsson are excellent and pulling double duty as guitar-man makes even better. He also handles the solid, modern production & mixing, and the mastering by Björn Engelmann (Stage Dolls, Wig Wam, Within Temptation, Friestedt-Williams) reassures a crisp sound on each track.
01. When The Lights Go Down
02. Falling Into You
03. Take A Little Time
04. I Had Enough
05. Run Run Run
08. In Times Like These
09. Solid Ground
10. If It’s The Last Thing I Do
11. First Time Around
12. Way Down
Jocke Nilsson - Lead Vocals & Guitar
Janne Arkegren - Guitar
Uffe Nilsson - Bass
Tobbe Jonsson – Drums & percussion
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Monday, December 19, 2011
Cornerstone® is an Austrian rock band formed in 1998 in Moedling, Lower Austria. "Somewhere In America" is their 2nd international album which first pressing sold out within three weeks.
The band has gone through several phases, but its strongest success came 2008, when they signed a record deal with US-label ATOM Records and released their debut 'Head Over Heels' in the same year, touring UK an Europe.
In 2009 another UK tour happened, the band appeared at the famous Z Rock Festival together with Ted Poley and John Waite (Ex-Bad English, The Babys), and later they did a three weeks USA-tour and appeared on several Radio- and TV-stations.
Fronted by Patricia Hillinger, Cornerstone® style towards to the light end of the melodic rock spectre, with a slick sound featuring some traces of AOR and commercial Rock&Pop.
The album is full of rock n roll songs obviously influenced by American and UK mainstream rock bands like The Pretenders, The Babys, modern Bon Jovi and why not, Roxette.
Hillinger’s voice takes an important role on the band. His timbre is deep and soulful with a rockin' feel. Mike Pawlowitch is a steady and rhythmic drummer, with a great bass player next to him in Michale Wachelhofer, the ingredients are there to make it rock big time. Steve Wachelhofer finalizes everything with his effective riffs and solos on the guitar.
The album opens with the cheerful "Stay", an OK song obviously intended for modern radio. I don't like it much, in fact, in my humble opinion, it's the weakest track of the CD.
On the next track "Rise and Shine" things get much, much better. This is a late '80s American orientated upbeat number with large elements of likeability factor and some AOR touches.
"Breathing For You" brings the tempo down a bit, but still packs a lot of effectiveness, featuring a delicious vocal presence and nice melodies.
"Right or Wrong" is a wistful piano heavy ballad with plenty of sensitivity, neatly delivered and musically very well arranged. Definitely with a hit potential that could've been on an 80's Soundtrack album.
"Like a Stranger" is next and brings the tempo back to rocking proportions. There's a good riff and the chorus is very AOR-ish.
"Follow You, Follow Me" desires some more venom, hooks and progression to lift it out of the album filler section of the album.
'Being Unaware' is introduced by a flangy guitar assuming a Rock&Pop direction, whilst "Oblivious" has a more American contemporary style.
"High And Low" rocks it up, as far as this release goes anyway, and does in all honesty, featuring a good melodic choral hook.
They end the album with "Strut", a nice melodic midtempo song that reminds Jamie Kyle, again with a good and interesting vocal performance.
Cornerstone® is good band with an interesting crossover sound. They got one foot in the melodic rock territory, balanced with a commercial Rock&pop style that doesn't feels prefabricated at all.
"Somewhere In America" features good and sometimes catchy tunes, very well played and professionally recorded & produced.
At times I would asked for some 'extra' fire and harder guitars, as I am sure they're capable to deliver a fine and strong melodic hard rock album, but this is the style they've chosen, and surely will work well on wider audiences.
If you’re new to the band, but have an appreciation for melodic rock and an open mind to more light, poppier AOR sounds, Cornerstone® should prove a very pleasant surprise.
"Somewhere In America" is a good and interesting female fronted rock album that worth to check out.
2. Rise and Shine
3. Breathing For You
4. Right or Wrong
5. Like a Stranger
6. Follow You, Follow Me
7. Being Unaware
9. High and Low
Patricia Hillinger - vocals, guitars
Michael Wachelhofer - bass, keyboards, vocals
Steve Wachelhofer - guitars, vocals
Mike Pawlowitsch - drums, percussion
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Swedish hard rockers BADMOUTH are back again this year with a new EP entitled "T ; Part Three Of H.A.T.E".
The guys have rocked the world with their critically acclaimed full length melodic hard rock album 'Heavy Metal Parking Lot' (already presented on this blog).
" T " is the 3rd part of a quadrology called H.A.T.E., where rock bands play their versions of songs written by Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik, a folk-rock oriented artist.
Badmouth has a very retro 80's melodic hard rock style on their own material, but for these tracks they've gone more to the late seventies, with a rough sound and a classic hard rock attack.
I never heard the original folk versions, but the band has really made the songs their own, and trust me, here's nothing folk related at all.
This is straight, in your face hard rock with melting guitar riffs, as heard on the fast paced "Dilusional" and "Circle Of Friends".
Anyway, the characteristic 'Badmouth sound' is present on the catchy "To Watch The Bridges Burn" and the really interesting "Jonestown", a tune with a very nice melodic line and radio-rock potential.
If you enjoyed Badmouth's 'Heavy Metal Parking Lot', this is a great opportunity to listen the band playing something different.
"T ; Part Three Of H.A.T.E" will please as well lovers of classy hard rock with strong riffage and attitude.
Despite the ugliest cover art in many years, "T" is filled with good rockin' music to bang your head for a while.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - Dilusional
02 - Circle Of Friends
03 - To Watch The Bridges Burn
04 - Jonestown
Tom Pearsson (Vocals)
Chris LeMon (Bass)
Mike Hill (Rhythm Guitar)
Randy Joy (Lead Guitar)
Vinnie Sharpe (drums)
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Much has been said over the years about Stephen Pearcy's voice, criticized or adored, but he was one of the icons of the hair metal era.
"Back For More (Tribute to Ratt)" consists of Ratt material re-recorded by Pearcy under the moniker of Mickey Ratt, the earlier name of the band.
This album was already released under the name "Mickey Ratt: Ratt Era Best Of" back in 2005. Stephen changed it for this re-issue to "Back For More" due legal reasons (he couldn't use the double 'T' anymore) .
What we have here is Stephen Pearcy and a backing band with guest appearances by 80's shredders George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) and Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns).
Overall the re-recordings sound very good.
"Ratt Madness" never sounded better and "Top Secret" (both lead by George Lynch) stand out in the bunch. The hits as well are represented here: "Round and Round", "Lovin' You Is a Dirty Job", "You're In Love", all are played in fine form.
Essential for fans and a good, pleasant listen to any hair metal fan.
01 - U Got It
02 - Sweet Cheater
03 - Back For More
04 - Lay It Down
05 - Your In Love
06 - You Think Your Tough
07 - Lovin' You's A Dirty Job
08 - Slip Of The Lip
09 - Wanted Man
10 - Body Talk
11 - Round & Round
Stephen Pearcy (vocals, guitar)
George Lynch, Tracii Guns, Erik Ferentinos, Mark Zavon (guitar)
Matt Thorne, Troy Johnson (bass)
Todd Roberson (drums)
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Italian's SOUL SELLER were formed in 1999, and after several starts, stops & personnel changes, the band is releasing the appropriately titled CD "Back To Life".
Soul Seller's sound is straight out of Eighties melodic rock blended with catchy hook-laden AOR and a slight hard rock edge in the same vein as Khymera, Shining Line and early Bon Jovi.
They build their songs around distinctive sing-along choruses and melodic vocal parts, while the music has an anthemic approach featuring roaring toned guitar runs that wash over you, which are complimented by some excellent backline interactions.
Michael Carrata's stunning vocal presence delivers hook after hook, calling to mind a young Jon Bon Jovi. Alessandro Del Vecchio (Shining Line, Lionville, Eden's Curse) was in charge for the crisp production, also contributing with the arrangements and vocal harmonies.
The album starts brilliantly with the track "Wings Of Freedom" that just grabs you immediately with its energy and excellent melodic hook. The chorus is catchy as Hell, featuring great harmonic lead and backing vocals.
Next track "Change Your Heart Tonight" is a beautiful summertime AOR tune with a commercial sound and a fantastic guitar solo from Danilo Bar (White Skull), followed by the very European melodic midtempo semi-ballad "All I Can Promise" filled with nice keyboards and a truly fine chorus.
A guest vocal duet appears courtesy of Oliver Hartmann on the song "Keep On Moving" and it leads to a more heartbeat pacer which steams with 80's vibes all over.
"Hope On The Horizon" is a short, neat piano intro that brings in one of the best tracks on the album: "Old Hero's Prayer". This is a great 'in the air' sweet melodic rock with a chorus that never wants to end. Very Bon Jovi-esque in the vocal styling and delivery of Michael Carrata, not to mention the song structure.
The band really delivers some harder edged rock on the massive title track "Back To Life", where Carrata's vocals are outstanding, reminding me here a little of Michael Luppi (Los Angeles).
He shines again on the touching AOR power ballad "Hell Of Tears", where the band offers a sweeping arena sound full of melody. The strangely titled "A Message from Planet Venus" has a simple but really effective straight-forward melodic rock riff.
"New Power Day" add some edge that scream 80's hard rock mainstream, and follower "Rock Still Stands" is even more harder, showing that Soul Seller has a real rocking fire inside their melodic heart.
The interestingly titled "Beautiful Heretic’s Dream" closes the album in great form with a retro classy feel, combining a powerful riff, lots of keyboards and stunning vocals.
Soul Seller has released a storming album that calls to mind those heady days of the 80's.
"Back To Life" rocks focused on the melodies, the hooks and the sing-along choruses, just how good Melodic Rock music should be made.
The musicianship is truly great, and the solid songwriting surpasses the usual routine you hear form bands in genre. They add some classy AOR or a hard edge to some songs to make the whole thing even more interesting.
Alessandro Del Vecchio has done a great job producing, giving to the music a crisp and catchy (yet sometimes edgy) sound that suits the songs very well.
"Back To Life" is an album that will no doubt be overshadowed by releases from higher profiled bands. But it's one of the best Melodic Rock CD's of the year that deserves to be placed high on any list.
01 - Wings Of Freedom
02 - Change Your Heart Tonight
03 - All I Can Promise
04 - Keep On Moving
05 - Hope On The Horizon
06 - Old Hero's Prayer
07 - Back To Life
08 - Hell Of Tears
09 - A Message From Planet Venus
10 - New Power Day
11 - Rock Still Stands
12 - Beautiful Heretic's Dream
Michael Carrata: Lead & backing vocals
Dave Zublena: Rhythm guitars, lead & acoustic guitars
Cris Audisio: Lead guitars & guitar solos
Mike Zublena: Bass
Steve Bucci: Drums
Very Special Guests:
Oliver Hartmann: Lead vocal duet on “Keep On Moving”
Danilo Bar: Guitar solo on “Change Your Heart Tonight”
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Backing vocals
Cristiano Conti: All keyboards
Claudio Beneventi: Additional guitars
Davide 'Dave Rox' Barbieri: Backing vocals on “Back To Life”
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Friday, December 16, 2011
24 Karat Gold CD (AFZ119) Limited Numbered Edition
Specialists Audiofidelity just released a Limited 24kt Gold disc pressing of HEART's "Greatest Hits". Unlike many 'hits' releases, this collection includes all the real early radio successes by Heart, as well as concert favorites.
Focusing on the years 1975-83, this chronological collection features tracks from albums like 'Dreamboat Annie', 'Dog & Butterfly' and 'Bebe Le Strange'. Also includes a live cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Rock And Roll' and a 1997 studio track exclusive to this package.
The 17 solid tracks alone would be worth the price of admission, but what makes this 24K gold CD so impressive is the spectacular sound achievement produced by the talented remastering engineers from the Audio Fidelity record company.
This Gold CD clearly has more dynamics than any of the other Heart CD's and this outstanding sound is displayed track-after-track and quite obvious to any non-partial and fair observer.
There's a full and rich clarity in Ann Wilson's mesmerizing rock vocals that I'd argue has not been heard on the original recordings from which the hits have been taken. It would be difficult to prove that Nancy Wilson is underrated among rock guitarists, but her playing on these superbly remastered popular recordings leaves little doubt that she is among the best the rock world has produced - not just "good-for-a-girl," but every tone, strum, pick and lick is especially vividly present in her rhythm and lead which is not to dismiss her perfect vocal harmonies.
Heart has always rocked, and this new release is an enhanced gathering of further evidence. The 24K gold CD is beautifully presented in a unique case that features the original LP cover art.
This disc has been conservatively remastered with loads of head-room, a lot like how a vinyl record should sound, warm and vivid.
Heart fans may want to own this new "Greatest Hits" release for the hits alone; "Barracuda", "Magic Man", "Dreamboat Annie", "Crazy On You", etc, but they will blown away by the amazing - and never-before heard - sounds coming out of the speakers.
01 - Strong, Strong Wind (exclusive song rec. 1997)
02 - Magic Man
03 - Crazy on You
04 - Dreamboat Annie
05 - Barracuda
06 - Little Queen
07 - Kick It Out
08 - Love Alive
09 - Heartless
10 - Straight On
11 - Dog & Butterfly
12 - Even It Up
13 - Bebe le Strange
14 - Tell It Like It Is
15 - This Man Is Mine
16 - How Can I Refuse
17 - Rock And Roll (live)
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Who the heck are THE MORNING AFTER and why I never heard about them before? Because "Legacy" is their second album, and a bloody great one for sure.
There's some reasons why Melodic Rock fans like me missed this Essex, UK based band under their radar.
First of all, The Morning After have a Japanese recording contract (they are really well known in Asia) and their debut only was released in Japan and poorly distributed in Europe.
Second, style-wise, the first album 'You Can’t Hurt Steel' was Euro melodic metal oriented, and consequently labeled as 'metal'.
Well folks, fasten your seat belts, as "Legacy" is one of a Hell album fusing 80's American Melodic Hard Rock, 80's British AOR rock, traditional late NWOBHM and lovely cheesy Hair Metal.
A disgusting salad? Not at all, this is one of the most exciting recordings coming out from the Isles in many years. Not grandiose or groundbreaking, just a catchy and smooth brand of stadium rock.
To give you an idea, on "Legacy" The Morning After sounds as Icon self-titled album blended with their 'Right Between The Eyes' era, Tobruk 'Wild On The Run', Def Leppard's 'Pyromania' and mid-eighties Tygers Of Pan Tang, all mashed up with style and attitude.
The silky hair metal vocals of Sam Ryder sometimes gets rough for good effect, and his guitar together with the leads of Phil Maher many times gives to the music a Thin Lizzy-style dual riff harmony, strong and melodic.
The great instrumental intro/title track "Legacy" featuring a tuneful melodic guitar lead is linked with the scorching melodic hard rocker "Into The Fire", a hooky track with excellent backing vocals. This band is huge in the harmonic vocal arrangements, present on all tracks, combining the guitar player and bassist backing voices with the leads of Ryder obtaining astonishing results.
Follower "Limit" is more American oriented, an uptempo rocker again with soaring vocals and 2 kick ass six string solos.
The lead single "America" is a magical rockin' Melodic Rock / AOR belter, commercial and catchy, but the more simple and instant tune here. Don't be fooled, this album is much more meaty than this likeable track.
There's many hooks and killer riffs on "The Witch Is On My Back" and the slightly NWOBHM melodic "Over The Wire" which features a fantastic stirring solo.
"Stream Of Stars" is the more ambitious track on the album, a 10 minute anthemic track full of harmonized vocals and epic guitars. Includes a great middle section showing many influences, from Tobruk to Pretty Maids and even Queen.
"These Hills Have Eyes" has an eighties melodic rock spirit in a crossroad with classic British Hard Rock, on "Powerdrive" I hear some Scandinavian influences, and "Nightmare Planet" is melodic but with an edge.
"Seasons" is the only ballad on the album, eighties inspired, complete with string arrangements and a charming, ethereal harmonic vocalization.
Last track "I Walk With Giants" is pretty Americanized, driven by a pounding rhythm section and a continuous melodic guitar line in the Night Ranger style.
"Legacy" is an unexpected surprise in year that doesn't stop to deliver hight quality albums.
The Morning After has the chops, the melodies, the hooks and a great musical direction, blending many sub-genres and influences with fantastic results.
Not all the songwriting here is consistent, but the inspired riffs, the sing-along choruses and the feel good vibe on this recording makes this CD a real winner.
There's a true 'hungry for glory' feel on "Legacy", an album that arena Melodic Rock fans will ENJOY with Capitals.
2. Into The Fire
5. The Witch Is On My Back
6. Over The Wire
7. Streams Of Stars
8. These Hills Have Eyes
10. Rest In Pieces
11. Nightmare Planet
13. I Walk With Giants
Sam Ryder - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Phil Maher - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Gary Stone - Bass, Vocals
Jake Booth - Drums
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
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Monday, December 12, 2011
After being awarded as the best band in the recent ProgPower Festival, British progressive metal wonders HAKEN are releasing their second album "Visions".
Haken broke on to the scene in 2009 with a well received debut, 'Aquarius', a real diamond in the genre that anyone with an ear to the progressive metal underground will vouch for Haken’s sublime talents.
If anything, "Visions" is even better.
Each of the eight tracks is a lovingly crafted journey into the most esoteric corners of rock, creating a sound limitless in its inspiration and executed with a technical flair beyond the grasp of many other bands, while retaining an instinctive passion.
Heavier and far more technical & progressive than the debut, "Visions" is a brilliant example of what progressive metal should be, jam packed with tremendous riffs and symphonic inventive instrumental corridors.
But also has a foot firmly planted on classic and melodic Prog with soaring melodies and catchy hooks to die for. The musicianship and musicality is incredible, full of progressions and terrific guitar and keyboard solos.
The instrumental overture "Premonition" gives us insights to what expect in this wonderfully elaborated album, with highly melodic passages blending tasteful electric leads and symphonic keys stirring up the epic factor.
Follower "Nocturnal Conspiracy" is something to behold, 13 minutes that truly condenses musical ideas that could have been fleshed out into half a dozen individual tracks. This track is a prog metal book, featuring a killer, fat melody and composition that changes gears often and with prestige.
The song also introduces the listener to the album’s concept; a man has tracked down and killed someone based on visions or dreams they had before.
The band utilizes the middle of the album with a wider variety of shorter, more punchy tracks.
Songs like "Insomnia", the softer and eloquent "The Mind's Eye", the spiraling, profound Rush-esque "Portals", and album highlight "Shapeshifter" (featuring some of the coolest passages of the CD in the intro and outro), offer glimpses at a band whose potential is really starting to reach the level of the genre's best.
The captivating 22 minute title track is a feast of music. It perfectly illustrates the uncanny ability of the band to channel the influence of seventies heroes like Yes or ELP, alongside the grandiose pomp of stateside legends such as Styx and Kansas, while maintaining both individual identity and contemporary cutting edge – despite its component parts, nothing on "Visions" is dated or plagiaristic.
The song explores, in progressive fashion, a plethora of musical genres and styles to reflect the untrustable visions and dreams that the main character has. This composition is one of the grandest, heaviest, and most satisfying epics of this length.
"Visions" is one of the best albums of the year, no matter the genre.
Few bands have been able to pull off what Haken have done in their first two albums, pushing the boundaries further in a shorter amount of time, much shorter than the giants of progressive music did so.
The execution and production of the album are superb. Layers of instrumentation full of melody and catchiness, bombastic and grand when it needs to be.
All the songs are constructed without being overbearing or abusing the talents these musicians have for each other. No instrument stands out over the other, instead, they conspire to deliver an album and narrative that will certainly become beloved over time.
The band leader Richard Henshall is the orchestrator, delivering a keyboard/guitar performance out of this world, but I need to make a special mention to singer Ross Jennings who hits his high notes with aplomb and skill, with a range and ability that could suit a wide sphere of styles, even classic Hard Rock or Melodic Rock.
"Visions" is an album that can and should turn heads, not only in the Prog Metal field.
1. Premonition (4:10)
2. Nocturnal Conspiracy (13:08)
3. Insomnia (6:06)
4. The Mind's Eye (4:05)
5. Portals (5:27)
6. Shapeshifter (8:08)
7. Deathless (8:04)
8. Visions (22:25)
Richard "Hen" Henshall - keyboards and guitar
Ross Jennings - vocals
Charles Griffiths - guitars
Raymond Hearne - drums, percussion
Thomas MacLean - bass
Diego Tejeida - keyboards
Alison Comerford, Jennifer Murphy - violins
Martin Wray - viola
Lucy Butcher - cello
Joey Ryan - french horn
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Japanese Cardboard Sleeve reissue series
"Hi Infidelity" is the most successful album in REO Speedwagon's career peaking at #1 on the charts and becoming the biggest selling rock LP of 1981, eventually selling over ten million copies.
It was the Billboard 200 number 1 album for fifteen weeks, spawning six Top 10 singles.
All the earlier albums of the band are being released in Japan on October 2011 under a mark of REO Speedwagon's 40th Anniversary, in a Cardboard Sleeve form featuring newest DSD remastering.
Also, the series includes the 30th anniversary edition of their smash album "Hi Infidelity".
In "Hi Infidelity", REO Speedwagon takes you on an audio tour of the soul, from moments of joy to feelings of heartbreak that every listener could identify with. All of the tracks on Hi Infidelity connect with the listener on a personal level, which is why this album is just as great now as it was 30 years ago when it was first heard on the airwaves.
It's useless to describe this terrific album track by track . It's a must have, and you already surely have a copy of "Hi Infidelity".
So what's the reason to buy this set? Many.
First of all, the second CD "The Crystal Demos", a collection of the early takes on these marvelous songs. The sound quality is amazing, and the arrangements aren't the same, featuring a strong rockin' edge.
The instrumental version of "Shakin’ It Loose" stands out, as it pulls you into every note, and you find yourself just tapping your foot in time.
Second reason: you have this Classic album in all its glory. If you're skeptical about the sound of this set, go ahead and buy it, and then tell me.
I've compared the audio quality with the 2000 remastered version, and trust me, this 2011 DSD Remastering blows the previous one out of the water.
This CD sounds crisp, detailed and perfectly balanced, a real audiophile's dream.
If you're a fan of this album, it will make you smile as though you're hearing it again for the first time.
A Must Have.
Kevin Cronin - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Gary Richrath - guitars, vocals
Neal Doughty - hammond organ, keyboards, piano
Bruce Hall - bass, vocals
Alan Gratzer - drums
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WISHBONE ASH, the veteran Classic Rock band with a 42 year career, is releasing a brand new studio album, "Elegant Stealth".
One of the most influential acts in rock history, their patented twin-lead guitar attack was the motto for many big names such as Thin Lizzy.
Longtime founding member Andy Powell has kept the same group intact for a few years now and it has paid off.
Powell handles the lead vocals and trades licks with Finland’s guitar wizard Muddy Manninen. Bassist Bob Skeat, a 14-year veteran of the band and in-demand studio musician, sets the pace with Joe Crabtree, one of the best of Britain’s new breed of drummers.
This Wishbone Ash on the new millennium has a more straight Classic Rock sound blending Hard Rock with soaring harmonies and dueling guitars that rival any active band that is playing out or recording today.
Opener "Reason To Believe" is a pedal to the metal rocker that only this band can produce; signature twin-lead melodies and complex harmonic solos. Same with "Big Issues", offering a thumping rhythm section leading the way into some extended scalding hot blues-rock licks.
"Man with No Name" has great lyrics and a perfect song structure. This track is based around a 12-string acoustic guitar which sounds really big and strong. The drumming is awesome; Joe Crabtree did a great job here.
But there are many different sounds and textures on this album as on "Heavy Weather", one of the most complex and fascinating tracks on the recording, showcasing the excellent musicality this talented group of musicians have at their command. It's a pulsating and groovy track with some progressive overtones and a syncopated rhythm.
Another example is instrumental gem "Mud-Slick", where the dueling guitars and a whirling dervish organ sweep you away and keep the strong momentum going throughout the entire listen.
"Migrant Worker" isn't a typical Wishbone Ash song. It's a swingin' rocker with a killer wah-wah heavy funk riff. "Searching for Satellites" has a slow rock tempo where the vocal arrangements steals the show, full of beautiful harmonies.
Wishbone Ash's "Elegant Stealth" is a return for the band to their trademark twin guitar leads and songs that are both musically impressive and lyrically deep. They have created an album that stands easily amongst the best the band have ever made. There is nothing not to like here, this band is like a fine wine that just keeps getting better with age, everything sound in place, with stupendous musicianship and production / mix.
While Wishbone Ash may slide under the radar when people discuss classic bands these days, "Elegant Stealth" may do a lot to change that.
Don't miss this Classic Rock / old school British Hard Rock lesson.
01 - Reason To Believe
02 - Warm Tears
03 - Man With No Name
04 - Can't Go It Alone
05 - Give It Up
06 - Searching For Satellites
07 - Heavy Weather
08 - Mud-Slick
09 - Big Issues
10 - Migrant Worker
11 - Invisible Thread
12. Reason To Believe [Remix] (Hidden Track)
- Andrew Powell / vocals and guitars
- Muddy Manninen / guitars
- Bob Skeat / bass
- Joe Crabtree / drums
- Don Airey (Deep Purple) / Hammond organ (8)
- Pat McManus (Mama's Boys) / fiddle (4)
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Friday, December 9, 2011
SKIN, one of the finest UK acts, finally gets their long time out of print self titled 1994 debut re-issued, remastered at 24-bit from the original source tapes plus 7 bonus tracks.
Some kind of a super-group, the band was founded in 1993 by ex-Jagged Edge members Myke Gray and Andy Robbins (also formerly of Tokyo Blade and the awesome Shogun) along with AORsters Kooga vocalist Neville MacDonald and drummer Dicki Fliszar, formerly from Bruce Dickinson’s touring band.
The group remained inactive from 1998, until it was announced that Skin would be playing at the Download Festival 2009. The band realised that the spark that kept them together those years ago was still there, and decided to record an acoustic album.
Following this, Skin went back into the studio to record what was described as their final album, the very good 'Breaking The Silence' already reviewed here on this blog.
But the fans and the new generation of rockers were eager for the first album to be reissued.
Skin's self-titled debut album is big on hard hitting guitar riffs, killer hooks and meticulous production courtesy of master Keith Olsen (Whitesnake, Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne).
At the year of its original release, "Skin" was like an oasis in the middle of the (grungy) desert. The band's terrific late 80's sound compared to Tyketto and british Thunder is a blast, and this CD was undoubtedly one of the best that year.
Vocalist Nev MacDonald shone at the mid eighties with the excellent band Kooga, here he sings in a more power hard-bluesy style with an awesome range in the finest Coverdale/ Rodgers mould. Myke Gray’s impeccable guitar work is the driven force of the band, all sustained by a very very tight rhythm section.
I can't find a weak song on SKIN’s debut, all are solid rockers such as the top 20 hit single "Money", the scorching Mr. Big-like "Look But Don't Touch" or the super melodic "Tower of Strength".
You can't go wrong with a song entitled "Raised On Radio", the acoustic "Colourblind" sounds as the best Tyketto and "Wings Of An Angel" is a beautifully crafted ballad.
The bunch of bonus tracks are really good as well, including the songs from their rare self-released EP (previous to this CD); "Money", the rockin' cover of Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" and their fantastic take on The Clash classic "Should I Stay Or Should I Go".
"Good Good Lovin" has an americanized sound (reminds me Trixter), "This Planet's On Fire" rocks good and "Take Me Down To The River" has an early Whitesnake vibe.
SKIN's debut is one of the finest Hard Rock albums released by a British band during the nineties, full of fire and melody.
This is a not-to-be-missed reissue, with a great remastering job and the plus of 7 really good and hard to find tracks.
01 - Money
02 - Shine Your Light
03 - House Of Love
04 - Colourblind
05 - Which Are The Tears
06 - Look But Don't Touch
07 - Nightsong
08 - Tower Of Strength
09 - Revolution
10 - Raised On Radio
11 - Wings Of An Angel
12 - Monkey (bonus track)
13 - Should I Stay Or Should I Go (bonus track)
14 - Pump It Up (bonus track)
15 - Good Good Lovin' (bonus track)
16 - This Planet's On Fire (bonus track)
17 - Take It Easy (bonus track)
18 - Take Me Down To The River (bonus track)
Neville MacDonald: lead vocals, guitar
Myke Gray: guitars
Andy Robbins: bass
Dicki Fliszar: drums, percussion
Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, Warrant): guest backing vocals
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Another classic band from the past, PABLO CRUISE, is back with a new CD / DVD: "It's Good To Be Live".
Formed in 1973, the combo released eight studio albums, achieving some measure of success at the end of '70s / beginning of the 80's during which time four singles reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Pablo Cruise plays a blend of lovable Californian Classic Rock with Westcoast AOR. Their last album, 1983's 'Out Of Our Hands' still gets regular spins on my CD player.
A couple years ago, original founding members Dave Jenkins (guitar and lead vocals), Cory Lerios (keyboards and lead vocals), Steve Price (drums) and the newest addition to the group, the great bass palyer & vocalist Larry Antonino (Jeff Beck, Air Supply, Kenny Loggins), decided to re-vamp the band with a national tour and the recording of a Live CD / DVD.
All the classic Pablo songs are on this live set, re-arranged, updated and played to the highest standard.
"It's Good To Be Live" includes vibrant catchy versions of their hits "Love Will Find A Way", "Watcha Gonna Do?", "Cool Love" and "Don't Wanna Live Without It". Also fan favorites "Worlds Away", "A Place in the Sun" and "Atlanta June" are wonderfully performed.
There's no doubt the guys seem to be having a ball playing together again. The interplay between Cory Lerios' keyboards & David Jenkins classic guitar tone is effortless & spellbinding. The vocal harmonies are top notch and really well arranged.
The fact that Pablo Cruise took almost 30 years to decide whether they wanted to work together again may be the best thing that ever happened to them. The guys are approaching this whole thing like it's the first time they've ever played together.
"It's Good To Be Live" shows that Pablo Cruise's music holds up to the test of time. With slick guitars, jumpin' keyboards and a groovy rhythm section, the music has a transcendent feel to it: definitely Classic Rock / WestCoast. The vocals are perfect and melodic.
The album finds the band re-teaming with Grammy winning producer Val Garay who produced the band's classic multi-million seller 'Lifetime'. Val has given to this recording a magical touch, all sounds perfect (sometimes as a studio takes), organic and crisp.
If you are an old fan of the band, you have all their best here in revitalized versions, and if you never heard Pablo Cruise, don't miss this excellent disc, you'll love them.
Really good music.
01 - World's Away
02 - Place In The Sun
03 - Atlanta June
04 - Island Woman
05 - Raging Fire
06 - Cool Love
07 - Don't Wanna Live Without It
08 - Love Will Find A Way
09 - I Get Tired (Just Thinking Of You)
10 - Zero To Sixty In Five
11 - I Go To Rio
12 - Whatcha Gonna Do?
13 - Ocean Breeze
14 - Will Ya, Won't Ya
15 - A Place In The Sun (new studio version feat. Katrina)
16 - Love Will Find A Way (new studio version feat.Ty Talor)
Dave Jenkins (guitar and lead vocals)
Cory Lerios (keyboards and lead vocals)
Steve Price (drums)
Larry Antonino (bass and lead vocals)
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Thursday, December 8, 2011
Blue Oyster Cult's founder member, songwriter and lead guitarist Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser released back in a day his first solo album "Flat Out". Now is being re-issued with a 24-bit remastering treatment from original source tapes.
During BOC's very successful career, Buck Dharma started to accumulate a back-log of quality songs that simply were not BOC-compatible.
Already known as the member of the band with the softer and melodic side, many of his contributions to BOC tended to be less abrasive and more melodically suited to radio.
Even when Roeser first demo'd 'Don't Fear the Reaper' to the band, his bandmates thought 'Reaper' was too soft for BOC. Rumor has it that either lead singer-guitarist Eric Bloom or drummer Albert Bouchard threatened to quit if 'Reaper' was included on their next album 'Agents Of Fortune' (the song become the most famous BOC's single ever).
With "Flat Out" Dharma was able to showcase his more personal musical side without the hard rock-light metal expectation associated with Blue Oyster Cult.
Opener "Born to Rock" is an interesting hybrid of hard rock-surf guitar, that shows Buck in fine form both vocally and instrumentally. Harmony vocals over an up-tempo beat and a whammy bar beat into submission had the BOC faithful's hope climbing high thinking this would be a sign of things for the rest of the album.
"That Summer Night" is a solid mid-tempo rocker heavy on background harmonies; lyrically one could see how BOC never would've done this.
"Cold Wind" has layered clean guitars, 80's synthesizer zooms and whoops, and layers of harmony vocals with some early AOR atmosphere.
On "Your Loving Heart" Dharma showcases his epic side with a multi-section 7+ minute slab of soft, progressive rock, featuring soaring guitars, hospital sounds, and backing vocals galore.
"Five Thirty-Five" is an uptempo pop-rocker, "Wind, Weather and Storm" is a curious tune that best could be described as prog-pop with spaced drums and sax, defintely different material from BOC standards.
"Anwar's Theme" is an indication of Roeser eventual foray into movie soundtracks. It's an instrumental track with the typical '80s OST sound, where Dharma plays drums himself (extremely compressed in the mix) including some stellar, melodic guitar playing.
Final track "Come Softly To Me" is a vocal showcase for Buck and his wife Sandy, they perform this Fleetwood's hit a capella with some ethereal background instrumentation.
"Flat Out" captures a veteran performer comfortable in showcasing his own true musical preferences. Dharma shows his artistic integrity here by sticking to his guns, and making 'his' album rather than trying to come up with merely an emulation of Blue Oyster Cult.
Buck's silken vocals, justifiably, dominate the album and do much to create the smooth and melodic atmosphere; nowhere does he ever try and pull an Eric Bloom by sing-shouting-growling which, quite frankly, would not suit the material on "Flat Out". The harmony vocals are stellar and demonstrate Roeser's fascination with American classic rock.
Sadly under-promoted, the album disappeared without notice, until it was reissued on CD ten years ago. Out of print, now is re-issued with a good remastering job.
Buck Dharma's guitar skills, sense of melody, and romantic lyrical sensibilities make "Flat Out" an album well worth searching out.
Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser: Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums
Neal Smith, Richard Crooks, Rick Downey: Drums
Dennis Dunaway, Teruo Nakamura: Bass
Billy Alessi: Synths
Richie Cannata: Horns
Sandy Roeser, Spike Grubb: Backing Vocals
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JOSEF MELIN was one half of the duo Smooth Reunion, which released their critical acclaimed full length debut 'Cleaning Up The Business' in 2008. Now Josef is going solo with his full length debut "Prepare For Y2K".
Born in Jönköping, Sweden, but established in Stockholm, this only 23 year-old guy with a child face is some kind of musical genius. Josef has written, performed, recorded, produced & mixed "Prepare For Y2K" in its entirety.
And all is good done, really good done.
While the Smooth Reunion project was a delicious full Steely Dan-inspired Westcoast album with jazzy touches, his solo album not only includes those elements, there are many Swedish influences in his music this time.
So "Prepare For Y2K" is an excellent mix of smooth LA Westcoast, Soul and a big portion of Steely Dan, with some Euro adult melodies.
Mainly guitarist, Melin also uses high doses of retro keyboards as mini moogs, and for a couple of songs he has a wind section as guest. Also interesting are his sardonic lyrics, narrating everyday situations with dark humor, just like Donald Fagen used to do with mastery.
Extremely easy listening tunes includes the cool numbers "Curb Your Urge", "I've Sold My Soul", "Bob Horror" and the single "Offshore Monsters".
"Fathering Fail" has a lovely beat and a keyboard arrangement ala Gino Vanelli, then "Groceries" has an unexpected blend of 70's as well as 2000's sounds melted together.
The Swedish influences are present on "The Bright Side Of Life", a song in the Eric Gadd retro style, while "Let Me Know" remind me poppy swedes Ratata and his singer Mauro Scocco solo albums.
But there's much here to enjoy. The jazzy piano based "Snow" has tons of sensibility and class.
For the more syncopated tracks "KITT" and "Coffins, Crosses & Patients", both sounding pretty LA scene, Josef required the services of drummer Simon Jonsson.
"I'm Coming Home" is beautiful retro westcoast-soul piece with organs and wonderful vocal harmonies.
I should say that "Prepare For Y2K" is not for everyone, but I would be wrong.
Westcoast fans will love it instantly, but Melin's music it is recommended to any audiophile, as it has class, sensibility, charm and good vibe.
Usually, this kind of albums are recorded with a pleyade of session musicians and arrangers, in the LA style, but Josef has done all the job himself with a brilliant charm, warmness, and unpretentious 'elite' direction.
The other day I read a music magazine article regarding the quality of the new generation of musicians coming out of Sweden. The journalist wrote; 'there's something in the water in Sweden'. Not at all. They have excellent Music & Arts schools, and their applied students practice and evolve constantly. Some are really talented, as the young Josef Melin, and got their record opportunity.
Released by the small specialized label Zinc, "Prepare For Y2K" is a delight from start to finish.
01 - Uncle Don
02 - Curb Your Urge
03 - Let Me Know
04 - I've Sold My Soul
05 - The Bright Side Of Life
06 - Offshore Monsters
07 - KITT
08 - Fathering Fail
09 - Hanging Out At The Junegate
10 - Groceries
11 - Smoking Dutch
12 - Coffins, Crosses & Patients
13 - Bob Horror
14 - Snow
15 - I'm Coming Home
Josef Melin: Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Bass, Drums, Programming
Simon Jonsson: Drums on tracks 07 & 12, Cello on tracks 04 & 10
Ida Hammarbacken: Violin on tracks 04 & 10
Martin Svanström, Filip Kyldahl, Edvin Erkenborn: Horns
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
On December 13, Motley Crue's bassist Nikki Sixx side project SIXX: A.M. is releasing "7", a new collection of tracks which aim to put a new spin on 7 songs from their 2 successful albums 'The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack' and 'This is Gonna Hurt'.
"7" features the band performing acoustic versions of tracks from each of their two albums, reworked with different arrangements.
The opening track "Lies Of The Beautiful People" consists of acoustic guitar and oriental orchestration that make the song more mysterious than the original. The solo guitar is also a highlight.
"Is Gonna Hurt" has received a beautiful piano arrangement, and their hit single "Life Is Beautiful" is remarkably revisited with strong guitars that sound as powerful as an electric one.
"Help Is On The Way" features a very appealing combination of acoustic guitar, cellos, violins and piano alongside speechless vocals with high quality arrangements.
"Sure Feels Right" is a great fusion of strings and piano with an electro-acoustic guitar work. "Pray For Me" is more stright, with a double acoustic six string guitar panned on both channels.
"Accidents Can Happen" ends the album with a moody, slow melancholic feel.
SIXX: A.M. "7" is much more than 'let's play some of our songs with an acoustic'.
All songs have been reworked at some point that sometimes sound as new ones. There's new beautiful melodies and gorgeous arrangements with a nice variety of high quality textures.
James Michael is a great singer, his vocal range gets even more amazing on these stripped versions, enhanced by the piano, cellos and violins background.
"7" reinforces the fact that SIXX: A.M. isn't a spare time project for Nikki Sixx and his talented bandmates, it's a serious and interesting power plant of ideas and musicality.
01 - Lies Of The Beautiful People (acoustic)
02 - Is Gonna Hurt (acoustic)
03 - Life Is Beautiful (acoustic)
04 - Help Is On The Way (acoustic)
05 - Sure Feels Right (acoustic)
06 - Pray For Me (acoustic)
07 - Accidents Can Happen (acoustic)
Nikki Sixx: Bass, Keys, Backing Vocals
DJ Ashba: Guitars, Effects
James Michael: Vocals
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Fronted by the multi-talented singer & songwriter Franke Previte, The Knockouts achieved a top ten single in 1981 with the infectious song "Sweetheart". Commemorating the 30th Anniversary, a new dedicated record of the band, "The Best Of ; Sweetheart Anniversary Edition", is being released compiling their hits. Franke himself has especially remastered all tracks from the original master tapes.
Franke & The Knockouts had several Top 40 hits in the USA, but in Europe only the die-hard AOR fans are familiar with the three excellent records of this New Brunswick, New Jersey based 80's band.
"The Best Of" includes the best of their catalog. From start to finish, this is a marvelous compendium of Classic early 80's AOR with a little Westcoast here and there.
The band was well known for their incredible catchy hooklines, memorable choruses and the outstanding picture-perfect vocals of Franke, while instrumentally they were the typical pure early radio-ready AOR band from the States.
Without any doubts, this kind of AOR is almost impossible to create nowadays, because the level is really from another planet when listening to classics such as "Sweetheart" (a Westcoast-AOR Classic shuffle), the uptempo rocker "You're My Girl" with its infectious chorus, or the terrific ballad "Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)".
"You Don’t Want Me (Like I Want You)" is pure AOR heaven, "Come Rain Or Shine" exudes quality all over (TOTO didn’t sound this good in the early eighties) and the stunning mid-tempo "You're All That Really Matters" (also recorded by Tycoon in a slightly different version) is 24K gem.
Franke could really rock too, such as can be heard for example in "Outrageous", their most Melodic Rock orientated song, or on "Never Had It Better" where late 70's Foreigner meets early 80's Survivor, including the dut-dut piano / keyboard work a la TOTO’s 'Hold The Line'.
This stunning newly remastered Greatest Hits features 19 hit tracks including all the Knockouts classic songs, plus the original rockin' version of "Hungry Eyes" (which would become a Top 5 smash hit in 1987 performed by Eric Carmen for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack), and as extra special interest for fans and collectors, the previously unreleased tune "Beat Of A Broken Heart" originally written for Dirty Dancing 2, but never released until now.
The new remastering update by Franke Previte is excellent and makes the songs sound massive and vital, with a sound true to the original vinyl warmness.
This is how AOR should sound like. Franke & The Knockouts are the definition of the true, pure early 80's AOR.
A Must Have = Essential Purchase.
01 - Sweetheart
02 - She's A Runner
03 - Running Into The Night
04 - Come Back
05 - You're My Girl
06 - One For All
07 - Annie Goes Hollywood
08 - Never Had It Better
09 - Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)
10 - Just What I Want
11 - Morning Sun
12 - You Don't Want Me (Like I Want You)
13 - Outrageous
14 - Come Rain Or Shine
15 - You're All That Really Matters
16 - One Good Reason
17 - Blame It On My Heart
18 - Hungry Eyes [Original Version - Bonus Track]
19 - Beat Of A Broken Heart [Previously Unreleased]
Franke Previte – lead vocals
Billy Elworthy – guitars
Bobby Messano - guitars, backing vocals
Blake Levinsohn – keyboards
Tommy Ayers – keyboards, backing vocals
Leigh Foxx – bass
Claude LeHenaff – drums
Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) – drums
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