Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ALIEN - Eternity [Japanese Edition] (2014)

ALIEN - Eternity [Japanese Edition] (2014) full


And this is in the Top 10 of the year: ALIEN, the best European AOR band ever, has returned in full force giving birth to one of the best albums from the genre in the last 15 years: "Eternity".
This Japanese Edition released through Bickee Music includes 3 bonus tracks.

The most influential Swedish AOR band in History, and patriarch of all the superb movement in Scandinavia for the genre, Alien was the key band at the end of the '80s until they quit in the mid-nineties, bar a brief reunion in 2005. That looked to be it until 2010 when they reformed and played a storming set at Firefest in 2011.

ALIEN - Eternity [Japanese Edition] (2014) booklet

The band’s standout, aside from the songs, is out-of-this-world vocalist Jim Jidhed who has kept his vocals intact sounding as terrific as ever. The good thing is he can recreate the magic from the studio on the stage.
Mind you, not to be outdone guitarist Tony Borg whips up some epic solos on songs like "Love Will Lead Me Home", but to be honest, all members are fantastic with their own instrument.

Fans of pure, classic AOR / Melodic Rock will be spoilt for choice on this record from the Journey-like refrains of "Unbroken" through to "In Love We Trust", a lesson to other bands how AOR should be done.
Of course there have to be ballads and "I Believe" would have Richard Marx all in a lather if he had penned it.

ALIEN - Eternity [Japanese Edition] (2014) back cover

Alien stick to what they are good at and have produced an album that will delight the true AOR fans.
"Eternity" not only will be featured on many a ‘best of’ list at the end of this year, it will be regarded - and write this on paper - in years to come as a Classic album.

Bickee Music Japan ~ BKMA-1024

01 - In Love We Trust
02 - Unbroken
03 - Love Will Lead Me Home
04 - I Believe
05 - Summer Of Love
06 - What Goes Up
07 - I'm A Fighter
08 - Wildheart
09 - Liar, Liar
10 - Look At Us Now
11 - Burning Heart
12 - In Truth
Bonus Tracks for Japan:
13 - Introduction (by Jim Jidhed)
14 - Ready To Fly
15 - Eternity (instrumental)

Jim Jidhed – Vocals
Tony Borg – Guitar
Jimmy Wandroph – Keyboards
Ken Sandin – Bass
Toby Tarrach – Drums



SEVEN - 7 [Japanese Edition] (2014)

SEVEN - 7 [Japanese Edition] (2014) full


One of the most celebrated releases of the year was "7", by AORsters SEVEN.
The roots of SEVEN can originally be traced to South Africa, but it’s in Bournemouth in the UK that this band first flourished so to speak and after releasing two acclaimed singles on Polydor back in late nineties eighties / early nineties with studio work undertaken alongside John Parr, the future looked bright for the band indeed.
Unfortunately the usual ‘internal struggles’ that have blighted so many careers before them caused the band to soon split soon afterwards.

However, praise the AOR gods because here in 2014 have got the original group back together to complete or maybe start some unfinished musical business.
Opener "Shoot To Kill" immediately gets the album into gear with all the musical elements that will no doubt enthrall any AOR aficionado out there with a sound not too distant from the likes of Foreigner, FM or John Parr.
After a 25 year hiatus (if you want to call it that) the sound of the songs which were written in that period manage to come out contemporary, and the musical evidence is there for all to see with the inclusion of the group’s 1990 single "Inside Love" a fine slice of AOR-tastic glamour and elegance.
Ballad "Diana" is included early on and as per expectation from a release from this particular genre it is top drawer.

SEVEN - 7 [Japanese Edition] (2014) cd photo

After this there are some really fine hook laden moments to be found throughout this lovely CD, with tunes such as the melodic rocker "Still", "Headlines", the wonderful "America" and the extremely melodic "Thru The Night" in particular shining brightly.
There's also exquisite arrangements on "Don't Break My Heart" and the super-fine but delicate "Say Goodbye".
This Japanese Edition features as bonus track the heavenly ballad "Charlie", adorned with keyboards and harmony vocals all over.

Playing alongside original members Mick Devine, Keith Mcfarlane, Pat Davey, Simon Lefevre and Austin Oz Lane, on "7" there are also some notable guest artists including the awesome Mark Mangold (Touch, American Tears), guitar master Mike Slamer, and wait for this….. the legend that is Mr Didge Digital (FM) adding their musical expertise to the overall equation.

SEVEN - 7 [Japanese Edition] (2014) back

Brilliantly produced by Swede Lars Chris, "7" sounds crisp and smooth.
This is the kind of AOR that takes you high to stars over a fresh summer breeze. It's elegant, delicate, melodic, very well arranged and played.
A must have for any real AOR fan.

Rubicon Music Japan ~ RBNCD-1164

01. Shoot To Kill
02. Inside Love
03. Diana
04. Still
05. Headlines
06. Strangers
07. America
08. Thru The Night
09. Never Too Late
10. Don't Break My Heart
11. Say Goodbye
12. Charlie (Japanese bonus track)

Mick Devine (Lead Vocals)
Keith McFarlane (Guitar, Vocals)
Pat Davey (Bass, Vocals)
Simon Le Fevre (Keyboards, Vocals)
Austin “Oz” Lane (Drums)
Additional Musicians:
Mike Slamer (Lead Guitar)
Lars Chris (Guitars, Drums)
Andy Loos (Bass)
Mark Mangold (Keyboards)
Adam Wakeman (Keyboards)
Fredrick Bergh (Keyboards)
Dig Digital (Keyboards)
Tomas Coox (Piano, Strings Arrangements)
Shuji Matsumoto (Fretless Bass On 6)
Josh Devin, Ben Devine (Backing Vocals On 2)



WORK OF ART - Framework [Japan Edition] (2014)

WORK OF ART - Framework [Japan Edition] (2014) full


One of the highlights of the year was without a doubt the third CD by WORK OF ART entitled "Framework".
After two rather impressive and quite successful albums, we wonder whether these mighty Swedes can do it again. The answer is a rotund YES.
This Japanese Edition includes the bonus track "On The Edge Of Time", and it's a crime that were not included into the worldwide version of the album because it's a killer uptempo AOR tune, one of the best from the bunch indeed.

"Framework" is the album I've been waiting on this whole year. These Swedes became a strong trademark and a quality stamp to high class melodic hard rock with precious and delicate AOR melodies.
Lars Säfsund is one of the best voices in the genre and with Robert Säll's magical songs makes this new album record a true masterpiece to consume with my ears and mind. An ear feast for us Melodic Rock / AOR fans.

WORK OF ART - Framework [Japan Edition] (2014) booklet

"Framework" is, in short, a CD of ultra melodic songs, all packed in a fantastic production.
I didn't expect them to manage to make another album in this caliber. Every band usually do an album, which doesn't keep the previous standard, but Work of Art overwhelmed me again and after my many listenings, I can't find one filler track or a weak riff.
This has to be on any 'best album of 2014' list and maybe on the top of that list.

"Framework" opens with the shining "Time To Let Go" with driven uptempo catchiness and Mr. Säfsund in an absolute top form. Robert Säll's guitars ooze of stylish 6-string performance.
I have to mention the talented and fabulous drummer Herman Furin's work. Many times the singer and guitar player steal most of the spotlight, but Herman is a big reason for the exceptional sound picture on Work of Art's three albums. His sensitive wrists hits the cymbals perfectly and gives the band it's high quality rhythms.
The heavenly melodic "How Will I Know" is a classy AOR gem, a mid-tempo diamond, "Shout Till You Wake Up" is a amazing song and it could have been on any Toto album, and if you need ballads "Hold on to Love" is simply brilliant.

WORK OF ART - Framework [Japan Edition] (2014) back cover

WORK OF ART's "Framework" is AWESOME. Period.
If you can spend a few bucks more, get this Japanese Edition. The bonus track and the superior audio quality worth it.
Mandatory Purchase.

01. Time To Let Go
02. How Will I Know
03. Shout Till You Wake Up
04. Can't Let Go
05. How Do You Sleep At Night
06. Over The Line
07. The Machine
08. Hold On To Love
09. Natalie
10. The Turning Point
11. My Waking Dream
12. On The Edge Of Time (Japan Bonus Track)

Lars Säfsund - Vocals
Robert Säll - Guitar
Herman Furin - Drums



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NIGHT RUNNER - Starfighter (2014)

NIGHT RUNNER - Starfighter (2014) full


The retro Synthwave scene inspired in '80s soundtrack movies is growing fast. We already presented here some talented artists recreating this wonderful era, and NIGHT RUNNER is a new exponent that deserves to be listened by any Synth maniac.
Comprising keyboard / computer freaks Alex Diosdado and Tabique Malevolo, NIGHT RUNNER are presenting "Starfighter", their debut album.

As you see on the cover artwork designed by Hollywood resident B-Movie digital artist Adrian Majkrzak aka GhostOrbit, "Starfighter" is the soundtrack of an '84 Summer blockbuster action film that never was, inspired by the Terminator saga (check the video for the track "The Sentinels" below).
NIGHT RUNNER also brings you back to Miami Vice's frenetic synth layered background music ("Murder in Miami"), spatial sounds ("Invaders") and all the '80s related imaginary.
You will find as well a lot of references to Atari arcade games, Japanese Anime (Akira, Robotech, Dragon Ball Z) and synth pioneers Jan Hammer or Harold Faltermeyer.

The guys of NIGHT RUNNER are really faithful to the Eighties style / sound, and unlike many of the new artists from the Synthwave movement, they do not add poppy elements to their music.
"Starfighter" is pure 'action movie' soundtrack style, ranging from frenzied DX-7 runs to atmospherics passages transporting you to a cinematic experience.
A must for fans of synth-heavy classic scores like Blade Runner, Escape From New York or Miami Vice.

01. After Hours
02. Invaders
03. Starlight
04. Ride The Sky
05. Roses & Blood
06. Almost There
07. The Sentinels
08. Nuclear Countdown
09. The Driver
10. Murder in Miami

Alex Diosdado - synthesizer, emulator
Tabique Malevolo - synthesizer, programming



RISHLOO - Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth (2014)

RISHLOO - Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth (2014) full


"Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth" is the intriguing title of the new album by the completely independent US progressive band known as RISHLOO.
It also marks their return into the scene, as hortly after the release of their third record, singer Andrew Mailloux - who also happens to be one of their greatest asset, decided to part ways with the band.

Though Rishloo tried to carry on as a solely instrumental group, it wasn't long before Andrew reunited with the rest of the guys because they all knew that they weren't finished yet. According to the band, "Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth" was a record that they had to get out of their system and too right this claim was.
Over the course of the last five years, the band spent time improving their overall musicianship, songwriting abilities and chemistry as a group. In addition to this, seems Andrew’s vocals can't get any better, with a powerful performance and a personal register.

Rishloo is progressive, yet not in the typical way.
Their style is a rather eclectic sort of half-light, half-metal prog, mixing melodies into a special blend. There's not influences from classic prog, nor the regular prog metal affair.
I hear some seventies Queen feel on their music, but developed in a modern approach like recent excellent newcomers Jono did last year. Rishloo tries to improve the 'progressive sense', but always focused in the melody and the 'song' as such.

RISHLOO - Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth (2014) inside

Showcasing their more rocking side in the first half, the record is sure to suck the listener in right off the bat. In "The Great Rain Beattle" their increased musicianship shows with fantastic guitar and more involving bass and percussion as well as Andrew’s voice showing off great dexterity.
Then later, "Dark Charade" proves to be where everyone in the band truly shines. With a more subdued introduction, it serves as the calm before the storm, using a softer side in the beginning and a more ambient interlude, but once the four minute mark comes along the payoff begins to show. After a catchy guitar hook, it turns into the most thrilling song on the record as it builds to a number of awesome climaxes.

However, make no mistake that the two songs sandwiched in between them also pull no punches. "Landmines" features more of the exemplary guitar work seen in the first track, but also happens to be a more lyrically engrossing one.
In addition to this, "Landmines" is another composition that swells to an epic climax in the final minutes, and "Dead Rope Machine" is no exception too. Boasting Rishloo’s atmospheric side quite well, the greatness in "Dead Rope Machine" lays in Andrew’s powerful delivery and emotional impact in the final minutes. Coupled with soaring instrumentals and an amazing falsetto adding some extra terrain at the end, this track will make the listener’s jaw drop.

On the second half, "Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth" puts a particularly strong emphasis on lighter tones and greatly succeeds in creating a natural contrast with some of the heavier aspects of the beginning.
For example, the first 2:30 of "Dark Charade" are beautiful to say the least and build nicely to the second half of the song. As well, the chord structure in closer “Just a Ride” is brilliant.
The album also has its fair share of great guitar arrangements out of David Gillett. The intro to "Winslow" is one of the albums highlights, as well as the splintering solo near the end of the song.

RISHLOO - Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth (2014) back

"Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth" is beautiful melodic at times while thrilling at others and despite some few minor inconsistencies, it holds out as one of the most original albums of the 2014 year in progressive rock music.
Remember, this is not 'Prog' as genre, it's progressive rock. Name this crossover prog if you want. Rishloo's unique combination of styles and ambitious sense of song structures is what makes this band quite different and interesting.
I would highly recommend checking out this album and listening to it more than once as it may tend to grow on you over time.

01 - The Great Rain Beatle
02 - Landmines
03 - Dead Rope Machine
04 - Dark Charade:
Part I
Part II
Part III
05 - Salutations
06 - Radio
07 - Winslow
08 - Just a Ride

Andrew Mailloux - vocals
Dave Gillett - guitar
Sean Rydquist - bass
Jesse Smith - drums



Sunday, December 28, 2014

JIM STAPLEY - Long Time Coming (2014)

JIM STAPLEY - Long Time Coming (2014) full


There's a bit of a buzz in UK going on around JIM STAPLEY at the moment and, on the evidence of “Long Time Coming”, his debut album after over ten years as a professional musician, it's more than just hype.
If you pair together a talented up and coming singer-songwriter with a veteran Rock producer, sparks will surely fly. Jim Stapley is no ordinary singer and Tony Visconti is an A-list producer, and “Long Time Coming” is a great record because of the quality and variety of Jim’s songs, which are strong enough to house Tony Visconti’s expansive arrangements and polished production.

“Long Time Coming” is full of passionate vocals, great playing and songs that have commercial pull to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Jim explores raw boned, bluesy tinged Classic Rock, white boy soul with sandpaper vocals, shades of traditional hard, and heartfelt ballads with a big chorus resolution.
The album treads a delicate balance between all those elements. And while Jim opens in rock bluster mode on ‘No Good Reason’, he’s just as happy on weepy ballads such as ‘Heartstrings’, ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ or the soulful closing ‘Shield’.
He has both the vocal range and musical vision with which to leave his personal stamp.

JIM STAPLEY - Long Time Coming (2014) booklet

From the opening exclamatory yell of ‘No Good Reason’, Jim’s unashamedly draws on such retro influences such as Paul Rogers and Steve Marriott, but he has his own vocal styling (at places akin White Lion's Mike Tramp) and above all, his own quality songs.
He’s also a young man in a hurry, as barely 40 seconds into ‘No Good Reason’ he impressively hits his stride on the booming chorus.
‘Laid To Waste’ has a similar contemporary feel with its quiet-to-loud dynamics as producer Visconti fills the chorus with an expansive string quartet arrangement and a layered sound which gives it a feeling of grandeur.

‘Hurricane’ is a potential single, that opens quietly as Jim portentously sings: “You leave the devil on the corner but he’s never more than a block behind.” As the track explodes, he soars over the repeated chorus and finishes on a descending primal growl.
The album gains strength from its subtle sequencing as evidenced by the change of pace on a brace of songs that showcase a more restrained side of his impressive vocal range.
The beautifully phrased, long distance relationship song ‘Heartstrings’ is worthy of the big string arrangement, as Jim balances feel with gravitas and slips up a gear into a Tim Buckley style falsetto for emotional emphasis. His voice soars again over a sonorous cello and string section, on a chorus that perfectly offsets his soulful delivery.

‘New Religion’ is a piano and Hammons B3 led ballad with gospel backing. Jim meets the challenge head-on in a Steve Marriott and Joe Cocker mode. It’s a great example of white boy soul singing on another album highlight.
‘My Way Home ’ is a rock ballad with an acoustic opening, some vicious slide playing and a British feel, that is notable for the double tracked harmonies and a melodic chorus.
He further rocks out on ‘Made Of Stone’ and brings real presence to bear on the passionate ‘My Own Worst Enemy’.

JIM STAPLEY - Long Time Coming (2014) back cover

I've been enjoying this album for the last couple of weeks and it just seems to get better and better with every listen.
“Long Time Coming” has certainly got an old-school vibe similar to Bad Company but an updated sound which highlights perfectly the magnificent voice of Jim Stapley. His pipes are really melodic but the range when he turns the wick up is special and he makes you feel his emotion like very few other singers I've heard recently.
This is a stunning Classic Rock album folks. Don't miss this one.
Highly Recommended.

01: No Good Reason
02: Laid To Waste
03: Hurricane
04: Heartstrings
05: New Religion
06: My Way Home
07: Made Of Stone
08: My Own Worst Enemy
09: Out Of Sight
10: Grey Matter
11: Breaking Out
12: Shield

Jim Stapley (vocals, guitar)
Ricky Glover, Johnson Mewik-Daley (guitar, vocals)
Josh Phillips (Hammond organ, keyboards)
Tom Swann (bass)
CJ Evans (drums)
James Arben (horns)
Rachel Dawson, Sarah Tuke, Polly Wiltshire (strings)
Mollie Marriott, R. Leavesley, J. Morgan (backing vocals)
Tony Visconti (producer, string arrangements, vocals)



EYESBERG - Blue (2014)

EYESBERG - Blue (2014) full


German outfit EYESBERG were found in Frankfurt circa 1980 having played the European Prog circuit with their own songs, but apart from some demos, the band didn't record officially.
Now 2014, these experienced musicians return and their debut "Blue" is a more than welcomed piece of melodic progressive music.

Eyesberg 2014 features original members Georg Alfter (guitar, bass), Norbert Podien (keyboards, backing vocals) and English singer Malcolm Shuttleworth. Multi-instrumentalist Thomas Klarmann (Argos, Superdrama) was part of Eyesberg in the beginning, but not in this return. However, Klarmann recommended his bandmate on Argos, Ulf Jacobs, to join and play the drums on "Blue".
The album features old compositions of the band penned 30 years ago, completely re-worked and updated to the new production standards.
But you can't deny the feeling and overall structures of these songs clearly rooted in the '80s Melodic Neo Prog, a pure delight to the ears if you ask me.

EYESBERG - Blue (2014) booklet

The material in ''Blue'' shows obvious influences from the music of IQ and Fish-era Marillion, but with a very distinctive 'German touch' and lots melody.
The album is filled with a great guitar work on the rhythms and elegant solos, also sporting a prominent keyboard role as well. Guest drummer Ulf Jacobs' job is excellent too, and I would sign him up permanently if I were the band.
Malcolm Shuttleworth's seasoned vocals contribute to provide an 'international feel' and his sometimes bluesy phrasing expands Eyesberg's sound to a wider audience.

As said, much sounds familiar - but there are a sense of varied melodiousness that helps "Blue" to reach the status of a convincing, refreshing, original Neo Prog album.
There are the 'pop' hooks (as in "Porcelain"), traditional Prog atmospheres (the delightful "Inquisitive") and tough-sawing riffs ("S II").
In the best '80s Neo Prog tradition, we have melodic rock touches on the dynamic "Closed Until The Resurrection" (with some Saga on it), early Marillion pump in "Faces On My Wall", and elegant passages in "Feed Yourself".

EYESBERG - Blue (2014) back cover

"Blue" is a pure delight for '80s Neo Prog lovers, with a wider appeal for any listener eager for melodious Rock music.
Eyesberg arrange, play and produce their music with that 'instantly likeable' factor the Eighties recordings used to. Everything is crisp and bright, sonically dynamic.
"Blue" is the kind of album that, silently released, sadly will pass unnoticed by the massive public, one of the hidden gems releases of the year.
We are here to solve this (at least in part), give it a try and you won't regret it.
Very Recommended.

01 - Child's Play
02 - Epitaph
03 - Closed Until the Resurrection
04 - Winter Gone
05 - Inquisitive
06 - Feed Yourself
07 - 4-2-F
08 - Faces On My Wall
09 - Porcelain
10 - If I Told You the Truth
11 - S II
12 - Detachment and Replacement

Malcolm Shuttleworth (lead and backing vocals)
Georg Alfter (guitar, bass)
Norbert Podien (keyboards, backing vocals)
Ulf Jacobs (drums)



Saturday, December 27, 2014

SCORPIONS - Blackout [Audio Fidelity remaster SACD AFZ-164] (2014)

SCORPIONS - Blackout [Audio Fidelity remaster SACD AFZ-164] (2014) full


Audio Fidelity gurus have remastered from the original tapes (German, not the UK re-work) "Blackout", SCORPIONS' break-through album that made them global superstars.

On "Blackout" every song is catchy, balancing '80s heavy metal with rock&pop melodies (which later derived into hair metal) and power ballads.
Produced & engineered by Dieter Dierks who was the helping guide to the group to worldwide commercial success, Scorpions dish-out infectious fist-poundin' anthems like the top ten hit "No One Like You" or "Dynamite", then turn around and offer the soul stirring ballad "When the Smoke is Going Down".

SCORPIONS - Blackout [Audio Fidelity remaster SACD AFZ-164] (2014) back cover

This Audio Fidelity remaster handled by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio is easily the best digital version out there. Greater clarity and instrument separation than any other release.
Earlier CD editions sounded a bit muffled in comparison with this new one, and it's great to see that the dynamic range has also been kept intact.
"Blackout" SACD sounds amazing. Listen to the opening drums on "No One Like You" and you're gonna want to grab your old concert t-shirt and possibly grow a mullet again...

SACD AFZ-164 / Gold CD

01 - Blackout
02 - Can't Live Without You
03 - No One Like You
04 - You Give Me All I Need
05 - Now!
06 - Dynamite
07 - Arizona
08 - China White
09 - When The Smoke Is Going Down

Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – guitars
Rudolf Schenker – guitars, backing vocals
Francis Buchholz – bass
Herman Rarebell – drums, percussion
Don Dokken – backing vocals



KISS - 40 Years; Decades Of Decibels [2CD Japanese Edition] (2014)

KISS - 40 Years; Decades Of Decibels [2CD Japanese Edition] (2014) full

* full

"40 Years : Decades Of Decibels" celebrates KISS incredible 40-year recording career and their long-overdue induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, an anthology spanning 1973-2013 featuring one track off every album including live LP's & their 1978 solo releases.
The double CD luxury packed with a 20-page booklet also features rare mixes / edits, a previously unreleased 1977 demo 'Reputation', and this Japanese Edition, a bonus track.
All has been remastered with a superb sound (just listen 'Beth').

Love or hate them. KISS have been thrilling audiences worldwide now for 40 years. They were once the masters of disguise & rock‘n’roll legends, making the astounding mark of 6 studio albums, 1 compilation, 2 live albums and 4 solo records all in the space of 5 years in the seventies.

KISS - Kiss 40 Years Decades Of Decibels (2014) Japan edition booklet

Into the '80s the American market for them was soft, however they kept good fortune in other territories. The make-up came off, a heavier sound arrived, a slew of line up changes happened, until finally the fans' dreams came true and the make-up went back on.
Again they catapulted to fame and fortune, the drama raised its head, a farewell tour and the giant could still not be slayed.
Kiss have been accused of being all about image and no musical substance, let us get one thing straight; you do not have a consistently dedicated fanbase if the music you release has no merit.
As an introduction to KISS, on "40 Years : Decades Of Decibels" the choices are somewhat of the beaten track compared to previous comps.
For the collectors there is nothing really of note here to get you too excited apart from the Simmons demo of “Reputation” which is a moment in time and an oddity which will force their hand.
“God of Thunder” demo with Stanley singing, the Remix of “Forever” (one of the best KISS songs ever), and the Japanese bonus track are also worth the entry price.

KISS - 40 Years; Decades Of Decibels [2CD Japanese Edition] (2014) back

"40 Years : Decades Of Decibels" perfectly showcases all the faces of KISS; the hard rockin' 70s, the egos, the romance, the melodic rock and the metallic edge from the '80s / '90s. Try not and tap your foot to “Shout it Loud” and bang your head to “Unholy” and warble along with “Reason to Live”.
In short: it's a collection of pure hits, all remastered and put together on 2CD with an awesome artwork, all for a very decent price.
A great set which gives a fairly extensive overview of one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

Universal Japan ~ UICY-15297/8

CD 1 :
1. Nothin To Lose
2. Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
3. C’mon and Love Me
4. Rock And Roll All Nite (Live)
5. God Of Thunder (Demo Paul Stanley lead vocals)
6. Beth
7. Hard Luck Woman
8. Reputation (Demo) – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
9. Christine Sixteen
10. Shout It Out Loud (Live)
11. Strutter ‘78
12. You Matter To Me (Peter Criss)
13. Radioactive (Gene Simmons)
14. New York Groove (Ace Frehley)
15. Hold Me, Touch Me
16. I Was Made For Lovin’ You (Single Edit)
17. Shandi
18. A World Without Heroes
19. I Love It Loud
20. Down On Your Knees
21. Lick It Up
22. Heaven’s On Fire

CD 2 :
1. Tears Are Falling
2. Reason To Live
3. Let’s Put The X In Sex
4. Forever (Remix)
5. God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II
6. Unholy (Live)
7. Do You Love Me? (MTV Unplugged)
8. Room Service (Live)
9. Jungle (Radio Edit)
10. Psycho Circus
11. Nothing Can Keep Me From You
12. Detroit Rock City (Live)
14. Firehouse (Live – 1999/2000)
15. Modern Day Delilah
16. Cold Gin (Live 2009) – UNRELEASED COMMERCIALLY
17. Crazy Crazy Nights (Live 2010) – UNREL. COMMERCIALLY
18. Hell Or Hallelujah
19. Hell Or Hallelujah (Budokan 2013) [Japan bonus]

Paul Stanley - rhythm guitar, vocals
Ace Frehley - lead guitar, vocals
Gene Simmons - bass, vocals
Peter Criss - drums, vocals
Eric Carr - drums, vocals
Vinnie Vincent - guitar, vocals, (Disc 1, track 19, 21)
Mark St. John - guitar, (Disc 1, track 22)
Bruce Kulick - guitar, backing vocals, (Disc 2, tracks 1-9)
Eric Singer - drums, backing vocals (Disc 2, tracks 5-9, 13-19)
Tommy Thayer - guitar, backing vocals, (Disc 2, tracks 12-19)
Bob Kulick - lead guitar (Disc 1, track 20)



Friday, December 26, 2014

Mr. BIG - ...The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] Bonus CD 25th Anniversary Re-Recorded Hits (2014)

Mr. BIG - ...The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] Bonus CD 25th Anniversary Re-Recorded Hits (2014)


And the winner is... Mr. BIG with "The Stories We Could Tell". Yes, at 0dayrox we think this is the 'Album of the Year'.
There has been outstanding releases in 2014, but Mr. BIG takes the prize as their new album encompass all the ingredients of what should be a Rock (melodic) record.

This Japanese Deluxe Edition is pure gold.
The CD not only is manufactured with the high quality K2HD technology, but also comes boxed including a bonus disc with Mr. Big's best songs re-recorded in 2014 plus a DVD with interviews.

Mr. BIG - ...The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] Bonus CD 25th Anniversary Re-Recorded Hits (2014) inside

This bonus disc "25th Anniversary Re-Recorded Hits" includes re-imaginated versions of monster numbers such as "Addicted To That Rush", "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy", "Just Take My Heart" or the chart-buster "To Be With You", all faithful to the originals yet with a modern punchy production.

Mr. BIG - ...The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] Bonus CD 25th Anniversary Re-Recorded Hits (2014) back cover

You don't need a "The Stories We Could Tell" review here, just go and buy it with your eyes closed (an your ears wide open).
This Japanese Deluxe Edition worth every penny, with the main CD including an exclusive bonus track, plus this terrific "25th Anniversary Re-Recorded" disc.

…The Stories We Could Tell

01 - Addicted To That Rush [re-recorded 2014]
02 - Rock & Roll Over [re-recorded 2014]
03 - Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy [re-recorded 2014]
04 - Green-Tinted Sixties Mind [re-recorded 2014]
05 - Just Take My Heart [re-recorded 2014]
06 - To Be With You [re-recorded 2014]
07 - Colorado Bulldog [re-recorded 2014]
08 - The Whole World's Gonna Know [re-recorded 2014]
09 - Take Cover [re-recorded 2014]
10 - Out Of The Underground [re-recorded 2014]

Eric Martin – vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitars
Billy Sheehan – bass
Pat Torpey – drums



Mr. BIG - The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] (2014)

Mr. BIG - The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] (2014) full


And the winner is... Mr. BIG with "The Stories We Could Tell". Yes, at 0dayrox we think this is the 'Album of the Year'.
There has been outstanding releases in 2014, but Mr. BIG takes the prize as their new album encompass all the ingredients of what should be a Rock (melodic) record.

"The Stories We Could Tell" also marks the 25th Anniversary of Mr. Big, and this Japanese Edition is pure gold.

Mr. BIG - The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] (2014) cd photo

The CD not only is manufactured with the high quality K2HD technology, but also comes in a super Deluxe Edition including a bonus disc with Mr Big's best songs re-recorded in 2014 plus a DVD with interviews.

Mr. BIG - The Stories We Could Tell [2CD Japan LTD. K2HD] (2014) japan sheet

You don't need a "The Stories We Could Tell" review here, just go and buy it with your eyes closed (an your ears wide open).
This Japanese Edition worth every penny, with the main CD including an exclusive bonus track, plus the terrific "25th Anniversary Re-Recorded" disc.

…The Stories We Could Tell

01 - Gotta Love The Ride
02 - I Forget To Breathe
03 - Fragile
04 - Satisfied
05 - The Man Who Has Everything
06 - The Monster In Me
07 - What If We Were New?
08 - East / West
09 - The Light Of Day
10 - Just Let Your Heart Decide
11 - It's Always About That Girl
12 - Cinderella Smile
13 - The Stories We Could Tell
14 - 30 Days In The Hole (Japanese Bonus track)

Eric Martin – vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitars
Billy Sheehan – bass
Pat Torpey – drums



Thursday, December 25, 2014

VEGA - Stereo Messiah [Japanese edition] (2014)

VEGA - Stereo Messiah [Japanese edition] (2014) full


Perhaps the best Album of the Year? Oh yeah, in the Top 5 for sure. "Stereo Messiah" put Melodic Rockers VEGA among the finest acts from the genre nowadays.
This Japanese edition features as bonus an old Vega song - "One Of A Kind" - completely re-worked with a lead piano and a ton of vocal harmony layers. It's labeled as demo quality (done as tribute for a lost friend), but sounds wonderful to me.

The band came out swinging, going for the fences, with another platter full of arena ready Melodic Rock. This album may be the messiah to save your stereo from the shit of modern rock music.
Everything about this album is huge.
The arrangements are large, with guitars and synths abounding in melody, the rhythm section steady and heart pounding, and the vocal arrangements lush and emotional. (Nick Workman has one of the best voices in Rock today).

In "Stereo Messiah" all is wrapped up in groove, smooth and toe-tapping, and includes some of the finest, catchiest hooks - in lyrics and arrangement - you'll find anywhere.
Largely, from start to finish, every song is simply terrific. Ear candy, plain and simple.
Are harmony vocals your thing? Then latch onto "The Wild, The Weird, The Wonderful", "Neon Heart", or the amazing "Ballad of the Broken Hearted".
Dig guitar solos? Find them in every song, but notable in title track "Stereo Messiah", "All Or Nothing" or the aforementioned "Neon Heart".
Need a big glossy ballad? Here's "Tears Never Dry".

VEGA - Stereo Messiah [Japanese edition] (2014) back cover

I could go on, but you know the drill for what makes AOR / Melodic Rock shine great. Even better, there's no filler here.
Even the more 'average' song "10X Bigger Than Love", written by Def Leppard's Joe Elliot (who duets with lead singer Nick Workman), with it's weird sitar notes, can't diminish the strength of this album.
Everything about Vega's "Stereo Messiah" is impressive, powerful, and immediately entertaining & joyful.
If you dig classic Melodic Rock / AOR delivered with an updated sound, VEGA's "Stereo Messiah" is pretty fandamntastic.


01 - Stereo Messiah
02 - All Or Nothing
03 - Wherever We Are
04 - Ballad Of The Broken Hearted
05 - Gonna Need Some Love Tonight
06 - The Fall
07 - Neon Heart
08 - With Both Hands
09 - 10 X Bigger Than Love
10 - My Anarchy
11 - The Wild, The Weird, The Wonderful
12 - Tears Never Dry
13 - One Of A Kind (Japanese bonus track)

Nick Workman - Vocals
Tom Martin - Guitars
Daniel Chantrey - Drums
James Martin - Keyboards
Marcus Thurston - Guitars
Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) - guest Vocals



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DALTON - Pit Stop [Japanese Edition +2] (2014)

DALTON - Pit Stop [Japanese Edition] (2014) full


Another great release that came out this year is without a doubt the return of DALTON.
After many years of wait, Swedish AOR / Melodic Rock favorites Dalton - who along with Europe and Treat made some mighty fine noise back in the '80s - are back with new album of new material called "Pit Stop".
Formed by ex-Treat drummer Mats Dahlberg, Dalton got back together in a 'Steps - Reunion' style show for TV. The end result was a lot of fun for everyone involved and as a result we have this brand new album from the band.

With songs such as 'Ready Or Not' and 'Hey You' the Dalton sound is kickin' as if they never been away, in fact the band feels so alive and hungry for the rock!
The parptastic 'Hey You' is clearly a first single contender. It is songs such as 'Don't Tell Me Lies' and 'Follow Your Dreams' which highlights that while many bands simply 'make it', you still need the good songs to back it up and with "Pit Stop", Dalton certainly have some great ones to back them up.

DALTON - Pit Stop [Japanese Edition] (2014) booklet

The a-cappella intro to 'Up & Down' reminds me about what I love most about Euro Melodic Rock, which with the multi-layered / keyboard-driven chorus is a future classic, but having said that the rest of the album is certainly no filler fodder either.
'Bad Love' is another classic tune with a slinky groove that has the hallmarks of being a future ear worm – thanks for this prime music guys...

DALTON - Pit Stop [Japanese Edition] (2014) back cover

Dalton is back at full force: "Pit Stop" delivers superb songs of pure heavenly Scandi Melodic Rock / AOR.
This Japanese edition features 2 bonus tracks that worth the invest; the mid-tempo AOR of "Beautiful" plenty of indeed beautiful melodies with an '80s magic, and an organic acoustic version of "Follow Your Dreams" with greatly arranged harmony vocals.


01 - Ready Or Not
02 - Hey You
03 - Don't Tell Me Lies
04 - Follow Your Dreams
05 - Up & Down
06 - Bad Love
07 - One Voice
08 - Here We Are
09 - Something for the Pain
10 - 50/50
11 - TGIF
12 - Beautiful (Japan Bonus Track)
13 - Follow Your Dreams [Acoustic] (Japan Bonus Track)

Mats Dahlberg
Ola Lindström
Bosse Lindmark
Anders Lindmark
Leif Westfahl



RATED X - Rated X [Japanese edition] (2014)

RATED X - Rated X [Japanese edition] (2014) full


With 2014 reaching its end, it's time to recap on some of the best releases of the year, and what a better way than with its Japanese releases.
In the true style of Frontiers Records, a new SuperGroup has been assembled: RATED X. The label contacted singer Joe Lynn Turner asking for a band of high caliber musicians should be assembled to create an album of classic hard rock music.
Turner, the former lead vocalist for both Rainbow and Deep Purple and a solo artist in his own right, agreed, and the search for the right players was on. And what a bunch of players.

Alongside with Turner, we have living legend Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, King Kobra, Blue Murder), Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder, Whitesnake) and Karl Cochran (Ace Frehley) collaborating together. The album was made under the guidance of an aulic Frontiers’ producer, the omnipresent (and perhaps omnipotent, considering the vast amount as well as quality of his work) Alessandro Del Vecchio.
Do the iconic names in the band’s camp equal the fulfillment of the great expectations a listener should have?
Oh yeah.

RATED X - Rated X [Japanese edition] (2014) booklet

Starting with thunderous drum roll that develops into the first track “Get Back My Crown,” Rated X is, to paraphrase an old adage, the best of four worlds. From the fiery drumming being the trademark of legendary Carmine Appice to Joe Lynn Turner’s powerhouse singing and charisma, it’s having all the key ingredients of hard rock masterpiece blended into one.
And although there might have been some Purple-esque flavors to the opening song on the album and you might have caught yourself thinking about Turner-fronted Purple album Slaves And Masters at times – the music is every inch contemporary, meaty rock sound that screams 2014 rather than the ‘80s or ‘90s.

The second track “This Is Who I Am” continues in a feisty, bluesy manner enhanced by the flawless modern-day production, with the infallible Turner belting out a powerful self-independence manifesto.
The mellow intro and slow-ish verses of “Fire And Ice” may have suggested there’s a ballad coming on, but it’s just the opposite with fiery choruses and fine guitar solo. Next is a groovy, Hammond-flavored “I Don’t Cry No More” that has the reunited Blue Murder rhythm section of Appice and Franklin squeezing the blood, sweat and tears from their instruments – almost literally.

“Lhasa” begins with an eerie, mysterious intro that might have made your hair stand on end – only to develop into a monumental, slow, lumbering piece with some distant echoes of or Dio-era Rainbow. “Devil In Disguise” is another Purple-esque track that may remind you of Joe Lynn Turner’s work in either Purple or Stuart Smith’s Heaven & Earth.
It precedes a fine melodic mid-tempo “You Are The Music” enriched with what is perhaps the best guitar solo on the album. “Peace Of Mind” stands out because of the pounding bass sound and well-crafted choruses, while “Maybe Tonight” slows down a bit, a charming AOR / melodic rock piece much in Turner’s usual style (think Sunstorm or his solo albums).

“On The Way To Paradise” gets much feistier, bringing a solid dose of straight-in-your-face ‘70s-flavored riffs against some powerhouse drumming. “Our Love Is Not Over” is a ballad-esque, AOR-ish mid-tempo featuring some tasteful guitar licks, again a nod and a wink to JLT’s melodic rock roots.
This being the next-to-last song on the album, the final one is a keyboard-laden, monumental track “Stranger In Us All” with many interesting changes of pace.
The Japanese edition features “Our Love Is Not Over” in an acoustic version, more slower and sweet than the original and with a 'classic feel' all over.

RATED X - Rated X [Japanese edition] (2014) back

With Rated X, you may start to wonder what secret potions or magical practices keep the musicians in such a good shape – like a fine wine, they’re getting better and better with time, still able to amaze the listeners and release another milestones of their respective careers.
And even though the eldest of the pack, Carmine Appice, will celebrate his 68th birthday this year, there’s still no competition to the iconic drummer – none of the youngsters being able to rise up to such a challenge! If you have any doubts, check out the pounding drumming that’s been the backbone of Rated X and the core of their first album, against Karl Cochran’s tasteful guitar playing, Tony Franklin’s fretless-bass chops and the immaculate vocal talent of Joe Lynn Turner.

With such a line-up overseen by Alessandro Del Vecchio himself, you couldn’t simply have gone wrong. If you’re a Rainbow staunch aficionado or an avid Blue Murder fan, you know you can’t miss Rated X anyway, but if you’re just into the contemporary melodic hard rock that has its back-to-roots moments too – be sure to include it on your list of must-haves.
Highly Recommended.


01 - Get Back My Crown
02 - This Is Who I Am
03 - Fire And Ice
04 - I Don't Cry No More
05 - Lhasa
06 - Devil In Disguise
07 - You Are The Music
08 - Peace Of Mind
09 - Maybe Tonight
10 - On The Way To Paradise
11 - Our Love Is Not Over
12 - Stranger In Us All
13 - Our Love Is Not Over (Acoustic Version) [Japan bonus]

Joe Lynn Turner - vocals (Rainbow, Deep Purple)
Carmine Appice - drums (King Kobra, Blue Murder, Ozzy)
Tony Franklin - bass (Blue Murder, The Firm)
Karl Cochran - guitar (Ace Frehley, Joe Lynn Turner)
Nikolo Kotzev - guitars (tracks 8, 9, 11), lead guitars (tracks 12, 4)
Daniel Palmqvist - guitar (track 7)



MARILLION - A Collection Of Recycled Gifts [limited edition] (2014)

MARILLION - A Collection Of Recycled Gifts [limited edition] (2014) full


"A Collection Of Recycled Gifts" is a compilation of all MARILLION's past Christmas songs originally included on various fan club releases over the years. The CD, released in limited quantities also includes a brand new version of 'Happy Christmas (War is Over)' recorded especially for Christmas 2014.

Marillion always has recorded Christmas related songs / albums, usually only available through their official website, therefore, not so easy to find.
The songs in "A Collection Of Recycled Gifts" are done in a 'seasonal way' with very nice melodies, though some of them deliver a tongue-in-cheek humor. As example, "Let It Snow!" is a kazoo-laden drunken carol with new lyrics; “The Aylsebury roads are closed, Let it snow let it snow let it snow!”. Hogarth's campy vocal is all clearly for laughs.

MARILLION - A Collection Of Recycled Gifts [limited edition] (2014) cd photo

The disc opens with a new recording, which is a reworking of the classic "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", from the repertoire of John Lennon. Hoggy and his colleagues treated this one very seriously, melodic and with a real Christmas atmosphere. There's the participation of a children's choir, including Steve Hogarth's offspring. A very nice song for this holidays.
Also wonderful is the version of "Gabriel's Message", quite ethereal in a typical Marillion way.
"A Collection Of Recycled Gifts" is a nice present. Happy Holidays.

01 - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) [2014]
02 - Gabriel's Message
03 - The Christmas Song
04 - Stop The Cavalry
05 - That's What Friends Are For
06 - Let It Snow
07 - I Saw Three Ships
08 - Lonely This Christmas
09 - The Erin Marbles
10 - Little Saint Nick
11 - The Carol Of The Bells

Steve Hogarth - vocals, keys, percussion
Mark Kelly - keyboards
Pete Trewavas - bass, backing vocals
Steve Rothery - lead & rhythm guitars
Ian Mosley - drums






With the holidays coming up, it's time for some Christmas albums. THE WIZARDS OF WINTER is an eclectic group of musicians from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania dedicated to bringing a holiday spectacle including a complete stage presentation.
The band was originally formed in five years ago as a Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) tribute band, but since 2011 they have produced new material of their own. This, their self-titled album "The Wizards Of Winter", is the band's second record just released.

With themes related to Christmas, The Wizards Of Winter compose music that exposes their Classic Rock and Progressive Rock influences with unique creativity and the extraordinary talents that each member possesses. The arrangements, performances and production are highly polished and refined to the point of near perfection.
This talented tri-state lineup includes director Scott Kelly also tickling the keys; Sharon Kelly on flute/vocals; Steve Ratchen on bottom/vocals and Fred Gorhau on guitar. All four of these musicians share in writing and composition of the arrangements.
The roster continues with Natalie Niareska on violin; T.W. Duffy also on guitar; vocalists Vincent Jiovino and Guy LeMonnier; percussionist Tommy Ference and on keys/vocals, Mary McIntyre.
Currently the band is touring with former members of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Guy LeMonnier, Tony Gayno and Joe Cerisano along with special guest Tommy Farese, who produced the CD with Tom Corea.

THE WIZARDS OF WINTER - ST (2014) booklet

Opening with “Arctic Flyer”, this instrumental sets the mood with an energetic intro that has classic rock sounding roots. “Special Feeling” reaches down deep into the heart with its melodic feeling and greatly arranged vocals.
“Sing O' Alleluia” with the intro 'Do You See What I See' kicks it into gear with powerful keys, tight harmonies and harmony vocals. “Night of Reflection” is a dual medley of some a well known classic that is expertly composed and performed, then “Once Long Ago” incorporates a keyboard segment that explodes into guitars rocking heavy with prog metal overtones. I love the organ with the Leslie and the marriage of the guitars in the solo.
Leaning toward a dark side is the track “Gales of December” that was inspired by the TV show “The Deadliest Catch” which incorporates bits of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'. Lots of keyboards here.

THE WIZARDS OF WINTER - ST (2014) inside

“Moments of Wonder” is an absolutely wonderful piece of music. Piercing vocals send chills thru the listener. There's pianos, flute, happy guitars solos and delicate lead vocals.
The next number features guest vocalists Joe Loria and Meg Williams along with percussionist Tom Corea on “March of the Metal Soldiers” that kicks things off in an old-timey swing sort of a way which melds into piercing multi-voice harmonies.
“Journey” is a powerful, banging instrumental with sinister undertones that reminds me of a soundtrack in one of the retro Roman movies or for you, prog rock fans, ELP. “Toys Will Be Toys” features the signature piano runs that have become well known with holiday rock operas.
“A Simple Gift” reflects on the holiday season through the lyrics, while the music is very melodious. Their simple gift from the heart is all they have to give and it's the best gift of all. It's a wonderful seasonal song, very touching.
There's a bonus with “Ode to Eisenach”, featuring Fred Gorhau's acoustic guitar playing a calm instrumental with a clean and precise picking that is refreshing.

THE WIZARDS OF WINTER - ST (2014) cd cover

"The Wizards Of Winter" is a complete collection of music that the discerning listener would appreciate and listen to multiple times this season. You get the true feeling of the message and the talent that created it.
This is a very well arranged, performed and produced album with a melodic and pristine sound.
A hearty, holiday two thumbs up.

01 - The Arctic Flyer
02 - Special Feeling
03 - Sing O'Alleluia
04 - Night of Reflection
05 - Once Long Ago
06 - Gales of December
07 - Moments of Wonder
08 - March of the Metal Soldiers
09 - The Journey
10 - Just Believe
11 - A Simple Gift (bonus track)

Scott Kelly - Director, Keyboards
Steve Ratchen - Bass
Tommy Ference - Percussion
Sharon Kelly - Vocals, Flute
Fred Gorhau - Guitar
TW Durfy - Guitar
Mary McIntyre - Vocals, Keyboards
Natalia Nierezka - Violin, Vocals
Vinny Jiovino - Vocals
feat. ex-members of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra:
Guy LeMonnier
Tony Gaynor
Joe Cerisano



Monday, December 22, 2014

SCORPIONS - We Built This House [single] (2015)

SCORPIONS - We Built This House [single] (2015)


Not too long ago, it looked like The SCORPIONS were ready to call it quits, but nearly two years after officially canceling their retirement, they are back with a new album: 'Return To Forever' will be released on Feb. 20, 2015.
The record will have 12 songs, with a Deluxe Edition containing four additional tracks, and will also be a Limited Collector’s Edition Box.
The album’s first single, "We Built This House", finds the band reflecting on their 50-year history.

“In the end, it tells our story,” singer Klaus Meine says of the new song. “We’ve built this house called Scorpions brick by brick and often quite arduously. From the first days in Hannover, the first concerts abroad, until this very day.
We’ve weathered severe storms, but the house withstood everything, turned out to be wheatherproof and stable. However, building the house was never just cumbersome, but joyful as well. The joy of music, the joy of having experienced and still experiencing it all, the joy of – and the thankfulness for – the fans’ affection.
We have been working hard for this dream, but we’re thankful as well for having been able to live it, and for still being able to live it today.”

Despite some of the songs on the new album were partially composed in the early '80s but never finished - mainly from the Blackout and Love At First Sting days - seems the new Scorpions will sound really modern.
"We Built This House" is a proof. It's a very melodic song with a strong guitar riff, however very melodic in the 'Scandinavian style'. Indeed, it pretty sounds like H.E.A.T or Brother Firetribe.
Not strange, as talented Swedish musicians and producers Mikael Nord Andersson & Martin Hansen are behind this new Scorpions record...

We Built This House (3:53)

Klaus Meine (vocals)
Rudolf Schenker (guitar)
Matthias Jabs (guitar)
James Kottak (drums)
Pawel Maciwoda (bass)



HERMAN RAREBELL & FRIENDS - Herman's Scorpions Songs (2014)

HERMAN RAREBELL & FRIENDS - Herman's Scorpions Songs (2014) full


Former Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell has brought in singers including Don Dokken, Doogie White, Jack Russell and Tony Martin for a collaborative album. "HERMAN RAREBELL & FRIENDS - Herman's Scorpions Songs" features 13 takes from the German veterans' catalogue plus a new song.
It follows a similar acoustic album last year, which he’s been touring with the help of John Parr, Bobby Kimball and Michael Voss – all of whom appear on this new record too.
But "Herman's Scorpions Songs" is electric, vibrant and hard rocking.

Rarebell was Scorpions drummer during their most successful period (from 1977 – 1996) co-writing the band's biggest hits. Now solo artist, Herman has decided to re-record these with help of some of the world’s best hard rock singers.
All of them are all-time-favorites that have been written or at least co-written by Herman. "Rock You Like A Hurricane" or "Dynamite", "Make it Real" or "Animal Magnetism" – all the songs in the new versions are catching the listener on the spot.

HERMAN RAREBELL & FRIENDS - Herman's Scorpions Songs (2014) booklet

Indeed, I am quite surprised about the quality of this recording.
Rarebell and his friends musically sound pretty hard rockin' here. The songs / production still retain the melody, but are delivered in full fire. Of course, everything is really polished, in best Scorpions tradition.
All are really enjoyable, as the pumping version of "Loving You Sunday Morning" with a great performance by Michael Voss, a killer, modernized take on "Dynamite" with Johnny Gioeli shining all over, or the meaty "Another Piece Of Meat" with Tony Martin in stupendous form.

But my surprise, and one of the highlights, it's John Parr's voice on "Passion Rules The Game". Known for his melodic pipes, Parr sings his heart out here in a rocking, hot, raspy performance. Awesome version.
Then there's a new track; "Let It Shine", featuring the young Al Crespo from rockers Unbreakable, which very good debut was presented here some weeks ago.

HERMAN RAREBELL & FRIENDS - Herman's Scorpions Songs (2014) back

Herman 'Ze' German took me by surprise; I wasn't expecting such a quality recording as he has delivered with "Herman's Scorpions Songs".
You need good songs, of course (and here's aplenty), but you need to glue the singers with them, make the band sound tight, and most importantly, you need a big production to make this songs justice.
You'll find all that here, and more. "Herman's Scorpions Songs" sounds Grand, electrifying, kick ass...
Buy it with your eyes closed; this baby ROCKS.

01. Rock You Like A Hurricane – Bobby Kimball (Toto)
02. Passion Rules The Game – John Parr
03. Loving You Sunday Morning – Michael Voss (Mad Max)
04. Is There Anybody There? – Alex Ligertwood (Santana)
05. You Give Me All I Need – Don Dokken (Dokken)
06. Make It Real – Doogie White (Rainbow, Michael Schenker)
07. Dynamite – Johnny Gioeli (Axel Rudi Pell)
08. Arizona – Thomas Perry
09. Love Is Blind – Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot)
10. Don’t Make No Promises – Jack Russell (Great White)
11. Falling In Love – Gary Barden (Michael Schenker Group)
12. Another Piece Of Meat – Tony Martin (Black Sabbath)
13. Animal Magnetism – Michael Nagy
14. Let It Shine – Al Crespo (Unbreakable)

Herman Rarebell - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Michael Voss - guitar, bass
Chris Hasler - guitar
Dario Seixas, Arno Baum, J. A. Rodriguez - bass



Sunday, December 21, 2014

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM - Level Eleven [2CD Japanese Ltd. Edition] (2014)

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM - Level Eleven [2CD Japanese Ltd. Edition] (2014) full


So here it is: as usual, Swedes LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM releases a new album at the end of each year, first in Japan and a couple months after in Europe. Titled "Level Eleven", this is indeed the album number 11 from this Melodic Rock combo commanded by singer Mikael Erlandsson.
"Level Eleven" is expected for Feb. 20, 2015 in Europe via AOR Heaven Records, but the Asian market has the holiday present already in stores. "Level Eleven" is available in Japan on a regular version, and this, First Limited Edition including a Bonus Disc.

"Level Eleven" bring some changes for Last Autumn's Dream: founder member and fantastic guitar player Andy Malecek (from the successful German melodic hard rock band Fair Warning) decided to leave the band in 2014 because of personal reasons and is now replaced by Peter “Pac” Söderström, a skilled guitar player that added rhythm guitars to the band’s previous albums.
So now Last Autumn's Dream is a band 100% Swedish.

The other different side of "Level Eleven" is the sonic approach.
Last Autumn's Dream is Melodic Hard Rock, more 'melodic than hard', and this has not changed. However, the sound and production has been modernized, resulting in a much more updated product.
This means that Last Autumn's Dream can compete with the new wave of Melodic Rock like Vega, Diamond Dawn, Eclipse, etc, something the band was needing to remain relevant in the competitive scene.
By the way, if you ask me, "Level Eleven" is the best produced LAD album ever.

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM - Level Eleven [2CD Japanese Ltd. Edition] (2014) back cover

The rest is easy: Last Autumn's Dream never disappoint your melodic ears: blissful numbers like the AOR paradise of "I'll Be There 4 U" (a favorite), the catchy "Follow Your Heart" or the anthemic "Go Go Go – Get Ready Fo The Show!" (will make HEAT envy) are among the best cuts.

There's a classic melodic rock mid-tempo in the beauty of "Made Of Stone", "Star" and the AOR "Stick Around" (classic LAD), and some catchy power pop on "Losing You".
This "Level Eleven Limited Edition" worth the purchase, as the bonus disc offers terrific acoustic performances - very well arranged & worked, not just 'let record these on the fly'. I particularly love "To Be With You".

Avalon / Marquee ~ MICP-11131 エディション

01 - Kiss Me
02 - Follow Your Heart
03 - Fight The World
04 - I'll Be There 4 U
05 - Losing You
06 - Go Go Go – Get Ready Fo The Show!
07 - Delirious
08 - Made Of Stone
09 - Stick Around
10 - Star
11 - PLZ
12 - Oh Darlin' (Japanese Bonus Track)
13 - Coda [hidden track]

Limited Edition BONUS DISC:
01 - Another Night (Acoustic Version)
02 - I've Fallen Into You (Acoustic Version)
03 - Michelle Don't Live Here No More (Ac. Version)
04 - To Be With You (Acoustic Version)

Mikael Erlandsson - lead and backing vocals, keyboards
Jamie Borger - drums, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Nalley Pahlsson - bass, backing vocals
Peter Pac Soderstrom - guitar



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