Sunday, November 30, 2014

STARSHIP - Knee Deep In The Hoopla [remastered Japan Blu-Spec CD2] (2013)

STARSHIP - Knee Deep In The Hoopla [remastered Japan Blu-Spec CD2] (2013) full


If there was an album that perfectly blended commercial Rock&pop with '80s AOR it should be without a doubt "Knee Deep In The Hoopla" by STARSHIP. The Platinum certified record has been released in Japan as part of the '80s Goodies Legacy Recording' series, in a remastered form and pressed on the excellent sounding Blu-Spec CD2.

First known as Jefferson Airplane and later Jefferson Starship, after the departure of bandleader Paul Kantner in 1983, the newly christened Starship experienced an unexpected commercial comeback with 1985's "Knee Deep in the Hoopla".
The LP featured two Number 1 hits: the unusual and much-maligned "We Built This City" and the Mickey Thomas-sung ballad "Sara", for me, one of the greatest AOR songs of all time.

STARSHIP - Knee Deep In The Hoopla [remastered Japan Blu-Spec CD2] (2013) inside

As said, "Knee Deep in the Hoopla" brought AOR to mainstream rock&pop listeners, and helped to make the genre much more popular.
AOR aces like Peter Beckett, JC Crowley, Martin Page or Chris Sutton not only provide backing vocals, they also co-write and arrange many of the songs.
Female vocalist Grace Slick - the only remaining member from the 'Jefferson' days - shares lead vocals with the amazing Mickey Thomas, but her presence is heavily muted, leaving the spotlight to Thomas' high-pitched arena rock wails.

As for the songs, all are potential hits.
"Before I Go" is penned by AOR genius David Roberts, while the wonderful "Desperate Heart" (written by Michael Bolton & Randy Goodrum) also appears on Bolton's cracking AOR album Everybody's Crazy released the same year.
It's also really fun to hear the late Kevin Dubrow of Quiet Riot doing a duet with Slick on "Rock Myself To Sleep", and "Love Rusts" is another highlight, an eerie duet between Thomas and Slick tracing the dissolution of a relationship.

STARSHIP - Knee Deep In The Hoopla [remastered Japan Blu-Spec CD2] (2013) back cover

"Knee Deep In The Hoopla" is one of my favorite records from the '80s. I actually wore out the cassette (remember those?) from overplaying. When I think back to those years, I still smile when I think about that music and the memories that it brings back. I picture myself with my 'new' Walkman listening to "Sara" and singing at the top of my lungs "We Built this City", without a care in the world.
This Blu-Spec CD2 sound is awesome, and Starship's "Knee Deep In The Hoopla" a must have in your Eighties collection.

Sony Music Japan Legacy Recordings '80s ~ SICP-30187

01 - We Built This City
02 - Sara
03 - Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight
04 - Rock Myself To Sleep
05 - Desperate Heart
06 - Private Room
07 - Before I Go
08 - Hearts Of The World (Will Understand)
09 - Love Rusts

Mickey Thomas – vocals
Grace Slick – vocals
Craig Chaquico – guitars
Pete Sears – bass, synth bass
Donny Baldwin – drums, electronic drums, vocals
Additional personnel:
Peter Wolf – keyboards, producer
Kevin Dubrow – additional vocal on "Rock Myself to Sleep"
Les Garland – DJ voice on "We Built This City"
Dave Jenkins – background vocal on "Desperate Heart"
Peter Beckett, JC Crowley, Siedah Garrett, Ina Wolf – additional background vocals on "Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight" and "Love Rusts"
Simon Climie, Lorraine Devon, Phillip Ingram, Martin Page, Chris Sutton, Oren Waters – additional background vocals on "Love Rusts"



Friday, November 28, 2014

WICKED SENSATION - Adrenaline Rush (2014)

WICKED SENSATION - Adrenaline Rush (2014) full


WICKED SENSATION is one of the best Melodic Hard Rock acts emerged from Germany in the last fifteen years, but sadly, cursed by endless troubles tearing them apart for major success. Despite the rocky road, mastermind / guitarist Michael Klein does not surrender to adversity and Wicked Sensation is back with their fourth album “Adrenaline Rush” released on AOR Heaven Records.

Once again, while starting the "Adrenaline Rush" recording with guru Dennis Ward behind the desk, the band was forced to find a temporary replacement to fill for original vocalist Robert Soeterboek (also in Star One). In fact their talented singer was unfortunately diagnosed with a cyst on his vocal cords with surgery (plus accordingly many months of recovery) as only valid option.
Wicked Sensation had to find the right vocalist with the skills and most of all, the same passion. The right mandatory spirit in order to perform the new songs that Klein & Soeterboek had already written.

Well, they found 'some guys' to help: at charge of the lead vocals there's no other than American veteran David Reece (Bangalore Choir, Tango Down), the best substitute for duplicate Robert Soeterboek's hailing and soulful thick voice.

There's also Jan Knopf (Ocean Bed) for the track "Blue Painted Sky" to provide more variation, and the mighty Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) in the backing vocal harmonies.
As result, Wicked Sensation have released an album jam packed with melodic greatness – great songs, catchy choruses, melodic hooks and excellent production.

Opening track "King of The World" is a big statement of intent and from there on, in the album’s eleven tracks you can't find a weak moment.
Reece’s vocals have echoes of classic British hard rock era, recalling Coverdale's Whitesnake on many tracks, like in the groovy "Leave Me Like a Fool", while "Angel in Black" has more prominent keyboards and a style close to House Of Lords.
The highly melodic (and little AORish) "Living On My Memories" is among my favorites, and the big, bruising "No More Lies" featuring an outstanding guitar solo is another highlights.
Wicked Sensation, allegedly named after the debut Lynch Mob album, work extremely well together and there is a stunning blend of keyboards and guitars on the killer mid-tempo "Desperate Nation".

WICKED SENSATION - Adrenaline Rush (2014) inside

Certainly, Wicked Sensation's “Adrenaline Rush” deserves to appear in many 'best of' lists of 2014. It's a complete Melodic Hard Rock album, with AOR touches and more muscular, edgy moments.
This is all balanced by catchy hooks and a never ending groove, helped by the stupendous production by by Dennis Ward.
If you like Bangalore Choir, Tango Down, House Of Lords, Badlands (who doesn't!) and classic British Hard Rock, you should purchase “Adrenaline Rush” blindly.
Yes, it's that good.

01. King Of The World
02. Same Old Situation
03. Misery
04. Leave Me Like A Fool
05. Blue Painted Sky
06. Angel In Black
07. Living On My Madness
08. Desperate Nation
09. Adrenaline Rush
10. No More Lies
11. This Time

David Reece – Lead Vocals
Jan Knopf – Lead Vocals on 5
Michael Klein – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Sang Vong – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Bernd Spitzner – Keyboards
Martin Mannhardt – Bass
Dirk Bruinenberg – Drums
Dennis Ward – Backing Vocals, Producer
Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) – Harmony / Backing Vocals
Eric Ragno – Keyboards
Mathias Dieth (Sinner) – Guitar



ROMEO'S DAUGHTER - Alive (2014)

ROMEO'S DAUGHTER - Alive (2014) full


Regarded as one of Britain’s finest AOR mainstream rock bands, ROMEO'S DAUGHTER are releasing "Alive", the first full live concert footage of Romeo's Daughter on stage, available as a double pack containing both a DVD and a live audio CD of the show.

Fronted by the sexy Leigh Matty - recently voted Number 5 ‘Lady Rock Singer of all time’ in Classic Rock Magazine - “Alive” was recorded at Derby Guild Hall in October 2013 as part of the 'Rapture' tour, their great comeback album.
The band’s pedigree is second to none, with each member having previously worked at the highest levels with artists such as Bonnie Tyler, Roxette, Meatloaf, John Parr and more.
Romeo's Daughter eponymous debut album released in 1988 produced by ‘Mutt’ Lange and John Parr was a big success, followed by the wonderful 'Delectable' in 1993.
After a long hiatus, the band’s last album 'Rapture' was released in 2012 and has been critically praised worldwide for its astounding songwriting, performance and production.

“Alive” is not the typical live record, it's more like a greatest hits played live, as there's few crowd noises and the overall sound is pristine and clear.
The band struck out early with material from last album Rapture, which still captures all of Romeo’s Daughter’s style and verve with a little more besides. The easy charms of the melodies and Craig Joiner’s understated guitar worm their way deep inside your brain.
The new songs as the tuneful "Bittersweet", the jumpin' "Keep Walking", the catchy "Talking Love" and the superb ballad "Lightning" (played in a more midtempo AOR manner here) are mixed with the classics like "Attracted To The Animal".

There's also a previously unreleased track called "Perfect Plan", a melodic rocker with a contagious chorus. The set also included the rarely played "Dancing Slow" from album Delectable, and one of my favorites from the band.
We have an intimate, acoustic version of "Will Be", just with Joiner on guitar and Leigh delivering an emotive vocal performance.
The back end of the set is chock full of gems from the wonderful, heart-wrenching "Cry Myself to Sleep" to the hit "Heaven in the Back Seat", all played in a more rocking versions than the originals.
The last song was the full-on rock of "Wild Child" which drew a fanatical response as it reminded us how it was ‘poached’ by Heart for their Brigade album.

ROMEO'S DAUGHTER - Alive (2014) inside

"Alive" is a very good release by Romeo's Daughter, where more than a 'live crowd' record the band offers different versions of their songs into a live stage context. They are so polished that at places sound like a studio album.
However there's a different vibration emerging from these great songs, a rocking spirit which fit the melodies really well. An enjoyable CD from start to finish while we wait for the new studio album 'Spin' to be released next year.
"Alive" is available with the first 200 copies housed in a unique limited edition presentation box, so be quick.
Very Recommended.

01. Trippin' Out
02. Attracted To The Animal
03. Keep Walking
04. Lightning
05. Perfect Plan (Previously Unreleased)
06. Talking Love
07. Bittersweet
08. Dancing Slow
09. Velvet Tongue
10. Cannot Be The One
11. Alive
12. Stay With Me
13. Will Be
14. Inside Out
15. Cry Myself To Sleep
16. Heaven In The Backseat
17. Wild Child

Leigh Matty - vocals
Craig Joiner - guitar
Ed Poole - bass
Andy Wells - drums
Volker - keyboards



Thursday, November 27, 2014

NEONFLY - Strangers In Paradise (2014)

NEONFLY - Strangers In Paradise (2014) full


Three years ago we presented exclusively here the debut from British combo NEONFLY, one of the best albums of that year without a doubt. On the strength of very good sales and successful tours with Magnum, Dragonforce and other major acts, NeonFly's experience and exposure has been elevated.
And this is reflected on their awesome second CD "Strangers In Paradise", to be released next December 1, 2014.

"Strangers In Paradise" follows the path of its fantastic predecessor, yet more bombastic and punchy than never before. NeonFly plays classic melodic hard rock, yet reinforced with a metal edge and often performed in an accessible AOR wrapper.
For that metal scenario the instrumental "Aztec Gold" followed by "Fierce Battalions" offers something nearing power metal in it's pace and kicking package. "Highways To Nowhere" brings the heaviness as well with a thundering bottom end and vocalist Willy Norton shining whith his tough and raspy vocals.
But as said, the album is a great mixture of all three parts; edgy Melodid Hard Rock, rocking AOR and commercial power metal dovetailing together, as with "Chasing The Light" and "Heart of the Sun", two of the most versatile songs in arrangement, and among my favorites.

Other highlights include the massive opener "Whispered Dreams", with a big chorus and a soaring, melodic lead vocal line work. Then "Better Angels" is catchy enough to win over casual fans and draw them in at festivals, before discovering the deeper delights this album has to offer.
The use of keyboards and orchestrations on most, if not all of these songs, help to lift them above the norm and add a touch of quality to an otherwise good track. "Sons Of Liberty" has a string section at its heart, superbly arranged at the service of the main melody.

Alternatively, NeonFly is able to calm things down with style without losing the grip.
Filled with beautiful lyrics, "Falling Star" is a massive ballad that any AOR rock band would be proud of, and "Rose In Bloom" moves upon the strength of vocal arrangements (Norton is an exceptional vocalist) carring and intense melody, with the other instruments lifting both.
But these are the strengths of Neonfly, adding Frederick Thunder's fine song composition and fiery guitar, they bring consistent and entertaining music, solid melodic hard rock tunes with a sharp sound.
It's easy to see how they've found some favor with their peers, touring with them.

NEONFLY - Strangers In Paradise (2014) inside

I don't have enough words to praise more this terrific quintet from UK; NeonFly is simply one of the most creative, talented and entertaining bands appeared in the last fifteen years.
"Strangers In Paradise" is another prove that when you have the skills, musically everything is possible; this album is plenty of catchy melodies, melodic refrains, AOR choruses, progressive arrangements, racing instrumentation... and yes, a very good production to enjoy all these awesome songs.
More than HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, very close to a must have.

01 - Whispered Dreams
02 - Highways To Nowhere
03 - Better Angels
04 - Rose In Bloom
05 - Heart Of The Sun
06 - Aztec Gold
07 - Fierce Battalions
08 - Sons Of Liberty
09 - Chasing The Night
10 - Falling Star

Willy Norton - Vocals
Frederick Thunder - Guitars
Patrick Harrington - Guitars
Paul Miller - Bass
Boris Le Gal - Drums



HONEYMOON SUITE - Racing After Midnight [Rock Candy remaster] (2013)

HONEYMOON SUITE - Racing After Midnight [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) full


Another of the Rock Candy remastered reissues from Canadians HONEYMOON SUITE is their 3rd album "Racing After Midnight".
This time with lead singer Johnnie Dee involved in the co-writing on most of the songs together with guitarist Dermot Grehan, this record was produced by talented Ted Templeman (Van Halen).

When talking about Canadian Rock acts, Honeymoon Suite definitely rank in the top ten, if not the top five from the land of the Maple Leaf. Their brand of concise and memorable melodic rock went right to the very heart of the charts, heralding a period of intense activity that cumulated in multi-Platinum success and pushing international touring schedules that seemed to have no beginning and no end.
But precisely that momentum was what delayed 3 years the recording of this third album "Racing After Midnight", and subsequently derived in the lower sales compared with the first two blockbusters.
Honeymoon Suite somehow lost too many time to capitalize their success due some logistic troubles.

First of all, the band and the recoding label wanted Bruce Fairbairn & Bob Rock as production team again, but at the time Grehan & Co. were ready (after an endlessly tour with Bryan Adams, Heart, ZZ Top and Journey) Fairbairn and Bob Rock were busy with Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet album and they would have had to wait a year to get them available.
Ted Templeman was chosen and he did a great job behind the desk, not only producing but also playing some instruments and focusing Honeymoon Suite to a more American sound.

But the band should have known this project was cursed when lead singer Dee was struck by a car at LAX airport in December 1987 and suffered multiple breaks to his leg, forcing again a delay in the album release.
Even more; the leadoff single "Love Changes Everything" (one of the highlights on the CD) failed to chart, yet not for its lack of quality.
Unfortunately, the British rock&pop duo Climie-Fisher had a European hit with the same title (different song) and of course when that hit was released in North America, Honeymoon Suite’s song died a death at radio (which would never chart two different songs with the same title at the same time).

HONEYMOON SUITE - Racing After Midnight [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) back cover

But that's history - "Racing After Midnight" resulted into another great album from Honeymoon Suite.
Templeman provided a clear Americanized production for the US market with sharper guitars, instant chorus arrangements and a more bouncy rhythm section. In short; more hard rocking as the US taste circa 1988.
Anyway, Honeymoon Suite is one of these bands that never looses its essence, and there's plenty of AOR moments on "Racing After Midnight".
The album contains an explosive collection of tracks including the aforementioned gem "Love Changes Everything", "The Other Side Of Midnight", the terrific mid-tempo "It's Over Now", "Tears On The Page" (my personal favorite), and the mind-bending cover of "Cold Look", a track written by AOR kings Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly for their fantastic I-Ten project.

This Rock Candy remaster is really good, but there's no bonus tracks, nor the hit-single "Lethal Weapon" recorded by Honeymoon Suite for the movie of the same name, due to legal reasons (the song is owned by the film studio).
Who cares... "Racing After Midnight" is a must have for any '80s melodic rock / hard rockin' AOR fan.

01 - Lookin' Out For Number One
02 - Long Way Back
03 - Cold Look
04 - Love Fever
05 - Other Side Of Midnight
06 - Love Changes Everything
07 - It's Over Now
08 - Fast Company
09 - Tears On The Page

Johnnie Dee - lead vocals
Dermot 'Derry' Grehan - guitars, vocals
Dave Betts - drums
Gary Lalonde - bass
Rob Preuss - keyboards
Ted Templeman - percussion, programming
Bobby LaKind - percussion

Produced by Ted Templeman



STEPHEN CHESNEY feat. ROBERT MASON - Annuit Coeptis (2014)

STEPHEN CHESNEY feat. ROBERT MASON - Annuit Coeptis (2014) full


Electric guitar wiz STEPHEN CHESNEY has joined forces with singer ROBERT MASON (Warrant, Lynch Mob) for a new Melodic Hard Rock project, and "Annuit Coeptis" is their debut EP featuring the fruits of the first writing & recording sessions.

Born in UK but established in California long time ago, Stephen Chesney has been working with many artists from the genre as songwriter, producer or session man, including Liberty N' Justice, Frontiers, The Flash, etc., also teaching in clinics for the prestigious Seymour Duncan guitar pickups.
Now Stephen wanted his own Melodic Hard Rock, and "Annuit Coeptis" is a delicious advanced EP for greater things to come.
On these 3 tracks we have killer, groovy, melodic and catchy songs in the typical tradition of the genre, with Robert Mason's vocals fitting these tunes like a glove.

Engineered by Guns N' Roses & Santana desk-man Rob Beaton, Chesney / Mason bring along a cast of musicians from across the musical spectrum.
"Bleed" features drummer Chris Frazier (Foreigner / Whitesnake / Steve Vai) and Perry Richardson (Firehouse) on bass along side them, while "Devils Daughter" and "Breaking Down" feature drummer Scot Coogan (Ace Frehley / Bride of Destruction) bassist Koko Powell (Edgar Winter) pianist Rob Bloise and a horns section of Jim Wheeler (Slash / Loggins & Messina) and Mitch Manker (Ray Charles).
"Annuit Coeptis" is very, very recommended to your rockin' yet melodious ears.

1 - Devil's Daughter (feat. Robert Mason)
2 - Breaking Down (feat. Robert Mason)
3 - Bleed (feat. Robert Mason)

Robert Mason - vocals
Stephen Chesney - guitars
Chris Frazier, Scot Coogan - drums
Perry Richardson, Koko Powell - bass
Rob Bloise - keyboards



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

AC/DC - Rock Or Bust [full album] (2014)

AC/DC - Rock Or Bust [full album] (2014) full


After a lot of troubles, Aussie giants AC/DC finally will release their new album titled "Rock Or Bust", the quintet first full length record since 2008.
"Rock Or Bust" features an inventive three-dimensional lenticular cover, which gives the illusion of the band's iconic logo exploding as the packaging is moved in different directions. The album will be available in various formats including vinyl LP.

It’s been a turbulent time for AC/DC. Guitarist Malcolm Young recently suffered a stroke, which left him with a case of dementia. Also, drummer Phil Rudd is currently facing charges of 'threatening to kill' along with meth and weed possession.
Regardless, AC/DC march forward, promising that neither dilemma will affect the band’s new album nor their upcoming touring plans.
Produced by Brendan O'Brien who was on board for the hugely successful Black Ice in 2008, "Rock Or Bust" opens with the title track declaring: "You hear the guitar sound/playin' nice & loud… in rock we trust, it's rock or bust".

These aren't just musicians, they're rock'n'roll soldiers. Confirmation from the band that Malcolm Young had retired due to the ongoing health issues came with an assurance the band would carry on and that Malcolm and Angus Young's nephew, Stevie Young, would fill Malcolm's role.
"Turn the amps up high ... the crowd's gonna hit the sky"... Brian Johnson howls on the opening title-track, while Phil Rudd's utterly dependable, familiar rock-solid beat is there and Angus' guitar solo kicks in at the two-minute mark like a surgical strike. It's meat and potatoes stuff for one of the biggest, loudest band's in the world, but after a difficult period for them internally, it's a mighty solid start.

"Play Ball", the lead single from the album features a typically solid, unmistakeable groove with Rudd and Williams locking into an unshakeable rhythm and Angus noodling over the top. Despite being a simple song, Johnson's ferocious wail helps hit this one out of the park, while "Rock the Blues Away" leans more towards a cleaner, gentler (if that's possible) AC/DC; less rocking and more rollicking.
"Miss Adventure", like all 11 songs here punches in around three minutes and comes not just with a cheeky title, but Stevie playing a shuffle that would make Malcolm proud. A hard to forget, catchy chorus has everyone joining in on the 'nah nah nahs' before its all over and hurriedly onto the next track.
"Dogs of War" continues the idea found with the chanting War Machine off Black Ice, while "Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder" sounds less fully realised than other simpler, more immediately attractive tracks on the album.

AC-DC - Rock Or Bust (iTunes Single) (2014)

There's very little if any fat on "Rock Or Bust", it's deliberately lean, the result of a band (or Angus at the very least) knowing exactly what's wanted upon entering the studio and wasting precious little time.
As such, there's also little in the way of the unexpected appearing around a corner, there's no real surprises and certainly no deviation from the formula that's made AC/DC one of the most popular and widely respected rock'n'roll bands of their generation.
In short; this legendary band won't waste your time. "Rock Or Bust", indeed, Rocks.

01 - Rock or Bust
02 - Play Ball
03 - Rock The Blues Away
04 - Miss Adventure
05 - Dogs of War
06 - Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
07 - Hard Times
08 - Baptism By Fire
09 - Rock The House
10 - Sweet Candy
11 - Emission Control

Brian Johnson - Vocals
Angus Young - Guitar
Stevie Young - Guitar
Cliff Williams - Bass
Phil Rudd - Drums



Monday, November 24, 2014

NUBIAN ROSE - Mental Revolution (2014)

NUBIAN ROSE - Mental Revolution (2014) full


Do you remember two years ago when we presented exclusively at 0dayrox Swedish Melodic Hard Rock act NUBIAN ROSE? Well, their low-key, self-financed debut CD resulted one of the 'albums of the year'.
Now NUBIAN ROSE are back with second album “Mental Revolution” released today with a specialized recording label back up, and I dare to say they are ready to conquer the world.

“Mental Revolution” is a high energy, power packed sophomore record with a guitar sound that is just freakin’ massive. And of course, we have the incredible vocal work of Sofia Lilja, now augmented and layered on thousand colors.
The new album is armed with killer riffs, deeper melodies and a more mature production. Sweden’s master producer and studio wizard Tobias Lindell, who has moulded the sound for 'Tear The Walls Down' and 'Address The Nation' by H.E.A.T, Hardcore Superstar, and 'Last Look Of Eden' by Europe, has mixed “Mental Revolution” and given it an outstanding and impeccable punchy sound.
Add Mats Lindfors (Scorpions, Dan Reed, Treat) mastering and we have a first class product.

When the monstrous riff that accompanies the opener “War” kicks in it’s time to buckle in and enjoy the ride. Lilja's vocals are huge throughout the record and soars with the music.
Think Jeff Scott Soto solo or Talisman, just with female vocals. But what kind vocals!
“Time Again” begins with a rumbling guitar riff and is accompanied by a thundering bass line as the song settles into a nice, deliberate mid-tempo AORish groove.
The barrage of riffs keeps coming on songs like “Illuminated Within”, “The Eye” and “Break Out”.

NUBIAN ROSE - Mental Revolution (2014) inside

With “Mental Revolution” it appears that Nubian Rose have really hit their stride. While their first album was great, this new offering is simply awesome. “Mental Revolution” is like a Melodic Hard Rock runaway train that can't be stopped, with a vibrant Scandinavian feel to die for.
Nubian Rose are ready to hit the top division for the genre, and the killer “Mental Revolution” it's a clear proof of it.

01. War
02. Time Again
03. Illuminated Within
04. The Eye
05. Tough Guys Don’t Dance
06. Break Out
07. Higher
08. You Will Never Walk Alone
09. (Taking This) Further
10. All Of Your Love

Sofia Lilja - Vocals
Christer Åkerlund - Lead Guitars
Torbjörn Weijnesjö - Rythm Guitars
Henric Uhrbom - Bass
Tomas Weijnesjö - Drums
Additional musicians:
Joakim Ahlund - Keyboards
Mats Levén - Backing Vocals
Katarina Kammarkör - Harmony Vocals



Sunday, November 23, 2014

WINGER - Winger [Rock Candy remaster +3] (2014)

WINGER - Winger [Rock Candy remaster +3] (2014) full


1988 was a definitive year for two very important entities in the Melodic Hard Rock world; the self-titled debut by WINGER established producer Beau Hill as one of the most brilliant gurus for the genre, and catapulted the band of Kip Winger & Reb Beach to the stardom.
"Winger" and their superb following album now are being digitally remastered by Rock Candy Records.

Rather unfairly Winger were lumped into the '80s hair metal scene. However, it was an easy mistake to make considering Kip Winger’s sexy looks and the band’s penchant for penning memorable and melodic rock of an altogether addictive nature.
However, beneath the fancy looks was a band of enormous depth, containing members that had already notched up years of experience and played with several demanding and high calibre artists.
Fronted by Denver native Kip Winger, and signed to industry heavyweight Atlantic Records, the rest of the band consisting of master guitarist Reb Beach (who had worked with Fiona), keyboard player Paul Taylor (previously with Alice Cooper) and former Dixie Dreggs drummer Rod Morgenstein.

Originally issued in 1988 and produced (and arranged on many parts) by man of the moment Beau Hill, "Winger" caused an immediate stir with it’s seductive blend of rocking - yet melodic - rock suggesting that Winger’s talent was very much in the same realms as Bon Jovi and Foreigner.
Indeed, such was the excitement surrounding the album that it achieved platinum status soon and made them a fixture on MTV, all helped by their good looks and fully formed songs such as "Madalaine", "Hungry", the excellent "Headed For A Heartbreak" (a Top 20 US hit single), the power ballad "Without The Night" and the superhumanly catchy "Seventeen".

Your Melodic Hard Rock collection is not complete without "Winger". It's high quality music with bombast, never-ending hooks and melodies to die for.
The Rock Candy treatment is superb, and you have 3 bonus tracks including "Never" (from Winger's second album sessions), "Higher And Higher" and a remix of "Headed For A Heartbreak".
A must of any '80s Rock collector.

01 - Madalaine
02 - Hungry
03 - Seventeen
04 - Without The Night
05 - Purple Haze
06 - State Of Emergency
07 - Time To Surrender
08 - Poison Angel
09 - Hangin' On
10 - Headed For A Heartbreak
11 - Higher And Higher (bonus track)
12 - Headed For A Heartbreak ['91 Remix] (bonus track)
13 - Never (bonus track)

Kip Winger – vocals, bass, keyboards, string arrangements
Reb Beach – guitars, vocals
Paul Taylor – keyboards, vocals
Rod Morgenstein – drums, vocals
Dweezil Zappa – left side guitar solo on 5
Beau Hill, Ira McLaughlin – backing vocals
Sandra Park, Rebecca Young, Hae Young Ham, Maria Kitsopoulos – strings



HONEYMOON SUITE - Monsters Under The Bed [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

HONEYMOON SUITE - Monsters Under The Bed [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)


Following the batch of the 3 first records by Melodic Rock wonders HONEYMOON SUITE, reissue label Rock Candy Records has digitally remastered from the original tapes "Monsters Under The Bed", the 4th album by the Canadian band.
While the first pair of Honeymoon Suite album are which made them famous and the best selling, in my opinion "Monsters Under The Bed" is the band's most complete opus.

Honeymoon Suite had an amazing run of good fortune during their '80s heyday, notching up not just hit albums but also hit singles and touring the world with impressive results. Not only were they busy being commercially successful but artistically they were also improving with each record, refining and honing their craft to new heights.
"Monsters Under The Bed", originally issued in 1991, was the band's fourth and arguably their more elaborated album thus far.
Written over an extended period of time and containing some of their best songs and melodies, the record was stuffed to rafters with hooks and riffs of a magnitude that dwarfed previous efforts.

The record sound & style surprised not only the fans, but also colleagues. "Monsters Under The Bed" is a Melodic Hard Rock album, harder then before and with a '90-'91 sound akin Giant, Damn Yankees or Night Ranger.
Derry Grehan's guitar work is hot, plenty of shredding and sharp riffs, the lead vocals tougher and the keyboards more 'heavy'.
Overseen by British-born production and engineering wizard Paul Northfield (Rush, Queensryche, Dream Theater) at Le Studio, Morin Heights in Quebec, the album is blessed with widescreen bright sonics and some melodic hair metal approach.

There's sparkling rockin' gems such as "Next To You", the fun "If Ya Love Me", the lovely single "The Road" and the utterly brilliant "Say You Don't Know Me", a contender for one of the greatest melodic hard rock anthems of the Nineties, and one of the best Honeymoon Suite tracks ever.
"Little Sister" is one of my favorites, with a pulsating rockin' AOR vibe where Giant come to mind, as well with "Come (Let Me Take You There)" later. If you need your Melodic Rock filled with lots of keyboards then pick "Next To You", another great tune.

HONEYMOON SUITE - Monsters Under The Bed [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) booklet

"Monsters Under The Bed" is a killer Melodic Hard Rock albums, one of these with a 'big sounding' rocking production and sound. I think this Rock Candy remaster has expanded even more the 'bombast'. It's indeed a fuller remastering where you can appreciate the difference with the original release.

01 - Say You Don't Know Me
02 - Bring On the Light
03 - If Ya Love Me
04 - The Road
05 - Little Sister
06 - How Long
07 - Come (Let Me Take You There)
08 - Miracle
09 - It's Only Love
10 - Next to You
11 - Stand Alone
12 - All I Wanted

Johnnie Dee - lead vocals
Dermot "Derry" Grehan - guitars, vocals
Ray Coburn - keyboards
Jorn Anderson - drums
Steve Webster - bass



Saturday, November 22, 2014


ROCKET SCIENTISTS - Refuel (2014) full


Californian Neo Proggers ROCKET SCIENTISTS return with their first full length record in six years, the astonishing "Refuel".
Taking a break from his solo career, talented keyboardist Erik Norlander regrouped the band - which is completed by Mark McCrite (guitarist / vocalist) and Don Schiff (bass, Chapman Stick) - the genesis of "Refuel" started in 2012 with the idea of marking the band's 20th anniversary of their 1993 debut release.
But the trio glued so well again that a lot of material emerged and they decided to go fo more than a celebration, and record a new CD at full force and tour for its presentation.

If you never heard Rocket Scientists you are missing something good, really good. Their music is a fabulous blend of hard progressive rock with some pop and symphonic touches throughout.
Apart from long time collaborator, exquisite drummer Gregg Bissonette (Steve Lukather, Joe Satriani, David Lee Roth), "Refuel" also features stellar performances by vocalists Lana Lane, Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge, Michael Schenker Group) and Emily McCrite along with other talented musicians.
Despite the brain on Rocket Scientists is Norlander, guitarist / vocalist Mark McCrite takes his craft to new heights on the Refuel album. McCrite is really 'musical' with the six-strings, and his way of singing truly personal. He was the man behind Lana Lane's many albums, and that's say something.

But Erik Norlander (also producer here) is a never-ending source of master keyboard wizardry. His tones are the best, and his choice of harmony is flawless. As for his keyboard technique, it's the stuff of the timeless legends that we know and love. Norlander's keyboard work especially shines on the instrumental "Galileo" keeping alive the Rocket Scientists tradition of naming an instrumental track after a famous scientist.
Besides, Norlander was even persuaded to step out with more vocals to the "Refuel" effort.
On the other hand, Don Schiff performs his usual Stick and bass guitar magic in addition to penning 2 of the album tracks, "Regenerate" and "Reconstruct". He is the foundation, the deep end of Rocket Scientists' sound.

ROCKET SCIENTISTS - Refuel (2014) inside

Guest vocalists on Refuel include Prog rock chanteuse Lana Lane (with a stirring delivery of the symphonic gem, "The Lost Years"), and long-time Norlander collaborator, hard rock icon Kelly Keeling.
Both add class and variation to the album, especially Keeling on the great "Cheshire Cat Smile", where his vocals embody all the characteristics of legendary vocalists in style, power and control.

Rocket Scientists always pleases with spectacular music played with grace and style. "Refuel" is a great piece of progressive rock, melodic and varied.
As said, the band may have got their inspiration from classic prog rock, but they also run a personal music road which includes poppy melodies, some rocking passages, imaginative arrangements, etc. A lot to discover.
One thing I like about Rocket Scientists, is they believe the music comes first and never over indulge in needless solos nor do they stretch out songs for the sake of being prog.
Norlander, behind the desk, has delivered another production full of depth and color, where all the players have room to display their excellent musicianship.
Very Recommended.

01 - Refuel
02 - She's Getting Hysterical
03 - Martial
04 - It's Over
05 - Regenerate
06 - The Fading Light
07 - The World Waits for You
08 - Reconstruct
09 - Cheshire Cat Smile (feat. Kelly Keeling)
10 - Rome's About to Fall
11 - Galileo
12 - The Lost Years (feat. Lana Lane)

Mark McCrite - vocals, guitars
Erik Norlander - keyboards, vocals
Don Schiff - NS/Sticks, bass, cello, viola, mandolin
Gregg Bissonette - drums
Lana Lane - vocals
Kelly Keeling - vocals
Emily McCrite - vocals
Jon Papenbrook, Rich Hofmann, Eric Jorgensen - horns



Friday, November 21, 2014

LAWLESS - R.I.S.E. (2014)

LAWLESS - R.I.S.E. (2014) full


Both stalwarts from legendary act Demon, Paul Hume and Neil Ogden, decided a couple of years ago to try something different, still hard rocking and classic inspired but more modern & dynamic, and LAWLESS born. After a very good debut, they are back with their sophomore release "R.I.S.E." released today.
So, what have the Lawless boys served up for their second effort? Can it live up to the first record?
Well it's a resounding YES from me.

As with their debut Rock Savage, "R.I.S.E." is another mission accomplished for Lawless, but better and augmented. Sharp riffs and a brisk rhythm section keep things heavy and steady, significantly forgoing a powerful sound but not without significant groove and melody.
Lawless mix classic hard rock with classic British metal, something that blurs the lines between the two, always with melody as main focus.
Opening the album with an anthemic rocking tribute – full of passion and genuine pride called "1914 (Ghosts of No Mans Land)" honouring the brave soldiers who fought during the Great War which ties the album into the centenary celebrations - Lawless head into the what would once be classed as NWoBHM, yet more modern.

LAWLESS - R.I.S.E. (2014) inside

But as heard later in some songs in this style - like "Pain" or in "How Long, Lawless cannot escape adding strong a melody to each track and, somewhat surprisingly at times, rich vocal harmonies. Notable for this is the ballad "Song For A Friend".
There's also a very good classic Brit metal in "Dead Man Walking", akin '80s Black Sabbath / Tony Martin, awesome track for sure.

But there's another side of Lawless; classic hard rock.
"The End of the World" is very classy with a distinct bass line you hear from the start, alongside another clever vocal arrangement. This is a remarkable Lawless strength; the vocals are consistently good and don't follow the same formula, they change to suit the music.
Another standout cut in this vein is "Kiss My Glass", significant for it's American groove wrapped in a liveliness in the Damn Yankees style. A highlight.
Then "Diamond In The Rough" brings some 'US Whitesnake' to the table with a terrific chorus and a pump recalling as well Thunder.

LAWLESS - R.I.S.E. (2014) banner

"R.I.S.E." is a killer, solid heavy rock album with bits of classic British metal thrown in and a stadium hard rock feel here and there.
Lawless stays the course of their debut but this time more meaty, consistent, and succeeds with their melodic and metalish hard rock. The vocals are top notch, Howie G's delivers blistering guitar solos in the vein of Dave Meniketti (Lawless has much of Y&T in their sound) and production is crisp, punchy as it should be for this kind of material.
I think any classic hard rock / metal fan would find something to appreciate here. Definitely worth getting hold of.
Highly Recommended.

01. 1914 (Ghosts of No Man's Land)
02. Pain
03. Rise
04. Twisted and Burned
05. Song for a Friend
06. Kiss My Glass
07. Dead Man Walking
08. Heavens Raining
09. How Long
10. Diamond in the Rough
11. Is This the End of the World

Paul Hume (Demon, ex-Prisoner) - Vocals, Guitar
Howie G (ex-Persian Risk) - Guitars
Josh (Tabbie) Williams - Bass
Neil Ogden (Demon) - Drums



SOUNDGARDEN - Echo Of Miles: The Originals (2014)

SOUNDGARDEN - Echo Of Miles: The Originals (2014) full


A 'storm' is brewin’ and there’s much more of where that came from: some days ago SOUNDGARDEN presented their new song "Storm", which served as a precursor to a much bigger announcement that they have a new 3-CD rarities collection on the way titled ‘Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path.’
As stated, the collection is broken down into three discs and fans will be able to get their hands on this massive set at the end of November. The three albums are titled ‘Originals,’ ‘Covers’ and ‘Oddities’ and while it’s a rarities set, there are 7 previously unreleased tracks that are part of the release

"Echo Of Miles: The Originals" mostly consists of B-sides, though "Kristi" and "Storm" are among the new songs that turn up on the effort.
The new tracks were recorded with producer Jack Endino in Seattle back in May.
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil has been dedicating his time to curating ‘Echo of Miles’ and he says of the set: “As album sets go, this one has been fun to collect and compile over the decades. I personally may have referenced this project a number of times over the years, going back almost twenty of them to the mid-nineties”.

SOUNDGARDEN - Echo Of Miles: The Originals (2014) cd photo

"Echo Of Miles: The Originals" is plenty of Soundgarden B-sides along with some soundtrack and compilation selections, which go back as far as "Sub Pop Rock City," originally included as part of the 1988 compilation, Sub Pop 200.
The two unreleased tracks on this disc are "Kristi," a 1996 outtake from the Down On The Upside sessions which is reportedly drummer Matt Cameron's favorite Soundgarden song, and "Storm" a brand-new track recorded earlier this year.
Although these songs were released in the past, all are rare B-sides and really hard to find.

01 - Heretic
02 - Fresh Deadly Roses
03 - H.I.V. Baby
04 - Cold Bitch
05 - Show Me
06 - She's A Politician
07 - Birth Ritual
08 - She Likes Surprises
09 - Blind Dogs
10 - Bleed Together
11 - Black Rain
12 - Live To Rise
13 - Kristi (previously unreleased)
14 - Storm (new track 2014)

Chris Cornell – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Kim Thayil – lead guitar
Ben Shepherd – bass, backing vocals
Matt Cameron – drums, backing vocals



Thursday, November 20, 2014

GEOFF TATE's QUEENSRYCHE - Frequency Unknown [Billy Sherwood's Mix] (2014)

GEOFF TATE's QUEENSRYCHE - Frequency Unknown [Billy Sherwood's Mix] (2014) full

* the Real one

"Frequency Unknown", the only album released the Geoff Tate-fronted version of QUEENSRŸCHE following his dismissal from the band, arrived in April 2013 amidst a swarm of controversy. The group had just split in two, with Tate leading an all-new group of musicians while the remaining members of QUEENSRŸCHE carried on with a new vocalist, Todd La Torre.

Tate's version of QUEENSRŸCHE included longtime associate Kelly Gray plus former Quiet Riot / Ozzy bassist Rudy Sarzo and legendary AC/DC and DIO drummer Simon Wright. This group quickly recorded and released "Frequency Unknown", and though the album earned some praise from critics, complaints began to surface about the quality of the album's mix.
In response, Cleopatra Records commissioned multi-instrumentalist and producer Billy Sherwood (of YES) to remix the entire album.
However, due to schedule restrictions, Sherwood was never able to complete his mix... until now.

GEOFF TATE's QUEENSRYCHE - Frequency Unknown [Billy Sherwood's Mix] (2014) inside

Then, this is it: Cleopatra Recs is presenting a special limited deluxe edition reissue of "Frequency Unknown" with a slightly different coloured artwork, including the original album plus a full-length bonus disc of Sherwood's complete reimagining of the record.
Many of the songs were rearranged almost from scratch, with Sherwood adding orchestral arrangements and his own unique spin on these compositions.

I liked "Frequency Unknown", really. But it's true there were some mixing and mastering flaws.
Now Billy Sherwood has done a clean mastering, at the point we can call this release a 'remastered reissue', while his mix made all instruments more audible, transparent. Many guitar solos have been edited for better result, and the drums sound much, much better now.
But Billy also has added 'some stuff' not heard in the original release (just listen "Everything" as example). And I like it a lot. This sounds almost like a completely different album.
Judge by yourselves...

Frequency Unknown / Billy Sherwood's Mix :

01. Cold
02. Dare
03. Give It To You
04. Slave
05. In The Hands Of God
06. Running Backwards
07. Life Without You
08. Everything
09. Fallen
10. The Weight Of The World

Geoff Tate - vocals
Rudy Sarzo - bass
Robert Sarzo, Kelly Gray - guitar
Simon Wright - drums
Randy Gane - keyboards

Chris Poland - guest guitar
Dave Meniketti - guest guitar
Brad Gillis - guest guitar
Ty Tabor - guest guitar
K.K. Downing - guest guitar
Craig Locicero - guest guitar
Lita Ford - guest guitar



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

KNIGHT AREA - Hyperdrive (2014)

KNIGHT AREA - Hyperdrive (2014) full


Dutch quintet KNIGHT AREA have been around for a while (their last was featured here on the blog) releasing some truly compelling Neo-prog albums in the vein of IQ. Their new, fifth CD "Hyperdrive" would only loosely fit that description, if at all.
Every band linked to progressive music at some point of their career flirts with streamlining their sound, and this is what happened with Knight Area here: an exciting Neo-prog, hard rock and AOR crossover.

While still retaining some of Neo-prog stylings like melody and lots of keyboards, "Hyperdrive" adds more punch to their sound through hard rocking crunchy guitars riffs plus a powerful rhythm section, and the choruses have more in common with modern AOR than anything else.
Additionally, most of the material here is in 'song format', weighing in at the three-to-four-minute mark but there’s an impressive amount of music packed into the 11 tracks, plenty enough to keep fans entertained and fully sated.

KNIGHT AREA - Hyperdrive (2014) inside

The AOR feel is accentuated by singer Mark Smits' pipes evoking the huskiness seen in the likes of John Wetton. To sum up, at many places "Hyperdrive" sounds like the good old Asia but with more crunchy, sharp guitar work.
Just take opener "Afraid Of The Dark"; the song immediately hits you with a stratospheric, big guitar riff, ultramelodic singing and muscular rhythm section, while the chorus is a belter. There are lashings of keyboards layered throughout as well as an engaging guitar solo.
In fact this CD could be called a hard-rocking version of Asia or Journey, with passages comparable to recent offers by Arena and Threshold. A hard rock that, in line with its adultness, is pompous, slow and stately.

But the record is varied, and always interesting.
"The Lost World" has the feel of a power ballad about it but it is also very moody. The pace of the opener may be reduced, but the conviction certainly isn’t. It’s a bold track that features more sumptuous melodies that sit around a stomping tempo. It includes a great synth solo but it is Smit’s stellar vocal performance which sets this track apart, full of passion and honesty.
On the other hand, "Bubble" is pure Neo-prog, heavily influenced from the UK prog rock scene. It constantly reminds me of early Marillion with a catchy chorus full of layered vocals.

I could mention something positive and worthwhile about every single track.
To make it short, there's a rocking vibe on "Crimson Skies", modern AOR in "Avenue Of Broken Dreams", '80s melodic rock leanings in "Running Away", while hte beautiful ballad "Songs From The Past" offers overtones of Journey / Queen.
This impressive album closes with "Hypnotised", a longer more sprawling composition that closes in epic fashion thanks to an uplifting yet bitter-sweet melody overlaid by a genuinely spine-tingling guitar solo courtesy of talented Arjen Lucassen. It’s the fitting and dramatic way to end such a great record.

KNIGHT AREA - Hyperdrive (2014) back cover

"Hyperdrive" is a killer album. You are treated to excellent musicianship, great melodies, sing-along choruses and above all, a collection of songs that are a joy to listen to time and again.
Knight Area exude professionalism. What you get form this quintet each and every time, is a quality product where every small detail has been considered. The whole album is wrapped up in a fantastic production that offers the clarity required from this type of music but doesn’t rob any of the power from the compositions. Each instrument is given the room it needs to shine, nothing is lost in the mix and yet there’s a lushness about the whole thing that shines through and enhances the entire listening experience.
With very few exceptions, on "Hyperdrive" we are presented with 'hit' songs destined for the hard rock fans, with influences from '80s prog to modern AOR.

Why Knight Area are still so relatively unknown is beyond me; these guys are awesome. "Hyperdrive" is in my 'Best Of The Year' list for sure.

01 - Afraid Of The Dark
02 - The Lost World
03 - Bubble
04 - This Day
05 - Crimson Skies
06 - Avenue Of Broken Dreams
07 - Living In Confusion
08 - Stepping Out
09 - Running Away
10 - Songs From The Past
11 - Hypnotised

Mark Smit - vocals
Gerben Klazinga - keyboards
Pieter van Hoorn - drums
Peter Vink - bass and taurus pedals
Mark Bogert - guitars
Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Stream of Passion, Star One) - guitars



VALENTINE (Robby) - The Queen Album (2014)

VALENTINE - The Queen Album (2014) full


In the recent years, Dutch master ROBBY VALENTINE has been done an amazing Queen Tribute Show with a great full-band performance and at the same time recorded his own studio versions of these timeless songs. Because his first two Queen tribute albums 'A tribute to Queen 1' (2011) en 'A Tribute to Queen 2' (2012) are sold out, Valentine has decided to combine them together with 5 brand-new recorded songs into his ultimate Queen tribute record: "The Queen Album".

Apart from his incredible take on Queen hits like "Bohemian Rhapsody", "We Will Rock You" or "We Are The Champions", Robby offers a set that has not only covered the classic songs, but also some lesser known gems from the Queen catalogue.
"The Queen Album" also features new, 2014 versions of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Dear Friend", plus 5 previously unreleased tracks not present on the Tribute CD's (check the tracklist below).

VALENTINE - The Queen Album (2014) booklet

All the covers on "The Queen Album" have been meticulously crafted to recreate Queen's unique sound, showing that Robby Valentine not only got a real knowledge of these compositions, he also nails the essence, the spirit from how these songs were created.
On "The Queen Album" he has again played and recorded all instruments himself, as done all vocals. All arrangements have been recorded in full detail, thus succeeding in delivering the perfect Queen sound.
Indeed, all versions are faithful to the originals, except the quite modern take on "We Will Rock You" akin Def Leppard.

VALENTINE - The Queen Album (2014) back cover

"The Queen Album" not only is recommended to Queen fans, but also lovers of quality music in general.
Robby Valentine is the perfect musician, and even has managed to put these 24 tracks / 78 minutes into one single disc.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Bohemian Rhapsody
02 - Crazy Little Thing Called Love [2014 version]
03 - Save Me
04 - Flick Of The Wrist
05 - Lily Of The Valley
06 - Don't Stop Me Now
07 - Killer Queen [previously unreleased]
08 - Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy
09 - Ogre Battle
10 - All Dead, All Dead [previously unreleased]
11 - Mustapha [previously unreleased]
12 - Fat Bottomed Girls
13 - Jealousy
14 - Bicycle Race
15 - '39
16 - Tie Your Mother Down
17 - Dear Friends [2014 version]
18 - Seven Seas Of Rhye
19 - Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon [prev. unreleased]
20 - Under Pressure
21 - Somebody To Love [previously unreleased]
22 - We Will Rock You
23 - We Are The Champions
24 - God Save The Queen

Robby Valentine – all instruments, all vocals



Monday, November 17, 2014

CRASH MIDNIGHT - Lost In The City (2014)

CRASH MIDNIGHT - Lost In The City (2014) full


I think the best way to describe Boston rockers CRASH MIDNIGHT and their debut CD "Lost In The City" released today, November 18th, is classic rock meets '80s US hard rock.
These young hard rockers bring tons of energy to the table and while they are not reinventing the wheel or cultivating a new species of metal, they do a great job of crafting spicy and memorable songs.

There are plenty of songs to groove and rock along to on "Lost In The City". Singer Shaun Solo has a well trained classic rock voice inspired by the greats, while the '70s guitar tone remembers the early days of another Boston band that goes by the name of Aerosmith.
Alongside the rock steady bass and drums keeping the driving rhythm section pounding with force, the strong guitar solos complement the songs very well and harken back to a time before the axe became a weapon of flash and no slash.

A couple aspects more that a great hard / classic rock band needs are a good set of riffs and catchy choruses and Crash Midnight provides aplenty.

Take a pick of "151", the band’s hometown anthem "Welcome To Boston", the wild west rodeo in "Long As It’s Free" or the dirty "Diamond Boulevard". "City Girl" brings to mind Steven Tyler & Co. when they used to rock hard, while on the kickin' "Made for the Money" I hear some early Guns N' Roses.
One of the most infectious is "Nowhere To Go"; this cooker comes in with a catchy riff with a strong verse line followed by a great chorus. An erupting solo adds in some zest and all in all makes for a grade A rock song.
"Somewhat Yesterday" starts off and you immediately close your eyes, it's the album ballad, an acoustically filled melodic tune with a beautiful southern flavor.
The bluesy uptempo groove of "Take It" has something in common with Great White, then "You're the Only One" ends the record with lots of swagger.

CRASH MIDNIGHT - Lost In The City (2014) inside

Crash Midnight, Boston’s newest contribution to the rock and roll world, is demanding attention. In this pop saturated music industry, Crash Midnight delivers howling vocals, screaming guitars and hard hitting drums that pays homage to the greats but with their own spin.
I don't quite want to say that this band could be the Aerosmith for the next generation, but they are certainly capable of leaving their own footprint in the hard rock realm. They have the chops and the ability to do so and they have the opportunity to prove that with "Lost In The City".
Strongly Recommended.

01 - 151
02 - City Girl
03 - Diamond Boulevard
04 - Goin' Down the Drain
05 - Long As It's Free
06 - Made for the Money
07 - Nowhere to Go
08 - Outta Control
09 - Somewhere Yesterday
10 - Take It
11 - Welcome to Boston
12 - You're the Only One

Shaun Soho - lead vocals
Alex Donaldson - guitars
Todd Friedman - guitars
Bo - bass
Andrew Merkle - drums



E19 Gary Schutt's PALISADE - Lost In Paradise (2014)

E19 Gary Schutt's PALISADE - Lost In Paradise (2014) full


Last month were presented on the blog the first 2 albums by E19, the new moniker used by talented multi-instrumentalist Gary Schutt (known for being part of Jeff Scott Soto's band) to release his songs penned in the late '80s / early '90s but freshly recorded.
Now it's time for "Lost In Paradise", originally released under the title 'Gary Schutt's Palisade – Lost In Paradise', now re-issued by Gary under the new band name E19 and remastered by himself.

E19 is a fictitious band to showcase a collection of Schutt's earlier music written during the '80s and '90s, a wonderful collection of Melodic Rock / AOR staples composed 25 years ago but freshly recorded entirely by Schutt.
On "Lost In Paradise" you get the usual charm of Gary's voice, a definite Eighties classic Melodic Hard Rock vibe and some quite impressive guitar work throughout.
Opening with the immensely catchy guitar fuelled rocker "The Palisades", the CD gets underway to a great frisky start. There's a catchy Harem Scarem / TNT approach of "Say Goodbye" with its big Ronni Le Tekro influenced guitar chops, and the main melody rule.
The funky melodic rock of "Dirty Mind" is hugely infectious - one of my favourite songs on the album - whilst title track "Lost In Paradise" has a looser AOR / melodic feel in the killer chorus.
The furious Dokken / Vinnie Vincent attack of "Line of Fire" is again hyped with exhausting guitars and really rips. This is hard rockin' top stuff.

Next up is the very highlight (among all the other superb tunes) called "Stranger In Your Heart". If you love your '80s AOR layered in keyboards giving it that melodic blend akin Fortune or Harlan Cage, then you'll die with this one.
The laid back melodious feel of "With a Stranger" again impresses thanks to the nifty catchy guitars, then "Imperfect" is poppy and melodic AOR, a radio-friendly baby.
Another delicious track is the ultra-melodic "Believe" where Schutt's vocals take the center role over a magical musical atmosphere.
More elaborated is "First Love", at the start the song sounds slightly experimental before it launches into a very guitar orientated anthemic melodic hard rocker, during the song the style dips again sounding cool with strange but effective keys, thus making it one of the standout songs. Excellent track.
Last up is the raise-your-fist "Hot Teaser", a very punchy catchy Dokken influenced rocker, perfectly ending a fantastic album.

"Lost In Paradise" is a phenomenal slice of late classic '80s Melodic Hard Rock / AOR. Every song is bold, lavish and feature monster catchy guitar riffs, lovely keys, big reverb drumming and huge vocal choruses with tons of vocal harmonies.
Schutt's impressive axe work throughout is still a focal point in his songs and sound awesome, but Schutt is a smart musician with a fine sense for melody and a knack for writing catchy songs.
Believe me, "Lost In Paradise" is a Melodic Hard Rock / AOR fan's wet dream.

01 - The Palisades
02 - Say Goodbye
03 - Dirty Mind
04 - Lost in Paradise
05 - Line of Fire
06 - Stranger to Your Heart
07 - Why Do You Treat Me This Way?
08 - With a Stranger
09 - Imperfect
10 - Believe
11 - First Love
12 - Hot Teaser

All songs written, performed, produced, arranged, engineered & mixed by Gary Schutt.
Remaster 2014 by Gary Schutt.



Friday, November 14, 2014

STONEFLOWER - Crack A Little Smile [reissue] (2014)

STONEFLOWER - Crack A Little Smile [reissue] (2014) full


The other day we presented here at 0dayrox the return of Norwegians STONEFLOWER with a new album after 11 years sice their debut. Well, STONEFLOWER are re-issuing the first album as well, the genuinely melodic "Crack A Little Smile".

Frode Henriksen (vocals), Tom Sennerud (guitar), Jan Johanessen (guitar) & Svenn R Huneide (bass), do all have experience from playing in bands such as Diezel, Tindrum, Brod & Cirkus, Alarm Justin Case, Rondo, Embee Normann, etc.
Ex- Stage Dolls member Steinar Krogstad, appears as guest on drums throughout the whole album. And Dag Bordstu handle all keys (including a mean Hammond from time to time) here.
If you heard StoneFlower's other album you know what you will find here, if not, let me tell you they have their roots set firmly in '80s Melodic Rock. Their sound is exceptionally rich, and the vocal harmonies at times border on stunning.
Think Stage Dolls, Toto, Da Vinci, Return, Nelson, Southern Sons, On The Rise and Michael Learns To Rock (for the poppier part), with great vocal harmonies, almost perfect arrangements and a natural inclination to write catchy songs.

"Baby, Baby, Wont Ya' Rock My Nation" - the words are blasting out through your loudspeaker on opener "Rock My Nation" and you want to crank up the volume, louder & louder. It has a mind-catcher refrain and offer a light-AOR harmony, while following "Songs Of Love" is edgier and looks at hard rock graced by immaculate melodic choruses and a fine Dag's keyboard solo.
On "If U Say" and "Whenever" we can taste very commercial melodies recalling of Canadians BLVD first album and I'm not tired to listen to them again and again, but with the refined "Only U" and "Sign On", Frode & Co offer the poppiest tunes with very lovely harmonies all around.

STONEFLOWER - Crack A Little Smile [reissue] (2014) back cover

"A Little Bit Of Money" follows the cheerful and catchy tradition of Scandinavian AOR with traces of Da Vinci, "Stop The Thunder" is more melodic rock and is followed by a delicate ballad called "Winter", based upon piano and sweet vocals.
"Torn To Pieces" is a pompous and mighty song (catchy melodic rock again) that will satisfy the maniacs of the genre, while "Rat Razor" is a quick, simple and effective closing tune.

I you like the influences mentioned above, name it classy Melodic Rock with AOR touches, "Crack A Little Smile" will do precisely this: put a big smile all over yer sad and lonesome face.
This is the kind of records that will appeal to many: traditional melodic rockers, '80s AOR addicts, and classic FM Rock aficionados will undoubtedly get a kick out of this.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Rock My Nation
02 - Songs of Love
03 - If U Say
04 - Whenever
05 - Only U
06 - Sign On
07 - A Little Bit of Money
08 - Stop the Thunder
09 - Winter
10 - Torn to Pieces
11 - Rat Razor

Frode Henriksen (vocals)
Tom Sennerud (guitar)
Jan Johanessen (guitar)
Svenn R Huneide (bass)
Dag Bordstu (keyboads)
Steinar Krogstad (drums)



QUADRA NIXX - Quadra Nixx (2014)

QUADRA NIXX - Quadra Nixx (2014) full


The story goes that Melodic Rockers QUADRA NIXX were formed in the '80s in the North Carolina area, and although the group achieved regional and national notice during the early Nineties, as many very good acts from the East Coast never got signed by a major label. You gotta move to California to get a chance back then.
But never it's too late, and QUADRA NIXX is releasing their selftitled debut in 2014.

QUADRA NIXX is, pure and simple, second half of the '80s / early '90s US Melodic Rock.
The band love Journey's Raised On Radio era, this is obvious in the highly harmonized choruses - 4 of the 5 members provide backing vocals - and of course, you have keyboard infusions all over, catchy refrains and a pumping rhythm section.

QUADRA NIXX - Quadra Nixx (2014) booklet

Guitarist Marc Jackson is the man who delivers some edge to the songs with a - guess what - a Neal schon style in the rhythm guitars and riffs, although during the well elaborated & effective solos he brings to mind White Lion's Vitto Bratta.
On the other hand, the lead vocals of Jan Fields are inspired by Steve Perry, however his timbre is more in the middle spectre and very personal. His way of singing has a dynamic and a expression that would have made the man a star in 1984.

You can't go wrong with ultra-melodic, swirling keyboard filled tunes like "Keep The Fire Burning", "Hollywood", "Key To Your Heart", the AORish midtempo "Miranda" or the power ballad "Steal My Heart".
If the title "Look Who's Crying Now" is not a Journey homage, then what... however the song is one of the more rocking numbers on the album with a hard rock edge, as the very White Lion-esque "Daddy's Little Girl" and closer "Never Left", combining Steve Perry like harmony vocals and a sharp riff.

QUADRA NIXX - Quadra Nixx (2014) cd photo

QUADRA NIXX is a fun-static, wonderful trip back to the late '80s / early '90s US Melodic Hard Rock.
Although production could be better, you don't care as all the songs - and I mean all - featured on this CD are Top Notch for the genre, with great arrangements, terrific harmony vocals and golden choruses.
Add to that the fact the quintet are really, really skilled musicians, performing on high level throughout.
This is a must for any fan of the genre - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

01 - What If I
02 - Daddy's Little Girl
03 - Hollywood
04 - Keep The Fire Burning
05 - Key To Your Heart
06 - Calling For You
07 - Look Who's Crying Now
08 - Miranda
09 - Steal My Heart
10 - Never Left

Jan Fields – Lead Vocals
Marc Jackson – Guitar, Vocals
Tim King – Keyboards, Vocals
Jon Young – Bass, Vocals
Jack Perry – Drums



Thursday, November 13, 2014

MAGNUM - On Christmas Day (2014)

MAGNUM - On Christmas Day (2014) full


British melodic hard rock legends MAGNUM are releasing tomorrow the EP “On Christmas Day” on Steamhammer / SPV. “On Christmas Day” is a 2014 re-recorded new version of the song which appeared on the original version of the 1994 album Rockart.
The single contains a long version of the song, a shorter radio edit and on top, a brand new version of “Born To Be King”.

“On Christmas Day” is about commemorating 100 years since Xmas Day 1914, when both the Germans and English called temporary truces so that they could mingle and play football matches in ‘no man’s land’ during World War 1.

MAGNUM - On Christmas Day (2014) back

Guitarist and songwriter Tony Clarkin reveals how it all happened; "It was Olly Hahn at SPV/Steamhammer who said if could I write a Christmas song? I replied we had already had done that in the past and told him about ‘On Christmas Day’ and that it was on the ‘Rockart’ album, so if he wanted to check that out to see if it was suitable, because it's not the normal Christmas song that people would expect.
I had not heard it myself for a long, long time. We were in Germany at the time and so we all sat round the computer to listen to the track; we were all impressed, and I was really looking forward to redoing it.
That's really the story of how it came about; but I also thought a new recording of "Born To Be King" (originally appeared on 1990’s Goodnight LA) could also fit with On Christmas Day as a strong B-side for the whole package!"

Bass player Alan Barrow, who created the single’s artwork, explains that the idea for the cover "was based on some documented facts about the men in the trenches around Christmas in 1914. Carol singing was said to have been heard going back and forth between the trenches from both sides.
Some documents state that on Christmas day a small amount of soldiers ventured in to ‘no mans land’ where they exchanged food, cigarettes and souvenirs. There are unconfirmed reports that a game of football was also played."

MAGNUM - On Christmas Day (2014) disc photo

“On Christmas Day” precedes MAGNUM's another European Tour starting 23/11 in Switzerland
The digital version will be available worldwide (except UK) on November 14th, the 10″ vinyl version in Germany on November 14th and Europe (except UK) on November 17th.
Great Britain will have to wait until December 1st to see “On Christmas Day”, released on a 3-track MCD.

1 - On Christmas Day 2014 (radio edit) [4:13]
2 - Born To Be King 2014 [5:30]
3 - On Christmas Day 2014 [7:14]

Bob Catley - vocals
Tony Clarkin - guitars
Mark Stanway - keyboards
Al Barrow - bass
Harry James - drums



BRYAN ADAMS - Reckless (30th Anniversary Remaster + Previously Unreleased) [2014]

BRYAN ADAMS - Reckless (30th Anniversary Remaster + Previously Unreleased) [2014] full


"Reckless" turned Canadian BRYAN ADAMS into a worldwide rock star. Timeless hits like “Run to You,” “Heaven” and “Summer of ‘69” pushed sales of the album to over 12 million copies. Now Universal will be releasing a special "Reckless 30th Anniversary Edition" to celebrate the milestone album, and will be available on various packages.

There's a box set which features a remastered version of the original 10-track album plus seven previously unissued bonus tracks, a 1985 BBC concert performance, director Steve Barron’s Reckless: The Movie and a Blu-ray audio disc with high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround mixes, all housed in a DVD case-sized hardback book.
Typical of a package such as this, the 30th anniversary Reckless will also be available in other formats including a 2-CD Deluxe Edition, a remastered single disc version of just the original 10-song album, a 2-LP vinyl edition with the original album and selected bonus tracks, and as a stand-alone Blu-Ray Pure Audio release.

But honestly - and while the live 1985 BBC concert performance is cool and surely the video too - all you need is the main "Reckless" album remastered in all its glory, and the 7 previously unreleased tracks form the album's recording sessions.
Obviously, these great unknown tracks reflects a brilliant songwriting era from the Jim Vallance / Bryan Adams team.
Of utmost interest to fans will be the actual inclusion of the title track “Reckless” which due to deadlines did not make it onto the original album.

BRYAN ADAMS - Reckless (30th Anniversary Remaster + Previously Unreleased) [2014] back

The "Reckless 30th Anniversary Edition" reissue has been personally overseen by Bryan working with many of the original team including Bob Clearmountain, Bob Ludwig and Vallance.
This 2014 deluxe remaster done by maestro Bob Ludwing enticingly enhanced these already fantastic songs.
A Must Have.

01 - One Night Love Affair
02 - She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'
03 - Run To You
04 - Heaven
05 - Somebody
06 - Summer Of '69
07 - Kids Wanna Rock
08 - It's Only Love
09 - Long Gone
10 - Ain't Gonna Cry
11 - Let Me Down Easy (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)
12 - Teacher, Teacher (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)
13 - The Boys Night Out (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)
14 - Draw The Line (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)
15 - Play To Win (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)
16 - Too Hot To Handle (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)
17 - Reckless (Bonus Track, Previously Unreleased)

Bryan Adams - vocals, guitars, piano, harmonica, hand claps
Keith Scott - guitars, backing vocals
Jim Vallance - percussion, songwriting
Tommy Mandel - keyboards
Dave Taylor - bass
Pat Steward - drums, backing vocals
Mickey Curry - drums
Steve Smith - drums on "Heaven"
Jody Perpick - backing vocals
Tina Turner - lead vocals on "It's Only Love"



ROGER TAYLOR - Best (2014)

ROGER TAYLOR - Best (2014) full


Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee and Queen founder member ROGER TAYLOR is presenting a retrospective of his fruitful solo career, simply entitled "Best".
In an inversion of the old saw about children, drummers are usually heard but not seen. That’s never applied, however, to Roger Taylor — who wrote or co-wrote a number of Queen hits, and continues to co-lead the band today with Brian May.

When Taylor wasn't penning 'Radio Ga Ga' or 'A Kind of Magic', both of them charttoppers, he was constructing his own well-received, if sadly sporadic, solo records.
Taylor issued the Top 20 UK smash Fun in Space in 1981, then Strange Frontier in ’84, followed by Happiness? a decade later. The latter two were Top 30 UK hits, as well. Fifteen years separated Electric Fire and 2013’s Fun on Earth but, as the retro-impish title of the latter makes clear, Taylor has lost none of his wit, passion or style along the way.

What "Best" give listeners — in particular those in the U.S., where Taylor for some reason has never quite caught on apart from Queen — is the chance to put all of that into context.
The 18-song CD, a first-ever such collection from Taylor, might be the best place to start for anyone who only knows Taylor as the guy bashing away behind the late Freddie Mercury.

ROGER TAYLOR - Best (2014) back cover

In some ways, Queen’s essential dichotomy — between straight-ahead rock crunch and outsized pomp-pop — lives inside of Taylor has much as anyone else. He shows an affinity for the former on tracks like “Let’s Get Crazy,” (originally found on 1981’s Fun in Space), while making the case for his own role in the latter via rangy, conceptual moments like “Magic is Loose” or the No. 49 UK hit “Future Management (You Don’t Need Nobody Else)” from the same project — and the title track from the next.

You also get glimpses, along the way, of where Queen will go. For instance, Taylor began to illustrate an affinity for darkly emotional balladry, something that would move to the fore through Mercury’s final illness.
By the time Taylor released this set’s “Foreign Sand,” a No. 26 UK hit from Happiness? in 1994, he was an old hand at it.
A surprisingly edgy attitude leaks out of “A Nation of Haircuts,” which may be his best pure rock moment, balanced on Best by “The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Broken),” a delicately tender ballad from Taylor’s gritty-voiced recent release — not to mention 1977’s “(I Wanna) Testify,” which finds Taylor turning an old Parliaments favorite into the best Queen song they never recorded.
At the same time, the No. 66 UK hit “Man on Fire,” another standout song from Strange Frontier included on Best, boasts the kind of every-man theme that would have never worked in Queen.

I don't know you, but Taylor's "Strange Frontier" CD from 1984 is one of my favorite '80s rock&pop albums.
Songs like the pumping "Man on Fire", "Beautiful Dreams", the great title track "Strange Frontier" or "I Cry for You" (originally intended for a Queen album) made this record a mandatory listen for any Eighties fan.
Is there anything on "Best" that supersedes 'One Vision' or 'Under Pressure', two more Queen songs that Taylor co-wrote? Maybe, maybe not.
But there’s plenty here to frame those triumphs, in particular for anyone unnoticed to Taylor’s side projects. A broader perspective on what Taylor — a drummer never content to bring up the rear — contributed to Queen.

1 - Future Management (You Don't Need Nobody Else)
2 - I Wanna Testify
3 - Let's Get Crazy
4 - Magic Is Loose
5 - Strange Frontier
6 - Man On Fire
7 - Beautiful Dreams
8 - Nazis 1994
9 - Foreign Sand (with Yoshiki)
10 - Everybody Hurts Sometime
11 - Happiness
12 - Surrender
13 - Where Are You Now?
14 - A Nation Of Haircuts
15 - Tonight
16 - No More Fun
17 - The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Broken)
18 - Sunny Day

Roger Taylor - vocals, drums, guitar, bass, keyboards
David Richards - keyboards
Freddie Mercury - harmony vocals
John Deacon, Phil Spalding, Steve Barnacle - bass
Brian May, Jason Falloon, Rick Parfitt - guitar
Mike Crossley - piano and keyboards
Spike Edney - keyboards
Catherine Porter, Treana Morris - backing vocals



UNTO US - The Human Landscape (2014)

UNTO US - The Human Landscape (2014) full


It's been five years since singer and composer Huw Lloyd-Jones left the excellent UK neo-prog outfit Also Eden. Despite announcing his UNTO US new project shortly afterwards, there've only been a few intermittent social media posts updating us on progress. That gap does add a certain amount of pressure – if after such a gestation period the album was a shocker then the future would surely be bleak.
Happily, the time taken here in carefully pruning and layering these tracks has proved fruitful, and UNTO US "The Human Landscape" is a wonderful and frequently enchanting debut.

Musically ambitious, the songs in "The Human Landscape" manage to remain punchy in spite of approaching the 10-minute mark, and there are only sporadic segments that could be dismissed as filler.
Opener "Towers Of Babel is their finest, containing elegant seams of entwined keyboards and guitars, calling to mind Marillion, Fish and, strikingly, Twelfth Night. The latter comparison is particularly prominent in the vocals, which frequently are as pained as Geoff Mann’s (Twelfth Night eighties' singer).

UNTO US - The Human Landscape (2014) inside

The notable improvement in Lloyd-Jones’ voice – noticeably on the terrific "Plan B" and "In A Lifetime" – and the sheer opulence of the musical backdrop gives this album an edge.

Indeed, UNTO US are not another Neo-Prog band. They do not waste time with endless musical landscapes, what you'll find in "The Human Landscape" is Rock: progressive rock, mostly uptempo and energetic, always melodic and rhythmically articulated.
Of course it's a great listen for Prog fans, but Melodic Rockers / AOR / Classic Rock enthusiasts will enjoy this CD as well, as all the compositions have a latent thrill.
When founding vocalist Huw Lloyd-Jones left Also Eden in 2009, he had one firm idea for his next project: to bring the fun back to Prog. And he succeeded with UNTO US.
"The Human Landscape" is astonishingly gripping, and well worth the wait.
Very, Highly Recommended.

1. Towers Of Babel
2. Boy
3. In A Lifetime
Part I
Part II
4. A Human Landscape
5. These Four Walls
6. Plan B

Huw Lloyd-Jones (ex-Also Eden) - Vocals
Tom Ennis - Guitar
Alex White - Keyboards, Mellotron
Lee Blu-Sky - Bass
Rohan Jordan-Shah - Drums



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