Saturday, July 30, 2016

STARSHIP - No Protection [Friday Music Remaster] (2016)

STARSHIP - No Protection [Friday Music Remaster] (2016) full

This Friday Music Records release of STARSHIP's "No Protection / Love Among The Cannibals" double CD including both albums in remastered form was repeatedly requested here. Initially appeared in 2009 and again in 2012, both pressings are out of print, but don't worry, there's a scheduled re-release for August 19th, 2016.
Let's go now with the underrated "No Protection".

So many have criticized Starship for "selling out" or abandoning their '70s musical roots. Problem is, musical taste change and in the '80s, just like in other decades, you went along with the sound of the times.
And if Staship's sound changed to this slick, polished, catchy poppy melodic rock, then gimme more, please!

"No Protection" was, alongside the great Mickey Thomas, the final Starship album to feature Grace Slick sharing the lead vocals.
Of course, this record is remembered for including the smash hit 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now', a really lovely tune in its own right, but there's more terrific songs inside.

Recorded utilising top class producers such as Michael Narada Walden, Peter Wolf and master Keith Olsen, "No Protection" is a true melodic bliss.
'It's Not Over ('Til It's Over) is one of my favorite songs from the '80s, 'Girls Like You' is really infectious, 'Babylon' is punchy and vital, the smooth 'The Children' was penned by the talented duo of Martin Page & Clif Magness, and 'Say When' is a very cool mid-tempo poppy AOR.

STARSHIP - No Protection [Friday Music Remaster] (2016) back

As with the other album featured in this double-CD pack (Love Among The Cannibals), this remastering job on "No Protection" does exactly what the record needed: provide punch.
The original CD version was really flat, but now you have all the dynamics aplenty. This remaster really blows out your player speakers.
I love the '80s!

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Beat Patrol
02 - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now
03 - It's Not Over (Til It's Over)
04 - Girls Like You
05 - Wings Of A Lie
06 - The Children
07 - I Don't Know Why
08 - Transatlantic
09 - Say When
10 - Babylon
11 - Set The Night To Music

Mickey Thomas – vocals
Grace Slick – vocals
Donny Baldwin – drums, vocals
Craig Chaquico – guitars
Peter Wolf – keyboards, bass, production
Narada Michael Walden – drums, production
Alan Pasqua, Larry Williams, Walter Afanasieff – keyboards
Bill Cuomo – keyboards, bass
Pete Sears - bass
Bongo Bob – drum sampling, percussion
Tommy Funderburk – harmony vocals
Bret Bloomfield, Maxi Anderson, Siedah Garrett, Sharon Hendrix, Phillip Ingram, Clif Magness, Jeff Pescetto, Oren Waters, Ina Wolf, Kitty Beethoven, Jim Gilstrap – background vocals



STARSHIP - Love Among The Cannibals [Friday Music Remaster] (2016)

STARSHIP - Love Among The Cannibals [Friday Music Remaster] (2016) full

This Friday Music Records release of STARSHIP's "No Protection / Love Among The Cannibals" double CD including both albums in remastered form was repeatedly requested here. Initially appeared in 2009 and again in 2012, both pressings are out of print, but don't worry, there's a scheduled re-release for August 19th, 2016.
Let's go with the great "Love Among The Cannibals".

"Love Among The Cannibals" always has been to me some kind of 'Starship goes Def Leppard'. Yeah, the ton of sound layers, the huge choruses and 'that' drums bring to mind here Def Lepp's Hysteria album. Perhaps 'Mutt' Lange did more than just arrange and contributing backing vocals here?
Anyway, it was 1989, and you can expect this kind of bombastic production. And I love it.

With the great Mickey Thomas on vocals, terrific guitarist Craig Chaquico and ex- Le Mans bassist Brett Bloomfield joining the band for this record, you are guaranteed of not only superb musicianship, but also catchy, poppy melodic rock of the highest order.
Do you need more? Master Michael Landau provide some of his outstanding guitar riffs, and the one and only Tommy Funderburk, the always reliable Chris Thompson and Jeff Pescetto backing / harmony vocals, plus other renowned musicians.

Produced by the likes of Mike Shipley, Tom Lord-Alge, Phil Galdston and the band itself (and Robert John "Mutt" Lange also involved), there's a glossy, polished sound all over on gems such as 'The Burn', the AOR bliss of 'Trouble in Mind', the Def Lepp-esque 'I Didn't Mean To Stay All Night' or the slightly hi-tech 'I'll Be There' with some Glen Burtnick on it.
And we have the awesome 'It's Not Enough', simply put, one of the greatest AOR tunes in history. Period.

STARSHIP - Love Among The Cannibals [Friday Music Remaster] (2016) back

Starship's "Love Among The Cannibals" is one of the most representative albums of the '80s sound', and this remaster does exactly what the record needed: provide punch.
The original CD version was really flat, but now you have all the dynamics aplenty. This remastering job really blow out the speakers.
A Must Have

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - The Burn
02 - It's Not Enough
03 - Trouble In Mind
04 - I Didn't Mean To Stay All Night
05 - Send A Message
06 - Wild Again
07 - Love Among The Cannibals
08 - We Dream In Color
09 - Healing Waters
10 - Blaze Of Love
11 - I'll Be There

Mickey Thomas – vocals
Craig Chaquico – guitars
Donny Baldwin – drums, backing vocals
Brett Bloomfield – bass, backing vocals
Mark Morgan – keyboards
Michael Landau – additional guitars
Larry Klein – Fairlight programming
Pete Woodroffe, Collyer Spreen – synths
Tommy Funderburk – backing vocals
Robert John "Mutt" Lange – backing vocals
Chris Thompson – backing vocals
Jeff Pescetto – backing vocals
Tom Lord-Alge – backing vocals



TARJA - The Shadow Self (2016)

TARJA - The Shadow Self (2016) full

After leaving Nightwish and starting her solo career a decade ago, TARJA Turunen has often struggled to find a balance between classical and metal overtures, but on "The Shadow Self", the new album to be released on August 5, she has got it brilliantly right.

This album drips with melodically soaring vocals, but also has some concussive, aggressive rhythms. This is clear on 'Demons In You', where she duets emphatically with Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz.
The album kicks with 'Innocence', some kind of epic tune but with something, like most the new album, that made me enjoy it: Tarja uses a softer side of her voice, you do not get bombarded with big operatic vocals.

Indeed, "The Shadow Self" is more melodic metal / hard rock than Tarja previous releases, not only musically, but also in the vocal approach. That's why I am reviewing the CD here.
Songs like 'No Bitter End' are almost melodic hard with a catchy refrain, 'Living End' explores new poppier territories, while 'Calling From the Wild' is pretty hard rock with a cool groove. Of course there's some sympho numbers such as 'Diva' or 'Love To Hate', yet pretty light and enjoyable.

TARJA - The Shadow Self (2016) back

Tarja Turunen seems to have found a welcomed balance to her indisputably vocal quality on this new album, and musically, a wider palette.
There's strong songs on "The Shadow Self", the vocals are varied and while the Nightwish smell is still present all over, the album rocks quite good with more groove than never before.
Tarja's past works were too much 'operistic' for my tastes, but this "The Shadow Self" open new windows for the singer and for potential listeners never interested before in her music.

01 - Innocence
02 - Demon's in You (with Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz)
03 - No Bitter End
04 - Love To Hate
05 - Supremacy (Cover)
06 - Living End
07 - Diva
08 - Eagle Eye
09 - Undertaker
10 - Calling From the Wild
11 - Too Many

Tarja Turunen - Vocals
Alex Scholpp - Guitar
Christian Kretschmar - Keyboards
Kevin Chown, Doug Wimbish - Bass
Max Lilja - Cello
Luis Conte - Percussion
Mike Coolen - Drums
and various guests



Friday, July 29, 2016

STRANGEWAYS - Strangeways [Rock Candy remastered +5]

STRANGEWAYS - Strangeways [Rock Candy remastered +5] full

Before being recognized as the definitive British AOR band with their second album, STRANGEWAYS released their self-titled debut "Strangeways" to critical and fans acclaim. This remastered job by Rock Candy Records discover new layers of sound from this strong first album, plus adding 5 bonus tracks to enjoy.

Not for want of trying, the British melodic rock scene was - post NWOBHM - eclipsed by the great American AOR sound of the early Eighties. With bands such as Boston, Foreigner, Journey and Survivor enjoying serious chart action across the great divide, a new wave of melodic British hard rock bands tried to muscle in on the action, proving to the American market that they could do the job just as well.
Based in Glasgow, Strangeways' ambition was as far reaching as their music.

Things took momentum for Strangeways (or China White, as they were originally called) when their demo was heard by Carl Leighton Pope and Clive Cocoran, the managers of Saga at the time. They were looking for expansion in the European market and offered Strangeways a deal via their production company, Bonaire Records.
No one else than Kevin Elson (Journey) was asked to produce the debut album, which was recorded in Zurich, Switzerland. There was some delay when original singer Stevie Doherty left the fold, but he was replaced by powerhouse man Tony Liddle just in time to finish the record.
Liddle even brought a song of his own, titled 'Strangeways', but although it wasn't used, the title itself became the new name of the band.

STRANGEWAYS - Strangeways [Rock Candy remastered +5] booklet

After giving the final touches in Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie and The Kinks Konk studios, London, the album was ready to hit the stores. The results were impressive, attracting musical comparisons to Def Leppard and receiving accolades from a variety of respected rock institutions.
"Strangeways" is an explosive mix of melodic hard rock and AOR featuring huge rhythm section, flamboyant melodic guitar lines, lovely keyboard harmonies and intense vocal performances. Even on this early work, Strangeways are every bit the melodic masters that fans have come to recognize once Terry Brock joined the ranks for the second album.
All performances are turned to 11 on this debut as leader Ian Stewart & Co. leaves nothing to the imagination.

Songs like the opener "The Kid Needs Love", "Hold Back your Love", "Heartbreak Zone", "Power Play" and "Breaking Down the Barriers" are some of the best melodic rock songs to come out of the UK during the first half of the '80s.
One could argue that for a band aiming at serious airplay and mainstream melodic rock appeal "Strangeways" had set the creative bar way too high, and though catchy as the tunes were, the overall sound was too intense for conventional taste.
Indeed, this album is plenty of melody and catchiness, but with a lot of punch, and a quite edgy guitar work.

STRANGEWAYS - Strangeways [Rock Candy remastered +5] back

This Rock Candy reissue is excellent, with a 24-bit remastering from original source tapes, 3,000 word essay about the making of the album, interview with the band and additional photos spread out over a 12 page full color booklet.
And we have 5 bonus tracks including songs that never made it into the final tracklist but equally strong in terms of quality.
Highly Recommended

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - The Kid Needs Love
02 - Hold Back Your Love
03 - Close To The Edge
04 - Heartbreak Zone
05 - Cry Out
06 - Power Play
07 - Breakin' Down The Barriers
08 - Now It's Gone
09 - More Than Promises
10 - Hold Tight
11 - All The Wrong Reasons (Demo)
13 - Close To The Edge (Demo)
13 - Hold On (Demo)
14 - Breakin' Down The Barriers (Demo)
15 - Streets On Fire (Demo)

Tony Liddle: lead vocals
Dave Stewart: bass, backing vocals
Ian Stewart: guitar, backing vocals
Jim Drummond: drums, backing vocals
Alan Thomson: keyboards
Alan Carvell, Tony Rivers: backing vocals



STRANGEWAYS - Walk In The Fire [Rock Candy remaster +4]

STRANGEWAYS - Walk In The Fire [Rock Candy remaster +4] full
HERE fresh rip Full

Not only "Walk In The Fire" confirmed STRANGEWAYS as one of the best British AOR acts of all time, but also on this, their third record, the band reached their creative peak. This Rock Candy Records remastered reissue sounds fabulous, including 4 bonus tracks.

Recorded in Switzerland, "Walk In The Fire" was produced by band leader Ian Stewart and John Lee, the engineer who had already worked on the previous album, and mixed in England by Def Leppard associate Mike Shipley.
This album is more upbeat and less moody than its predecessor, the sound is bigger and Terry Brock had come out of his Steve Perry period and was singing in the much earthier range that we now know him for. His performance is indeed brilliant.

Yet again the songwriting was stellar, with bassist David Stewart getting three co-writes along with his brother & Brock, and the instrumentation was always interesting and never relied on the usual clichés of much of its ilk.
Pointing out the best tracks is senseless as all of them are GEMS. Numbers like “Where Are They Now”, “Love Lies Dying”, “Living In The Danger Zone” or “Walk In The Fire” still remain among the finest of all time in the AOR genre.

STRANGEWAYS - Walk In The Fire [Rock Candy remaster +4] booklet

As usual, the Rock Candy treatment on "Walk In The Fire" is superb, but we have more to enjoy here; four juicy bonus tracks.
The likeably upbeat “Jackie's Gone” is by far the best. It's a demo from the album sessions with Terry Brock singing much deeper than his regular style, while the other three all feature his replacement Charles Bowyer on demos for a proposed fourth album.
Whilst Bowyer co-wrote them and his voice is pleasant enough, the dynamic of the band had already changed. One of the songs is “Liberty”, which of course appeared on their comeback album in 2010 (but this is the original demo version).

The other two being “Big Tom” and “The Last Chance”, both really worth hearing if somewhat lacking compared to what had gone before. But c'mon, all "Walk In The Fire" is almost insuperable by any, even by themselves.

STRANGEWAYS - Walk In The Fire [Rock Candy remaster +4] back

It's a remarkable fact that the first three Strangeways albums don't contain a single filler, and how many bands can you say that about?
All are must-haves, and "Walk In The Fire" is a crucial, awesome album.

01 - Where Are They Now
02 - Danger In Your Eyes
03 - Love Lies Dying
04 - Every Time You Cry
05 - Talk To Me
06 - Living In The Danger Zone
07 - Modern World
08 - Into The Night
09 - Walk In The Fire
10 - After The Hurt Is Gone
11 - Jackie's Gone *
12 - Big Tom **
13 - Liberty **
14 - The Last Chance **

* recorded for the 'Walk In The Fire' sessions
** demos recorded with Charles Bowyer for projected 4th album

Terry Brock - lead and backing vocals
Ian J. Stewart - guitar, backing vocals
David Stewart - bass, backing vocals
Jim Drummond - drums, backing vocals
David Moore - keyboards
Charles Bowyer - lead vocals on **



GARY HOEY - Dust & Bones [Deluxe Edition] (2016)

GARY HOEY - Dust & Bones [Deluxe Edition] (2016) full

A true '90s guitar hero, GARY HOEY is often known as a shredder who takes on many classics, reinventing them in all their metal glory. However, Hoey began exploring his formative roots in recent years, and "Dust & Bones" his new album released today is exactly that; a great mix of rockers, foot stompin' blues, pop, etc, and there's even a duet with Lita Ford in a power ballad.

Gary Hoey indeed got quite a track record. Not only did he audition for Ozzy Osbourne (Zakk Wylde got the job, so no shame there) but he also had a Top 5 hit in the '90s with a cover of ‘Hocus Pocus’ from first solo album, recorded a kicking hard rock album with his band Heavy Bones (alongside Frankie Banali), and also toured in support of and/or played with all sorts of names from Brian May to Jeff Beck.

In "Dust & Bones", it feels like Hoey is very much at home where pays homage to many of his musical heroes. Composed in the vein of each, the CD consists of a very cohesive mix of tunes, ranging between edgy bluesy rockers and atmospheric midtempo tracks to classic rock 'n roll. Hoey sings with just enough grit and attitude to make the CD sound truly authentic.
It covers all sorts of blues styles featuring his Stratocaster playing and there is even a power ballad with Lita Ford on shared vocals. Other musicians in the power trio line-up are Matt Scurfield on drums and AJ Pappas on bass. They do a fine job in anchoring the songs, leaving the space for Hoey’s guitar fireworks.

The CD kicks off with ‘Box Car Blues’, a slide guitar driven rocker that would grace any Joe Bonamassa record. ‘Who’s Your Daddy’ is a gentler blues shuffle which leads into ‘Born To Love You’ – this is a great song and sounds like ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons is an obvious influence.
Lead song off the album is ‘Dust & Bones’ and this should be on rock radio everywhere if the band’s publicist is good at their job; it’s a driving track, still heavy but commercial at the same time.
‘Steam Roller’ is listed as a Johnny Winter tribute and I can’t think of a better description for it.

The aforementioned power ballad, ‘Coming Home’, is actually very good and features some of the best guitar work on the entire record, plus Hoey and Lita vocals together sound sweet and emotional.
This leads into ‘Ghost Of Yesterday’ and I think this is another terrific song that could do well as a single. An up-tempo number with a catchy chorus and capped with a lengthy solo.
‘This Time Tomorrow’ (killer midtempo), ‘Back Against The Wall’ and ‘Blind Faith’ are all good but with three entirely different styles. These lead to album closer ‘Soul Surfer’. It’s is the only instrumental on the album and it’s a superb way to finish showcasing Hoey's talent.
This Deluxe Edition include two bonus, the very melodic acoustic / dobro filled 'Boston Strong', and 'Amazing Grace', the traditional song made with a soulful instrumentation.

GARY HOEY - Dust & Bones [Deluxe Edition] (2016) back

This is an album that will appeal to all bluesy classic rock fans and if the album is anything to go by, then his live show, if it makes it over here, will be loud and great.
"Dust & Bones" is a blues based record, but while Hoey can play the genre alongside the best, he's a guitarist with a 'shred' foundation, so expect some 'edge' on his delivery. And I love that.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Boxcar Blues
02 - Who's Your Daddy
03 - Born To Love You
04 - Dust & Bones
05 - Steamroller
06 - Coming Home (feat. Lita Ford)
07 - Ghost Of Yesterday
08 - This Time Tomorrow
09 - Back Up Against The Wall
10 - Blind Faith
11 - Soul Surfer
12 - Boston Strong (Bonus Track)
13 - Amazing Grace (Bonus Track)

Gary Hoey - vocals, guitars
Matt Scurfield - drums
AJ Pappas - bass
Lita Ford - vocal duet on 6



Thursday, July 28, 2016

LAURA BRANIGAN - Branigan [Remastered & Expanded Edition]

LAURA BRANIGAN - Branigan [Remastered & Expanded Edition] full

This a real pleasure to feature here: LAURA BRANIGAN's debut album "Branigan", "Remastered & Expanded Edition", the Gold Legion Records release approved by Branigan's progeny.

After a very long wait on the remastering, this CD was finally released (many delayed dates).
Just like 'Self Control' (featured on the blog here) the remastering job is superb. I had been listening to the original "Branigan" version and I must say the sound is like night and day.

Laura Branigan is one of those singers from the '80s that everyone remembers. She may not have had the same amount of hit singles as many of her peers from that era, but the first half of that decade was punctuated by hit singles that featured her uncommonly expressive and powerful voice.

LAURA BRANIGAN - Branigan [Remastered & Expanded Edition] booklet

“Branigan”, her debut album, is of course dominated by her biggest hit, 'Gloria', but there’s more to it than this song.
For one thing, 'All Night With Me' clearly shows how nuanced a singer she was, 'If You Loved Me' (one of the first hits penned by Diane Warren) and 'Maybe I Love You' are melodic and flawlessly performed, while 'I Wish We Could Be Alone' demonstrated her credibility as a songwriter (a talent that would finally become evident on her final album).

There's also the uptempo melodic pop-rock 'Please Stay, Go Away', but the highlight for me is the '80s AOR of the awesome, straight-ahead 'Living a Lie'.

The musicianship is top notch, inclusing some of the best "session-man" ever; beasts such as Steve Lukather or Michael Landau on guitar, talented Greg Mathieson on keyboards, Leland Sklar on bass, drummer Carlos Vega... the dream team.

Not only does "Branigan Remastered & Expanded Edition" sound great, it also contains songs that some of us have only had on B-Sides of 45's or 12 Inch vinyl releases. Yes, apart from the excellent remastering, we have 7 great bonus tracks.
I was thrilled to see 'When' (Laura wrote this beautiful, haunting ballad) and 'Looking Out for Number One' on this release. Plus some great surprises such as 'Tell Him' and 'Fool's Affair' (another beautiful ballad), all almost impossible to find tracks.

LAURA BRANIGAN - Branigan [Remastered & Expanded Edition] back

"Branigan Remastered & Expanded Edition" is wrapped up in extensive liner notes featuring interviews with the producers, songwriters and musicians who worked with Laura Branigan on this album.
It’s certainly a treat for '80s fans.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - All Night With Me
02 - Gloria
03 - Lovin' You Baby
04 - Living A Lie
05 - If You Loved Me
06 - Please Stay Go Away
07 - I Wish We Could Be Alone
08 - Down Like A Rock
09 - Maybe I Love You
Expanded Edition Bonus Tracks:
10 - Looking Out For Number One (12'' Midnight Mix)
11 - Fool's Affair
12 - Tell Him
13 - Love Me Tonight
14 - When
15 - Looking Out For Number One (7'' Single Version)
16 - Gloria (12'' Version)

Laura Branigan - vocals
Michael Landau - guitar
Steve Lukather - guitar
Trevor Veitch - guitar
Greg Mathieson - synthesizer, keyboards, arrangements
Michael Boddicker - synthesizer
Leland Sklar, Bob Glaub - bass guitar
Carlos Vega - drums
Joe Chemay, Maxine & Julia Waters, Lisa Sama, Jon Joyce, Jim Haas, Stephanie Spruill - background vocals



STRANGEWAYS - Native Sons [Rock Candy remaster +2]

STRANGEWAYS - Native Sons [Rock Candy remaster +2] full

This Rock Candy Deluxe Remastered Edition of STRANGEWAYS "Native Sons" is the definitive version to one of the best albums from the burgeoning '80s British AOR scene. This was requested many times on the blog, and here it is in all its glory.

After the short tenure of vocalist Tony Liddle in the first Strangeways album, the Stewart brothers (guitar / bass) and Jim Drummond (drums) went back to the drawing board and decided to have another shot at convincing their first choice singer to come over and join the band, with American vocalist Terry Brock finally doing just that.
So perfect was the fit that Brock ended up co-writing a majority of the record with the previously autocratic Ian Stewart, and with new keyboard player David 'Munch' Moore replacing Alan Thomson they went back to the familiar surroundings of Powerplay Studios in Zurich with producer John Punter and proceeded to take the AOR / Melodic Rock world by storm, or at least the section of it that were in the know.

Nothing I could write about "Native Sons" could come close to expressing the pleasure it's given me since I picked it up on the day of its release back in January 1988, and never more so than listening to this splendid remaster.

STRANGEWAYS - Native Sons [Rock Candy remaster +2] booklet

There's the irresistible drum groove and guitar riff of 'Dance With Somebody', the sheer melody of 'Only A Fool', Terry Brock's voice breaking through the stratosphere on 'So Far Away' and Ian Stewart's masterful guitar on the dynamic 'Where Do We Go From Here?', all with brilliant arrangements that build each track into a masterpiece.

The Brock written 'Goodnight L.A.' is another soaring ballad that proves he was listening to a lot of Steve Perry at the time, whilst the brooding 'Shake The Seven' is one of many tracks that highlight the amazing musicianship in the band, with a drum beat and bass line to die for beneath Ian Stewart's inventive guitar parts and 'Munch' Moore's outside-the-box keyboard punctuations.

The upbeat 'Empty Streets', the hypnotic 'Never Going To Lose It' and the haunting 'Face To Face' make up the rest of this perfect album, along with the out and our rocker of the album; 'Stand Up And Shout'.
The latter is an adrenaline rush that never fails to get the heart racing, and does so twice here because the bonus track is a great live version that morphs into 'Breaking Down The Barriers' from the debut, which sounds especially good with a Terry Brock vocal.

STRANGEWAYS - Native Sons [Rock Candy remaster +2] back

As usual the great remastering of Jon Astley breathes new life into what was already a genre classic, and with the bonus track and Dave Ling's enlightening essay, This Rock Candy reissue is the definitive version of possibly the best British AOR album of all time.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Dance With Somebody
02 - Only A Fool
03 - So Far Away
04 - Where Do We Go From Here?
05 - Goodnight L.A.
06 - Empty Streets
07 - Stand Up And Shout
08 - Shake The Seven
09 - Never Going To Lose It
10 - Face To Face
11 - Stand Up And Shout (Live)
12 - Breakin' Down The Barriers (Live)

Terry Brock: vocals
Ian Stewart: guitars
David Stewart: bass
Jim Drummond: drums
David Moore: keyboards, synths



STRANGEWAYS - Where Do We Go From Here? [Live At Firefest] Out Of Print

STRANGEWAYS - Where Do We Go From Here? [Live At Firefest] Out Of Print full

"Where Do We Go From Here?" was recorded by STRANGEWAYS at 2010 Firefest Festival in front of an adoring audience, and released by Firefest / Fireworks Magazine in limited quantities.
Contained here is a document of that performance, 22 years of hurt was dispelled for the masses that awaited the return of the band for so long.

Mixing back catalog classics such as ‘Love Lies Dying’, ‘Where Do We Go from Here’, ‘Empty Streets’ and the all time mega classic ‘Only a Fool’, with new material such as the title track from their returning studio opus 'Perfect World', the sublime ‘Time’ and the monstrous ‘Bushfires’.
Strangeways took the stage to the acclaim of a packed venue without even hitting a note.

STRANGEWAYS - Where Do We Go From Here? [Live At Firefest] booklet

The type of welcome usually reserved for homecoming heroes, well, in fact judging by the audience reaction to simply glimpsing Ian, Terry, Jim, Munch and Warren on stage they not only justified their status as musical heavyweights within this genre, but as a bonafide top of the pile AOR band par excellence with a track record to prove it.

Strangeways delivered one of the performances of the entire festival weekend, and considering the quality of the bands performing at the event, that is some accolade. Fireworks' Mark Warburton called it 'an inspired set', while Lazy Rocker magazine stating 'they opened the doors to AOR heaven'.

STRANGEWAYS - Where Do We Go From Here? [Live At Firefest] back

Production duties have been carried out by Ian J. Stewart himself, and the album has been mixed and mastered by none other than Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) at H Bomb Mastering, Canada.
A collectors piece out of print.

01 - Love Lies Dying
02 - Breaking Down The Barriers
03 - Perfect World
04 - Only A Fool
05 - Empty Streets
06 - Time / After The Hurt Is Gone
07 - Borderlines
08 - Where Do We Go From Here
09 - Never Gonna Lose It
10 - Bushfires

Terry Brock : Vocals
Ian J. Stewart : Guitars
David "Munch" Moore : Keyboards
Warren Jolly : Bass
Jim Drummond : Drums

Out Of Print


GUNDACKER - Jekyll And Hyde (2016)

GUNDACKER - Jekyll And Hyde (2016) full

"Jekyll And Hyde" is the second album from GUNDACKER, one of the most exciting indie Melodic Hard Rock bands from de San Fransisco Bay Area. Exciting indeed, because thirty years ago bands like this appeared in the area like mushrooms everyday, but now 2016, find one like Gundacker and its true late '80s sound, it's a rarity. And a really welcomed one.

On the blog we already featured the band's debut album (formerly known a Gundacker Project), and praised the band's true '80s heart.
Mastermind Dave Gundacker grew up in Anchorage, Alaska where he learned to play guitar and drums at a very young age and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the '80s where he played on various underground bands, while writing and recording demos of original Melodic Hard Rock music.
When the musical environment changed in the hands of grunge, Dave stopped performing his original music to audiences, dedicating his time to teaching.

But with the recent resurgence of MHR/AOR, Dave decided to return into the game enlisting Bay Area veteran drummer Craig Martin, female bass player ‘Win The Bassmaiden’, keyboardist Alanna Bautista and singer Timothy J. Bednarz. It was then the Gundacker Project born in 2012.
That lineup recorced the first album, but now 2016 the band changed not only their name to simply Gundacker, but also has a new female lead vocalist: Amanda Dieck, owner of a velvety yet melodious set of pipes.

GUNDACKER - Jekyll And Hyde (2016) inside

What has not changed a bit is Gundacker's sound & style: late '80s high energy, electrifying Melodic Hard Rock with AOR touches plenty of catchy hooks, strong melodies and full vocal harmonies typical of the genre / era.
Uptempo kicking numbers such as 'Raise Up Your Flag', the catchy 'Scene of the Crime', the hot title track, 'You Won't Take Me Down (Without a Fight)' and the killer guitar-driven 'Watch Your Back' provide the hard rockin' side of the album.
Then you have the AOR / Melodic Rock impregnated tunes like the great 'Reach for the Stars', the keyboard/synth filled 'Find a Way' or the power ballad 'Penny for the Wishing Well'.

Despite their indie status, you'll be surprised by Gundacker's "Jekyll And Hyde" musicianship and production.
The songs are terrific, plenty of hooky riffs and superb solos, catchy choruses and lovely harmony vocals; true '80s American Melodic Hard Rock with AOR touches, punchy but polished & clean.
Very, Very Recommended.

01 - Raise up Your Flag
02 - Scene of the Crime
03 - Find a Way
04 - If the Wolf Cries
05 - Jekyll and Hyde
06 - Save Yourself
07 - Penny for the Wishing Well
08 - Watch Your Back
09 - You Won't Take Me Down (Without a Fight)
10 - Reach for the Stars

Dave Gundacker: Lead Guitar, Vocals,
Amanda Dieck: Vocals
Alanna Bautista: Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Win The Bassmaiden: Bass
Craig Martin: Drums, Vocals



DARE - Calm Before The Storm 2 (2012)

DARE - Calm Before The Storm 2

After the recent excellent new DARE album, some of you asked for a "Calm Before The Storm 2" repost.
Among fans of AOR / Melodic Rock Britain's DARE, formed by vocalist and keyboard player Darren Wharton (Thin Lizzy) has a legendary status, one that blurs line between cult and mystical. Every album they've released has been at least good, receiving critical acclaim.
But Dare's albums were not easy to get, especially in USA. Then there was 1998's Calm Before The Storm which was only released in Europe.
"Calm Before The Storm 2" is basically that album, completely re-recorded, with two previously unreleased tracks.

If you have the original you will love this as it sounds both familiar, quintessential Wharton and Dare, and fresh, with new life breathed into every track. For the uninitiated, it's more than a great introduction; it will likely cause you track down other available Dare albums.
The order of the tracks on the new recording is a little different and so it's the cover art, well somewhat if you remember the original one had a picture of a girl walking towards the sunset, it seems that girl has grown up a bit and turns herself into an exhibitionist. Nice eye candy...
These are slightly more polished versions and Darren Wharton’s voice is still as good as ever.

Opener “Walk on Water” churns with a melodic emphasis and groove, as well as the title track which solidifies the sound of the record.
The great number of “Crown of Thorns” is one of my favorites as its more fast paced Hard Rock vibe adds a nice rocking spark to the album, and it sounds even better performed this time around.
“Rescue Me” keeps its midtempo with a nice job of the guitars and smooth solos keeping the rush of groove in top notch, Wharton’s voice is particularly high rising and deliberate on this number.
The same style of moody and anthem-like choruses keep the flow of the record flowing with invigorating feel when you get to the excellent tune “Rising Sun”.

DARE - Calm Before The Storm 2 - back

"Calm Before the Storm 2" sounds fabulous, it has the typical Dare warm Melodic Rock feeling all over, more polished than ever.
Darren Wharton's melodious arrangements and smooth passionate vocals defines this recording, complimented by longtime partner guitarist Richie Dews, whose work adds sharpness and blister to the AOR foundation.
By very definition, Dare and "Calm Before The Storm 2" is quintessential AOR Melodic Rock. It's hard to find better.
Highly Recommended.

1. Walk On The Water
2. Someday
3. Calm Before The Storm
4. Crown Of Thorns
5. Precious (previously unreleased)
6. Silence Of Your Head
7. Rescue Me
8. Ashes
9. Rising Sun
10. Cold Wind Will Blow (previously unreleased)
11. Deliverance

Darren Wharton - vocals, keyboards
Richie Dews - guitars
Paris Wharton - guitars
Marc Roberts - bass
Kevin Whitehead - drums



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SAMMY HAGAR - Street Machine [Rock Candy remaster +2]

SAMMY HAGAR - Street Machine [Rock Candy remaster +2] full

"Street Machine" is SAMMY HAGAR's fifth solo studio release for Capitol, now full digitally remastered by Rock Candy Records plus two non-album tracks only appeared as singles.
Hagar, later to make a huge impact in Van Halen, first exploded on the Rock scene as the front man of Montrose, playing his part in creating what is unquestionably one of the greatest debut albums of all time. It was a record that sent seismic shock waves around the globe, helping to propel the hard rock scene, and Hagar, into a new era.

In 1975, Hagar left Montrose and opted for a solo career, signing to Capitol Records. His first few albums were tentative steps towards a sound and style that would blossom with the recording of "Street Machine", an album that was, for the first time, in the writing and production, completely controlled by Hagar, and with his eyes firmly focused on the hard rock prize.
Packed with knockout punches, the album showcases one of the world’s greatest showmen, whose voice and songwriting ability are captured in pristine clarity.

The album’s opening track 'Growing Pains' kicks off with an awesome sounding power riff backed with power chords which cycle throughout the tune. This remains one of my favorite Hagar tunes to this day.
'Child to Man' is up next, one of the strongest written song in the record both lyrically & musically. It's a midtempo that has a sound & style which should have made it a classic.

The guitar-fueled rockers such as ‘Trans Am (Highway Wonderland)’ is one of those kick ass tunes that makes you want to go back in time and pop an 8-track in your Firebird, push that pedal to the metal, & bury that MPH needle! (the 6 pack of Rolling Rock is optional!).
'Feels like Love' has a cool riff running through it and a sound that would fit in great on Ted Nugent’s Weekend Warriors album. 'Plain Jane' has a fun poppy feel to it while 'Never Say Die' is a dark mellow tune.

The album really picks up the pace on 'This Planet's On Fire (Burn In Hell)' which is a fast driving song full of energy. 'Wounded in Love' is just an all around bad ass rocking track, 'Falling in Love' a nice ballad, then the album closes with an oldie style rocker titled 'Straight to the Top' which has its moments and fun but its style does not belong on this album.

SAMMY HAGAR - Street Machine [Rock Candy remaster +2] back

As bonus tracks we have the non-album singles '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' (a cover of the Otis Redding hit in a melodic rock mold), and 'I've Done Everything For You', perhaps Hagar's more melodic rock song ever, later covered by Rick Springfield whose version became a Top 10 hit in the United States in 1981.

"Street Machine" was the album that put Sammy Hagar's solo career in a growing, relevant place, with many of the tracks getting a well deserved airplay on FM Radio, paving the way for the singer / songwriter national success in years to come.
Very nice remastering by Rock Candy, plus the welcomed, hard to find bonuses. This was requested by one of you, make yours!
Highly Recommended

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Growing Pains
02 - Child To Man
03 - Trans Am (Highway Wonderland)
04 - Feels Like Love
05 - Plain Jane
06 - Never Say Die
07 - This Planet's On Fire (Burn In Hell)
08 - Wounded In Love
09 - Falling In Love
10 - Straight To The Top
11 - (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
12 - I've Done Everything For You

Sammy Hagar: lead vocals, guitar
Bill Church: bass, background vocals
Gary Pihl: guitar, background vocals
Chuck Ruff: drums, background vocals
Mark Jordan: keyboards



BANSHEE - Race Against Time / Cry In The Night [digitally remastered +1] (2016)

BANSHEE - Race Against Time / Cry In The Night [digitally remastered +1] (2016) full

Divebomb Records is releasing a 2-CD set including the two first cult albums "Race Against Time / Cry In The Night" by US hard rockers BANSHEE fully remastered plus a bonus track.
Rising from the Midwestern hard rock scene of the mid-'80s, Banshee was a band that balanced traditional US metal and melodic hard rock with winning results. Featuring former members of such underground Kansas City groups as Granmax and Frodo, Banshee was fronted by Tommy Lee Flood, a vocalist that many have compared to Ronnie James Dio in his range and power, but also Don Dokken for his melodic waves.

A few years after forming, Banshee self-released their "Cry In The Night" miniLP in 1986, selling so many copies independently that both Metal Blade and Atlantic Records courted the young act.
Banshee ended up signing on with A&R legend Jason Flom at Atlantic Records, but not before licensing the miniLP to Metal Blade, in turn bringing international attention to the group.

BANSHEE - Race Against Time / Cry In The Night [digitally remastered +1] (2016) front

1989 found the quartet releasing their debut full length album, "Race Against Time", an 11-song collection that focused on their more melodic tendencies.

Still having their original US metal sound as foundation, Banshee added a welcomed catchiness to their music, as example listen to the AOR feeling of ‘Desire’ with its harmony chorus, or the bouncy melodic hard rocker ‘Get it On The Run’.
Despite MTV's Headbangers Ball giving the band's 'Shoot Down the Night' video healthy airplay, behind-the-scenes drama lead to Banshee being dropped by Atlantic Records. The group would break up in 1993.

BANSHEE - Race Against Time / Cry In The Night [digitally remastered +1] (2016) back

Now, over 30 years since Banshee formed, Divebomb Records are delivering these two cult classics "Race Against Time / Cry In The Night" for the first time digitally remastered plus a bonus track; 'We Want You' in its first mix as originally appeared in one of the now legendary Metal Massacre compilations.
With both titles long out of print, this is your chance to own two collectible pieces from a band that commercially should have been huge, but musically certainly was.
Highly Recommended

Disc 1: Race Against Time remastered
01 - Shoot Down the Night
02 - All Alone
03 - Race Against Time
04 - Circular Flight of the One Winged Sparrow
05 - Call of the Wild
06 - Precious Metal
07 - Desire
08 - Get It on the Run
09 - Missing You
10 - Drive Like Hell
11 - Desert Moon

Disc 2: Cry In The Night remastered +1
01 - We Want You
02 - Back Your Way
03 - I Believe
04 - The Stranger
05 - Cry in the Night
06 - We Want You (Metal Massacre 9 version) [bonus track]

Tommy Lee Flood - Vocals
Terry Dunn - Guitars, Vocals
Kent Burnham - Drums
Bill Westfall - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Chuck Hopkins - Bass on 'Cry In The Night EP'



SEVI - The Battle Never Ends (2016)

SEVI - The Battle Never Ends (2016) full

"The Battle Never Ends" is the second studio album by SEVI, a Bulgarian rocking band fronted by Svetlana "Sevi" Bliznakova, but while there’s the faintest whiff of the European mainland about her vocals, you’d be hard pushed to identify the homeland of this female fronted rock band by sound alone.

Formed in January 2010 by singer and songwriter Sevi Bliznakova and Rally Velinov (songwriter, bass), ten other players have passed through the band’s ranks before the line-up featured on "The Battle Never Ends" – their sophomore release.
Their 2012 debut won radio play and plaudits, as far from the band’s ‘hometown’ of Sofia as Brazil, Chicago and the UK, and the band peddle a familiar formula of hitting female fronted hard rock with melody.
This particular genre hasn’t moved forward a great deal in 25 years although production advances have ramped up the overall sound. Sevi certainly fits the bill vocally and visually, individually and collectively, so really it’s down to the material which is a mixture of hard rock and commercial Rock&pop.

The band describe their music as 'heart rock, because of the emotional content of their songs'. Indeed some tracks are pretty soulful while others hard hitting, providing a nice balance.
All the eleven tracks are rather pleasing to these ears with Svetlana singing being the main attraction, ranging from the catchy and awesomely titled hard rocker ‘Screw You, Honey’ to the American rock radio friendly ‘Crazy’ or the uptempo funky rocker ‘Bitter Taste’.

The slightly AOR sounding ‘Destiny’ is one of the highlights to me, and the peachy ‘Not A Crime’ on which Sevi really stands out from the crowd.

Sevi may come from Bulgaria but for sure they sound like a first rate international band. "The Battle Never Ends" delivers 11 carefully crafted songs with a world-wide appeal. Sevi Bliznakova's powerhouse vocals are well suited to this style of music, and the band / musicians involved are really good.
A word also for the production: for a self-produced album, it’s exemplary.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Don't Hesitate
02 - Screw You, Honey
03 - One Time Thing
04 - Bitter Of Taste
05 - Crazy
06 - Supernatural
07 - Goodbye
08 - Destiny
09 - On My Own
10 - Not A Crime
11 - The Battle Never Ends

Svetlana "Sevi" Bliznakova - vocals
Ivan Angelov - guitar
Dessy Markova - keyboards
Rally Velinov - bass
Pavlin Ivanov - drums



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NEW ENGLAND - Explorer Suite [Rock Candy remaster] (2013)

NEW ENGLAND - Explorer Suite [Rock Candy remaster] full

Another remaster by Rock Candy Records fans were waiting for it's the sophomore effort by the Boston-based super pompsters NEW ENGLAND: "Explorer Suite".
Produced by Mike Stone, who also worked with Queen, Journey and Asia, "Explorer Suite" is a very large-sounding work by a band that deserved to be as popular as Stone's other clients.

To the pomp of the debut album, on "Explorer Suite" New England fuel-injects a heavy, melodic rock element comparable to the greatest acts from the era.
Crammed full of incredibly energetic songs such as "Livin' In The Eighties", "Honey Money", "Searchin’" and "Hey You’re On The Run", New England’s penchant for melody was obviously second to none.
Additionally the band used also some great multi-vocal harmonies reminding the likes of Styx at their best, evident in the softer numbers as "Conversation", a nice change from the incessant bombast Stone and bandleader John Fannon splash on these tunes. It emerges as one of the best tracks on this release.

"It's Never Too Late" has a great, commercial catchy hook, but title track "Explorer Suite" is the 'big production' number, the 'We Will Rock You' showpiece that New England and this album are remembered for.
"Seal It With a Kiss" is rife with thick keyboards, backing vocals and classy '80s guitar, while "No Place to Go" is as elegant a ballad as Yes or Queen could devise, but with more of an edge and pomp-stastic.

NEW ENGLAND - Explorer Suite [Rock Candy remaster] back

New England had that 'cosmic edge', making the group truly a unique darling among arena rock bands, and having a group with this much talent performing at regional clubs was a treat.

Managed by Bill Aucoin who handled Kiss, major producers and a great sound, it's amazing that the band didn't sell millions of records. New England might have just been in the wrong part of the country for this style of music.
But with the years, "Explorer Suite" gained a deserved cult status among hard / melodic rock, AOR, pomp rock and even progressive rock fans world wide.
A more than welcomed remaster with a very good sound.
Highly Recommended

01 - Honey Money
02 - Livin' In The Eighties
03 - Conversation
04 - It's Never Too Late
05 - Explorer Suite
06 - Seal It With A Kiss
07 - Hey You're On The Run
08 - No Place To Go
09 - Searchin'
10 - Hope
11 - You'll Be Born Again

John Fannon - guitars, vocals
Jimmy Waldo - keyboards, vocals
Gary Shea - bass
Hirsh Gardner - drums, vocals



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