Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...
I first discovered German band CALL ME in the legendary compilation series Munich City Nights, then got a LP-rip of their self-titled debut album in a trade, and finally found that the record actually was released on CD on the RCA/BMG label during the Nineties, but in very limited quantities.
Whichever the case, "Call Me" is an obscure, unknown AOR / Melodic Rock rarity deserving to be listened by all fans of the genre.
That's why we are here, isn't it?
Despite its German origins, I would say Call Me's melodic tunes sound more Canadian than anything, with synth harpoon attacks between the sharp melodic riffs and catchy choruses.
Just check the triad of tracks at the beginning of the album: the soaring "Running Out Of Love", the indeed shaking "Shiver In The Night" akin Survivor, or the keyboard driven "22 Degrees Below", all are pure early '80s AOR gemstones.
"Loneliness And The Modern Man" is perhaps the more 'American' song on the album with a mysterious atmosphere (thanks to the synth background), and "Living On The Edge" returns to pure AOR again with a Canadian feeling via nice choruses, bringing to mind Refugee.
"Suburbia" is darker yet rocking, "Nervous Energy" adds a radio-rock poppy touch to the proceedings, while "Working Wonders" adds a light proggy touch in the vein of Harlequin.
If you need a ballad, "Screaming Silence" provides a slow moment by not in typical syrupy balladry. It's a sound with British feeling to me, but somehow I found it similar to some material Tony Carey would release as solo artist years after.
All are very well crafted songs, the musicianship is strong (I love that 'classic drums' sound) and while Daniel Kovac's vocal color is not the most charismatic you can find out there, he perfectly fits the music and provides a distinctive sound to Call Me.
In fact, I have included one track in my AOR Treasures series, the one entitled 'The Seminal Years', because Call Me sound is the type which defined the genre in the beginning of the Eighties.
As said, "Call Me" appeared on CD but I never seen a copy at auction sites. This is taken from the unofficial CD released by bootleg label Time Warp, and as usual with these guys, the sound obtained from the vinyl LP is bloody good.
A little gem. Rare.
01 - Running Out Of Love
02 - Shiver In The Night
03 - 22 Degrees Below
04 - Getting By
05 - Suburbia
06 - Nervous Energy
07 - Loneliness And The Modern Man
08 - Living On The Edge
09 - Working Wonders
10 - Screaming Silence
Daniel Kovac - vocals
Frank Ziener - guitars, backing vocals
Attila Teri - keyboards, piano
Manfred Dietze - bass
Florian Ruppert - drums
CALL ME - Call Me (1981) HERE
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...
New York based THE BURNS SISTERS opted for an appropriate band name, as there's five sisters at the core: Annie, Marie, Terry (Theresa), Jeannie and Sheila Burns, all owner of fantastic voices. Yes, the five share their pipes in the band resulting in highly harmonized melodies.
The Burns Sisters were signed by major label Columbia Records in the mid-Eighties and released their first album in 1986, a rock&pop / AOR disc oriented to radio. But for this second effort "Endangered Species" the band management and the label opted for a rocking approach according to the time of release; 1989.
"Endangered Species" is a terrific Melodic Rock / AOR album with all the magic the genre had to offer in America circa 1989. Production is top notch, the guitars bite and the choruses are celestial.
Of course, grand part of this success should be thanked to AOR guru Bob Marlette (The Storm, Alice Cooper) who not only provide the awesome guitar riffs / solos and co-write the songs, but also was at charge of the musical direction.
There's not a single weak track on "Endangered Species"; you have a catchy rocker in "Love Me Like A Man", the pumping AOR of "We Wait For Freedom" (the best song Heart never wrote), the melodic bliss of "Remember Me" (akin Fiona), the moving "Greenlight", and if you need ballads "Hold On" is an AOR diamond, as the calm and multi-layered vocal arrangement of "The King Is Going To Fall".
"Endangered Species" is pretty unknown for many Melodic Rock / AOR fans due the album's failure to chart when released, and was forgotten soon. That was not because the lack of quality for sure, but at the time there was a change of management at Columbia Records and the record never got a proper release and promotion.
Well, it's time to enjoy this "Endangered Species" from beginning to end, at maximum quality and with complete artwork.
01 - Love Me Like A Man
02 - We Wait For Freedom
03 - The King Is Going To Fall
04 - Remember Me
05 - Hold On
06 - My Boyfriend's Back
07 - Greenlight
08 - Place To Rock
09 - Answers
10 - Last Eagle (For The People Of Big Mountain)
Annie Burns - Vocals
Jeannie Burns - Vocals
Terry Burns - Vocals
Marie Burns - Backing Vocals
Sheila Burns - Backing Vocals
Denny Fongheiser - Drums
Bob Marlette - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
THE BURNS SISTERS - Endangered Species HQ
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...
Alfie Zappacosta become one of the most distinctive solo rock&pop vocalists from the Canadian scene during the Eighties / Nineties, many times flirting with traditional AOR and West Coast.
His first band SURRENDER is a fine example of how his career began, delivering some stylized tunes throwing in a bit of Pomp-AOR.
A few years ago all Surrender material was released for the first time on a digital disc, now deleted, out of print.
The CD comprises the first self titled LP "Surrender" (tracks 1-8), the second and final miniLP "No Surrender" (tracks 9-12) and 8 songs previously unreleased.
The first tracks obviously are the most pomp-influenced; late seventies AOR style with good guitar solos and nice arrangements.
These songs were usually underrated in favor to the more instant and commercial sound of the following miniLP "No Surrender", but we can find very nice melodies like on "Some People", the proggy ballad "Nicole" or the classy "Alone Too Often".
My pick is "Turn Down The Mission" a full keyboard driven track with great instrumentation, including a killer guitar solo.
Of course, tracks 9-12 are more catchy and appealing to the '80s AOR listener, being "It's All Been Done Before" the winner of the bunch, a really great radio-friendly typical AOR tune. I love this one.
The bonuses are material recorded after the band dissolved and become just Zappacosta. All are more mid-80s oriented, interesting and well recorded - although a few display a pre-production sound. My favorite is the emotional "I Don't Want To Talk Tonight", a song with a special aura.
"Surrender / No Surrender" is a really good compilation, songs with sweet melodies and solid performances. Not a classic, but a real pleasant listen.
As said, this CD is out of print and I seriously doubt it will be reissued again.
01 - Anyway You Want
02 - Some People
03 - Nicole
04 - Turn Down The Mission
05 - Buddy
06 - Alone Too Often
07 - Big City Streets
08 - Young Seaman
09 - It's All Been Done Before
10 - Start Again
11 - Hold Tight
12 - Strange Strange Way!
13 - Find Your Way
14 - Hold Me Close
15 - Your Love Is Blind
16 - Melody
17 - You're The Only One That Matters
18 - The Light In Your Eyes
19 - Polo Bar
20 - I Don't Want To Talk Tonight
Alfie Zappacosta - Vocals, Guitar
Steve Jensen - Guitars
Paul Delaney - Drums (1-12)
Peter Curry - Keyboards (1-8)
Geoff Waddington - Bass (1-8)
Mitch Starkman - Bass (9-12)
Gerald O'Brien, Steve Sexton, Peter Goodale, Calvin Sauro, Gerry Mosby - Keyboards (9-12)
SURRENDER - Surrender / No Surrender
Monday, November 16, 2015
SHARP EDGES was a Canadian AOR band that sadly only released this miniLP "Slice Of Life" in 1983. Only 6 tracks but all good, contagious tunes with the unmistakable '80s sound.
Mixing commercial radio friendly choruses with rockin' AOR riffs, these guys were really, really good.
Opener "On The Edge" is a semi-midtempo rockers with an action-movie cadence, filled with stabbing keyboards and solid percussion. Dave Filchak's vocals are perfect for this, reminding me Larry Greene (Fortune), while Tom Lang plays a short but sharp guitar solo.
"Too Young" has a pure AOR pumping attack. Here Lang takes the mic and, apart of his sharp six-string work, he is really good singing too! His riffs and specially the swirling keyboards are a must on this track.
"Runaway" is a catchy funky version of Del Shannon classic (well done), and follower "Girl On The Airwaves" has a radio-rock approach wrapped with great harmony vocals. The slightly Hi-Tech style of "Schizophrenia" definitely has the typical Canadian AOR sound with 'that' drums.
"City Boy" is a another winner, an uptempo rockin' AOR with a great refrain / hook and constant catchiness.
Crisply produced by Canadian guru Ed Stasium (Vixen, Ratt), "Slice Of Life" is a great CanCon AOR representation of the first half of the Eighties. It's catchy, melodic and fun.
This is the rare CD edition done by a small Dutch label, transferred with a truly good sound quality. Seems there's a newly CD re-issue, including a b-side and a couple of remixes.
Highly Recommended to any '80s AOR fan.
01 - On The Edge
02 - Too Young
03 - Runaway
04 - Girl On The Airwaves
05 - Schizophrenia
06 - City Boy
Dave Filchak - Guitar, Vocals
Tom Lang - Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
Dan Zimmerman - Bass
George Klimow - Drums
John Webster - guest Keyboards
SHARP EDGES - Slice Of Life (1983)
"Til My Heart Stops" by LISA HARTMAN is one of the best (if not the Best) produced records in 1988 speaking about female fronted AOR. Call it rock&pop, lite AOR, melodic synth rock, but definitively this is '80s AOR flavored, really modern production-wise and still sounds superb today.
The distinctive and good thing about this album are the upfront guitars in the mix. And of course, Lisa's smooth vocals that reminds me Patty Smyth (Scandal). We can hear as well similarities to Robin Beck, Liza Nemzo and why not, Heart.
Brilliantly produced by not other than Bill Wray (check his solo album posted on the blog), " ’Til My Heart Stops" has a punchy and crisp sound.
The opening keyboard lines of the first track "Tempt Me (If You Want To)" are to die for. This is pure Eighties. You only can get a song like this on an album recorded in that era. The guitars (courtesy of master Michael Landau) are from outer space. Also the killer chorus and powerful vocal delivery by Lisa.
"I Don't Need Love" is a terrific commercial midtempo followed by the radiable "Ooh, I'm Satisfied". Then another gem; "I Can't Get You Out Of My System" with its increscendo magical AOR vibe with extra-compressed drums.
Quirky keyboards ornament the melody of "Tender Kiss", a track with a monster rhythm guitar work and one of the most seasoned performances by Hartman.
"The Dress" is another winner: a charming soft melodic rocker penned by cult AORster James House.
"How Many Rivers" is slow and climatic. Here Lisa sounds like Luba, that's not a surprise because this song is written by her together with Bill Wray. I love the bridge before the short guitar solo.
"Imagination" is the only track that sounds pretty retro, circa 1983. Synth bass and programmed drums on a 'Flashdance' style tune. Then title track "'Til My Heart Stops Beating" is 'one of those' ballads. Really good vocals and arrangements ready for FM stations.
"Til My Heart Stops" is a pretty unknown album for many AOR fans perhaps due Hartman's pop origins. It's full of great tunes, strong vocals and superb musicianship (check personnel below). It's a perfect product of its time.
This is unfortunately Lisa Hartman last recording before she got married and decided to quit the business.
But what a great one it is.
1 - Tempt Me (If You Want To)
2 - I Don't Need Love
3 - Ooh, I'm Satisfied
4 - I Can't Get You Out Of My System
5 - Tender Kiss
6 - The Dress
7 - How Many Rivers
8 - Imagination
9 - 'Till My Heart Stops Beating
Lisa Hartman - Lead & Background Vocals
Michael Landau - Guitars
Trevor Rabin - Acoustic Guitar Solo (2)
Waddy Wachtel - Guitar (6, 7); Guitar Solo (6)
Larry Klein - Bass, Keyboards, Fairlight
Phil Brown - Bass, Guitar, Background Vocals
Steve Goldstein - Linn Programming, Keyboards, Bass
Mick Guzauski, Manu Katche - Percussion
Craig Krampf - Drum over-dubs
Kevin Raleigh - Background Vocals (4)
Timothy Schmidt - Background Vocals (8)
The Waters - Background Vocals (7)
Bill Wray - Producer, Background vocals (5, 7)
LISA HARTMAN - 'Til My Heart Stops 1988
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Fronting his own band, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist TODD HOBIN enjoyed considerable success in the Syracuse, New York area since the late Seventies. The group released three albums and some singles back in the day, and while he still performs with the original Todd Hobin Band and as solo artist, stopped recording (at least full albums) since the mid-Eighties when this miniLP "Turn It On" appeared in 1984.
"Turn It On" was the result of his new band assembled after the last tour he did, re-branded TODD HOBIN and The HEAT. The music inside is the typical radio-friendly melodic rock with AOR touches from the era, with the special flavor some independent bands had.
Mostly are uptempo and melodious tunes, heavily synth dominated with strong guitars riffs. Todd has an 'affected' voice, and his style fits like a glove into these well written songs, simple and effective.
Also keyboardist Doug Moncrief provides back-up lead vocals creating really smooth harmonies.
All are cool numbers, perhaps my favorite is the title track, featuring a very good mid-paced intro with a keyboard festival throughout the entire track.
Added as bonus is "Far Away Eyes", an outtake that in fact they did not included into the miniLP because is was not finished at the time of the recording. It's one of the best tracks here, with some Franke & The Knockouts and Starship on it, and lots, lots of keyboards.
Very nice for the collection!
1 - Everybody's Girl
2 - For A Girl Like You
3 - She
4 - Alibi
5 - Turn It On
6 - Far Away Eyes (outtake / bonus track)
Todd Hobin: lead vocals, guitars
Doug Moncrief: lead & backing vocals, keyboards & guitars
Mark Novak: bass & backing vocals
Shawn Hobin: drums & backing vocals
TODD HOBIN and The Heat - Turn It On
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...
For any AOR fan, the name JAY GRAYDON needs no introduction. With twelve Grammy nominations (2 wins) this talented songwriter, recording artist, guitarist, singer, producer, arranger and recording engineer is one of the greats from the legendary LA scene.
Graydon also found time for his own projects, like PLANET 3 (featuring as band mates the cream of the genre in Clif Magness and Glen Ballard) releasing a stupendous album in the early '90s.
With such busy personnel, few would have expected a new Planet 3 album, but that happened in 2004 with this "Gems Unearthed" a follow up CD with many previously unreleased songs as well as re-worked, alternate versions of a few songs from the first Planet 3 album.
You have here superb AOR melodies, uptempo / ballad tunes full of elegance and class.
There's irresistible tracks like the lush "Jenny's Still In Love", the '80s synth gem "Push It In", the stratospheric AOR of "Criminal" alongside classy FM ballads such as "I Don't Want To Say Goodnight" or the beauty of "Tonight You're Mine".
You know, classic '80s stuff in the vein of Toto, Chicago, Keane, etc.
This Japanese release features 3 additional tracks, taken from Graydon's solo work: one is the Grammy awarded monster ballad "After the Love Has Gone" (written by Graydon / David Foster / Bill Champlin) in a new version sung by Champlin.
The others are "Roxann" with the unforgettable Warren Wiebe on lead vocals, and "Holdin' On to Love" featuring Sherwood Ball, both excellent cuts as well.
Needless to say, production, mix, mastering, etc. in "Gems Unearthed" is top notch, pristine and clear.
01 - After the Love Has Gone *
02 - Holdin' On to Love *
03 - Roxann *
04 - Jenny's Still In Love
05 - Modern Girl
06 - Tonight You're Mine
07 - Push It In
08 - Mondo Rock
09 - Criminal
10 - Comin' Together
11 - I Don't Want To Say Goodnight
12 - Make My Day
13 - I Gotta Have It
* Japanese edition extra tracks
Jay Graydon: guitars, keyboards, programming
Clif Magness: vocals, guitar, keyboards, programming
Glen Ballard: keyboards, programming
David Foster, Mark Portman: keyboards
Bill Cantos: keyboards, backing vocals
Kenji Sano: bass
Jerry Hey: horns
Jay Oliver: synths
Bill Champlin: vocals
Sherwood Ball: vocals
Warren Wiebe: vocals
PLANET 3 feat JAY GRAYDON Gems Unearthed [Japan version +3]
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...
"Danger In This Game", arguably the best album from Swedes GLORY, deserved a place on this blog. And that's simply because this record is among the best Melodic Hard Rock ever created from the Scandinavian factory.
With lovely AOR touches in the best Swedish / Norwegian / Danish tradition, you need "Danger In This Game" alongside your Europe, Alien or Treat collection.
Since the first bars of powerful opener title track 'Danger In This Game' you have pure Scandi magic. The AORish 'Never Stop', if released 3 years before, easily could have competed with any Europe hit.
'Runaway' is a killer melodic rocker, while 'Feel The Fire' is one of the best mid-tempo / semi-ballad emerged from the genre (very Alien-like) complete with lovely keyboards.
But the star here is guitarist Jan Granwick: this underrated axeman shines all over the record with punchy rhythms and stratospheric solos. Just listen his work on the driving 'Like An Eagle'...
More gems arrive with 'I'm Hurt', 'This Is The Love' and the superb 'Survivor' (again, a sharp six-string work).
You need "Danger In This Game" in your Melodic Hard Rock / AOR collection. It's a rare case of all killers, no fillers. Even the instrumental last track ironically titled 'Exhibition' (to mock all guitar heroes) is great and with sense of a 'song', not just pyrotechnics.
This very hard to find Japanese release of "Danger In This Game" (different cover... and mastering?) sounds much better than any other in my opinion, brighter and punchier.
A Must Have.
01 - Danger In This Game
02 - Never Stop
03 - Feel The Fire
04 - This Is The Love
05 - Runaway
06 - Like An Eagle
07 - Harmony
08 - I'm Hurt
09 - Tell Me (If I'm Wrong)
10 - Survivor
11 - Exhibition
Peter Eriksson - vocals
Jan Granwick - guitars
Andy Loos - bass, backing vocals
Jonas Sandkvist - keyboards
Matt Driver - drums
GLORY Danger In This Game [Japanese Edition]