Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.9 'The Extra Mile'

MARK FREE Hidden Treasures Vol.9 The Extra Mile
Last volume of this awesome recording collection by the gifted M. Free.
"(To Be) The Best Of The Best" from the soundtrack of the movie 'Best Of The Best II' isn't an unreleased track, but was requested to be included by some readers. This is the full version with the orchestrated intro.
There's also a pre-Signal demo for the band/project 'The Game' featuring Free on vocals, a couple of rare Unruly Child lost tracks like the obscure "Words Get Lost Again", and some recordings for the songwriting team Paress - Cuomo.
"Hypnotized" is a very, very early '80s demo (that I should have included in Vol. 6), and tracks 10 to 13 are pretty rare, to my knowledge, never seen into other compilations of this great artist.

Vol.9 it's the only one on my own; song selection, tape cleaning, editing & artwork.
Again, thanks to Plattenpapst & Giles (just readers and music lovers like you) for their inestimable contribution on previous volumes.
It has been a pleasure to work on these tapes to get the best audio quality possible, and share them with all of you.

MARK FREE rae demos The Extra Mile

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.9 NEW LINK

Sunday, December 26, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.8 'Studio Session B'

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.8 'Studio Session B'
More M. Free sessions.
Comprising great AOR tracks like "Waiting For You", "State Of Mind", "Two Hearts", poppy tunes ("Union Of The Soul", "World Of Wonder", "So Close, Yet So Far"), beautiful ballads as "You Make Me Feel Brand New", "Wishing You Could Be With Me", several 'Signal era' songs and some pretty old and good material ("Superhero", "Angel In Chains")
Most of them with really good sound quality.

Thanks again to Giles Lavery for some song contribution.
Tape cleaning, enhancing, editing & artwork by me.
Last volume, # 9; 'The Extra Mile', including rarely seen demos, coming up very soon...

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.8 rare demos

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.8 - option1

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.8 - option 2

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.7 'Studio Session A'

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.7 Studio Session A
Another M. Free 'extra' volume.
This one easily could be the best of all, not only for the quality of the songs but also the excellent sound.
I've enhanced and cleaned these tapes with patience and love, and let me tell you, most of them sound like pre-production demos or finished pro / ready-to-be-released material.

Besides, these songs are amongst the most difficult to find between the extensive Free's session recordings.
Added a new version of "Secrets", with much better quality than the one included in Vol.1.
Thanks again Mr. Giles Lavery for your contribution.
Tape cleaning, enhancing, editing & artwork by me.
Vol 8, 'Studio Session B', coming soon...

MARK FREE Demo Rare Hidden Treasures Studio Session A

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.7

Saturday, December 11, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.6 'The Early Years'

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.6 The Early Years
I was finishing my own Mark / Marcie Free compilation (apart from the Plattenpapst series) when another reader of the blog contacted me.
He wants to share with us all his private collection of hard to find M. Free stuff.
Giles Lavery (that's his name) from Australia, gently sent me a great bunch of rare tracks only available long time ago on Free's website; her personal 'Vault'.

Half of the tracks in this new volume comes from Giles, including very early Marcie recordings, and some of the awesome jingle ads she did in the '80s. All with quite good sound.
I've cleaned, edited and de-noised when needed to get the best audio quality possible.
Myself made artwork following the 'Plattenpapst standards' to make these series homogeneous.
Don't miss this, it's a great one. Thanks Giles!
At least 3 volumes (with more rarities) in the making... coming soon.

MARK FREE demo rarities The Early Years

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.6

Monday, December 06, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.5 'For Fans Only'

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.5
Final installment of Mark Free by Plattenpapst.
This one is basically the "12 lb Sledge" demos.
According to Plattenpapst:
" In 1993 Unruly Child, after losing their record deal with their label, had reformed under the moniker "Twelve Pound Sledge" and were writing new material in hopes of resigning with another U.S. label.
That never happened, and those songs from that writing session were released in 1996 as a solo album on independent labels in Germany and Japan, entitled Marcie Free "Tormented".
These are the original demos. "

Also included are some of the '80s recordings by Mark to songwriters Mark Baker, Barlow/Minto and as part of the 'Denver Project' ("Turn Your Head Around" was for the band Arrival)
Artwork, tracklist and song selection by Plattenpapst.
Cleaning, edition and de-noising by me.

MARCIE FREE rarities

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.5

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.4 'The Pop Collection'

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.4 The Pop Collection
This 4th volume compiles the Pop oriented tracks by Mark the sessionist.
Actually, you can smell some AORish scent on many tracks, like opener "Dancing On The Edge" or "I've Heard Everything Now"
But "Arms Of Love", "Arms Of Love" or "Everywhere I Turn" to name a few, are truly poppy.

I've added 6 extra songs to the compilation originally made by Plattenpapst, to offer a more meaty volume, including the awesome AOR tune "Cry Of Passion" requested on the chat box.
1 hour of pretty rare Mark Free recordings.
Artwork, tracklist and song selection by Plattenpapst & me.
Vol.5 : 'For Fans..', coming soon...

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Rariries

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.4

Mirror: MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.4

Thursday, November 25, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.3 'The Ballads Collection'

Vol.3 featuring a beautiful selection of Ballads, like the awesome midtempo "One Heartbeat" written by the mighty duo Judithe and Robin Randall, later recorded by VENUS & MARS for their 2nd album 'New Moon Rising' (already posted in this blog).
"The Night Has A Way" was penned by David Tyson and Christopher Ward, producers and songwriters for Alannah Miles. One of Mark Free favorites on his own words. This great tune was recorded later by NIGHT RANGER and GARY MOON for his solo album (posted here as well).
"If You Give Your Heart" is one of my personal favs, almost a lullaby song.
On "I Wish Was There With You", Mark sounds like John Waite, while "Hopelessly Lost" is a monster AOR tune.

Many tracks originally had a very low signal and lots of tape hiss noise, I've tried to enhance Mark's vocals to the maximum.
Artwork, tracklist and song selection by Plattenpapst.
Vol.4 : 'The Pop Collection', coming soon...

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.3

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.2 "The Arkenstone demo + Live"

This 2nd volume includes the never released recordings with New Age musician David Arkenstone plus some live tracks.
By this time, Arkenstone was experimenting with new tech tools to make music.
For this material, Pomp AOR oriented and fantasy themed, David hired the then unknown jingle-session man Mark Free to do the vocalizations. To my knowledge, these are Free's first professional recordings.

Particularly interesting are the bootleg live tracks with King Kobra, to clearly appreciate how powerfully Mark Free used to perform onstage. Just check the second half of 'Piece Of The Rock'.
I've done a pretty good job 'remastering' these tapes considering the source quality. I am very satisfied with the result.
Artwork, tracklist and song selection by Plattenpapst.
Vol.3 : 'The Ballads Collection', coming soon...

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.2

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.1 "The AOR Collection"

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.1 demos
Needless to describe MARK / MARCIE FREE pedigree.
An AOR icon, ex - King Kobra, Signal and now with the revamped Unruly Child.
During his / her career has spent a lot of time singing demos for various songwriters and artists in the music industry.

An active reader and contributor to this site, Mr. Plattenpapst from Germany, had the idea to compile the most significant Free's recordings into various volumes to share them with you all.
There will be 5 Volumes separated by genre, spanning all '80s / '90s works by Mark Free as session vocalist.
Only unreleased material, not the officially released (like 'Unruly Child - Basement Demos', for example)

Vol.1 is about the AOR recordings.
Most of these tracks were recorded at the time between Mark left King Kobra and formed Signal: '87/ '88 / '89.
Free was working as a driver for a courier service in L.A. and in the meantime he met songwriters Judithe and Robin Randall.
Once they hired Mark to sing their demos, they started telling all their other writer friends in California about his vocal duties and the phone started ringing.
"I needed the money really bad so I started singing demos for people. It really helped me to develop further my ability to sing in the studio and I was being paid for it", says Mark.

All the songs in this volume demonstrates the diversity, ductility and amplitude of Mark Free as performer.
You can hear also on some tracks Robin Randall's (and even Diana DeWitt) backing vocals.
"Your Wild Ways" was the first song Mark Free ever sang for the canadian songwriting team David Tyson / Christopher Ward.

Plattenpapst did the artwork, tracklist and song selection.
I just cleaned, edited and de-noised the tracks.
Hope you enjoy this 'joint-venture'.
Vol.2 : 'The Arkenstone demos', coming soon...

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures AOR

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.1

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

ZEROp - From Zero, To Hero + Zeroplugged (1995)

Time for the harder side of this blog.
Italian guitar hero Angi Schiliro, established in Switzerland, is known as former member of KINGDOM COME, PAGANINI, STORMBRINGER, and as songwriter for KROKUS, CHINA and other Swiss bands as well.
Also for his solo albums 'White Lady I & II', excellent pieces of powerful and stylized instrumental rock.
But Angi's most ambitious act was ZEROp, a hard / melodic rock band with international projection.
With his brother Claudio Schiliro as vocalist, the band was ready to conquer the world, but unfortunately the dream was suddenly truncated by a terrible car accident, which put Claudio out of action for years.

Their Self-Titled one and only effort, also known as "From Zero, To Hero", is one of the best hard rock albums coming out of Europe during the '90s and years to come.
Sounding like a mix of FAIR WARNING, JADED HEART and American classic Hard Rock bands, with a flawless musicianship, big hooks and first class production, this disc has all to be a real winner.
The guitar work is just sensational, massive killer razor riffs & solos but clean & polished with tons of harmonies.
Claudio Schiliro vocals are powerful, yet sweet in the ballady, and the rhythm section blast the speakers with a monster sound.

And the songs... phenomenal if we talk about melodious hard rock.
'Zerock' is catchy and very americanized, 'Last Of The Teenage Idol' in a VAN HALEN style, 'Waiting For Your Love' like the first EXTREME but much much bigger.
'Cryin' Out for Mercy' (co-written with the great Mervyn Spence of O'RYAN / FACE FACE fame) is a terrific melodic rocker sounding like a WHITESNAKE 1987 tune. Just Great!
'The One And Only' seems a track off JADED HEART's debut, a melodic hard rock perfection from start to finish.
The beautiful mid-tempo 'Breathless' features fantastic arrangements, and 'Billy Boy' is a freight train ala Mr.BIG (guitars galore).
The ballads are awesome too, 'No Time For Lyin', 'Eternally Yours' (love this tune) and 'I Still Want You'.

"From Zero, To Hero" was reissued in 2005 but the mastering job is terrible.
This is a rip from the hard to find original release 'Limited Edition' (sounds great) which includes a bonus CD featuring acoustic versions and a non album track. Full artwork / lyrics (12 scans) in the file.
Do yourself a favor: don't miss this killer album, and crank it to 10.
Highly Recommended

01 - Zerock
02 - Last Of The Teenage Idol
03 - Waiting For Your Love
04 - Cryin' Out For Mercy
05 - No Time For Lyin'
06 - Space Shuffle
07 - The One And Only
08 - Breathless
09 - Billy Boy
10 - Eternally Yours
11 - I Still Want You
12 - Is This The End

Bonus CD:

1/3 - Cryin' Out For Mercy (acoustic)
2/3 - Johnny's On The Run (acoustic) *
3/3 - Eternally Yours (acoustic)

* non album track

Claudio Schiliro - Vocals
Angi Schiliro - Guitars, Backing Vocals
David Pisano - Keyboards
Enzo Butta - Bass
Diego Rapacchietti - Drums, Percussion

ZEROp - From Zero, To Hero + Zeroplugged

Sunday, November 07, 2010

CHRIS FARREN - Sign Of Life [unreleased] (1992)

CHRIS FARREN - Sign Of Life unreleased 1992
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer/publisher Chris Farren has scored twenty top 10 singles, 10 Grammy nomination (won 1), various ACM, CMA nominations, picked up American Songwriter's 1997 Country Producer of the Year Award, all as songwriter & producer, and have credits on over 20 million record sales.

But never achieved success as singer/performer.

From the piano lessons he began at four years old, to the guitar, trombone, and saxophone, to the club bands he played in during high school and college, his entire life was consumed by music: “Music just had a strangely powerful allure for me.”
He enrolled at East Carolina University, but when the course work began leading him toward classical music, he switched his major to English, and focused on creative writing as a way of advancing his interest in writing songs.
He graduated in 1981, moved to Los Angeles, and supported himself playing club gigs and as a session singer on demos, jingles, and backups.

Farren signed an artist/writer publishing deal with MCA in 1983 and created a niche writing for film and television during the mid-80s, appearing on soundtracks like 'Night Of The Comet', 'The Heavenly Kid', "Jake Speed", and on other artists albums as performer like the wonderful KAZU MATSUI PROJECT posted HERE.
Advised that he did not fit the techno/heavy metal/glam rock image then popular, and that Nashville was the only place then embracing the singer/songwriter, he made the move, despite not considering himself a country artist.

Between producing, playing guitar and singing backup on other people's records, co-writing with some of the city's best songwriters and the session work he continued to do for movies in Los Angeles, Farren was able to record and engineering demos of his own songs.
All these recordings are likely finished material, with excellent sound and production, but never were officially released.

"Sign Of Life" is a bootleg, but what a great collection of songs. And I insist, sounds mostly like a final production.
'Dreams' starts in a subtle manner but then explodes into a soundtrack / AOR style tune with great rhythm and awesome guitar playing.
The midtempo / ballad 'No Sign Of Life' is a gorgeous song in the best Steve Kipner style, while 'Together We Stand Alone' has hints of his Nashville residency, featuring excellent vocal harmonies.
'Dance Of Love' is just the man and his acoustic guitar, a breezy and charming tune, here you can take note of his ductility as composer.
'What Kind Of Man' is another soft track, remembers me David Foster, don't ask me why. Beautiful one.
'When The Lightning Strike' is a pure AOR song, but 'homemade' stripped and direct, I could imagine this one with big and lush production sounding great.
'Dirty Money' is in the Stan Meissner style, with nice guitar work.
The arrangements and production of 'Somebody Save Me' are in the pure L.A. smooth WestCoast style.
'I Will Be Waiting' wrap this compilation, a good soft AOR with a pulsing bass line and very nice chorus.

"Sign Of Life" remains unreleased, not because it is devoid of talent or opportunities to be published (Farren has very good contacts in the business), surely he decided to full turn over his career into the producing / publishing department.
Swedish bootleg ripped @ max quality including artwork.
Very Rare and Hard to Find.

01 - Dreams
02 - No Sign Of Life
03 - Together We Stand Alone
04 - Anything For Money
05 - Dance Of Love
06 - What Kind Of Man
07 - When The Lightning Strike
08 - Dirty Money
09 - Somebody Save Me
10 - I Will Be Waiting

Personnel: unlisted


Thursday, November 04, 2010

ERIC RUSSELL - Personal (1993)

Requested by my friend Nitderock...

Olivier Constantin is a talented french vocalist who has worked with all the major european pop stars as backing vocalist.
His debut album "Personal" was published only in Japan under the pseudonym of ERIC RUSSELL.
Apparently, his Japanese label preferred a more anglo-american name for this AOR release, as the performers from this origin were very popular in Asia at that time.
"Personal" is considered the best westcoast / AOR album sung in english ever recorded by a french artist.
Eric / Olivier's voice is warm and captivating, sounding absolutely american, with a perfect diction.

The album opens with the short beautiful piano ballad (strange things of the Asian market) 'Song To Chloe', followed by a sweet westcoast midtempo tune; 'Never Be Mine'.
'In The Middle Of The Day' it's a very calm tune that reminds me the best Michael McDonald. This song has refined arrangements and the songwriting is perfect.
'Shining' scatters a wonderful Lite AOR / pop with a charming pre-chorus and a sticky main chorus enriched by very nice female backing vocals.
The uptempo ballad 'Nobody Knows' has tons of class and again, superb songwriting.

'Someday Somehow' is the star of this recording, a killer classic uptempo AOR melody with a chorus to die for. This kind of songs is the reason why I love this genre...
'Don't Waste Your Time' is a lovely wimpy american ballad, 'Don't Slow Down' a catchy rhythmic poppy AOR and 'Mona Liza' it's wrapped with a very nice aura, a song much in the Paul Janz style.

Constantin managed to release this album in Germany (with european distribution) 2 years later under his real name Olivier Constantin, with a completely different tracklist.
Two songs were replaced (one of them, the best of all: 'Someday Somehow' !!!) with 2 new recordings.

"Personal" is a ridiculously good album on all aspects; great songwriting, excellent musicianship and first class production.
It's incredible that is not better known in the AOR world.
Tie & Jacket AOR / Westcoast, with lots of class and style in the best American - Canadian tradition.
Out Of Print.
Highly Recommended

01 - Song To Chloe
02 - Never Be Mine
03 - In The Middle Of The Day
04 - Shining
05 - Nobody Knows
06 - Someday Somehow
07 - Don't Waste Your Time
08 - Don't Slow Down
09 - Mona Liza
10 - Serenade

Eric Russell : Lead Vocals, Background Vocals
Jean Marc Alexandre, Franck Pilan, Kamil Rustam : Guitars
Thierry Durbet : Keyboards, Synths, Programming
Mario Santangeli : Hammond B3
Arnaud Aubaille : Piano
Dominique Grimaldi : Bass
Yves Sanna : Drums
Virginie Constantin, Mimi Felixine, Natacha Gerardin & Mario Santangeli : Background Vocals
Produced by Laurent Blancon


Wednesday, November 03, 2010


From now, all request & fills goes in this post Comments.

If you need an album or a single track, request it here, if you have it, be kind with other readers, upload the file and post the link here as well.
Access to this page will be placed at the right column →
("CLICK HERE" neon sign, or clicking here in Comments)-
It will be opened in a new window.

Check this section regularly.
You'll find many links uploaded by readers, not present in the main blog...

Help each other people!

and don't forget to check out ARCHIVES:






take a deep look at the end of each part...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

KING OF HEARTS - ST 1989 (1999)

KING OF HEARTS 1989 Funderburk Kelly Keagy
Requested by my friend Juba...

The group KING OF HEARTS born during Richard Marx's "Repeat Offender" recording sessions in 1988.

In fact, this is a duo comprising the talents of multi-platinum songwriter, guitarist, producer, engineer Bruce Gaitsch (Richard Marx, Chicago, Michael Bolton) and Tommy 'the-angels-voice-like-no-other-on-the-face-of-earth' Funderburk, supported by a dream team: Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger) on drums and vocals, George Hawkins (Kenny Loggins band) on bass, Bill Champlin (need to say!) on keyboards and vocals and more.

KING OF HEARTS has released 4 albums, all in Japan, Sweden and Germany only.
Particularly this one, their debut, recorded for a major US label in 1989 but rejected, never was published until 1999 by a japanese small company.
And what a gem it is.
Marketed erroneously as a westcoast album (although contains some tracks in this style and vibe), this is pure AOR guys.
Not the swirling-keyboard type, just pure American AOR. And rocks.

I can't highlight one track, all are really good. But 'Remember Me' ... OMG... super-duper first class AOR tune.
Tommy shines everywhere and Gaitsch guitar work is perfect (there's rumors that master Jay Graydon also play guitar, uncredited).
Attention Nigh Ranger fans, many of you do not know the fact that Kelly Keagy did lead vocals here on 'Smack Dab', 'Under The Gun' and 'Was It Good For You', and in 'Everyday' with Funderburk.
No fillers in sight, great song after great song, superb musicianship, terrific songwriting and top notch production.

This request was easy to fill because KING OF HEARTS is one of my favorites AOR acts ever. Yes, it's that GOOD.
High quality rip with scans.
A MUST HAVE, no self-respecting AOR fan should be without it.

01 - Working Man
02 - In So Many Words
03 - Don't Call My Name
04 - Smack Dab
05 - Remember When
06 - Hold On To Love
07 - Under The Gun
08 - Lovin' Arms
09 - Was It Good For You
10 - Everyday
11 - King Of Hearts

Tommy Funderburk: Vocals
Bruce Gaitsch: Guitars
Kelly Keagy: Drums, Vocals
George Hawkins: Bass, Vocals
Additional Musicians:
CJ Vanston: Keyboards
Bill Champlin: Hammond B3, Vocals
Timothy Schmit and Randy Meisner: Backing Vocals

Produced by David Cole & Bruce Gaitsch


Monday, October 25, 2010

ICON - An Even More Perfect Union (1987-95)

ICON - An Even More Perfect Union
What can I say about ICON?
One of my Top 25 bands of the '80s, and their fantastic 2nd album "Night Of The Crime", The Greatest Melodic Hard AOR Album Of All Time ever, my #1 favourite.

When the awesome lead vocalist Steve Clifford quit the band after the recording of NOTC, the group auditioned hundreds of potential singers looking for the right replacement.
Jerry Harrison was chosen, the new ICON then showcased for their label in an effort to persuade them that they were ready to continue. But the company drop the band.
Without a deal, ICON set about resurrecting their career.
Choosing a different musical approach, the group then took it upon themselves to self finance their third album.

Recorded in their native Arizona and produced by leader Dan Wexler, "More Perfect Union" was self released locally on cassette only, containing 10 tracks.
Its intention was introduce the new members and melodic style to the fans and re-establish them for hopes of being signed with a new label.
Thanks to the action of a rabid fan group, this 'lost' ICON album was properly released on CD for the first time in 1995, re-entitled "An Even More Perfect Union" including 7 previously unreleased tracks: 4 songs from the same recording sessions not included in the cassette, 2 songs written in preparation for their third major label release ("Right Between The Eyes" 1989) and a melodic rocking version of the classic christmas song "Little Drummer Boy" recorded around 1988.

"More Perfect Union" was the natural evolution of this kind of bands circa '86-'88: melodic rock / AOR, radio-friendly tunes, with great catchy melodies and polished sound. You may like ICON or not but you can't argue that they have done the same record twice.
Full of persistent keys courtesy of the new keyboardist Kevin Stroller, this album has a really good production for an indie, and the '95 remaster job from the old tapes by Steve Escallier (who originally produced and engineered the album with Wexler) is more than satisfactory.
I can't recommend one track, all are good, I am a sucker for this style and for this band.

"An Even More Perfect Union" was pressed in limited quantities, each one signed and numbered, and now fetches extremely high prices at auction sites.
There's also an unauthorized 2 on 1 CD (together with "Night Of The Crime") but due to the lack of physical CD space only features 12 tracks.
Recently (2009) a second reissue was released by a small label, also a fairly limited edition, and has become pretty scarce too.
This is a copy at maximum quality of the original '95 numbered press CD, including FULL artwork.
More than Highly Recommended; Mandatory Download

01 - In Your Eyes
02 - Local Heroes
03 - One Step Behind
04 - Walk Away
05 - Forever Young
06 - Lost Love
07 - Eyes Of The Prisoner
08 - Better Left Unsaid
09 - Left To be Alone
10 - Hold On
11 - Way Back To My Heart (prev. unreleased)
12 - Stranger Things (prev. unreleased)
13 - Strong Love (prev. unreleased)
14 - Second Hand People (prev. unreleased)
15 - Sweet Young Sinner (bonus track)
16 - Gold Bullets (bonus track)
17 - Little Drummer Boy (bonus track)

KEVIN STROLLER: Digital & Analog Syntesizers
JOHN AQUILINO: Additional Guitars


Saturday, October 16, 2010

TYCOON - Turn Out The Lights (1981) remastered

TYCOON - Turn Out The Lights

TYCOON was a New York based band formed by vocalist Norman Mershon and multi-instumentalist Mark Kreider.
The duo recruited some well known session musicians and released a self titled album in the late '70s which made a modest hit in the charts.
Two years after, the group took a completely different approach to their second effort "Turn Out The Lights": AOR was starting to rule the airwaves.

With the polished and expert production of Vini Poncia (Adrenalin, Kiss) and the always effective guitars by Bobby Messano (Joe Lynn Turner, Fiona, Martee LeBow, Franke And The Knockouts) Norman Mershon
offers in this recording all his vocal abilities and tasteful tone.
'One More Try' is a moody syncopated westcoast tune, followed by the superb pure classy AOR 'Walkin' The Line', in the vein of BALANCE debut.
'Hang On In' is a totally eighties melody and you can hear the typically "Poncia touch" here.
'Love You Till It Hurts' seems to be recorded by TOTO, one of the highlights here.
'Let It Down' is a sweet commercial ballad, 'This Island Earth' features a curious arrangement during the verses and 'C'mon Over' is simple but catchy.
The title track 'Turn Out The Lights' has a candy-floss piano very TOTO's Hold The Line, also remembers me a Little River Band tune. A really good one.

Regarded as a true and obscure AOR gem by many fans, this album is criminally ignored on almost every Classic AOR list.
Maybe it does not reach the cult status, but it's a great record that failed to sold well and rank in the charts due to the label lack of promotion.
This is a rip from the Renaissance 2 in 1 remastered CD release, featuring their self titled debut and "Turn Out The Lights", which tracklist has been changed (I think it works better than the original) plus 2 extra tracks added: 'Yes Men' and 'Over My Head'.

As said, a very good album, well respected by serious AOR connoisseurs.
At this point, maybe you're tired by my repetitive footprint notes from my last posts : 'Highly Recommended'... I mostly share with you albums that I like a lot (except some requests) or consider worth to investigate, and this one fits that rule, hence... ;
Highly Recommended

01 - One More Try
02 - Walkin' The Line
03 - Can't Take That Away
04 - Hang On In
05 - Love You Till It Hurts
06 - Call The Police
07 - Yes Men
08 - Let It Down
09 - This Island Earth
10 - C'mon Over
11 - Over My Head
12 - Turn Out The Lights

Norman Mershon - vocals
Mark Kreider - bass, vocals
Bobby Messano - guitars, vocals
Jon Gordon - guitars, vocals
Keith Taylor, Michael Fonfara - keyboards
Mark Rivera - sax, vocals
Mike Braun - drums


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

PARBER & KERSTEIN - Stories From The Heart (1991)

PARBER & KERSTEIN - Stories From The Heart 2 bonus

Danish songwriters Jan Parber and Jes Kerstein teamed up with Morten Munch (former bassist of cult AOR heroes Skagarack) on the production duties, to release their one and only album "Stories From The Heart" in 1991.
These songs recorded throughout 1990 are heavily inspired and influenced by TOTO with the classic '80s scandi sound in the mix, it could be described as a light version of SKAGARACK combined with TOTO's rhythm / westcoast touches and GLASS TIGER on the hi-tech moments.

Opens with a climatic 'Intro' followed by a TOTOished pumping melodic rocker; "Keep On Waiting", featuring an interesting wall of vocals.
This is a distinctive aspect of this album: unusual background vocals/effects that makes it special.
"You Could Be The Last" is a great '80s flavored midtempo, "I'll Love You Forever" is the first ballad and what a song, I don't know why but remembers me ALIAS / FREDDY CURCI. Again, awesome layered vocals.
"Talk Too Much" seems taken from a 1983-84 american recording: poppy - AOR at its best.
"Love Don't Come Easy" is up next, a killer midtempo AOR that sounds a lot like SKAGARACK with nice keyboards. A really good one.
"Open Up Your Heart" is the 2nd ballad, much more relaxed than the previous, featuring a great power guitar solo.
"The World Keeps On Turning" is like a missing STRANGEWAYS track from the late 80's while "Give It From The Heart" is simple but effective, although I don't like the drum sound here.
"In Your Eyes" is another monster midtempo like DARE '88, great songwriting!
"Angel", another wonderful ballad a la SKAGARACK closes the disc.

This highly sought-after CD was rightly reissued in 2001 with a bonus track; "Once In A Lifetime" the official song for the Trialthon World Championship Games 2001, a bit different to the rest, an anthem-epic style tune, sung by ex Skagarack vocalist Tommy Rasmussen and composed by Parber & Kerstein together with british guitarist Ashly Mulford who had made himself a career with SAD CAFE and Mike & The Mecanics.
But this is a rip from the original 1991 press which sounds much better in my opinion.
I've added "Once In A Lifetime" anyway, and to make it more interesting, the only other song performed and recorded by this band; "Drømmer Om Dig" (Dreamin' Of You), for the 'Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2001' (the danish Eurovision Song Contest). This single was sung by Kenny Lübcke (ex Narita and Zozer Mez).

"Stories From The Heart" is a must for any AOR fan.
The song material is very, very good throughout the album, and it's hard to name favourites. Excellent artistic production / mix as well.
Highly Recommended

01 - Intro
02 - I Keep On Waiting
03 - You Could Be The Last
04 - I'll Love You Forever
05 - Talk Too Much
06 - Love Don't Come Easy
07 - Open Your Heart
08 - The World Keeps On Turning
09 - Give It From The Heart
10 - Moving In Circles
11 - In Your Eyes
12 - Angel
Bonus Tracks:
13 - Once In A Lifetime *
from official '"ITU Triathlon Championship" single
14 - Drømmer Om Dig (Dreams About You) +
from "Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2001"

Jan Parber: Vocals, Background Vocals, Keyboards
Jes Kerstein: Guitars, Keyboards
Morten Munch: Keyboards, Bass, Guitars, Bckgr Vocals
Tommy Rasmussen: Keyboards, Lead Vocals*, Bckgr Vocals
Carsten Kolster: Drums
Jan Kaspersen, Jesper Gruschy: Sax
Ole Hansen: Piano
Kenny Lübcke: Vocals +

Thursday, October 07, 2010

GOTTHARD - Dream Ballads


I have never been a big fan of this band.
But one of GOTTHARD's undoubted strengths is their ability to write quality, deep soulful power ballads featuring terrific chroruses.
Maybe you have not read the news, their frontman Steve Lee passed away last Tuesday in a traffic accident when he was fulfilling a life-long dream of driving around the U.S. on a Harley Davidson.

This is a humble tribute to the man: my favorite ballads.
If you have never listened to this group, try it now, you will not regret.
If you already know them, enjoy this collection.
R.I.P. Steve. -

01 - I'm On My Way
02 - Peace Of Mind
03 - One Life, One Soul
04 - Father Is That Enough?
05 - Say Goodbye
06 - Everything Can Change (piano version)
07 - All I Care For
08 - Let It Rain
09 - Someday
10 - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
11 - Heaven (radio version)
12 - Everything I Want
13 - Homerun (original version)
14 - Let It Be (Live)
15 - Angel (Live)
16 - Love Soul Matter (Live)
17 - Out On My Own (Live)
18 - And Then Goodbye

Steve Lee: Vocals
Leo Leoni : Guitars
Mandy Meyer : Guitars
Marc Lynn : Bass
Hena Habegger : Drums

artwork preview:

GOTTHARD - Dream Ballads

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

WHAT IF - What If (1987)

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk

Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Tommy Funderburk has been one of the most hired main / background singers since the early 80's ; Airplay, Boston, Stan Bush, The Cult, Tim Feehan, Richard Marx, Van Stephenson, John Waite, Whitesnake and more and more...
Around 1983 Tommy met drummer Bob Wilson from the group SEAWIND, they formed THE FRONT and recorded a cool self titled album in '84 that was followed by a U.S / European tour in 1985.
By 1987 Funderburk and Bob Wilson reformed the band and brought in Larry Williams on keyboards and saxophone, changed name to WHAT IF and released this gem on a major label.

What can I say about this great album... I am Funderburk's unconditional fan.
His high multi-tone vocals, perfect modulation, turns into gold everything it touches. Tommy's performance here, as usual, is perfect.
"Perfect World" written by Glen Burtnik (and later recorded by ALIAS / Freddy Curci solo) is a winner of course, but there's much more on offer here.
Just listen "One Look" vocalization... WOW
"Ride The Hurricane" has an awesome guitar work and "Love Is A Fire" beats you with a killer tempo, even the sax is great and strong.
All tracks are outstanding and production First Class.

Add to the package the 'who is who' in the AOR session world: maestros Michael Landau and Dann Huff on guitars, Larry Klein (pumpin' bass sound!), Casey Young, Paulinho Da Costa, Bill Champlin, Bob Carlisle, etc.
Ripped from the japanese CD (brilliant sound) @ maximum quality.
Highly, Highly Recommended.

01 - What If
02 - If This Is Love
03 - Perfect World
04 - One Look
05 - Ride The Hurricane
06 - She Rocked The World
07 - Love Is A Fire
08 - When Right Is Wrong
09 - Turn And Walk Away

Tommy Funderburk : LEAD Vocals
Larry Williams : Keyboards, Sax
Bob Wilson : Drums
Michael Landau : Guitars
Dann Huff : Guitars
Jakko M. Jakszyk : Guitars
Larry Klein : Bass
Paulinho Da Costa : Percussion
Casey Young : Synthesizer
Eric Persing : Synth, Programming
Bill Champlin : Backing Vocals
Bob Carlisle : Backing Vocals


thanks Lostryder for the re-up

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

JOURNEY - The Reissue Bonuses & More

JOURNEY Reissue Bonus

Per request, JOURNEY bonus now.
All these tracks has been released before, some in not so easy to find albums, but all released in one way or another.

"Frontiers" adds:
11 - Only The Young (Vision Quest soundtrack)
12 - Ask The Lonely (Two Of Kind soundtrack)
13 - Liberty (non album track from Time³)
14 - Only Solutions (TRON soundtrack)

"Raised On Radio" adds:
12 - Girl Can't Help It [Live Video Mix]
13 - I'll Be Alright Without You [Live Video Mix]

"Departure" adds:
13 - Natural Thing (Don't Stop Believin' b-side)
14 - Little Girl (Dream After Dream soundtrack)

"Escape" adds:
11 - La Raza Del Sol (Still They Ride b-side)
12 - Don't Stop Believin' [Live In Houston 81]
13 - Who's Cryin' Now [Live In Houston 81]
14 - Open Arms [Live In Houston 81]

"Trial By Fire" adds:
16 - I Can See It In Your Eyes (orig. Japan bonus)

Extra tracks:
12 - I'm Not That Way (Arrival Japan Version)
ARRIVAL US and SACD editions doesn't include this song. Only appeared on the Japanese edition.
14 - To Be Alive Again
This is ARRIVAL japanese bonus track.
03 - Remember Me [Extended Version] (Remember Me single)
'Remember Me' was originally written and performed as part of the soundtrack for Armageddon. It was the first song that Steve Augeri performed as the new lead singer for the band... but this is the extended version, not the one present in the OST, only appeared (as far I know) in a rare 1998 US promotional film 5-track CDsingle.

Myself made artwork:


Thursday, September 23, 2010

JOHN MILES BAND - Transition [Krescendo CD reissue] (1985)


Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

By 1984, John Miles' career was stagnant.
Thanks to his friendship with Jimmy Page, he signed a contract with the subsidiary UK label (now defunct) "Valentino" for a new album.
Although John had initially considered producing himself, it was decided to use Trevor Rabin, (formerly of YES and composer of the music for the film 'Armageddon').

The band flew to L.A. and began to recording.
Unfortunately, due to Rabin's commitments, only two tracks were laid down but what tracks they were!
"Blinded" is truly an epic track. It starts ballady before getting heavier as it builds up to the chorus where John delivers the lyrics with plenty of gusto and emotion. The tune is extremely powerful and has a great guitar solo.
The second Rabin-produced track was "I Need Your Love". This song is a superb midtempo AOR ballad filled with beautiful keyboards.

John and co. returned to the UK and teamed up with Pat Moran at the Rockfield Studios in Wales. While Trevor’s production added a lot of sophistication, Moran allows the band to shine through without the interference of too much slick production.
The album was to be called "Transition", credited as "John Miles Band" acknowledging that it was very much a group effort. While John appeared on the front picture sleeve with dictionary style printing, a group picture appeared on the reverse.

"Transition" is a really good rock / AOR album, totally commercial '80s american-radio style.
Miles sings with passion, and the band sounds fabulously tight: Bob Marshall on bass and monster drummer Barriemore Barlow (Jimmy Page, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen).
And contains 'Blinded', one of the best spine-tingling ballads of all time.
It is a crime that never has been released on CD.
This is a rip from the unofficial CD edition by Krescendo bootleg label.
If you own "Transition" on vinyl, grab the file anyway, includes the bonus b-side & artwork, and it's ripped at maximum quality (320K).

01 - Once In Your Life
02 - Run
03 - Blinded
04 - You're The One
05 - I Need Your Love
06 - Hard Time
07 - Who Knows
08 - Don't Lie To Me
09 - Watching Over Me
10 - Good So Bad (Bonus Track, b-side)

John Miles: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Barriemore Barlow: Drums, Percussion, Bckg Vocals
Bob Marshall: Bass, Guitars
Casey Young: Keyboards programming
Andy Thomas: Keyboards programming

Thanks Martin!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FAITHFULL - Light This City (2003)

Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

FAITHFULL born in 2001 in Portugal by the hand of Rui Martins (guitars) and vocalist Sergio Sabino (ex - Evidence).
The first demo, including 13 songs, captured the attention of the sadly now defunct spanish record label Vinny Records.
Produced by Luis Barros (Tarantula), "Light This City" was released at the end of 2003 in Europe and Japan only.
The band gets surprised that the album quickly climb #11 in the Japanese "TOP50 Rock/HR/HM" chart.

"Light This City" is a melodic rock festival, nothing pretentious, just a trip back to the glorius days of fun, sing along tunes from the 1989-91 era.
Opener title track gives you the full picture: "Light This City, We're Dancin' This Saturday Night, Another Dancin' Smashin' Sleepless Night". Yeah!
The album sounds clean and punchy, like DANGER DANGER's Paul Laine era. In fact, Sergio Sabino is a blend of Jon Bon Jovi and Paul Laine, and sings without any accent at all.
But also the first HAREM SCAREM, BON JOVI, HARDLINE, FIREHOUSE, etc comes to mind.

Presenting a really cool mix of very well written catchy rockers with sweet ballads, sung / played cleanly and professionally produced, "Light This City" is maybe the best rockin' album arrived from Portugal so far.
Solid, consistent and enjoyable recording for fans of classic late 80's era melodic rock.
This is the original spanish label release. Added to the bunch the japanese bonus track "Cast Out The Rain".
GOOD stuff.

01 - Light This City
02 - There's No Turning Back
03 - All I Want, All I Need
04 - I've Been Missing You
05 - You Won't Get Me Now
06 - Ending Song
07 - Melting Your Ice
08 - Learned My Lesson
09 - Like A Shadow
10 - The Way I Am
11 - Way Back
12 - Please (European bonus)
13 - Cast Out The Rain (Japan bonus)

Sergio Sabino: Vocals
Rui Martins: Guitars
Nuno Ledesma: Bass, Backing Vocals
Sergio Ramos: Drums

FAITHFULL - Light This City

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

STEVE PERRY - The Reissue Bonuses & More

STEVE PERRY - Reissue Bonus Tracks
Steve Perry... don't need to spend a single word about his greatness.
I assume you already have his 2 solo albums (if not, what are you waiting for?)
But perhaps many don't own the reissues with the bonus pack.
Here they are, all of them, in all its glory (320K).

"For The Love Of Strange Medicine" adds:
* 12.If You Need Me, Call Me (from FTLOSM sessions. Re-recorded track of Perry's pre-Journey band, 'Alien Project').
* 13.One More Time (from FTLOSM sessions, outtake)
both tracks only appeared on 'You Better Wait +4' CDsingle, 1994.
* 14.Can't Stop (unreleased)
* 15.Friends Of Mine (unreleased)
both tracks from 'Against The Wall', the unfinished album recorded by Perry around '85-'86
* 16.Missing You [Live in San Francisco] (unreleased)

"Street Talk" adds:
* 11.My My My
* 12.Harmony
* 13.Makes No Difference
these 3 are demos from the unreleased 'Alien Project' sessions
* 14.Don't Tell Me Why You're Leaving ('Oh Sherrie' B-side)
* 15.If Only For The Moment Girl (from We Are The World)

To make it more meaty, I've added some extras:
* Don't Fight It [with Kenny Loggins] from Greatest Hits Expanded edition.
* Missing You [Writing Session version] from 'Missing You' CDsingle.
* You Better Wait [Single Version] from 'You Better Wait' CDsingle.
* I Stand Alone - from 'Quest For Camelot OST'
* A Brand New Start - from David Pack's 'The Secret Of Movin' On', beautiful duet, also co-written by Perry.
* Lost Angels [demo - For The Love Of Strange Medicine outtake]
* Let Go [demo - For The Love Of Strange Medicine outtake]
* Let It Rock You [rare demo, unknown session]
* Something To Hide [very rare old demo taken from Perry's old website]

All interesting tracks to appreciate the incredible 'evolution' of JOURNEY's one and only singer.
Specially the demos are pretty rare, I haven't seen 'Something To Hide' nowhere. The song is terrible, but listen the young Steve testing his falsetto...

Myself made artwork, click on the picture to preview:


Monday, September 20, 2010

HEARTLAND - Move On [Japan release] (2005)

HEARTLAND Move On japan release
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

For those unfamiliar with HEARTLAND, this UK band formed by ex VIRGINIA WOLF vocalist Chris Ousey debuted in 1991 with their self titled AOR classic.
By the 3rd disc, monster guitarist / producer Steve Morris (EXPORT, SHADOWMAN) joins the band and since then they have released 8 albums together.
HEARTLAND has never really made a bad album but "Move On" is their best in my opinion on par with the debut. While the "ST" was a pure AOR - rock gem, this one is a perfect blend of furious melodic rock with classic AOR.
Ousey / Morris have written the best pack of songs since they're working as a team, guitars are sharp and big, production is tougher and tighter than ever, and the mix, done by Tommy Hansen (SKAGARACK, PRETTY MAIDS) in Denmark, is awesome.

In the japanese release tracklist is different, and I think the album works better.
"City Of Lights" starts with a rippin' guitar, and then big drums and powerful vocals. The song has a terrific chorus with huge backing vocals.
This is a high point on this recording, vocals are layered more than ever before in any Heartland album, the band took a special care into this department hiring a specialized vocal producer (Anders Rydhom) to this matter.
"Too Sad To Cry" is a high quality rockin' AOR and "Hell Or High Water" a moody midtempo with acoustic guitars, both in the vein the band's earlier albums.

Rocking hard again, "Hard Hearted Man" features a killer axe work, and Chris Ousey sounding like Mr. Big's Eric Martin here. Another monster chorus.
Now again a beautiful uptempo AOR : "Where Do We Go From Here", a keyboard dominated track in the true Heartland tradition, reminiscent of VIRGINIA WOLF albums or even JOURNEY.
"Getting Ready" is another highlight, classy british AOR sound, reminds me the bands CHANGE OF HEART and GRAND ILLUSION (vocalist from the latter, Peter Sundell, did backing vocals here).
"How Was I To Know" is a true AOR power ballad, Ousey shines here.
Instrumental "Redemption" may sound out of place, but it's a nice break, and you can note Morris' diversity playing this melody. He's really, really good with the 6 strings.
"Remember Me?" has tons of energy and a big wall of guitars.

As said, the overall sound is brillant, crisp, huge, and the band delivers some memorable choruses and enough hooks to keep you rocking.
One (if not the) best album of 2005 in this genre.

01 - City Of Lights
02 - Too Sad To Cry
03 - Hell Or High Water
04 - Hard Hearted Man
05 - Where Do We Go From Here
06 - One Fine Day
07 - Getting Ready
08 - How Was I To Know
09 - Take Me Alive
10 - Redemption (instrumental)
11 - Remember Me?
12 - Rotate (hidden track)

Produced & recorded by Steve Morris
Vocals produced & recorded by Anders Rydhom

Chris Ousey: vocals
Steve Morris: guitar, keyboards
Mathias Gregersen: bass
Rasmus Duedahl: drums
Additional Musicians;
Bjarne T. Holm: drums on "Getting Ready"
Peter Sundell & Per Svensson (Grand Illusion): backing vocals


Friday, September 17, 2010

MYDRA - Mydra [reissue 2005] (1988)

Mydra 1988 reissue 2005
MYDRA, German band based in Hamburg, recorded their self titled debut in 1987/8, and soon become out of print.
This is a very good melodic hard rock album with big arrangements, strong guitars and a couple of songs in the scandi-AOR style to die for.

First track "I've Got the Power" really got the power with the huge dual guitar / keyboard riff and the pompous arrangement. A monster song, with excellent production.
"Freeway Blues" is, imho, the weakest track of all, no bad, just plain hardrocker, but "She's No Lover" returns with the guitar / key duel magic.
Then "California"; yes, simple and basic, but one of my favs, with a melting raw riff.
"Love Killer" is a really good one, MYDRA sounds here like a mid-eighties american pop-metal band. Very cool.
The rockin' AOR of "Light Up The Sky" is almost radiable, with a very good chorus and backing vocals mix, nice vintage keyboard solo as well.
The instant winner "Double Dealer" is pure scandi AOR, keys, keys, keys!, and a huge chorus. Love this one.
Last track "Gone With the Wind" is another highlight, starts quietly, but the increscendo tempo explodes into a terrific chorus. First class arrangements, this is a great, great tune.

The excellent production and some killer songs have led to this album a cult status, also for the fact that it was impossible to find a copy.
I bring to you the finally remastered reissue released not so long ago, not so easy to find as well.
'MYDRA' still remains as one of my favorite german bands of the 2nd half of the eighties.

01 - I've Got The Power
02 - Freeway Blues
03 - She's No Lover
04 - California
05 - Love Killer
06 - Light Up The Sky
07 - Cold Blooded
08 - Fireball
09 - Double Dealer
10 - Gone With The Wind

Andre Martelli - vocals
Alic Stephen - guitars
Bernie Fintzen - keyboards, vocals
Jan Eckert - bass, vocals
Andy Feldhahn - drums