Wednesday, March 31, 2010

HENRY LEE SUMMER - Smoke and Mirrors (1998)

HENRY LEE SUMMER - Smoke and Mirrors
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Henry Lee Summer has released some very classy rock albums in the eighties.
Although I am not a real fan of all his stuff, the man recorded many superb AOR songs and excellent soundtrack titles.

By the nineties his star began to fade out, with a 5 year hiatus between "Slamdunk" ('93) and this one.
Henry decided go back to his roots and make a record at his own pleasure: Midwestern Americana rock.
All the songs here were beautifully written, mixing heaps of acoustic and electric guitar layers and clever lyrics.
Maybe you will miss his AOR/rockier side, but most of the tracks are catchy, rock driven and honest.
If you re-arrange and produce all of them into an '80s slick mood, you'll get your typical H L Summer. But Henry has chosen this sound style, and works great.

This disc is much much deeper than what you might think at first listen, grows on you each time you press play. In fact, this is my favorite H L S album.
He has written and skillfully produced all the tunes himself, a very personal and heartfelt effort.
Hard to find out of print CD, never hit the stores, only was on sale at his website.

Sadly he was recently involved in legal troubles due to his methamphetamine addiction, last year Henry entered the voluntary drug treatment center 'Cumberland Heights' in Nashville TN.
Hope he recovers soon.

01 - Smoke & Mirrors
02 - Crazy One You Need (Psychotic, Neurotic)
03 - Why Don't You Just Stay
04 - Hold On
05 - Queen Of The Rodeo
06 - Earth To Suzi
07 - Follow Me
08 - Put A Little Love
09 - Mississippi One
10 - I Still Remember
11 - The Grande Finale

Personnel : not listed


Saturday, March 27, 2010

DAVID (David Mikeal) - III (2004)

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

Songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer, Mikeal, former guitarist/vocalist of the cult classic AOR band 'MPG', has released 3 albums as solo artist (and really solo, as 'III' has been written, played, produced, engineered, and mixed by himself).

'David III' is a dynamic collection of songs, well written and produced in his own 'Difference Studios' placed in Winter Park, FL.
Don't be disappointed with the acoustic / programmed opener 'I Can't Tell A Lie', a song that has nothing to do with the rest on offer here (and ends abruptly on purpose).
The real start of the album is 'Mystery Lover', featuring a catchy mix of pompy keyboards and a strong guitar riff.
Mikeal has an incredible vocal range that sounds like a mix of ERIC MARTIN with RICHARD MARX (check the ballad 'Number One'), sometimes reaching very high notes maintaining a perfect pitch.

'Waiting For The Big Time' remembers me a MPG track, with an updated sound like NELSON post 'Because They Can' era.
If nobody tells you that 'Jaleously' is performed by David, you would think that is a MR. BIG track, while 'It Was Meant To Be' could be an ERIC MARTIN lost song. Awesome similarity.
I don't like the cover 'Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing' (popularized by Stevie Wonder), happily the things returns to the correct way with 'Front Page News' (an unreleased MPG song, absolutely eighties!), and the great mid-tempo 'Question Of Privacy', again, sounding like NELSON '97.

But the best song (and the best produced / arranged) of all is ''Cryin' All Alone In The Night'... wonderful cracking AOR tune. Keyboards to die for, terrific guitars and perfect in-crescendo pace. This tune is a real winner and deserves a place between the all time AOR classics.

Don't listen this disc once and then store it in your music folder, give it repeated spins (preferably in a row) and you'll love it, grows on you.
Ripped at max quality from the independent original release CD.
Note: ' III ' was re-issued three years ago by a retro label (in fact, the cover art posted here is from the reissue, different).

01. I Can't Tell A Lie

02. Mystery Lover
03. Number One
04. Waiting For The Big Time
05. Thundercloud
06. Jealousy
07. It Was Meant To Be
08. Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing
09. Front Page News
10. Spanish Castle Magic #
11. Question Of Privacy
12. Cryin' All Alone In The Night
13. I Can't Tell A Lie (reprise)

David Mikeal - vocals, all instruments
Michael E. Smith - drums on #

DAVID (David Mikeal) - III

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BOOTCAMP - Final Drill , The Definitive Collection (2009)

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

Fantastic band from Baltimore, Maryland.
They started to play in the late '70s and seems to enjoy an enthusiastic fan base still today.
Not strange, because their music was terrific and never falls into a common place or any conventional style.
Marketed as Power Pop, New Wave/Rock or even Avant-Garde, I think the best tagline to them is Pomp Pock, but mixing all the aforementioned genres as well.

"Hold On To The Night" and "I'm A Victim" videos have been aired on MTV's first broadcast day (Aug. 1, 1981), and the band became popular in the U.S. east coast.
But never make it big or signed a contract with a major label, they were too much original to deaf mainstream music executives...

Bootcamp released several singles and 2 miniLP's, the '83 self titled and '5x4' in 1984, being the latter my favorite, definitely more AORish.
I love this band, for their originality, freshness and excellent musicianship.
You'll find here great vocals, all kind of keyboards, deep bass lines and guitar hooks.

Posting here both miniLP's vinyl rips makes no sense, since luckily all songs plus some earlier singles were released not so long ago on CD (not the best remastering job though).
Hope you enjoy all this stuff as much as I do.

01 - 3 Ring Circus +
02 - Shoot The Moon *
03 - Let Her Go +
04 - Rise Or Fall +
05 - Fire In The Hole *
06 - This Time +
07 - A Woman's Touch *
08 - Get A Hold Of Yourself *
09 - Another Day +
10 - I'm A Victim (single '81) #
11 - Boots (single '79) #
12 - Hold On To The Night (single '81) #

* from self-titled miniLP (1983)
+ from '5x4' miniLP (1984)

Tim Camp - Bass, Lead Vocals
Bob Fallin - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Tom Alonso - Keys, Backing Vocals *
Howard Zizzi - Drums, Backing Vocals
Frank Grande - Keyboards, Backing Vocals + #

BOOTCAMP - Final Drill


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

AOR TREASURES - The Soundtracks Vol.14

Vol.14 has been delayed more than Def Lepp's Hysteria...
Seriously, it took me about 3 months to get it ready. A difficult restoration job and track edition.
Here we go:

1 - MALICE (feat. Paul Sabu)
Vice Versa from "Vice Versa"
Paul was hired by a studio as composer for various soundtracks, including 'Vice-Versa'.
In association with the band Malice, he composed, performed and produced several songs that ended up being published as an EP, 2 of them were used in this movie.
The title track is a typical Sabu hard rock tune, a good way to begin this compilation.
This soundtrack never was officially released.

On The Run from "Blue de Ville"
TV movie, Turner plays a rock star (only 10 minutes on screen) to which the girl in the story wants to meet.
We can hear a couple of songs performed by Joe, being 'On The Run' the more AOR with some great keyboards.
A really good one.

Free And Easy from "Wildbach"
Main theme of the German ARD TV series 'Wildbach' about the adventures of a mountain rescue team peppered with criminal cases providing tension to the plot.
Unknown beautiful midtempo song performed by Stan Bush, exclusive for this OST only released in Germany.
A little gem, yes.

Restless World from "Lady Beware"
Upon request, another Lady Beware song, now from the great Tepper, with all the 'action-theme feel' that I like so much.
Track not included in the regular soundtrack edition, to my ears this is little remixed version, different from the original appeared in Robert's debut 'No Easy Way Out'.
An AOR beauty

Top Of The Hill from "Hot Dog... The Movie"
Typical cheesy american comedy, set in a ski resort.
Features two exclusive songs performed by the master Clif Magness, light and unpretentious, but come on, it's Clif, and to my knowledge, both tracks were released only as promo vinyl single, impossible to find.

Love Makes You Blind (movie version) from "No Small Affair"
This track would be later re-recorded by Fiona to her debut album. But this version is markedly different and faaar superior in my opinion.
To me, the best performance of her career, heartrending, breathtaking.
My nape hair still bristles when I listen this song.
Magnificent, one of the best tracks ever included in a film.

Little Bit Of Heaven from "Voyage Of The Rock Aliens"
Another request.
Song composed by Spiro, recorded by Pia Zadora for her '84 album 'Let's Dance Tonight'.
In this soundtrack exclusive new version, Spiro sings a duet with Pia, and the result is much, much better and absolutely '80s !

Top Of The Hill from "Hot Dog... The Movie"
The other song recorded by Magness for this movie, heard at the open titles.
More AOR, with bombastic drums and sticky refrain.

You Make Me Nervous from "Malibu Bikini Shop"
Soundtrack never released that includes excellent songs, sadly none available in any format.
Never has been edited on DVD and I couldn't find an original VHS copy.
I've ripped this marvelous song by DeWitt from an avi !
It has taken me a lot of work to eliminate the SFX (dialogues and noises) along the song.
Considering the source, it sounds quite decently, a good opportunity to listen this rarity.

The Last Stand from "All The Right Moves"
Excellent song with a mystery 'aura' in its sound and production.
I don't know what happened with Kahan's career, since he was a great singer. I like his style very much.
Only appeared in this OST.

Kissed By A Hurricane from "Thunder In Paradise"
A great find is this song featured in the TV series starring Hulk Hogan.
The soundtrack was released, but this song wasn't included !?!
Lanning (a stranger to me) sings with fierceness this curious track full of rare percussion. Awesome action movie track.
Ripped from video. Rare.

Scream Of Angels from "The Wraith"
'The Wraith' aka 'Interceptor' is a good film (has Sherilyn Fenn in it!), and the soundtrack is still better, well-known by AOR lovers.
Incredibly, this song was left aside off the disc.
Rhythmic and contagious, this is one of the best songs recorded by Gilder.

I Love The Way You Love Me from "Mad About You"
From the last season of this TV serie, a good ballad by Eric with his classic velvety voice, recorded pretty 'live' without overdubs. Even his breath could be listened between phrases.
Simple and effective melody.

Battle Lines (movie version) from "Chasing The Deer"
Due to his friendship with the filmmaker, Wetton accepted to compose the soundtrack for 'Chasing The Deer', released in limited quantity.
Extraordinary tune, totally AOR!
This is the original (long) movie version, there's another one 'edit'.
You will love this song.

Draw The Line from "The Virgin Queen Of St. Francis High"
Brian Island is a canadian musician & producer who has composed several scores for local movies.
To this unknown comedy he wrote part of the incidental music and a pair of songs.
This is the more aorish Rock & Pop, with classic sound made in Canada.
Soundtrack never published. Rarity.

Baby Now I from "The Cutting Edge"
Faithful to his songwriting style, Dan Reed contributed this track to the romantic comedy set in the '88 Winter Olympic Games.
Good track with sparkling production and fat rhythm section.

The Power Inside Of Me from "The Mirror Has Two Faces"
Marx's exclusive track for this movie, with light production and plenty of acoustic guitars.
Climatic and calm song, very well performed by Richard as usual.
I love the feeling of this song.

St. Elmo's Fire (Acoustic) from "The Brothers Solomon"
Acoustic / gospel recording of this all time classic, appeared as B-side on 'Man In Motion 2CD limited edition', years later included in this movie soundtrack.
This tune is simply fantastic, no matter which version...

+ 70 min, artwork.
Note: most of tracks are vinyl-only release and very rare, all were cleaned, decrackled and declicked to get the best quality possible.

AOR TREASURES - The Soundtracks Vol.14

Friday, March 05, 2010


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

Band / solo project from Syracuse, New York.
Their style floats around the early BON JOVI, ICON, JOURNEY, of course, less accomplished.
Songwriting isn't stellar, not bad either, Bob's vocals do the job and you can find some nice riffing and keyboard twirls.

Indie production recorded between dec '86 / feb '87, this is a hard to find collector's item.

Some time after, Wheeler would be the vocalist of EKLYPSE, another one album only-band rarity.

Vinyl only release, not my rip but my restoring, all files cleaned, de-crackled and de-clicked to get the best quality possible.

01 - The Owlature
02 - Loud As Hell
03 - Givin Love, Takin Love
04 - Losin It Again
05 - Drive Out On The Highway
06 - Give It To Me
07 - Make My Phone Ring
08 - Man And The Gun
09 - Can Ya Hear Me
10 - Hang On

Bob Wheeler : vocals, guitar, songwriting
Ed Zeszutko : guitars, background vocals
Chris Tso : bass, guitars, background vocals
Al Dunn : keyboards
Earl Hamilton : drums


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

VENUS and MARS - New Moon Rising (2003)

VENUS and MARS - New Moon Rising
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Do you miss how HEART used to sound in their glorious '80s years?
Got an aspirin for you...
This fantastic duo comprised of Diana DeWitt & Robin Randall, has released a couple of wonderful albums that makes them heiresses of the throne.
While the very good debut is more rough and direct, 'New Moon Rising' is a bible of polished Melodic Rock with capitals, top class songwriting, superb musicianship and clear production.

Diana DeWitt's melodic sense, out of this world intense voice, goes from powerful rockers to smooth ballads like a fish in the water.
She wrote songs with Robbie Buchanan, Dennis DeYoung, Barry DeVorzon, Giorgio Moroder, David Pack and countless more, as well did vocals arrangements, duets & backing vocals and co-writing songs with people like BJ Thomas, Robert Tepper, Mickey Thomas, Mark Free, Michael McDonald, etc., and numerous movie songs & commercials.
Her partner Robin Randall, displays a skilled keyboard training and stellar songwriting ability.

All these songs were written by them between 1984/1998,

some recorded by other artists like MARK FREE (The Last Time, Dying For Your Love) or JAMES CHRISTIAN (Leave Well Enough Alone).
'Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight' in example, was penned by Robin in 1984 and later recorded by STARSHIP.
Also included here is the wonderful ballad 'Bless A Brand New Angel' featured on the television series BAYWATCH.

Originally released only in Japan (1998), it was reissued via their own USA label in 2003 with 2 different tracks and cover art.
Highly Recommended

01 - Dancing on the highwire
02 - Leave well enough alone
03 - Bless a brand new angel (from Baywatch)
04 - Killer love
05 - The last time
06 - One heartbeat at a time
07 - Last chance cafe
08 - Making out like a bandit
09 - Wanna wanna
10 - Accident'ly on purpose
11 - Tomorrow doesn't matter tonight
12 - Dying for your love
13 - If you only knew (USA only track)
14 - Two beers high (USA only track)

Diana DeWitt : vocals, songwriting
Robin Randall : keyboards, songwriting
Judithe Randall : songwriting
Tony Sciuto, Troy Dexter, Brian Young : guitar
Sylvan Balduc, David Hughes, Guy Marshall : bass
George Perilli, Guy Marshall : drums
Michael Hanna : keyboards, songwriting
Celin Nell, Annie Livingston, Mark Free : backing vocals
and many, many more...

VENUS and MARS - New Moon Rising