Friday, February 25, 2011

SHOWDOWN - Showdown (1984)

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

Well, guys and gals, this is a real AOR gem.

Requested many times on this blog in the "Request & Fill Corner" section, finally here it is.
I will quote the review by Willy Vanbuel from the prestigious site that describes this baby very well:

"Sometimes you think, now, there are no more hidden AOR treasures left...., everything is already discovered and then suddenly, there is a band named SHOWDOWN.
This band from Michigan released one prime time hook laden AOR lp in 1984, and please believe me, everyone who adores bands like Preview, Survivor, Shelter, Franke and the KO’s, Level and so on, will drool when hearing this beauty.
You hear, I’m really enthusiastic about this one and thanks to my Dutch friend Edgar I was able to discover and present this to you, dearest music lovers.

All tracks, except the last one (Mony Mony, a rather dull cover of Tommy James & The Shondells) are pure 80’s AOR from the highest quality!
This band still plays as a cover band with Joe Vermetti as only remaining original member. This same man, and main songwriter, put a clip from his band on you tube, please check it out on :

A must have and because there were only 500 copies pressed of this gem, maybe something for a future release on CD..."

Trust Willy. This album is a real GEM.
The video on youtube still works, and according to Vermetti's comment there, 1000 vinyl copies were pressed.
I've re-uploaded the video to my account with a 'remastered' audio, you can check it below (It is included into the file as well).
As bonus, also included, a '90s recording by the band, a little Christmas song.

This album has not been shared in any forum / blog till now. Remember where you've seen it first...
Needless to say: A Must Have

01 - Livin'
02 - Stop, Hold On
03 - Less Than Love
04 - Cryin' In The Night
05 - Line Of Fire
06 - It Won't Be Long
07 - Come Around Soon
08 - Hangin' On
09 - Can't Go On
10 - Mony Mony
11 - Oh Merry Christmas ('90s track)
+ 'Stop, Hold On' video

Joe Vermetti : Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Mike Rector : Lead Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Steve Henley : Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Bob Grundner : Drums


Thursday, February 24, 2011

RIDGE 'N' DEARMAN - Fifty Stars (1985-87)

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

Steven Dearman Clark aka Steve Mandera is an english musician / songwriter established in Germany.

He has worked as producer for various independent record companies, but also on his own projects.
By the middle of the '80s, started to work with english vocalist John 'Rich' Ridge (ex E.F. Band) on a band called Dirty Money. A disc was recorded (1985) tentatively named 'Cash On The Nose', but never published.
Both also tracked down tapes for a new project simply entitled Ridge 'N' Dearman in 1987. Those tapes are known as 'Kindred Spirits', but again, the disc never was released.

Seems Steven Dearman Clark put together some tracks from these recording sessions and published some kind of compilation in 1999 as "Ridge 'N' Dearman - Fifty Stars". But no info about a CD can be found.
Got a folder with 6 songs supposedly included into that compilation disc, and I am sharing them here for you after a reader request.

The first 4 tracks are from the '87 album 'Kindred Spirits'. Despite the 'hard rock' label on the album cover, all these songs are pure commercial melodic rock with nice guitars and high doses of keyboards. All good and catchy.
Tracks 5 & 6 are from the early band project Dirty Money. Both are great pompy AOR tunes with much more strong guitars and killer keyboards.
It's a pity that both albums remain unreleased, specially Dirty Money's 'Cash On The Nose', as this seems to be a classy AOR recording judging both tracks.
Production is really good, professional and crisp.
This is a household rarity, don't miss it.

Additional Notes: seems John 'Rich' Ridge (RIP) has released a vinyl as solo artist in 1986 under the moniker 'JOHN RIDGE's DIRTY MONEY' on the unknown R&D label (Ridge&Dearman ?).
Any info / rip welcome.

01 - Ridge 'N' Dearman - The Fifty Stars
02 - Ridge 'N' Dearman - Only A Boy
03 - Ridge 'N' Dearman - Need Your Love Tonight
04 - Ridge 'N' Dearman - It's Only Love
05 - Dirty Money (R 'N' D) - Ice In The Sun
06 - Dirty Money (R 'N' D) - Wanna Be With You Tonight

John 'Rich' Ridge - Vocals
Steven Dearman Clark - Keyboards, Guitars
all tracks written, arranged & produced by Steven Dearman


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FAIR WARNING - B Sides & Rarities (2000)

FAIR WARNING B Sides & Rarities
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

FAIR WARNING is easily one of my favorite bands of the nineties and they land in my top 50 of all time for sure.

Great songs, terrific vocalist (and not only in the studio), skilled musicians and excellent production on all their albums.
They are 'Big in Japan', consequently the group had released many EP's and several bonus tracks only in the land of the rising sun.

Somebody has compiled most of these bonuses from their earlier albums as 'Rainmaker', 'Live & More', 'Live In Japan', 'In The Ghetto EP', 'Angels Of Heaven EP', etc.
This is a bootleg never officially released, including great, great tunes not easy to find, all in one package.
Ripped at maximum quality, including artwork (found on a band's tribute page).
Highly Recommended.

1 - Like A Rock
2 - Mean To Be
3 - Out Of The Night
4 - Give In To Love
5 - Come On
6 - Light In The Dark
7 - In The Ghetto
8 - Children's Eyes (demo)
9 - Take A Look At The Future
10 - Call Of The Wild
11 - Is It Love
12 - Survive In The Night
13 - Out In The Night
14 - Eastern Sun (Live)
15 - A Little More Love (Live)
16 - Children's Eyes (Live)

Tommy Heart : Lead Vocals
Helge Engelke : Guitars
Andy Malecek : Guitars, Backing Vocals
Ule Rutgen : Bass, Backing Vocals
CC Behrens : Drums, Backing Vocals

FAIR WARNING - B Sides & Rarities

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FLESH (Bettencourt-Cherone) - ST (1994)

FLESH Bettencourt-Cherone 1994
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Flesh was a Boston-bred band that never make it big, confined to a cult status.

Founder members are guitarist Markus Cherone and lead vocalist Paulo Bettencourt, the less famous brothers of Extreme's lead vocalist Gary Cherone and flash lead guitarist Nuno Bettencourt.
In fact, Flesh debut was the first band signed by Colorblind Records, Nuno's own label, and also was produced by him.

That's said, the Extreme influence into their music can't be denied, also some '70s / '80s classic bands as Aerosmith.
Paulo sings definitely in the Cherone style, and some tunes sound like Extreme's III Sides To Every Story, specially the ballads.
First track "DanceHard" is a good hard rock song with nice riffing and catchy (little) chorus.
"Weight of the World" seems coming out of 'III Sides', and features an interesting solo but guitar is somehow buried in the mix.
"Don't Know Love" is obviously from a different recording session, as sounds a bit muddy. Pretty boring.
"Who Can Love You" features a retro-style songwriting mixed with some hard funk elements. Not bad.

"I Miss My Baby" is a lovely rock ballad that Bettencourt performs very well, a simple, nice song.
"Sexxx" is one on the best tracks of the album, very very Extreme II, while "Makin' Money" arrangements are '70s influenced with lyrics about how money affects people.
I like the riff of "You Know What To Do", a track that with better production should sound great.
"The Almighty Man", promoted as the first single, is a very nice tune with acoustic guitars and very good harmonies.
The album ends with the most elaborated track of the whole disc. "Into My Sea" is a tasty good ballad, very calm, with lyrics referring to God, featuring a church organ, violin and cello (not in the traditional way). This is a great tune, original and inspired.

"Flesh" is at times a good album, that suffers a lack of consistency due the different recording sessions and a little weak songwriting on some tracks.
Nuno has done a good production job on many tracks although the mix could be better.
This disc is rarity, recommended to every Extreme fan and rock completionist.

01 - DanceHard
02 - Weight of the World
03 - Don't Know Love
04 - Who Can Love You
05 - I Miss My Baby
06 - Sexxx
07 - Makin' Money
08 - You Know What to Do
09 - Think Too Much
10 - The Almighty Man
11 - Jam
12 - Into My Sea

Paulo Bettencourt : Lead & Backing Vocals
Markus Cherone : Guitars
Stephen Powell : Bass, Backing Vocals
Gonga : Drums
Gary Cherone : Backing Vocals
Nuno Bettencourt : add. stuff, Backing Vocals, Production

FLESH (Bettencourt-Cherone)

Monday, February 21, 2011

JOHNNY LOGAN - Mention My Name (1989)

JOHNNY LOGAN Mention My Name 1989
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Johnny Logan born in Australia, but was raised in Ireland, his father's native country.

Known as 'Mister Eurovision', he is the only lead singer to have sung two winning entries and one of only five authors/composers to have written/composed two winning songs there.
The first win was in 1980 and the song became a hit all over Europe and reached No.1 in the UK. But his solo career failed to fly due to poor management and label fights.
In 1987 decided to make another attempt at Eurovision and with his self-penned song 'Hold Me Now' won the contest again. The album of the same name sold well and his label gave the artist a big budget for his next release.

"Mention My Name" is a very well produced adult-vocal-pop album with many moments very close to Lite-AOR.
Johnny's vocals & style are in the same league of John Farnham or Jack Wagner, with a clear tone and timbre that sometimes remember Brian Spence.

What we have here is pop, but very well crafted, with some nice guitars and the typical '80s sound.
Although isn't my favorite style or this site motto, I am posting it here because has become very hard to find and was requested repeatedly on the 'Request & Fill Section'.

01 - Just To Be With You
02 - One By One
03 - All I Ever Wanted
04 - Union Of The Heart
05 - Never Believe It's Over
06 - Red Lips
07 - How Can It Be Love
08 - Now That It's Not Over
09 - Shot Down
10 - Lay Down Your Heart
11 - Angels Don't Hide
12 - Only a Matter of Time

Personnel : unlisted

JOHNNY LOGAN - Mention My Name

Friday, February 18, 2011

AOR TREASURES - The Japan Bonus Vol.3

AOR TREASURES The Japan Bonus Vol.03
Previous volumes become very popular and readers are requesting Japan only bonuses all the time in 'Request & Fill Corner' section.
Many are filled here: Stone Soup, Fair Warning, Treat, Bad Habit.
Some others quite hard to find added.
Check the tracklist (or click the back cover below).

01 Human Zoo - Eastern Girl
(Over The Horizon bonus) 2007

02 Treat - Turn The Dial
(Coup De Grace bonus) 2010

03 Bad Habit - I'll Be True
(Atmosphere bonus) 2010

04 Bonrud - First Time For Everything
(ST bonus) 2004

05 Eclipse - Masterpiece Girl
(Second To None bonus) 2004

06 Stone Soup - Rock You
(Spooge bonus) 1997

07 Fair Warning - Over You
(Rainmaker reissue bonus) 2005

08 Aces High - Take Me To Your Heart
(Ten 'N Out bonus) 1994

09 Cornerstone - Candyman
(Human Stain bonus) 1994

10 Eric Martin - Fly [original version]
(I'm Goin' Sane bonus) 2002

11 Dark Sky - GMC Brothers
(Empty Faces bonus) 2008

12 Talisman - Time
(Cats And Dogs bonus) 2003

13 Faithfull - Cast Out The Rain
(Light This City bonus) 2003

14 Danny Danzi - Eternity
(Somewhere Lost In Time bonus) 1999

15 Urban Tale - Hold On
(ST bonus) 2001

16 Spin Gallery - Trail Full Of Tears
(Standing Tall bonus) 2004

17 Novak - Walking In The Rain
(Forever Endeavour bonus) 2005

18 Final Frontier - Love Will Rescue Us
(Freelight bonus) 2006

Back Cover, CLICK HERE:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

SUNSHINE JIVE - ST [Asian edition] (1998)

SUNSHINE JIVE 1998 Asian edition
SUNSHINE JIVE is another band resurrected by an european label at the end of the nineties.
Born in Chicago, formerly known as IN THE PINK, the group recorded 2 professional pre-production demos in '89 and '91 released locally.
Judging the quality of this material the big question is: how the fr*ll they didn't get signed back in the '80s?
Luckily, all these tracks plus some never published found their way onto CD in 1998.
Self produced, with some songs engineered & mixed by Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), this is top class stadium melodic rock / AOR with a bit of hard funk. Deep harmonies and catchy hooks, that's it.

The Journey-esque opener "Fools Parade" has a muscular driving bass line and pounding drums, while the guitars / keys are strong. Singer Tommy Dempsey (very good pipes) sounds a lot like Steve Perry.
Title track "Sunshine Jive" rocks with its melodic rock / funk mix. Here the band reminds me Dan Reed Network. Very consistent tune.
"You Got What You Wanted" is the closest track to Extreme here (probably the Nuno connection?) although this one isn't mixed by him.
Get back to the Journey style with "Lost In Love". Beautiful midtempo with huge backing vocals and Dempsey in Perry's shoes again. Love this one.

I understand why "Under Summer Skies" was a big radio hit in the Boston area back in the day. This is a wonderful late '80s AOR power ballad including all the ingredients to be a monster chart cracker. A self reflecting song with a great chorus and piano/keyboards.
Other highlights are the very catchy and (again) Journey influenced "When You Love Someone", the rockin' funkiness of "Stop This Crazy Ride", the aorish and gentle "Reason For Me" and the powerful, piano based ballad "Something More" (great one).
The asian bonus is a straight melodic rocker driven by an impressive riff and a very good solo.

"Sunshine Jive" gets you back to the golden era when the melody was the rule. What all the tracks have in common is the quality, there's a couple of fillers (or perhaps in a style that doesn't match the album), but most of the songs are great, catchy and entertaining.
This Asian press it's really hard to find.

01 - Fools Parade
02 - Sunshine Jive
03 - You Got What You Wanted
04 - Lost In Love
05 - Under Summer Skies
06 - Love Reaction
07 - Sunday Rain
08 - When You Love Someone
09 - Sha Na La La
10 - Stop This Crazy Ride
11 - Reason For Me
12 - Trapped
13 - Something More
14 - Bad Blood [bonus track]

Tommy Dempsey : Vocals
Robby Hoffman : Guitars
Eric Bosniak : Bass, backing vocals
Steve Ferlazzo : Keyboards, backing vocals
Frank Lombardi : Drums
Brian Tichy (Ace Frehley, Foreigner) : Add. Drums
Tracks 1, 4, 8 Mixed by Nuno Bettencourt

SUNSHINE JIVE Asian edition

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

VOGEN - Berlin Wall (1990)

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

Vocalist & guitarist Kevin Vogen has been playing in the Canadian Winnipeg area since the beginning of the '70s.

Working as sessionist or as other artists live musician, Vogen has toured extensively through Canada and USA for almost 40 years.
"Berlin Wall" is his one and only album under his name, recorded with long time friends from the youth years.
His style has the typical Canadian sound, a very light melodic rock / AOR with some pop / Hi-Tech tint.

First track "By The Berlin Wall" is an anthemic poppy AOR with very nice vocals and warm ambiance.
On "Brainstorm" and "Burger Bunny" Vogen sounds like Dan Lucas from the nineties.
"Driftin´" is a very calm ballad with a good doses of keyboards. One of my favorite tracks here.
The band sounds as they country fellas New Regime on "Too Late", while "Systematic Breakdown" has a Tom Cochrane (Red Rider) feel over it.

Another of my picks from this album is "Master Of The Other Cheek", musically much in the vein of the underrated band Neverland.
"Why" is where Vogen adds some Hi-Tech elements to his music, this song is very wimp and nice to the ears.
The rest of the material is rock&pop oriented, with some ups and downs.

"Berlin Wall" is a fresh and inoffensive easy listening album, not essential but cool, and pretty hard to find.

01 - By The Berlin Wall
02 - Brainstorm
03 - Driftin'
04 - Too Late
05 - Misconceptions (In The Room)
06 - Burger Bunny
07 - Systematic Breakdown
08 - Master Of The Other Cheek
09 - Miracle Man
10 - Point Of Blue
11 - Why

Kevin Vogen : Lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Laurie Asbil : Bass, backing vocals
Greg Duncan : Lead guitar, backing vocals
Don Le Roux : Guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Mark McGovern : Drums, percussion

Updated HERE

RESTLESS - Alone In The Dark [Japan edition] (1999)

RESTLESS isn't the 'real' name of this band. This moniker was chosen by leader Roger Sommers and the german label who resurrected this material on CD format in the late nineties.
All these songs were recorded during the '80s under the band name FREELANCE. The group never managed to find a deal back then, a real shame.

"Alone In The Dark" consists of tracks from two original four song demos that were recorded on a 16-track home studio plus some later "proper" studio tracks with much better production. But the roughness of some of these demos isn't a problem at all.
Musically this is '80s AOR with some pomp influences, while the newer songs are more hair / arena rock, strongly influenced by Def Leppard with lots of keyboards.

First track "Guilty" (from the 2nd demo) is a killer melodic hard rocker in the vein of the best White Sister with an updated sound.
On "Alone In The Dark" Sommers sounds like Steve Overland, in fact except some 'hair' twists, the whole band sounds like the british FM here.
"Don’t Do It To Me" is real belter. A great midtempo classic AOR with tons of keyboards, very british to my ears, similar to Shy or After Hours.
Next, "Lightnin’ Strikes" is another highlight, a Journey-esque melodic semi-ballad that was featured on the mythical AOR Basement 'unsigned bands' compilation "Hot Night In The City" in 1988 under their original name Freelance.
"Leavin' You" is the first track featured here in the Def Leppard style. The rhythm guitars are fat and the chorus multi-layered. Strong rocker.

Now.. the best track here in my opinion. "Keep The Fire Burning" is pure '80s pompy AOR with wonderful keyboards. Define AOR: this song! This one alone worth this disc.
"Painted Lady" is one from the 'old' recordings. A keyboard driven melodic rock full of energy and attitude.
On "I Don't Wanna Want You" the band decided to write a Foreigner-style ballady, and don't disappoint. Of course Sommers isn't Lou Gramm but he does a good job.
"Body To Body" links direcly to Def Lepp. Big choruses and arena rock vibe. Compared to Blue Tears too.
"Feels Like Love" is the very definition of pomp rock with that pulsing rhythm section, bright keyboards and big harmonies. A vintage track in the Roadmaster style.
The emotional ballad "Willing" close the regular edition of this release. Grand piano and orchestration, featuring a tight vocal performance.

The first of the 3 bonuses, "What Do You Know About Love" is from the last recording period, Leppard meets Billy Squier with a bluesy melodic rock touch and huge backing vocals.
Next, "Carry That Weight", a sweet acoustic based ballad that increases the tempo in the Damn Yankees style, very early nineties. I like this a lot.
"Lay Me Down" follows the melodic rock pattern of opener "Guilty". A gutsy track with big, big guitars.

Even when production isn't first rate at times, all this material is very well rounded and sounds absolutely professional.
Produced by Roger Sommers itself, during the eighties he has been studying sound engineering and that's evident here, now he's a well-respected producer and studio man, working with Saga, Jamie Rowe and others.
The personnel involved are all accomplished musicians, including guest appearances by Chuck Wright (Giuffria, House Of Lords) and Jeff Scott Soto on backing vocals.

"Alone In The Dark" is posted everywhere, but not the Japan edition with 3 bonus.
This is a pure '80s bliss. Don't miss it.

01 - Guilty
02 - Alone In The Dark
03 - Don't Do It To Me
04 - Lightning Strikes
05 - In Your Eyes
06 - Leavin' You
07 - Keep The Fire Burning
08 - Painted Lady
09 - I Don't Wanna Want You
10 - Body To Body
11 - Feels Like Love
12 - Willing
13 - What Do You Know About Love (bonus track)
14 - Carry That Weight (bonus track)
15 - Lay Me Down (bonus track)

Roger Sommers : Lead vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Lord : Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jason Orme : Guitar
Scott Polluck : Bass
Danny Lux : Drums
Jac Mandel : Guitar
Bruffie Brigham : Bass
Mark Bennett : Drums
Chuck Wright : Bass
Jeff Scott Soto : Backing Vocals


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LEE Z - Time Line (1995)

LEE Z Time Line (1995)
A curious album this one. Not only for its rarity (as far I know only released in Japan) but for the mixture of styles, yet turning out a consistent and homogeneous piece.
LEE Z is the brainchild of german multi-instrumentalist Thomas Zink, and has been active since 1988 with several line-up changes.
"Time Line" is their 2nd album, and as said, features a captivating mix of Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, AOR and Progressive.
But their prog pedigree isn't in the classical vein, the approach is more melodic and personal, with emphasis into the songs structures rather than going all over the place with jam sessions and solos, where the staccato riffs and key changes are encompassed with the tune and the use of keyboard layers adds color and substance.

Don't be fooled by the neoclassical style of opener "Up To The Sky". This is the only track in this style here. And a good one. The double drum attack is in your face, the guitars trepidating and the swirling keys are all over. Think classic '80s Yngwie.
Then "Way Of Live" is a syncopated and melodic midtempo rocker in the Queensryche style circa 'Rage For Order'.
The orchestral keyboard intro of "Fancy Dress Ball" turns into a climatic european melodic hard rocker plenty of key changes and big keyboards.
"Hands Of Touch" is a moody slow paced AOR track with a nice, catchy refrain. Great vocal arrangement here.
The programmed drums of "Try To Find My Way" don't bother at all, as this is a very commercial 'let's sing together' tune with clean guitars that sounds very 'british'.

"Hold On" is a keyboard driven melodic rock, with lots, lots of keys. Maybe the chorus is a bit weak, but the pace of the track rocks.
Now the band offers, again, something different. "Getting Older" is an instrumental featuring a really good guitar work, not boring at all.
Are you waiting for a ballad? "Sad Paradise" arrives... but not your typical one. Starts with a long, climatic keyboard/vocal passage and a 8/8 drum pattern (really uncommon) and then explodes into a passionate legitimate power ballad with a guitar solo inspired by Gary Moore.
"Don't Wanna Loose My Mind" returns to the melodic rock territory. The catchy, hooky chorus is the 'leitmotiv' of this track. But the band, again, is far to wrote-by-numbers. The middle section features a pace change that reminds me the group Fates Warning, and then returns to the chorus. This kind of arrangements is not easy to do warmly, but on Lee Z's hands this comes flawlessly.
Final track "One Night Love Affair" is another winner. A very british AOR midtempo similar to SHY. Great guitar solo and keyboards.

"Time Line" is a great album, much better than you can appreciate at first listen. It's clever, varied, well written.
First rate musicianship, the arrangements are uncommon and very entertaining, and production is really good considering its indie origin.
Try Lee Z. Try something different.
Japan only.

01 - Up To The Sky
02 - Way Of Live
03 - Fancy Dress Ball
04 - Hands Of Touch
05 - Try To Find My Way
06 - Hold On
07 - Getting Older
08 - Sad Paradise
09 - Don't Wanna Loose My Mind
10 - One Night Love Affair

Peter Pauliks : Vocals
Thomas Zink : Guitars, Keyboards, Synths, Piano
Matthias 'Rethi' Rethmann : Bass, Programming
Andreas Guth: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Gerald Voss : Drums

Updated HERE

Thursday, February 10, 2011

DAN HILL - Love In The Shadows (1984)

DAN HILL Love In The Shadows 1984
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Renowned singer-songwriter Daniel Hill born in Ontario, Canada, of US parents.

He studied guitar in his teens, leaving high school at 17 to work as a songwriter for RCA.
Through his career has won five Canadian Junos, one Grammy, five SOCAN Awards for outstanding radio airplay in Canada, and six ASCAP Awards and one BMI Award for airplay in the USA.

As solo artist is mostly known by pop / westcoast hits, but around 1983 he couldn't resist the sound that was ruling the airwaves.
"Love In The Shadows" is his more AOR, 'hip' album to date.
The title track is a nifty, radiable poppish AOR tune with clean guitars and compressed drums.
"Helpless" is another aorish tune adorned with quirky keyboards, a 'soundtrack - type' song. You can't deny the quality of the syruped ballad "In Your Eyes". Cheesy, yes, but awesome. Next, "Just In Time" is an infectious pop in the Alan Gorrie or Adrian Gurvitz mood. The westcoast ballad "You Pulled Me Through" contains the greatest Hill's vocal performance on this album. Deep and emotional.

The AC (Adult Contemporary) AOR "Where You Gonna Run To" is pure class, followed by "Something Ain't Right" were Dan sounds like AOR masters Maxus. "Don’t Know Where It Comes From" is wonderful and inspired. "Thru To You" ups the tempo again, a great AOR keyboard sustained track, simple but effective.
Last track, the slow "Old Lady Song" features another inspired performance by Hill.
As bonus, I've added the 1994 version of "In Your Eyes" (duet with Rique Franks). This song became an international smash hit for George Benson, also to Jeffrey Osborne whom recorded his own version in 1986.

"Love In The Shadows" obviously, it's on the lightweight side of the AOR genre.
Production as usual on Dan Hill albums is top notch, and the musicians involved done their job perfectly.
This album is really hard to find, as never has been released in the USA. Also the CD version is megarare.

01 - Love In The Shadows
02 - Helpless
03 - In Your Eyes
04 - Just In Time
05 - You Pulled Me Through
06 - Where You Gonna Run To
07 - Something Ain't Right
08 - Don't Know Where It Comes From
09 - Thru To You
10 - Old Lady Song
11 - In Your Eyes (duet with Rique Franks) [bonus]


THE JACKS - In Danger (1985)

Hailing from the atypical land for melodic rock, Omaha, Nebraska, THE JACKS were a prefect example of what the indie scene was all about back in the first half of the eighties in the US.
The brand of commercial AOR / rock&pop plus the obligatory ballad was the formula to record the popular 'mini LP' of those years.
"In Danger" isn't the exception.

Opens with a very classy AOR diamond, "Love's In Danger". As you may note on the credits, all the members did backing vocals, and that is specially notable on this track. The keyboard and guitar interplay is well balanced and compellingly good.
"Give It A Shot" is a buoyant track in the vein of early Loverboy, contagious and catchy.
"Que Linda" has the 'hit' word impressed over it. This mid-tempo ballad is near perfect example of melodic AOR, with a shimmering and grandiose quality comparable to Tommy Shaw in style.
"Maria" is very poppish with a syncopated rhythm, a cool song that remembers me DVC and other early '80s bands.
"Tommy Is A Romeo" sounds absolutely as The Cars mixed with Cheap Trick. Wouldn't be out of place on Loverboy's debut either.
"I Can't Wait" is a nice rocker dominated by guitars, a very simple song with good backing vocals arrangement.
As bonuses are included the 'radio edit' versions of "Que Linda" (also with a different mix, I prefer the original) and "Love's In Danger"

"In Danger" it's a fine and cool mini LP that represents an era.
It has very good vocals (leads shared between two members), catchy and melodious harmonies, and a great crisp & clear production for an indie.

01 - Love's In Danger
02 - Give It A Shot
03 - Que Linda, What A Beauty
04 - Maria
05 - Tommy Is A Romeo
06 - I Can't Wait
07 - Que Linda (Radio Edit)
08 - Love's In Danger (Radio Edit)

Dan Bird : guitars, keyboards, lead vocals, backing vocals
Robert Figueroa : guitars, keyboards, lead vocals, backing vocals
Dan Palensky : bass guitar, backing vocals
Tom Kenney : drums, percussion, backing vocals

THE JACKS - In Danger


Monday, February 07, 2011

GARY MOORE - The Sky Is Crying (2011)

GARY MOORE The Sky Is Crying RIP
The Man and his Guitar... A humble tribute from this site.
Encompass this great artist full career is almost impossible.
I have selected no common versions, bonus tracks, extended versions, etc. but also the essentials.
As "End Of The World", the guitar work at the beginning is Gary's answer to Eddie V H 'Eruption', his open string hammer-on and pull-off sequence proved he could stand shoulder to shoulder with any six string gunslinger of the '80s.

But Moore is moore than that.
The beauty of "Empty Rooms" hasn't been unsurpassed yet by any songwriter/guitarist from the modern rock era.
Or his ability to compose / perform soulful rockin' blues like the immortal "Still Got The Blues".
The awesome "The Messiah Will Come Again" remains as one of his best instrumental interpretations ever.
Absurdity good is the quality of the classic "Parisienne Walkways" (on a rare Live version here).
Fierce & raw can be described his sound on "White Knuckles / Rockin´ And Rollin´" from his late '70s project G-Force.
One of his 'non classic' tracks that has always been a personal favorite is "Ready For Love". The guitar work / tone here is fantastic in my opinion.
He has covered blues classics like Elmore James´ "The Sky Is Crying" (featured as bonus on 'Still Got The Blues' remaster) and shared stages / recording studios with the best.

Rest In Peace Gary

01 - End Of The World
from "Corridors Of Power" (remastered) - 1982
02 - Wild Fontier [12´´ Version]
from "Wild Frontier 12´´ Maxi" - 1987
03 - Empty Rooms [Long Version]
from "Empty Rooms CD single" - 1985
04 - Still Got The Blues
from "Still Got The Blues" (remastered) - 1990
05 - Falling In Love With You [Remix Instrumental]
from "Corridors Of Power" (remastered) - 1982
06 - All Your Love [Live 7/7/1990]
from "The Definitive Montreux Collection" - 2009
07 - Spanish Guitar [rare Instrumental]
from "Rarities Bootleg" - Year unknown
08 - Emerald [bonus track]
from "After The War" (remastered) - 1988
09 - White Knuckles / Rockin' And Rollin'
from "G-Force" (remastered) - 1979
10 - Devil In Her Heart [bonus track]
from "Victims Of The Future" (remastered) - 1983
11 - The Messiah Will Come Again
from "After The War" (remastered) - 1988
12 - Crying In The Shadows
from "Wild Frontier" (remastered) - 1987
13 - Ready For Love
from "After The War" (remastered) - 1988
14 - Parisienne Walkways [rare Live version]
from "Empty Rooms single" - 1985
15 - The Sky Is Crying [bonus track]
from "Still Got The Blues" (remastered) - 1990
16 - Rest In Peace
from "Dirty Fingers" (remastered) - 1984

Back Cover, CLICK HERE:

GARY MOORE - The Sky Is Crying / NEW LINK

Friday, February 04, 2011

SHOGUN - 31 Days [my remaster] (1987)

SHOGUN 31 Days remastered
Vocalist Alan Marsh was fired from the british band Tokio Blade by his record label due to artistic discrepancies. Together with ex-Chinatown guitarist Danny Gwilym formed SHOGUN in 1984. Their 1st self titled album has traces of the NWOBHM genre although sounding pretty commercial.
To the 2nd, the group decided to update the songwriting, changing their style to a more Americanized sound but still retaining the typical British scent.

The album is entitled "31 Days" because that's how long they were given to start and finish it. Riding the wave of the style that was getting great acceptance in UK on such bands as Shy, Peroux, Moritz, the disc features prominent guitars, sweeping keyboards and persistent choruses.
Do you remember the excellent demos by Push (UK) posted here some time ago? Well, "31 Days" is in the same league
This is first class keyboard driven MHR / AOR with power guitars, strong vocals and heavenly choruses.

From the starting candy-floss synths of opener "Cloak And Dagger" you know this will be a keyboard oriented, extremely commercial plate. "Shock To The Heart" is anthemic and catchy, while the cliched but wonderful "Voices From The Heart" is the album ballad (here remixed by Bob Ezrin).
The rocking "You Are What You Are" (those keyboards!) is followed by the climatic midtempo "Love Is A Game". "Cold Truth" is another melodic belter with great guitar work, "If Tomorrow Comes" reminds me their colleagues Bronz, "First Time" rocks with attitude and closer "Out Of Love Again" is in the best Shy tradition.

"31 Days" never was released on CD and sadly, the original tapes were lost long time ago.
Obviously taken from vinyl, this bootleg CD edition sound quite decent and it's the best sounding version you can get..
Enjoy this classy, must have, typical '87 british Hard AOR gem.

01 - Cloak and Dagger
02 - Shock to the Heart
03 - Voices from the Heart [Bob Ezrin remix]
04 - You are what You are
05 - Love is a Game
06 - Cold Truth
07 - If Tomorrow Comes
08 - Can't Live Without Your Love
09 - First Time
10 - Out of Love Again [Bob Ezrin remix]

Alan Marsh - lead and backing vocals
Danny Gwilym - guitars, backing vocals
Ian Marshall - keyboards, backing vocals
Andy Wrighton - bass, backing vocals
Steve Pierce - drums, percussion

SHOGUN - 31 Days CD bootleg


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Thursday, February 03, 2011

SOJOURN - Lookin' For More [reissue+bonus] (1985)

SOJOURN Lookin' For More reissue + bonus
Coming from Utah, a US state that scarcely makes a blip on the melodic rock radar, SOJOURN was formed in the earlier '80s by guitarist Doug Robinson.
The band soon built up a strong local following, even winning a radio station sponsored 'Battle of the Bands' contest, and quickly set about recording a serie of demos.
By the end of 1984 they sign a deal with a regional label. The recording of their debut "Lookin' For More" speedily took place on a local studio.
Initially the album was released solely on tape in November 1985, but with provincial sales under their belts a vinyl version followed in March of the next year.

Sojourn in many ways sounded like a development of the classic major bands of that era, playing friendly melodic rock with strong AOR / Pomp influences.
"Lookin' For More" is full of good riffs, high doses of keyboards and cool songwriting.
Ranging from crisp rockers like "We Were So Young" or the opening title track, pomp anthems as "Healing Wings" & the midtempo "Holding On To You" to classy AOR gems like "I've Been Runnin' " and the absolute winner "Lives Upon The Shore", this short album is a delight to the ears.

In 2007 "Lookin' For More" was remastered & reissued in small quantities with the addition of the previously unreleased demo recordings '82-'84 and some discarded tracks from the debut sessions. Surely many of these didn't ended into the debut due the cassettes' lack of physical space.
The sound and style is a bit hard edged and unpolished, featuring more guitar solos.

This album is highly rated amongst classic AOR collectors and was much sought after for many years.
Here it is for you in all its glory at maximum quality including artwork.
Out Of Print.

01 - Lookin' for more
02 - Blame it on MTV
03 - Healing wings
04 - Lives upon the shore
05 - The sun back home
06 - Holding on to you
07 - We were so young
08 - I've been runnin'
09 - Heartache runaway
10 - Pick up the pieces
11 - I could love you more
12 - Ceilo bay
13 - When my ship comes in
14 - I'll be there
15 - Lost you in the wind
16 - I still need you
17 - Straight on
18 - Two strikes

Kevin Bullock - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
Doug Robinson - Guitar
Sam Cardon - Keyboards
Dane Spencer - Bass
Doug Pectol - Drums