Thursday, September 29, 2011

AOR TREASURES - Demo Projekt Vol.1 (2011)

Got many quality demos in my collection, and some of them should have been ended in official releases by the respective artists.
So, why not start a Demo series?
If you like it, there will be more for sure.
All tracks in this first installment are really good songs in my opinion, mostly with A+ audio quality.
I have restored the files (enhance, de-hiss, channel correction, etc) for your listening pleasure.

A brief description on some of them:
House Of Lords' James Christian used to be the leader of Eyes (a group with countless members in its history) during the mid-eighties, recording flashing AOR demos, but sadly, never releasing any official material. The song featured here is awesome.
Greek AORsters Wild Rose will be finally releasing the 1st album soon. This demo is a good tune in the classic style.
The great short-lived UK band Seven only released 2 fantastic maxi-CD at the beginning of the nineties produced by John Parr, "America" is a song that never was released.
Kristina Nichols has one of those unique AOR voices. I never seen this rare demo ('88) surfacing the web. Lyrics by Nancy Krasn and Kristina Nichols. Music by Bettie Ross & Kristina Nichols. (Edwin, this is for you!)

Some years ago Swedish wiz Tommy Denander started a project that sadly never seen the light of day, with many top vocalists as guests. On this demo, the respected Joe Pasquale sings his first AOR / MR song in years (he is retired, producing country artists).
Another rarity is hear Robby Valentine performing a cover. "Go Your Own Way" (a Fleetwood Mac original) is professionally recorded but never released. A real rarity from Robby's vault.
"This Is Our Life" by Shining Line was scheduled to be featured into the non-european version of their last year's debut CD, but that's never happened. This track was included into a compilation not so long ago, but this is NOT the same mix.

How about some rare Zinatra? One of my favorite rockin' AOR bands recorded some demos with their last singer Ollie Oldenburg (Frozen Rain) in 1992/3. This track is a mega-rarity.
Another cool tune is "The Law" by Liddle-Rush-Thrall. As the name suggests the band was a collaboration between one-time Strangeways vocalist Tony Liddell, Billy Rush (Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes) and the legendary Pat Thrall (Meatloaf, Asia, Hughes/Thrall). Rockin' track never released.
Is it Fergie Frederiksen at the mic on the Mecca demo? Listen and answer the quiz.
Chicago's Peter Cetera has a songwriter brother, Kenny, who also sings like an angel. Check this mega-rare demo, great quality.
Also included is a great track of Geezer Butler Band from their '86 studio demos feat. Carl Sentance, a fine hi-tech '89 track (demo-only) by Bruce Turgon, and many more.

All these songs never have been released / appeared on official albums.
Good Stuff.

01 - Eyes (James Christian) - Fury Of A Woman
02 - Wild Rose - Another Shot
03 - Maxx - Love In Disguise
04 - Turbulence - Hold On
05 - Seven - America
06 - Kristina Nichols - In The Hands Of The Right Man
07 - Tommy Denander & Joe Pasquale - Run Away
08 - Robby Valentine - Go Your Own Way
09 - Shining Line - This Is Our Life
10 - Summers - Rock You
11 - BlackHeart - My Star
12 - Jacklyn - Straight From The Heart
13 - Zinatra (with Ollie Oldenburg) - Wings Of Gold
14 - Harem Scarem - Born To Be A Rebel
15 - Liddle/Rush/Thrall - The Law
16 - Hayate - Can't Wait On Love
17 - Galaxy - Free To Loose
18 - Geezer Butler Band - Computer God
19 - Bruce Turgon - The First Step
20 - Mecca - I Know
21 - Kenny Cetera - Could It Be You
22 - Warren Wiebe - Safe Back In Your Arms

AOR TREASURES - Demo Projekt Vol.1

Saturday, September 17, 2011

PETER FRAMPTON - When All The Pieces Fit (1989)

PETER FRAMPTON - When All The Pieces Fit (1989)
British Peter Frampton broke all the charts with the amazing double album 'Frampton Comes Alive'. I grew up listening this jewel, and followed his career since then.
During the '80s Peter released only four discs, being the 1986 'Premonition' my favorite, his more AOR oriented ever.

But the last of the bunch in that decade, "When All The Pieces Fit", comes close in my preferences.
This CD must be the more obscure and unknown of his discography, and strangely, unnoticed between the AOR community. Style-wise Contemporary 'adult' Rock & Pop yes, but definitively with an aorish flavor, it's a '89 album...
All this year's characteristics are here; top class session musicians, polished lush production, awesomely bright compressed drums, keyboards, 'that' Top Gun-like rhythm guitars and the obligatory melodic guitar solo.
And of course, tons of harmonic vocals.

One of my picks is the cliché (yes, cheesy, so what?) but wonderful AOR piece "Hold Tight", complete with punctuating keyboards and heavenly backing vocals. Why this track isn't listed between the best '89 songs of the genre is beyond me.
The catchy "More Ways Than One" has a great riff, the lite AORish "Holding On To You" has a commercial trademark Frampton sing-along chorus and on "My Heart Goes Out To You" Peter sounds as the good side of Steve Winwood.
"People All Over The World" reminds me Mr. Mister (don't ask me why), on "Back To The Start" Frampton rocks in his own way, playing his best guitar solo. Love the rhythm section on the latter.
"Now And Again" is another favorite, this semi-midtempo has a terrific chorus, while "This Time Around", the one and only ballad on the entire recording has a charming atmosphere.

I bet most of you never heard about this very good album awesomely produced by guru Chris Lord-Alge (one of my all time favorites).
As far I know, "When All The Pieces Fit" is not an easy CD to find, surely out of print.
Ripped at maximum quality including full artwork.

01 - More Ways Than One
02 - Holding On To You
03 - My Heart Goes Out To You
04 - Hold Tight
05 - People All Over The World
06 - Back To The Start
07 - Mind Over Matter
08 - Now And Again
09 - Hard Earned Love
10 - This Time Around

Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Synths: Peter Frampton
Bass: Nathan East
Percussion: Lenny Castro
Drums: Steve Ferrone, John "J.R." Robinson
Synthesizer: B.A. Robertson
Backing Vocals: Danny Wilde, Mark Williamson, Rick Willis

Engineer, Mixing, Producer, Synths: Chris Lord-Alge
Mastering: Bob Ludwig

PETER FRAMPTON - When All The Pieces Fit

Monday, September 12, 2011

SURRENDER - Surrender '79 No Surrender '82 + bonus (2004)

SURRENDER - Surrender '79 No Surrender '82 + bonus (2004)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Alfie Zappacosta has become one of the most distinctive solo rock&pop vocalists of the Canadian scene during the eighties / nineties, many times flirting with traditional AOR and Westcoast.

His first band, Canadian "Surrender" is a fine example of how his career began, delivering some stylized tunes throwing in a bit of Pomp.

A few years ago all Surrender material was published for the first time on a digital disc, now deleted, out of print.
The CD comprises the first self titled LP "Surrender" (tracks 1-8), the second and final miniLP "No Surrender" (tracks 9-12) and 8 songs previously unreleased.
The first tracks obviously are the most pomp-influenced; late seventies AOR style with good guitar solos and nice arrangements.
These songs were usually underrated in favor to the more instant and commercial sound of the following miniLP "No Surrender", but we can find very nice melodies as the ones on "Some People", the proggy ballad "Nicole" or the classy "Alone Too Often".
My pick is "Turn Down The Mission" a full keyboard driven track with great instrumentation, including a killer guitar solo.

Of course, tracks 9-12 are more catchy and appealing to the '80s AOR listener, being "It's All Been Done Before" the winner of the bunch, a really great radio-friendly typical AOR tune. I love this one.
The bonuses are material recorded after the band dissolved and become just Zappacosta. All are more mid-eighties oriented, interesting and well recorded although a few have a pre-production sound. My favorite is the emotional "I Don't Want To Talk Tonight", a song with a special aura.

A good compilation, with nice melodies and performances. Not a classic, but a real pleasant listen.
As said, this CD is out of print and I seriously doubt it will be reissued in the future.

01 - Anyway You Want
02 - Some People
03 - Nicole
04 - Turn Down The Mission
05 - Buddy
06 - Alone Too Often
07 - Big City Streets
08 - Young Seaman
09 - It's All Been Done Before
10 - Start Again
11 - Hold Tight
12 - Strange Strange Way!
13 - Find Your Way
14 - Hold Me Close
15 - Your Love Is Blind
16 - Melody
17 - You're The Only One That Matters
18 - The Light In Your Eyes
19 - Polo Bar
20 - I Don't Want To Talk Tonight

Alfie Zappacosta - Vocals, Guitar
Steve Jensen - Guitars
Paul Delaney - Drums (1-12)
Peter Curry - Keyboards (1-8)
Geoff Waddington - Bass (1-8)
Mitch Starkman - Bass (9-12)
Gerald O'Brien, Steve Sexton, Peter Goodale, Calvin Sauro, Gerry Mosby - Keyboards (9-12)


Friday, September 02, 2011

LOVERS LANE - Chiseled In Stone (1994)

LOVERS LANE - Chiseled In Stone (1994)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Let listen some Melodic Hard Rock to shake the body.

Lovers Lane used to rock the Sunset Blvd. circuit in the first half of the nineties, and seems they got a nourished fan base following their shows.
After a self titled cassette only release and some line-up changes, founder members guitarist Todd Fulcher and vocalist Rick Roark slightly changed the musical direction to a more straight Melodic Hard Rock.

Their auto-managed CD "Chiseled In Stone" is a really cool collection of very well composed melodic hard rock tunes. Guitars have a preponderant presence on this recording.
Although typically american, there's some late '80s euro hard rock hints into the band's sound, reminding me sometimes Germans Casanova. Specially singer Rick Roark has a tone similar to Michael Voss.
Just check the uptempo and catchy hard rockers "True Love", "That's Why" or "No Way Out" and then tell me.
Their American pedigree is shown in "Hollywood" (where the vocals reminds you a refined Vince Neil), the very melodic "So Badly", "Where Were You", or the hot "Good Girl Gone Bad", all filled with big guitars and fine choruses.
We find also some nice ballads as the acoustic/electric "Goodbye" including background keyboards, and the melodic "So In Love".

"Chiseled In Stone" is a really pleasant listen. Good songs, plenty of hooks, catchy riffs / solos and nice melodies. The production is as good as it gets for an indie release.
Much sought after by collectors, I seen copies fetching $ 130 and more.

01 - True Love
02 - Hollywood
03 - So Badly
04 - Where Were You
05 - Follow Your Heart
06 - Goodbye
07 - Lovers' Lane
08 - Is It You
09 - Good Girl Gone Bad
10 - Stay With Me
11 - No Way Out
12 - That's Why
13 - So In Love
14 - Welcome To The World

Rick Roark: Lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Todd Fulcher: Guitars, backing vocals
Chris Burden: Bass, backing vocals
Larry Rodbell: Drums, backing vocals
Ray Rodriguez: guest Keyboards

LOVERS LANE - Chiseled In Stone (1994)