Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HI INFIDELITY - Hi Rise (2008)

HI INFIDELITY - Hi Rise (2008) Journey, Styx
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

HI INFIDELITY is a cover band from Illinois, specialized in '80s Rock hits made famous by Journey, Night Ranger, Bryan Adams, Van Halen, etc.

With an endless concert schedule, the band has been packing venues wherever they play. During breaks at the shows, the members involve themselves with their admirers making it a more personable and rewarding experience.
For six consecutive years, Hi Infidelity has been voted the best Rock Cover Band of the East area.

All are experienced in this game. In example, keyboardist Bobby Scumanci produces other artists in his own studio and has been part of Dave Mason's band for more than 12 years, and lead vocalist Dave Mikulskis (a huge Journey fan) recorded and played on several musical stage productions.
Hi Infidelity has published last year a live album including versions of 13 eighties smash hits. But they also write original songs.

In 2008, the 5-track EP "Hi Rise" was released (digital only as far I know), showing the talents of these accomplished musicians.
Their own music, obviously, is '80s AOR flavored Classic Rock.
"There Ain't Nothing" is warm and breezy with melodious guitars and vintage keyboards. "Just Another Heartbreak" has a Journey-esque feel, I can hear REO Speedwagon on the very good harmonized vocals of "Come Back Home", "You Do Your Thing" is impregnated by Styx all over, and the American AOR of "Can't Get Enough Of You" brings The Synch to mind.

Really well produced by themselves, "Hi Rise" is a lovely collection of eighties feel-good melodic tunes. Dave Mikulskis has a melodic timbre that reminds me Tommy Shaw's early Styx era, supported by vocal contributions from all members, resulting in a very pleasant harmonic product.
Really Good Stuff.

01 - There Ain't Nothing
02 - Just Another Heartbreak
03 - Come Back Home
04 - You Do Your Thing
05 - Can't Get Enough Of You

Dave Mikulskis - Vocals, Guitars
Bobby Scumaci - Keyboards, Vocals
Jim Warren - Drums, Vocals
Tyler Holcomb - Bass, Vocals
Guy Dominick - Guitars, Vocals


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MAGNUS BACKLUND - Never Say Never (2006)

MAGNUS BACKLUND - Never Say Never (2006)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Born in Linkoping, Sweden, Magnus Bäcklund had two dreams in life; one to be a commercial pilot and the other, to be a singer. Both become reality.

In the '90s moved to the U.S. for training as pilot. After completed, there was a recession in the airline industry, and started to search for a temporal job.
Music was always an important thing in Magnus' life, as hobby. He found an advertisement on the Internet where an American band were looking for a singer. Without that he really understood what had happened, Bäcklund was now the lead singer of the band Random Thoughts and had a whole new career ahead of him.
After recoding an album and playing clubs, Magnus decided return home.

Once in Sweden, Bäcklund heard about a new TV show that would be called Fame Factory. He was accepted and then went all the way to the finals, which he also won in December 2002.
The grand prize was a recording contract with Bert Karlsson's company, and with another student at Fame Factory, Jessica Andersson, formed the pop duo 'Fame', which sold tons of albums in Scandinavia.
Now the career took a crazy turn. They were suddenly superstars and found themselves constantly touring. After a couple of years, both Magnus and Jessica wanted to try a career of their own, so they decided to put Fame on hold.
This became obvious to the public when both participated in the Swedish Song Contest in 2006, with their own songs. Magnus made it to the big final and ended up on a fantastic fifth place with his song "The Name Of Love".

MAGNUS BACKLUND - Never Say Never back

For his solo debut, Bäcklund wanted to test the genre that he thought suits him best; Rock&pop / European Melodic Rock, and in October 2006, released the CD "Never Say Never".
This is an album with the typical refined Swedish sound, showing a poppy European Melodic Rock approach as Arena (the Swedish band of ex-Bad Habit's Hal Johnston) with a touch of West Coast and AOR.
Curious to hear is a cover of "Changes", the Ozzy / Black Sabbath song in an interesting orchestrated version.

Magnus Bäcklund has a warm, melodious voice, with a fine range and personality.
Not in vain he was called to be one of the singers in the upcoming Sonic Station excellent CD (which I have listened entirely) to be released next February 24 by Frontiers Records.
"Never Say Never" offers good, light melodic rockers and delicate ballads, rounded by a first class production. Although the CD was released few years ago, seems out of print now.

01 - Perfect
02 - Crash and burn
03 - She
04 - Never say never
05 - Say your goodbye
06 - Sweet catastrophy
07 - It's not OK
08 - Changes
09 - Taken by surprise
10 - Look at you now
11 - The name of love

Magnus Backlund: Vocals
Micke Andersson (Private Eye, Tone Norum): Guitar
Figge Bostrom (Eva Dahlgren, Carola): Bass
Mattias Bylund (Erik Gronwall): Keyboards
Marten M.K. Eriksson: Keyboards, Guitar
David Bukovinsky: Strings
Christer Jansson, Magnus Sjolander: Drums
Thomas Lindberg (At the Gates): Backing Vocals
Lina Eriksson, Nana Hedin: Backing Vocals
... and many more.

MAGNUS BACKLUND - Never Say Never (2006)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

STONE SOUP - Spooge [Japanese edition] (1997)

STONE SOUP - Spooge [Japanese edition] (1997)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Americans STONE SOUP recorded this, their debut album "Spooge" between 1989-90, but negotiations with a major label dropped, and ain't was until 1997 that the album was released, only in Europe and Japan.

This is one of the best Melodic Rock / AOR albums appeared during the nineties. With a sound reminiscent of Aldo Nova, Bon Jovi and even Foreigner, it blends American stadium rockers and anthemic AOR tunes plenty of great hooks and keyboards.
Clearly recorded in different sessions (but it doesn't affect the flawless), the first part of the CD is more rockier, as heard on the anthemic "Fighting The Good Fight", the catchy "The Ultimate Touch" and the Bonfire-like "Can't Sell Me Love".
On the simple but effective "Promises" the sound starts to turn more American AOR-rock, where, as on the fantastic mid-tempo "Hit Where It Hurts", they reminds you '80s Foreigner.

The keyboards and melodic structure of "Run For Your Love" has some Journey reminiscences, while the driving "Right Before My Eyes" (featuring an Aldo Nova guest guitar solo) is one of catchiest tracks here, very much in the vein of Aldo eighties work or Surgin.
I don't know who is the female vocalist (not credited) sharing vocals with Patrick Klein on the awesome keyboard driven action movie-AOR of "Youngblood", but trust me, the result is terrific. Definitely, my favorite song of the CD.
This not easy to find Japanese press of the of the album includes two bonuses, being "Rock You" just a cool rocker, but what really makes worth to have this Asian version is the anthemic "When The Walls Come Down". What a great song! A real highlight, driven by a melodic guitar riff over blasting drums and a never-ending chorus.

STONE SOUP - Spooge - European cover
European cover

As said, "Spooge" is a very, very good slice of late '80s commercial Melodic Rock / AOR, full of hooks, driving guitar & keyboard lines and very well harmonized catchy choruses.
Taken from the Japan CD (which features a different album cover) at maximum quality incl. full scans.

01 - Fighting The Good Fight
02 - The Ultimate Touch
03 - Can't Sell Me Love
04 - Not A Day Goes By
05 - Promises
06 - Run For Your Love
07 - Youngblood
08 - Right Before My Eyes *
09 - Hit Where It Hurts
10 - Hard Fall
11 - Rock You (Japan bonus)
12 - When The Walls Come Down (Japan bonus)

Patrick Klein: lead vocals, guitar
Matt Wells: lead & rhythm guitar
Kanin Thomas: keyboards, programming
Michael Anderson: guitar, bass, vocals
Aldo Nova: guitar solo on *

STONE SOUP - Spooge [Japanese edition]

Friday, February 10, 2012

SOLEIL MOON - Worlds Apart (1999)

SOLEIL MOON - Worlds Apart (1999)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

SOLEIL MOON is a duo formed in mid-nineties by two career/session musicians; Larry King and John Blasucci.

More rock, Larry wrote songs and sung backing tracks for other artists, and even composed a rock opera staged in the US East area. John is a trained session keyboardist and orchestrator, but has a completely different background, as he came from the jazz scene where recorded on countless albums and played with big names of the genre.

What they have done (and still do these days) with Soleil Moon is pure magic.
Both took enough time to compose one of the best West Coast AOR / Adult Contemporary albums of all time. Yes, it's that good.
For this magnificent recording, they secured the contribution of top session players to give these superb songs the quality playing they deserved.
Masters of the highest caliber such as guitar maestro Michael Thompson (just listen the track "I'd Die For You", possibly, his best recording ever), Kenny Aronoff, Warren Hill, Lenny Castro and even the London Symphony Orchestra. That's what I call 'got contacts'.

I can write ten thousand lines (and more) threshing a track-by-track, as all are so marvelously composed, arranged, executed, produced, etc. that you can't find enough words to describe this masterpiece.
Instead of this, I beg you not to miss this golden CD, which easily ranks in my Top 50 of all times.
You have it all here; smooth West Coast, AOR, Adult Contemporary, stylized Pop, Classic Rock... everything.
Just BRILLIANT, with Capitals.

As bonus, I've added an extra track recorded by Soleil Moon in November, 2000, for that year holidays; "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". Never released commercially, just for the fans, the song became the Number One most added Christmas song in the East area radio stations.
Essential album. A Must Have.

01 - Willingly
02 - Never Say Goodbye
03 - Ohio
04 - Warm Summer Rain
05 - Worlds Apart
06 - I'd Die For You (Orchestral Intro)
07 - I'd Die For You
08 - You And Me
09 - Calling On The World
10 - I Need You Close To Me
11 - Love Me Like You Used To
12 - What Are You Dreaming
13 - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (bonus)

Larry King - vocals
John Blasucci - keyboards
Session players;
Michael Thompson, Paul Jackson Jr. - guitars
Ricky Petersen - organ
Warren Hill - sax
Lenny Castro - percussion
Kenny Aronoff, Todd Sucherman - drums
London Symphony Orchestra

SOLEIL MOON - Worlds Apart

RAYMOND MAY - Unadulterated Addiction (1988)

RAYMOND MAY - Unadulterated Addiction (1988)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Raymond May was born in Sri Lanka and raised in the westernmost of Canada's provinces, British Columbia. At his teens he went to London and joined 'The Unknowns', who released one single.

Still in UK, by 1985 Raymond competed in a local Battle Of the Bands event. Bryan Adams' manager Bruce Allen was one of the judges and signed May to his new record label, Penta.

Raymond May's debut "Unadulterated Addiction" was produced by Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, Loverboy) together with ex-Payolas Paul Hyde and released in 1988.
The album has a typical Canadian radio-rock style made famous by Bryan Adams, present on tracks such as "You Turn Me On", "Living In Exile", "Turn Your Love Light On", but May has a more American way of singing.
In fact, some songs have an Americana vibe, heard on "True Pretender" and the good ballad "Yellow Ribbons". On other tracks Raymond reminds me Billy Squier ("True Life", "Living In Exile"), while "New Emotion" has some kind of hair-metal intentions.

Well produced and performed, "Unadulterated Addiction" is a fine dish of Rock music, nothing to die for, just a pleasant listen.
Soon after touring opening for Aerosmith, Penta broke up and Raymond May ended without contract. This is his only album -out of print- ripped from the very rare CD version pressed by Elektra Records.

01 - Romantic Guy
02 - True Life
03 - New Emotion
04 - You Turn Me On
05 - True Pretender
06 - Living In Exile
07 - Turn Your Love Light On
08 - Tiger And The Butterfly
09 - Yellow Ribbons
10 - Ride 'Em High

Raymond May: Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Naoise Sheridan: Guitars
John Webster: Keyboards
Chris Taylor: Drums

RAYMOND MAY - Unadulterated Addiction

Saturday, February 04, 2012

AVALON - Catch Us If You Can [miniLP - Wacko OST] (1982)

AVALON - Catch Us If You Can [miniLP - Wacko OST] (1982)
Many of the classic albums in the AOR genre are long out of print, deliciously rare, and reached even greater status among the fans for it.
One of them is the '82 four track mini-LP 'Everyman A King' by the USA AOR band Avalon, already featured HERE on this blog not so long ago.

'Everyman A King' appears as the only 'official' release by the band, but occurs that Avalon recorded the same year some songs for the 'Wacko (1982)' movie.
The Soundtrack never was released, but few fans know (even rabid collectors) that these tunes were privately pressed on vinyl by the band in an extremely low quantities.
With no artwork, just wrapped in a white paper sleeve, this private MiniLP includes the 4 tracks featured in the movie.

Needless to say this is a mega-rare collector's item, never seen in the blogosphere nor on auction sites until now...
Let me dedicate this delicious post to the biggest '80s soundtrack collector in the World; my good friend Mr. Phaota, and also to whom has continued my 'AOR TREASURES - The Soundtracks' series on his own blog; Allan José Silva da Costa.
Uber-Rare stuff. Highly Recommended.

1 - Rumour Has It
2 - Catch Us If You Can
3 - Messin' With My Baby
4 - Blackmail

Rick Neigher: Guitar, Lead Vocals
Mike Mirage: Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Chris Coté: Keyboards, Vocals

AVALON - Catch Us If You Can [Wacko OST]


Friday, February 03, 2012

ALBERTO SIMONINI - Moon Twice (1990)

ALBERTO SIMONINI - Moon Twice (1990)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

ALBERTO SIMONINI is an Italian multi-instrumentalist, mainly guitar player, who has published an interesting hard rock album with the band Midway back in 1988.

"Moon-Twice" is his own child, practically played and recorded entirely by himself between 1989-90 but shelved until 2006.
Actually, it was pressed independently as promo in 1990 including nine tracks, and even it was played live including another good Italian guitarist in the line-up; Max Magagni.

But the official release dates from 2006, with the addition of extra tracks.
Simonini's style here is a cross between the northern Europe and the US sounds that ruled those years: commercial hard rock with good choruses and some edge on the guitars.
Simonini is a really good six-string player with a sharp sound, and he sings surprisingly well.
I can hear TNT influences on tracks such as "No Tequila" or "Fear Your Weapon", Icon on "Can't You See", or Dokken in the title track "Moon-Twice" and the mid-tempo "A Secret Diary".

"My Desire Is You" has more US metal overtones ala Impelliterri, while one of the best tracks on the album, "She Is Mine", reminds me Joshua.
"Everytime" is one of the most commercial tunes, and the balladry is represented by the interesting "Solitude".
The rest of the songs are instrumentals, being the VanHalen-esque "Running On The Fast Lane (Car Accident)" and the ethereal "Flight Of Fancy" (including flute) the best of all.

"Moon-Twice" is a cool indie CD with fine songs, well performed and correctly produced. Only published in Italy by a small local label in limited quantities, it has become really hard to find.
Nice stuff.

01 - No Tequila
02 - Can't You See
03 - Moon-Twice
04 - Fear Your Weapon
05 - Unrequited Love
06 - A Secret Diary
07 - My Desire Is You
08 - Existence
09 - She Is Mine
10 - Everytime
11 - Solitude
12 - Running On The Fast Lane (Car Accident)
13 - Positive / Negative
14 - Flight Of Fancy
15 - K622 Adagio
16 - Incubus Of A Wilful Murder In The Cosmos

Alberto Simonini - Everything
Federico Mascagni - Backing Vocals
Fabio di Fazio - Backing Vocals
Paolo Perdetti - guest Guitar Solo (Track 12)
Anna Auer - Flute



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