Monday, January 28, 2013

PORCARO BROTHERS - Young At Heart CDs [Champions League Soundtrack] (1997)

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

Long time TOTO amazing members, the talented brothers MIKE & STEVE PORCARO composed and recorded the official soundtrack / main theme for the 1997's European Football Champions League final game.
The song was played during the half-time intermission in front of of 70.000 people attending the match, and later released as CDsingle including two extra versions.

"Young At Heart" is an anthemic AOR tune with the classic Toto flavor featuring lead vocals by no other than Joseph Williams and the exquisite drumming of Carlos Vega.
A rare, enjoyable out of print collector's piece.

01 - Young At Heart (Radio Edit)
02 - Young At Heart (Long Version)
03 - Young At Heart (Instrumental)

Bass, Percussion: Mike Porcaro
Keyboards: Steve Porcaro
Lead and Background Vocals: Joseph Williams
Drums, Percussion: Carlos Vega


Thursday, January 17, 2013

WESTERN FRONT (pre-21 Guns) - Unreleased (1987-88)

After the last post here some people were requesting material from the project that was essentially the genesis for what would become 21 Guns; WESTERN FRONT.
Based in L.A. after leaving Thin Lizzy, guitarist Scott Gorham wanted to create a band with the typical commercial rock style that ruled the US in the mid eighties.
Vocalist & drummer Rick 'Moon' Calhoun (The Strand), singers Matti Alfonzetti (Jagged Edge) & John Fiddler (Medicine Head), guitarists Marty Walsh (Supertramp) & Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash), drummers Bob C. Benburg (Supertramp) & Darrell Verdusco (Starship) and many others were involved in the Western Front project.

Then around 1989 Gorham teamed up with Johansen & Sturgis and decided to dissolve Western Front and start from the scratch as 21 Guns.
But during those WF years Gorham penned and recorded a lot of material with the band, stuff that remains unreleased as none of these tracks were re-recorded later.
With really good production and sound, songs like the catchy "Tell Me You Remember", "Just Go", "Set Me Free", "Law Of The Jungle", the delicious "Rain" and the AOR midtempo "1000 Nights" clearly shows the style 21 Guns would develop later.
There's more middle eighties radio-rock tunes in "Chain Of Light", "Heartland" and the bouncing "Man To Man", all pleasantly hooky commercial numbers.

As said, the sound of this pre-production tapes is really good but I have enhanced some gain and frequencies besides noise clean-up in my audio workstation to make it sound even better (A+), including my self-made artwork.
Good & Rare enjoyable stuff.

01 - Tell Me You Remember
02 - Chain Of Light
03 - Just Go
04 - Set Me Free
05 - Law Of The Jungle
06 - Heartland
07 - 1000 Nights
08 - Man To Man
09 - If I'm The One
10 - Rain
11 - Danger

WESTERN FRONT - Unreleased


Friday, January 11, 2013

21 GUNS - Salute [Japanese Edition +2] (1992)

21 GUNS was the project of ex-Thin Lizzy excellent guitarist Scott Gorham, which started under the Western Front name in the second half of the eighties.
During his recording contribution to Project Phenomena, Gorham met bass/drum players Leif Johansen and Mike Sturgis (ex A-Ha, Far Corporation) and 21 Guns finally get glued.
For the singer slot, Sturgis called the wonderful Tommy La Verdi (ex-A440, a cult lite AOR band) who impressed him years before when A440 opened for A-Ha in one of their American tours.

Signed by a major label, 21 Guns debut "Salute" arrived in 1992 delivering a fantastic slice of polished Melodic Rock / AOR. This CD is among my Top 50 favorites of all time in these genres, a true GEM.
No fillers, just killers: just listen the kickin' opener "Knee Deep", the huge "These Eyes" or the melodic jewel "Marching In Time".
If you like high class ballads you have the grandiose AOR of "Tell Me", and then "Just A Wish" is just PERFECTION with Capitals. I love this tune, it's simply irresistible.
If you need more uptempo hard rockers, Gorham gets loose on "Battered And Bruised", "Little Sister" and "Walking" for good measure.
Oh, and I can't forget another pearl: the midtempo "Jungleland" is bloody awesome, remembering another band who released other delicious album that year; Neal Schon's Hardline.

The Japanese edition of this golden recording includes two bonus tracks; "Cold Heart" and "Blood Gone Bad", both from the final recording sessions and with the same glossy, first class production.
These tracks were later included in the second album of the band, but in demo versions. The ones included here in "Salute - Japan Edition" are far superior in musicianship and production, the definitive finished tracks and exclusive to this CD.
In short: "Salute" is Essential.

01 - Knee Deep
02 - These Eyes
03 - Walking
04 - Marching In Time
05 - The Rain
06 - Little Sister
07 - Pays Off Big
08 - Just A Wish
09 - Battered And Bruised
10 - Jungleland
11 - Tell Me
12 - No Way Out
13 - Cold Heart (Japan bonus track)
14 - Blood Gone Bad (Japan bonus track)

Thomas La Verdi: lead vocals
Scott Gorham: guitars, backing vocals
Leif Johansen: bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Mike Sturgis: drums, percussion

21 GUNS Salute - Japanese Edition


Friday, January 04, 2013

TRICKSTER - Back To Zero [Japan remaster +4] (1979)

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

TRICKSTER was founded in Birmingham, UK around 1976 by singer Phil Bates who previously played in Kwil and other local acts (He would release the terrific album 'Power' with the band Atlantic in the '90s).
Trickster was signed by Jet Records, the same of ELO, so it isn't strange that after the debut album in 1978 Trickster toured Europe supporting them.
For the second LP "Back To Zero" the band turned their sound into a more sophisticated affair adding strong Melodic Rock and AOR elements to their music following the trend arriving from America at the end of the seventies.
Then Trickster enjoyed some popularity on both sides of the ocean, even opening for Journey and Boston.

"Back To Zero" features very good songs with nice hooks and fine arrangements blended with lush orchestrations. The melodic tunes were enhanced by a crystal clear, polished production to appeal a wider range of listeners.
Trickster reminds me here Charlie, some earlier REO Speedwagon and Toto, and in places, the Electric Light Orchestra.
Opener "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" is perhaps the more British-sounding track on offer here, title track "Back To Zero" recalls the style of John Miles around the era, while the urgent "Bump In The Night" has a catchy hook all over.

My favorite tracks are the more AOR oriented tunes such as the keyboard/synth driven "Road To Nowhere" and "The Loser", the great harmonies of "You Make Me Want To Stay" (very American sounding) and the catchiness of the Charlie-like "Can't Stop Us Singing".
"Falling For The Wrong Guy" was the first single and is one of the highlights, a superb ballad with a grandiose melody, whilst "Time Makes A Fool Of Everyone" is a terrific track plenty of sophistication thanks to the synthesized ARP strings.

"Back To Zero" was remastered by Universal Japan some years ago and reissued only in Asia with the addition of 4 bonus tracks, mostly the hard to find single b-sides as the really good "Rock'n Roll Clown".
"Back To Zero" has aged very well and will please all the AOR / Melodic Rock fans out there. Taken from the original masters, the sound of the CD is first class.

01 - Tomorrow Belongs To Me
02 - Back To Zero
03 - You Make Me Want To Stay
04 - Road To Nowhere
05 - Bump In The Night
06 - Time Makes A Fool Of Everyone
07 - Hold On
08 - Falling For The Wrong Guy
09 - I'm Satisfied
10 - Can't Stop Us Singing
11 - The Loser
12 - Sweet Freedom (Bonus Track)
13 - Rock'n Roll Clown (Bonus Track)
14 - April In Paris (Bonus Track)
15 - Everybody Needs A Hero (Bonus Track)

Phil Bates - Lead and Backing Vocals, Guitar
Michael Groth - Guitar
Colin Hewinson - Keyboards, Synths, Backing Vocals
John Fincham - Bass, Guitar, Drums, Backing Vocals
Paul Elliot - Drums, Percussion

TRICKSTER - Back To Zero +4