Thursday, February 28, 2013

MICHAEL SEMBELLO - Without Walls [Japan only CD Version] (1986)

MICHAEL SEMBELLO - Without Walls [Japan only CD Version] (1986)
Reposted by request, as this good album is a rarity on CD. The quantities were scarce and now it's impossible to find at reasonable price.
I just did a web search and it's being sold used at U$S 210 (!). This baby needs a reissue pronto...

Michael Sembello released his debut album in 1983 and the song 'Maniac', included in the movie Flashdance, won the following year's Grammy in its category and become the third highest grossing song from a soundtrack.
Due to this fulminant success Michael has spent much of his career writing and performing music for movies and TV shows, so his solo discography is quite narrowed.

His second solo "Without Walls" is a classic mainstream product of its time: commercial but elaborated Pop-Rock AOR with some Westcoast throwing in.
"What You Really Want" opens the disc with catchy temperament, featuring a very good guitar riff and solo. This track is a Lite AOR gem. "Last To Know" is one of those pop tracks that has the necessary essence to stand the test of time, with a solid songwriting in the best Canadian style.
"Funkabilly Swing" is obviously a funk-rock&pop song, but the sonic treatment here is quite melodic, and the rhythm guitars are just amazing.
The eighties magic returns with the AORish "Is This the Way To Paradise", where Michael sings (especially the chorus) fiercely, and the guitar / keyboard tandem enrich the tune.

"Burn It Up" is another highlight. A pure '80s uptempo track with an action-movie style.
"Angelina" and particularly "Wonder Where You Are" are smooth Westcoast numbers, while "Dangerous" and "Gravity" are commercial, almost danceable tracks. The latter was included into the 'Cocoon' soundtrack and the mix is done with the typical studio trickery of the era.
"Tear Down The Walls" is a marching, anthemic pop-rocker. This song was later recorded by Argentine musician Miguel Mateos (produced by Sembello) and become a latin hit.
"The Picture" is another enormous eighties winner song, with excellent guitar work (Jennifer Batten plays here uncredited), processed drums and glossy production.

"Without Walls" is a terrific album in the classy mid-eighties style, with great songs, superb musicians involved and lush production.
"Angelina" and "The Picture" are exclusive to this Japanese CD version, the only country which had the privilege to see the album released on this format.
Rare, delivered to you by this humble servant at maximum quality including artwork.

01 - What You Really Want
02 - Last To Know
03 - Funkabilly Swing
04 - Is This The Way To Paradise
05 - Burn It Up
06 - Angelina [CD bonus]
07 - Tear Down The Walls
08 - Gravity (Special Dance Mix)
09 - Wonder Where You Are
10 - Dangerous
11 - The Picture
 [CD bonus]

Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards: Michael Sembello
Vocals on 'Wonder Where You Are': Tata Vega
Guitars: Steve Rippley, Bud Rizzo, Jennifer Batten
Keyboards: Randy Waldman
Bass: Richard Rudolph
Bass, Keyboards: Danny Sembello
Drums: Vinnie Colaiuta, Carlos Vega
Percussion: Ron Powell
Synthesizers: Dennis Matkosky, Steve Porcaro
Saxophone: David Boruff
Horns: Herb Alpert
Harmonica, Backing Vocals: Stevie Wonder
Backing Vocals: Bobby Caldwell, Cruz Sembello, Danny Sembello

M. SEMBELLO Without Walls [Japan CD Version]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

JACK STARR's BURNING STARR - The Orange album [Japan CD] (1989)

Re-vamped post per Request.
Extremely rare album, only Japan. Get it while it's hot.

It's time to add some hard sounds to this blog.
Jack Starr is a guitarist and songwriter of French origin, who came to the rock and metal scene at the beginning of the '80s with the band Virgin Steele. I don't know you, but Virgin Steele was one of my favorite groups in my 'young metal years'.
By 1984 Jack formed his own project, 'Jack Starr's Burning Starr', enjoying limited success in the USA during the explosion of hair metal in the second half of the eighties, principally with their Ratt / Dokken oriented '85 release 'No Turning Back', featuring in the line-up future Danger Danger members Frank Vestry and Bruno Ravel.

But at the end of the decade, Starr recorded one of the most unknown American hard rock albums of the era, the self-titled "Jack Starr's Burning Starr", named by the fans as "The Orange album".
This album set a departure from the band's hard 'n heavy style into a more commercial sound, full of keyboards and catchiness.
"Send Me An Angel", "Love Can't Wait", "Fool For Love" or "Hold Back The Night" could have been huge hits on the radio. Sadly, it was a little too late when the album came out (almost 1990) and the labels started to drop artists playing this kind of stuff.
The album only was released in Japan and Germany, but with no promotion and poor distribution it went unnoticed to the major audience.

Well written and played, "The Orange album" is a solid melodic hard rockin' album with inspired guitar work, blasting compressed drums (including cowbells), heavy keyboards and more than competent vocals and choruses. The overall sound / style reminds me my loved Icon (the Phoenix, Arizona band), Keel and Dokken.
This 'Japan only' CD version includes 2 tracks not present on the vinyl / cassette editions and has become impossible to find (a Japanese collector paid $300 for a copy, go figure).
Very Rare

01. Send Me An Angel
02. Bad Times
03. Fool For Love
04. Hold Back The Night
05. Love Can't Wait
06. Out Of The Blue
07. New York Woman
08. Tear Down The Wall
09. Break The Ice
10. Good Girls Gone Bad [CD bonus]
11. Remember Tomorrow [CD bonus]

Jack Starr - Guitars
Mike Tirelli - Vocals
William (aka Freebass) Fairchild - Bass
Jim Harris - Drums
Edward Spahn - Keyboards
Chris Collins - add. Vocals

JACK STARR Orange album 1989 CD

Sunday, February 24, 2013

REX HUNTER - Life Goes On (1994)

REX HUNTER - Life Goes On (1994)
REX HUNTER was just another hard rocking US band arriving too late into the scene, but they had enough quality to be in the major leagues.
Founded by guitarist and main songwriter Jeff Griffith, Rex Hunter managed to record and release privately a great 4-track EP showing their skills and potential.

This is classic late '80s US Melodic Hard Rock with punch: hot guitar work, pumping rhythm section and strong vocal lines by shouter Ed Mueller.
"Still Feel The Same" opens the proceedings in an explosive way with a foot-tapping refrain, sharp instrumentation and a guitar solo akin George Lynch.
Production is quite impressive for an indie and all sounds perfectly mixed and vibrant.
"Never Say Never" is one of those kind of power ballads with essence plenty of harmonics, if released 5 years before would have been a huge hit.
The melodic hard rocker "Life Goes On" fuses the best of Whitesnake and earlier Skid Row in a bombastic melody, and "Playing With Fire" is somehow epic starting with monster clean guitars (the ones sounding like a reverberant harpsichord) and then gets dense and rocking.

This EP leaves you hungry for more, it's truly great. I don't know what happened with these guys, you hear some serious talent here.
A recording visiting my player regularly. Really good.

1 - Still Feel The Same
2 - Never Say Never
3 - Life Goes On
4 - Playing With Fire

Ed Mueller: lead vocals
Jeff Griffith: guitars
Joe Weaver: guitars
Dave Ruff: bass
Joe Piccirillo, Darrin Thomas: drums


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

C.I.T.A. - Act 1 Relapse Of Reason [Japanese reissue +4] (1999)

A reader requested the very first recordings by the Denver, Colorado band originally known as CAUGHT IN THE ACT. Not officially released and very rare, those pre-production demos are a collector's item.
But I think it's a better idea - first of all - to present on this blog this very good nineties Melodic Hard Rock band through their debut "Act 1 Relapse Of Reason".
And even better, with the 1999 Japanese reissue [TOCP-50777] featuring bonus tracks plus an extra by myself.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT was discovered in 1989 by AXE's guitarist Bobby Barth via his manager based in Colorado. Barth agreed to produce their pre-production demo and show it to labels.
A2Z Records from England was chosen and Bobby Barth also produced the band's debut "Act 1: Relapse Of Reason" released in 1995. But due to legal reasons in Europe the combo was forced to change their name to simply C.I.T.A.
Note that this Japanese reissue sports the band's original full name on the cover, as well as the acronym.

Musically "Act 1: Relapse Of Reason" is a fine compendium of melodic, sometimes sharp guitars, aural keyboards and excellent vocal harmonies. Their elaborated Melodic Hard Rock constantly flirts with the elegant side of AOR, and even in a couple of tracks with progressive elements.
Their sound and style is a mix between Honeymoon Suite, Loverboy, House Of Lords and Def Leppard, the latter especially due the terrific vocal arrangements on the choruses.
Though, C.I.T.A. has their own personality combining these influences with class expertly conducted by Barth behind the desk.
All songs are good, including the two covers of AXE "Steal Another Fantasy" and "Silent Soldiers", and the STAN BUSH co-penned power ballad "Two Hearts".

This Japanese reissue includes 4 bonuses recorded in Germany featuring a different approach in the arrangements plus one song later appeared in the band's 2nd disc.
I have added another curious track as bonus; "If I Loose This Feeling", only appeared in a compilation from their posterior European label. This track was recorded under other moniker: 'Fuegos Del Mundo', because the inclusion of some latin percussions and Spanish guitar differs from the usual style of C.I.T.A. Really interesting track, some kind of Journey meets Santana.
Inspired MHR / AOR stuff with a refreshingly original approach. The rare pre-production recording coming soon...

01 - Everytime (I Close My Eyes)
02 - Through The Years
03 - Stand Or Fall
04 - Two Hearts
05 - These Eyes
06 - No Heroes
07 - Relapse Of Reason
08 - Steal Another Fantasy
09 - The Fall
10 - Who Will You Run To
11 - Changes
12 - Silent Soldiers
Japanese Bonus Tracks
13 - Heat Of Emotion (live)
14 - Trough The Years (live)
15 - Relapse Of Reason (live)
16 - These Eyes (live)
Extra Bonus Track
15 - If I Loose This Feeling (as Fuegos Del Mundo)

Danny Martinez: lead vocals, guitar
Anthony 'Antz' Trujillo: guitar, keyboards, vocals
Joe Marone: bass, vocals
Troy Benson: drums, percussion, vocals

C.I.T.A. - Act 1 Relapse Of Reason


Sunday, February 03, 2013

AOR TREASURES - The Japan Bonus Vol.5

Another installment of the popular 'Japanese bonus' series.
This Vol.5 includes mostly tracks from the best Hard Rock / AOR / Melodic Rock recent releases.
More than 70 minutes of good music accompanied as usual with myself made artwork.

01 - SHARON - 25 Hours A Day
(Edge Of Time bonus - 1999)

02 - GRAND ILLUSION - Not For Sale
(Prince Of Paupers bonus - 2011)

03 - H.E.A.T - Back Into Your Arms
(Address The Nation bonus - 2012)

04 - TEN - I Found Love
(Heresy And Creed bonus - 2012)

05 - SUNSTORM - The Silence
(Emotional Fire bonus - 2012)

(The Magnificent bonus - 2011)

07 - LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM - Waited A Long Time
(Nine Lives bonus - 2011)

08 - JIMI JAMISON - Everybody's Got A Broken Heart [Acoustic]
(Never Too Late bonus - 2012)

09 - LOVER UNDER COVER - Rain Of Tears
(Set The Night On Fire bonus - 2012)

10 - HORIZON - Lies And Deception
(The Sky's The Limit bonus - 2002)

11 - EUROPE - Beautiful Disaster
(Bag Of Bones bonus - 2012)

12 - JORN - Mob Rules [Black Sabbath cover]
(Bring Heavy Rock To The Land bonus - 2012)

13 - KNIGHT FURY - Weight Of The World
(Time To Rock bonus - 2012)

14 - JETTBLACK - Feel The Love [ft. Ian Paice]
(Raining Rock bonus - 2012)

15 - LIESEGANG WHITE - Gates Of Twilight
(Visual S.O.E. bonus - 2005)

16 - ECLIPSE - Battlegrounds [Acoustic version]
(Bleed And Scream bonus - 2012)

17 - ASIA - Faithful [Orchestral Version]
(XXX bonus - 2012)

18 - KHYMERA - If You Dare To Dream [Acoustic Version]
(A New Promise bonus - 2005)

Back Cover, CLICK HERE:



Friday, February 01, 2013

BRETT WALKER - Person 2 Person [unreleased] (1989)

BRETT WALKER - Person 2 Person [unreleased] (1989)
This is a revamped post from years ago, per request. Myself made compilation and not available anywhere.
Get it while it's hot...

Oklahoma native Brett Walker has recorded one of the most adorable pure AOR albums in history, the critically acclaimed 'Nevertheless' in 1994.
But he started his passion for this genre many years ago.
At his twenties, moved to L.A to play on Tahnee Cain's band and Nick Gilder amongst other well respected artists.
Besides, becoming a professional songwriter, Brett wrote two charting singles; one for Jimi Jamison ('Taste Of Love') and the other for Alias: the classic 'Waiting For Love', which entered the Top Ten chart.

At the end of the eighties formed together with drummer Tommy 'Mugs' Cain (Journey's Jonathan Cain brother) the "Person 2 Person" project.
In fact, this name was given to the demo tape of the band - looking forward to a record deal - distributed hand-to-hand, 'person-to-person'.

"Person 2 Person" demos have been circulating for years between AOR collectors. Some of these tracks ended (properly re-recorded) on Walker's debut, but the rest are awesome tunes that deserved to heard.
The sound quality is fine, I have cleaned and enhanced all files for your listening pleasure.
Really good stuff.

Tracklist, CLICK HERE:

BRETT WALKER Person 2 Person '89