Thursday, October 31, 2013

MANITO PARK - Manito Park (1991)

MANITO PARK - Manito Park (1991) rare
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Based in Spokane, Washington state, quartet MANITO PARK took their name from the recreation park located in their city. The band toured the area since the late eighties and recorded & released independently this rich in harmonies self-titled CD in 1991.

MANITO PARK's music is American AOR but in its more Melodic Rock side akin Nelson, Bystander, Beau Coup, Biloxi, Roxanne and many more.
There's hook-laden catchy cuts like "Surrender", "Fool For Yesterday", "Bridges Burning", and lovable rockin' AOR cuts in "Like Forever", "Ariel" and the keyboard-filled mid-tempo "Daydreamer", all adorned with huge harmony vocals.
On the balladry side, we have two top class AOR gems in "One Last Look", a wonderful tune complete with pianos & acoustics, and the Elefante brothers-like "Send A Miracle". Three of the tracks are short intros/interludes, and there's also two acoustic-only songs; the melodic vocally layered "Oh Father" and the fun "Idaho Eyes".

MANITO PARK - Manito Park (1991) CD photo

Although the indie production is clearly low budget, the songcraft in Manito Park is excellent which turned this album a much sought after piece by AOR / Melodic Rock fans and collectors.
This is not the bad-tracked rip floating the web, it's taken from the original gold-plated CD including artwork.
Rare & Good.

01 - Bridges Prelude
02 - Girl In Green
03 - Surrender
04 - One Last Look
05 - Like Forever
06 - Idaho Eyes
07 - Daydreamer
08 - Fool For Yesterday
09 - Oh Father
10 - Ariel
11 - Duet
12 - Down On Sunday
13 - Stumpy's Choice
14 - Send A Miracle
15 - Bridges Burning

Dave Dupree - lead vocals, keyboards
Bob Burdett - guitars, backing vocals
Lars Ziemba - bass, backing vocals
Rusty Knorr - drums


Thursday, October 24, 2013

THE LIMIT - Dysfunction (1999)

THE LIMIT - Dysfunction (1999)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Today I bring to you a true rarity requested by a reader; the Maryland indie outfit THE LIMIT and their only (?) album "Dysfunction".
The band was formed in the nineties recording and releasing the album independently at the end of the decade, being promoted at the now legendary (and extinct) site, one of the first places where you were able to find music on this format at the very beginning of the internet. Also served as an important platform for indie acts like The Limit to sell their CD's.

The Limit's style is strongly inspired by the '80s commercial US Melodic Rock sound and AORish radio friendly tunes with nice harmonies and very melodious arrangements. The dynamic catchy opener "Rejecting Healthy" reminds me US cult rockers Neverland (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack), followed by the slang-named "Schweet Thang" driven by jumpin' rhythm guitars in the vein of Canadians The Works.
"Keep My Heart Open" is the first ballad and one of the highlights, with a graceful melodic line like Passion Street (UK band), a simple but rewarding slow tune with pianos and synths in the background. Then the light melodic rocker "What If" adds some Boston (Tom Scholz) feel specially on the guitar arrangements and during the harmonized choruses.

"Waiting For Goodbye" is another favourite, a midtempo stylized AOR number where the guitar lines and keyboard fills brings to mind Journey and even Scottish Strangeways. Uptempo rocker "Wrestle The Wind" has some early Night Ranger written over it, same later on "Regret", where the melodic guitar hooks takes the centre scene.
A new highlight arrives with the midtempo AOR of "Leah's Lie", where Freddy Curci's Alias meets Mark Free's solo albums, followed by the other ballad on the CD, the very good "Heaven Doesn't Want Me" mixing acoustic guitars with keys ala Sheriff (again, Freddy Curci) and some REO Speedwagon.
The album ends full on rockin' AOR / Melodic Rock style with "We All Fall Down", once again with a Night Ranger touch and perhaps some Loverboy.

With a more than a decent production for an indie, The Limit blends all the classic influences mentioned above with their own personal stamp resulting in the really enjoyable album that is "Dysfunction".
Rare as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model photo shoot in Alaska, The Limit's "Dysfunction" is a really nice addition to your Melodic Rock rarities collection.

01 - Rejecting Healthy
02 - Schweet Thang
03 - Keep My Heart Open
04 - What If
05 - Waiting For Goodbye
06 - Wrestle The Wind
07 - Leah's Lie
08 - Heaven Doesn't Want Me
09 - Regret
10 - We All Fall Down

Jim House Jr. - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Tim Haines - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mike Duncan - Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Kent Beeghly - Drums, Percussion

THE LIMIT - Dysfunction 1999

Sunday, October 20, 2013

JON BUTCHER - Pictures From The Front (1989)

JON BUTCHER - Pictures From The Front (1989)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Guitarist, singer & songwriter JON BUTCHER born in Alaska, but he started making some noise in the Boston area at the beginning of the eighties. His six-string style was often compared to Jimi Hendrix, not only for his playing, but also for being a young afro-american musician naming his group Axis, a reference to a Hendrix album title.
However, at the middle of the decade Butcher was signed by Capitol and he and the label decided to change the musical approach to the polished Melodic Rock so in vogue in the US.
By the time of this "Pictures From The Front" - Butcher's fifth album and the third for Capitol - there was not traces of Hendrix, not even on the moniker, as it was released under the 'Jon Butcher' name.

Although not 'strictly' Melodic Rock (as it fuses some bluesy overtones) "Pictures From The Front" is a rock album with a strong AOR feel as well mainly due to the glossy production courtesy of the team Spencer Proffer (Cheap Trick, Heart, Eddie Money) and Glenn Ballard (Jack Wagner, Aerosmith, Toto) who also arranged the whole thing and co-wrote some songs.
The new Jon Butcher band for this album - and successful tours to come - included talented bassist Jaimie Carter, solid drummer Ronnie Lee Sage and complete musician Thom Gimbel (later in Foreigner) who provides a solid foundation of keyboards and rhythm guitars.
Butcher sings with emotion and style (sometimes remembering Robin Trower) but what shines on this record is his terrific, tasteful guitar playing sporting a monster typical '80s tone and a lot of high gain in his set-up sound.

JON BUTCHER - Pictures From The Front (1989) back cover

All songs are good, being my favorites the urgent, Foreigner-like "Might As Well Be Free" driven by sharp riffs, a thunderous rhythm section and crowned by a crazy solo, and the anthemic "Live Or Die", recalling Kane Roberts solo albums.
Out of print and not so-easy-to-find at good quality out there, this is a "Pictures From The Front" rip taken from my own collection.

01 - I'm Only Dreaming
02 - Might As Well Be Free
03 - Live Or Die
04 - 99 (May Be All You Need)
05 - Beating Drum
06 - The Mission
07 - Send Me Somebody
08 - Division Street
09 - Come And Get It
10 - Waiting For A Miracle

Guitar, Lead & Backing Vocals – Jon Butcher
Keyboards, Guitar & Backing Vocals – Thom Gimbel
Bass – Jamie Carter, Jamie Hunting
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Ronnie Lee Sage
Additional Keyboards – Glen Ballard
Backing Vocals – Jamie Carter, Timothy B. Schmit

JON BUTCHER Pictures From The Front

Thursday, October 17, 2013

ULTRANITE - I Want My Own Planet (1989)

ULTRANITE - I Want My Own Planet (1989) HQ
1989 was the best year ever for the Melodic Rock / AOR genre. The most precious records appeared at that time and unfortunately many bands without a major label support promoting their releases get sunken into oblivion.
One of these was Swiss ULTRANITE only album "I Want My Own Planet".

All members from Ultranite worked previously in central Europe on different bands and writing songs for others, as Andy Boulton's Tokyo Blade or Andy Marc.
The type of Melodic Rock crafted by Ultranite has many points in common with the Scandinavian scene, especially in the AOR keyboard infusions into the music.

ULTRANITE - I Want My Own Planet (1989) booklet

We have some great, melodic fist-pumping anthems like "Hot As The Summer", "Thank You" and " Long Live The Nite" (featuring Krokus' Marc Storace guesting on vocals) akin Zinatra, Aidean or Fate.
There's diversity as well, as on the little Hi-Tech "Little Angel" recalling Germans Craaft, and nice Swedish power ballads in "Streets Of Rome" and "Lost For Ever".

ULTRANITE - I Want My Own Planet (1989) back cover

Very rare and hard to find on CD, Ultranite's "I Want My Own Planet" is one of my favourite 'obscure 1989' releases. It was featured on many blogs and forums, but not in such good quality.
This is a HQ rip from my own CD complete with full scans.

01 - Summerworld
02 - Time Will Tell
03 - Tender Love
04 - Hot As The Summer
05 - Little Angel
06 - Long Live The Nite
07 - Streets Of Rome
08 - Thank You
09 - Lost For Ever
10 - Cathedral

Peter Prestel - Guitar, Vocals
Martin Machwitz - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mike Sullivan - Bass, Backing Vocals
Arne Flick - Drums, Backing Vocals
Erdal Kizilcay - add. Bass, Production
Marc Storace - Lead Vocals on 6

ULTRANITE I Want My Own Planet HQ

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

MICHAEL BOLTON - Everybody's Crazy (1985) Remastered

MICHAEL BOLTON - Everybody's Crazy (1985) Remastered
The great Michael Bolotin (his given name) most known as MICHAEL BOLTON wrote some classic rockin' AOR masterpieces before turning a middle-aged women oriented MOR crooner.

Of his four eighties records, undoubtedly "Everybody's Crazy" is the best of all: pulsating bass and keyboard lines, rocking guitars and catchy choruses wrapped around Bolton's powerful, emotional lead vocals.
The drums on this album are bombastic - just the way I like - performed by ex- Rainbow Chuck Burgi (uncredited on the original release, but listed on the reissue), all perfectly recorded by genius producer Neil Kernon.

MICHAEL BOLTON - Everybody's Crazy (1985) Remastered back cover

This little gem was already featured at the very beginning of this blog, and now re-posted by request as incredibly, isn't that easy to find in the blogosphere. Even less in its remastered form.
One of the best '80s AOR albums.

01 - Save Our Love
02 - Everybody's Crazy
03 - Can't Turn It Off
04 - Call My Name
05 - Everytime
06 - Desperate Heart
07 - Start Breaking My Heart
08 - You Don't Want Me Bad Enough
09 - Don't Tell Me It's Over

Michael Bolton - lead vocals, guitars
Bruce Kulick - lead guitar
Dennis Feldman - bass, backing vocals
Chuck Burgi - drums
Mark Mangold, Mark Radice, Jan Mullaney - keyboards
Larry Fast - synthesizers
Schuyler Deale - additional bass
Neil Kernon and Doug Katsaros - additional keyboards
Peppy Castro, Terry Brock - backing vocals
... and many more

MICHAEL BOLTON Everybody's Crazy Remastered

Thursday, October 10, 2013

AIRPLAY - ST (1980) Japanese remaster

AIRPLAY - ST (1980) Japan remastered
Well, this is really simple to describe: none AOR collection is complete without AIRPLAY sole release from 1980. And this site does not deserve to be called AORheaven without it.
A gem concocted by the genius of Jay Graydon, David Foster and the incredible Tommy Funderburk, featured as backing session musicians almost the entire Toto; Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, David Hungate, Steve Porcaro among other beasts like Mike Baird on drums or Bill Champlin doing backing vocals.

AIRPLAY - ST (1980) Japanese remaster LP replica back cover

This remastered, Japanese 30th Anniversary Edition Blue-spec CD, needless to say, really makes justice to this awesome record. Mini LP replica with all the original artwork.
As said, essential in your collection.

01 - Stranded
02 - Cryin' All Night
03 - It Will Be Alright
04 - Nothin' You Can Do About It
05 - Should We Carry On
06 - Leave Me Alone
07 - Sweet Body
08 - Bix
09 - She Waits For Me
10 - After The Love Is Gone

Tommy Funderburk: vocals
Jay Graydon: guitar, vocals
David Foster: keyboards

Jeff Porcaro, Mike Baird: drums
David Hungate: bass
Steve Lukather: add. rhythm guitars
Steve Porcaro, Pete Robinson: synthesizer
Ray Parker, Jr.: additional rhythm guitars
Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, Steve Madaio & more: horns
Bill Champlin, Tom Kelly, Max Gronenthal: backing vocals

AIRPLAY 1980 remastered

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

NORIYUKI MAKIHARA - Songs From L.A. (2007)

NORIYUKI MAKIHARA - Songs From L.A. (2007) full
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...
Re-post from years ago, get it while it's hot

Noriyuki Makihara is a top Japanese male pop artist who debuted in the early '90s as songwriter / performer in a local TV show similar to American Idol. Makihara's singles ranked in the top 10 on all Asian charts, and he has managed to maintain a high level of popularity for almost 20 years.
Many of his songs have been translated into other languages like the ones featured in this compilation "Songs From L.A.", some kind of a 'WestCoast tribute'.

NORIYUKI MAKIHARA - Songs From L.A. (2007) back cover

La crème de la crème of the genre was recruited for the recording; singers such as Tommy Funderburk (AIRPLAY), Bobby Kimball & Joseph Williams (TOTO), Jason Scheff & Bill Champlin (CHICAGO), Tom Keane (DAVID FOSTER, R. MARX), Bobby Caldwell and first class session-men like Michael Landau, Tim Pierce, etc.
Production and performances are top notch, a relaxing album to enjoy these gifted voices and light AOR / smooth WestCoast / poppy songs.
Japan release only.

01 - Bobby Caldwell: Answer
02 - Tommy Funderburk: Darling
03 - George Duke: Yes
04 - Jason Scheff: Love Letter
05 - Robbie Dupree: Under The Doogwood Tree
06 - Kim Carnes: It's Clear Sky Again Today
07 - Joseph Williams: You're My Angel Falling...
08 - Justin Andres: 'Cause You're My Treasure
09 - Bill Champlin: North Wind
10 - Timothy Drury: Home Sweet Home
11 - Bobby Kimball: Red Nose Reindeer

Keyboards: Tom Keane, Timothy Drury
Guitars: Michael Landau, Tim Pierce, Michael Konan
Bass: Leland "Lee" Sklar, Noel Freeman, Justin Andres
Drums: Stephan Litownick, Larry Williams
Backing Vocals: Terry Wood, Joseph Williams, Wendy Fraser, Jason Scheff, Justin Andres
and many more...


Thursday, October 03, 2013

MINDWORK - Inside Out (1991)

MINDWORK - Inside Out (1991)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

MINDWORK born from the ashes of one of the best Austrian AOR band ever; Fahrenheit.
Drummer & main songwriter Harold Huber and singer Johnny Kanatschnig decided to go for more poppy, Lite AOR sounds on their debut "Inside Out" still retaining high doses of melody and harmonies.
Strongly keyboard oriented but in a stylized way some tracks sport a Hi-Tech style, and while the overall sound is typically European, you can hear traces from the Canadian scene around the era.

MINDWORK - Inside Out (1991) back

There's suave melodies on friendly tunes like "Welcome To My Paradise", "Masters Of Success", "Chinese Wall" or the elegant "Gloria", but my favorite should be the excellent ballad "Endlessly" where Kanatschnig's vocals shine.

"Inside Out" offers a very pleasant listen through its well crafted songs, quality arrangements and crystal clear production. If Mr Mister, Toys Of Joy, Fingerprints, West Of Sunset are your thing, add this one to the collection.
Good Hi-Tech / Lite AOR for the soul.

01 - Welcome To My Paradise
02 - Endlessly
03 - Men In Motion
04 - Gloria
05 - Bring Me Some Water
06 - Chinese Wall
07 - House Of Sin
08 - I Miss You
09 - In The Ghetto
10 - Wonderland
11 - Help Me
12 - Masters Of Success

Johnny Kanatschnig - vocals, guitars
Harold Huber - keyboards, drums, programming
Umbo - bass