Monday, October 27, 2014

HAYWIRE : Bad Boys +1 (1986)

HAYWIRE : Bad Boys +1 (1986) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Easily one the best Melodic (Hard) Rock bands produced by Canada during the '80s, HAYWIRE is rarely mentioned as among the best exponents from the genre when you ask someone. You get as an answer Loverboy, Honeymoon Suite, Triumph, etc. but this 5-piece from Charlottetown were second to none, and even better than many of their contemporaries.
After entering in a Toronto radio station 'battle of the bands' contest in 1985, Haywire recorded by themselves an EP and eventually got signed by the now legendary Canadian label Attic Records (Triumph).

HAYWIRE : Bad Boys +1 (1986) back

The label secured the expert hands & ears of Brian Allen (Toronto, Lee Aaron, Santers) to produce Haywire's debut, and the result was "Bad Boys" released in 1986. The title track, chosen as single, exploded at local radio stations, and soon conquered America and MTV.
This is the kind of Melodic Rock with poppy AOR melodies that ruled the mid-'80s, with catchy choruses all over. The other singles "Standin' In Line" and "Shot In The Dark" (all also video-clips) were typical of the album; slick production, clean instrumentation and lots of keyboard-oriented tunes.

HAYWIRE : Bad Boys +1 (1986) reissue back

The CD was reissued years ago with different artwork (included into the file), but strangely, never received a remaster treatment. This is a HQ rip from the original plus a remix / extended version of a hit from the band's second album.
"Bad Boys" is prime Canuck Melodic Rock / AOR from the golden era, and a must have in your collection if you are fan of the genre.

01 - Bad Bad Boy
02 - Standin' In Line
03 - She's Not (The Kind Of Girl)
04 - Holding You
05 - Out Of My Head
06 - When You Fall Out Of Love
07 - 3 Wishes
08 - Girl In Love
09 - Shot In The Dark
10 - Crazy
11 - Dance Desire (Basuchi Mix) [bonus]

Paul MacAusland - vocals
Dave Rashed - keyboards, backing vocals
Marvin Birt - guitars, backing vocals
Ronnie Switzer - bass
Sean Kilbride - drums

HAYWIRE Bad Boys +1

Saturday, October 25, 2014

TWENTY TWENTY : Twenty Twenty (1985) + Altered (1987)

Twenty Twenty (1985)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

TWENTY TWENTY was a band from the mid-Eighties CCM field that somehow managed to be appreciated by secular listeners. Around those years there was a change in consideration to Christian acts, as they were musically really good despite the religious themes. But there isn't too much preachiness in their lyrics which is good.

Twenty Twenty's self-titled debut from 1985 was produced by WhiteHeart's Billy Smiley, so expect pristine sound. The band mixed an interesting blend of pomp AOR with cool new wave melodies, all wrapped by a very Eighties arsenal of keyboards, synthesizers, synclavier and electronic drums.

Twenty Twenty (1985)  back cover

Some tracks come out pretty Hi-Tech but with substance. There's a really fine guitar work by Roscoe Meek, especially creating a sustained, clean rythmic riffs, and we have excellent vocalist Ron Collins who released a stupendous AOR solo album in the Nineties.
To my ears, "Twenty Twenty" resulted a successful mix of Styx, Rick Springfield and Allies.

Two yeas after, the band changed their name to 20/Twenty and slighlty their sound as well.

20/Twenty Altered 1987 front

"Altered", appeared in 1987 delivered a more straight AOR style and 'regular' instrumentation. Almost the complete White Heart line up also play here as guests.
The stylings on this new LP are more mature with many tracks bringing to my mind Jay Graydon's Planet 3, that say a mix of poppy AOR with delicate melodies and a touch of West Coast. The Hi-Tech from the debut is still present in a couple of tracks as well as the synth effects, but mostly this second album is a smooth AOR affair.

20/Twenty Altered 1987  back

Both Twenty Twenty - 20/Twenty albums are really hard to find, the second even since its original release back in 1987.
There's some poor vinyl rips floating around (if you have both check them out because some tracks are missing), and I think this pair are, if not the best in the world, far better. Both audio cleaned by myself, including artwork.

Twenty Twenty (1985)
01 - You Are So True
02 - Security Code
03 - War Games
04 - His Fame
05 - Second Mile
06 - Love To Go
07 - He's Still Here
08 - Danger Zone
09 - You Can Know Them All
10 - World Premier

Ron Collins - vocals
Roscoe Meek - guitars
Earnie Chaney - keyboards
Gary MacAnally - bass
Greg Herrington - drums
Mark Gersmehl, John Slick, Billy Smiley - synths
Richard Head - Synclavier Programming
Dennis Holt - Simmons Drums
Gary Lunn - Linn Drum Programming
Marty McCall - Background Vocals

Altered (1987)
01 - Fine Line
02 - Get Altered
03 - Can't Run From You
04 - For Heaven's Sake
05 - Eternity In Every Heart
06 - Hold Your Head Up
07 - Caught Up In Heaven
08 - Find Your Way Back
09 - Material Things
10 - The Tears You've Cried

Ron Collins - lead vocals
Roscoe Meek - guitars
Earnie Chaney - keyboards
Gary McAnelly, Tommy Sims - bass
Greg Herrington - drums
Billy Smiley - synths
Rick Florian - backing vocals

20/Twenty, Twenty Twenty + Altered

Friday, October 17, 2014

MARTEE LeBOW - Crimes Of The Heart '86 + Love's A Liar '87 + EP '93

MARTEE LeBOW - Crimes Of The Heart front
Restored from vinyl by me, MARTEE LeBOW's records "Crimes Of The Heart" and "Love's A Liar" were featured here some years ago. Requested again, I made a pack including both plus a rare self-titled EP from 1993 and as bonus a song recorded for a soundtrack.

Martee LeBow is a recording artist, singer/songwriter and keyboardist born in NY state.
At her teens, as Martee Lebous, the girl released her first album 'The Lady Wants To Be A Star' in the mid of the seventies. While playing with her band, LeBow has maintained a successful career as live & studio back-up vocalist, singing commercial jingles / soundtrack songs, and collaborating with many songwriters.
By 1985, a major label singed Martee as solo artist.
Her debut "Crimes Of The Heart" was a mini-LP with only five songs, but what songs! This is without a doubt one of the best female AOR albums from the '80s.
Opener, title track "Crimes Of The Heart" (penned by maestro Jeff Silverman) is a terrific semi-midtempo rockin' AOR gem. From the first note you will be amazed by LeBow's trained and powerful pipes.
"Stranded In The Moonlight" is pure AOR bliss. Check the songwriting quality (Michael Smith). This isn't an ordinary song by any means.

MARTEE LeBOW - Crimes Of The Heart back cover

"Love Just Ain't Enough" is a perfect ballad, with a soulful performance (reminds you Fiona but thousand times better). The guitar solo (the unmistakable master Dan Huff) is simply perfect. Why this song isn't became a hit on par with, let's say, Heart, it's a total mystery.
"One Down" is a marching melodic rocker with a great riff / keyboards. Maybe the best example of Martee's quality vocals. Awesome tune.
What? "Hearts Of Stone" is a Bruce Springsteen cover? Well, the result is magical. A fantastic midtempo with a bluesy touch yes, but beautifully AOR-arranged. Martee shines again here.
This mini album is pure gold.
Fantastic vocalist, excellent songwriting (Martee on 3,4), the best session royalty you could imagine (check personnel) and terrific production by the expertise Robbie Buchanan.

MARTEE LeBOW - Love's a Liar - front

"Love's A Liar" was the second Martee Lebow album, by then firmly established as a solo artist and after extensive touring presenting her mini-LP debut, she had the opportunity to record her full-length record.
And this is really her own. All songs are written and arranged by LeBow, supported by a solid live band including the great Bobby Messano (Lou Gramm, Benny Mardones, Joe Lynn Turner, Fiona).

First track "Where Do I Stand" is a commercial melodic American classic rocker much in the vein of Scandal. "Another Lonely Heart" sounds a lot like canadians Refugee, with a very nice piano line. The sax solo is good, but a guitar one would have been a better choice in my opinion. This song was later recorded by Bernie Shanahan (who does backing vocals here).
Title track "Love's A Liar" starts slow with an intimate guitar, then develops into a midwestern flavored classic rocker. "Maybe You'll Remember" is a high point, massive harmonies in the hook, pushing melody to the very brink, although the verses dominate the eventual chorus.

MARTEE LeBOW - Love's a Liar -  back

"Learning The Hard Way" is a midtempo rocker with an overall sense of drama and desperation through all melody lines. A Robin Beck-like tune but more stripped. "Hang On (To My Reckless Youth)" has a simple and fun rhythm. Messano here is allowed to let loose in his own understated way.
"Fallen Angel" is an affected semi-ballad propelled by Martee's great vocal performance. One of my favorite tracks. Some smooth keys lay the platform for the delicious "Forbidden". This is an outstanding tune with a vintage, classic feel.
The poignant "I Must Be In Love" has an organic flavor and moves fluidly along similar to the commercial moments of The Headpins for instance. "One Good Reason" has a bluesy-rock vibe where LeBow's vocal power comes to the fore.


And then we have the quite rare EP from 1993, only released in Canada.
"Roll Away" is a slow, sweet bluesy ballad plenty of magic, followed by soulful uptempo classic rocker "Gone" complete with vintage keyboards (organ), while "Sail On" is a solid midtempo where LeBow offer a varied spectre of her gifted pipes to enjoy.


The bonus is a song from the soundtrack "Pokemon 2.B.A. Master", from the series of the same name. Although recorded and published at the end of the nineties, this is a typical ballad heard on many mid-80s movies.
A complete Martee LeBow package, especially compiled for lovers of Eighties female fronted AOR.

Crimes Of The Heart 1986
1 - Crimes Of The Heart
2 - Stranded In The Moonlight
3 - Love Just Ain't Enough
4 - One Down
5 - Hearts Of Stone

Martee LeBow - Lead vocals
Dan Huff - Guitar
Neil Stubenhaus - Bass
Robbie Buchanan - Keyboards
Mike Baird - Drums
Tommy Funderburk, Steve Lively - Backing Vocals

Love's A Liar 1987
01 - Where Do I Stand
02 - Another Lonely Heart
03 - Love's A Liar
04 - Maybe You'll Remember
05 - Learning The Hard Way
06 - Hang On (To My Reckless Youth)
07 - Fallen Angel
08 - Forbidden
09 - I Must Be In Love
10 - One Good Reason

Lead Vocals: Martee LeBow
Guitars, Backing Vocals: Bobby Messano
Keyboards, Programming: Danny Stein
Bass: Dave Conrad
Drums: Yogi Morton, Jimmy Clark
Piano: Lloyd Landesman
Sax: Rick Bell, Lou Cortelezzi
Percussion: Bill Scheinman
Backing Vocals: Joel Krauss, Bernie Shanahan, Eric Troyer

Martee LeBow - 1993 EP
1 - Roll Away
2 - Gone
3 - Sail On
Bonus; The Time Has Come [from Pokemon 2.B.A. Master OST]

MARTEE LeBOW 3 albums

Thursday, October 16, 2014

LYNX (Sweden) - Caught In The Trap (1985)

LYNX (Sweden) - Caught In The Trap (1985)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

There were many bands called LYNX thru the rock 'n roll years, but this one requested hails from Sweden. "Caught In The Trap" was their sole album (only vinyl) appeared in 1985, and it's a really interesting release.
Lynx Sweden combines '80s Hard Rock and the mixture of NWOBHM which was heard in the middle of the decade, featuring lots of keyboards and synth arrangements akin Tobruk, Tygers Of Pang Tang and alike.
With a strong vocalist in Mats Eriksson, the music is tight, driven by crunchy riffs but always focused in melody.

Opener "My Own Way" is a hard rocker with a powerful groove that somehow recalls Alcatrazz, followed by the ultra catchy "Win Or Lose" where I hear some Rainbow-JLT era but also the first Europe. The latter influence is also present on the cool "Man Without a Face" (just listen the chorus and the scale progression).
Another solid track is the midtempo "Fingers Crossed" blending sharp riffs and keys in the background, while the vocals are airy, spaced out.

My favorite cut is the more AOR oriented "Don't Fool Me", a little hidden gem from the Scandi pit, but all songs are good.
Check the fightin' "Final Race" and its riffage - and especially the solo - bringing to mind Saxon, while the fast "Nothing In Return" gives you a dose of fine and listenable NWOBHM.
"Master Of Evil" is that kind of 'mysterious song' with a heavy riff and vintage keyboards / organs (very nice), and closer "Nightwalker" makes me think of last Rainbow again, though the riff is more 'British'.

LYNX (Sweden) - Caught In The Trap (1985) back cover

Lynx Sweden comprised very talented musicians, the playing & musicianship is top notch and, for a novel band playing this type of music in Sweden at the first half of the '80s, production is truly good.
A collectors item.

01 - My Own Way
02 - Win Or Lose
03 - Fingers Crossed
04 - Man Without A Face
05 - Don't Fool Me
06 - Final Race
07 - Nothing In Return
08 - Master Of Evil
09 - Nightwalker

Mats Eriksson - Vocals
Per Larsson - Guitars
Mats Hermasson - Keyboards
Kauno Vaattovaara - Bass
Carl Moser - Drums

LYNX (Sweden) - Caught In The Trap

Thursday, October 09, 2014

HOLY WATER - The Collected Sessions

HOLY WATER - The Collected Sessions
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

HOLY WATER was one of these studio projects highly praised by music industry insiders but fans never had the chance to enjoy their music because the band remained unsigned.
Several bootleg versions of the songs created by the project circulated for years, until some time ago all were compiled by a label and released as "The Collected Sessions".

Holy Water included members or sidemen of Doro Pesch (Warlock), Quite Riot, Widowmaker, Saraya, etc, and recorded original material during the '80s. One of the tapes came into the hands of Al Greenwood (Spys, Foreigner) who impressed by the quality, contacted the guys and invited them to work together.
"The Collected Sessions" features material ranging from various sessions, but the ice of the cake are those Greenwood-produced cuts known as 'The Green Machine Sessions' done around 1990-91.

HOLY WATER - The Collected Sessions back cover

You can't go wrong with the pure AOR / Melodic Rock huge hooklines and fantastic harmony vocals of tunes such as "If I Knew Then…", the more rocking "Some Things Have To Happen" and "Once Is Not Enough", but specially the outstanding AOR heaven of "I'm Not Worried Anymore".
The other songs are ok, but the aforementioned tracks are pure gold and all are must haves in your collection.
Brilliant stuff.

01 - I'm Not Worried Anymore
02 - If I Knew Then...
03 - Some Things Have to Happen
04 - Once Is Not Enough
05 - If I Knew Then... ('80s version)
06 - MonsteR Iff
07 - Crocodile Rock
08 - Living for the City
09 - All I Need

David Knight - vocals
Thomas Jude - guitar
Freddy Villano - bass
Tony Galtieri - drums
Al Greenwood - keyboards, production (1 - 4)
Kenny Hamberg - keyboards (5)
Jay Davidson - keyboards (8, 9)
Chuck Bonfante - drums (1 - 3)
Rich Ferrara - drums (4)
Charlie Ambrosia - drums (5, 6)
Tyrone Cannon - drums (7)
Bobby Marks - drums (8, 9)
Matthew Bradley - guitar, bass (7)
Michael Harmon - guitar and tambourine (8, 9)
Patrick Klein - rhythm guitar (8, 9)

HOLY WATER - The Collected Sessions