Thursday, April 30, 2015

ROBIN GEORGE - Dangerous Music [remastered + bonus]

ROBIN GEORGE - Dangerous Music [remastered + bonus]
I still remember listening for the first time "Heartline" on the radio back in 1985, the single from British ROBIN GEORGE, and I was greatly impressed. Taken from his first solo album "Dangerous Music", the LP didn't sold well initially, but after several months the song exploded and become a world-wide hit.
Several tours followed, including legs with REO Speedwagon and Uli Jon Roth, and in-between George recording a second album. But sadly, his record label broke and these tapes remained unreleased until this year (recently appeared as Dangerous Music II).

Despite its typical mid-eighties sound production - which I love - "Dangerous Music" is much more than a commercial rock&pop / AOR album. The songs are elaborated, with a songwriting and musicianship above the standard.
George's imaginative guitar licks (including synth guitar) and the lovely keyboard interplay handled by talented session musicians / arrangers, rise the '80s vibe of the songs into something that still sounds fresh and relevant today.

ROBIN GEORGE - Dangerous Music [remastered + bonus] single cover

Talking about the musicians used for the record, we have some real stars here; Thin Lizzy genius Phil Lynott playing bass, as well monster Pino Palladino and Phil Soussan (Ozzy, Steve Lukather), drummers Dave Holland (Judas Priest) and Kex Gorin (Magnum), and keyboard players Mark Stanway (Magnum) / Adrian Lee (Mike + The Mechanics).
Last but not least, the exquisite Chris Thompson adds background vocals & harmonies.

And the songs... all are huge and catchy. Apart from the great "Heartline", just take the punchy pump of "French Kisses" driven by a terrific riff and superb guitar solo, the intriguing "Stolen From My Heart" and its 'oriental' keys, or the sublime AOR of ballad "Don't Turn Away".
"Showdown" is another highlight with a kicking melodic hard feel fueled by sharp guitars and heavenly harmonies, while "Shout" is a FM radio ready gem with synths all over.

As proof of the raising success of the album at the end of 1985, several extended mixes and 12'' LP were made, typical of the era with artists on the verge of commercial break-through.

ROBIN GEORGE - Dangerous Music [remastered + bonus] LP sleeve

All these are included here as bonus, plus three very well recorded TV performances, a B-side, two hot live versions of "Showdown" and "Heartline" which aquire another dimension (more 'edgy & metallic' I'd say), and a song discarded at the eleventh hour to be included on the LP entitled "Dangerous Music", curiously, the name chosen for the album.
All these tracks are NOT taken from the official remastered edition, all are ripped from my vinyls and personal rarities vault, 'remastered' by myself.
Great stuff for all '80s AOR aficionados / collectors.

01 - Heartline
02 - Spy
03 - No News Is Good News
04 - French Kisses
05 - Stolen From My Heart
06 - Shout
07 - Showdown
08 - Hit List
09 - Shoot In Sight
10 - Don't Turn Away
11 - Space Kadett (b-side)
12 - Heartline (Live at Tommy Vance Show)
13 - Spy (Live at Tommy Vance Show)
14 - No News Is Good News (Live at T. Vance Show)
15 - Heartline (Dangerous Mix)
16 - Don't Turn Away (Dangerous Mix)
17 - Heartline (12'' version)
18 - Dangerous Music (outtake)
19 - Hearline (Live version)
20 - Showdown (Live version)

Robin George: lead & backing vocals, guitar, synths, percussion
Pete Green: synthesizer, backing vocals
Pino Paladino, Phil Soussan, Phil Lynott: bass
Dave Holland: drums
Kex Gorin: percussion
Adrian Lee: keyboards, synthesizer
Mark Stanway: synthesizer
Chris Thompson: backing vocals

ROBIN GEORGE Dangerous Music [remastered + bonus]

Monday, April 27, 2015

KEANE - Keane (1981) [Japanese remaster]

KEANE - Keane (1981) remastered
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

The KEANE brothers Tom & John were prodigious kids, as in the mid-seventies at the age of 11 and 12, both fronted their own musical TV show and signed a major record deal. As 'Keane Brothers' they released two LP's produced by the likes of David Foster, Lamont Dozier and David Paich.

At the beginning of the '80s, the bros. formed their own band simply called KEANE, musically oriented to the AOR / Melodic Rock waves so en vogue with a more than a passing nod to the Toto sound. Indeed Keane was called 'Little Toto' but not only for their musical similarity, but also for the quality in their compositions and performances.
Tom Keane (only 18 years old at the time of the recording) shows a remarkable maturity on his greatly harmonized vocals, while the rest of the band including brother John on drums is impeccable.

KEANE - Keane (1981) remastered back cover

Cuts like the dynamic opener "Tryin' To Kill A Saturday Night", the muscular "Bad Little Baby Girl" or the rocking "You Got The Better Of Me" are no-brainers for any Melodic Rock / AOR aficionado.
"Baby I'm Dead" has something of REO Speedwagon, and the highlight "Kill Or Be Killed" somehow reminds me I-Ten, but the rest of the album is clearly impregnated by Lukather & Co: the sweet and melodious "Lorelei", "Anything Less Than Love" or the superb ballad "My Special Way".

Production is top notch and this remaster from the specialized Japanese label Cool Sound, pristine and clear.
Great album - Out of print.

01 - Tryin' To Kill A Saturday Night
02 - Bad Little Baby Girl
03 - You Got The Better Of Me
04 - Kill Or Be Killed
05 - My Special Way
06 - Baby I'm Dead
07 - I Love My Life
08 - Anything Less Than Love
09 - Lorelei
10 - Judy

Tom Keane - Vocals, Keyboards
John Keane - Drums & Percussion
Mike Milwood - Bass & Vocals
Mark Moulin - Guitars & Vocals
David Pearlman - Lapsteel Solo
Michael Zorro Singers - Background Vocals

KEANE 1981 remastered

Monday, April 20, 2015

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Works; Taken From The Vaults A / B (2000)

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Works; Taken From The Vaults A / B (2000) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

As promised on the previous BENTWOOD ROCKER posts, here it is the band's previously unreleased material they created after the recording company dropped them.
The Canadian's second LP "Take Me To Heaven" was quite successful, even released in Europe, and the group spend a complete year on the road with sold-out live performances. But then Quality Records broke up.

However, Bentwood Rocker attracted small indie label Aquarius Records who agreed to release in 1984 the single "Second Wind", produced by super-talented Ian Thomas.
After that, the band decided to stop touring and concentrate on writing and recording by themselves new songs during the rest of the decade.

All these songs never were heard until 2000's when the guys released through their own label a boxset entitled "The Works", including material recorded by Bentwood Rocker through all the phases of their career.
Apart from the first two official albums, the set included 2 CD's called "Taken From the Vaults A/CD and B/CD", featuring these new songs taped during the second half of the '80s.

In 1986 Bentwood Rocker renamed themselves 'The Sands Of Time' (the original name of the band in the Seventies) and released another single, "The Danger Of Remembering", also included into "Taken From the Vaults B/CD".
Most the tracks, despite the demo status, were professionally recorded with a pretty good sound.
So, as you can expect, this is classy mid-Eighties AOR with a melodic rock feel and classic rock touches.

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Works; Taken From The Vaults A / B (2000) back cover

All the tracks featured on my Bentwood Rocker compilation 'The Missing Tapes' are part of "Taken From the Vaults A/CD and B/CD", but the source it isn't the same. Here they are as presented by the band on "The "Works" boxset.
This material is a must have for AOR / Melodic Rock fans and collectors due its rarity status, but essentially, for its musical quality.
Rare & Good.

Taken From The Vaults A/CD
01 - Taleve (Reaching For The Sky)
02 - The Closer We Are
03 - Prisoner Of The Night
04 - Taking It To The End
05 - Lock It Up!
06 - Just Might Take Your Love
07 - Kiss It Goodbye
08 - Never Get Away
09 - Guns
10 - The Children Of Chernobyl
11 - While The Children Sleep
12 - You'll Know When She Comes
13 - Boys Will Be Boys

Taken From The Vaults B/CD
01 - Can't Let Go
02 - Walk Through The Fire
03 - Missing You Tonight
04 - The Danger Of Remembering
05 - Skeletons In The Closet
06 - Love's In The Air
07 - Second Wind
08 - You Married A Music Man
09 - Drift Away
10 - Take The Money And Run
11 - 7 Year Itch
12 - I Would Give Everything
13 - Gonna Last Forever
14 - I've Got A Feeling

Eric Baragar - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Steve Smith - drums, vocals
Dan Thompson - guitar, vocals
Mike Goettler - bass, vocals
Tim Campbell - guitar, vocals
Barry Haggarty - guitar, vocals

BENTWOOD ROCKER Taken From The Vaults A / B

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Missing Tapes (1983-86)

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Missing Tapes (1983-86)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Let's continue with the BENTWOOD ROCKER saga started on the previous post; after their pretty successful LP Take Me To Heaven, the Canadian band ran out of recording contract when Quality Records ceased its operations.
However, Bentwood Rocker keep on recording demos and performing on the local concert circuit throughout the '80s.

One of these demos attracted small indie label Aquarius Records who agreed to release in 1984 the single "Second Wind", produced by super talented Ian Thomas.
In 1986 Bentwood Rocker renamed themselves 'The Sands Of Time' (the original name of the band in the Seventies) and released another single, "The Danger Of Remembering", on B & C records.
There's a lot more recordings by the band along the decade, all later released by themselves as 'The Works' in 2000 (to be featured here soon).

This "BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Missing Tapes (83-86)" is a compilation (including artwork) made by myself years ago and featured here on the blog. All the songs are present in 'The Works', but the files here come from my personal demo vault collection and were 'remastered' by me.
Most the tracks, despite its demo status, were professionally recorded, as are the aforementioned singles also included in "The Missing Tapes (83-86)".
All tracks are pure mid-80s commercial AOR plenty of catchy choruses and lots of synths.

"Can't Let Go" blends Foreigner with Survivor, the anthemic "Walk Through The Fire" is on par with any Surrender hit, "Missing You Tonight" reminds you of REO Speedwagon, and "I Would Give Everything", Franke & The Knockouts.
"The Danger Of Remembering" is an elegant, polished mid-tempo AOR tune, "Skeletons In The Closet" adds a little of radio friendly pop (and generous keyboards), while "Second Wind" is one of these kind of 'action movie soundtrack' AOR songs, and another personal favorite.

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Missing Tapes (1983-86) back cover

Funny thing; after featuring "BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Missing Tapes (83-86)" here on the blog in 2008, someone downloaded the files, pressed the songs on CD and sold various copies on eBay.
I strongly recommend to all rockin' AOR fans to grab this one as all - I mean ALL - tracks are superb.
A must have.

01 - Can't Let Go
02 - Walk Through The Fire
03 - Missing You Tonight
04 - I Would Give Everything
05 - Gonna Last Forever
06 - The Danger Of Remembering
07 - Skeletons In The Closet
08 - Love's In The Air
09 - Second Wind
10 - While The Children Sleep

Eric Baragar - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Steve Smith - drums, vocals
Dan Thompson - guitar, vocals
Mike Goettler - bass, vocals
Barry Haggarty - guitar, vocals

BENTWOOD ROCKER - The Missing Tapes

Saturday, April 11, 2015

BENTWOOD ROCKER - Take Me To Heaven [remastered CD reissue '09] (1982)

BENTWOOD ROCKER - Take Me To Heaven [remastered CD reissue '09] (1982)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Canadians BENTWOOD ROCKER started as band in 1977, but several members were friends since many years before. They released an independent album which sold pretty well, and then Quality Records singed the quintet for a new record and promises of proper distribution.

The band moved to Florida, USA, and recorded this "Take Me To Heaven", a very fine slice of radio-friendly early '80s AOR tunes. Bentwood Rocker are strong in multi-part vocal harmonies performed by all members, present on all tracks.
Opener "Heart Says No" has a catchy rhythm similar to Americans Balance, followed by title track "Take Me To Heaven" plenty of pompy analog synths and a Spys vibe.
Track 3 "Throw Away Love" delivers a more stylized AOR with some classy melodies and again, lots of harmonies. These first three tracks worth the LP alone.
But there's more quality to enjoy.

"You" is a lovely mid-tempo ballad, "Best Man" is a muscular foot-tapping melodic rocker with sharp riffs and some early Loverboy, "New World Coming" rocks even harder, and the title of "Rock 'N' Roll Overload" says it all.

BENTWOOD ROCKER - Take Me To Heaven [remastered CD reissue '09] (1982) back cover

"Take Me To Heaven" worked well in Canada with minor success in America, but sadly Quality Records broke soon after the release of the LP. Bentwood Rocker continued touring, composing new material and recording, but they couldn't get a record deal. All that 'missing tapes' were later released by the band as "The Works", to be featured here soon.

"Take Me To Heaven" never was released on CD until 2009, when Bentwood Rocker reissued by themselves the album in limited quantities, with some backing tracks re-recorded and different tracklist (which works better in my opinion).
This is taken from the now rare "Take Me To Heaven CD edition", a collector's item.

1 - Heart Says No
2 - Take Me To Heaven
3 - Throw Away Love
4 - You
5 - Best Man
6 - New World Coming
7 - Turning All The Heads
8 - Too Old To Rock
9 - Rock 'N' Roll Overload

Dan Thompson - lead vocals, guitar
Eric Baragar - guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Steve Smith - drums, backing vocals
Mike Goettler - bass, backing vocals
Barry Haggarty - guitar, backing vocals

BENTWOOD ROCKER Take Me To Heaven CD version

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

JACK WAGNER - All I Need [Japanese Edition '99] (1984)

JACK WAGNER - All I Need [Japanese Edition '99] (1984)
Requested on previous posts comments:

JACK WAGNER recorded four albums during the '80s / '90s period and three were already posted on the blog, why not complete the circle? And with his more AOR album of all, Wagner's debut "All I Need".
Jack Wagner was always underestimated as musician because of his General Hospital TV Show role as actor. But truth is Wagner has played the guitar and sung since his teens and used the show to launch a musical career, his true passion.

And need to be said, he is a terrific vocalist with a smooth vocal color specially designed for this kind of elegant AOR.
Signed by a major label, Jack Wagner recorded his first album "All I Need" with the help of heavy weights in this matter provided by the record company: songwriting contributions by David Foster, Jay Graydon, Tom Keane, Clif Magness, Glen Ballard (these last too also producing and playing) and superb session musicians such as guitar ace Michael Thompson and exquisite drummer Pat Mastelotto.
With this team you can't fail, and indeed "All I Need" was a total success.

Every track on "All I Need" is a potential single, from the synth-driven "Premonition" opener to the last cut "Lady of My Heart", a piano ballad ready for any movie soundtrack.
More pure '80s AOR is displayed on the uptempo and fun "What You Don't Know" (great Michael Thompson solo), the killer "Fighting The Nights" and "Sneak Attack", the soaring "Make Me Believe It", or the smash hit title track "All I Need", a classic.

JACK WAGNER - All I Need [Japanese Edition '99] (1984) back cover

The request was about the remaster of "All I Need" appeared seven years ago, but I am more than happy with this Japanese 1999 reissue (AOR 名盤 Selection complete with full artwork) which sounds million bucks.
A must for any '80s AOR fan.

01 - Premonition
02 - What You Don't Know
03 - Whenever Hearts Collide
04 - Fighting The Nights
05 - All I Need
06 - Make Me Believe It
07 - Sneak Attack
08 - After The Fact
09 - Tell Him (That You Won't Go)
10 - Lady Of My Heart

Jack Wagner - vocals
Michael Thompson - guitars
Clif Magness - guitar, backing vocals
Bill Elliott, Pat Mastelotto - drums, percussion
Davey Faragher - bass
Tom Keane - synths, backing vocals
Sam Bryant, Bill Elliott, John Van Tongeren, Mark Vieha - synths, keyboards
Jerry Peterson - sax
Rosemary Butler, Siedah Garrett, Edie Lehmann, Debbie Pearl - backing vocals

JACK WAGNER All I Need [Japanese Edition]