Wednesday, June 17, 2015

DAG LAUVLAND - 1 Step Closer (1989)

DAG LAUVLAND - 1 Step Closer (1989) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Norwegian singer & composer DAG LAUVLAND started his career in the mid-Seventies as part of Rock Shelter and worked as session musician / songwriter during the next decade.
Released in 1989 (as far I know only in Scandinavia), "1 Step Closer" is Dag Lauvland's only solo album.

Featuring some of the most renowned musicians from Norway at the time, including Lava drummer Per Hillestad and super-talented local legend Marius Müller who also produced with a pristine sound, "1 Step Closer" delivers uber polished tunes mixing poppy lite AOR, WestCoast and a pinch of Hi-tech.
The overall feel is very European, not far from masters Lava or their singer Egil Eldøen solo works, but also John Parr, Richard Page / Mr. Mister, and alike.

With a track called "Hearts Of The 80's" (btw one of my favorites here) you should know what to expect here. Everything is smooth and breezy, but while the slow songs abound ("Stonewall" is a little gem), we find many uptempo numbers like "One Step Closer", "Back To Original" and the techie "I Wanna Be Your Love".
This CD version features an extra track in "All There Is To It", a very John Parr sounding AORish song with a typical mid-80s sound.

DAG LAUVLAND - 1 Step Closer (1989) back

Dag Lauvland's "1 Step Closer" never was reissued on any format, suffice to say this one has become a rarity with used copies sold at prohibitive prices. 
A collector's piece

01 - Back To Original
02 - Stay Inside You
03 - (Intro)
04 - I Wanna Be Your Love
05 - Hearts Of The 80's
06 - Yeylah Korino
07 - High Adventure
08 - One Step Closer
09 - Stonewall
10 - Comin' On Stronger
11 - Gideon
12 - All There Is To It (CD exclusive track)

Vocals, Guitar – Dag Lauvland
Guitar, Bass, Keyboards – Marius Müller
Keyboards – Geir Langslet
Horns – Jens Wendelboe
Saxophone – Sigurd Køhn
Bass – Mats Englund
Drums – Per Hillestad

DAG LAUVLAND - 1 Step Closer (1989)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

PARIS BLACK - Paris Black (1990)

PARIS BLACK - Paris Black (1990) HQ
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Singer of European origin but established in Canada, PARIS BLACK (seems to be his real name) released this self-titled album - his second - in 1990, as far I know only in North America.
According to the era with solo artists, the idea was to provide a solid backbone of session musicians and skilled songwriters, a pristine production, and an overall commercial sound.
"Paris Black" is a typical product from the late '80s with a Hi-Tech / light AOR sound, and while these genres have been previously presented on the blog, this should be the more poppy CD ever posted here.

As said, Paris got song contributions from the likes of Michael Bolton, Bob Halligan Jnr, The Arrows' Dean McTaggart, Diane Warren, David Roberts and more, so there's good penned music on offer here.
Paris' vocals are smooth & clean, and the general arrangements are centered around synths, lots of synths, electronic drums, light guitars and nice backing vocals. Think Rod McInnes, Keven Jordan, Alan Frew solo, but even more light.
There's upbeat numbers, some breezy ballads and a couple of danceable tracks that I don't care much, but all really pleasant, working great as background music.

PARIS BLACK - Paris Black (1990) back

"Paris Black" is a cool album, really well produced with 'that' clinical precision, nothing outstanding yet enjoyable nonetheless.
Never reissued, it has become a rarity scarcely ever seen at auction sites.

01 - Conspiracy
02 - Heaven Sent
03 - My Heart Is Still Young
04 - Letting Go
05 - Barely In Love
06 - Danced In My Direction
07 - I Don't Wanna Be Your Friend
08 - Bang Bang
09 - Don't Say Goodnight
10 - If I Could Dance With You
11 - Every Emotion

Paris Black - Vocals
Richard Buck, Guido Diodati, Mark Berry - Keyboards, Bass, Drums, Percussion
Larry Mancini - Guitars
John Bianchini - Guitars, Mandolin
George Orphanos - Guitars, Side Guitar
Valerie Hallman - Vocals (duet on 3)
Martin Davio - Sax
Kenny MacLean (Platinum Blonde), Lorraine Scott, Marcia English, Dean McTaggart, Keith Powers, Paris Black - Back-Up Vocals


Friday, June 05, 2015

220 VOLT - Eye To Eye [remastered +3] (1988-2003)

220 VOLT - Eye To Eye [remastered +3] (1988-2003) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Swedes 220 VOLT released three quite good albums at the beginning of the '80s, with a classic Euro metal sound similar to the first Europe. But in the middle of the decade, their recording label saw a strong potential in 220 Volt to be launched on the prosperous American market.
So the band decided to re-work their sound into a marvelous, Scandinavian-style Melodic Hard Rock.

"Eye To Eye" was the result, and believe me, if you never heard this album you're missing something great.
With the extremely talented Max Norman (Ozzy, Coney Hatch, Y&T) producing, mixing and engineering, 220 Volt obtained a punchy, glossy, awesome polished sound ready to conquer the world.
Released in Europe in 1988 "Eye To Eye" was pretty successful, with its consequent US / Canada edition the following year (actually there were few months in between) and different artwork.

220 VOLT - Eye To Eye [remastered +3] (1988-2003) inside

What can I say about the songs... all are killer, prime Melodic Hard Rock numbers.
One of the highlights opens the album in the form of the moving "The Harder They Come", followed by another blast in "I'm On Fire".
A favorite of mine is the AORish "Beat Of A Heart" with some Def Leppard on it, and then title track is one of the more elaborated MHR tunes ever produced by the band with a Treat / Return feel and a terrific chorus.
Next, "Love Is All You Need" is a golden Scandi mid-tempo AOR power ballad with ethereal keys and skyscraper vocals.
If these initial monster 5 songs does not hit you, you don't like this musical genre. Those are what '80s Melodic Hard Rock is all about.

More quality follow with the catchy "Live It Up", 220 Volt show some of their Euro metal past on the heavier (but melodic) "Dog Eat Dog", while the pretty Americanized "Dangerous" brings to mind Ratt and alike.
Then arrives another absolute highlight: "Still In Love", one of the best '80s ballad ever created and criminally ignored on every 'best of' ballad list. It's elegant, melodic, plenty of harmonics and a pristine production.
"On The Other Side" is a cool rocker only appeared in the American release, hence, it's very 'Californian' with hair metal choruses all over.

220 VOLT - Eye To Eye [remastered +3] (1988-2003) back

The gem that is "Eye To Eye" needed a remastering, and it happened in 2003 with this now out of print, limited release by US label Power Play Records (officially licensed by Sony Music). The remastering is excellent, fuller and balanced.
The reissue features 2 exclusive bonus tracks; the really worthy melodic hard rocker "Criminal" pumped by a huge rhythm section and driven by great guitars, and a remix of the diamond "Still In Love".

It's a shame this remastered reissue is deleted now, as the album has become extremely hard to find. The only thing I do not like it's the re-vamped artwork that does not reflects the melodious music packed inside. I prefer the much better original European cover.
"Eye To Eye" is an awesome record, a must have in your Melodic Hard Rock / AOR collection.

01 - The Harder They Come
02 - I'm On Fire
03 - Beat Of A Heart
04 - Eye To Eye
05 - Love Is All You Need
06 - Live It Up
07 - Dog Eat Dog
08 - Dangerous
09 - Still In Love
10 - Money Talks
11 - On The Other Side
12 - Criminal [Bonus Track]
13 - Still In Love (Remix) [Bonus Track]

Joakim Lundholm - Lead & Backing Vocals
Peter Olander - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Mats Karlsson - Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mikael Larsson - Bass
Peter Hermansson - Drums
Max Norman - Backing Vocals
Michael Reiter - Backing Vocals on 7

220 VOLT - Eye To Eye [remastered +3]

Thursday, June 04, 2015

LIONEL'S DAD - Driving Music (1997-98)

LIONEL'S DAD - Driving Music (1997-98) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

LIONEL'S DAD is the pseudonym of songwriter / multi-intrumentalist Mark Towner Williams, a complete musician and Music Industry veteran, who has worked with the likes of Paul Rodgers, Eddie Money, Don Henley, Tina Tuner and many more, as session or touring musician.
Mark is primarily drummer, studied with Joe Porcaro (Jeff's father) and attended Berklee College of Music, and most notoriously, he's the brother of Toto's lead singer Joseph Williams. He wrote songs for both, among other well known acts.
But in the middle-90s it was time for his own, adopting the recording name of LIONEL'S DAD.

"Driving Music" is the second LIONEL'S DAD album, and perhaps the best of all recorded by Mark T. Williams. He plays almost all of the instruments here, and also sings very well with a vocal style & timbre similar to brother Joseph Williams.
Musically, as you would suspect, this is classy Westcoast L.A. AOR with some classic rock touches here and there, always around sweet and elegant melodies.

Tracks like opener "Looking For An Answer" or "Once You've Got The Fire" instantly makes you think of Toto or Joseph Williams solo, but Mark is much more expansive.
As example, "I'm Falling For You" has a melodic radio-oriented sound with some early REO Speedwagon on it, the mid-tempo feelings of "Let Me Be The One" brings to mind Ned Doheny, and "I Can't Tell You Tonight" is not far from Jay Graydon's book.

LIONEL'S DAD - Driving Music (1997-98) back

"Driving Music" is indeed a driving, uplifting collection of beautifully arranged and performed songs. Production is not huge and glossy as the aforementioned acts, the artwork is simple, but its 'homemade vibe' it's exactly what provides the necessary charm to the record.
LIONEL'S DAD is a very nice AOR / Westcoast one-man entity, commanded by the talented musician that is Mark T. Williams.

01 - Looking For An Answer
02 - I'm Falling For You
03 - Let Me Be The One
04 - Can't Keep Up
05 - You Got What You Wanted
06 - It Was You
07 - Once You've Got The Fire
08 - Free Your Love
09 - I Can't Tell You Tonight
10 - I Could Read Your Mind
11 - R.T.H.D.
12 - Our Love's Too Strong
13 - She's Gone

Mark T. Williams: Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Percussion
James Welch: Guitar solo on 1, 11
Diane Adams, Jeannette Clinger, Cliff Rehrig, Jamie Segal: Backing Vocals

LIONEL'S DAD Driving Music

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

FIONA - Live King Biscuit Hour [Full Concert] (1985) Unreleased

FIONA - Live King Biscuit Hour [Full Concert] (1985) Unreleased - front
Re-posted as requested, for its collectors item status

The only FIONA Flanagan live performance ever recorded - taped at Halendale, Florida, 1985, during Fiona's first US tour featuring amazing guitarist Bobby Messano - was pressed on vinyl by 'ABC Rock Radio Network / The King Biscuit Flower Hour' for a radio broadcast (not for sale), including 6 tracks.

FIONA - Live King Biscuit Hour [Full Concert] (1985) Unreleased - radio vinyl

This is the Full Concert taken from the ABC vaults: 11 tracks, including 3 songs never appeared on any Fiona album.
The funny thing is that since posted here on the blog for the first time back in 2009, some people has pressed it on CD and put it on sale at various auction sites.
Even it's listed on Fiona's Official Fan site as an official release.

FIONA - Live King Biscuit Hour [Full Concert] (1985) Unreleased - back

Truth is this recording never was released, it's one of the gems from my personal collection. I've made my own artwork emulating the front / back covers from the era and many official King Biscuit Flower Hour releases, and looks like a 'real' one.
The sound quality is really good, and the performances, quite hot and rocking.

01 - Wild Nights
02 - You're No Angel
03 - James
04 - Keeper Of The Flame
05 - Broken Dreams
06 - Heaven On My Mind
07 - Talk To Me
08 - Na Na Song
09 - Rescue You
10 - Hang Your Heart On Me
11 - Line Of Fire

FIONA - Live King Biscuit Hour [Full Concert] (1985) Unreleased broadcast sheet

FIONA Live King Biscuit Hour [Full Concert] 1985 Unreleased