Thursday, October 29, 2015

LIMITED WARRANTY - Limited Warranty (1986) [Wounded Bird Records remaster]

LIMITED WARRANTY - Limited Warranty (1986) [Wounded Bird Records remaster] front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Originally from Minneapolis, LIMITED WARRANTY was one of these American bands from the '80s mixing influences from the British New Wave scene with US radio friendly melodies. Call it Hi-Tech, power rock&pop, light AOR, etc, the music from this quintet is always dynamic, catchy and accessible.

After an indie EP, Limited Warranty appeared in the National TV show 'Star Search' alongside, among others, the also Minneapolis based band Film At Eleven, whom later would evolve into Zurich.
Limited Warranty won the prize, and soon the band was signed by major label Atlantic (for his ATCO division). The self-titled full length debut was recorded in England produced by Brian Tench & Vince Ely, so it's not strange to hear some British flavor on some tracks.

"Limited Warranty" sound & style is not far from the aforementioned Zurich, yet more upbeat in the vein of greats Real Life, Cutting Crew and even the first Mr. Mister. But also there's some kind of 'Canadian sound' all over, pristine and clear.
All songs are pretty good, melodic, with fine instrumentation and smooth vocals.

LIMITED WARRANTY - Limited Warranty (1986) [Wounded Bird Records remaster] back

"Limited Warranty" remained unreleased on CD until some years ago when excellent reissue label Wounded Bird Records did this superb remastering job from the original tapes.
Quite rare, even more this remastered CD version now out of print.

01 - Last To Know
02 - Hit You From Behind
03 - This Is Serious
04 - Beat Down The Door
05 - Yesterday's News
06 - Victory Line
07 - One Of A Kind
08 - Never Enough
09 - Domestic 17
10 - You Can Buy

Greg Sotebeer - Lead Vocals, Bass
Dale Goulett - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jerry Brunskill - Drums, Vocals
Erik Newman - Guitars
Paul Hartwig - Keyboards, Vocals

LIMITED WARRANTY (1986) remastered

Friday, October 16, 2015

SCOTT GRIMES - Livin' On The Run (2005)

SCOTT GRIMES - Livin' On The Run (2005) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

SCOTT GRIMES is a well-known actor in Hollywood, with a career started in the '80s (movie Critters as a young kid) and more recently in TV series Band of Brothers, ER, American Dad!, etc.
But his true passion is to sing, play the piano and compose songs. He released a self-titled debut album in 1989 on major label, but later concentrated in acting.

Movies and TV shows did not leave much time to the music, but in between Grimes managed to write and record a great number of songs, mainly with his songwriter friend Dave Harris.
After 16 years of his debut album, Scott Grimes released this collection of tunes under the title "Livin' On The Run" in 2005. Most were penned several years prior the CD release and taped at different stages with many session musicians involved.

"Livin' On The Run" was quite successful, with two singles ranking in the Billboard Top Forty Adult Contemporary Chart; the title track and "Sunset Blvd", the latter remaining in the Top 20 for 10 weeks.
Is not a surprise, because both songs and most the material included in the CD are catchy, radio-friendly poppy melodic rock tunes with a feel-good vibe.
Scott Grimes abilities behind the mic are second to none, being a skilled songwriter as well. He has co-written songs with many renowned artists, as example, John Spinks of The Outfield.
This gives you a pretty accurate idea of this album's sound & style: The Outfield blended with '80s Rick Springfield stuff and maybe some Bryan Adams.

SCOTT GRIMES - Livin' On The Run (2005) back

"Livin' On The Run" is a really good, highly enjoyable collection of songs extremely melodic and catchy at first listen, skillfully produced by the legendary Tom Fletcher (Dokken, Ozzy, Steve Lukather, Scorpions).
Very Recommended.

01 - Livin' On The Run
02 - Sunset Blvd
03 - I Saw You
04 - Best Days Of My Life
05 - You Come Around
06 - Carrie
07 - I Wanna Be There
08 - Summerthing
09 - There Ain't Nothin'
10 - Rock 'n' Roll Girl
11 - Around And Around
12 - Without You
13 - Hollywood Sign
14 - Four
15 - Finale

Scott Grimes: vocals, guitar, piano
Jay Gore: guitar
Luke Miller: keyboards
Ricardo Belled: bass
Robin DiMaggio: drums, percussion
Paul Buckmaster: string arrangements
Dawn Bailey: background vocals
... and more

SCOTT GRIMES - Livin' On The Run

Thursday, October 15, 2015

1RKO - First Round Knock Out (2007) + bonus

1RKO - First Round Knock Out (2007) +2
Re-posted by request as although featured here on the blog in 2008, I never seen this one anywhere in the web.

1RKO or First Round Knock Out was formed in the new Century by bassist Brian Spangenberg - member of several groups in the Bay Area in California, most notably Circle Of Soul with which recorded the very good album '91 'Hands of Faith' - decided to join forces with singer Simon Daniels.
Simon, who grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he lived until his teens, it's a L.A. rock scene veteran. He was part of Jailhouse, which debut album 'Alive in a Mad World' (1989) sold over than 50.000 copies and had several videos in rotation on MTV Headbangers Ball.

So you have here veteran musicians from the late '80s L.A. hard rock scene, then expect infectious guitar hooks and catchy choruses.
Tired of labels, they decided go indie and recorded 'First Round Knock Out' by themselves, released in limited quantities in 2006. The fan's answer surprised and the album sold out.
A second edition (this one, with refreshed artwork) appeared in 2007 with two extra tracks.

1RKO - First Round Knock Out (2007) +2 alt cover

1RKO sound & style brings to mind Night Ranger Gary Moon era, which to me, it's a plus. Also some Marchello / Vestry but more rough around the edges.
You have kickin', hard rockin' and melodic numbers in "The Man", "One More Time", "Right Now" or the very good cover of The Sweet's classic "Fox On The Run".
But my favorite is the killer melodic hard rocker "So Alive", driven by sharp guitars and featuring great harmony vocals.

As bonus I added two 1RKO unreleased tracks; a strong cover of AC/DC's staple "Hells Bells", and the classy melodic rock "Anything", a really good cut, again, recalling Night Ranger.
Very Recommended.

01 - Fox On The Run
02 - One More Time
03 - Black And White
04 - Right Now
05 - The Outcome
06 - So Alive
07 - The Man
08 - Hand In Hand
09 - Anything (unreleased) - bonus
10 - Hells Bells (unreleased) - bonus

Simon Daniels - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Derek Stephens - Guitars
Brian Spangenberg - Bass, Vocals
Rich Sacco - Drums

1RKO - First Round Knock Out (2007) +2

Monday, October 12, 2015

QUADRANT - Sector 1 (1995)

QUADRANT - Sector 1 (1995) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

There's not much info about female fronted quintet QUADRANT other than they were from New Jersey, USA. Their album "Sector 1" was released in 1995 but the overall songwriting, style and sound recalls the early '80s.
More exactly, QUADRANT brings to mind those Pomp Rock bands which created a momentum in North America at the very beginning of the glorious decade, with a touch of hard rock and catchy melodies.
Often called Pomp AOR, the style of QUADRANT navigates to a more wide musical spectrum.

I don't know if "Sector 1" was recorded in 1995, but certainly it sounds as taped in 1981. All songs are really interesting, and while vocalist Cassandra DeGroodt feels quite amateurish at places, the rest of the band are fairly good musicians.
Cassandra's vocal performance is sometimes, I'd say, weak and erratic, and the mix does not help much - a shame, because Gary Funk's keyboard runs are pretty fan-damn-tastic.
Gary uses a wonderful arsenal of vintage analog synths - a Pomp trademark sound - complemented by Keith Garret's old-school guitar set-up which turn things very classy regarding this genre.

QUADRANT - Sector 1 (1995) back

While QUADRANT's musical mission in "Sector 1" is not completely accomplished, this is a lovely indie (very indie) record released privately.
Uber rare, 'especially designed' for collectors (I've seen eBay auctions of this one for $150)

01 - Digital Nightmare
02 - My Expectation (ME)
03 - Pass The Buck
04 - Crystalline Rock
05 - Can I Touch You?
06 - Your Own Understanding (YOU)
07 - Hidden Feelings
08 - A New Idea
09 - Just A Number
10 - Before The Storm
11 - Escape

Cassandra DeGroodt: vocals
Keith Garret: guitars
Gary Funk: keyboards, backing vocals
Bill Kirsch: bass
Dave DeGroodt: drums

QUADRANT - Sector 1

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Wonderland (2000)

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Wonderland (2000)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Glass Tiger's singer ALAN FREW second solo album "Wonderland" arrived several years after his debut, six years exactly, in 2000. The previous years were dark ages for Alan's soft rock & poppy melodies, but here the man return with strong compositions.

"Wonderland" is perhaps musically more mature, reflective, and adds a touch of light West Coast AOR to the proceedings. You can hear this on the ethereal "That's Life" or "Everything Must Change", as example.
There's delicate melodious tunes in "Home", the title track or on the more classic rock oriented "I Could Never Lie To You" adorned with vintage organs, while "Colours Of Friends And Places" provides a poppy happiness.

I still remember finding opener "Open For A Friend" a bit insipid at first glance, but after repeated listens I discovered a wonderfully constructed song with a marvelous melody and a great vocal performance by Alan.
My favorite track, though, is "All I Ever Wanted", the cut which more brings to mind Glass Tiger's commercial AOR dynamics.

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Wonderland (2000) back

Alan Frew added to "Wonderland" 4 bonus tracks: two Glass Tiger hits (perhaps added for new listeners to remember him) and two cuts from his previous solo album.
Although Frew's first album Hold On recently featured here is regarded as his best solo, I enjoy "Wonderland" more because it's more varied and inspired - for the most part - in his '80s work with Glass Tiger.
An album that incredibly grows in you with repeated listening sessions.

01 - Open For A Friend
02 - Lipstick
03 - Home
04 - I Could Never Lie To You
05 - Mother
06 - Wonderland
07 - All I Ever Wanted
08 - Colors Of Friends And Places
09 - A Rose In My Book
10 - That's Life
11 - Everything Must Change
12 - Everybody Sing
13 - Someday (Glass Tiger)
14 - My Town (Glass Tiger)
15 - So Blind (Alan Frew '94)
16 - Falling At Your Feet (Alan Frew '94)

Alan Frew - vocals, guitars
Rick Tait - keyboards, percussion
Chris McNeil - drums
Steve Lucas - bass
Richard Evans - keyboards
Stuart Cameron, Kevin Breit, Neil Chapman, Tony Vanderburgh, Mike Francis - guitars
Lisa Dalbello, Michael Shotton - backing vocals

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Wonderland (2000)

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Hold On [Canadian edition] (1994)

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Hold On [Canadian edition] (1994) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Canadian singer / songwriter ALAN FREW enjoyed worldwide success fronting Glass Tiger in the second half of the '80s, touring all over the world. When the band split at the beginning of the Nineties it was time for a solo career, and the first fruit was this "Hold On", recorded & released in 1994.

This is a pretty different affair than the guitar driven last Glass Tiger album, much more poppy with light AOR moments and some Hi-Tech in the Canadian style.
There was successful singles in the happy "Healing Hands" and the soft "So Blind". In fact, grand part of the record is pretty soft rock with a poppy, laid back feel.

ALAN FREW (Glass Tiger) - Hold On [Canadian edition] (1994) back

"Hold On" was quite hard to find until the end of the past decade when it was reissued due fan's demand. It's a nice, gentle and relaxed album with cool melodies and pristine production.
Ripped at max quality including artwork, plus as bonus the remix version of "Healing Hands".

01 - You're The One
02 - Healing Hands
03 - It Always Feels The Same
04 - Hold On
05 - I am With You Tonight
06 - Learning To Fly
07 - So Blind
08 - Once Upon A Time
09 - Cloud
10 - If Only I Could Dream
11 - I Wonder Why
12 - Falling At Your Feet
13 - Healing Hands (Remix) [bonus track]

Alan Frew - lead & backing vocals, guitar
John Jones - bass, keyboards, guitars, backing vocals
Jim Cregan, Tony Vanderburgh, Al Connelly - guitars
Chistopher Garcia - bass
Steve Ferrone - drums
Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion
Karen Hendrix, Lisa DalBello, Mickey Dolenz, Laura Harding - backing vocals

ALAN FREW Hold On [Canadian edition]

SNAKE CHARMER - Smoke And Mirrors [Japan edition] (1993)

SNAKE CHARMER - Smoke And Mirrors [Japan edition] (1993) front
Re-posted as requested, not easy to find in good quality

Swedish superb vocalist Pete Sandberg is not a stranger to this blog as he has been featured as solo artist or as part of different bands, like this SNAKE CHARMER and their album "Smoke And Mirrors" (posted here in 2007!).
Put together by bass player Per Stadin (Silver Mountain) in 1991 including terrific drummer Anders Johansson (Yngwie, Stratovarius), guitarist Sven Cirnski (Bad Habit) and with Sandberg (Alien, Madison, Midnight Sun) as frontman, this Scandinavian super-group recorded their debut "Smoke And Mirrors" in Malmo, Sweden.

The song melodies are pretty simple, but awesomely arranged and performed. The music goes in the Scandi AOR vein mixed with traditional Melodic Hard Rock, compared with bands like Alien, Madison, Bad Habit, etc.
Just check the quality of "Runnin' On Empty" (very Alien), the rocking "Teaser, Pleaser", the elegant midtempo "Like an Arrow" or the terrific ballads "Middle of Nowhere" and "Alone Without You" (this one alone worth the entire disc).

SNAKE CHARMER - Smoke And Mirrors [Japan edition] (1993) back

SNAKE CHARMER is an underrated and pretty unknown Swedish project and this "Smoke And Mirrors" ranks among the best Melodic Rock / AOR created in Sweden during the '90s.
This is the Japanese Edition (no bonus track) ripped at max quality including artwork.
Very Recommended.

01. Worlds Apart
02. Runnin' On Empty
03. Middle of Nowhere
04. Heart on Hold
05. Highway of Love
06. Teaser, Pleaser
07. Like an Arrow
08. Stone Cold
09. Alone Without You
10. Eleanor Rigby

Pete Sandberg - lead & backing vocals
Sven Cirnski - guitars
Per Stadin - bass
Anders Johansson - drums
Jens Johansson (Yngwie, Dio) - keyboards
Sonny Larsson (XT) - backing vocals

SNAKE CHARMER Smoke And Mirrors [Japan edition]

Sunday, October 04, 2015

LEE Z - Time Line (1995)

LEE Z - Time Line (1995) full
A curious album this one. Not only for its rarity (as far I know only released in Japan) but for the mixture of styles, yet turning out a consistent and homogeneous piece.
LEE Z is the brainchild of German multi-instrumentalist Thomas Zink, and has been active since 1988 with several line-up changes though. "Time Line" is the band's 2nd album appeared in 1995 (but I think it was recorded in the early '90s), and as said, featuring a captivating mix of Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, AOR and some light progressive arrangements here and there.
But their prog pedigree isn't in the classical vein, the approach is more melodic and personal, with emphasis into the songs structures rather than going all over the place with jam sessions and solos, where the staccato riffs and key changes are encompassed with the tune and the use of keyboard layers add color and substance.

Don't be fooled by the slightly neoclassical style of opener "Up To The Sky". This is the only track in this vein here, and a good one by the way. The double drum attack is in your face, the guitars trepidating and the swirling keys are all over. Think classic '80s Yngwie. Then "Way Of Live" is a syncopated and melodic midtempo rocker in the Queensryche style circa 'Rage For Order'.

The orchestral keyboard intro of "Fancy Dress Ball" turns into a climatic European melodic hard rocker plenty of key changes and big keyboards. "Hands Of Touch" is a moody slow paced AOR track with a nice, catchy refrain. Great vocal arrangement too.
The programmed drums of "Try To Find My Way" don't bother at all, as this is a very commercial 'let's sing together' tune with clean guitars that sounds very 'British'.

"Hold On" is a keyboard driven melodic rock, with lots, lots of keys. Maybe the chorus is a bit weak, but the pace of the track rocks. Now the band offers, again, something different. "Getting Older" is an instrumental featuring a really good guitar work.
Are you waiting for a ballad? "Sad Paradise" arrives... but not your typical one. Starts with a long, climatic keyboard/vocal passage and a 8/8 drum pattern (really uncommon) and then explodes into a passionate legitimate power ballad with a guitar solo inspired by Gary Moore.

LEE Z - Time Line (1995) back

"Don't Wanna Loose My Mind" returns to the melodic rock territory. The catchy, hooky chorus is the 'leitmotiv' of this track. But the band, again, is far to wrote-by-numbers. The middle section features a pace change that reminds me the group Fates Warning, and then returns to the chorus. This kind of arrangements is not easy to do warmly, but on Lee Z's hands this comes flawlessly.
Final track "One Night Love Affair" is another winner. A very British AOR midtempo similar to SHY featuring a superb guitar solo and keyboards.

"Time Line" is a great, pretty unknown album, much better than you can appreciate at first listen. It's clever, varied, well written. You have first rate musicianship, original arrangements and a slick production its indie origin.
Try Lee Z. Try something different. Japan only and out of print.

01 - Up To The Sky
02 - Way Of Live
03 - Fancy Dress Ball
04 - Hands Of Touch
05 - Try To Find My Way
06 - Hold On
07 - Getting Older
08 - Sad Paradise
09 - Don't Wanna Loose My Mind
10 - One Night Love Affair

Peter Pauliks: Vocals
Thomas Zink: Guitars, Keyboards, Synths, Piano
Matthias 'Rethi' Rethmann: Bass, Programming
Andreas Guth: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Gerald Voss: Drums

LEE Z - Time Line

Friday, October 02, 2015

AEROSMITH - Fly Away From Here [Japanese Maxi-Single] (2001)

AEROSMITH - Fly Away From Here [Japanese Maxi-Single] (2001) 6 tracks
Featured again as requested. Grab it while it's hot, it won't be re-posted anymore.

The discography of Hard Rock masters AEROSMITH is well known and reachable, but I am posting this rare Japanese maxi-single because it was requested by a reader, and it's really hard to find (out of print).

"Fly Away From Here" was the hit power ballad from the Just Push Play album, featured here in four different versions, being the 'rock mix' and the 'orchestral mix' my favorites.
The really interesting number is "Face", not included into the main album and exclusive to this CDs. Also we find a very good live version of "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" recorded at Cape Canaveral, FL, in 1998.
A collector's item.

1. Fly Away From Here [radio remix edit] (4:25)
2. Fly Away From Here [album version] (5:04)
3. Fly Away From Here [rock mix] (4:25)
4. Face [non-album track] (3:07)
5. Fly Away From Here [orchestral mix] (4:26)
6. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing [live] (5:16)

Steven Tyler – lead vocals
Joe Perry – guitar, backing vocals
Brad Whitford – guitar
Tom Hamilton – bass
Joey Kramer – drums
Jim Cox – piano on "Fly Away From Here"
Paul Santo – Kurzweil on "Fly Away From Here"

AEROSMITH Fly Away From Here 6-track single

OFF COURSE - Back Streets Of Tokyo (1985)

OFF COURSE - Back Streets Of Tokyo (1985) front
Re-posted as requested 'cos it's really hard to find (and good)

Regarded by the Japan press as one of the best native Westcoast AOR groups, OFF COURSE have recorded a handful of albums only released in Asia.
"Back Streets Of Tokyo" is their 'more international' effort, produced & mixed in Los Angeles with PETER WOLF (Chicago, Nielsen-Pearson, Jack Wagner) in front of the table to make them sound more 'Western'. All songs were carefully arranged in the L.A. Session style with some greats involved such as Tom Kelly or Tommy Funderburk (also providing backing vocals).

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk

"Back Streets Of Tokyo" is a smooth record were melodies abound, you have nice guitars, pretty good choruses and an overall polished product, wrapped by a pristine mix and production.
Reissued on CD in 1994 - only Japan, again - it has become a hard to find collectors item.

1. Fool (What Does a Fool Do Now)
2. Second Chance
3. Love's Determination
4. Her Pretender
5. Eyes In The Back Of My Heart
6. Melody
7. Love's On Fire
8. Endless Nights

Kazumasa Oda: vocals, keyboards
Hitoshi Shimizu: bass
Jiri Oma: drums, percussion
Kazuhiko Matsuo: guitars
Peter Wolf: keyboards, arrangements, production / mix
Tom Kelly, Tommy Funderburk: backing vocals, arrangements

OFF COURSE Back Streets Of Tokyo HQ