Wednesday, February 24, 2016

BEAU COUP - Then & Now (2006)

BEAU COUP - Then & Now (2006) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Despite of never achieving major national attention, BEAU COUP was one of the most popular Cleveland, Ohio area bands in the mid-80s.
The project started in 1983 by vocalist Tommy Amato & guitarist Mike McGill, and after various line-up changes (even guitar master Tim Pierce and drummer Eric Singer among others were part of the band) finally with the addition of keyboardist / songwriter Dennis Lewin (coming from another cult band called Jonah Koslen and the Heroes) Beau Coup was complete.
In fact, Lewin would become Beau Coup's main songwriter.

Beau Coup released their first, self-titled mini-LP in 1984 also known as White Album, and one track from there, 'Still In My Heart', was picked up by Scotti Brothers Records to test the band nationwide, releasing it as 45rpm single distributed by CBS Records.
It was very well received gaining extensive airplay, but as happened with many good bands from the era and Scotti Brothers, the recording contract vanished.
Beau Coup did not give up, continued playing at the East Coast area and recorded their second effort, 'Born and Raised on Rock and Roll', again released through a private label.

The group officially disbanded in the early '90s, but from time to time they reunite to perform for special events. As it happened in 2005 when Beau Coup decided to record some new songs and release them alongside some of their '80s tracks for the first time on CD.
The result was this "Then & Now" appeared in 2006 in very limited quantities.

BEAU COUP - Then & Now (2006) band pic

The CD features 5 songs taken from their two Eighties albums, the 5 new tracks (which most were composed in the '80s) plus 4 'bonus from the early days', all of them being the remaining tracks from the first EP.
Beau Coup played classic mid-80s American AOR with that polished and clean sound we all love. And that's what you'll find here in spades.
Tracks like the atmospheric 'Sweet Rachel' (the best song Honeymoon Suite never wrote), the pumping 'Born & Raised [On Rock & Roll]', the anthemic 'Jane', or the aforementioned single 'Still In My Heart' (a super ballad), are to die for.

But my favorite of the bunch is 'Somewhere Out In The Night'. Simply put, this awesome midtempo is the true definition of '80s AOR, and a must have track in any collection.
The five new tracks were recorded by the guys trying to respect the classy sound of the band, and are nicely done with 'Try To Love Again' (some Loverboy on it) and the uptempo melodic rocker 'Someone' among the best.
The CD is completed by the rest of the '84 EP, all very enjoyable as well.

BEAU COUP - Then & Now (2006) back

Long time American AOR fans already known Beau Coup - their second album was featured here at the very beginning of this blog, now deleted - as one of the finest this genre offered, especially speaking about indie acts.
But believe me, Beau Coup does not sound 'indie' at all; songwriting, musicianship and production are second to none. This group should have been huge alongside Loverboy, Honeymoon Suite, Survivor and bands of that ilk.
A Must.

01 - Born & Raised (On Rock & Roll)
02 - Sweet Rachel
03 - Somewhere Out In The Night
04 - Still In My Heart
05 - Jane
06 - Forever
07 - So In Love With You
08 - I Need A Night
09 - Try To Love Again
10 - Someone
11 - You Made Me Believe (In Miracles)
12 - Someday We'll Be Together
13 - Don't You Believe It
14 - Desperation Blvd

Tommy Amato - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Frank Amato - Lead Vocals & Background Vocals
Mike McGill - Guitars
Dennis Lewin - Keyboards, Background Vocals
Bill March - Bass, Background Vocals
Donald Krueger, Jimmy Clark, John Frania - Drums
John Dean - Bass
Rodney Psycka - Percussion, Background Vocals

BEAU COUP - Then & Now

Sunday, February 21, 2016

KHARMA - Wonderland [Japanese Edition] (2000)

KHARMA - Wonderland [Japanese Edition] (2000) Goran Edman
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Easily among the best ten AOR albums released in 2000's, "Wonderland", the debut from Swedes KHARMA, blends like few classic early '80s Pomp with traditional Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock sounds.
The project started in the early Nineties with renowned Swedish session musicians writing and recording several demos, and it's clear they took the necessary time to polish these wonderful songs to the extreme.

With the addition of outstanding vocalist Goran Edman and the late, excellent former Yngwie Malmsteen keyboardist Mats Olausson providing ivory magic, the group recorded "Wonderland" at the highly respected Bohus Studios.
Mixing the pompy AOR melodies of Styx, Kansas and Journey with some Europe and alike harmony layers, backing vocals and guitar riffs, the result was a terrific piece of classic stuff.
No fillers, All killers.

Pompy gems like title track 'Wonderland', the orchestrated ballad 'Burn Forever' or the quite Kansas-like 'Don't Close Your Eyes' are interspersed with sharp melodic rockers like the vehement 'Free Yourself' and "Knowing You", alongside Scandi-AOR pearls such as "Standing Alone".
This Japanese Edition features a fabulous track as bonus, the killer anthem "Cold As Ice", where the band rocks in full muscle. It's a shame it was not included into the world-wide version of the CD as it's one of the highlights.

KHARMA - Wonderland [Japanese Edition] (2000) back

Crowned by Edman's superb vocal performance (one of the best of his career) and a top notch production, Kharma's "Wonderland" is indeed a wonder, a mandatory listen for every AOR / Melodic Rock fan.

01 - Free Yourself
02 - Wonderland
03 - Knowing You
04 - Burn Forever
05 - In Chains
06 - Standing Alone
07 - Part Time Lovers
08 - Angel Eyes
09 - Ray Of Sunshine
10 - Spell On You
11 - Don't Close Your Eyes
12 - Hold On
13 - Wings Of History
14 - Cold As Ice (bonus track for Japan)

Goran Edman – Vocals
Dragan Tanaskovic – Guitars
Atilla Szabo – Keyboards, piano, organ
Joel Starander – Bass
Imre Daun – Drums, percussion
Mats Olausson – Keyboards
Michael Erlandsson - backing vocals

KHARMA - Wonderland [Japanese Edition]

Sunday, February 14, 2016

CARYL MACK - Caryl Mack (1984) + bonus

CARYL MACK - Caryl Mack (1984) + bonus
Caryl 'Mack' Parker is an award-winning, Americana singer / songwriter established in Nashville since the mid '90s, enjoying to this day considerable success as solo artist, session vocalist and writer for other musicians.
But Caryl started his career in the Eighties in the independent music scene of Portland with the stage name CARYL MACK, recording this, his self-titled debut in 1984.
A private release only appeared on vinyl LP "Cary Mack" has all the classic female fronted melodic rock winks from the era, an admixture of soaring vocals, sharp guitar riffs and melodic choruses.

There's driving rockers in 'You Were Right There', 'Take A Number' and the spiraling 'Down On My Knees', radio-ready AOR in 'If You Want Me' and the excellent 'Selfish Lover', some pop on 'Hit & Run' (akin Pat Benatar), and a superb ballad 'Between The Lines', where you can appreciate Caryl's velvet vocals aplenty.

CARYL MACK - Caryl Mack (1984) private release back

Nowadays a mega-rare LP and a collector's piece, "Cary Mack" - very well produced for an indie - it's a really enjoyable '80s MR / AOR disc. I did a little sound clean-up on this quite good vinyl-rip (not mine) to remove the pop&crackle.

But there's more... after her self-titled LP, while composing and performing as session vocalist, Caryl Mack continued recording.
In 1987 appeared the 7'' single "Secrets Of Your Heart", including the title track and the song 'Armed And Dangerous', both tracks produced by no-other than AOR genius Dann Huff.
Expect a true second half of the '80s sound here.

CARYL MACK secrests of your heart 45rpm single

An EP using her name and four new tracks was issued in 1988 (Caryl's first release on CD), and then in 1989 Caryl Mack released "Tried & True", a six-track indie only appeared on cassette.
Three tracks from "Tried & True" are included in this file, all pure late '80s AOR tunes plenty of magic.
I have added as well a demo recorded by Cary Mack of a song penned by talented Mark Baker (Signal, House Of Lords) in a time when vocalists were hired to perform songwriting demos to be tested by record company executives as potential singles.
A really good collection of '80s songs.

01 - You Were Right There
02 - If You Want Me
03 - Hit & Run
04 - Between The Lines
05 - Selfish Lover
06 - It's Alright To Cry
07 - Take A Number
08 - Down On My Knees
09 - Secrets Of Your Heart
10 - Armed And Dangerous
11 - It's You
12 - Tried & True (Torches)
13 - I'll Be The One
14 - Ready Heart [demo]

9/10 from Secrets Of Your Heart 7''
11/12/13 from Tried & True cassette

Caryl Mack Parker - vocals, keyboards
Ken Carpenter - guitars
Chriss Beveridge - bass, synth bass, backing vocals
Jim Finley - drums
Scott Parker - guitars, , backing vocals
Paul Ostermayer - sax
James Fenne - percussion
Oscar - various instruments
Joe Mower - keyboards
Dann Huff - guitars
Ronn Chick - guitar, backing vocals
Lee Schneider - bass, backing vocals
Brian David Willis - drums

CARYL MACK (1984 LP) + bonus

Monday, February 08, 2016

ROGER DALTREY - Under A Raging Moon + bonus (1985) CD version

ROGER DALTREY - Under A Raging Moon + bonus (1985) CD version - front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

This request is a pleasure to fulfill; "Under A Raging Moon", the 1985 solo album by The Who's vocalist ROGER DALTREY.
Despite the record was commercially pretty successful, not much people know that Daltrey's music around the mid-Eighties had a very different vibe than The Who. In fact "Under A Raging Moon" is a true '80s product, both in sound & style.
With a glossy production courtesy of Alan Shacklock (Bonnie Tyler, Jeff Beck) who also play various instruments and co-wrote a song, "Under A Raging Moon" sounds like a cross between John Parr and Bryan Adams Eighties recordings.

So it is not strange that the Canadian songwriting team Bryan Adams / Jim Vallance contributed two tracks here, and John Parr the title track.
Daltrey's bandmate in The Who Pete Townshend provided opener 'After The Fire', originally written for The Who to perform at Live Aid during their reunion show, but that never happened. Townshend gave it to Daltrey instead, and became the album's hit reaching the # 48 at the Billboard singles chart.

We have more quality tracks in the melodic 'Breaking Down Paradise' penned by Russ Ballard (who also plays guitar), the excellent 'Don't Talk to Strangers' including a beautiful guitar solo by Robbie McIntosh (The Pretenders), the AOR 'Move Better in the Night' written by the great Chris Thompson and talented Stevie Lange, or the pure '80s 'It Don't Satisfy Me'.
Speaking about the Bryan Adams / Jim Vallance songs, 'Let Me Down Easy' it's like a clone of Adams' hit Somebody (from his Reckless album), while 'Rebel' is a completely different beast, a moody rocking mid-tempo plenty of substance.

Then we have title track 'Under A Raging Moon', a very special song. It is penned by John Parr (who also contribute backing vocals), but he wrote it as a tribute to the late The Who drummer Keith Moon, so it's was more than appropriate to be recorded by Roger Daltrey.
Apart from the touching lyrics (and a passionate vocal performance by Daltrey) there's a true 'drummer' tribute featuring seven stars in this matter performing a part: Roger Taylor (Queen), the great Cozy Powell, Martin Chambers (Pretenders), The Police's Stewart Copeland, Carl Palmer (ELP, Asia), Mark Brzezicki (The Cult) and Zak Starkey, the latter playing drums all over the record as well.

The presence of Zak Starkey is also a special note: apart of being Ringo Starr's son, his godfather was... Keith Moon. At age 8, Zak became interested in music when Moon gave him a drum kit.
"Under A Raging Moon" was Starkey's second album that he had worked on (at the time only 20 years old) and he does a stupendous job. Later he became a highly requested drummer having played with Oasis, The Waterboys, The Who and many more.

ROGER DALTREY - Under A Raging Moon + bonus (1985) CD version - back

"Under A Raging Moon" is a stupendous '80s album with strong melodic songs, top class musicians (even gifted Asia's John Payne provide backing vocals here) and terrific production.
Incredibly, "Under A Raging Moon" never was remastered, but this UK edition on CD (including the extra track 'Love Me Like You Do' not present on the vinyl LP) sounds wonderful.
As bonus, I put two tracks; the b-side of the 12'' Limited Edition Gatefold single 'Under A Raging Moon' - Daltrey's version of The Who's classics 'Behind Blue Eyes / 5:15' recorded live in 1985 - and 'Quicksilver Lightning', Daltrey's main title track for the Quicksilver movie soundtrack (1986).
A true '80s delight.

01 - After The Fire
02 - Don't Talk To Strangers
03 - Breaking Down Paradise
04 - The Pride You Hide
05 - Move Better In The Night
06 - Love Me Like You Do [CD only]
07 - Let Me Down Easy
08 - Fallen Angel
09 - It Don't Satisfy Me
10 - Rebel
11 - Under A Raging Moon
12 - Behind Blue Eyes + 5:15 (Live) [12'' B-side, bonus]
13 - Quicksilver Lightning [Quicksilver OST, bonus]

Roger Daltrey - lead vocals, keyboards
Mark Brzezicki - drums, percussion
John Siegler, Tony Butler - bass
Robbie McIntosh - guitars
Bryan Adams - guitars
Russ Ballard - guitar and harmony vocals (Track 3)
Nick Glennie-Smith - keyboards
Mark Feltham - harmonica
Bruce Watson - E-bow
Mark Williamson - harmony vocals (Tracks 2, 6)
Annie McCraig - backing vocals (Tracks 3-5, 7, 8, 11)
John Payne - backing vocals (Tracks 3-5, 7, 8, 11)
John Parr - backing vocals (Track 11)
Alan Shacklock - keyboards, sequencing, acoustic guitar, synths, percussion, production
On track 11, drummers in order of performance:
Martin Chambers
Roger Taylor
Cozy Powell
Stewart Copeland
Zak Starkey
Carl Palmer
Mark Brzezicki
Mark Brzezicki and Zak Starkey - outro

ROGER DALTREY Under A Raging Moon + bonus

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

NOVA REX - Blow Me Away (1992) / Ain't Easy Being Cheesy (1994)

NOVA REX - Blow Me Away (1992) / Ain't Easy Being Cheesy (1994)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Founded in the mid-Eigthies by L.A. resident axe-man J.P. Cervoni, NOVA REX never surpassed its indie status but managed to release by themselves a bunch of very interesting albums.
Their debut "Blow Me Away" gained cult devotion among Melodic Hard Rock / AOR aficionados, and rightly so. Opening with two decent 'hair metal' tracks in the rocker 'Bitch' and the power ballad 'Think Of Me', the real thing start with song number 3...

'Children Of The Night' is the type of tunes that makes you raise your fist and sing-along all over. The main hook is terrific, and the chorus turns it a prime Melodic Hard Rock anthem. In many ways, it sounds more British AOR (akin After Hours or Peroux) than American, with all 'that' classic vibe.

The previous track worth the album alone, but Nova Rex delivers another two gems in a row: the pumping midtempo AOR of 'Can't Find Love' (recalling masters Le Mans) is to die for, while 'Alone Tonight' is pure gold - the highly layered harmony vocals, the sharp guitars, and the killer chorus gives you a hint what '80s AOR is all about.
The album is completed with the nice acoustic number 'Black 'N' Blues', and closer title track 'Blow Me Away', a furious melodic hard rocker full of hot blood.

Nova Rex released their second effort "Ain't Easy Being Cheesy" two years after, with new vocalist and a more rocking approach. The anthemic 'Don't Give Up', the stadium-designed 'Rock n' Roll', and the ballad 'I Luv You' are among the best cuts here, plus a re-recorded version of 'Alone Tonight'.

NOVA REX - Blow Me Away (1992) back

Nova Rex was one of the best indie American bands out there during the early Nineties, and while their melodic hard rock sound was not the most original, when they decided to mix it with AOR flavors the results were delicious.
The aforementioned 3 tracks are definitely must-haves to any serious fan of the genre.

Blow Me Away (1992)
1 - Bitch
2 - Think Of Me
3 - Children Of The Night
4 - Can't Find Love
5 - Alone Tonight
6 - Black 'N' Blues
7 - Blow Me Away

Abbie Stancato - lead vocals
J.P. Cervoni - lead and rhythm guitars
Kenny Wilkerson - bass
Tim Berry - drums
Tony Artino - guitars in 7, guitar solo in 3

Ain't Easy Being Cheesy (1994)
1 - Think Of Me
2 - Don't Give Up
3 - Bitch
4 - I Luv You
5 - Rock n' Roll (part 1)
6 - Love Sucks
7 - Alone Tonight
8 - JP Blues
9 - I Just Wanna Rock

Derek Madison - lead vocals
J.P. Cervoni - guitars, keyboards
Kenny Wilkerson - bass
John Plantero - drums
Jamie Hurt - add. keyboards

NOVA REX - Blow Me Away / Ain't Easy Being Cheesy