Monday, July 25, 2016

LIGHT MELLOW - AOR Groovin' & Breezin' [Cool Sound Japan] (2000)

LIGHT MELLOW - AOR Groovin' & Breezin' [Cool Sound Japan] (2000)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

"Light Mellow" is a compilation series assembled by various Japanese labels featuring artists from their back catalog all revolving around smooth AOR / West Coast music.
So there's Light Mellow compilations made by Warner Bros Japan, BMG Japan, Universal Japan, etc, but I think the best of all it's the first appeared in 2000, initiated by specialized AOR label Cool Sound, a little company legendary for their pristine remasters of long forgotten albums.

That first CD was titled "LIGHT MELLOW: AOR Groovin' & Breezin' [Cool Sound Japan version]", including some hard to find true gems for the first time on CD, remastered, plus a couple of previously unreleased tracks.
Among the great artists featured here we have Sneaker, Heat, Paul Bliss, Bruce Gaitsch feat. Jason Scheff, King Of Hearts (Tommy Funderburk), Joseph Williams and Tony Scuito with his classic 'Island Nights' but in its impossible to find Alternate Mix.

However the real pearls on this release are the 2 previously unreleased tracks: one being 'Heart Don't Change My Mind' by master Robbie Buchanan featuring the awesome lead vocals of the late Warren Wiebe, and Greg Guidry's 'Goin' Down' in a newly re-recorded version of this tune exclusive to this CD.

LIGHT MELLOW - AOR Groovin' & Breezin' [Cool Sound Japan] (2000) back

Of course out of print now, "LIGHT MELLOW: AOR Groovin' & Breezin' [Cool Sound Japan version]" is a much sought after album not only for its quality and collectors item status, but mostly because the CD was strictly prohibited to be sold to foreign customers due legal reasons.
Smooth stuff of the highest quality. Rare.

01 - Heat
Don't You Walk Away
02 - Bruce Hibbard
Never Turnin' Back
03 - Rosie feat. Lynn Pitney
There's a Song In It Somewhere
04 - Robbie Buchannan (feat. Warren Wiebe)
Heart Don't Change My Mind
05 - Greg Guidry
Goin' Down
06 - David Diggs
Lonely Weekend
07 - Paul Bliss
How Do I Survive
08 - Tony Scuito
Island Nights (Alternate Mix)
09 - David Lasley
You Bring Me Joy
10 - Sibling Revelry
Consider the Greatest Love
11 - Kazu Matsui Project
Is That the Way to Your Heart
12 - Bruce Gaitsch feat. Jason Scheff
Letting Go
13 - Michael Gonzales
Love is Forever
14 - Sneaker
Did You Order One
15 - Joseph Williams
I Didn't Do It
16 - King Of Hearts
Lovin' Arms

LIGHT MELLOW AOR Groovin' & Breezin' [Cool Sound Japan]

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

20/20 BLIND - Never Far (1994)

20/20 BLIND - Never Far (1994)
Requested by one of you...

20/20 BLIND were an underground band based in Houston, TX, and I said underground mostly because they were playing American Hard Rock in the second half of the '90s, an era when the genre and 'hooks' were almost a bad word.
The band had a CCM background, hence it's not strange that Benson Music Group accepted to distribute their debut album "Never Far" released in 1994.

20/20 BLIND style is US Hard Rock with the trademark sound from bands of this ilk circa 1991/92, especially the guitars, where still retaining the melody and catchiness from the '80s, added more thickness to the riffs.
There's steady tracks here like 'Show Each Other Love', 'Washed', the melodic 'Do I', the acoustically filled title track 'Never Far' and the heavier closer 'Sleepyland'. 
They do as well a nice semi-ballad on 'Love Keeps Me Reaching', more melodic hard rock oriented.

20/20 BLIND - Never Far (1994) back

"Never Far" is a nice and quite unknown record, nothing ground-breaking but pretty solid and especially very well produced for the genre / era with Brian Garcia (Galactic Cowboys) behind the desk. Throw me a pile of stones but I found 20/20 BLIND sound similar to Blue Murder / John Sykes solo around the same year, and some Extreme also.

01 - Wash
02 - Soul Song
03 - Love Keeps Reaching
04 - I Am Blind
05 - Do I
06 - Easier Way
07 - Never Far
08 - Show Each Other Love
09 - Only Hope
10 - Sleepyland

Wallace Chase: Lead Vocals
Doug Middleton: Guitars, Backing Vocals
Mike McNeely: Guitars, Backing Vocals
Schon Alkire: Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Laurents: Drums, Backing Vocals
Phil Beck: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Charles Powell: Backing Vocals

20/20 BLIND - Never Far

Friday, July 15, 2016

EDEN - Fan The Flame (1994) [remastered]

EDEN - Fan The Flame (1994) [remastered]
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

"Fan The Flame" was the debut - and as far I know sole release - by Americans EDEN. Founded by quite solid & melodic vocalist Joe Dokken in the early Nineties, the band play here classic second half of the '80s US Hard Rock.
Although Joe Dokken is not related to the famous Don, the music of Eden has many points in common with Dokken, but also Tesla or WhiteCross, and I mention the latter because all the guitars on "Fan The Flame" were performed by Rex Carroll from WhiteCross.
So expect sharp riffs and some flashy solos in the vein of Ratt's Warren DeMartini, George Lynch or even Van Halen, as Carroll - truly underrated 6-string shredder - comes from the same school.

The album was recorded previously to Eden's definitive line-up, so this is basically Joe Dokken & Carroll with some session musicians, not the one listed in the liner notes (check below for personnel on the recording).
There's very cool rockers with melody such as 'Morning Star', 'Show Me', the great 'Forgotten Child' (some Queensryche on it), 'It’s A Shame', and the bluesy 'Tomorrow’s Yesterday', more straight hard rock on 'Back To The Garden' and closer 'Love Rolls On', and a stunning power ballad in title track 'Fan The Flame'.

EDEN - Fan The Flame (1994) [remastered] back

"Fan The Flame" was originally released in 1994 independently by the band in very limited copies.
Fortunately it was reissued by Retroactive Records in 2003 - the one featured here - digitally remastered with new cover artwork. Also it was re-released in 2008 by a British label under the band's original moniker, Scream In Eden, re-titled Original Sin and again, updated artwork and different song sequence.

01 - Need Somebody
02 - Show Me
03 - Morning Star
04 - Fan The Flame
05 - Tomorrow's Yesterday
06 - Forgotten Child
07 - Give Me A Reason
08 - It's A Shame
09 - Back To The Garden
10 - Love Rolls On

Joe Dokken - Lead Vocals
Rex Carroll - Guitars
Phil Medeira - Keyboards
Mark Robertson - Bass
Brian Wirt - Drums

EDEN - Fan The Flame (1994) [remastered]

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

JIMI GOARE - The Age Of Grace (2007)

JIMI GOARE - The Age Of Grace (2007)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Guitarist / vocalist JIMI GOARE still performs to this day as solo artist, being a busy session musician during the '80s and fronted the really good band The Affair the next decade releasing strong albums.
In between sessions, Goare recorded many of his own songs and all appeared on this "The Age Of Grace" in 2007, but in fact this material was taped in 1986 / 1988 and some in the early Nineties.

With a quite good production and exquisite arrangements the songs here are plenty of delicate melodies akin Toto, Michael Thompson Band and on the ballads, first era Richard Marx (listen 'My Islands').
Goare's clean guitar licks will remind you Steve Lukather for sure, and vocally, he owns a smooth register. Other singer take the lead vocals on a couple of tracks (like on the '80s AOR of 'Bernadeane') providing more variation to the album.

Despite this is a collection of songs from various periods, all sound quite homogeneous and with a classy '80s AOR feel all over.

01 - Miranda
02 - Weight Of The World
03 - What You Mean To Me
04 - My Islands
05 - Bernadeane
06 - Tonight
07 - The Old Brown Chair
08 - The End Of The Road
09 - Top Of The Hill
10 - Monolith
11 - Suspicious (bonus track)
12 - Rock This Way (bonus track)
13 - Bernadeane (extended version)

Tony Newman: keyboards, bass guitar
Kevin Nevius: keyboards
Steve Edwards: bass guitar
David Breaston: drums
Brett Hardin: keyboards, drums, lead vocals on 2 & 7
Wilbur Strutt: lead vocals on 5 & 6
Infinity: backing vocals on 3
Erica Moening, Shirley Whitt: backing vocals
Jimi Goare: guitars, keyboards, bass, lead vocals on 1, 3, 4, 8 & 10

JIMI GOARE - The Age Of Grace