Wednesday, August 24, 2016

THE MAX - Shadows In The Shade (1989)

THE MAX - Shadows In The Shade (1989)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Hailing from an unusual US state for rock music, the Livingston, Montana based trio THE MAX was founded by brothers Kyle & John Brenner in the mid-Eighties.
The group is still active playing basically covers in clubs and weddings, but between '88/'92 they faced crowds as large as 80,000 opening for major acts such as Styx, REO Speedwagon or The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

In 1989 The Max released their first album "Shadows In The Shade" via a small Canadian label.
There's not much info in the CD booklet (in fact; zero) but the band managed to obtain a superb sound from their own written tracks. Seriously, the production is on par with any of the big-budget from the era.
The Max plays here a very nice collection of lovely AOR / Melodic Rock tunes with a radio commercial approach, sometimes poppy, sometimes rockier, including a couple of ballads.
The best track for me is the pure AOR title track "Shadows In The Shade", complete with lots of synths, a strong guitar riff and a cool chorus.
But the rest of the songs offer high quality melodies in the vein of The Outfield, 8084, Glass Tiger or Fahrenheit, with really good vocals and musicianship.

THE MAX - Shadows In The Shade (1989) back cover

"Shadows In The Shade" is a pleasant listen from start to finish, with fine songs and excellent production.
The album was re-issued not so long ago by a retro label but on a cheap CD-R. This a high quality rip done by my friend totalaor (I miss you man) from the original CD press, including artwork.
Very Rare. Recommended music.

01 - You're Sorry
02 - Western World
03 - Shadows In The Shade
04 - Hardly Walking
05 - Got What I Wanted
06 - The Only Thing
07 - Shake The Chill
08 - Where Pride Runs Deep
09 - Hand In Hand

Kyle Brenner Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Eddie White Bass, Vocals
John Brenner Drums, Keyboards, Vocals

THE MAX - Shadows In The Shade HERE

Friday, August 19, 2016

MARC JORDAN - Talking Through Pictures [Japan edition '91] (1987)

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk
Canadian singer-songwriter, session musician and record producer, MARC JORDAN won the '94 'Best Producer Juno Award' (equivalent to Grammy), and has worked with the likes of Jay Graydon, Rod Stewart, Cher, Stan Bush, etc.
So as you could imagine, he's a sound perfectionist, and this "Talking Through Pictures" released in the second halg of the '80s is not an exception, immaculately produced and recorded.

"Talking Through Pictures" isn't strictly an AOR album, nor Westcoast or rock&pop, but all at the same time. How is that? The man has rounded a heterogeneous set of songs/styles, ranging from Hi-Tech, Lite AOR and WestCoast, but none in the traditional mood.
Atypical songwriting and concept, varied, and sometimes complex to keep you interested.

To give you an idea, this recording reminds me of Trevor Rabin's '80s works, solo and alongside with YES Big Genereator era - not strange 'cos Trevor plays guitars, keyboards and who knows what else here. Listen 'Seek And You Shall Find' and then tell me.
You have also other great session cats like guitar master Michael Landau, Tony Berg, super pump bass-man Stu Hamm, Stan Bush, Timothy B. Schmit, etc.
Does not 'Inside The Glass Bead' sounds a bit like an Alan Parsons mid-Eighties song? Oh yes. But all this is crafted with an elegant 'lite Aorish feel' and all kind of keyboards here and there (again; not in the traditional way).

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk

Marc Jordan's "Talking Through Pictures" is a quite unknown album, at least from his discography, a pretty different from the usual hyped material posted here, something to refresh your ears.
There has been a recent digital reissue by a so-called Legacy Recordings, but it's poorly transferred from a dubious source. This Japanese edition appeared in 1991 it's the real deal.

01 - This Independance
02 - Kensington Garden
03 - Catch the Moon
04 - I Ching
05 - Talking Through Pictures
06 - Soldier of Fortune
07 - Seek And You Shall Find
08 - Inside The Glass Bead
09 - Human Race
10 - I Was Your Fool

Marc Jordan: Vocals, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Trevor Rabin: Guitar, Keyboards
Michael Landau, Tony Berg : Guitar
Stu Hamm: Bass
Tony Braunagel: Drums
Stan Bush, Timothy B. Schmit, Graham Nash: Backing Vocals
and many more...

MARC JORDAN Talking Through Pictures [Japan edition '91] (1987)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

PETER FRAMPTON - Breaking All The Rules [remastered] (1981)

PETER FRAMPTON - Breaking All The Rules [remastered]
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

"Breaking All The Rules" always has been PETER FRAMPTON's lesser known / heard album in part due to the record company clumsiness to properly promote the record and because Frampton indeed broke some rules here; he decided to make a rocking LP instead a Top 20 hit generator.
Of course there's a brilliant sweet melody in the slow, touching 'Going To L.A.' which should have been a hit in the charts, but most the material here rocks, and pretty hard.

For this matter Frampton enlisted a terrific back-up band including the half of Toto; Steve Lukather & Jeff Porcaro.
Lukather trade some killer licks with Frampton (the title track is awesome) but also contributing with his trademark, distinctive rhythm guitar, while Porcaro provide his unique 'groove-touch' all over the recording.

A proof of the guitar driven nature of this album is opener 'Dig What I Say', starting the record in a rocking mood with solos all over it, something unusual for a Frampton release. Here he also uses guitar synth to good effect.
The cover of 'I Don't Wanna Let You Go' is done in an absolutely classic Frampton vein but even here the guitar swirls like never before. Check Porcaro's hi-hat fills here, a master in this game.

Written by the Alessi Bros 'Rise Up' is another tune with a hit potential, there's an elegant midtempo on 'Wasting The Night Away', a rocky version of the classic 'Friday On My Mind' (also done by Gary Moore), while 'Lost A Part Of You' is the ballad on the album with some hints to Frampton's biggest hit I'm In You.

PETER FRAMPTON - Breaking All The Rules [remastered] (1981) back

For the end we have the aforementioned title track 'Breaking All The Rules', a seven minute tour de force plenty of killer riffs, a melodic verse and a superb Frampton / Lukather duel in an almost hard rocking piece.

This is the 2005 release of the album for the first time on CD, and there's has been some controversy about the 'remastering' statement.
Obviously you need to digitally master the original analog tapes for a digital transfer, but that's not necessarily a re-mastering. I have read in some audiophile forums some people arguing the album was digitized 'as it is', some saying it was indeed re-mastered.
To my ears, this hard-to-find 2005 CD edition of 'Breaking All The Rules' has been re-mastered, with some 'air' added to the sonic atmosphere, but overall preserving the original feel of the LP.
Anyway, this baby rock, and rocks good.

01 - Dig What I Say
02 - I Don't Wanna Let You Go
03 - Rise Up
04 - Wasting The Night Away
05 - Going To L.A.
06 - You Kill Me
07 - Friday On My Mind
08 - Lost A Part Of You
09 - Breaking All The Rules

Peter Frampton - vocals, guitar, keyboards, guitar synthesizer
Steve Lukather - guitar, background vocals
Jeff Porcaro - drums
John Regan - bass guitar
Arthur Stead - keyboards, background vocals
Ed Mantleone - add. guitar

PETER FRAMPTON - Breaking All The Rules [remastered]

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

FEE WAYBILL - Read My Lips [remastered] (1984)

FEE WAYBILL - Read My Lips [remastered] (1984)
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Frontman of melodic power-pop wonders The Tubes, FEE WAYBILL recorded in 1984 his first solo album "Read My Lips", much more AOR oriented than his main band.
While The Tubes already flirted with radio-friendly AOR on their excellent '83 album, Waybill definitely turn things in that direction here, spiced with touch of smooth of LA West Coast.

Many called this "Read My Lips" as a 'missing Toto album', as the overall sound & style here are in the vein of Isolation or Fahrenheit. Not strange, as Steve Lukather co-wrote most the songs and play here alongside the Toto crew including Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro and Bobby Kimball contributing backing vocals.
But also top 'cats' like David Foster, Mike Landau, Paul Jackson, Jr., Jerry Marotta, Michael Boddicker, Bill Champlin, Tom Keane and Richard Marx (also involved in songwriting)... as you see, an AOR dream-team.
Although the poppy 'Who Said Life Would Be Pretty' is not exactly my cup of tea, the rest of the material is like a delicious cherry pie for '80s suckers.

Just check the punchy, guitar driven numbers such as the title track, the flamboyant and quite heavy 'Thrill Of The Kill', or the killer 'Saved My Life' (my favorite), mixed with the dynamic 'Nobodys Perfect', the slightly funky 'Who Loves You Baby' (very Toto-ish) and the superb power ballad 'I Don't Even Know Your Name', again with a Toto feel.
More in a West Coast trait yet plenty of AOR there's 'Caribbean Sunsets', a terrific tune akin Player / Toto and where you can hear David Foster's touch and Lukather in its full potential, then the elegant 'I Could've Been Somebody' closes this really good album.

FEE WAYBILL - Read My Lips [remastered] (1984) back

Despite its horrible cover artwork, Fee Waybill's "Read My Lips" packs inside some of the finest AOR / musicianship you could find in any '80s record. Great songs co-written by the likes of Lukather, David Foster, Richard Marx, etc provide varied material, you have top notch performances by the who's who in the genre, and production is huge.
This BGO remastered edition sounds million bucks.

01 - You're Still Laughing
02 - Nobody's Perfect
03 - Who Loves You Baby
04 - I Don't Even Know Your Name
05 - Who Said Life Would Be Pretty
06 - Thrill Of The Kill
07 - Saved My Life
08 - Carribean Sunsets
09 - Star Or The Show
10 - I Could've Been Somebody

Fee Waybill - vocals
Steve Lukather, Mike Landau, Paul Jackson, Jr - guitars
David Foster - keyboards, backing vocals
Michael Boddicker, Erich Bulling - keyboards
Steve Porcaro - keyboards, synthesizers
Tom Keane - keyboards, backing vocals
Larry Klein - bass
Jeff Porcaro, Jerry Marotta, Tris Imboden, JR Robinson - drums
Paulinho Da Costa - percussion
Humberto Gatica - percussion overdub
Larry Williams, Marc Russo, Gary Grant - horns
Richard Marx, Bill Champlin, Bobby Kimball - backing vocals

FEE WAYBILL - Read My Lips [remastered]

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

PATRICK SIMMONS - Arcade [remastered CD reissue] (1983)

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk
Guitarist and vocalist PATRICK SIMMONS has been The Doobie Brothers' only consistent member throughout their career.
In 1983 Pat released his first solo album "Arcade", pretty away in terms of sound from the Doobie's, much more commercial with the typical '80s rhythms.

Co-produced by John Ryan (Styx) and Ted Templeman (Michael McDonald, Van Halen), "Arcade" counted with invaluable contribution of the great Chris Thompson co-writing four tracks and doing more than back-up vocals.
With top session musicians such as Mike Baird, Leland Sklar or John Elefante (just check personnel), "Arcade" includes lovable radio friendly tunes like the uptempo poppy AOR "Out On The Streets" and "Don't Make Me Do It".
Although the top-ten first single "So Wrong" is definitely pop (and a good one) and also had an extended dance version, this is the only track in this style on the album.

The beautiful Doobie Brothers influenced "Why You Givin' Up" is the first song in the tracklist leaning into Westcoast territory, as later the soft "Have You Seen Her" is in a true Michael McDonald style with good orchestrations, while "Sue Sad" has that classic L.A. Session flavor.
The uptempo AOR "Knocking At Your Door" (penned by Andy Fraser) reminds us that Simmons can rock good, and the melodic "Dream About Me" sports a memorable refrain and melody.

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk

I always loved the true '80s "Arcade" sound and style, and this remastered CD reissue really hits home (courtesy of my good friend Nitderock).
Funnily enough, this CD reissue by a US label came to avoid the expensive Japanese-only digital version of this album, but it was pressed in limited quantities and now fetches around $150 on auction sites.
Pure Eighties sound. Guaranteed.

01 - Out On The Streets
02 - So Wrong
03 - Don't Make Me Do It
04 - Why You Givin' Up
05 - Too Long
06 - Knocking At Your Door
07 - If You Want A Little Love
08 - Have You Seen Her?
09 - Sue Sad
10 - Dream About Me

Patrick Simmons: Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitars
Chris Thompson: Lead & Backing Vocals
Michael McDonald: Keyboards, Synths, Backing Vocals
John McFee, Jeff Baxter: Lead Guitar
Alan Pasqua: Keyboards
Patrick Henderson: Organ
Jude Cole: Guitars
Leland "Lee" Sklar, Dennis Belfield: Bass
Bill Payne: Fender Rhodes
David Campbell: Strings Arrangements
Victor Feldman: Percussion
Mike Baird, Rick Shlosser: Drums
John Elefante, David Pack, Jeff Wilson: Backing vocals
and many more...

PATRICK SIMMONS - Arcade [remastered CD reissue]