Friday, November 22, 2019

RICK SPRINGFIELD - TAO (1985) Remastered

RICK SPRINGFIELD - TAO (1985) Remastered
Known for his straight and immediate melodic rock tunes, RICK SPRINGFIELD changed the general approach with his middle-eighties record "TAO". With a production and arrangements technically & sonically far beyond its year, the album was unleashed on the world at the end of 1985.
It was a stellar departure from anything Rick had ever tried before: elaborated hi-tech AOR melodies with a complex musical background, a heavy mix of processed guitars, synthesizers, vocal effects, sampling and drum machines.

"There is a lot going on, you can really hear it. We covered it with a lot of guitar and bass. TAO is still my favorite album" said Springfield. And although I love his previous records, "TAO" is my favorite too.
This one has all we love from the '80s; compressed drums, 'that' reverb and keyboards galore.
But there's much more than sonic bombast here. Rick offers deep and rich lyrics like a warning about the devastation of the planet on "Walking On The Edge", social revolution in "Celebrate Youth" (a hit in Germany), the search for spiritual truth on "The TAO Of Heaven", and the somber perspective of "Dancing The World Away".

RICK SPRINGFIELD - TAO (1985) Remastered back cover

Simply put, "TAO" is one of the greatest AOR albums from the Eighties. Behind the wall of super-produced sounds we still find top notch musicians like drummer extraordinaire Mike Baird, Pino Palladino on fretless bass, or the exquisite Tim Pierce on guitar, who also co-wrote the great opener "Dance This World Away".
You must have TAO in your collection, and be sure that is this remastered version.

01 - Dance This World Away
02 - Celebrate Youth
03 - State Of The Heart
04 - Written In Rock
05 - The Power Of Love (The Tao Of Love)
06 - Walking On The Edge
07 - Walk Like A Man
08 - The Tao Of Heaven
09 - Stranger In The House
10 - My Father's Chair

Rick Springfield: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Synths, Emulator
Tim Pierce: Guitar, Synthesizer [Gr707]
Pino Palladino: Bass
Mike Baird: Drums
Mike Fischer: Percussion
Mitchell Froom: Keyboards, Synths, Samplers, Effects
Nicky Hopkins: Synthesizer [Dx7, Jx-3p]
Jeff Silverman: Synthesizer [Gr707]
John Phillip Shenale: Synthesizer [Oberheim 8, Dx7]
Tom Kelly, Tommy Funderburk, Mike Seifrit, Richard Page: Backing Vocals


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

SURRENDER DOROTHY - Surrender Dorothy (1992)

SURRENDER DOROTHY - Surrender Dorothy (1992) front

American melodic hard rockers SURRENDER DOROTHY arrived a little too late into the scene with their self-titled 1992's debut album, but glad they did it.
While the band was formed in the '80s, they had no luck with a major label singing. However the group managed to record this album and release it by themselves.

This New Jersey band - including guitarist Rocco Mazzella, previously in Tangier - were really good at their game: polished US melodic hard with that late '80s feel and polished production for the genre as it was used circa 1990-91.
While Woody Joe Orner's vocal timbre recalls Danger Danger's Ted Poley (check out opener 'Fire in the Sky') the album's overall sound oscillates between Damn Yankees and Night Ranger.

With titles like 'Rock City', 'Hit and Run' (one of my favorites), or the keyboard filled "Just Another Nuthin' (You Are)" you can expect fun rockers with pumping bass lines, slick riffs and catchy choruses - all members contribute harmony vocals.

SURRENDER DOROTHY - Surrender Dorothy (1992) back

Of course there's a power ballad (and a good one) in 'Only the Night', and slightly bluesy rockers such as 'Nature of the Beast'. For the end, Surrender Dorothy delivers their more elaborated track in 'Faith Healer' with interesting passages.

A quite unknown band from the late American Melodic Hard Rock movement, talented and solid in songwriting and performances.

01 - Fire in the Sky
02 - Sittin' Pretty
03 - Only the Night
04 - Rock City
05 - Hit and Run
06 - Nature of the Beast
07 - Just Another Nuthin' (You Are)
08 - Long Legged Sadie (Back Street Lady)
09 - When My Baby's Not My Babe
10 - Faith Healer

Woody Joe Orner - Lead Vocals
Richie Mahn - Guitars, Vocals
Rocco Mazzella - Guitars, Vocals
Mike Kost - Bass, Vocals
Karl Monahan - Drums, Percussion
Bill Saltzer - Keyboards, Vocals

SURRENDER DOROTHY - Surrender Dorothy (1992)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

BENNY HESTER - Perfect (1989)

BENNY HESTER - Perfect (1989)

Released in 1989, BENNY HESTER's album "Perfect" is one of the best examples of the American '80s CCM Lite AOR. With a career staring in the Seventies and with a FM rock / Soft Rock / Wast coast touches, Benny's music was widely popular especially in the second half of the '80s.

Aiming for the Adult contemporary charts, "Perfect" is far from its title, yet easily listenable and very enjoyable. The style of the music and the year of production demanded a pristine, crystal clear output and that's exactly what you'll find here.

Handled by expert Bill Baumgart behind the desk, the recording label secured the presence of top notch session musicians, like Toto's Jeff Porcaro at the drum kit, Neil Stubenhaus on bass, etc.

BENNY HESTER - Perfect (1989) back

With a balance of synth-driven rockers and smooth power ballads, songs like the upbeat "Headlights On The Highway" (my favorite), the dynamic "If You Die Before You Die", "Two Good Reasons" (akin John Waite solo), or the sweet title track (with a West Coast feel) are among the best cuts here. There's a surprisingly hot guitar solo on the rocker "Passion, Possession, Position", another good one.
A nice, cool late 80s album.

01 - Headlights On The Highway
02 - Before You Know It
03 - If You Die Before You Die
04 - Perfect
05 - Hungry World
06 - You Weren't Meant To Live Your Life Alone
07 - Two Good Reasons
08 - This One's For Keeping
09 - Passion, Possession, Position
10 - Shall We Gather At The River

Benny Hester - Lead & Background Vocals
Jeff Porcaro - Drums
Pete Pfiefer - Percussion
Marty Walsh - Guitars
Neil Stubenhaus - Bass
Aaron Zigman, Tim Heintz - Keyboards
Bob Carlisle, Bill Baumgart, Allison Beech - Background Vocals

BENNY HESTER - Perfect (1989) HERE

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

HAVEN (Rose Coppola) - ST (2000)

Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

HAVEN was a Melodic Hard Rock consisting of female singer Rose Coppola and guitar player John McCarthy.
Taking the name from thier native town (New Haven, Connecticut), during the nineties the band performed & opened for many national artists: Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, Steelheart, LA Guns, XYZ and more.
Seems Rose Coppola is a well known vocal teacher as well, as she released the popular 'Rock Your Vox Vocal Performance Instructional DVD' and has trained bands such as Zebra and Winger for their debut albums' harmony backing vocals.

HAVEN never made it big or inked a record deal, but managed to release by themselves the collection of all their nineties recordings in this self-titled CD (now impossible to find).
The material ranges from American Melodic Hard Rock to radio-rock oriented tunes. The quality in sound varies as these tracks were recorded between 1990-1999 in different studio facilities.
Songwriting is strong for the most part, being my favorites the more rockin' ones as the tongue-in-cheek opener "Me", "Crazy For Lovin' You", and specially the choppin' guitar driven "Really Good Times".
There's a good poppy oriented track in "Crawl Back To Me" and a good cover of "Love Hurts" made popular by Nazareth.
The ballad "Don't Cry It's Only Thunder" is one of the best produced tracks here, complete with orchestrations and a really good vocal duet between Coppola & McCarthy.

HAVEN had potential, and although some tracks are not completely well mixed, you guess the great product they would able to deliver with a proper producer tweaking the knobs.

01 - Me
02 - Crazy For Lovin' You
03 - Really Good Times
04 - Crawl Back To Me
05 - Shaman Lies
06 - Understood
07 - Shake Me Down
08 - Seven Million Stars
09 - Hollywood
10 - Love Hurts
11 - Don't Cry It's Only Thunder
12 - Waiting For Love To Come

Rose Coppola - Vocals
John McCarthy - Guitars, Vocals
Nick DiMichino - Bass
Wayne Sobotso - Drums
Additional Players:
Al Spinelli - Keyboards
Scott Cunningham - Drums
Mark Dirini - Bass

HAVEN (Rose Coppola)