BEST OF 2001 |
+ The Annual MelodicRock AWARDS!!
Ok, enough of the sentiment. Before I talk a bit about 2001 I will reflect a little. This time last year I wrote a passage of text, detailing what I was looking forward to in 2001.
Let's take a look at that and see what came true and what didn't....
Well, Journey's Arrival did eventually get a US release, but here in Australia we are still waiting...thanks for nothing Sony Music. As far as US sales went, it was disappointing to say the least. The album came and went in a flash, although Trial By Fire didn't fare much better chart wise - but it did sell twice as much.
What went wrong? Napster? Nah...how about the 6 month delay between the Japanese and US release? I would be curious to see what the Japanese export figures were - even though officially you couldn't import it. Mmm...no store I know of didn't have it!!
I went on to say that I was expecting big things from Danny Danzi, Bob Catley, Dreamhunter, Von Groove, Hurricane & Johnny Lima albums.
well, I got about a 50% success rate on that...Danny and Johnny are STILL crafting their next releases, working like busy little hobbits continually improving what is bound to be 2 of the best releases for 2002.
Dreamhunter had the songs and attitude, but failed on the production quality. Better luck next time guys...
Slamer/Thompson also didn't live up to my expectations, especially given the immense talent of both involved.
However, Hurricane turned out as hoped - darker and heavier - but quality for sure and Bob Catley's album was his usual high standard, completing a trilogy of releases with songwriter Gary Hughes. Von Groove had their Z Records studio debut and maintained their high standard with an enjoyable release.
Last year I was also silly enough to think that Van Halen might release something. I should have known!
But the rumours continued to fly and the CIA secrecy around the band continued unabated.
It was confirmed that 3 songs are in the can from sessions midway through 2000...can anyone send me a copy?!! LOL!!
Mike Tramp thought his new album was his best ever and I agree, but due to things taking longer to come together, it'll have to wait until this time next year to make my Best Of list.
Of the other releases due I spoke of, Snakes In Paradise, Riverdogs, Diving For Pearls, Stranded, Night Ranger, House Of Lords, Hardline, Zebra, Magnum and the Mike Reno solo album all failed to materialize, although several are already scheduled for the first half of 2002.
My anticipation of the above remains high, although a couple may still be on the wait list come December 2002.
Jeff Scott Soto's long awaited return in Humanimal was indeed killer as I hoped, but again, it will be the 2002 best of lists that will feature this release.
On my 'Who won't make records this year?' list was Styx and Foreigner. True enough. But things look brighter for Styx, but Lou Gramm remains on the AWOL list...
There were predictions that Boston's new album would appear. I said no...I was right! I actually said I would bet on a July 2002 release - I'll stick to that.
That out of the way - what else happened in 2001?
Well, the year will be dominated by the events of Sept. 11 and the worldwide ramifications. We will all grow stronger in resolve out of those events and my thoughts and best wishes go to those that were effected by it.
Musically there were a few surprises. Mr. Big's record was a monster, recording a very commercial, yet guitar driven record that (thanks to Richie Zito) sounds like a million bucks.
Mind you - their public split with Billy Sheehan was disappointing. Especially in the wake of such a fine album. We still don't know what exactly went on, but I hope the band find some way to continue.
And still the album remains unreleased outside of Japan!!!!!!!! C'Mon guys...
Mecca have recorded a timeless melodic rock record, something I have been playing since I got it, several months back now. I suggest that it will be high on many personal Best Of 2002 lists.
Urban Tale proved on of the other big surprises - recording an album of such pure Journey-ish AOR that others should take note. Especially take note of how good the production quality of the album is.
It was great to see Giant's return and their album is (I think), excellent. A few noted that it wasn't as strong as their glory days - well of course not! These tracks didn't make those albums, but provide a strong platform for the band to return more permanently. And they had better!! I expect to see them at the 2002 Gods festival and I expect a new studio album. Dann and David - you can tease the fans, so commit to a record soon please!
2001 saw the Nu-Breed take a stand, but in the end it really didn't amount to too much. Marvelous 3 split, Mars Electric split, the Tories split and Neve and several others are label-less.
If this sound was to make any break thru's 2001 should have been their year. I was disappointed, I was hoping for more. 2002 will have to produce something huge to get the genre going again, otherwise melodic fans will have to wait for something else to strike at mainstream.
Australia's great Nu Breed/pop hope Invertigo are now 2 months over die for their US release, with no sign of being scheduled...who knows what's going on there, but have the label lost faith, or have the band been acting like idiots? It happens...
Yngwie managed to get himself in to trouble with two high profile incidents, and there is more, but read on through the 2001 Awards for details!
On a lighter note:
The Elvis Presley Almost RIP Award: Street Legal's Bjorn Boge for surviving a horrific bus crash while on tour.
The 'WWF' Worst Stunt While Performing Live Award: Rick Springfield for falling on his ass from a great height during a performance of his EFX Alive stage show. Lucky to walk away with only a broken arm.
The 'Yngwie J Egosteen' Award For Best Backstage Antics: Yngwie J Malmsteen taking the award unanimously for his backstage punch up with Millenium's Jorn Lande, which in turn saw several dates on his tour cancelled while singer and drummer were replaced.
The 'UFO' Award For Best Onstage Antics: Yngwie J Malmsteen (again) for telling his South American crowd to go fuck themselves, when they displayed a less than favourable response to his drawn out playing of the American Anthem.
The 'Ted Nugent' Wild Man Of Borneo Award: Michael Schenker for that less than impressive new look. The ZZ Top fan club would not be impressed. Neither am I!
The 'Mutt Lange' Production Award For Slowest Album Recording Process: *TIE* Danny Danzi & Johnny Lima - both perfectionists and both continue to work on their new albums! Good luck gentlemen, we're here when you're ready!
The 'ELO' Will They Turn Up If We Play Award: Axel Rose who thinks that people will actually pay $250 to see him, the one original member left, play live with a guy who wears a KFC bucket on his head. In VEGAS! Or did the Bucket guy have a breakdown? I can't remember...
The Back From The Dead Award: *TIE* - Push, Harem Scarem, Mickey Thomas, Michael Sembello, Rembrandts (Danny & Phil together) & Duran Duran nice to see you all back guys!
The 'Sony Music' When Is A Label Not A Label Award: Portrait Records who have, despite denying it, all but evaporated. But they did release 3 albums in 2001 - all re-issues.
The Worst Case Of Mislabelling Award: King Kobra for trying to make a 'comeback' with a new line up and a sound totally alien to their original style & David Glenn Eisley for a solo album that should have mostly been credited to Giuffria.
The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Metallica for suing anyone that looked sideways at them - including a furniture store, a tyre manufacturing firm, Napster and a few others...
The Best Case Of Telling It Like It Is Award: Herbie Herbert - Journey's ex-manager who spilt the beans on the band's behind-closed-doors agreements.
The 'Holy Masquerading Impostors Batman' Award: Blue Tears - well not really Blue Tears, but the individual in America's south, who has been pretending he is Gregg Fulkerson. Thankfully Gregg e-mailed me to set it straight.
The Joint 'Yngwie J Malmsteen/Michael Schenker' Disappearing Band Members Award: *TIE* Vinny Burns (Ten), John Sepetys (Hair Of The Dog), Matthew Gerrard (Von Groove)
Vocalist Of The Year: Jorn Lande - Definitely Europe's, but possibly also the world's best and most diversely talented singer. In 2001, Jorn released a killer solo record, finished up work ont he yet to be released Millenium cover's record, sang on Beyond Twilight's new album and also the raved about second epic prog rock album by Ark. And in between time, he managed to staty on tour with Yngwie, before it all ended backstage in a very rock n roll punchup. What could he possibly do in 2002 to top that?!!
The Best Producer Award: Richie Zito for the fabulous job with Mr. Big. Honourable mentions to Anders Theander (Urban Tale), Martin Kronlund (Dogface), Harry & Pete (Rubber), Tommy Newton for his various production and mixing work & Mike Slamer (Seventh Key).
Worst Albums of the Year:
Always popular - King Kobra, Horakane, Val Halla, Robert Sweet, 707.
The 'Survivor' award for BAND NAMING RIGHTS: Little River Band - who's complicated set up is bound to carry them into 2002's headlines.
The 'Japanese Label' one last cash-in award: BMG America - will you guys stop already with the Rick Springfield and Hall & Oates compilations???.
The 'Kiss' Award for Most Money Made For Least Amount Of Work: Kiss - who else! Now there's even a Kiss casket to die in after you shell out for their box set and can't afford to eat.
The Just Release The Bloody Thing Award: *TIE!* Van Halen (release anything - we don't care how finished it is anymore!!), Millenium's Covers Album (C'Mon Ralph!!), Sammy Hagar - Greatest Hits Live, Damn Yankees 3 and from last year - still Wicked Alliance & Alias 2.
The Most Likely To Release A Live Album in 2002 Award: *TIE* Mr. Big, Dream Theater, Kiss & Styx - what are the odds?!!
The Worst Record Label Award: *TIE* Massacre Records, SPV & Noise Records who between them failed to reply to a single e-mail sent by me to them in the whole 12 month period of 2001.
The Best Record Label Award: Frontiers Records / Now & Then Productions - Can't go past this label partnership that has supplied us with Kelly Keagy, Urban Tale, Terry Brock, Giant, Seventh Key, Bob Catley, Hurricane, Heaven & Earth, Ten and Jorn Lande. Well done guys...The competition for 2002 will be greater than ever - already anticipating the results from all labels.
The Best MelodicRock.com Noticeboard Username for 2001 Award: *TIE* Melv Smellpaisley & Ferrari Sparklepants - I have nothing to add to that!
The Beat The Bootleggers Award: Chris Thompson for making both his classic, but deleted, 80's solo album's available for MP3 download from his website. FANTASTIC!!
The Best Fan Website Award: VHForums.com - again - where else can one lurk for some intelligent VH related discussion?
And last but not least!
Dickhead of the Year Award: We'll call him BP.
I don't want to giveaway this guy's full name here, as I am not that kind of person. But I will show you a few funny extracts from a few e-mails from him.
No one is perfect, but BP likes to point out parts my reviews he doesn't agree with, plus comment on the % marks when they don't match his opinion.
I have always been happy to take points on board when sent to me, but I think in this case we are dealing with someone who has a severe personality disorder.
I might add that BP claims he writes for a rock magazine...must be a great magazine, no one I know has heard of him!
BP's E-Mail Highlights 2001:
".....Then, you gave Demon 80% and Warrant 81% You got to be kidding me Andy. That basically tells me everything about you. How can you dishonor a band like Demon with a lower grade than one of the most pathetic bands ever lived in Warrant? Unbelievable!!!....."
"Last but not the least, how about that ass licking review of Mike Trampīs new CD Andrew? Right on mister!!!! Yeah right, like that was not expected from a guy like you......Merry Christmas Mike Tramp. At least you can count on your buddy Andrew in wet and dry he-he......"
I did like the length on the short reviews. Why donīt you stick to that length all the time instead of rambling on with reviews long like novels?
Donīt you realize how tiredsome that is and who cares about that percentage info below the actual review anyway?
Just a few tips for your site....."
"NOTE For some reason, you have a very limited taste and that is pretty annoying. Then you went on and rave about really cheesy stuff like Michael Monroe, who can't sing, Poison and Tuff, who can't play, and Tuff, not to mention Tiffany, who just plain out suck. The reason for that is because you like cheesy stuff...."
"I listened to the new Neal Schon album "Voice" and I was blown away.
But what happen? Yes of course, Mr. Andrew gives the album a 79%, while he rates mediocre albums like "Beyond The Thunder" and the double CD (which is so awful I forgot the name of it) Schon did above Voice. On top of that, Mr. Andrew gives crap bands such as Mr. Big (was is 99%?) and Danger Danger 100%. You are aware of the fact that it was because of crap like Danger Danger, Poison and Warrant that Nirvana and Pearl Jam plagued the charts during the entire 1990s arenīt you?
By the way, do not sit and speculate what other Journey fans would think about the Voice CD....."
There's plenty more, but that'll do for now!
Who won't make records in 2002? Van Halen is odds against - Foreigner is the same - Meatloaf is even money and Survivor? Well, I personally doubt there will be a new studio album, even though one is scheduled.
I also doubt the long delayed Skid Row record will eventuate. Riverdogs and Motley Crue are just about even money.
The classic debate over the quality of melodic rock continues. I personally think that we have some great albums being released and I am generally happy with the way the scene is progressing.
The main melodic labels clearly demonstrate that world class releases are possible and are increasing in number. However, these same labels must take more care with some artists to avoid some below average sounding releases still making it onto the market. These releases do nothing to increase the strength of the scene.
Out of all the problems covered in reviews this year, the main one was a lack of a better production. Let's make 2002 the year to improve that aspect of our beloved melodic rock / AOR scene.
So, in another 12 months from now, let's take a look back and see what happened!
Just before I finish this wrap up - what about the labels themselves? What are they looking forward to in 2002? I thought I would find out! Former MTM and Empire Records A&R guy + general scene legend - Magnus Söderkvist:
Im all excited about being part of this new Swedish based record label being started and launched in January.
The label is called Atenzia and is being set up as part of a bigger already existing enterprise in the retail over here [Sweden].
A presentation will be made early in the year both as for collaboration partners and as for the first releases/artists.
I'm a huge fan of good songwriting and that's what the label will be all about...the direction will be from pop/rock to melodic rock to hard rock.
I am most sure that what we have to offer and deliver will be of highest interest for the readers of melodicrock.com.
I am also much excited about some releases coming through my former label MTM. The new Swedish band IGNITION will much certinly rock the world. I have a big involvement in this release bringing it to MTM and also in the A&R work as for songs and direction.
The second one being DIVING FOR PEARLS. I am all hyped up about this one getting the chance to work with David Prater and the amazingly talented band leader Danny Malone. The material they have in the pipeline is nothing less then stunning!!
I also believe that my good friend and former compadre Mario and his gang will have other cool releases....I know that they lining up more stuff in the melodic rock genre again for the new year.
And in general do I hope to see yet another phenomenal year with a huge amount of superb releases in US from all this new generation of modern melodic rock/pop....I have heard some which been picked up by the majors recently and they for sure is got what it takes!!
As for the classic melodic rock which I'm raised on, do I hope that the genre shall find its way back on track.
Too many releases being put out lacks spirit, passion and songs.
Well look out for Atenzia for the new year - It will be a force to count on.
That's what I have for now....take it easy and happy holidays.
Now & Then Boss Mark Ashton:
Well, we sit here on the brink of 2002, which will be the Tenth Anniversary of NOW AND THEN RECORDS. Looking back on 2001, I'd say it was our most successful year ever as a company, culminating in two of the biggest releases we've ever had in Europe, namely Giant "III" and Ten`s "Far Beyond The World", but the biggest success of the year for us had to be The Gods.
None of us will ever forget the events of September 11th 2001 in the U.S. and it's subsequent repercussions all around the world. By not giving up and putting on a show that not only raised a lot of money for the victims of the tragedy but also went down as one of the best Gods ever, we hope we did our bit to return some sense to the world and to give people an opportunity to get together with their friends from distant countries and forget about things for a couple of days.
2002 will be an even better year for us, of that I`m sure, with new product from well established names such as Two Fires, Reb Beach, Harem Scarem, Hardline, House Of Lords, Mitch Malloy, Bob Catley and Saracen to come plus a whole bunch of great new talents like Pulse, Johnny Lima, Savannah, Talon, John Taglieri and Hysteria ready to burst onto the scene. On a personal note, I'm really looking forward to Gary Hughes "Once And Future King" concept album finally being recorded and released in 2002.
I've been discussing this album a lot with Gary over the past few weeks and the whole thing is falling into place very nicely and looks set to include some great (and different ) names. The quality of the material is assured and it's going to be something truly special I feel. Ultimately, we'd love to put it on as a rock opera at some point, but that's for the future!
We are determined to bring more acts over to Europe to tour and to put on a really great Gods 2002 later in the year. The live scene has been hit bad the past twelve months with many tours not doing as well as they could or should. I won't go into why I think that is, but we are determined to improve things this coming year.
On a personal note, I'm looking forward to new albums from Humanimal, AdrianGale, Magnum, Danny Danzi, Cornerstone, Symphony X and a bunch more.
Also, I'd like to see a larger audience for the better nu-breed acts.
The Invertigo "Forum" album is stunning and deserves to be huge, although I still think that too many of the nu-breeders lack identity. These guys have great songs that border on the pop idiosyncrasies of The Backstreet Boys but still rock out. I'm sure that any AOR fan giving this band a chance will end up being a fan.
Best regards, Mark.
Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino
The past year has been for Frontiers Records a year to remember ! We have been able to experience a growth in sales and interest from the medias like never before and the new year looks as promising like last year if not more!
Thanks to the release of new albums from Giant, Ten, Royal Hunt, Seventh Key and several others, the scene looks more vital than ever! For the new year I wish to promise our highest commitment to push even further the bondaries for this music and to give all the fans a lot of solid rock'n'roll to have fun with!
I personally wish to take this occasion also to thank some other people in this business which I have had the pleasure and the fun to work and join forces with. I wish to list here in particular Khalil Turk, Mario Lehmann, Harry Enzian, Lasse Mattson, Dane Spencer, John Kivel, Mag Soderkvist and my foremost and dearest friend and partner Mark "daddy" Ashton. May our partnership last forever!
Of course the biggest and most sincere thanks goes out to all the fans that make this scene going on. Our gratitude for you is going to be everlasting !
Last but not least... thanks to Andrew for voting us the best label of 2001 ;) !
Z Records Boss Mark Alger:
Jeez, it's nearly 2002 this year has flown by.
2001 was a year Z as a label made a few mistakes most notably Z2001 pt2. It was also a year that will be etched into my memories forever after September 11th, our worries here at Z where very high as John Blaze of Arabia had described the disaster over the telephone from his Manhattan office shortly before the 2nd attack.
Thankfully John and the other members of our NY based acts where all safe and sound.
2002 will be a great year for Z, Humanimal is our huge wake up call and will be released during January.
Also coming we have brand new albums from Burning Rain, Silent Rage, Westworld, Vaughn and 21 Guns all due within the first 5 months of 2002 need I say more.
We also have the new album from Arabia which is guaranteed to be awesome, the band did very well with their debut. Late 2002 will see new releases from Von Groove, Brighton Rock, Rainmaker, Shy, Danny Danzi and many more.
Me personally, well the new Dokken is eagerly awaited o)
Escape Records boss Khalil Turk:
Hi Andrew, We are very much looking forward to releasing of course all our titles specially Total Stranger, Fury & the Phantoms Opera new album with out standing world class singer well known and well respected to every body we shall announce his name shortly (Not Dean Fasano), and of course the new Heartland album which is their best.
I personally would like to see and hear some changes in the melodic rock scene, and the fan to be open minded about the new breeds of rock. As you know with no disrespect to anybody there has been too many Journey, Whitesnake, and Survivor, plus Clones. The scene is becoming tiresome.
Take care, Khalil
Lasse / Lion Music:
Lion Music would also like to thank you for your support during 2001. Next year we will work even harder and start off the new year with our new release from MIKE TERRANA (featuring Steve Lukater) to be followed by MASI, TAKARA, MISTER KITE, KELLY SIMONZ, UNDER-RADIO, BYRD, MATTSSON and many more.
Best Wishes, Lasse
Song Haus / Rewind Records boss Dane Spencer:
The big news at Rewind Records is AIRBORNE!!! Beau Hill contacted me and we have made a deal to release an album of unreleased Airborne material recorded just after the first album was released. The album will have at least 16 tracks about an hour of killer unreleased Airborne.
Beau personally mastered the tracks for Rewind. Kip Winger and his two brothers sing back-up on several tracks, Beau just needs to figure out which ones.
Its a mix of vintage Styx-Foreigner circa 80-85. The vocals are killer and big, lots of keys and guitars, its really the find of the year.
Silver Condor is about complete and I am really looking forward to the release Brad Love's solo album. I am hoping more unreleased gems come our way next year.
Brian McDonald Desperate Business and Speedway Blvd are also on tap for 2002 at Rewind.
Record Heaven Music:
This has been a very interesting year and a lot of positive things have happened that makes us look at 2002 with a lot of hopes for another great episode in the history of Record Heaven. You all have been a great help and we hope for a continued relationship for the future in this tough business, that now see the MP3's giving the sales a hard time !! 2002 will see the releases of (among others)
KEN HENSLEY - Running Blind (Scandinavia Only) / February
SOUTHERN ROCK ALLSTARS - Danger Road / February/March
THE REGULATORS - Bar & Grill (Remixed, remastered + bonus) / February
LOCOMOTIVE BREATH - Heavy Machinery / March
APRIL WINE - Back To The Manison (W/bonus) - t.b.a
TURNING LEAF - t.b.a / Fall of 2002
SLOW TRAIN - t.b.a / Fall of 2002
+ alot more interesting stuff that will be announced soon.
A merry christmas to you all and a happy new year.
Cheers, Johannes Lindstrom.