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DEF LEPPARD / PROMISES EP
MERCURY JAPAN PHCR-4086
OVERALL: 85%
Produced by: Pete Woodruff & Def Leppard
Those without any of the bonus tracks so far can collect 4 unreleased tracks with one easy purchase.
This Japanese EP gathers the 2 Aussie bonus tracks with 2 more new ones.
I think Euphoria could have been even better had it added tracks like the heavier, darker and rawer tracks Burnout and Immortal. Both are more in the Pyromania style.
Under My Wheels is also from the Alice Cooper tribute album and World's Collide is a great heavy rocker.
Great stuff and essential for Leppard fans.

MR. BIG / SUPERFANTASTIC SINGLE
ATLANTIC JAPAN AMCY-7079
OVERALL: 73%
Produced by: Pat Regan
This is pretty much a Mr. Big fanatics only release. There are two unreleased tracks here from the Get Over It sessions.
One is a standard mid tempo track called You Don't Have To Be Strong and the second is a pretty fair version of the Deep Purple classic Burn. Clocking in at over 6 minutes, this is a good version with a great Eric Martin vocal.
Still, fans only.

PAUL GILBERT / BEEHIVE LIVE
MERCURY JAPAN PHCR-90
OVERALL: 80%
Produced by: Paul Gilbert
It seems to be fair game to release a live album after ever major studio release now in Japan, so this was to be expected.
Once again it is a fans only release. there is no reason to think any new fans will be gained by this release.
But, saying that, this is a good live album, with a good raw, live feel and plenty of guitar tricks by Gilbert.
It features the best tracks of his last two solo albums including Be My Wife, Girls Who Can Read Your Mind, I'm Just In Love, Heavy Disco Trip and his own solo version of the Mr. Big hit To be With You. Also find two covers - Karn Evil 9 from ELP and Miles Buddy's Hold Her Tonight .
Enjoyable.

PLATINUM BLONDE / SEVEN YEAR ITCH '82-'89

OVERALL: 80%
Produced by: David Tickle & Eddy Offord
I played the guys Alien Shores album the other day on tape and it sounded pretty dated. But the re-mastering process is a marvelous one and this compilation of the best tracks from 3 albums worth of work is quite a good listen.
Dated for sure, but it's still good to hear the guys again and there are a few tracks here that I had forgotten - so at 16 tracks, it's good value all round.
I would recommend this to anyone like me, who only owns a tape or two, but to the unfamiliar this mix of electronic drums and Duran Duran style 'New Romantics' style pop rock might be a bit much!
I hear they are gigging again, so let's hope some new recordings surface down the road a little.

ENCHANT / BREAK
SPV / INSIDE OUT IOMCD 028
OVERALL: 78%
Produced by: Douglas A. Ott
Enchant are another top notch progressive act and a favourite in those circles.
I am by no means a prog expert, so I won't dissect this too much.
But suffice to say, this is a great sounding album with a solid production and sharp sound. These guys cross over into more melodic territory better than most other prog acts I have heard.
Lots of keys, lots of guitar and varied tracks, but importantly lots of melodic harmonies and great vocals. Those vocals BTW, are a quite Steve Perry-ish in places.
Still one for the prog fans - you guys probably already all have this - but if you have some interest in prog this might be a good place to start.

PLATYPUS / WHEN PUS COMES TO SHOVE
SPV/INSIDE OUT MUSIC
OVERALL: 70%
Produced by: Platypus
OK, so this is like new age, bluesy, progressive, partly instrumental hard rock then? Well, this is pretty hard to pigeon hole, and the above is as close as I can get!
The side-project of sorts features Rod Morgenstein ex-Winger, Derek Sherinian of Dream Theater and Ty Tabor of Kings X.
This is well written and very well executed progressive rock, with jazz and blues influences - performed by some guys who clearly love their craft.
But this is not something that will appeal to mainstream fans, more to those who love an instrumental rock out (with some vocals) and appreciate the more complex form that rock music can take.
If that appeals then you should gather plenty of enjoyment from this. For the non-die hards, better to stick the guys' mainstream efforts in their main bands.

FREEDOM CALL / STAIRWAY TO FAIRLYLAND
SPV/STEAMHAMMER 085-21182
OVERALL: 10%
Produced by: Charlie Bauerfeind & Chris Bay
This is pretty horrible. Pure European hard rock/metal with progressive overtures.
Like Yngwie Malmsteen meets Dream Theater on speed and several other mind altering substances.
Big swirling keyboards, brutally heavy guitars and vocals that range from a death metal growl to a piercing scream.
Avoid.

ROLAND GRAPOW / KALEIDOSCOPE
SPV/STEAMHAMMER 085-21412 CD
OVERALL: 60%
Produced by: Roland Grapow
Roland Grapow is the guitarist for Halloween and is here out solo playing what he knows best.
Heavy, loud, guitar inspired metal.
It's not quite a copy of Helloween -maybe a more commercial version there of. Vocals are by ex-Yngwie Michael Vescara and therefore the style is also part Yngwie. Glad I don't currently have a search engine in place. The amount of times I have mentioned Yngwie this past 2 weeks is tiring.
Oh well, this is more of the same. Not bad and not classic. Just another album of Euro metal with a distinct guitar hero feel.
But I would recommend other albums reviewed here above this one.

SAGA / FULL CIRCLE
SPV
OVERALL: 70%
Produced by: Ian Crighton
This is the Saga of old I am told. Well I am not familiar with the guys' music much at all. I can remember hearing an album about 10 years back and thinking 'these guys sound like a more overblown and pop version of Rush'.
Well this album sure isn't that - Rush have since gone in one direction and Saga another - but I have been reliably informed by no less than half a dozen people that this album their finest since the classic days of Security Of Illusion.
Well, I for one can't get into this at all. Maybe it's the vocals or over dubbed effects? But I will continue to try...
What I can tell you is - that doesn't make it a bad album. Infact the sound is huge, the production great and the lyrics quite intelligent.
So take the word of long time sage fans and not mine. Check it out if you are prog/pomp fans.

GUINTINI PROJECT / II
INDIE RELEASE
OVERALL: 84%
Produced by: Dario Mollo
Yes, another hard hitting guitar rock album featuring Tony Martin vocals.
And strangely enough, another Italian band and exclusive Italian only release. So there must be a connection to The Cage?
Well, yes there is. Dario Mollo, the guitarist and main man behind The Cage is the producer of this album too.
Although a little different to The Cage, this album has major similarities and could be seen as a companion release.
If you are a Tony Martin fan, then would have to be an essential purchase. Great singer.

ACT / TODAY'S REPORT

OVERALL: 75%
Produced by: Not Listed
ACT are another new signing to MTM and somewhat branch out the label's sound.
These guys are out of Sweden and are of course geared to a sound that fits their geographical location. But that Euro feel is almost over ridden with their heavy Prog style - a European mix with Dream Theater I guess.
I hate to use DT as a comparison again, but I can't think of anyone better right now.
These guys play their asses off, so if complex rhythms and long songs is your thing, then have a listen to these guys.
Personally it loses me a bit and I think if they applied their talents to a more straight ahead rock album (sorry to be boring guys...) they might also hit a bigger audience.
But then what do I know? Progressive is huge right now, so if they can successfully tap into that market, they might just sell even more records!

REINGOLD / UNIVERSE
MTM MUSIC
OVERALL: 70%
Produced by: Jonas Reingold
Reingold features the talents of super Euro-metal vocalist Goran Edman, with guitarist Jonas Reingold, Marcus Jacobson on bass and Jaime Salazar on drums rounding out the band.
Co-writing some lyrics is Pete Sandburg.
This is heavy Scandinavian hard rock, with touches of Yngwie metal (track 1 and 4!) and some more melodic moments mid way thru the album, where you get some more traditional Glenn Hughes/John Norum style hard rockers.
The vocals are sound are first rate and there are guitars everywhere, but beware - with the dark and semi-gothic over tones and heavy tone to the album, this is for the fans of the heavy Euro rock. If that's you - this is one of the better releases on offer right now.

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