Well - Monty Python called it their Contractual Obligation Album - Harem Scarem are calling it 'Best Of'!|
Well I bought it so I can't be too critical of motives can I?
Primarily it is the record company in Japan that are riding the Scarem gravy train, releasing this best of compilation far too close to the Big Bang Theory.
But nevertheless, here it is.
And overall you really can't fault the quality of the tracks here.
Harem Scarem have continually proven that they are at the absolute for front of melodic rock and even though their albums swing from style to style and create endless debate, there is one thing certain....No one else comes close.
The sheer song writing genius and the melodic mastery of Harry Hess and co is unrivalled and the production of every record they have produced is fantastic.
Sharp, clean and snappy.
But I can add a few words on the selection of tracks included.
The curious habit of having Kevin Elson re-mix tracks is puzzling and like 'Believe', it appears here again, with Kevin re-mixing a couple of the newer tracks.
Also the slant seems to be more on the bands' more recent works, with the debut Self Titled record featured only twice, Mood Swings featured with 3 tracks, Voice Of Reason represented twice and Believe featured 4 times.
The rest is a curious mix of a couple of tracks from Big Bang Theory re-mixed by Kevin Elson and left over tracks that have featured on recent singles, live albums (A re-mix of New Religion) and the Canadian version of the album.
I quite often here of many people hearing about the band and wondering what album would be a great place to start.
This is a difficult question because of their melodic diversity, so a Best Of would logically be a great place to start.
For fans that have to have everything, there are only a couple of bonuses here. for those that are borderline, I really don't think one extra track and the offer of a couple of new re-mixes is a reason to shell out a Japanese import price.
It also makes me wonder - what the hell is going to be on this B-Sides collection if there are already 3 EP's out now with unreleased stuff!!|
Wait and see I guess!
|PRODUCTION: 85%||SONGS: 83%||VIBE: 70%||ATTITUDE: 68%|
|WARNER JAPAN WPCR-2010|
Harem Scarem have a unique defining sound, yet seem to side step it with each album release.|
Each record has it's own style and the band have managed to record four studio album's without repeating themselves once while still integrating their key sounds - vocals, harmonies and the guitar sounds.
And once again the band have moved a little off center into new territory again.
On their debut, Harem Scarem instantly put themselves on the map with a pure Canadian burst of melodic power AOR.
With Mood Swings, the band took on the harder edge guitars and big vocals. With Voice Of Reason, it was a tough uncompromising modern record that held their great melodies, but a more complex song structure.
On Believe / Karma Cleansing the band continued their 90's friendly path but with parts of their past records incorporated into it. That record was almost a perfect cross breed between Voice Of Reason and Mood Swings.|
Now on Big Bang Theory the band have recorded an album that is similar in appeal and sound to Voice of Reason. Actually it seems to be a cross betweenthat album and Believe.
This is not as rigid as that record, in fact in places this is the loosest and grooviest I have heard the band. Raw and live in feel, this album is going to take a few listens for you to form an opinion.
After doing that I have decided that as good as it is, it is still not what many of the fans would ideally like to hear. It is another bloody good record that I love and will be playing a lot of in the weeks to come. But from the feedback received from the Fiore release, I think people would rather a more melodic Harem Scarem rather than the hard edged 90's friendly version on this record. So Blind opens with a crash and sees the band in a trashy punk pop mood, raw, live and melodic. Great party track.
That song sets the pace for the whole album. There is only one big slow ballad - the closing track In My State Of Mind. Tables Turning is a mid paced ballad with a huge chorus, but if you have Live At the Siren, you will know this already.
Climb The Gate is another great fast rocking track and one of the highlights. A little more layered and produced than the punkish opener and tracks like Turn Around and Reload.
Seas Of Dimension is a heavy and very moody mid paced tune that reminds me of the best parts of Voice Of Reason.
Sometimes I Wish and Lying are both in the loose, punkish rocking style.
Never Had It All is again heavily like Voice Of Reason in it's power ballad alternative style. Good track.
40 minutes later it is all over. I am left liking the album but wondering if it couldn't have been better. Not enough from a band that are capable of being the BEST bar none.
Accordingly, I have marked it lower than some other albums I have reviewed here that I don't like as much, but becasue these guys have the talent and money to produce better.
|PRODUCTION: 83%||SONGS: 75%||VIBE: 78%||ATTITUDE: 77%|
Hardly an official review, I just thought that I would mention this release available thru Lost Horizons.|
This is a single CD - an edited release - bootlegged from one of Journey's recent live dates in Japan. The CD quality is obviously questionable. As far as bootleg's go on a scale of 1 to 10, it's about a 5.
The songs are what I was interested in and more importantly, the vocals are performance of the band.
And what I can gather from this brief look at the band in action is that they still know how to rock and are still as smooth as a baby's bum.
BUT with Steve Augeri out front the vocals are a little different.
The vocals are not as strong as Steve Perry. Not that we really expected anyone to match the brilliance of Perry.
But they are strong and given time to adjust to his style, maybe the best choice of a replacement.
All the band need is more new tracks to include with the classics.
Remember Me is currently the only new track being showcased, and that is only on the double version of this bootleg. So I can't offer an opinion on that track.
All the classics are covered and if you are a die hard fan who really wants this - instead check out the 2CD version of the whole gig. Probably better in the long run.
|PRODUCTION: 15%||SONGS: 80%||VIBE: 60%||ATTITUDE: 70%|
Phil Lewis is the legendary vocalist behind LA Guns and has recently also released a long time coming debut album, for his side project 'Filthy Lucre'.|
Phil left LA Guns after the awesome and masterful Vicious Circle record. (Yeah, I know I go on about that record - but it's really COOL!)
LA Guns have recently released a crappy compilation, the Filthy Lucre was below average, and LA Guns have moved on to their second vocalist since Phil's departure. (Which looks promising for release soon), so I am in need of a good sleaze fix.
Unfortunately this is not to be. El Nino is a collection of songs in the more tripped out psychedelic pop rock style that featured on a couple of tracks from the Vicious Circle album.
I really don't think Phil's voice gets a good workout at all. There are a couple of acoustic pop ballads that aren't too bad, but overall, I am a little disappointed.
Stuff like Long Time Dead and Chasing The Dragon - just not as good.|
The album turns a little industrial/alternative on No Sell Out, but for the main, it is in that psychedelic pop vein.
So if you like the softer and more trippy Phil Lewis, go for it. Other wise, sit this one out and wait for the next one.
|PRODUCTION: 59%||SONGS: 43%||VIBE: 48%||ATTITUDE: 50%|
|WEA JAPAN WPCR-1736|
The Japanese really have the art of fan exploitation down to a fine art. For a good while they were the saviours of melodic rock, and still do at times come up with the goods to financee great bands to record once again.|
But in some cases they have too much control. Here is a prime example. Not 12 months since their last live record 'Live In Japan', Harem Scarem seemed to be filling the gap left by Mr. Big for AOR fans. One studio record - one live record - another studio record - ect. ect.
But sure enough - I have bought this record, so what place have I to complain? Well, there are a couple of angles.
First the good stuff. The band sound a million bucks, and the live sound/production is supurb. Also we have the bonus a two new studio tracks, that are set to preview the new album coming later this year.
Tables Turing is a great Harem Scarem classic, with a mid paced rock/ballad spiced up with a huge anthem like chorus. That like we have come to expact from the band.|
The second new tune is New Religion, which is from the more modern side of Harem Scarem's style. A real 90's flavoured track that is not as immediately classic as the first, but a real grower with a great chorus, and definate proof that the band are heading back into prime form.
Now my downsides - at 12 live tracks, it is abvious we are not getting the full show. Why not include a few extra tracks. I don't think you can ever cut a live record short.
And to add to that, one of the tracks is a cover, one an instrumental, and two of the tracks being the more alternative tracks left off the original Japanese release.
The other complaint is that there is a single for New Religion, which adds another couple of live tracks. In Japanese prices, that is always going to be a lot for a couple of live tracks. Why not add them to the original record?
For fans only - although it does sound great.
|PRODUCTION: 86%||SONGS: 84%||VIBE: 75%||ATTITUDE: 70%|
|MERCURY JAPAN PHCR-1591|
This is going to be one of the hardest album's to review this year. Mainly becasue every record Robert Plant has released, I have needed time to get into, and with him and Jimmy Page back into full creative flow - you know that this album is going to contain a lot to get one's head around.|
And from a few listens I have had so far, the above is certainly true. Walking Into Clacksdale sure is a lot to take in. The album is extremely tight, well played and very produced, with multi layered instruments and vocals throughout.
The best that I can do is describe some of the tracks, and the overall sound.
The first impression I get is that the album is a progression of Plant's last solo record, 'Fate Of Nations'. The vibe is similar, and the vocal style certainly familiar.
But - one big difference! Jimmy Page. While this album is definitely not hard rocking, Jimmy's presence is noticable from the first note. His unique sound and feel is all over this album, as you would hope! I can hear some new tricks as well as all the Zeppelin influences and also a couple from the 'Outrider' album.
Shining In The Light is a pleasant acoustic driven mid paced number, with some electric backing guitar in Zeppelin style.|
When The World Was Young has to be one of the picks of the album. A really moody and quiet intro, with whispering vocals from Plant, the track has an almost a new age feel before exploding into a rock chorus a la anthem style. Very solo Plant.
Upon A Golden Horse is more rocking, with Jimmy's full electric treatment.
Blue Train is agian very soft and subtle. A very restrained vocal.
Please Read The Letter gets some more grade A immy Page, and a very solo Plantish chorus of him mearly going oooooh ooooooh. Get what I mean?!
Most High is the first single, and maybe a more commercial number. There are some great effects and drum sounds going on through the song. The guitars are there, but listen for more. Also thrown in is some Irish influence.
Heart In Your Hand returns to the dark and broody style, where you really have to struggle to hear any form of chorus or verse. In need of an extended listening.
The title track is more a blues rock based tune, with some cool grooves from Jimmy. Still fairly soft, but more easily accessible.
Burning Up is more a traditional Zeppelin rocker. Not a frantic pace or anything, but compared to the other material, it rocks!
When I Was A Child is another painfully slow number with little guitar support until mid way through the song.
House Of Love is a real Zeppelin rocker, with a nice chorus and some fine playing from all round. Even a little 90's maybe. Some nice distortions and drum rhythms going on.
Sons Of Freedom is rocking again with some inspired vocals and guitar. Again, fairly contemporary.
Whiskey From The Glass finishes off the Japanese release, with another tip of the hat towards the 90's. It seems the guys have saved the most uptempo and adventurous songs till last.
The band is rounded out by fellow Plant buddies Charlie Jones on bass and Michael Lee on drums.
I have mixed feelings so far. I like the songs and the feel of it, but I really think it could have been a more uptempo affair. Too many lite and mellow numbers, not enough Jimmy.
I have just re-marked this album, as after 2 weeks it has not grown on me much at all.
|PRODUCTION: 80%||SONGS: 60%||VIBE: 51%||ATTITUDE: 55%|
Glenn Hughes is one guy I don't have to preach about.|
Everyone knows what a fine and brilliant singer and songwriter he is, and what fine albums he has recorded over the past dozen years, and even back to his early days with Deep Purple.
His most recent ressurection has seen him record 3 studio and one live album for Zero Corporation in Japan. If you haven't got those albums already - then shame on you!
And I presume, from Glenn's following, that most already do have those albums, which make this one kind of pointless.
Yep, unless you are an absolute perfectionist (me), there is little point to owning this record. Every track has been lifted from Glenn's past four albums, and the acoustic Coast To Coast is from a recent EP. This best of is purely a contract filler, and at only 14 tracks is still about 5 tracks short of good value. Why not a few unreleased live or demo tracks? Why not dig a little deeper.
I certainly do not question any of the songs, because they all rate very highly. In fact the whole ratin here is directed at Zero, not at Glenn himself.
Glenn is quoted as disliking his European Empire records released 'Best Of', which leaves one to wonder what he would have to say about this, as the other Best Of is miles ahead of this one! (It includes some side project stuff)|
I have bought a copy, but I can't see that it is of much use to the majority of fans, who already have the studio albums.
|PRODUCTION: 85%||SONGS: 88%||VIBE: 60%||ATTITUDE: 35%|
|ZERO CORPORATION XRCN-2019|
When it comes to Zeno Roth, it is best to sum his work up with the title from a Jim Steinman/Meatloaf song 'Everything Louder Than Everything Else'. That just about sums it up!|
Yes, the mighty Zeno is back with a new record and takes up where he left off with his 1994 abum 'Zenology'.
This time around a few things have changed. Zenology used the band Fair Warning to provide much of the instrumental backup, with singer Michael Flexig. That, and the fact the album was recorded over a few years.
On 'Listen To The Light' vocalist Flexig is back, and in tremendous voice, while Zeno plays all of the instruments himself. The album, although a long time coming was recorded in the one time frame.
This has helped Zeno create a smoother running and slightly more consistant record than Zenology. Even though that album had no bad tracks on it, this new album runs through the tracks with a more even pace.
The style hasn't changed much though, and from the first track we are blown away with these huge bombastic guitar chords and soaring vocals.
There are three instrumentals here, amongst the 14 tracks. Not sure I get into those completely, I prefer vocal tracks, but they don't get in the way at all.|
With one look through the cover booklet, it is fairly clear that Zeno is on a higher plane than most of us! He seems to have some very strong spritual belief's, some of which come through in the lyrics.
Highlight tracks include the awesome and completely over the top 'Love In Your Eyes', the equally over the top ballads 'I Would Die For You' and 'Light Of The Morning', along with the rockers 'Eden On Fire' and the bonus track 'Walking On A Thin Line'.
A good and slightly more consistant record that once again serves as a vechile for Zeno's talents and dare I say indulgences.
Buy it if you love everything louder than everything else, and bigger too!
|PRODUCTION: 84%||SONGS: 81%||VIBE: 80%||ATTITUDE: 82%|
|MERCURY JAPAN PHCR-1590|
I always look forward to any Sykes release, as John has such a great and original sound. However, the last 'Sykes' band effort didn't get much play time with me, as I just didn't think the songs were that great. Not after Blue Murder anyway.|
The Loveland was a good return to form with sound and song quality, but this rock album was to be the real decider.
And thankfully John Sykes has returned to his almost best with a collection of heavy, modern and hard rocking guitar ruled anthems. I say modern, because on 20th Century, Sykes sounds as 90's as he is ever possibly going to. There is hints of distorted guitars, punk riff's and a general looseness to the whole affair.
But the quality of the production is unquestionable, as there are his usual 30 layers of solos and vocal harmonies soaring over the top of it all. That is what I love about his style - always plenty to listen to!
Look In His Eyes and 20th Century are both high paced guitar obsessed anthems with a couple of great multi-layered choruses, and plenty for all Sykes fans. I Get Around is a little rougher and something a little different. |
2 Counts slow things down for the first time, but not in ballad form, it actually slows for a truely heavy riff to bleed throught he speakers.
Defcon 1 goes stright back to overdrive mode, with a million mile per hour riff and kick drum pattern. Close to some of the old heavy Blue Murder tracks.
System Ain't Working is a great melodic punkish track, with a cleaver chorus you have to listen for.
The Way You Kiss Me is a good fun track and a little more straight forward. Another cool chorus.
Found What I Needed is an okay song, a little break from the pace of the rest of the record. Not that it is slow - just a little different. Cautionary Warning cranks it back up again, a heavy guitar riff and fast verse vocal, and no real chorus. Great guitars though!
Touched By Evil isn't as heavy as you might think, it's actually a great more laid back track, with a restrained chorus.
So that's it - as usual, John Sykes comes in does his thing, plays his heart and guts out, and leaves us without overstaying his welcome, or not knowing when to stop. At 10 tracks, I say he has it about right. Too many more songs and the guitar overload would kick in. After all there is only so many riffs and solo's you can fit on one record.
With 20th Century, Sykes has crammed in everything possible. Buy it if you love Sykes, or love huge monsterous productions and guitars!
Maybe it was a good idea to carve his latest sessions into a rock and a ballad album. Combining the both may have been too much. Now you can select either, depending on the mood.
|PRODUCTION: 86%||SONGS: 81%||VIBE: 84%||ATTITUDE: 90%|
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-60117|
This is not the stuff I can easily get into. I struggled to get through a few listens, as it just irritated me!|
The London Quireboys were original sort of UK sleeze rockers, with some cleaver lyrics and at least a little melody. God's Hotel, featuring lead singer Spike, has gone way into 90's alternative territory, exploring a little grunge, some punk, alternative rhythms and distorted vocal effects. So much so that's Spike's once distinctive vocals barely get a life to breathe from.
Skin has only the sheer punk chorus to keep it afloat, while Beauty Queen lacks even that.
Fear Within The Lie, has a desperate balladish feel to it, but still the vocals are stretched. Hole sounds like something from Offspring, and Mercy Or Murder is almost punk meets Reggae.
I can't go any futher, as the rest isn't any better than the above.|
For fans of the Quireboys, this isn't going to spark any new joy.
I really can't get into it at all. For someone that is looking for something a little more adventurous and don't mnd the alternative experimantal mish mash thing, then maybe you will get something from God's Hotel.
|PRODUCTION: 70%||SONGS: 37%||VIBE: 28%||ATTITUDE: 40%|
|MERCURY JAPAN PHCR-1540||1. Everything I Need 2. Didn't we Say 3. Don't Hurt Me This Way 4. Hold The Line 5. Thank You For The Love 6. Wuthering Heights 7. Till The Day I Die 8. Haunted 9. I'll Be Waiting 10. Don't say Goodbye||
|Total Score 80%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 75%|
It's always nice to see a new John Sykes record, because he has that great guitar/vocal and production quality. A unique sound to say the least.|
The last Sykes album 'Out Of My Tree' was a little average, so I was a bit unsure where this album would go. This time around it's a little different. 'Loveland' is an album of ballads and mid paced pop/rock songs.
There are a range of guest musicians featured, including one Tony Franklin - the original Blue Murder bass player. One can only hope for a re-union there!
But, onto the album in question! I have always liked Sykes' ballads, and 'Loveland' is no different. Over the ten tracks, there are a few pace changes, but essentially they are all laid back mood tunes.
And enjoyable tunes at that. The opening track spells out what is ahead: nice melodies, a smooth vocal, some background guitars, and a pleasant chorus.
'Don't Hurt Me This Way' is a reworking of the Thin Lizzy track 'Please Don't Leave Me', and features the vocals of Phil Lynott. A classic track and really well done version.
'Wuthering Heights' thankfully is an original and thankfully not a cover of the Kate Bush tune.
The album weaves it's way through the tracks with no real standouts, but not because there are no classics, just because they are all as good as each other.
This album is one for all fans of John Sykes, and for those who thought he was too over the top or too heavy for AOR - you should take up the challenge and listen to this album.
You may just be surprised at what a class act John Sykes can be.
|21 GUNS/NOTHING'S REAL|
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-60176||1. No Soul 2. Underground 3. Kings Vengeance 4. Come On In 5. U and I 6. Nothing's Real 7. Movin' On 8. Mister Mofo 9. Wolves 10. The Other Side||
|Total Score 74%||Production 81%||Songs 72%||Vibe 73%||Attitude 77%|
It's been another case of major label screwing that caused 21 Guns from ever doing bigger things than they did.|
their debut from several years ago was nothing short of astounding. The songs were glorious and the melodies and moody ballads just magic. The rockers weren't bad either!
But unfortunately 21 Guns did not quite survive intact, and in their current form, they have a new vocalist. In comes ex-Psycho Motel and Sons Of Angels vocalist Solli.
The great Scott Gorham still covers the guitars.
The few years break has also changed the sound of 21 Guns a little. They are still great melodic rockers and still as powerful as ever in their delivery, but this time a little more towards a 90's feel.
There are two things that have dissapointed me with this album, although it still remains a very good solid album.
I don't think the songs are as strong, and I don't think Solli is near as good a singer as Thomas La Verdi (Anyone know where he is?!)
The songs on 'Salute' were original, powerful and hard hitting, where as on 'Nothing's Real', if feel there is nothing that I couldn't get somewhere else.
The opener is as good as anything on the album - a good strong melodic rock track, as good as anything from the Sons Of Angels album.
'King's Vengeance', a cover of the Thin Lizzy track is also a highlight.
'Come On In' is a solid mid paced rock track, and 'U and I' is probably the pick of the album. This is the closest the band come to the brilliance of the debut.
'Moving On' is another melodic highlight.
Apart from that, the other tracks are pretty much good solid hard rock, but standard stuff.
The sound is a little 21 Guns, a little Sons Of Angels and a little 90's European rock.
|NELSON/THE SILENCE IS BROKEN|
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-60174||1. Ghostdance 2. Say It Isn't So 3. Why Oh Why? 4. You Talk To Much 5. Sunset Strip 6. What About Me 7. The Silence Is Broken 8. L.O.V.E. Me Not 9. Running Out Of Time 10. Tears Of Pain 11. Love Me Today Part II||
|Total Score 88%||Production 89%||Songs 84%||Vibe 91%||Attitude 92%|
Nelson have really struck the right chord here. This is the perfect album from the guys. Album number four has balanced the great melodies they have become known for, with added power and a selection of great strong songs.|
The first half of the record is a real roller coaster ride, something I wasn't prepared for! First track Ghostdance takes you by surprise, as the sound is tougher, the production sharp, and the guys sound great. A great rock track with a huge chorus.
Say It Isn't So and the awesome You Talk To Much continue at an almost frantic pace, all of them uptempo rockers, with big sing along choruses. Great stuff! Why Oh Why? in the middle there slows things down for a couple of minute with a Nelson tribute to the Beatles.
Sunset Strip continues the rock fest with a cleaver rapping beat.
Track six, What About Me is the first sign of any real slow down. the band strip it right back for an acoustic country ballad, complete with twang guitar and all. They do quite a respectable country tune!
The title track is a big moody soaring ballad, but while being a ballad, still maintains the toughness of this record and cuts loose with some great guitar toward the end.
Then it's back into party mode, with a few of the heaviest tracks I have heard from Nelson. The album ends with a classy big Nelson ballad, which is followed by a hidden track of some gal singing some cheesy country tune. Pretty funny stuff.
The Silence Is Broken is more guitars, bigger production, great songs and choruses, and a huge mother of a production. Much what I said about the last album 'Imaginator', just this time, they have done it even better.
|RICHIE SAMBORA/UNDISCOVERED SOUL|
|MERCURY JAPAN PHCR-1565||1. Made In America 2. Hard Times Come Easy 3. Fallen From Graceland 4. You're Not Alone 5. Undiscovered Soul 6. In It For Love 7. If God Was A Woman 8. All That Really Matters 9. Chained 10. Downside Of Love 11. Harlem Rain 12. Who I Am 13. All That Really Matters (Reprise/Bonus Track)||
|Total Score 84%||Production 92%||Songs 89%||Vibe 81%||Attitude 85%|
Richie's solo debut is to this day as legendary as the week it was released in 1991. I would pick that album to listen to 100 times over, before choosing any Bon Jovi record. It was a really classy example of slick anthem rock belended with a little AOR and blues.|
There was little doubt that this album, coming some 6 years after that debut, would be a lot rootsier, earthy and acoustic driven, given that in that time music style has changed dramatically, and slick AOR is hardly the fasion. Add to that, pop supremo producer Don Was, and you know what the result will be.
True to those predictions, Undiscovered Soul is an album chock full of great melodic guitar driven tracks, all delivered with the smooth professionalism of the vetren Sambora. Made In America opens the album's account, with a mid paced electric guitar driven anthem of sorts. Straight up, the album sounds more in line with a classic John Mellencamp release, than Bon Jovi.
Hard Times Come easy, is the first single and is a free flowing up tempo rocker, with nice sing along chorus. easily the most commercial number of the album.
Fallen From Graceland is a fine romantic ballad, softly sung with a great chorus. Richie turns on the vocal effects mike for 'You're Not Alone', a mid paced rocker. The title track is a nearly 8 minute long moody slow to mid paced ballad, with some of the more intelligent song writing of Sambora's career.
From here the record relaxes a little, witht the acoustic only ballad 'In It For Love'. 'If God Was A Woman' cranks things up again, a rollicking stripped raw rocker.
'All That Really Matters' is another stripped back ballad, while 'Chained' is a mid paced more commercial pop rock song.
'Dark Side Of Love' is a blues soaked ballad, with some nice laid back slide guitar and 'Harlem Rain' is a soft acoustic pop ballad, it has a very relaxed feel to it. Who I Am is the last track on the album, a 7 minute plus moody rocker, and one of the more original tracks I have heard. An adventurous song, with little connection to anything Richie has recorded before. Great song.
The Japanese version ends with a smoother softer reprise of the track 'All That Really Matters'.
All said and done, this is another class release from the true talent behind Bon Jovi. The album has few comparisons to Sambora's debut, yet once again I would pick this over any Bon Jovi record.
A stripped back, guitar driven acoustic rock record that is another excellent showcase for Sambora's talents. I still favour 'Stranger In Town', but not by much.
|KIP WINGER/ANOTHER WAY|
|DOMO RECORDS JAPAN DJCY-7004||1. Another Way 2. Down Incognito 3. Under One Condition 4. Miles Away 5. Steam 6. Headed For A Heartbreak 7. How Far Will We Go 8. Naked Son 9. Spell I'm Under 10. Easy Come Easy Go 11. Who's The One 12. Daniel||
|Total Score 91%||Production 93%||Songs 90%||Vibe 89%||Attitude 89%|
Free from the constraints of what a major label record company wanted of him, Kip Winger flexed his creative muscle a little over 18 months ago now, and created one of the finest slick pop rock records this decade.|
I will be the first to admit I never thought the guy hads it in him. The fine instrumentation, the unparralled vocals, intelligent lyrics and smash hot production.
In a pause between albums, Kip has recorded in the studio, a collection of his songs, both from Thiscoversation, and from all three Winger albums.
The only new track is the opening number 'Another Way', another class song that shows just how far Kip's songwriting has come. it is really a class above the Winger years. This acoustic album was recorded in the studio with the aid of Robbie Rothchild, Noble Kime, Mark Archer plus a cameo from Andy Timmons, and is just about perfect.
From the classic Winger tracks of Heading For A Heartbreak, Down Incognito, Miles Away, Easy Come Easy Go and the classy Who's The One; throught to the new classics like the masterpiece How Far Will We Go and the awesome Steam and Naked Son.
Where as I had never given Winger that much credit, apart from the vastly underrated Pull record. I can now not sing high enough praises.
Truely a talented musician who has really come of age, and will now hopefully go on to get the widespread recognition that he deserves.
If the Winger re-union comes about, I think there will be a real potential for a record of immense proportions.
|PAUL GILBERT/KING OF CLUBS|
|ATLANTIC JAPAN AMCY-2483||1. Champagne 2. Vinyl 3. Girls Who Can Read Your Mind 4. I'm Just In Love 5. The Jig 6. Girlfriend's Birthday 7. Bumblebee 8. Streetlights 9. My Naomi 10. Double Trouble 11. Million Dollar Smile 12. The Jam 13. I Do (Bonus Track)||
|Total Score 88%||Production 92%||Songs 90%||Vibe 88%||Attitude 94%|
What would you expect Paul Gilbert to release as his debut solo record?|
I thought it would be a nice collection of safe acoustic driven numbers, all wrapped up in a nice little parcel. But I still considered it an essential purchase, being a die hard Mr Big fan.
And bugger me if this isn't a rocking ol' record of awesome pumped up originals that puts to shame some other solo projects out there.
From the first bar of this great album, Paul Gilbert lets us know who is in control. Guitars rule the day.
Champagne is a tremendous guitar driven rock song, with Paul's vocals stronger than ever. There is definately influences from The Beatles, being that this album is full of short deliberate feel good rockers, with the hint of acoustic and psychedelic overtones.
The lyrics are very much matured, leaving me wondering why Paul doesn't get more writing space on the Mr Big records. Vinyl is as lyrically cleaver as it is musically original.
The melodies that carry this album are brilliant. All that an AOR fan could want.
Hooks, layers, melodies and riffs!
Girls Who Can Read Your Mind is a great mid paced ballad with another melody lovers chorus.
I'm Just In Love is a big rock track, with a killer riff.
The Jig is a two minute classical guitar piece that could almost fit on Richie Blackmore's current 'Blackmore's Night' album.
The other interesting piece is the album's last track (unless you get this Japanse version), 'The Jam'. I was enjoying this instrumental piece, listening to Paul go off, when it just seemed to keep going. Indeed it did - for just under 20 minutes! Some Jam!!
The bonus track is a nice little acoustic ballad, but if you are not willing to shell out for the Jap import, it is coming to a US release soon.
Which ever way you do pick this album up, Mr Big fan or not, just pick it up, because you will get a dozen or so tracks of pure melodic rock brilliance.
|LED ZEPPELIN TRIBUTE|
|ATLANTIC JAPAN||1. Black Dog 2. Communication Breakdown 3. Rock And Roll 4. Stairway To Heaven 5. Going To California 6. Heartbreaker 7. Immigrant Song 8. The Song Remains The Same 9. Whole Lotta Love 10. Good Times Bad Times 11. Kashmir||
Featuring the vocals of...
|Total Score 75%||Production 85%||Songs 95%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 80%|
I have never taken to these tribute albums in a big way, but this ain't too bad at all. Featuring the talents of Tim Pierce, James Kottak and Jeff Pilson as a base unit, and adding the talents of a range of guest vocalists and guitarists. Apart from the above listed vocalists, and the base band, you can also add Slash, Ricky Phillips and Vivian Campbell to the mix.|
The problem with a few of these tribute albums (in my opinion), is that the songs picked by the artists are of the most obscure, just to be bloody trendy or clever or something. Just check out the Rush and Queen tribute albums.
The production has also been patchy to say the least. Not so here.
The whole shebang has been compiled and produced by Keith Olsen, and with a core band supplying most of the music, it is one sharp and snappy affair.
The songs are also more obviously hits. They are easily the more known of the immense Zeppelin catalogue.
The highlight of this album is the vocal performances. For rock n roll perfection, you can't go past the awesome Lou Gramm. And to appear on three tracks makes it so much moe worthwhile than the standard one track guest spot. So often we are forced to shell out for an album, for maybe only one track.
That is where this Led Zeppelin Tribute earns more points. Lou features on three tracks, Sebastian Bach on two, Lita Ford on two and Zakk Wylde on two.
All round great performances, great songs (naturally) and a solid hard rocking production. Recommended!
|FOREVER MOD-ROD STEWART TRIBUTE/VARIOUS/|
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-60145||1. Dynamite (Spike) 2. Gasoline Alley (John Corabi) 3. I'm Losing You (Steven Pearcy) 4. Reason To Believe (Eddie Money) 5. Every Picture Tells A Story ( Robin McAuley) 6. You're In My Heart (Paul Shortino) 7. I Was Only Joking (Jani Lane) 8. Stay With Me (Spike) 9. Hot Legs (Orpheous) 10. Maggie May (John Corabi) 11. Rock My Plimsol (Jeff Pilson) 12. The Killing Of Georgie (Gilby Clarke) 13. Do Ya Think I'm Sexy (IML) 14. Let me Love You (Eric Singer) 15. Tonight's The Night (Last Of The Hard Men)||
|Total Score 65%||Production 75%||Songs 80%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 70%|
Basically, tribute albums have the real potential to suck! There are a few good ones out there, and this happens top be one of them.|
Featuring the usual bunch of suspects, there are a few surprises, and a few tragic tracks, but also a few rippers as well!
Featuring much of Warrant, Ratt, 90's Kiss, Raven with also Paul Shortino, Eddie Money, Robin McCauley, Phil Soussan Spike and a host of others.
the production is more solid than some other tribute albums recently, and the songs more generally known.
Highlights include the Eddie Money sung 'Reson To Believe' (also on his new compilation), the two Spike (from London Quireboys) sung tracks 'Dynamite' and 'Stay With Me', the Paul Shortino sung 'You're In My Heart' and the two great John Corabi sung tunes 'Gasoline Alley' and 'Maggie May'.
Surprises include the almost hard techno/industrial version of 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy', which despite my hate for that sound, I quite liked!
the biggest dissapointment was the debut of the 'Last Of The Hard Men' featuring Sebastian 'Lost the Plot' Bach. Their version of 'Tonight's The Night' almost put me to sleep. Good thing it ended the album and not started it.
I don't know who this album will appeal to, but I bought it, so anything is possible! A good party album and great if you like Rod Stewart, but if you are not quite committed - wait for an indie US release thru D Rock, before paying the Jap import price!
|JOHN NORUM/WORLD'S AWAY|
|ZERO CORPORATION||1. Manic Depression 2. Make A Move 3. C.Y.R. 4. Where The Grass Is Green 5. Center Of Blance 6. Dogs Are Barking 7. Homeland 8. Wasted Labor 9. World's Away 10. Endica 11. From Outside In (Bonus Track For Japan)||
|Total Score 70%||Production 70%||Songs 55%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 60%|
This is John Norums's forth solo record after leaving Europe in the eighties.
His first album was great, even if fairly close to Europe's formula, but it was on
his second album that he really hit the mark. Employing Glenn Hughes to sing
and co-write was the best move John could ever make.
The album was as solid as any hard rock release in the last several years.
Infact e trade mark of the last two solo records has been the incredible guitar
sound, it has been as heavy and as thick as you could wish for.
The last album was a little hit and miss, as John wasn't sure what direction he
should go in, with hard rock, blues and instrumentals all included.
Hard rock is definitely where John Norum goes off, so he should stick to it.
Now with his new album he has a more focussed and consistent sound, but I'm
not sure whether it's the production of Jeff Glixman that let's him down, or purely
the fact the songs aren't there.
Probably a little of both. The band is as tight as could want, with Kelly Kealing on
vocals again, Simon Wright on drums and Peter Baltes on bass, but the
approach is not as tough, and the songs just don't grab you like they should.
Opener Manic Distortion is a good opener, but the second track immediately
halts the pace. The third track is reminiscent of Kelly's experience in Blue
Murder, but again, the forth track halts the pace again.
Other highlights are the ballad 'Homeland', and the rockers 'Dogs Are Barking'
and 'From Outside In' (Japanese Bonus Track).
John's playing is superb as always, even without the added punch, but I have
never been convinced Kealing is a great singer, despite singing well on the last
album. On this record he reconfirms what I originally thought - he just sounds
He would do better to sing like Glenn Hughes, like on the previous 'Unknown
If you want a John Norum record, go out and get 'Face The Truth' with Glenn
Hughes, then go and buy all Glenn's records!!|
|JOHN NORUM/FACE IT LIVE '97|
|ZERO CORPORATION XRCN-2011||1. Face The Truth 2. Night Buzz 3. Make A Move 4. Good Man Shining 5. Wishing Well 6. Where The Grass Is Green 7. Ressurrection Time 8. Opium Trial 9. In Your Eyes 10. Blind 11. C.Y.R. 12. Guitar Solo 13. Heart Of Stone 14. From Outside In 15. Let Me Love You 16. Scream of Anger||
|Total Score 60%||Production 80%||Songs 75%||Vibe 55%||Attitude 50%|
It is clear that John Norum considers his 'Face The Truth' album as the best thing he has ever recorded (it is!). Of the set list recorded here, half the album is featured.|
It is a little unfortunate then, that Glenn Hughes couldn't lend a hand to record this live album. Oh well, at least Kelly Kealing is singing - he's the next best option (having sung on the last 2 records).
But what is this? No Glen? No Kelly?
Yep, Leif Sundin moves in to tour Japan with John, and what you get is unfortunately some much weaker renditions of some classic Norum tunes.
Sundin has an okay voice, but having to fill in and sing tracks from four Norum albums, and having three of those sung by two of the best singers out there - leaves him coming up short.
The sound is fantastic, as we have come to expect from Zero Corp and their live albums, but the singing just isn't as strong as it should be.
Norum sounds great on guitar, and the solos and riffing is as chunky as you could wish for. And the songs are a good selection.
But at the end of the day, you have to listen to the vocals to get through, and if you are a perfectionist, it may well be the thing to put you off buying this.
I would rather hang out for a Greatest Hits compilation, or just wait for a re-union with Hughes or Kealing, and hope there is another live album.
Strange also that Norum never utters a word, leaving it all up to Sundin.
|WHITESNAKE/STARKERS IN TOKYO|
|EMI JAPAN TOCP-50314||1. Sailing Ships 2. Too Many Tears 3. The Deeper The Love 4. Love Ain't No Stranger 5. Can't Go On 6. Give Me All Your Love 7. Don't Fade away 8. Is This Love 9. Here I Go Again 10. Soldier Of Fortune||
Most Recent Discography
|Total Score 78%||Production 75%||Songs 85%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 75%|
Before casting judgement on this album, to judge it, you must be in the mood for it!|
Initially, I wasn't - and subsequently, I found it a little boring.
But after a few listens, and one in particular, when I needed something a little more laid back, I found new appreciation for what really is a showcase for some very fine tunes.
Whitesnake in this instance is mearly David Coverdale and Adrian Vandenburg, playing to a polite auditorium of Japanese fans. One vocalist, one acoustic guitarist, and 10 of Whitesnake's finest tunes.
So if you haven't got the innuendo by now, let me spell it out. You don't get much more laid back or softer than this. It is quiet, restrained and subdued. A couple of the tracks are slowed down, but all of them are stripped right back. The only guiding force is the vocals of DC. There is no shouting or screaming of lines, just straight singing.
It is a fairly emotion charged set of songs, with hits from 1987, Slip Of The Tongue, Slide It In and a few new tracks off Restless Heart.
If you are buying this, be warned - it is stripped and raw. But if you are a fan of Whitesnake like I am, then this record offers new insights into how the tunes were originally composed.
Great for fans, but I doubt it would create any new ones.
|NIGHT RANGER - ROCK IN JAPAN|
|ZERO CORPORATION XRCN-2004||1. Neverland 2. Touch Of Madness 3. My Elusive Mind 4. Sing Me Away 5. Someday I Will 6. Brad Gillis Guitar Solo 7. Rumours In The Air 8. Jeff Watson Guitar Solo 9. Eddie's Coming Out Tonight 10. Sentimental Street 11. Goodbye 12. Forever All Over Again 13. Slap Like Being Born 14. When You Close Your Eyes 15. New York Time 16. Don't Tell Me You Love Me 17. Sister Christian 18. (You Can Still) Rock In America||
|Total Score 95%||Production 95%||Songs 100%||Vibe 95%||Attitude 99%|
Well, they have done it before, with 'Live In Japan' and here they are again, almost 10 years later. And you know what? These classics souns better than ever.|
Zero Corporation sure know how to turn on a great production. They seem to have a knack of really capturing an artist with maximum volume and the crispest of sound. Just check out Glenn Hughes' 'Burning Japan Live'.
Recorded on tour in the East, earlier this year, Night Ranger put on the greatest hits show and combine it with their latest 'Neverland' record. Sounding like they were never apart, the band don't skip a beat in turning out the classics and the solo's. And roll out the classics they do, with almost the entire 'Live In Japan' album repeated here, but with a new freshness, and that great production. The new tracks are a tru highlight for me, with the title track 'New York Time', 'Forever All Over Again', 'Someday I Will' and my personal favourite 'My Elusive Mind' all included.
There is the obligatory acoustic set midway throught he show, featuring a piano driven 'Sentimental Street' (awesome) and acoustic 'Goodbye' and 'Forever...'.
Great songs, great vibe, awesome harmonies as always, and an even more improved sound over it's predecessor. And at 75 minutes, you are not going to find better value, even at a Japanese price.
The only complaint I have is that, the show has been cut (even though you cannot tell), from the two hour origianal, complete with covers and extra tracks. Now if I had my way, it woul dbe a complete uncut double CD release (at a single CD price of course!!).
How about it Zero?
|TEN - THE ROBE|
|ZERO JAPAN||1. The Robe 2. Bright On The Blade 3. Standing On The Edge Of Time 4. Virtual Reality 5. Arcadia 6. Battletimes 7. You're In My Heart 8. Fly Like An Eagle 9. Ten Fathoms Deep 10. Someday||
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 80%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 79%|
Full credit to Ten, for this is their third album in as many years. It is their first album outside the original recording sessions that netted their debut and the 'Name Of The Rose' album.|
It is both good and bad news that their is nothing remarkably different with the new album. The biggest surprise is the heaviness of the album, with Vinny Burns really 'going off' in places. The title track for example is an epic, moody, uptempo number, far heavier than any track on the previous two records.
In fact, the heavy metalesque riffs don't abate until half way through the record, where it gives way, to more familiar styles.
However heavy the songs get, there is no mistaking the style. Still laiden with more riffs, layers, melodies, harmonies than most compeditors, Gary Hughes knows how to write complex tunes.
The songs on 'The Robe' are more to the point than the previous 'Name Of The Rose' album. But they are also more complex than the debut. There is still room for the occassional epic, as demonstrated on 'The Robe' and 'Arcadia', but generally the songs are shorter.
The downside for me, is the sameness between the songs, a problem on all three albums I think.
Gary Hughes is a fine talent, but is never going to be an awesome singer. Instead me makes great use of what range he has. But that is what will seperate Ten from other legendary AOR/ Hard Rock acts - An outstanding vocalist.
If you liked the previous two albums, then this will become another favourite. If you didn't, then there is not a lot new here. I think the fourth album wil need to be a real departure for the band in order to reach new fans. Only time will tell.
|LA GUNS/HOLLYWOOD REHERSAL|
|POLYGRAM JAPAN||1. I Feel Nice (Psyclone Rangers) 2. High On You (Iggy Pop) 3. Strange Boat (Waterboys) 4. Gunslinger (Bogie Boys) 5. Rip Off (T-Rex) 6. Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Clash) 7. Custard Pie (Led Zeppelin) 8. Rock Candy (Montrose) 9. All The Way (LA Guns) 10. Guilty (Rudie Rivare) 11. Long Time Dead (LA Guns) 12. Dangerous Games (Phil Lewis)||
|Total Score 29%||Production 15%||Songs 19%||Vibe 22%||Attitude 30%|
Whoever thought up this half baked idea should be shot.|
LA Guns in their original form, were brilliant and the best example of what a true band's attitude should be. Just check out the awesome Vicious Circle.
But this compilation of B-grade out takes and a couple of unreleased left overs realy does leave a bad taste in my mouth.
These songs are purely being used to cash in on the past glories of this once great band. The thing that should have been remembered, if these songs haven't been released by now - there is a reason for it!!
The original line up is long since split, and these songs should have been left burried. The production is substandard, and I suspect most of the tunes came from the early days. The album is subtitled 1987-1992, but the only track I can see from a recent era is the acoustic remix of Long Time Dead (still a great tune, but not worth the price of admission alone).
Stear clear unless you are an absolute die hard.
|MOTHERS ARMY/PLANET EARTH|
|FEMS - APCY-8390||1. Circle Of Hands 2. Cradle To The Grave 3. Misery Me 4. Planet Earth 5. For The Moment 6. Seas Of Eternity 7. The Child Within 8. One Common Law 9. Mother Earth||
|Total Score 75%||Production 85%||Songs 70%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 75%|
Mucically, there is nothing more challenging than to attempt a concept album. Critically, there is none braver thing to write, as seldomly are any concept releases than acheive high acclaim.|
But that is exactly what has happened here. The band that features some great talents in Joe Lynn Turner, Jeff Watson of Night Ranger, Bob Daisley and Carmine Appice have attempted to record a complex musical and lyrical statement. To my surprise, the whole shebang has been written by Watson and Daisley. It has obviously been a pet project of Jeff Watson, and it would seem he has total control over this record, being the producer also.
Even with the fact this is a concept record, the sound and style of 'Planet Earth', is nothing at all like the first Mothers Army record. There was critisism of Joe Lynn Turner's voice on that record, with claims that it was shot for good. It was also a musically harsh record, although I really enjoyed it. It had an original sound that had not been copied from anyone.
With 'Planet Earth' Joe is in fine voice. I actually have not heard him sing like this before. Apart from a few bursts, his vocals are very restrained, almost to a whisper on some tracks. His voice has no sign of hoarsness that featured on the last album.
The music and lyrics wind themselves through nine tracks, telling the story of the peril the planet is in today. It is a laid back sound, with a few uptempo tracks spread between the more haunting songs. 'Circle Of Hands' kicks the album off in fine style, with Joe sounding smooth as ever, and the music powerful without being over-bearing.
'Cradle...' is more atmospheric, while 'Misery Me' is up tempo without any huge chorus. And so it continues, with acoustic tracks and some outstanding harmonies from Jeff Watson.
The whole time, the record retains an air of mystery, and manages to be quite restrained, while never becoming boring. I would say that Jeff Watson's own solo album 'Around The Sun' has more in common with 'Planet Earth', than it's predcessor.
I also caution that this wil not be everyone's thing, as it is quite different. Also - at only 45 minutes and 9 tracks, a Japanese price tag will push the value for money point. But being a previous fan, I find this album quite enjoyable. As a concept album it suceeds okay, but again I would suggest having a listen before buying. Go check out the SoundBytes page for a sample.
|ZERO CORPORATION JAPAN||1. Angels Of Heaven 2. Save Me 3. All On Your Own 4. I'll Be There 5. Man On The Moon 6. Without You 7. Follow My Heart 8. River Of Love 9. Somewhere 10. Eyes Of A Stranger 11. Sailing Home 12. The Way You Want It 13. The Love Song||
|Total Score 85%||Production 85%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 80%|
Heavier than I thought, this new Fair Warning album. They are a great bunch of musicians these guys and sure know how to write a catchy song. Their sound is original, as they have ther own brand of high energy anthem filled hard rock. Big vocals, big choruses, and big guitars. Great vocals right through these songs, which will appeal to any fan of big stadium rock. The band have backed Zeno on his solo outtings, an also his older brother Uli Jon Roth. If you are a fan of either of them, and don't have this yet - get it!!|
The sound is still heavily European in flavour, as these guys are from Germany. But the production is awesome, and the pace frantic, giving the listener some of the best melodic hard rock this year. There is hardly a filler amongst them, and the only reason I could give for someone not liking this, would be their dislike of European style hard rock, or big bombastic choruses and vocals. If you like this - go out and get the Zeno albums and also the last Fair Warning record 'Rainmaker'. Cool!
|HAREM SCAREM/BELIEVE SPECIAL EDITION|
|WARNER MUSCI JAPAN WPCR-1498||1. Believe* 2. Die Off Hard 3. Hail, Hail* 4. Staying Away* 5. Baby With A Nail Gun 6. Morning Grey* 7. Victim Of Fate* 8. Rain+ 9. I Won't Be There 10. Karma Cleansing 11. Cages# 12. The Mirror# 13. Surrender|
*Re-Mixed by Kevin Elson #From The Die Off Hard Japanese single +Full band version
|Total Score 90%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 85%||Attitude 90%|
Well, the Japanese are really starting to get a handle on the marketing techniques often used to piss of record buyers in the westen world. Unfortunatley, when the Japanese do it, it's at twice the price.|
'Believe - Special Edition' features 6 tracks re-mixed by the crown prince of sharp productions Kevin Elson.
The re-mixes are sharper and smoother than the original, with some added backing vocals and new vocal effects, and a couple of tracks varied in speed.
The 'bonus tracks' include two tracks featured on the 'Die Off Hard' Cd Single, 'Cages' and 'The Mirror'.
The only truely previously unreleased track is an okay cover of the Cheap Trick classic 'Surrender'. Not a great investment for the casual fan.
If you have the original version and not the single, then you will get 3 new tracks and the re-mixes, making it worthwhile.
If you have the Canadian version, you can get the extra tracks left off that album (Baby With A Nail Gun and Staying Away), and the bonus track, making it worth while.
If you already have both - forget it!
|NEXUS INTERNATIONAL KICP-542||1. Walk On Water 2. My Shell 3. Minds Eye 4. Train Song 5. Here and Gone 6. Soul To Soul 7. Save Me 8. Lie 9. Ticket ||
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 65%||Vibe 75%||Attitude 80%|
|Cage is the brain child of ex-XYZ vocalist Terry Ilous and gutarist Jeff Northrup. So with such a dominant vocalist involved you could only expect that this is a 90's extension on XYZ. However ther are also a few differences.|
This is definately an album for fans of 90's style hard rock. It is a very contemporary sounding record, yet retains enough melody, both in the music and the voice, to hold fans of XYZ.
Guests on the record to compliment Terry and Jeff include Sean McNabb, James Kottack, Tony Franklin, Vinnie Appice, Carmine Appice, Phil Sousan and Jeff Pilson of Dokken.
It's not a bad album at all overall, and one could not do much better if they wanted a 90's sounding heavy rock album, almost free of ballads (except for 'Lie'), and featuring a great melodic singer.
Stand out tracks are the ballad 'Lie', 'Walk On Water', 'My Shell' and the closing track 'Ticket' (a more 80's style hard rocker).
|ERIC MARTIN/SOUL SESSIONS:THE CAPITOL YEARS|
|EMI JAPAN TOCP-50048||1. Eyes Of The World# 2. If You Beleive Me+ 3. Everytime I Think Of You+ 4. I'm Only Fooling Myself+ 5. I Can't Relax+ 6. Confess+ 7. Lyin' In A Bed Of Fire# 8. Information# 9. Finders, Keepers# 10. She's Out For Blood# 11. Just One Night# 12. Love Scene*|
*Unreleased Track #From album 'Eric Martin' +From album 'I'm Only Fooling Myself'
|Total Score 75%||Production 80%||Songs 70%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 80%|
|I am a big fan of Eric, both in Mr. Big, and his solo work. This compilation is a combination of his two Capitol records releases in the 80's, before he joined Mr. Big, after deciding he didn't want to be the next Michael Bolton. Good move that Eric, cause that was definately the direction he was going in, especially on the 'Fooling Myself' tracks. But these are great songs, and a good indication of what a fine soulful voice Eric has got. Tracks like 'Everytime...', 'If You Beleive Me' and 'I Can't Relax', are as pure AOR as you are going to get, while the earlier tracks off the self titled album, have a harder edge to them. Combined together they offer a good balance. However, as the self titled album is already re-issued in Japan, and the three best songs from 'I'm Only Fooling Myself' are missing here, I would have liked to have seen that album released on it's own, just to complete my collection. There are also, a few other soundtrack songs from Eric out there, making the prospect of a rarities album, a better proposition. How about it? Still for the time being, this is a great showcase of what an awesome singer Eric is, the rocker or the soulman!|
|MR. BIG/BIG BIGGER BIGGEST|
|ATLANTIC RECORDS||1. Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy 2. Take Cover 3. Stay Together* 4. Wild World 5. Green-Tinted Sixties Mind 6. Unnatural* 7. Goin' Where The Wind Blows 8. Not One Night* 9. Rock N Roll Over 10. Promise Her The Moon 11. Seven Impossible Days 12. Nothing But Love (Live) 13. Just Take My Heart 14. Colorado Bulldog 15. To Be With You 16. Addicted To That Rush 17. I Love You Japan* (Live)|
|Total Score 85%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 80%|
|Like 'em, or loathe 'em, Mr. Big write great songs. Fortunately, I am in the love 'em category, having followed Eric Martin as a solo artist, and wishing he had a ballsy band behind his awesome voice. I could not beleive my ears when I heard just who Mr Big would comprise of. My wish made true, the band have recorded some of my favourite ever tunes of the last decade. They have had their low points, the cover of 'Wild World', for example! I also thought the Bump Ahead record wasn't overall a great record. But thankfully, even though it isn't a heavy record, the band returned to form with 'Hey Man'. They have a melodic knack to their writing, which anyband will have to do well to even match. Just check out 'Green-Tinted Sixties Mind', and the awesome ballads 'Promise Her The Moon' and 'Take Cover'. Other highs are the rockers 'Addicted To That Rush','Daddy, Brother', and the Japandamonium studio track 'Seven Impossible Days'.|
The new material falls in between the hits nicely. There are four on offer here, starting with the mid paced feel good rocker Stay Together, the moody acoustic based track 'Unnatural', and the newest big ballad 'Not One Night', a sure fire hit, if ever unleashed outside Japan, where it is the second single after 'Stay Together'. The other newbie, is the Japanese bonus track 'I Love You Japan', which even though it is a fully fledged mid paced anthem, is never likely to be released outside that country.
In short - drop 'Wild World' and another of the slower tracks, add 'Trapped In Toyland' and another rocker, and you would have the definative Mr. Big compilation.
|MR. BIG/LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK|
|EAST WEST JAPAN AMCY-2090||1. Alive And Kicking 2. Green Tinted Sixties Mind 3. Where Do I Fit In 4. Jane Doe 5. Goin' Where The Wind Blows 6. Take A Walk 7. Voodoo Kiss 8. The Chain 9. Wild World 10. Take Cover 11. To Be With You 12. Daddy Brother Lover Little Boy 13. Mr Big (Bonus Track) 14. 30 Days In The Hole (Bonus Track)||
|Total Score 70%||Production 85%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Packaging 80%|
Well, another month another Mr. Big live album! But here's this months difference - It's unplugged! Now we all know that the band can do these records standing on their heads, and this sounds pretty good too. Being unplugged, the songs get to breathe a little more and the band can also relax and stretch a little.|
Includeed here are all the fav's, but it does seem to be the earlier tracks that sound the more memorable. Like the Best Of album the completly forgetable tunes 'Jane Doe' and 'Wild World' are here again, but the better tracks off 'Hey Man' are also given a run, 'Take Cover', 'Where Do I Fit In' and 'The Chain' are the pick.
We allknow the Japanese love these guys, but I think this will be the last release for a while from the band. Enjoyable album for those who love the band (me!), but for casual fans, I don't think there is enough here to warrant the Japanese import price.
|VON GROOVE/MISSION MAN|
|BAREKNUCKLE/AVEX CO AVCB-66002||1. All For Rock N Roll 2. Two Nights In Tokyo 3. When Love Comes Back Around 4. Chameleon 5. Mission Man 6. What Is Love 7. The Snake 8. Barely Human 9. Stop Sleeping Your Dreams Away 10. Disbeliever 11. Tonight We Rock N Roll 12. On The Run 13. Propaganda||
|Total Score 65%||Production 60%||Songs 70%||Vibe 60%||Packaging 85%|
Well here is some advice for people who listen to CDS on their PC. I was already to write the review for this CD, so I stick it in the CD-ROM tray, and away we go. No! First up here is some multimedia goddies from the label. Bloody beauty I ay, as I can't read Japanese, and therefore was not expecting this. But alas, we have to install it to see it. No worries, I'll give this a go. I press what would seem to be the logical button and away we go. Hold that thought! Next thing I get is a mesage 'Launguage not same as on current files - keep files?' (or something like that). Yeah, let's go for it......DON'T!! I now have an Internet Explorer 3.01 with no Engish or any text on it. Throw out, re-install, put the disc back in...and here's the review (of the musical content ONLY!!).|
Von Groove were rumoured to be returning to their original sound of their first disc. And sure enough they have. It's a progression from that great debut album, but safe to say, if you liked that, you will find a lot to like here. The songs as typically hard rocking in their old style, and there are enough choruses and hooks to keep most fans happy. Stand out tracks include 'Two Nights In Tokyo' and the Leppardish 'Chameleon'.
Throw in a couple of good ballads, and I would say put this on your shopping list. The only downfall is they produced it themselves. I think they would have gained a lot from a veteran producer.
If you like the first album, then investigate this one soon.
I think I need a break!
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-5817||1. On/Off 2. Sinners, Inc 3. Do You Believe In Religion 4. Kiss Me When I Cry 5. I Don't Mess Around 6. Sooner Or Later 7. We Always WantWhat We Can't Get 8. It's Your Body 9. She Gets Down 10. Tell Me 11. Greed 12. Action 13. Ain't Nothin' Really Changed 14. We're Alright 15. The Judas Mirror 16. In A Perfect World 17. Imaginator||
|Total Score 80%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 80%||Attitude 80%|
Well, here it is, after four years or so locked in the Geffen vaults, the powers that be hand back the Imaginator album to it's rightful owners Nelson, who promptly sign a Japanese deal to release it. Easy done, eh?
We all know the majors have their taste in their arse, so when Nelson initially handed this heavier, better written and played, (not to mention it's a concept record), album into the label, they swiftly told the band to p-off, and come back with something more befitting two pretty pin up boys.
All I can say is thank God that the album has seen the light of day, because it is a great record which should hold the pretty boy image at bay for a while. It certainly isn't a tough metal record, but what it is is 10 tracks of power rock, tightly delivered, well produced and definately hard edged. The guys are singing tougher, playing harder, and generally showing what they are made of. The fact is these two guys can really rock. There is only a couple of ballads on here, the rest rocks. Just check out the metal of 'She Gets Down' and their cover of 'Action'. Lovers of anthems could find no better in the album highlight 'We're All Right' and 'Kiss Me When I Cry'. The ballads are still huge, like 'Tell Me', but like the whole album have a harder edge to them. |
In short, better played, better produced, better written, and tougher, leaner and meaner than the other two albums. Screw Geffen, work for yourselves boys!!
|JOE LYNN TURNER/UNDER COVER|
|PONY CANYON PCCY-01074||1. We're An American Band 2. Freedon 3. Fire And Water 4. Street Of Dreams 5. Fortunate Son 6. Vehicle 7. Hush 8. Unchained Melody 9. Chained 10. Gimmie Some Lovin'/I'm A Man 11. Theif In The Night 12. Deal With The Preacher 13. Sunshine Of Your Love||
|Total Score 65%||Production 85%||Songs 60%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 70%|
| There are some really good things to say about this album, and then a few things to take away from it. Let me start with the negative (only a few minor points!!).|
Firstly - These covers albums are getting past their use by date!! Secondly - there are some standards on here that I really don't care if I never here again, they are so overplayed it's killing me!! (Sunshine Of Your Love and Freedom the main culprits.)
But there are also the good things like covers of 'Vehicle' - Hilarious!! (Even if it isn't supposed to be) and the great Rainbow ballad 'Street Of Dreams', proof that Joe can still sing with awesome control and range if he wants to.
There are obvious covers of Deep Purple, Rainbow, Bad Company - that by law, must be included on every Japanese heavy rock release. And there are the 'heard a thousand times' covers like the previously mentioned, and 'Gimmie Some Loving'.
But where this album suceeds is that it sounds good! It's well played and well sung, and rolls along nicely, with a real party feel to it. And that is where I think it would work best, in an atmosphere like a party. The best covers are the funnier ones like 'Vehicle' and 'I'm A Man' and even the unpredictable ballad 'Unchained Melody'. Don't take it too seriously, and you will probably like it, and as for JLT fans, you already decided way back it would be a classic!
|PONY CANYON INC. JAPAN||1.Honey 2. Arms Of Love |
3. Does It Matter 4. Faraway Eyes 5. Cry Baby
6. Girl 7. Feel 8. I'll Get By 9. Lap Of Luxury
10. Best I Can 11. When Will It End 12. In Confusion
|Total Score 70%||Production 60%||Songs 75%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 80%|
|There are a couple of absolute classic tunes within this record, including acouple of gems that convince me that musicians out there can still make those classic 'L.A' 80'S hard rock songs, and make 'em good! Unfortunately there are also a few misses on the disc, generally just due to lack of production quality, and maybe a weak song or two. Hollywood Underground is the brain child of Warrant dudes Eric Turner and Jerry Dixon. It features as many guests as could possibly be, each contributing on a track or two, with the usual thing of a singer for every track being employed here. Track one is a great rocker featuring ex-Southgang vocalist Butch Walker and will appeal to fans of the ex-band and to those of great L.A metal. Second track features ex-everyone Jeff Scott Soto, and is a good an example of his work anywhere. Three is a fantastic mid pacer featuring ex-Roxy Blue vocalist Todd Poole, and would be close to the best track on the disc, but unfortunately the production is a little less here. Four features ex-Black And Blue, but I'm not sure who sings, not a bad track. Five has ex-Slammin Gladys vocalist David Brooks and is an okay ballad. Track six brings the ex-Southgang vocalist to the front and is another good L.A style rocker. He still sounds a ring in for Vince Neil! Track seven has the Warrant boys at work solo and aint real special. |
Eight features RU Ready vocalist and is nothing to write home about.
Nine features I'm not sure, an acoustic and slow ballad.
Track ten is what does it all for me with this disc, and almost worthy of the price alone! Featuring Night Ranger stix and vox legend Kelly Keagy, this is a ripping ballad, that would not seem out of place on any Night Ranger album.
Eleven features Hericane Alice and is a good 'alternative' rocker. Twelve finishes off the album with Marc Ferrari lending a hand on a track that could use some extra production. Overall, depending on who you are a fan of, this album may demand buying or be only to completely avoid! If anything buy it for tracks 1/2/3/10!!
|POWER STATION/LIVING IN FEAR|
|CHRYSALIS RECORDS TOCP-50013|
|1.Notoriety 2. Scared 3. She Can Rock It |
4.Let's Get it On 5.Life Forces 6.Fancy That
7.Living In Fear 8.Shut Up 9.Dope
10.Love Conquers All 11.Taxman
12.*Charanga 13.*Power Trippin'
(*Bonus Tracks For Japan)
|Total Score 75%||Production 85%||Songs 70%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 80%|
|This is going to be one of those albums that a reviewer will listen to once and write it off. Yes, as usual Robert Palmer's fascination with including 6 different styles of music on each album has rubbed off here, but if you don't mind a little change in pace during an album, you may really enjoy this. Infact there really is something here for everybody, and seeing that it has been carried off successfully, makes this a good record.|
The album kicks off with a smouldering rock track, which is followed by a mid-pacer and a full slice of hard rock with the first single 'She Can Rock It'. What follows is almost a R&B interlude with three smooth modern tracks before launching into the heaviest three songs Power Statio have ever recorded. Just check out 'Dope', an almost industrial style rocker. There is a big ballad, a Hawaian track, a Beatles cover and a throw away bonus track, and it's all over. Enough rock tracks to keep fans of the debut happy, and some smoother numbers for fans to see how far the band can stretch it, and over all a fairly entertaining listen.
|SKIN/BIG FAT SLICE OF LIFE|
|VICTOR JAPAN VICP-5843||1. Blow My Mind 2. Shine Like Diamonds 3. Degeneration 4. Tripping 5. Big Fat Slice Of Lfe 6. Love Like Suicide 7. Pudendum 8. Winners And Losers 9. Blue Wave 10. I Don't Mind 11. Pleasure 12. This Is My Life 13. Bitter Sweet||
|Total Score 20%||Production 40%||Songs 15%||Vibe 10%||Packaging 80%|
This is horrible. UK rockers Skin started off with a great debut album produced by Keith Olsen, but have since lost complete use of their brains and have sold out to a grunge sound. Who in bloody hell told them that that horrible music was still relevent?|
While not exactly Pearl Jam or anything, it has to be said these tunes are devoid of any catchy hooks or riffs, and the singing has pretty much dopped to a monotone.
My advice to these guys is to get themselves a new manager, and restrict this release to Japan, before anyone else has the misfortune of hearing it, and writing off the band as dead.
|ZERO CORPORATION JAPAN XRCN-1280||1. I'm Not Your Slave 2. Cover Me 3. Addiction 4. Madeleine 5. Talk About It 6. Death Of Me 7. Down 8. Blue Jade 9. Justified Man 10. I Don't Want To Live That Way Again||
|Total Score 90%||Production 95%||Songs 85%||Vibe 85%||Attitude 95%|
Glenn Hughes has been around the block not only once, but maybe
four or five times!!
Since this album is now on wide release, I thought it would be good to
revisit it, now that it has had time to mature.
Now back in his prime, after several visits to Betty Ford, Glenn has
had a new lease of life and has been releasing albums with great
reliability, a trait I wish other acts would pick up on.
His most recent albums Blues, From Now On, Burning Japan Live and
Feel, have all been superb. Diverse, yes, but of great quality
With Addiction, Glenn has made his first 90's album. That is, it's raw,
it's heavy, and it's very contemporary.
What he hasn't done is sold out to alternative. He has merely taken
his God given voice, and let her rip, on the heaviest album I have ever
heard Glenn do.|
Depending on where you buy the album from, the track listing is shuffled, but the rockers on this album include the anthem 'Death Of Me' - killer heavy track!, 'Down' and 'Cover Me'. The 'not quite flat out' tracks include the awesome 'I'm Not Your Slave', which ends as heavy as anything on the album, and the good fun rock track 'Justified Man'. For balance there are a couple of slower tracks, but not your usual ballads in any way. 'I don't Want To Live That Way Again' clocks in at over 9 minutes, and smoulders along, until near the finish where it explodes. A great album for Hughes fans to add to their collection, but also a good point for new fans - especially those who don't know his other albums - to pick up on one of rocks finest talents. They don't call him The Voice Of Rock for nothing!
|Produced By Marc Bonilla, Glenn Hughes And Michael Scott|
|ALFA/BRUNETTE JAPAN ALCB-3130||1. Messiah Complex 2. All Weather 3. The Servant Has Become The Master 4. The Circle 5. Desert Rain 6. I Think I Want To Die Now 7. Cries For Mercy 8. Out Of Sight 9. Breaking Down The Walls 10. Sea Of Madness 11. The Blade 12. Guiding Hnad 13. Dreamscape||
|Total Score 60%||Production 70%||Songs 55%||Vibe 65%||Attitude 70%|
|The second album for Florida hard rockers Eyewitness is awaited eagerly, cause their first was a good slice of hard rock. Vocalist Todd Plant has a great voice, that at times can lead to comparisons to Harem Scarem's Harry Hess.|
What we have here though, is nothing of the sort!
Eyewitness seemed to have dumped everything that made their debut memorable, in order to take up the cause for 90's grunge merchants. What a complete waste of time.
The sound is great, the praying is good, but the sound and more importantly, the songs are just plain average. There are no big choruses, or melodie, insted there are continuous chords that run one song into another, resulting in a plain uninteresting album. Sorry guys, next time maybe.
|BLACKMORE'S NIGHT/SHADOW OF THE MOON|
|BMG MUSIC JAPAN||1. Shadow Of The Moon 2. The Clock Ticks On 3. Be Mine Tonight 4. Play Minstrel Play 5. Ocean Gypsy 6. Minstrel Hall 7. Magic World 8. Writing On The Wall 9. Runaissance Fair 10. Memmingen 11. No Second Chance 12. Mond Tanz 13. Spirit Of The Sea 14. Greensleeves 15. Wish You Were Here 16. Minstrel Hall Bonus Track Version||
Post Deep Purple Discography
|Total Score 60%||Production 80%||Songs 60%||Vibe 40%||Attitude 45%|
I am not sure whether to take this album seriously, or just take the mickey out of it! I described this album to a Purple loving mate as 'self indulgence of the highest degree', to which he said everything Richie has ever done has been self indulgent!! So give this fact, I will just describe what this album is all about.|
Basically it is Richie, a drum machine and his fiancee Candice Knight as vocalist. There are a couple of other guests, but these two are the core. As you have no doubt heard, it is an album of acoustic guitar lead tunes, a few instrumentals, and a showcase for Richie's love of yesturyear's old fasioned medievil guitar styles. Not everyone's cup of tea, and nor will this album be!
Candice has a nice voice, not huge, but pleasent enough. The tunes for me are like background music, I can't get in to it much at all. It is almost lullaby music, with haunting vocals floating softly over a mesh of acoustic guitars and programmed melodies.
It must be said, that like all Richie Blackmore porductions, the sound cannot be faulted, it is musically perfect. But whether or not you can get into this after 20 years (or however long) of listening to hard guitar Deep Purple or Rainbow remains to be seen. It also has to be mentioned that after listening to the likes of Ian Paice and Cozy Powell, a drum machine doesn't quite cut it.
So if you are looking for something nice and laid back and very tasteful, and you are a hard core Blackmore fan, you may like this. If you are looking for the usual Purple sounding rocking album, do just that - wait for the new Deep Purple album!
|WEA JAPAN WPCR-1078/WEA CANADA||1. Believe 2. Die Off Hard 3. Hail Hail 4. Staying Away 5. Baby With A Nail Gun 6. Morning Grey 7. Victim Of Fate 8. Rain 9. I Won't Be There 10. Karma Cleansing||
|Total Score 90%||Production 90%||Songs 85%||Vibe 90%||Attitude 80%|
Just a few extra comments now that I have had a chance for the album to grow. And you know what? Grow it does! Just like the three albums before it, 'Believe' just gets better and better. The melodies come easier than on 'Voice Of Reason' and the songs flow better than on 'Mood Swings'. Basically it is all class, and not in the least average. A contender for album of the year. I have moved my mark up to 90.
Harem Scarem have released three of the finest rock albums of all time. Each one has had it's own identity, and style, each time building on what was previously released. With 'Voice Of Reason', the band reached a pinacle I think will be hard to ever beat. But not everyone loved that album. It was darker, moodier, and the choruses were not immediately identifiable. But if you listened and listened hard, there were more melodies than ever to feast upon. And now we are at a stage where the harmonies of Harem Scarem rank up there with the best ever in hard rock. So here is 'Believe', the first album in a couple of years, and there are a few changes. |
I had heard that this album was a mix of both 'Mood Swings' and 'Voice Of Reason', and sure enough, that is pretty acurate. Basically it is the heavy 90's feal of V.O.R. mixed with the best melodies and choruses from both M.S. and the band's debut. It is a hybrid of all three albums.
The record kicks off in similar style to V.O.R., but with a mellower verse, and kicks in with a killer chorus, the harmonies flowing full throttle. Next track, the first single 'Die Off Hard' has a pumping rythm and another great chorus, although not as big as 'Believe'. 'Hail, Hail' has a ballady feel to it, although the chorus, another big time harmony fest, is considerably rockier. 'Staying Away' is sung by the drummer Darren, although on the Japan release Harry sings it. The song has one of the most 'metal' riffs ever from the band. Track five is a good instrumental, but it's a shame to interupt the album at this stage. Better left till the end. The next couple of songs are similar in vein to 'Voice Of Reason', heavy, moody and in need of several listens to catch on. The big ballad 'Rain' is classic of the band, a big and heartfelt ballad, but possible unlike any other Harem Scarem ballad. 'I Won't Be There' is another great melodic rocker, and 'Karma Cleansing' is a real screaming 90's hard rocker, with Harry really stretching those vocal chords.
The bands' forth album is another essential piece of work, show casing their awesome vocal and harmony skills, not to mention the brilliance of the song writing. In the negative, it is true that this reord is a mix of the last two, but is possibly not as strong as either. At 9 tracks plus an instrumental, they are probably a couple of good tunes short of an absolute classic release. But, average for these guys is still far above the work of any of their competition. Buy it!!
|WISHING WELL/WISHING WELL FEATURING GREG LEON|
|JAPAN||1. Soldier Of Love 2. You Leave Me Shaking 3. Only One 4. Train, Train 5. Playing With My Feelings 6. Peace Of Mind 7. Bad Reputation 8. What's Going On 9. Follow The Sun 10. Not The Reason||
|Total Score 68%||Production 70%||Songs 63%||Vibe 70%||Attitude 70%|
Joe Lynn Turner, eat you heart out!|
Yep, that's what's going on here. Fans of the vocalist and all other things Purple should maybe check this out, cause Wishing Well have created a solid album of tunes with a strong tip of the hat to the Purple infuelnced blues hard rock.
Vocalist Greg Leon has got a good strong voice and varies it between JLT songs and his own style.
The music is heavily blues, but in that European big rock sound. Funny that, being that they are a fully feldged US band.
There is also a big blues number 'What's Going On', featuring a little organ and some nice blues guitar, but for the most part the songs are straight ahead rock.
The songs get a little samish towards the end of the album, the band could have done with creating a little more variety in the sound.
But the songs are solid, and fans of blues rock may take a liking to this.
|MR. BIG/LIVE AT BUDOKAN|
|WEA JAPAN AMCY-2400||1. Intro 2. Trapped In Toyland 3. Take Cover 4. Green Tinted Sixties Mind 5. Jane Doe 6. Medley: Had Enough/Big Love/Take A Walk/Merciless 7. Out Of The Underground||
|Total Score 70%||Production 80%||Songs 80%||Vibe 60%||Attitude 65%|
Does the world really need another Mr Big live album?|
Well, not really, but behold - here is another one. With the last live compilation detouring into unplugged teritory, it is at least good to hear the boys back in full electric mode. This album was recorded over two nights - one with the Bump Ahead tour and one off the latest Hey Man tour, at the famous Budokahn Japan. Hence the title Live At Budokan.
I am a sucker for the band, and enjoyed this live album number 5 or something, and found the set list a little more varied, and tending towards the heavier more uptempo or live friendly tunes.
There are a couple of bonuses, of course. The outtake Living Like A Dog is included as is a new full band version of 'Ain't Seen Love Like That', from the Bump Ahead record.
All that, and the simply perfect live sound that the Japanese seem to have perfected. The packaging is probably the stand out feature of this release. As usual the booklets and covers are great, but it is also presented in a great little tin, and comes complete with some multimedia content. Mind you, last time I installed such multimedia from a Japanese release, it re-installed Internet Explorer 3.0 with Japanese icons and text. Quite a headache.
It's a good listen and great sound, and another piece to add to the Mr Big section for you mad collectors. But for the rest, not a lot to get excited about.