USA RELEASED CD REVIEWS
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BLACK SABBATH / REUNION
COLUMBIA RECORDS
OVERALL: 87%
  1. War Pigs
  2. Behind The Wall Of Sleep
  3. NIB
  4. Fairies Wear Boots
  5. Electric Funeral
  6. Sweet Leaf
  7. Spiral Architect
  8. Into The Void
  9. Snowblind
  10. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  11. Orchid/Lord Of This World
  12. Dirty Women
  13. Black Sabbath
  14. Iron Man
  15. Children Of The Grave
  16. Paranoid
  17. Psycho Man
  18. Selling My Soul
Well it had to happen, didn't it!
Yep the original Men In Black have reformed after years and years of will they won't they?
So was it worth the wait? Well there is no chance of me seeing one of the shows in person, so for those like me, you will have to judge from the live record.
And that sounds pretty damn good.
The sound is immaculate, the songs are obviously unquestionably good and the crowd pumped to the max.
And Ozzy is going absolutely nuts and obviously enjoying himself immensely. Turn a deaf ear to the language if that is likely to distract from the album. But I would think your average Sabbath fan couldn't give a toss!
War Pigs is a very suitable opener, the strains of Tony Iommi's guitar sending the crown absolutely sick.
You have to love these English crowds, they love their heavy metal!
The album runs through every Sabbath classic over 2 discs and covers the best of their catalogue.
The new tracks are what interests me. Psycho Man is as heavy as you might expect! Big bass, big moody vocals and a dark theme. It sounds like Ozzy for sure, but there is this overall feel that without Sabbath backing him, probably wouldn't match it as a solo track.
The track is slow mostly but breaks out a little at the end.
A million dollar and slightly commercial twist courtesy of producer Bob Marlette. An odd choice, but it would seem a wise one.
Selling My Soul carries a similar feel. I think I like Psycho the better. A little psychedelic in a very heavy sense.
Overall, great album, great songs, long since legendary and a couple of very interesting new songs. Hope they record an album sometime.
PRODUCTION: 90%SONGS: 90%VIBE: 82%ATTITUDE: 87%

BRYAN ADAMS / ON A DAY LIKE TODAY
POLYGRAM RECORDS
OVERALL: 75%
  1. How Do Ya Feel Tonight
  2. C'Mon C'Mon C'Mon
  3. Getaway
  4. On A Day Like Today
  5. Fearless
  6. I'm A Liar
  7. Cloud Number Nine
  8. When You're Gone
  9. Inside Out
  10. If I Had You
  11. Before I Had You
  12. Before The Night Is Over
  13. I Don't Wanna Live Forever
  14. Where Angels Fear To Tread
  15. Lie To Me
  16. Hey Baby
Initially I wasn't going to bother reviewing the new Adams CD, but there were a few posts on the Noticeboard about it, so there is obviously still some interest in him. So I searched out and listened to this new album and armed my self with a stack of cynical retorts and the like. But to my surprise it isn't that bad! In fact there are a few very good tracks.
I wouldn't say that Bryan is back to his menacing best, I would say he just manages a snarl or two over the 15 tracks on offer.
What is good to hear is tracks like Before The Night Is Over and I Don't Want To Live Forever, which with that classic Reckless guitar sound in tow, prove that Bryan is capable of reproducing his best, given the will to.
Adams said before this album that he wanted to make a more serious record after his last fairly disposable release.
That he has done, with most of the 15 tracks travelling a mature soft rock line and only occasionally falling into his schmultzy syrupy ballad mode.
Best of the mid paced soft rock include the opener How Do You Feel Tonight, the title track On A Day Like Today, Fearless and the closer Hey Baby.
The best tracks are fairly obvious. As I mentioned before Adams lets loose on like Before The Night Is Over and I Don't Want To Live Forever, which sound almost classic 80's era B.A.
Unfortunately 2 or so hard rockers and a few mid paced tunes aren't enough to rescue the album overall and it is still quite unfashionable to appreciate Bryan.
But after the last studio record it is welcome relief to see that he is back on the right track.
One can only hope that he gives Jim Vallance a call and stays on this track. We just may see another classic yet.
PRODUCTION: 70%SONGS: 75%VIBE: 68%ATTITUDE: 77%

GOO GOO DOLLS / DIZZY UP THE GIRL
WARNER / THIRD RAIL
OVERALL: 84%
  1. Dizzy
  2. Slide
  3. Broadway
  4. January Friend
  5. Black Balloon
  6. Bullet Proof
  7. Amigone
  8. All Eyes On Me
  9. Full Forever
  10. Acoustic #3
  11. Iris
  12. Extra Pale
  13. Hate This Place
  14. Name*
  15. Slave Girl*
Yeah, it starts heavy, it starts dirty, it's great...then it explodes into that infectious blast of guitars and harmony vocals. This is what I was after!
The Goo Goo's took some unwanted time off to battle through a contract dispute soon after they had recorded their fifth and most triumphant album 'A Boy Named Goo'.
There has been plenty of down time to write new material and this album has 13 of those such songs. The guys have matured in plenty of places but still know when to let loose and there are a few examples of some pretty raw and rough punkish pop rock here.
But the best part of the Goo Goo Dolls has always been their ability to craft modern melodic moody masterpieces (say 3 times) and blend those tunes in a layer of guitars and vocals.
This album is not exception, there are some outstanding tunes here, but after finishing it and going back a few times I don't think they have reached the heights that A Boy Named Goo reached, but certainly there should be enough to keep most fans easily happy.
I think this album will however run out of steam before the previous one did, as only half of the songs are essential listening. Still, they had a lot to live up to and haven't done too badly.
Dizzy opens and as I described is just the tonic.
Slide is the next track and is an obvious choice of lead single for the album's release.
A big mix of electric and acoustic guitars woven around the moody vocals of singer John Rzeznik. A subtle anthem for a chorus, if ever that could be true.
Broadway is another classy pop rocker with some biting lyrics. More acoustic/electric riffs.
January Friend is next up and along with Extra Pale, Amigone and the great anthem rocker Extra Pale are this album's supply of loose and raw rock n roll.
Black Balloon is another mid paced ballad with plenty of emotion and is a likely single. If you liked Iris, then this and the acoustic ballad Acoustic #3 are for you.
All Eyes On Me is a powerful, modern and angst filled rocker and is well worth a listen. Strings add some extra texture to the songs' backing.
Full Forever is a mid tempo pop rocker.
Hate This Place finishes off the album in big rocking style with a somewhat retro feel to it. The verse is mid paced, but the chorus cranks it up and the vocal is great. An anthem of sorts.
Bonus tracks for this release come from the bands' last album. I think it is probably a way of getting some back catalogue sales from a mass media Australian audience that have just discovered this 'new' band.
Overall I come away very happy and recommend that for something a little different, certainly more 90's than most things I review or listen to, please check them out. There is certainly plenty of strength behind the singles.
PRODUCTION: 85%SONGS: 84%VIBE: 86%ATTITUDE: 83%

STUART SMITH / HEAVEN AND EARTH
INDEPENDENT RELEASE
OVERALL: 96%
  1. Don't Keep Me Waiting
  2. Heaven & Earth
  3. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
  4. When A Blind Man Cries
  5. Trouble In Paradise
  6. Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree
  7. I Hate You So Much
  8. Dreams Of Desire
  9. Do You Ever Think Of Me
  10. Road To Melnibone
  11. Lose My Number
Stuart Smith is an English guitarist residing in Los Angeles, who has assembled one of the finest casts of musicians to ever grace a single album.
How can you knock an album that on the first four tracks, features the vocal talents of Kelly Hansen, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes and Richie Sambora?!!
You can't! But it is the songs and the guitar playing of Stuart that counts, and all I can say there is that this album is crammed with some of the most inspiring, technically brilliant, passionate, absorbing and stylish playing that I have ever heard.
I was originally recommended to track down Stuart and get to the bottom of the Heaven And Earth project, and when I was to receive an advance tape I thought cool!
But nothing prepared me for just how good this album sounds.
The production is just superb, and is tight, well mixed, balanced, and big big big! Pat Reagan was the man behind the desk, and needs to be congratulated, and should be hired instantly for more work.
The big budget comes courtesy of electronics giant, Samsung, who will be releasing it in Korea & China and the licensing for the rest of the world. That is being handled by Doc McGhee, one of the most powerful and influential managers in the music business today.
Stu may get to see himself a household name, as the album is finished and the result of which is being reviewed here today.
The album includes a couple of great covers that I will go into more soon, and some killer originals that at one stage were being demo-ed to be included on the upcoming Unruly Child record. But they are Stu's songs, and thankfully they have all been retained for the Heaven And Earth album.
So to the album!
The band varies from track to track, but Stuart is featured on guitar throughout and keyboards are handled by Ray Rodriguez on 6 of the 11 tracks. Pat Regan handles the others bar one track that features Teddy Andreas (who has also played with Guns And Roses, and has his own solo record out).
Don't Keep Me Waiting starts by building into a huge burst of guitar and keyboards.
This track features Kelly Hansen on vocals, who sounds fucking amazing! The guy just keeps getting bigger and better. A big hard rocking track, with an amazing guitar and organ duel towards the end of the track. Big, bluesy and hard!
Heaven And Earth features a fabulous acoustic guitar into performed by Stuart and Howard Leese (Heart). Real mood music, with keys going in the background.
Then Joe Lynn Turners voice glides into the track, and we have this enormous acoustic driven build into a chorus from heaven. It picks up the pace to this racing chorus, with Joe emotionally singing like his life depends on it. An AOR anthem is ever there was one, with hooks, bridges and guitars everywhere. The awesome drum sound comes courtesy of Hurricane/Unruly Child drummer Jay Schellen.
The album slows down just a little for a cover of the Blind Lemon Jefferson tune See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.
The song intro's with some very smooth blues riffs, and a Glenn Hughes vocal that sees him enjoying himself thoroughly and sounding like the God he is. Reminiscent of his 'Blues' album vocals. Killer! Before the band kicks in there is a swampy acoustic jam with Stu on acoustic & Richie Sambora on Dobro.
The songs rocks out after a smooth intro and sees Stuart flexing his muscles again, playing all over this track.
The huge bass sound comes from the legendary Chuck Wright, of House Of Lords/Quiet Riot/Impellitteri, and drums are from Carmine Appice.
When A Blind Man Cries is a Deep Purple cover, and the first proper blues ballad of the album, and features Richie Sambora on vocal and guitar.
This has to be one of the smoothest tracks of all time. Stuart's laid back blues guitar solo is just amazing. The whole feel of this track with the organ going flat stick, and Sambora's vocals blowing away anything on his latest solo record. I could listen to this all day!
Anyway, enough of this slow stuff! Trouble In Paradise is a flat out rocker, still with some blues influences, both from the guitar and some real rock n roll piano/guitar dueling.
Kelly Hansen again sings like a devil, and pulls of some great screams. Just check out the ending!
The next track is a real departure. Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree is a tribute to the minstrel music of old England. Joe Lynn Turner is singing, and reminds me of the sound of the Deep Purple album 'Slaves And Masters'. This song is also far better than anything on the Blackmore's Night album. I am not sure if it is the great guitar sound, or a better song, a better vocal or just all three. Also a nice change of pace for the album.
I Hate You So Much gets is back into the hard rocking blues sounds, again with Joe on vocals. A great rocking party tune, with nice heavy guitar and some cool backing keyboards.
Dreams Of Desire is an instrumental that gives Stuart a chance to shine on his own. A fantastic guitar sound that is backed by Howard Leese from Heart on strings, and Pat Regan on keys. The songs bases itself around the classical tune by JS Bach. If only he could hear what is being done to it now! The keys are amazing and the guitar playing is fast and furious yet retains it's passion. One of the best instrumentals of the decade! I love it when it slows toward the end.
Do You Ever Think Of Me starts with more smooth and moody guitar, with Kelly Hansen whispering the verse, until the bridge and chorus bring things to the boil. Another huge AOR anthem, and a power ballad in the true sense of the word. This will be a big live favourite. Plenty of soloing for guitar fans.
Chuck Wright is again featured on Bass and plays on the last three tracks of the album, and Carmine Appice on drums.
Road To Melnibone is another instrumental that features Howard Leese on 12 string acoustic. A smooth and slower instrumental.
Lose My Number is the last track on the album, and sees it finish as it started - with a big hard rocking number.
Kelly Hansen sings, Chuck Wright, Jay Schellen, Ray Rodriguez and Stuart Smith play the power rock card. Just check out the solo on this one!
I can't praise this album enough. It is surely one of the best little gems that have passed through my hands while running the Hot Spot. I wait anxiously for the CD to arrive!
The album has plenty for everyone, including fans of blues rock, all things Purple (JLTurner, Hughes), fans of Kelly Hansen, Chuck Wright, Jay Schellen, Richie Sambora (outstanding), and the list goes on.
Like I said earlier - chock full of passion and masterful playing from all involved.
If you are a fan of rock and roll, this album is an absolute essential purchase.
Keep and eye on the newsdesk, and I will let you know when and where it will be available.
PRODUCTION: 94% SONGS: 95% VIBE: 98% ATTITUDE: 99%

BRUCE DICKINSON / THE CHEMICAL WEDDING
CMC INTERNATIONAL 6076-86259-2
OVERALL: 62%
  1. King In Crimson
  2. Chemical Wedding
  3. The Tower
  4. Killing Floor
  5. Book Of Thel
  6. Gates Of Urizen
  7. Jerusalem
  8. Trumpets Of Jerico
  9. Machine Men
  10. The Alchemist
Bruce Dickinson certainly isn't losing any of his edge with age. Unlike some others that are mellowing out, Bruce just keeps getting more intense and harder with every release.
The addition of Adrian Smith on guitar seems to help, as he was also getting heavier with his side project 'Psycho Motel'.
So they seem to be on a mission here with an album of intense riffing and modern sounds. It will depend on your tastes as to whether you take to this or don't.
I don't mind a little Iron Maiden and I don't mind some of Bruce's solo material. But on this release he continues to get heavier and more intense and that has really passed my level of tolerance.
The onslaught starts with the first track and takes a short detour through a couple of slower tracks halfway through the album and re-ignites again for the last half.
Some of the tracks are very 90's friendly (Trumpets Of Jerico, King Crimson, Chemical Wedding) and others are rooted in medieval influenced epic metal (Gates Of Urizen, Jerusalem).
The best track I can see here is the third track, The Tower. It's heavy but still retains a little melody.
Smith's influence sees a few tracks heading down the path Psycho Motel was heading and you can see that him and Dickinson are on a similar musical path.
Some will love this, but only those with a taste for the heavy stuff. Fans of the more commercial Dickinson releases will not.
PRODUCTION: 70% SONGS: 50% VIBE: 65% ATTITUDE: 60%

MIKE PETERS / RISE
VELVEL / EAGLE ROCK
OVERALL: 44%
  1. White Noise Part II
  2. In Circles
  3. Transcendental
  4. Rise
  5. Ground Zero
  6. High On The Hill
  7. You Are To Me
  8. My Calling
  9. I Want You*
  10. First Light
  11. The Wasting Land
  12. Burnout Syndrome
  13. The Message*
  14. White Noise Part III*
This album may find an audience at alternative or college radio but really offers little for your average AOR or rock fan.
The Alarm had some good songs in places with their classic U2 style anthems but solo Mike Peters branches into a more alternative indie pop style.
The opener White Noise is a fairly cool uptempo alternative rocker and Ground Zero is a good pop ballad.
You Are To Me is also a nice pop soul ballad.
But apart from those and a couple of tunes and the odd catchy chorus I can't get into this much and probably won't play it again in a hurry.
Firm fans of The Alarm may find it a little easier to access.
It's not that it is a bad record, it is actually full of fairly well written and intelligent pop songs. Just not geared towards readers of this site.


*Bonus Tracks
PRODUCTION: 60% SONGS: 40% VIBE: 38% ATTITUDE: 55%

KISS / PSYCHO CIRCUS
MERCURY
OVERALL: 80%
  1. Psycho Circus
  2. Within
  3. I Pledge Allegiance
  4. Into The Void
  5. We Are One
  6. You Wanted The Best
  7. Raise Your Glasses
  8. I Finally Found My Way
  9. Dreaming
  10. Journey Of 1000 Years
Out of all the review I have ever written, this would have to be one of the more pointless!
Why? because every Kiss fan already will have this record by now and either loves it or hates it. But here's my take on it anyway...
This is one band I can't help being skeptical about. It would seem that they are only in it for the money and Gene Simmons reputation for this is well known.
In the past few years the band have re-mastered and re-released their entire catalogue in several different countries in different ways, culminating in the US re-mastering and re-issuing this year.
On top of that you have the endless compilations, the box sets, the Japanese exclusives, the book, the merchandise and most recently, the quite good but poorly respected (by Gene and Paul) and poorly packaged 'Carnival Of Souls' release.
And then there was the inevitable unplugged release, tour, promotion and official re-uniting of the original band for a new studio album.
But that's where the complaining must stop, because this is a really good strong rock album, full of all the pomp and glorious ceremony that makes a Kiss record.
Produced by Bruce Fairbairn, this first album of the original line up since the early 80's. The best thing about the album is the fact that Kiss are back into anthems and run through 10 of the best that I have heard from them.
The album itself is quite varied, with a strong emphasis on the 80's style hard rock Kiss, which just happens to be my favorite period of the band.
There is a slight hint of the 90's sound that was featured on Carnival Of Souls and there is also some 70's vibes and influences from the bands' original sound.
But oddly enough there isn't as much of a 70's feel as I expected. Good!
This is as close to classic stadium rock Kiss as you will ever get and proves that Kiss are still capable of making memorable music.
The ten tracks (11 for Japan) run through a few different styles.
Psycho Circus is typically late 70's, Dreamin' is more a very heavy 90's ballad, Journey of 1000 Years is psychedelic, We Are One is a anthemic mid paced rocker, Into The Void straight ahead Kiss and Within touches on the Carnival Of Souls vibe.
Overall it is great to see and hear Kiss and some big crunching guitars and big stadium rock choruses.
And no matter what you may think of the record in the end - it is great to hear one of those big dollar, monster production efforts.
PRODUCTION: 88%SONGS: 80%VIBE: 82%ATTITUDE: 75%

BILLY SQUIER / HAPPY BLUE
J-BIRD RECORDS JBD 80256
OVERALL: 88%
  1. Happy Blues
  2. The Pursuit Of Happiness
  3. She Will
  4. Grasping For Oblivion
  5. If You Would Hate Me Less
    I Would Love You More
  6. Stroke Me Blues
  7. More Than Words Can Say
  8. Inferno
  9. Long Way To Fall
  10. River
  11. Two
It has been a few years between drinks for Billy Squier and his return is most welcome. J-Bird Records, the Internet based record label are responsible for the production of this album.
This album sees Billy trying out something he has never done before. Stripping everything right back to an acoustic based record and just letting things flow.
This isn't going to be to all tastes, but it's bloody good! Given the right frame of mind this should be well rated by any Squier fan. Despite the wish for him to continue to rock out, there is little here not to like.
Billy absolutely shreds the acoustic guitar with dozens of great sounds complimenting his raspy rock vocals.
There are some specifically styled blues tunes here, both slow and uptempo, but also a selection of tracks that could easily be full blown rock anthems. It's just that this time around restraint is the order of the day. The production is sparse as you would expect on a record that features just vocals and a few layers of acoustic guitar, but it is still crystal clear - hence the good rating.
The songs are of a very high quality and it can be heard that Billy is having a good time.
First half highlights include the opener Happy Blues, the acoustic anthem The Pursuit Of Happiness and the lyrically brilliant and musically challenging If You Would Hate Me Less, I'd Love You More.
Halfway through the album we get an acoustic blues remake of The Stroke, titled Stroke Me Blues.
Second half highlights include the ballad More Than Words Can Say, the uptempo feel good Long Way To Fall and the laid back ballady River.
A really solid set of songs, sung and recorded slightly unconventionally and well worth any melodic fan to investigate.
PRODUCTION: 85%SONGS: 92%VIBE: 90%ATTITUDE: 90%

ALEXI LALAS / GINGER
CMC INTERNATIONAL 06076-86260-2
OVERALL: 73%
  1. Goodnight Moon
  2. Pretty Mess
  3. Drive-by Serenade
  4. Pop School
  5. Sonic Lullaby
  6. This Should Be
  7. Vacancy
  8. What I've Done
  9. Gemini
  10. Half A Chance
Alex is a well know US soccer player and is a member of that countries National team. But he has a passion for rock that has lead him to be signed to top US rock label CMC International. The big question...Is the guy any good?
Well it is! And depending on tastes it should get a fair hearing with a solid audience.
Without having the a presence or a voice as good as them, this album style wise runs alongside the Goo Goo Dolls.
The album is filled with a solid blend of rock and the occasional ballad all in the modern rock feel of the Dolls.
Loose and not over produced, the album has a good live feel.
Distorted guitars and multi layered harmonies hidden behind a 90's mix that should see modern rock radio stations in the US adopt a track or two. Best tracks include the feel good opening track, the punkish Goodnight Moon,
the very Goo Goo Dolls Pretty Mess, the mid paced and slightly mid-western Drive By Serenade and the ballad Vacancy. Varied and accomplished, this album isn't going to be for everyone, but will attract fans of the more 90's style pop rock.
Further more, CMC have once again added interactive material. Good stuff.
PRODUCTION: 78%SONGS: 70%VIBE: 75%ATTITUDE: 72%

ROKBOX / ROKBOX
BLUE WORLD RECORDS SW 1267
OVERALL: 82%
  1. Going Nowhere
  2. Too Young
  3. Anytime
  4. It's Time To Get Back
  5. How Many Roses
  6. We Can Make It Last Forever
  7. Out Of The Blue
  8. Stop Waiting For The Moment
  9. What's The Reason
  10. Patiently
What if Journey was only a team of two guys sharing all the instruments and what if they were a little more stripped back and the tunes a little moodier?
Well, then they would be compared to Rokbox, who have managed to record themselves some pretty respectable Journeyesque tunes that melodic fans should appreciate.
Certainly these guys have a more stripped back sound and feel and vocalist Marc Engeran does have a real Steve Perry feel to his voice, but without being a clone.
This also is a pop rock record without actually being AOR as such.
More a moody Americana style.
Guitarist Randy Settoon knows plenty of smooth guitar moves, again some of which can be compared to Neal Schon's style. But the guys still have plenty of their own style also. Tracks like Going Nowhere and How Many Roses highlight their songwriting talent and knowledge of a good hook.
Highlights include those two tracks and others like Anytime and What's The Reason, which are very smooth tracks.
Too Young is a very Journey track that features some great backing vocals and a cool chorus. Check that one out.
Stop Waiting For The Moment is a strong similarity to The Storm. Good song.
The only downfall is lack of production budget. But these are the melody challenged 90's, so that shouldn't get in the way of you enjoying some simple and classy pop rock that grows with every listen. In fact it would be totally unjust if these guys don't get a bigger break.
Labels take note!!
PRODUCTION: 75%SONGS: 85%VIBE: 82%ATTITUDE: 87%

PAUL SHORTINO / IT'S ABOUT TIME
PULSE RECORDS PUL10010
OVERALL: 80%
  1. Love Me Till It Hurts
  2. Hell On Heels
  3. Nothing's Gonna Stop Me
  4. Bust
  5. Come To The Water
  6. Love Line Annie
  7. In Mood
  8. Where There's A Will
  9. Bango
  10. Nothing Comes Easy
  11. All Of My Life
  12. Too Many Nights
  13. This Must Be Love
  14. The Lady Was A Tramp
  15. Love Of My Life
  16. No, No Nikki
  17. Leave It To The Law
  18. No Time For Cryin'
  19. I Don't Want To Hear Your Heart Break
  20. You're Mine Tonight
  21. Save Our Land
Paul Shortino is the former vocalist for Rough Cutt and one time singer for Quiet Riot.
This album has been around for 12 months or more in Japan, but with this US release offers supreme value for money.
Not only do you get the Shortino project It's About Time but also the full previously released Bad Boyz EP.
For fans of blues influenced straight ahead hard rock, with some really fine vocals, this album should be an essential.
Paul Shortino has collected a fantastic bunch of songs through writing them himself to some co-written with some very well known writers, including Curt Cuomo, Harry Paress, Mike Slammer (Love Line Annie), Sean McNabb, Mitch Perry and Danny Tate.
Paul has one of those full voices that with the added raspiness add another dimension to your average rock song.
Anyone who has ever bought a Whitesnake, Great White or Deep Purple album should check this out.
Few albums can get away with being 20 tracks long, even if it is to add bonus material, but Shortino doesn't outstay it's welcome.
I look forward to the next record!
PRODUCTION: 80%SONGS: 80%VIBE: 79%ATTITUDE: 81%

STEPHEN CHRISTIAN / SELF TITLED
Indie 012052.2
OVERALL: 67%
  1. Got To Find A Way
  2. Dreaming
  3. Got To Choose
  4. Slave To The Rhythm
  5. All I'll Ever Be
  6. Forgiveness/Let Go Of Yesturday
  7. No Greater Prize
  8. Won't Be Your Fool
  9. Memories
  10. Heart's Doin' Time
  11. Rebound
  12. In My Life
Stephen has enlisted ex-Icon guitarist Dan Wexler to help out on a few tracks and has Greg Chaisson Ex-Badlands on bass and producing the whole thing.
This album is a stripped back acoustic or unplugged album that still manages to rock some. The album has an interesting vibe that takes a few listens to really get into. The songs are fine and the production good.
The best thing about the album is it's loose and groovy vibe.
The inclusion of Kiss' Got To Choose, also in unplugged vein, is cool. I found it pretty loose and nicely stripped back and would for sure be a live favorite.
Best tracks include the opener Got To Find A Way, the interesting Forgiveness/Let Go Of Yesterday, the slightly rockier edge of No Greater Price and the Kiss cover.
The main highlight is the mix of several acoustic guitars strumming their way through the album. A highlight for any guitarists out there.
Overall an acoustic rock album with an earthy 70's vibe that should find some interest across the board.
PRODUCTION: 70%SONGS: 68%VIBE: 60%ATTITUDE: 70%

NIGHT RANGER / SEVEN
ZERO XRCN-2023
OVERALL: 94%
  1. Sign Of The Times
  2. Janes Interlude
  3. Panic In Jane
  4. Don't Ask Me Why
  5. Kong
  6. Mother Mayhem
  7. Soul Survivor
  8. Sea Of Love
  9. Peace Sign
  10. When I Call On You
  11. Revelation
Just in case you haven't read my original review - now the US has a local release out thru CMC - here it is again! 5 or so months on and I am still playing this album to death and love it to pieces! Classic Night Ranger.
I anticipate a new Night Ranger album with enthusiasm reserved only for a handful of artists. Why? Because Night Ranger have never made a bad record. Their style has changed over almost every album, but their core trademarks remain to create classic American hard rock, like no one else can.
Seven is the band's second release since re-forming to the original line up.
Jack Blades called this album as the band's 'immature' album, after I described Neverland as a very mature record. That is only half true though, as this album continues the more polished and mature sounds of it's predecessor. Where it does lighten up and have some fun is in the intelligent, yet tongue in cheek lyrical content.
I think Seven mearly enhances the new styles and different sounds of Neverland, while maybe returning to some more familiar territory with some heavier songs and a stack more guitar!
I think also that the album leans more towards a Jack Blades style of record. I feel there is a couple of comparisons to Damn Yankees on Seven, and he certainly had a hand in writing all of the tracks.
The production is also superb. Sharp crisp songs with an even mix throughout. I am not sure where Fitz fits into things though, as he is only clearly visible when he gets the spot light on the 1998 version of 'Let Him Run'.
Sign Of The Times opens the album, and despite hearing a preview of the track, I was blown away at the amount of guitars and the heaviness of this track as it progresses toward it's climax. Jeff and Brad quite simply go off! The chorus has to be amongst the most classic Night Ranger have ever recorded, and is an instant classic. Great fun lyrics, and Jack is singing like a demon!
Jane's Interlude mearly serves as an intro into Panic In Jane, the main single or radio track. This track starts with electric guitars, but is evenly serviced with acoustics throughout, with Jack going through a sort of rappy verse and a more laid back chorus than the last track, reminiscent of Walk In The Future, just an octave higher.
Don't Ask Me Why is a big hands in the air ballad, mid paced, and featuring some nice keyboard created string effects. A live classic in the making.
Kong is a killer rock track, with uncharacteristic vocals from Kelly. The songs builds from it's cool start to become a screamer of a chorus. Kelly is singing tough, and I believe him! This song would have fitted perfectly on the Damn Yankees 'Don't Tread' record. Tommy Shaw on backing vox only emphasizes this. There are some cool percussion effects courtesy of Jack's buddy Mark Hudson and Tommy Shaw. Michael Carabello also appears on the record, and I wouldn't mind betting it's on this track also. A fun jungle rocker!
Mother Mayhem is one of the surprise tracks. It is acoustically driven, but also features electric guitars. It kind of just cruises through a mid paced vocal driven verse, a continues to cruise through a very laid back harmony chorus, almost whispered, with Jack hardly raising a sweat. Very cool and a real change of pace.
Soul Survivor sees Kelly back at the mike, and remains fairly laid back in nature. A mid paced tale of life, with a more rocking chorus and great, if not simple, hook.
Sea Of Love starts off with a studio demo as an intro and then launches itself into hard rocking style in the vein of New York Time. A subdued vocal until a bridge and a chorus that lifts the pace entirely. Another big live track.
Peace Sign is another big rock track, in the vein of the harder parts of Neverland. Jointly driven by acoustic and electric guitars, it still rocks well, and has very cool lyric. The chorus is something like My Elusive Mind. Great guitars.
When I Call On You is another big acoustic driven ballad, sung by Jack. It starts soft and builds to a full band conclusion.
Revelation is one of those tunes that only Night Ranger can pull off. A cool intro, with some off beat guitar effects, launching into a rocking beat like the title track to Neverland, and a moody verse from Jack that builds to a killer chorus and layers of guitars that will have every fan calling this track a classic. Another Neverland style rocker.
So there we have it. Another killer Night Ranger album. I can't see that to many people won't love this, but if something about Neverland put you off, this is middle ground between that on the bands' first five albums.
Some sounds new, some sounds old, and a lot of Neverland in between.
Definitely better than the Japanese version of Neverland, but with that album's US release and better running order, I think maybe that Neverland will narrowly beat out Seven.
In short - another winning album from the most consistent band in rock n roll. I love it!
PRODUCTION: 95% SONGS: 93% VIBE: 95% ATTITUDE: 93%

SLAUGHTER / ETERNAL LIVE
CMC INTERNATIONAL 86249-2
OVERALL: 75%
  1. Rock The World
  2. Get Used To It
  3. Shout It Out
  4. Mad About You
  5. Spend My Life
  6. Fly To The Angels
  7. Real Love
  8. Dance For Me
  9. Searchin'
  10. Wild Life
  11. Move To The Music
  12. Up All Night
Eternal Live sees Slaughter captured live on their most recent US tour.
This recording is pretty much Slaughter by numbers as they perform a dozen of their best known and favorite songs to a crowd already sold on their greatness!
The fact that CMC have once again added interactive extras in the way of clips. photos and interviews makes this an absolute essential for Slaughter fans.
Which kind of makes this review redundant, as all those that would want this probably already have it!
A few of the songs sound a little flat from the album versions, but maybe that is more the mix than the actual performance.
No disrespect to Slaughter, maybe it was completely a label thing, but I think for the fan there is little on offer here, besides the excellent extra Interactive material, which is only accessible to those with a computer. (Which is everybody reading this obviously...but you see what I mean?!)
Still, if you haven't got much in the way of the band and you like live albums, this record will be as good as any.
PRODUCTION: 70%SONGS: 80%VIBE: 73%ATTITUDE: 80%

MOLLY HATCHET / SILENT REIGN OF HEROES
CMC INTERNATIONAL 86252-2
OVERALL: 70%
  1. Mississippi Moondog
  2. World Of Trouble
  3. Silent Reign Of Heroes
  4. Miss Saturday Night
  5. Blue Thunder
  6. Just Remember
  7. Junk Yard Dawg
  8. Dead And Gone
  9. Saddle Tramp
  10. Fall Of The Peacemakers
Possibly not as heavy as it may look, rather than a Motorhead style metal barrage, Molly Hatchet is instead an equally intense mix of hard rock and really heavy ZZ Top style southern blues.
Opener Mississippi Moon Dog sets the tone for the whole record of some really southern hard rock. The vocals are gruff and deep, the guitars thick and heavy.
And from that point onwards this album rocks!
But the band also are capable of slowing it down a little as the 8 minute Silent Reign Of Heroes and Just Remember demonstrate.
The guys manage to create a couple of cool sensitive songs.
Then it is straight back into the hard rocking with Junk Yard Dawg just an example!
Certainly not for everyone, but for those who love Iron Maiden, Motorhead or Priest and some others of that genre, mixed with some heavy southern tones, then check out Molly Hatchet.
It's quite good.
PRODUCTION: 75%SONGS: 68%VIBE: 69%ATTITUDE: 70%

BRITTON / UNLEASHED
M2 RECORDS M2-0002
OVERALL: 74%
  1. Unleashed
  2. Keeper Of The Flame
  3. A Little Twisted
  4. Easy To Use
  5. Forced Into The Night
  6. Life Of Illusion
  7. Demons In My Head
  8. Junkyard Romeo
  9. B.I.T.C.H.
  10. With Each Other
Britton's current album Unleashed has been around a good while now and Michael has been patiently awaiting my review...so here you are mate!
The first thing that struck me was that this is not as heavy as it looks!
Just 10 tracks of solid old school hard rock, with plenty of riff's and some solid vocals.
The overall style reminds me a lot of Canadian Carl Dixon's 'One' album.
Like that album, Britton go about their business without creating too much fuss, or over the top tunes, but rely on strong song writing to prove themselves.
The production while low budget, is strong enough so not to make the album suffer because of it.
It would be nice to see what the guys could produce given a bigger budget.
I didn't get into the opener totally, but from the second track Keeper Of The Flame, things became catchier.
Highlights include the rocker A Little Twisted, the laid back Easy To Use and the ending track, the acoustic ballad With Each Other. Very good track.
Good solid hard rock that should appeal to fans of straight ahead no bullshit music.
PRODUCTION: 70%SONGS: 77%VIBE: 78%ATTITUDE: 79%

ARMAGEDDON / SOUNDTRACK
COLUMBIA CK-69440
OVERALL: 82 %
  1. Aerosmith
  2. Journey
  3. Aerosmith
  4. ZZ Top
  5. Bob Segar
  6. Shawn Colvin
  7. Aerosmith
  8. Jon Bon Jovi
  9. Aerosmith
  10. Patty Smyth
  11. Our Lady Peace
  12. Chantal kreviazuk
  13. Trevor Rabin
  14. Tk1 Reprise
Good soundtracks are few and far between these days and it has been far too long since the last good rock or AOR soundtrack.
Remember the late 80's with the awesome selection of great AOR soundtracks where the main focus was to present a few new bands and hope to draw album sales off their soundtrack presence?
Well those days are long gone and it seems the main focus these days is to dish out whatever bands are trendy with songs that are already hits or ridiculously mix older bands with new artists in order to try and make them sound relevant. Quite often with soundtracks there has been only a couple or one song worthy of purchase, making it a very expensive CD single!
Fortunately the wise men at Sony have had a moment of good judgement and have not only combined some good artists on one CD, but are also featuring some new material.
And of course the main draw card of this little effort is the international debut of the new Journey line up. That track should sell a stack of these alone.
Too the tracks! Aerosmith are John Kalodner's personal favourite band and therefor see themselves taking up almost half the soundtrack!
The band have two of their old standards - Come Together and Sweet Emotion featured and two new tracks, as well as a reprise version of one of the new tracks.
The opening track and first of the new 'Smith tracks is the super huge Angel style ballad I Don't Want To Miss A Thing. Written by mega ballad writer Dianne Warren, this track has hit all over it and should be on a radio station near you right now. Could be one of the band's biggest hits yet.
Next up is the much anticipated debut of the Steve Augeri lead Journey. Remember Me is written by the upcoming major hit writer Jack Blades with Neal Schon and Jon Cain. The track sees the band a little rawer and stripped back, but still with a ton of class and a dozen layers of harmony vocals.
The song is an absolute monster and may not hit you first up but simply digs itself into your head and won't let go. Great stuff and hopefully a hint of some of what's to come. Aerosmith come up again with another tune featuring Jack Blades. Perry and Tyler co-wrote this experimental hard rocker with Tommy Shaw and Blades. This track sees Aerosmith tackle the 90's full on and with great success. A real rocker.
ZZ Top and bob Segar pull out catalogue classics for tracks 4 and 5, although I have well and truly heard enough of La Grange. Rest that track boys...please! Shawn Colvin provides a nice melodic pop track to break up the rock dominated record before Sweet Emotion cranks up.
Jon Bon Jovi provides a brand new solo track as song number 8. Great to hear him back and rocking, I was tiring of the mid paced ballads. Best thing about this track and probably the whole reason why it rocks is that it was co-written and produced by Aldo Nova, who Jon worked with on Nova's 1992 solo record 'Blood On The Bricks'. Good to see Aldo back. He also contributed to the new Message album reviewed below.
Another Aerosmith track and then it's another welcome re-union. This time it is Patty Smyth with a new track 'I Wish I Were You' being produced and co-written by AOR legend Glen Burtnik. A really nice pop track with a cool chorus and great hook. Patty sounds vocally fine too!
That's about it as far as true AOR interest. Rounding out the album are tracks from Our Lady Peace that is pretty good, Chantal Kreviazuk (?) and a cool enough instrumental theme from Trevor Rabin.
Animal Crackers finishes the album with some spoken words from the movie over the track 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'. Not much point to that one.
Overall a very good soundtrack, even if half the songs aren't included in the movie! And a definite must for fans of Aerosmith and Journey. Good job.
PRODUCTION: 85%SONGS: 87%VIBE: 80%ATTITUDE: 80%

DANNY WILDE & THE REMBRANTS / SPIN THIS
EASTWEST RECORDS 62059-2
OVERALL: 83%
  1. Shakespear's Tragedy
  2. Long Walk Back
  3. Out Of Time
  4. Wishin' Well
  5. Summertime
  6. Tomorrow's Mine
  7. Get It Right
  8. Eloise
  9. This Close To Heaven
  10. Beautiful Thing
Danny Wilde has found himself a solo artist once again, but has chosen to retain the Rembrants name for an album or two to ease the transition. And that may also be a good word to describe this record.
The sound blends influences of his earlier rock solo career, with the more refined, acoustic driven pop of his time with Phil Solem in the Rembrants.
The sound and production are both a million bucks, and I think it is his best record since his self titled solo record several years ago. All this, and a few new tricks too!
Shakespeare's Tragedy introduces a new dimension to Danny's song writing, with a clever acoustic driven rock track with a hook to die for. great chorus.
The second track Long Walk Back is the killer tune of the album and is a fantastic mid paced guitar swept anthem, with another one of danny's classic choruses. This reminds me of the style of his classic solo records.
Out Of Time is another departure, a dreamy pop/R&B tinged ballad that works quite well, and sees in new territory.
Wishing Well is amid paced rocker that is more familiar with the recent Rembrants sound, and could have come from the last album easily.
Summertime reverts back to the acoustic pop sound of the Rembrants, while Tomorrow's Mine and Get It Right are both familiar guitar driven pop rockers that again sound like they are in familiar Rembrants territory.
Eloise has another great hook and sounds like solo era Danny Wilde, this is one of the highlights of the album.
This Close To Heaven is another example of the progression this album has taken, with a really great hook mixed with some cool moody instrumentation and production.
Beautiful Thing ends the album with another mid paced rock track, again in the style of the last Rembrants album 'LP'.
PRODUCTION: 88% SONGS: 81% VIBE: 80% ATTITUDE: 84%

STEVIE RACHELLE / WHO THE HELL AM I
RLS RECORDS CD00198
OVERALL: 74%
  1. Path Of Choices
  2. Harbor Valley
  3. Rock Me Gently
  4. So Many Seasons
  5. Little Black Light
  6. What Ever Happened To Friends
  7. Just Being Me
  8. Who The Hell Am I
  9. Can't Take It Anymore
  10. Broken Man
Stevie has stepped aside from his duties as frontman for Tuff and his alternative project CWA, to record his first solo album.
The result is Who The Hell Am I, a stripped back, mainly acoustic driven pop rock album in the vein of Mike Tramp and Kip Winger's releases.
The songs are not as intense and technical as the Kip Winger album, nor do they have the production qualities of the Mike Tramp, yet this remains a fairly strong record that will hopefully please fans willing to accept a style change.
The record is full of catchy pop rock tunes that showcase a previously unheard side of Stevie. The lyrics are of a deeper soul searching vein, and certainly come from a much matured song writer.
The album's simple approach is what best highlights the songs.
The band is primarily Stevie and Michael Raphael.
Some tracks like Rock Me Gently remind me of an unplugged Brett Michaels of Poison, and others like Who The Hell Am I offer something a little more contemporary.
Overall there will be some things Tuff fans will like and maybe a couple they won't, but if the listener approaches with an open mind they should find an album of good caliber.
PRODUCTION: 68%SONGS: 76%VIBE: 78%ATTITUDE: 80%

IAN GILLAN / DREAMCATCHER
FORBIDDEN RECORDS - 7237
OVERALL: 75%
  1. Hard On You
  2. You Sold My Love For A Song
  3. Sugar Plum
  4. A Day Late And A Dollar Short
  5. Chandra's Coriander
  6. All On My Mind
  7. Prima Donna
  8. Sleepy Warm
  9. Country Mile
  10. That's Why God Is Singing The Blues
  11. Gunga Din
  12. Anyway You Want Me
For this review, I have taken a small departure and a first for the Hot Spot. I have aguest reviewer on the official reviews page. I fall into the category of being a fan of Gillan the hard rocker, so this album came as a little surprise. Now by good bud Peter Schuptar is a 30 year fan, and understands his moves back and forth through styles. So I have enlisted his help in reviewing this. So here is what Peter thought:
Ian Gillan is one smart dude! When asked by Andrew to review Gillan's latest Solo release, I split his career into three sections. First, his work with Deep Purple, which needs no introduction on these pages, Secondly his post Deep Purple work in the GILLAN band-1977-1982 (sadly on limited release in the US) and thirdly what I refer to as the GILLAN solo years.
It's this third period that this CD should be reviewed against. So why is he so smart, I hear you ask?
If you disregard the 1991 release Toolbox (His best LP ever, IMO), in a career that spans over 30 years, Gillan has managed not to be pigeon holed.
LPs like Accidentally on Purpose, Naked Thunder and now Dreamcatcher, capture Gillan exploring and having fun with styles, sounds and influences that just won't fit on any Deep Purple LP.
And there are some great sounds on this CD. The use of pan pipes, flute, congas and harmonica is used sparingly, but to great effect.
Gillans vocals, for someone who has basically sang "balls to the wall" hard rock for over 30 years, drinks and smokes, not to mention being in one of the worlds hardest working bands, well his vocals are outstanding. Gillan sings well within himself, but it's his clarity that shines through. Young belters - take note, this is the secret! Steve Morris' guitar work is solid, switching from rock to blues to folk with ease.
Now to the songs:
HARD ON YOU is a mid tempo rocker with some real nice guitar work from Morris and is very radio friendly.
YOU SOLD MY LOVE FOR A SONG features some simple but effective harmonica from Gillan. Sort of mid tempo shuffle that reminds me of Purples "Anyones Daughter (Fireball 1971).
SUGAR PLUM is one of the CDs stand out tracks,and sounds great really cranked. I especially like the arrangement and wouldn't be surprised if Roger Glover had a hand in this one.
A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT is typical Gillan Band from the 80s. Its heavy, Janic Gers sounding guitar and quirky Gillan lyrics along with that platinum scream.
CHANDRA'S CORIANDER is real folky. Lots of pan flute, congas and acoustic guitar. Definitely the soul of this CD and IMO the song this release revolves around. Shades of Chris Rea.
ALL IN MY MIND is another radio friendly song. Nothing special here.
PRIMA DONNA is a bit of everything. A bit 1950s radio sweetheart song. It reminds me of something I once heard, damned if I know what!
SLEEPY WARM has a real nice guitar solo from Morris, but its downfall is its obvious use of drum machine.
COUNTRY MILE could have fitted on any George Harrison LP, from the guitar work to the vocal phrasing. Nice song and great lyrics.
THAT'S WHY GOD IS SINGING THE BLUES is a track written by Gillan's pal Dave Corbett. A bluesy lament that should have stayed in the Corbett file. No place here as it spoils the consistency of the CD.
GUNGA DIN brings us back on track. An unashamed Irish jig with shades of the Scottish Highland fling! Great guitar, good story telling lyrics with the Speed King chuckle thrown in for good measure.
ANYWAY YOU WANT ME is Gillan dreaming of being a 50s crooner. Not the song, the style. Buddy Holly meets Frank Sinatra! (Which could be soon)! A nice ending to the CD Would have been a hit for sure..in 1956.
To rap up, this is not a bad release at all. I don't know if it will win over any new Gillan fans, but I don't think it was ever designed to. This is Gillan exploring his roots. Stand out tracks are Sugar Plum, A Day Late…, Chandra's Coriander and Gunga Din. Down side, not a human drummer in sight. Where's Simon Philips? I will play this a lot; well until my copy of Deep Purple's Abandon arrives anyway.
PRODUCTION: 80%SONGS: 77%VIBE: 75%ATTITUDE: 79%

SURE CONVICTION / FIFTY FOUR AND CHANGE
GET READY RECORDS SC0777-2
OVERALL: 76%
  1. Are You There?
  2. I Can't Explain
  3. I Need You
  4. Thru The Night/More Than A Feeling
  5. Where Do You Go?
  6. Sacrifice
  7. Change
  8. Quiet Pace
  9. The Journey
  10. Power Of One
Sure Conviction are another band to be giving music fame a shot through an independent release.
It is hard to review these sort of releases, because it is virtually impossible for them to compete with the big boys, and I certainly don't want to slight anyone for having the conviction (good use of words there) to get this far.
Fortunately it is not hard to say nice things about these guys, for they have created an album of pretty strong songs. The production is of course of a lower budget, but have managed to capture a lot of energy and a great sound, for the money they have.
Good American melodic hard rock, with a traditional feel that also embraces a more 90's feel.
The playing is quite technical and varies considerably, although I would be hesitant to compare them to a prog act like Dream Theater.
If you have an open mind for new music, then please take some time to track down a copy of this. The whole vibe is that of a feel good release, of good strong melodic rock music.
PRODUCTION: 61%SONGS: 78%VIBE: 75%ATTITUDE: 82%

JOURNEY / GREATEST HITS LIVE
COLUMBIA RECORDS CK-69139
OVERALL: 79%
  1. Don't Stop Believing
  2. Separate Ways
  3. After The Fall
  4. Lovin' Touchin' Sqeezin'
  5. Faithfully
  6. Who's Crying Now
  7. Anyway You Want It
  8. Lights
  9. Stay Awhile
  10. Open Arms
  11. Send Her My Love
  12. Still They Ride
  13. Stone In Love
  14. Escape
  15. Line Of Fire
  16. Wheel In The Sky
Journey's long awaited new release comes as a sort of fill in in between sorting out what's next.
There has long been a need to capture the classic line up on record, and Greatest Hits Live certainly does that.
The recordings are from four gigs in the USA and Japan in 1981 and 1983. There are no tunes from The Raised On Radio tour as Sony wish us to think of Journey as Perry/Schon/Cain/Smith and Valory. Seems a little odd, as soon they will be ready to convince us otherwise.
Anyway, the album kicks off with Don't Stop Believing, and from the first note Perry sounds like the God he is. What a voice. The band run through all their hits and a couple of less likely album tracks to support the fact these were the Escape and Frontiers tours.
The songs are already truely classic, no doubt there, so I won't even try and review them!
The band sound as tight as anything you wil ever witness in concert or on record. There are a few variations in the arrangements, but mainly they stay true to their roots.
Perry sounds especially great and gets to expand his delivery of the songs. Damn he sounds great!
I have only a small wish for the record - That the crowd gets a little more recognition and was bumped up in the mix a little more.
Also - most of the rapping from Perry to the audience is removed. I have a couple of soundboard live recordings and a radio show, and he does talk more in those.
The crowd get a little chance to sing in Any Way You Want It, and hear from Perry in Who's Crying Now, but not much elsewhere.
The addition of the concert ending fireworks after Wheel In The Sky is a nice touch though!
A great sounding live record, and a fantastic collection of pure AOR brilliance, and I dare say a better pick up than Journey's regular Greatest Hits.
A must for every AOR and Journey fan.
PRODUCTION: 90%SONGS: 95%VIBE: 74%ATTITUDE: 78%

BRIAN HOWE/TANGLED IN BLUE
TOUCHWOOD RECORDS TWCD-2010
1. I Remember You 2. Where'd She Come From? 3. Touch 4. Tangled In Blue 5. Just Because 6. Here The Come Again 7. All I Want Is You 8. How Does It Feel 9. I Will Find Away 10. Don't Ask Me Why Discography
    Bad Company
  • Fame And Fortune
  • Dangerous Age
  • Holy Water
  • Here Comes Trouble
  • The Best Of Bad Co Live
  • Solo - Tangled In Blue
Total Score 80%Production 90%Songs 85%Vibe 80%Attitude 80%
Welcome back Brian Howe! The saviour of blues rockers Bad Company in the 80's and 90's, is back and solo. And wouldn't you know it - he has brought all the talent, passion and good songs from Bad Company with him! Yes, what we have here is a mellower, leaner and much more introspective Brian Howe, but by God the man is singing like an angel, and has more passion than ever.
The album is portrayed as a romantic kinda record, but if you like the anthem end of Bad Co. there is still plenty here for you too. Just check out 'Where' She Come From', 'How Does It Feel', 'Here They Come Again' and 'All I Want Is You'. More hooks and choruses then you could wish for.
For the ballad lovers, Brian's recent divorce has served as a foundation for the lyrics, melodies and mood of this record, so you can understand that it is sometimes dark. But that has in turn given us some great songs.
For comparisons, if you mix the 'Here comes Trouble' album with 'If You Needed Somebody' from 'Holy Water', and added a smoother sound and great production, you would have 80% of Tangled In Blue'. Again at the desk is awesome producer Terry Thomas, so you can see the sound is not going to be far removed from Brian's Bad Company sound.
And after listening to Bad Co's last couple of records, it seems obvious to me who the talent in the band was.

BOZZIO-LEVIN-STEVENS/BLACK LIGHT SYNDROME
MAGNA CARTA RECORDS USA
1. The Sun Road 2. Dark Corners 3. Duende 4. Black Light Syndrome 5. Falling In Circles 6. Book Og Hours 7. Chaos/Control Steve Stevens Discography
  • Billy Idol Band
  • Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys
  • Jerusalem Slim
  • Vince Neil Band
Total Score 80%Production 90%Songs 90%Vibe 75%Attitude 80%
This album is not going to be for everyone.
The album was recorded in all of four days! That should spell out what the style is!
It's loose, jamming, spontaneous, free willed and experimantal to say the least.
There are seven tracks, all of fairly long length, that plough right through trends.
There is a little jazz workout, some blues, and a lot of raw instrumentation. Die hard fans of Steve Stevens will hear him playing all over this record, but not to the extent that he dominates. In fact it is quite awesome that between the great Terry Bozzio on drums and the awesome Tony Levin on bass, and Stevens, the sound is really well balanced and the spotlight shared by all.
There are moments of great soloing and some fancy moves, but overall, the record is remakably restrained and under stated.
But do not think the sound is not huge!! It is as big as anything these guys have recorded before.
For fans of progressive instrumentation, instrumental albums, and fine muscianship and great style.
But not for people that like their music straight forward and easliy digestable.

MIKE TRAMP/CAPRICORN
CMC INTERNATIONAL
1. Already Gone 2. If I Live Tomorrow 3. Here I Don't Belong 4. Heart Of Every Woman 5. Have You Ever 6. Better Off 7. Had I Not Complained 8. Running Out Of Life 9. Wait Not For Me 10. Love Will Come And Go Recent Discography
  • White Lion - Fight To Survive
  • White Lion - Pride
  • White Lion - Big Game
  • White Lion - Mane Attraction
  • White Lion - Best Of
  • Freaks Of Nature - Freaks Of Nature
  • Freaks Of Nature - Gathering Of The Freaks
  • Solo - Capricorn
Total Score 55%Production 70%Songs 50%Vibe 45%Attitude 40%
Mike Tramp is back and under his own name for the first time in his 10 year plus career.
The master of crunch hard rock and souring ballad anthems with White Lion, and the more 90's alternatively flavoured Freaks Of Nature, has done what a dozen artists have done before him in the last few years - stripped things right back.
I have intentionally held back in reviewing this to get a feel for it, and make sure I get the review right. The reason I have held it back longer than usual, is that I am a huge fan of Mike's previous work, and didn't want to jump to a conclusion without the songs having a chance to grow.
But that there is the stumbling block. The songs just aren't there like they have been in previous efforts.
There are three or four great pop/rock tracks on 'Capricorn', but out of ten, there are too many fillers. The album is pleasent enough to listen to, and costs along a a good pace from start to end, but givent he talent of the man at the helm, it doesn't cut it.
The album's style is of laid back electric guitar driven pop/rock songs, with an overall raw earthy feel compounded by the sometimes use of organs and acoustic guitars.
Opener 'Already Gone' is an okay rocker, but leads into probably the best track of the album, in the rocker 'If I Live Tomorrow'. Nice chorus and great hook. Great guitar sound also. If only it carried throught he whole record.
'Here I Don't Belong' has a cool melody, but no real memorable chorus, yet it is one of the better tracks. 'Heart Of Every Woman' is a solid enough mid paced rock song.
'Have You Ever' is the first real ballad, but lacks any heart and depth that White Lion were so legendary for.
The next few tracks come and go without really entrenching themselves in your brain.
In fact, it is not until the very last track, the killer ballad 'Love Will Come And Go', that you get any further taste of the brilliance that Mike Tramp can be.
The vocals have a somewhat altered approach throughout the album. It is like Mike is singing with a slant in his voice, rather than let the raw power take over.
Not an entirely bad album. If it was a debut from an unknown artist, you would undoubtably rate it higher.
But coming from the pedigree of the talented Mike Tramp, I can't help but be really dissapointed.

TIM KARR/EVERYBODY BLEEDS
TIM KARR RELEASE
1. Jaded 2. Out Of The Blue 3. Price Of Love 4. Aquarius Now 5. The Drifter 6. Comin' 2 U 7. Everybody Bleeds 8. Shape Of Things To Come 9. Simple Pleasures 10. Here, Loving You Discography
  • Rubbing Me The Right Way
  • Everybody Bleeds
Total Score 82%Production 85%Songs 81%Vibe 79%Attitude 85%
Well, it has been many a moon since Tim Karr's awesome blues/sleeze/anthem tinged LA rock masterpiece was released.
Infact, it has been seven years, and Tim has since cleared label and contract problems, and has spent the last couple of years writing and recording the new album 'Everybody Bleeds'.
Time has definately matured Tim, as the songs more polished and deliberate.
The song writing has risen to a different level, although many of the trade marks of the first album are present here again.
The great vocals remain, with that snarl and a ton of attitude. Maybe though, a little smoother this time around.
Tim Karr has been described as a bluesy, rockier mix of the Rolling Stones and Jaded opens the account with a big bluesy rocker. Out Of The Blue is a huge cover of the old Roxy Music tune, which should also help you see where Tim's head is and where his influences lie. It is somewhat rockier than the original, and very cool. Price of Love slows things down a little, with a nice once again blues tinged, ballad. It could have easily been taken off his debut.
Everybody Bleeds is one of the more intricate songs on the album - a passionate, rocking ballad, that should attract some rock radio airplay, given half the chance. Simple Pleasures is a good fun loose rocker, with a chorus big enough to catch anyone's attention.
The highlight's on this album are many, as the songs are consistantly pleasing, and show the time put into writing them.
They are instantly catching, and lastingly memorable.
A very cool and original record, chock full of class pop / blues / hard rock.

RICHIE SAMBORA/UNDISCOVERED SOUL
MERCURY USA
1. Made In America 2. Hard Times Come Easy 3. Fallen From Graceland 4. You're Not Alone 5. In It For Love 6. If God Was A Woman 7. All That Really Matters 8. Chained 9. Downside Of Love 10. Harlem Rain 11. Who I Am 12. Undiscovered Soul Discography
  • Bon Jovi
  • Stranger In Town
  • Undiscovered Soul
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.
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.

NORWAY/NIGHT DREAMS
PIER SAN RECORDS
1. Heartbeat 2. Every Little Thing 3. Night Dreams 4. Give You My Love 5. Destination Unknown 6. Love On The Line 7. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again 8. Bad Boys 9. Love Is Strong Enough 10. Surrender Discography
  • Night Dreams
Total Score 75%Production 70%Songs 80%Vibe 80%Attitude 85%
This is Norways full length debut - and has been shipped to me by the band. Now I am under pressure to say something nice, eh?!!!
Actually, that isn't hard at all, because this is rather good! the first few strains tol me I was in for something I had heard before, but from the moment the vocals of Glenn Pierson kicked in with some lovely Jim Santos provided keyboards, the whole thing runs very smoothly.
The vocals are orginal enough to warrant no comparisons, but they are very strong indeed.
The style is that of tradtional American hard rock, with a healthy dose of style that many acts overlook.
This album contains three key element that manyof these self financed or indie releases miss.
1. Great songs 2. Style 3. An original mix!
The band have varied the style of things by slowing down passages (verse of 'Heartbeat'), added some acoustic guitar ('Every Little Thing'), and are not in such a hurry to get things down, that the record sounds rushed.
In fact - out of all the indie records I have heard - this one ranks amongst the highest in quality - both with production and preformance.
The band have taken their influences clearly from the past, but have still managaed to write and record some contemporary sounding tunes.
I recommend you hop on over to their web site, and see what Norway can do for you.
Now I would love to see these guys with some Label moneybehind them. Goodluck fellas!

POKERFACE/NEXT!
PhD MUSIC PF596
1. Is It Cuz Of Me 2. The One 3. Need back Your Love 4. Stop Pushing My Love Away 5. Father 6. Reefer madness 7. Stalker 8. Time 9. America 10. Best Friend 11. Break The Wayward Son 12. Fight For Your Rights 13. MK - Naomi Discography
  • Next!
Total Score 75%Production 80%Songs 75%Vibe 75%Attitude 80%
Another indie release, this time courtesy of Paul Topete and his band Poker Face (USA).
This is more a one man band deal, with all the tunes written by Topete. And you know what? This album is also damn strong.
It has a great solid production and guitar sound behind it.
The songs are also strong. I am truely spoilt for choice right now.
'Is It Cuz Of Me' opens the album as a haunting acoustic driven ballad, warming up a little with the tougher second track.
'Need Back Your Love' is a heavy power ballad of sorts, with a strong vocal performance, and nice melody.
And so the album continues, winding it's way through 13 tracks of angst and lost loves, passion and introspective lyrics.
It is moody, it is original. Poker Face is not pigeon holed into a single category, and certainly couldn't be called AOR. It is melodic, but would probably be best described as straight up rock, with a twist.
I would also take a detour to Poker Face's web site and have a listen for yourselves.
You may just discover a cool record out of it!

DREAM THEATER/FALLING INTO INFINITY
ELEKTRA USA
1. New Millenium 2. You Not Me 3. Peruvian Skies 4. Hollow Years 5. Just Let Me Breathe 6. Anna Lee 7. Burning My Soul 8. Hells Kitchen 9. Lines In The Sand 10. Take Away My pain 11. Trail Of Tears Discography w/James La Brie
    Images And Words
  • Live At The Marquee
  • Awake
  • A Change Of Seasons
  • Falling Into Infinity
Total Score 87%Production 93%Songs 85%Vibe 88%Attitude 90%
This is a make or break album for Dream Theater. The record company Elektra had to coerced into financing this record, so you would think if it fails to break new ground, there is little chance of them backing any more.
It has been a couple of years between releases, and we have even heard from the band that this was going to be a different record.
They talked about cashing in on the Rush crowd, trying to capture some of the loyal followers that give Rush their 3 million sales per album. The result, Falling Into Infinity is arguably Dream Theater's most consistent and well recorded album to date.
While not totally abandoning the 10 minute progfest's they have become famous for, the album is much more accessible and streamlined, even controlled. The credit in part has to go to producer Kevin Shirley, who knows when restraint is needed.
The songs are more commercial than the previous record, and like Images And Words, there are a couple of power ballads that could easily be hit singles. But fear not hard core fans, there is still plenty for you. While being more accessible, there are still demonstrations of how heavy the band can be, such as the lengthy New Millenium, Just Let Me Breathe, Burning My Soul, Peruvian Skies (after it warms up), and the longest track, the three part Trail Of Tears. Like the awesome Images And Words, the band remember their softer side, with a couple of killer tunes Hollow Years, Anna Lee and Take Away My Pain. These tracks given a chance on radio should take the band a long way.
Prog fans will really enjoy the opener, Just Let Me Breathe and Trail Of Tears. In fact the further the album progresses, the more Rush like it gets. Just check out some of the drum sounds.
Second track You Not Me also takes a leaf out of Rush's guide to commercial songwriting. The track is a definite highlight of the album, and a solid single, if the label opted for a non ballad track.
While this album is easier to get into fist time round than any of it's predecessors, my only complaint is the album loses it's way slightly after the track Burning My Soul. & or 8 minute instrumentals just aren't my thing. But the rest of the album makes up for that, and at least for the short term, the band have insured their viability and hopefully, with a push from Elektra, it will go on to being their biggest record yet.

JOHN WAITE/WHEN YOU WERE MINE
MERCURY RECORDS USA
1. When You Were Mine 2. Imaginary Girl 3. Let's Get Out Of Here 4. Suicide Life 5. Just Like A Woman 6. Bluebird Cafe 7. I-95 8. Show Me How To Love You 9. Valentine 10. Have You Seen Her My Friend? 11. All I Want For Christmas Discography
  • The Babys
  • Ignition
  • No Brakes
  • Mask Of Smiles
  • Rover's Return
  • Bad English
  • Bad English - Backlash
  • Essential John Waite
  • Temple Bar
  • Falling Backwards - VBO
  • When You Were Mine
Total Score 96%Production 97%Songs 96%Vibe 95%Attitude 98%
And now for the long awaited and much anticipated major label comeback from the legendary John Waite. Fresh from one of the most interesting albums of his career, in 'Temple Bar', and one of the more turbulent periods of that career that spans two US number ones, two bands and now this, John's sixth studio solo release. And just what kind of record is it? A bloody good one.
For John Waite, Temple Bar was a major ground breaking record. And while continuing to break further ground, 'When You Were Mine' will sound much more familiar to the hard core fans.
Why? Because with this album, there are hints of a few of John's past lives. The album, as you may well have heard, is written and based around an acoustic guitar. While remaining extremely well produced and very smooth, 'When You Were Mine' has a noticeably more stripped back and raw live approach.
Another aspect is the quality of John's voice. He is obviously in great form, but the way the vocals have been recorded gives us possibly the best taste of his natural sound. The album opens with the title track, which has to be a sure fire hit. Light to start with, and driven by upbeat acoustic riffs, the chorus will stick in your head instantly. Top that off with some fine electric guitars and a nice solo, and we have a great pop song. I mentioned some familiarities with the album, and this is one of them. Cast your minds back to the opening track of 'Mask Of Smiles'!
'Imaginary Girl' and 'Let's Get Out Of Here' follow in that order. Like the opening track, either of them could be a huge radio hit if given the chance. In fact, with these opening songs, John has written three of the catchiest tunes ever.
'Imaginary Girl' is reminiscent of those great slower mid paced songs that follow an upbeat opening on each solo record. Know what I mean?!
Both tunes have great melodic choruses, soaring vocals and could be described as perfect pop songs. 'Let's Get Out Of Here' also features some blistering guitar work. Track four is where it really starts to get interesting. 'Suicide Life' is the proposed former title track, and is the first taste of 'When You Were Mine' stretching the boundaries. Starting with just a voice and an acoustic guitar, the tracks passes the first chorus and is into the second verse before the rest of the band kick in. And kick in they do! The songs winds itself through six minutes plus of angst and storytelling, a huge chorus, big guitars and big production. in fact towards the end, you could almost here influences of epic Pink Floyd, as the track goes into overdrive.
Bringing it down a little, the acoustic driven cover of Bob Dylan's 'Just Like A Woman' fits nicely into the form of the album, just like the covers on Temple Bar did. A nice rendition. Next up, 'Bluebird Cafe'. A different sort of a song again for John, this time acoustic throughout, with only his natural voice to carry the melody. One of my favourite new tracks, 'Bluebird Cafe' has a brilliant chorus, carried off perfectly by his voice alone. An acoustic version of 'The Restless Ones' from the 'Bad English' album.
'I-95' picks the tempo up for it's three minute duration. Not as frantic or as rocky as the awesome 'Saturday Night' off 'No Brakes', but you get the drift. Maybe the rockiest acoustic track ever!
The last few songs all mellow out which is a pity really, as I was really getting into those uptempo numbers.
But the doesn't mean they aren't still as strong as the rest of the material. 'Show Me How To Love You' is actually a bit of an epic in itself. A sort of power blues ballad, I don't think it would sound out of place on any Baby's record. A real blast from the past.
Valentine is another totally acoustic ballad. Maybe a little slow, and probably my least favourite track.
'Have You Seen Her My Friend' is equally as unplugged, but supports a great heartfelt chorus and some nice melodies.
'All I Want For Christmas' is an acoustic country ballad. Nice way to end the album, on a laid back relaxed feel. Follows last two tracks nicely.
Overall, a great record, but you won't need me to tell you that once you here it! I like the first half better than the second, but only because it rocks a little more. Fine songs, finely recorded, with John's voice never sounding as good. Welcome back mate, and if there isn't a hit off this album, there is no hope left in the world!

LOVERBOY/LOVERBOY 6
CMC INTERNATIONAL
1. Big Picture 2. Love Of Money 3. Secrets 4. Waiting For The Night 5. Nobody Cares 6. Goodbye Angel 7. Create A Monster 8. No Time To Kill 9. Hair Of The Dog 10. Own Sweet Time 11. Spinning 12. So Much For Love 13. Tortured Discography
  • Loverboy
  • Keep It Up
  • Get Lucky
  • Loving Every Minute Of It
  • Wildside
  • Big Ones
  • Classics
  • Six
Total Score 75%Production 75%Songs 65%Vibe 75%Attitude 80%
All these years and holy cow, it's a new Loverboy record. There is going to be a couple of different versions going round of 'Six', as the band have been selling the disc at gigs and have just signed to CMC International for North American release. There is also a 1-800 number for orders I have heard.
To the record though, it is great to hear the band back on record, even if there is probably more fillers than classics on the new record. Taking a liking to the new album will depend on whether you heard the last Paul Dean solo record 'Machine'. For the basis of the band's new tough raw sound comes from that blues drenched rock album.
The band cover three tunes from that release, 'Waiting For The Night', 'Create A Monster' and 'Bitch You', renamed to 'Hair Of The Dog' for this album.
Now I like the Monster record and a like this too. Good hard rocking tunes, with a little more blues and a lot more in your face guitar. And Reno sounds as good as ever.
Big Picture has to be one of the more classic Loverboy tunes ever. A great rocker. Love Of Money is also strong, a little more laid back than the opener. Secrest is a traditional Reno ballad, and Waiting For The Night is a mid paced blues rock tune.
Nobody Cares and Goodnight Angel are a little slow to finish, and I think I prefer the Monster version of Create A Monster. No Time To Kill fits the same category of Nobody Cares, but that leads into the killer tune of the album. 'Bitch You' has been totally re-worked into the stomping hard rocker 'Hair Of The Dog'. Huge rock tune with great chorus and vocals. The last three songs vary slightly from the Loverboy formaula, and are worth repeated listens.
Overall, a departur from the traditional sound, into a tougher leaner meaner band. Could have been a classic if some of the songs were stronger, but with glimses of musical brilliance, givees a lot to look forward to if 'Seven' ever comes around! Fans must buy!

KING OF HEARTS/NO MATTER WHAT
THOUGHTSCAPE SOUNDS TSS0012
1. In So Many Words 2. Land Of Dreams 3. The Night The Angels Cried 4. Working Man 5. My Desire 6. Don't Call My Name 7. No Matter What 8. Closer To The Edge 9. Stranger In A Strange Town 10. I Surrender All 11. Midnight Crossing 12. After The Love Is Gone 13. Loving Arms (Live) 14. Broken World (Previously Unreleased) Discography
  • King Of Hearts
  • Midnight Crossing
  • No Matter What
Total Score 76%Production 79%Songs 80%Vibe 70%Attitude 73%
'No Matter What' is the first US release from King Of Hearts (guitarist Bruce Gaitsch and vocalist Tommy Funderburk), thanks to the new US based Westcoast/AOR label Thoughtscape Sounds.
It is also a compilation of the bands first two releases, and adds a couple of unreleased tunes for good measure.
You don't get any smoother than these two - it's great slick AOR mixed heavily with laid back grooves of the Westcoast style of pop/rock. In places, you probably won't find anything softer, but there is always the awesome voice of Tommy to carry you through to the next track. That is unless you love your AOR laid back, in which case you won't find better.
From my original review:
K.O.H are essentially a 'good news' band, with nice lyrics and nice songs. It will definately not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really like them. If you like it soft, well played and well sung, then this is where you should be looking. Comparisons could be made to Richard Marx and the likes of Joseph Williams and is best described as Middle Of The Road/Westcoast AOR. King Of Hearts are at their best with the uptempo tracks like In So Many Words and Land Of Dreams, which is almost worth the price alone. Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy guested on both albums, and a few of those tracks are here again.
For the record, other guests include George Hawkins, CJ Vanston, Alex Acuna, Bill and Tamara Champlin, and Kelly Keagy.
The bonus tracks are a live version of the ballad 'Loving Arms', a remix of the track 'Closer To The Edge' and an unreleased track 'Broken World'.
If you like it soft and smooth, and haven't yet discovered King Of Hearts - get it now at a local price!

STEPHEN HOUSDEN/NEW WORLD GROOVE
THOUGHTSCAPE SOUNDS TSS0011
1. Celtic Warrior 2. New World Groove 3. Seaspray 4. Skyline 5. Spanish Castles 6. Siobhan 7. Some Kind Of Strut 8. The Bounty 9. Emerald Blues 10. Soul Surrender part I & II Discography
  • New World Groove
Total Score 69%Production 75%Songs 68%Vibe 70%Attitude 74%
Stephen Housden has composed an instrumental album that for fans of this genre will undoubtably appeal, given the chance.
Unlike the speed demons of instrumentals, Stephen has gone the route of Aldo Nova, and decided to craft an album of varied styles and texture, which overall add interest and lasting impression than the listen once - know instantly style of some of the guitar hero's.
So the title says it all - the album mixes New Age textures with a heavy guitar, and some neat and complex time changes, and most importantly - lots of melody.
There are some background vocals, again like the Aldo Nova release, and lots of acoustic and electric guitar rythms.
Guest musicians include Corwded Houses' Eddie Rayner, orchestrating some of the Synth Quartet and Organ and strings. Like I said - it's a complex record!
Complex, yet easy to listen to, so instrumental fans check it out.

BLOODY CHICLETTS
US INDIE RELEASE
Discography
  • Bloody Chicletts
Total Score 59%Production 65%Songs 64%Vibe 55%Attitude 59%
The Bloody Chicklets and Limblifter (who I reviewed a little earlier) have a lot in common. They both fit into that 90's radio friendly format, of light pop rock tunes with enough alternativeness to be considered a true 90's band, but retaining some melody that make it tempting to us in the 'old school'.
Like Limblifter, the tunes border that of Soul Asylum without ever quite reaching that class. But tracks like the cool opening rocker 'She's A Freak' and the moody closing track 'Room 24', show real potential to continue on and become bigger and better.
Like there was in the late 80's for metal bands, there is now 1000 alternative 90's bands fighting for airplay space.
Out of these, given the right break, Bloody Chicklet's should be among those that survive. If 90's pop rock is your thing, check out Bloody Chicklets and Limblifter while your at it.

TIME BOMB SYMPHONY/IF YOU SEE KAY
CHEQUERED RECORDS CDQ 1-4146-24754-2
1. Take Me Or Leave Me 2. Better Love Next Time 3. See You In Hell 4. Perfect Rose 5. What The? 6. L.M.L.Y.D. 7. Never Love Again 8. Headful O' Doubt 9. Act Your Rage 10. Connected By The Moon 11. You R Heaven Discography
  • If You See Kay
Total Score 70%Production 70%Songs 80%Vibe 75%Attitude 80%
A couple of years ago everyone was singing the praises of a group called The Loveless, who had just released an album of brilliant pop rock gems complete with some very clever lyrics.
Time Bomb Symphony has a definite likeness to The Loveless. There are plenty of catchy pop rock songs, with cleaver lyrics of lost love and anguish.
Time Bomb Symphony is Darren Roddins, who is basically the one man band behind these songs, with added support from Rob Newhouse and Graham Walker. And while there are plenty of comparisons, there is also differences. TBS for example is much mellower in tone, and considerably moodier. The songs tend to be more laid back and darker.
The album kicks off with a great uptempo number 'Take Me Or Leave Me' full of nice hooks. The next number ' Better Love Next Time' is more representative of the rest of the album. Full blown moody mid paced rock track, with dark overtone and some tasty distorted guitar.
The album runs through 11 tracks of varied pace but similar style, all featuring the vocals of a more subdued Danny Wilde.
Another good pop rock album, and well worthy of a listen.

EDDIE MONEY/SHAKIN' WITH THE MONEY MAN
CMC INTERNATIONAL 06076-86223-2
1. Something To Believe In 2. If We Ever Get Out Of this Place 3. Can You Fall In Love Again 4. Everybody Loves Christmas 5. Two Tickets To Pardise 6. Wanna Go Back 7. She Takes My Breath Away 8. Where's The Party 9. Gimmie Some Water 10. Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star 11. Everybody Rock & Roll The Place 12. Baby Hold On 13. Take Me Home Tonight 14. Shakin' Discography
  • Eddie Money
  • Life For The Taking
  • Where's The Party
  • No Control
  • Can't Hold Back
  • Nothing To Lose
  • Greatest Hits - The Sound Of Money
  • Right Here
  • Unplug It In - Acoustic EP
  • Love And Money
  • Shakin' With The Money Man
Total Score 75%Production 80%Songs 85%Vibe 75%Attitude 75%
This is a pretty routine release for the Money Man, as it is basically a live variation of his 'Sound Of Money' best of. But that was a few years ago now, and any new material is always welcome, as Eddie is one of my favourites.
This release is an re-introdcution of eddie back into the fray on his new label CMC International.
The new material comes in the form of four new studio tracks recorded for the occassion mid last year.
Not yet classic material, but a big step back towards his classic sound, avaioded on the last record, mailnly due tot he blues Eddie felt after the death of mentor Bill Graham.
I was under the impression first track 'Something To Believe' in was infact 'Reason To Believe', the Rod Stewart classic included on the Forever Mod tribute record. It isn't, which makes for another good reason to buy that and this compilation.
It is a standard but good Eddie Money mid paced pop rocker, with a nice chorus and Eddie sounding good at the mike.
The second newie 'If We Ever Get Out Of This Place' is the track written by Money with Paul Stanley and Curt Cuomo. This track was also recorded by Stan Bush on his last Cuomo produced record.
The third new track is a cool typical Eddie Money ballad.
The fourth track is a little take it or leave it! It is a big cheesy christmas tune with guest vocal by ronnie Spector - last seen on the classic Take Me Home Tonight. Good fun though!
The rest of the album's other 10 tracks are from a new live gig recrded in front of a loyal and intimate crowd in LA.
There is nothing surprising here. All the hits are rolled out by a tight and great sounding band with eddie in fine vocal agian at the mike.
We have all heard the tracks before, but they are far from tired, so all ain't bad at all. The band features Tommy Girvin, Bill Mason, Trent Stroh, John Snider and Bobby Levine.
Hopefully this is a lead in to a new studio album sometime this year, which by me for one, will be welcomed with open arms.
Good fun, but not essential.

KEVIN CHALFANT/RUNNING WITH THE WIND
CLIQUE RECORDS
1. Running With The Wind 2. She's Waiting 3. Save me Tonight 4. Anyway The Wind Blows 5. Love Changes Everything 6. Wild Thing 7. Hurricane 8. If This Is Love 9. Learning To Fly Recent Discography
  • The Strom - The Storm
  • The Storm - Eye Of The Storm
  • Running With The Wind
Total Score 90%Production 90%Songs 90%Vibe 85%Attitude 90%
Many band singers' solo albums are mearly a mirror of the band that they normally front. In this case, it's not quite as predictable.
In fact, Kevin has taken his great voice that leads AOR supergroup The Storm, and stripped things right back.
This is an album Bryan Adams could only ever dream about. The style is very much in the vein of early Adams, maybe like 'Cuts Like A Knife'. But the sound of course, is a much updated 90's acoustic sound.
It is definately the voice of The Storm at work, but the material is suitably different.
The title track kicks things off, and heads into stripped down rock mode, a great laid back rock track.
'Anywhere The Wind Blows' is a great melodic blast of mid paced rock, a simple chorus, and one that you will not soon forget.
'Save Me Tonight' holds another great chorus and hum along tune, a little more the AOR style we are used to from Kevin.
'Love Changes Everything' is our first taste of a ballad. Haunting, acoustic driven, with a tempo that builds through the song, to a great finish.
'Wild Thing' is a classic Bryan Adams style hard rocker, that leads into 'She's Waiting' another great soft ballad.
'Hurricane' strips it right back again, a medium paced acoustic driven song. Great vocals. Great chorus.
'If This Is Love' is another ballad, a bigger more sentimental one than the previous two.
'Learning To Fly' is a big rocker, maybe the heaviest track of the album, and finishes the record off in grand style.
A great sing along happy chorus, that basically defines this album. Great styled pop rock, with all the big choruses and ballads you could wish for, all delivered with a great production and the voice of an angel!!
Highly recommended for AOR / pop rock / and hard rock fans that like some softer style now and then.
Top job!

VELOCITY/IMPACT
ROCK HARD MUSIC
1. You Dont' Amaze Me Anymore 2. Riot Goin' On 3. Supernatural Lover 4. Julia Ann 5. Janine 6. She's Been Around 7. More Than Tonight 8. Love Is Dangerous 9. One Minute To Midnight 10. Open Road Discography
  • Impact
Total Score 90%Production 80%Songs 85%Vibe 90%Attitude 95%
Here it is! The long awaited debut from David Victor and Chris Dodge, under the Velocity band name.
These guys have created one of the best Internet awareness campaigns for the release of this album, primarily through their web site at Rock Hard Music. There have been various demo tapes circulating for a while, and the vibe was really positive for an album of classic American hard rock.
The question to be posed on release was never going to be 'is it any good', but 'just how good is it?'.
The answer - Very good.
Infact, considering the band have financed and released this album on their own, and it has been self produced by David Victor, it makes the result even more amazing.
The album sounds like it has come hot off the production line from any one of the major labels. The sound is supurb. The production and mix is ideal, and the songs are no bullshit straight up hard melodic rock.
Mixing the influences of Van Halen, House Of Lords, Night Ranger, Journey and other classic American FM rock acts, Velocity have carved out 10 tracks of great rock n roll that any major label would be proud of. And given the decade we are in, it can be the only reason the band are not on a million dollar contract. That may still happen.
Highlights of this great album include the opening track 'You Don't Amaze Me Anymore'. It opens with a big killer riff, and some great vocals and a real groove.
'Supernatural Lover' has all the hallmarks of a classic House Of Lords track, 'Janine' is a monster of an anthem ballad, with some great vocals.
'More Than Tonight' is a huge Boston influenced acoustic driven rock ballad, while 'One Minute To Midnight' is a cool party tune.
One can only imagine what the band could do with a bigger budget.
But having said that, unlike many indie releases, this one suffers none from the lack thereof.
Pat Torpey of Mr. Big on drums adds more dimension to an all ready full rocking sound, but a welcome addition nevertheless.
Please, if you haven't heard Velocity yet, it is now time to check them out. Great record.

LIMBLIFTER/LIMBLIFTER
MERCURY RECORDS USA
1. Vicious 2. Cordova 3. Tinfoil 4. Cellophane 5. Screwed It Up 6. I Wonder If 7. Do I Feel Involved 8. Dominent Monkey 9. Beard Of Bees 10. Death Defier 11. Round The 2 12. Opinata Discography
  • Limblifter
Total Score 60%Production 70%Songs 65%Vibe 55%Attitude 65%
Limlifter are one of the few products of the 90's that I can listen to without cringing or wishing for a return to the old school of melodic rock.
Set very much in the 90's rock radio format of half commercial catchy tunes and half alternative.
Their nearest neighbours style wise, would be Goo Goo Dolls and Soul Asylum. And while comparing favourably to both, they haven't yet reached the level of quality song writing those two have.
The opening track is a killer, and easy pick single. However, the rest take a few listens to grow on you, and become a bit sameish towards the end.
A promising debut from the band. You could maybe liken it to the debuts of the two bands I have compared them to. If they continue on, I am sure the quality and the results will only get bigger.
A band with a future.

DAVID RAGSDALE/DAVID AND GOLIATH
RENAISSANCE RECORDS RMED00193
1. Bach Stabber 2. Dimon Street 3. Rondo & Fugue 4. After The Storm 5. Opus 2 No.1 6. Hit And Run 7. Suicide Squeeze 8. David And Goliath 9. Jungle Waterfall 10. Stu's Lamnet Discography
  • David And Goliath
Total Score 80%Production 85%Songs 80%Vibe 80%Attitude 90%
This is certainly a different sort of record!
David is formerly of prog rock giants Kansas, and has stepped out for his first solo record. The difference is David is a violin player, and what he has created here is one of the cooler, grooviest instrumental albums you are likely to hear.
It has all the ingredients of classic guitar driven instrumental pieces and plenty of soloing. But what makes this different is the great electrified violin and some of the solos that are produced from that.
The opening track starts a fierce onslaught of high energy rock instrumentals, with David playing many of the instruments himself.
The songs are as catchy as hell, even for those like me who don't often get into instrumentals. For you out there that love these albums, David And Goliath is certainly going to offer you something out of the ordinary.
The album cruises through 10 tracks of varied pace and intensity, without ever once dropping the quality.
The violin solos are incredible, and while they feature heavily, they never take over the song, or take away from the other musicians.
A stylish and highly origianl instrumental album, worthy of any good music fan's attention.

AGE OF ELECTRIC/MAKE A PEST A PET
US INDIE
1. Remote Control 2. I Don't Mind 3. Nothing Happens 4. Unity Or Grenadine 5. You Complain 6. Scare Myself 7. Blow Up 8. Don't Wreck 9. Cranky 10. Real Stumper 11. Mad At The World 12. My Mistake 13. Exist To Resist Discography
  • Ugly EP
  • Second EP
  • Make A Pest A Pet
Total Score 63%Production 60%Songs 65%Vibe 57%Attitude 63%
Canada's Age Of Electric started out by releasing an EP produced by mega producer Bob Rock. Since then they have had a second EP and this album.
Since their debut they have altered slightly to a more mature polished and definately more 90's sound. While not alternative, hard rock, pop or grunge, you could say their album is a soup of all these ingredients. Importantly though, they have retained their sense of humour and their ability to create catchy choruses and melodies. Not something all visitors to the Hot Spot are going to get into, they are more a MTV online sort of act - you know, a little trendier than most of the bands featured on these pages! Hopefully they will get a good shake when it comes to radio play and MTV exposure, cause they write pretty good songs. Cool 90's generation pop rock, but striktly for fans of that genre.

FIREHOUSE/GOOD ACOUSTICS
EPIC RECORDS USA EK-67610
1. You Are My Religion 2. Love Don't Care 3. In Your Perfect World 4. No One At All 5. Love Of A Lifetime 6. All She Wrote 7. When I Look Into Your Eyes 8. Don't Treat Me Bad 9. Here For You 10. I Live My Life For You 11. Seven Bridges Road
Discography
  • Firehouse
  • Hold Your Fire
  • 3
  • Good Acoustics
Total Score 75%Production 80%Songs 75%Vibe 85%Attitude 85%
This is actually a rather good record. I don't mind Firehouse, but don't love them either, so am probably very unbiased. And too me this is a great sounding record. The band give it their all, in re-working their favourite songs and a couple of hits and three new tracks, into that acoustic groove. And groove is probably the best word for it all, as it moves along from one song to another at a good even pace. Highlights would include All She Wrote, You Are My Religion, Don't Treat Mr Bad, and Love Don't Care. If you are a fan of the band, then this is an essential purchase, if not, then it may be the excuse you need to check them out for the first time. This album has been self produced, and all I can say to that is I think they should do like-wise with their next studio album.

WARRANT/BELLY TO BELLY Vol.1
CMC INTERNATIONAL
1.In The End 2.Feels Good 3. Letter To A Friend
4.A.Y.M. 5.Indian Giver 6.
7.Falling Down 8.Interlude #1 9.Solid
10.All 4 One 11.Coffee House
12.Interlude #2 13.Vertigo
13.Room With A View 14.Nobody Else
Discography
  • Filthy Dirty Rotten Stinking Rich
  • Cherry Pie
  • Dog Eat Dog
  • Ultraphobic
  • The Best Of Warrant
  • Belly To Belly
Total Score 70%Production 75%Songs 65%Vibe 70%Attitude 75%
Never been a huge fan of Warrant, so I guess you can take this review as fairly unbiased. The only bias I may have is that I hate these bands for selling out their original sound, only to cash in on one of the worst trends of the 20th century - grunge.
Anyhow, the new Warrant caught me by surprise, because I actually wanted to listed to it again! While maintaining their 90's sound, it isn't entirely grunge, but it is still eons from their original sound. What it does do, is retain some of that melody that so many grunge acts don't have.
In doing that, you get some strong songs, with strong choruses, and Jani Lane singing strongly. The first half has to be said to be the strongest, with it all falling away a little towards the end.
But with tracks like 'In The End', 'Feels Good' and 'Vertigo', overall it's not bad at all.

THE L.A. GUNS/AMERICAN HARDCORE
CMC INTERNATIONAL
1.F.N.A 2.What I've Become 3. Unnatural Act
4. Give 5.Don't Pray 6. Pissed
7. Mine 8. Kevorkian
10. Hey World 11. Next Generation
12. Hugs And Needles 13. I Am Alive
Discography
  • LA Guns
  • Cocked And Loaded
  • Hollywood Vampires
  • Cuts
  • Vicious Circle
  • Hollywood Au Go Go - Greatest Hits
  • Tracii Guns - Killing Machine
Total Score 50%Production 75%Songs 30%Vibe 50%Attitude 60%
I love LA Guns! Vicious Circle has to be one of the biggest baddest mother of a rock-n-roll records ever recorded. Now, I could almost review this album without a problem, if it was a Killing Machine album. But not when this band are trying to pass themselves off as LA Guns (even if they did add a 'The').
This is not the LA Guns I want to hear, and anyone who bought this album blind, will probably go off all pissed off. The line-up consists of guitarist Tracii Guns, and drummer Steve Riley, with new vocalist Chris Van Dahl and bassist Johnny Crypt.
The drums sound bloody awful, the vocals are sad to say the least, but the guitars, as always, are great. Heavy, but great nevertheless.
I really can't get past the shitty vocalist with this album, but if you liked Killing Machine (but with worse vocals) you may still like this album. Better off getting the awesome Vicious Circle, or hanging around for the next Phil Lewis project. Not a CD for Phil Lewis fans!

ABRAXAS POOL/ABRAXAS POOL
MIRIMAR/BMG USA
1. Boom Ba Ya Ya 2. A Million Miles Away 3. Baila Mi Cha-Cha 4. Going Home 5. Szabo 6. Guajirona 7. Cruzin' 8. Don't Give Up 9. Ya Liego 10. Jingo Pedigree
  • Santana - First 3 albums
  • Journey
  • Gregg Rolie solo
  • Neal Scon solo
  • Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve
Total Score 80%Production 90%Songs 85%Vibe 80%Packaging 50%
One look at this album, and you know it's going to be something different! Formed out of the original line-up of Santana, it features two famous names who went on to stardom with Journey - Neal Schon and Greg Rolie, and drummer Michael Shrieve, along with three other original band members. Formed out of their love for the music, this is not your average record. The sound is primarily based on Latin/Tribal/South American/Jungle/Jazz roots, with big tribal drum sounds, congas and associated instruments. There are a few instrumentals, which are the showcase for the heavy duty influences, while the vocal tracks (sung by Greg Rolie) are more melodic and accesable.
Fear not though, there are more melodic moments bordering on AOR, which combined with the other influences, make for quite awesome listening. Tracks like Boom Ba Ya Ya and Million Miles Away, have great depth and highlight the talents of all involved.
This is an album, which when I am in the mood will really enjoy from start to finish, but on other occasions will play the tracks I love, and skip the rest.
Definately worth the addition to the Journey/Schon/Perry/Cain/Rolie/Storm section of your CD collection.

KIP WINGER/THIS CONVERSATION SEEMS LIKE A DREAM
DOMO RECORDS 71015-2
1. Kiss Of Life 2. Monster 3. Endless Circles 4. Angel Of The Underground 5. Steam 6. I'll Be Down 7. Naked Son 8. Daniel 9. How Far Will We Go 10. Don't Let Go 11. Here Discography
  • Winger
  • In The Heart Of The Young
  • Pull
  • Solo - This Conversation
Total Score 80%Production 90%Songs 90%Vibe 80%Attitude 80%
Well, I had heard good things, and I had heard that this record was a real departure for Kip, but I was still really surprised when I heard this. What we have is a totally different feel to anything not only Winger have produced, but what most rock artists have also ever produced. It is a highly produced, tightly performed, original piece of music.
In trying to describe it, I will probably not do it justice. But I would say it is a slick AOR pop/rock record, extremely moody and even dark in places, mellow in tone, without being ballad driven. It has the feel of an adult contemporary album, like Mr Mister's second album 'Go On'. It also bares comparison to the Rob Lamothe solo album reviewed below. Overall it is very laid back and controlled and features beautifly arranged instrumentation, with multi layers of vocals and guitars. Other instruments simply add texture to the sound. They include strings, cellos, violins and flutes. Featured on the album are fellow Winger Rob Morgenstein, Keyboard legend Alan Pasqua, ex-Danger Danger guitarist Andy Timmons and drummer Robbie Rothchild.
A highly intelligent record whick risks deviating from the norm, and a great showcase for Kip's writing talents, some of which were untapped until this record.

AEROSMITH/NINE LIVES
COLUMBIA RECORDS
1. Nine Lives 2. Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) 3. Hole In My Soul 4. Taste Of India 5. Full Circle 6. Something's Gotta Give 7. Ain't That A Bitch 8. The Farm 9. Crash 10. Kiss Your Past Goodbye 11. Pink 12. Falling Off 13. Attitude Adjustment 14. Fallen Angels (+'Fall Together' - Bonus track for Japan) Recent Discography
  • Permanent Vacation
  • Pump
  • Get A Grip
  • Greatest Hits
  • Nine Lives
Total Score 93%Production 95%Songs 95%Vibe 95%Attitude 90%
What a great week for music! I am becoming overloaded with Cheap Trick, Whitesnake and Hard Rain all in one week. Then there is this album. What can I possibly say about Aerosmith that any one is going to take any notice of? How about, go out and buy this awesome record?! Yes, the 'smiths have recorded another fine collection of swaggering hard rock, blues, ballads, and sleeze. I thought they wouldn't beat Permanent Vacation. I thought they wouldn't even come close to 'Pump'. Then after about three months of hard listening I decalred 'Get A Grip' to be the greatest ever Aerosmith recording. That still stands, for I haven't had this new album more than a week, and it needs the same attention to detail applied. But, having said that, this album will come bloody close. In fact it is a great succesor to 'Get A Grip', in that it is of similar approach and sound. In fact a couple of the classic ballads could have come from that album. This album has all the ingredients of a classic Aerosmith album - the fast rockers, the big ballads, the bizzare, the new instruments and the awesome mix of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
Like 'Get A Grip' there are a few absolute stompers on here with the title track, 'Something's Gotta Give' and 'Crash' in particular. There are also some departures from the norm with the Glen Ballad co-written 'Taste Of India', where Aerosmith exercise their love of strange instruments by using a 'Sarangi', and the trippy 'Pink'. Joe Perry pops up to sing the brilliant 'Falling Off', similar again to his 'Get A Grip' tune. A highly enjoyable, and well constructed record, worthy of any Aerosmith fan, and one which will probably keep me going five years till the next 'Smith record. A couple of footnotes, the album features a couple of other noteable guests with John Webster of Red Rider fame on keyboards, and Fergie Frederikson, Mark Hudson, Desmond Child, Richie Supa and Taylor Rhodes all appearing on co-writing credits.

CHEAP TRICK/CHEAP TRICK
VICTOR RECORDS JAPAN
1. Anytime 2. Hard To Tell 3. Carnival Game 4. Shelter 5. You Let A Lotta People Down 6. Baby No More 7. Yeah Yeah 8. Say Goodbye 9. Wrong All Along 10. Eight Miles Low 11. It All Comes Back To You 12. Baby Talk 13. Brontosaurus Discography
Total Score 80%Production 85%Songs 80%Vibe 85%Attitude 90%
First time I put this album on and was confronted by the first track 'Anytime' I thought oh yeah, the nineties have finally caught up with Cheap Trick. And while that is true to a point, there is plenty of The Trick's old habits cropping up to keep most fans pretty happy. After surviving the storm of the opener, immediate relief is offered with a typical Trick pop rock anthem 'Hard To Tell'. That is followed by three varied paced Beatlesque tunes, showcasing the band's strong songwriting skills. Like the opener, tracks like 'Brontosaurus', 'Baby Talk' and 'Wrong All Along' are heavily 90's influenced, with pounding guitars, harsh vocals, and distortion to match. But as capable they are of acting contemporary, they are also capable of producing classic rock, as typical Cheap Trick tunes like 'Eight Miles Low' and 'Yeah Yeah' demonstrate. There are a few odd moments like the thrashy rock of 'Baby No More', and the psychedelic ballad 'It All Comes Back To You', which is a very cleaver track. Ultimately this band are great songwriters, and this album displays the many styles they are capable of from 90's hard rock to finely crafted pop rock anthems to the acoustic Beatles influenced songs. On top of that there are still the fine harmonies, great musicianship and Robin Zander's voice sounding as fine as ever. Not an album to immediately like, but after listen number five, it's really beginning to grow.

THROWAN ROCKS
ADVANCE ALBUM DEMO
1. Medicine Ball 2. Absolute Ozone Baby 3. Gone St Poets 4. So Galvanic 5. Book Of Virtues 6. The Spin 7. Lost In Babylon Discography
  • Featuring Steve Brown Ex-Trixter
Total Score 85%Production 75%Songs 80%Vibe 85%Attitude 90%
There is no way Steve Brown can lose with songs like these!! Throwan Rocks show that he has matured greatly since Trixter. There is virtually no comparison here to his old band. The songs groove along nicely, with referances to Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Spin Doctors Rolling Stones and Aussie Nick Barker to name a few. Another comparison could also be made to fellow pop rockers The Loveless. You know the vibe! Opener Medicine Ball is a great standard rock tune, Ozone is a real groover in a Spin Doctors mold, and Gone St Poets is a real rocker with a blues feel and a killer riff. So Galvantic slows it down a little with a nice distorted guitar and vocal. One cannot pick a weak track from the seven, each one a distinct tune on it's own. I would recommend keeping an eye out for the upcoming record. Great pop/rock songs.

BEGGARS AND THEIVES/LOOK WHAT YOU CREATE
ORIGINAL EPIC MASTER TAPE
1. Don't Call It Love 2. Take Another Piece Of My Heart 3. What's Going On 4. Is That The Price Of Mercy 5. Soul Confession 6. Hide Away The Stranger 7. Shine The Light 8. Mystify 9. Bittersweet And Blue 10. Be True To Yourself 11. Midnight Train Discography
  • Beggars And Theives
  • Look What You Create
Total Score 95%Production 95%Songs 95%Vibe 95%Attitude 95%
At their worst Beggars And Thieves were great. At their best they are absolutely incredible. The story behind this album will no doubt unfold, but due to being screwed by Atlantic, the album which was recorded in 1992, and produced by Kevin Elson, has never been released. Now MTM in Europe have the license and it is finally set to see the light of day. And thank God for that because it's awesome!! There are only a handful of bands in the world that have ever sounded as good as Beggars And Thieves. Giant's one of them, House Of Lords another. Their debut album contained some of the best stadium anthems around, in 'No More Broken Dreams', 'Isn't It Easy' and 'Beggars And Thieves'. If you needed a definitive example of the AOR/Stadium rock genre, then these guys are your band (Just throw in Giant for good measure!) Back to the new album (or old new album), which surprised me by opening with a standard rocker. I was expecting a big and prolonged intro like the first album, but no, this track gets straight down to business. From the first chord you know who this is. The album has the same sound as the first, the sharp, tough, multi- layered production, with those fantastic distinctive vocals flying high. Track two is a great original rocker with a great hook to start the chorus, and leads into the first ballad 'What's Going On', a nice mid paced acoustic track. 'Price Of Mercy' is a great little mid paced anthem, not unlike that on their first release. The next four tracks are perfect, a mix of big ballads and mid paced rockers, everyone of them a AOR classic. Then, if that all ain't enough, the ultimate smouldering ballad is before us, possibly the pick of the album, and of the year. Great vocals, great emotion, great song! The album finishes with two big-time feel good rockers, with choruses as big as Ben Hur's big bits. Wow, what a ride, what a record. If there is one album that will be stamped essential when it's released soon - this is it!! This is AOR masterpiece number one, in what promises to be a great year for rock-n-roll!!

GLEN BURTNIK/PALOOKAVILLE
DEKO 1006
1. Learning To Crawl 2. Spirit Of A Boy,
Wisdom Of A Man 3. Little Lucy's Blues 4.My Crowning Achievement 5.Doen't Mean I Love You 6.Watching The World Go By 7.Hold That
Thought 8.Johnny Comes Home 9.Don't Give Up On Your Love
10.Never Mind Me 11.The Liars Club
Discography
  • Hammer w/Jan Hammer (1979)
  • Helmet Boy (1980)
  • Talking In Code (1984)
  • Heroes And Zeros (1985)
  • w/Styx - Edge Of The Century (1986)
  • Slaves Of New Brunswick (1991)
  • Palookaville (1996)
  • Retrospectacle (1996)
Total Score 80%Production 85%Songs 90%Vibe 80%Attitude 80%
To me Glen's two previous solo albums, are classic of the genre, and it has been long overdue for some new material. This year we have been spoilt with two new releases, this album and the semi-archival release Retrospectacle. The two albums are similar in approach, for it is obviously the same artist, but they are fairly different in sound. This album, of all new 1996 material, is the newer Glen Burtnik, and has seen him lean towards the acoustic side of things. You know, more of the song writer approach.
This CD will sit comfortably alongside the Rembrants albums and last years' Shaw/Blades outing. That should give you an idea of the songs on this album. That said, it is an awesome example of what a great songwriter Glen really is, with eleven finely crafted pieces of pop/rock mastery.
Stand out tunes include the Styx covered song 'Little Suzi's Blues' (on the bands' Greatest Hits 2), the opening track 'Learning To Crawl', 'Hold That Thought', and too many others!. This is pure AOR, but if you are looking for something more along the lines of Heroes And Zeros, then check out Retrospectacle. If you like the craft of songwriting and love the mellower tones that an acoustic guitar offers, buy this CD, I could not recommend it higher!

BALANCE/BALANCE, IN FOR THE COUNT
RENAISSANCE RECORDS
Balance 10 Tracks........In For The Count 9 Tracks. Discography
  • Balance
  • In For The Count
Total Score 70%Production 70%Songs 75%Vibe 70%Attitude 70%
Balance was the band featuring Bob Kulic, Bruce from Kiss's brother, and Peppy Castro on vocals. It has been a long while since they were a band, and it's been a long time coming that they should be re-issued on CD. Thanks to the good folk at Renaissance Records in the USA, here they are! These are the oldest re-issues I have included on this site, and therefore probably sound more dated than anything else you will see here. But that should not take away from the great albums they once were. They translate to CD nicely, thanks to a great re-mastering, and manage to stand on their own quite well. The songs are strong, the vocals great, and unlike Bob's latest work, contain a great deal of melody!! The ones who will but this two for one release of the bands two records 'Balance' and 'In For The Count' will no doubt be the owners of the original vinyl releases, but they should not be ignored by the fine collector, who would like to round out their collection. Definitely worth a listen.

SLAUGHTER/REVOLUTION
CMC INTERNATIONAL
1. American Pie 2. Heaven It Cries 3. Tongue N Groove 4. Can We Find A Way 5. Stuck On You 6. Hard To Say Goodbye 7. Revolution 8. Guck 9. Heat Of The Moment 10. Rocky Mountain Way 11. You're My Everything 12. I'm Gone 13. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam Disography
  • Stick It To Ya
  • Wild Life
  • Fear No Evil
  • Revolution
Total Score 80%Production 85%Songs 80%Vibe 85%Attitude 85%
The long awaited sequel to Slaughter's last CD, 'The Wild Life' is here. And they have picked up where they left off, and taken it a lot further. The CD runs a fwe styles, but the overall sound is a stripped back groove laiden hard rocking one. The band kick off with a light hearted grooving soft rocker 'American Pie', that'll have your foot stomping in no time. 'Heaven It Cries' is a lot heavier, but still at a casual pace. On 'Tongue N Groove' the band start to let loose, with a heavy rolicking tune, more reminisant of their past albums, than anything else on here.
There are a couple of great anthem like tunes, the best of which is 'You Are My Everything', a big hit if radio ever gives it a go. The ballads like 'Can We Find A Way' are also of great quality. It seems the band get better with age, as this is their most mature and consistant work to date.
There are a lot of acoustic driven tracks here, but fear not they are not whimpy in the least. In most cases, the acoustic sound is only adding texture to the overall song. It is used with great effect.
The inclusion of an Interactive portion is an added bonus for fans, with song clips, a photo gallery and discography. If only more bands did this.
So as a whole this is a great collection of classic Slaughter tunes, with added maturity and a healthy dose of experimentation, the new grooves proving very interesting indeed. Also check out the track 'I'm Gone', it could be the heaviest Slaughter track ever!

STYX/RETURN TO PARADISE
CMC INTERNATIONAL
(DISC 1) 1. On My Way* 2. Paradise* 3. Rocking The Paradise 4. Blue Collar Man 5. Lady 6. Too Much Time On My Hands 7. Snow Blind 8. Suite Madame Blue 9. Crystal Ball (DISC 2 )10. Grand Illusion 11. Fooling Yourself 12. Show Me The Way 13. Boat On The River 14. Lorelei 15. Babe 16. Miss America 17. Come Sail Away 18. Renegade 19. The Best Of Times 20. Dear John*
* New Studio Tracks
Recent Discography
  • Greatest Hits Volume 1 (with new track)
  • Greatest Hits Volume 2 (with a new track)
  • Return To Paradise
Total Score 85%Production 90%Songs 90%Vibe 90%Attitude 80%
Styx have reuninted a couple of times recently, for a new tracks on their remastered 'best of's'. But late last year, there was a full tour, with Tommy Shaw back in the fold. This tour was recorded and here we have the results - a double live album. Add the bonus of three new tracks, and it amounts to an essential purchase for any Styx fan. The album kicks off with two of the three new tracks - the rocking 'On My Way', with Tommy on lead, and 'Paradise', a ballad with Dennis De Young singing lead. The first proves that Styx can still create a huge rock track when they want to. It should be the rock radio classic of the American summer. 'Paradise' is a typical big ballad, sung in Dennis' best voice. Then the live content begins. There isn't much I can say about the already classic line up of tunes here. They have proven themselves many times already. But I can comment on the CD sound.
Huge - there is only one word for it - Huge!!
The band are in top form, Tommy and Dennis have incredible voices, the stadium sound is mega over the top, just what many live recordings lack. The crowd are loud and appreciative, and lap eveything up. Highlights include the ballads 'Lady' and 'Babe' - they just sound huge, theclassics like 'Fooling Yourself' and 'Crystal Ball', and the hard rockers 'Blue Collar Man' and 'Renegade'. Special mention for the ballad 'Show Me The Way'. It also goes down a treat.
The third new track is the song 'Dear John' - dedicated to their recently deceased original drummer. It is a real whole band ballad. Truelt a great recording, one which makes me wish I was there. Don't suppose there is much of a chance for a mid-winter Australian pub tour?
Get the CD instead!

MOTLEY CRUE/GENERATION SWINE
ELEKTRA ADVANCE TAPE
1. Find Myself 2. Afraid 3. Flush 4. Generation Swine 5. Confessions 6. Beauty 7. Glitter 8. Anybody Out There 9. Let Us Prey 10. Rocketship 11. A Rat Like Me 12. Shout At The Devil '97 13. Brandon Discography
  • Motley Crue
  • Theatre Of Pain
  • Shout At The Devil
  • Girls Girls Girls
  • Dr. Feelgood
  • Decade Of Decadence
  • Motley Crue
  • Quartenary EP
Total Score 96%Production 95%Songs 95%Vibe 100%
With the first word uttered, you know you are in for something pretty rockin'. One word - 'Destroy', then the first chords of 'Find Myself' are heard, grabbing your brain and offering little hope of recovery.
Then the first words of Vince's big homecoming - 'I'm a sick mother fucker....'. Yep, the bad boys of Rock N Roll are back. And believe me, you can forget the rest, the pretenders and the wannabe's....This is the Crue at their BADDEST and BEST!
The Crue are heavier then ever, badder than ever, and have more balls than all their previous records combined into one.
Song of the year has to be 'Afraid'. It has to be the heaviest ballad ever! (not that it's is a proper ballad, as such). The chorus takes only one listen to love, and the band will be robbed if it isn't a hit.
The album's sound is a mixture of the last album 'Motley Crue', a mix of classic early Crue, and a bunch of new sounds.
'Flush' sounds like something Warrant only wished they could have written for one of their last two records, 'Generation Swine' is a full punk track with a million miles an hour riff, as is 'Anybody Out There'. Beauty, is a moody rocker, a mix of vocals between Vince and the rest of the band. 'Glitter' is a bloody killer. It's a slow rock ballad, but with keys and sampling, including drum samples. It features a unusually low tone from Vince. 'Let Us Prey' is probably the heaviest track on the album. It's a full industrial metal tune, the likes you have never heard from Motley. It is so heavy! Vince screams, the guitars howl, and the drums pound your brain like nothing I have ever witnessed. The comes 'Rocketship', and really takes you by surprise. It is a spacey, new age influenced, track, with only a rough melodic whisper as a vocal. It also features some acoustic guitar. Legendary! 'Rat Like Me' goes back into sonic overdrive, but like 'Afraid', it features a killer chorus, tuned way down and as moody as hell. Positively dark as! 'Shout At The Devil '97' is reworked to the tune of the rest of the album - loud, heavy and in your face. The comes the surprise! An acoustic piano ballad featuring Tommy omn vocals. 'Brandon' is an obvious tribute, but shows another side to the band, you may not have heard before.
I was a doubter, but no more. Seldomly do you here such a fresh and original record as this, and more seldomly do you go away with your ears bleeding as much as this record can do.
It's heavy, it's metal, it's bad, and it is s brilliantly produced and executed album. It sounds fresh, it sounds huge, and every band member contributes to it.
What a great vibe...I love it!

DOKKEN/SHADOWLIFE
CMC INTERNATIONAL/VICTOR JAPAN VICP-5839
1. Puppet On A String 2. Cracks In The Ground 3. Sky Beneath My Feet 4. Until I Know 5. Hello 6. Convenience Store Messiah 7. I Feel 8. Here I Stand 9. Hard To Believe 10. Sweet Life 11. Bitter Regret 12. I Don't Mind 13. Until I Know (Slight Return) 14. How Many Lives 15. Deep Waters Discography (from reformation)
  • Dokken (Japanese Version)
  • Dysfunctional
  • One Live Night
  • Shadowlife
Total Score 25%Production 40%Songs 15%Vibe 05%Attitude 05%
I have put off reviewing this record in hope something would change. It didn't. In my opion this record will KILL Dokken's career. I really don't think any band, espicially one as fragile as Dokken can survive an album as bad as this.
Why in God's name would any band follow up an album of such immense magnitude, like 'Dysfunctional' in '95, with such a lame duck record.
Why also, would such a band dump a fifteen year sound in favour of an irrelevant alternative mish-mash of noise?
What we have here is 13 or 15 tracks (depending on country of issue) of distorted vocals and heavy chorus-void alternative 90's style metal. The band have swapped the power and passion of 'Dysfunctional' for a sound void of tune, harmony, melody and style.
If I wanted an album like this, I would go out and buy Pearl Jam or Warrant's last record. I must seriously question any band that would turn to alternative in these times, where it is becoming possible to once again make a living, by being true to yourself.
I will be surprised if there is a sequel to this record. Stand clear!