|Editor and King Of The Dipshits - Kurt Torster|
|-Ian McIntosh (AOR Basement - http://www.aorbasement.com)|
|-Tim Henderson (Brave Words - http://www.hardradio.com)|
|-Peter Sims (Now & Then/Frontiers - http://www.nowandthen.co.uk)|
|-Ove Gustafsson (MTM - http://www.pi.se/mtm)|
|-Mark Alger (Z Records - http://graffiti.virgin.net/zero_option_pro.z_records/)|
|-Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)|
|-Marty Dodge ( http://www.lupusandco.com)|
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I want to start a new SFK section dedicated to MP3.COM. Have you donwloaded anything good from this website? Let your fellow SFKers in on it. I played around on it this past weekend and grabbed some pretty decent stuff, so share the wealth…
Frontiers has signed THE VIEW, which featured Ross Valory, Kevin Chalfant, Stef Burns (Y & T, Alice Cooper), Tim Gorman and And Prairie Prince to release their long lost album from the 80s. The band has even reformed to lay down some new tracks.
SFK faves VELOCITY is looking for a new bass player as things with JOHNNY LIMA didn't work out. If you live in Southern CA and play the bass then head over to www.rockhardmusic.com.
I received an advance of some of the tunes on the upcoming TWO FIRES album on Frontiers. All I can say is WOW. If you're a fan of The Storm and Journey then prepared to be floored.
THE EAGLES "Greatest Hits 1971-1975" is the best selling album of all time, going into the year 2000. At present, it has sold a staggering 26.6 million copies.
I hear that PASSION STREET (remember them?) have completed their new album, titled "Monsters".
Strange doings over at the MARCIE (nee Mark) FREE website ( www.marciefree.com). All sorts of accusations and such about the legalities of the Frontiers reissue of the classic "Long Way From Love" (with the bonus live CD).
Apparently MTM has passed on the new JIMMY LAWRENCE disc, leaving him a free agent.
The FOO FIGHTERS continued their tradition of performing rather choice cover tunes. At a recent Philadelphia show, the band performed the Backstreet Boys' "Larger Than Life". In the meantime, hosebag Courtney Love blasted Dave Grohl on the Howard Stern Show saying that Cobain hated Grohl and went so far as to sing a song about him. The Foos have released a new single in "Stacked Actors", which is said to be a song about Ms. Love. Aye carumba...
COLLECTIVE SOUL's Dean Roland has chosen such SFK faves as the MARVELOUS 3, ROBBIE WILLIAMS and TAL BACHMAN as two of the best albums of 1999.
NIKKI SIXX’s label, Americoma, has a website now for it’s first signing FLASH BASTARD at www.flashbastard.com. Free MP3s.
DANNY DANZI has posted an MP3 of a special song to a friend. Check it out at http://sharehouse.xoom.com/index.php3?SH_CAT=2.
An interesting quote from HENRY ROLLINS on his new album, "it's way more like Thin Lizzy [then any of his previous work]".
DREAMHUNTER has finished their album, “Kingdom Come”, for release in the new year.
MTM Music has moved their website to www.mtm-music.com.
Tracklisting for the latest HAREM SCAREM cash-in "The Ballads": Honestly, Slowly Slipping Away, Something To Say, Stranger Than Love, If There Was A Time, Just Like I Planned, Mandy, Let It Go, Necessary Evil, Rain, Hail Hail, The Mirror, In My State Of Mind, Without You, More Than You'll Ever Know plus two new tracks in Remember and Why.
BALANCE OF POWER has a new Mailing list at http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/ListofSecrets.
A new AOR label has been formed in Spain called Vinny Records. Their first release will be a reissue of HIROSHIMA’s 1989 self-titled debut.
Tour dates for CHER: 1/28 Salt Lake City, Delta Center, 1/29 Las Vegas, MGM Grand, 2/1 Phoenix, America West Arena, 2/2 Los Angeles, Staples Center, 2/5 San Jose, Calif, San Jose Arena, 2/9 Louisville, Ky, Freedom Hall, 2/11 Chicago, Allstate Arena, 2/12 East Lansing, Mich, Breslin Center, 2/14 Dayton, Ohio, Nutter Center, 2/15 Champaign, Ill, Assembly Hall, 2/17 Toronto, Air Canada Arena, 2/18 Ottawa, Correl Center, 2/21 Miami, American Airlines Arena, 2/24 East Rutherford, NJ, Continental Arena
Nothing here yet (it’s up to you guys to help me out!) but I can tell you that both SFK faves Velocity and Kyle Vincent have clips available there.
BLUE CARTOON - DOWNTOWN SHAGRI LA, Aardvark, 1999 [Similarities: Gin Blossoms, Nick Lowe, The Smithereens] [ www.bluecartoon.com ]
There's quite an underground brewing in the world of pop that's just waiting to burst out. And if albums keep getting released match the quality of Blue Cartoon, then 2000 might very well be the year that power pop returns to the mainstream. This disc is packed with smooth jangly melodies that are SO smooth on the ears and, at times, reminds me of 70s AM radio.
The clean production highlights songs like "Inside Out", "Nothing New" and "Only Me Only You", which all have exactly what it takes to make it on radio these days. The band has a real genuine feel that tends to elude a lot of artists and it ups the enjoyment factor a couple of notches. The title track is one of those kinds of songs that will have you reaching for the volume knob because it just plainly sounds better LOUD. Not much else I can add here other than one minor complaint...over the course of 12 tracks a little bit of blandness sets in (especially on the quiet and slow "Lorissa") and if you're not paying attention, then you can tune out real quick. But, if pop's your bag, than this is a superb release but those craving a little more crunch and bombast might be better off elsewhere.
CHER - IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME, Geffen, 1999 [Similarities: Bon Jovi, Michael Bolton, Meat Loaf]
Let's face it, in the 80s (where the bulk of these songs come from), Cher was pumping out some textbook perfect AOR. And that was, in no small part, due to the help in the songwriting/producing departments of Desmond Child, Dianne Warren and various members of Bon Jovi. And reading the list of performers in the liners reads like a who's-who of melodic rock (besides those already mentioned you will also find Robin Beck, Michael Bolton, Peter Cetera, Meat Loaf and members of Toto). So, ignoring the last five tracks on the disc (which all cover Cher's 70s era and seems slapped on and out of place to be honest), this thing has some storming AOR tracks. Though her vocals can be a little over the top, it's just hard to resist the outright arena rock of "Save Up All Your Tears", "If I Could Turn Back Time", "I Found Someone" and "We All Sleep Alone", which are all easily some of the best of the 80s. What's more, they hold up a lot better than some of what was released back then. Even her 90s 'pre-disco' material is pretty strong, as her duet with Peter Cetera in the power ballad "After All" and the infectious doo-wop "It's In His Kiss" are more than listenable. Throw in a great new track in the bombastic "Don't Come Crying To Me" and a highly orchestrated remake of "Bang Bang" and this becomes one of the more essential melodic rock collections released in a long while.
EMERALD RAIN - AGE OF INNOCENCE, Frontiers, 1999 [Similarities: Harem Scarem, Ten, Firehouse]
Maybe it's just me but I was not a fan of their last album, and to be honest, I was expecting very little here. And, up until track 4 I was thinking this to be another bust as the first three tracks showed to be little more than your generic riff fest. But the ultra catchy "Don't Tell The Rain" started a nice run of tracks that shows the band branching out a little from their 'Harem Scarem clone' tag (though not entirely showing all that much growth). While nothing here is all that original, it's very well done and shows some legs that their last disc didn't have. And in fact, the more I listened, the more I really liked this. Other tunes, like "Sleeping In The Fire", "Barely Holding On" and the Metallica-like riffing of "The Method" continued the trend of blazing arena rock (leaving me wondering if I should go back and give the debut another spin). The guitar playing of Mike Dmitrovic is superb and is reminiscent of Pete Lesperence or Nuno. About my only quibble, albeit minor, is that the vocals of Murray Daigle seems a little low registered and at times doesn't fit the music. The band does show some real nice harmonies though on "Endless Grey" and he does sound great on the epic ballad "Come Clean". A vast improvement on their debut and shows hints of things to come.
RIK EMMETT - TEN INVITATIONS FROM THE MISTRESS OF MR. E, Artisan, 1998 [Similarities: Dream Theater, Eric Johnson, George Benson] [ http://www.rikemmett.com ]
Since his days in Triumph, Rik has always been one of my favorite guitarists. I feel he plays with more passion and vitality that those so called shred masters (that are all technique). Though this is nothing remotely AOR, or even rock for that matter, this collection of ten acoustic-ish instrumentals range from flamenco to new age to jazz. And as quiet as this collection is, I was never bored and was held quite captivated by the sincerity put forth in the melodies. This release is all about style and substance and if you're looking for that right disc to relax to, or are a student of the guitar, then this is a great choice.
THIRD EYE BLIND - BLUE, Elektra, 1999 [Similarities: Marvelous 3, Cheap Trick, Rick Springfield]
I just recently became a fan of the band's debut album, which was a superb slice of power pop that had job gobs of melody oozing from it's pores, so I was greatly anticipating this disc. Was I let down? Well, on first listen it would appear so. But on subsequent listens I became more and more impressed by many things, and now put the disc at least on as equal a plane as the first. The band's already strong songwriting stayed consistent throughout and their ability to throw out catchy pop ditties seems almost effortless. Opening track "Anything" sets the stage for the mixed bag of diverse tunes that follows. From the the huge melodies of "Never Let You Go" and "1000 Julys" to the more subtle "Wounded" or "Deep Inside Of You", it seems that the band went out of their way to not sound like their debut (which is to be totally commended in this day of cookie cutter rock). Granted Stephen Jenkins isn't the best vocalist in the world, but he does infuse a lot of passion into his singing. While nothing here screams 'hit' like the debut, those that stick with it and give it it's proper due will uncover one corker of a melodic rock record from a band that everyone assumed would be 'one hit wonders'. Things are only looking up for this San Fran mob...
(Re)Views From The Hill:
MONTGOMERY GENTRY: TATTOOS & SCARS, Columbia [Similarities: Blackhawk, Eagles, Steve Earle, Firehouse]
We live in odd times, when watching CMT you see more AOR names from 80s than on MTV. Watch 2 hours of CMT and you will see names like Huff (Giant) and Lange (Def Leppard) producing a whole lot of popular country artists from Shania "Twain" Lange (Mutt Lange) to Lonestar and SheDaisys (Huff). Add to that the myriad of AOR tunes (including a cover of John Waite’s "Missing You" by Brooks and Dunn) masquerading as "new country". Lets not forget Blackhawk whose next to last album featured a myriad of AOR credibles including Dan Huff, Terry McMilllan, Desmond Child while the band features Van Stephenson and Henry Paul. Still haven’t spotted Ronnie Keel (Ron Keel of Keel) singing on CMT, but I am sure it is only a matter of time. One of the many touting what would have been called "country rock" in the 80s and 70s is Montgomery Gentry. The guys are so rock, that recently a young lady plying her vocal talents in Nashville gave me a good earful for calling them country at all. To add to the country rock feel on this opus, country rock legend Charlie Daniels lends his songwriting talents, his fiddle and his voice to the party stomper "All Night Long".
This album contains some country twangers, probably to satisfy the "traditional" Nashville crowd but most of the stuff on would not be out of place on either a Steve Earle or an Eagles album.
My personal fave and the track that pushed me into the country section to get the disc is the simply awesome: "Lonely and Gone". This is a classic AOR track that features cranking guitars, soaring vocals and a kick arse chorus. L&G is the type of song I listen to AOR for, guitars, vocals and emotion combine to produce sheer class. The video for the song isn’t half bad either, featuring lots of flames, the destruction of a house and a bloke dressed all in black with a huge black cowboy hat. The director obviously loved old school metal videos from the 80s. It was CMT’s "Big One" on its top 12 for two weeks in a row. Other interesting rockish tracks: "Daddy wont sell the Farm" and "Self Made Man." The afore mentioned Charlie Daniels penned "All Night Long" is a great rousing rocker that will no doubt be an anthem for the band live. It is a well rounded album that I highly recommend especially if you like SFK approved Blackhawk or Shania Twain. Are Montgomery Gentry the next crossover act to follow Shania Twain? I doubt it, but they deserve it as much as anyone. This is the perfect use for that gift certificate from the local Walmart, take a chance, it will be well worth it.
AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):
The Song Haus label has signed up Christian melodic rockers Faith Nation. The band's excellent second CD - "Ordinary People" - will now be re-mastered and re-released by Song Haus in February with distribution by Sumthing. It's a great album, so it's good that it's going to be a little easier to locate for the average listener....
For anyone that's interested, word's reached me that former Persian Risk singer Carl Sentance has joined Krokus. Krokus were always a bit of a ridiculous band to me, but the main problem there was almost having an idiot like Marc Storace as a singer! It'll be highly interesting to see how they fair with a more talented, and intelligent, frontman. The band are already working on a new album which is to be titled "Round 13". No details on a release date, or which label is behind it as yet....
I know have a particular downer on a lot of the European labels, but I have to say I'm quite impressed with the debut release from new label Assassination. It's be female Canadian singer Robin Brock (clearly not to be confused with Robin Beck) and it's a really nice album of quality AOR. People should start noticing that one quite quickly - former Signal guitarist Danny Jacob plays on all the tracks and the overall quality throughout is very high. More details can be found at www.assassination.co.uk.
It was refreshing to see in last week's issue that I'm not the only one that can't understand what anyone sees in German band Jaded Heart. I'll back Kurt up 100% with his assessment there. To be frank, it's all so German! Just a slap-dash effort at something with no real depth behind it all. They totally kill Rainbow's "Stone Cold" but the version of Phil Collins' "Easy Lover" is even worse. I suppose a German backed label like MTM has to put out some German releases now and again, but Jaded Heart remind me of everything that's wrong in the current AOR scene....
From: "Ray Garcia" email@example.com
I cannot believe that review of Metallica's S&M...Metallica has turned into a joke and are only trying to squeeze dollars out of their fans...What's next, "Unplugged" or maybe "Metallica: Storytellers"...maybe they could share a string section and tour with Meatloaf!...Anybody really wanting to see powerful orchestral interpretations of heavy music, check out the "Apocalyptica" album, which is the one that gave Metallica the idea anyway.
[Though I haven't heard the album personally (Marty did the review), I can at least appreciate the band trying something different here and there. If they spit out the same album over and over, we might as well just call them AC/DC.]
From: "90125" firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be interested in seeing your list of your favorite CD's of 1999. Here is my list:
1. Rick Springfield -Karma
2. Yes - The Ladder
3. Dream Theater - Metropolis
4. Eddie Money - Ready Eddie
5. Megadeth - Risk
6. Metallica - S & M
7. Def Leppard - Euphoria
8. Styx - Brave New World
9. Sammy Hagar - Red Voodoo
10. Stuart Smith - Heaven and Earth
*Biggest disappointment of the year...Queensryche -Q2K
[ I will be printing my top choices of the year in about 2 weeks.]
From: "sapple" email@example.com
LEAD VOCALIST NEEDED - Simon Apple is presently looking for a lead vocalist. (Unfortunately, the current singer cannot tour or commit fully to the band due to personal & family commitments). Simon Apple is a AAA/AC band that has been favorably compared to Sting, Genesis, Steely Dan, Dave Matthews, Seal, Marillion, Jellyfish, Pat Metheny Group, etc...The first two singles released from the debut CD entered the US Adult Contemporary Gavin Top 40. In April '98, "It's Over" reached #21 peaking with nearly 1400 spins a week...kept out of the Top 20 by Mariah Carey by only 24 spins. In October, "A Boy Like Me", peaked at #29, also with over 1000 spins a week. A third "seasonal" single, "Scenes Of December", also received national airplay. The music is "pop/prog/jazz" with very high standards...like the artists mentioned above. Vocals in the style of Sting, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Paul Carrack, Seal, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley, Daryl Hall, Marvin Gaye, etc.... Please send tape/CD, bio, picture to: Simon Apple P.O. Box 102 Nazareth, PA 18064 USA(Recording quality of demo not important).
"I was not only impressed with the material, I was also moved." - Wayne Krantz, guitarist (Steely Dan, NY session player)
"The most enjoyable CD I've heard in months." - Bob St. John, producer (Extreme, Duran Duran, Robert Palmer)