|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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Those into MP3s (and who ain’t?) should check out a program called Napster. Sort of like an ICQ for MP3s. Go nuts…
Thanks to Mark Orsted, we’ll have the Mystery MP3 Voting Booth going again. Look for the announcement this week.
You can download legal MP3s from RICK SPRINGFIELD, THE OUTFIELD, KANSAS, PETER CETERA and PETE TOWNSHEND on www.heardon.com. You can also grab new unreleasedaudio from Townshend on his own website, www.petetownshend.com.
Look for the TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA to air their own Christmas special, "The Ghost Of Christmas Eve", on the Fox Family Channel on December 14.
Midnight, New Year’s Eve, in Stockholm Sweden will see EUROPE reunite briefly (with both John Norum and Kee Marcello) to perform “The Final Countdown”. A dance version of the song was just released, unfortunately someone forgot to use a spell checker as ‘Countdown’ was missing that first ‘o’. You do the spelling…
JIMI JAMISON has cancelled his European tour due to "illness". Rumor has it that it's all a cover up due to legal problems in the US over ownership of the name SURVIVOR.
Look for a “Best Of” from WASP in March.
Razor & Tie’s "Monster Ballads" has gone platinum.
Some new titles coming from the MOTLEY CRUE camp: 'Crash-O-Matic', 'Time Bomb', 'American Sham', '1st Band On The Moon' and 'I'm In Love With A Porno Star'.
There will be a US release of an EXTREME "Best Of" coming sometime in January. Tracklisting when I get it.
LITTLE STEVEN and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN will offer up tracks for the forthcoming soundtrack to 'The Sopranos'. The Little Steven track should be new, but the Springsteen track will be “State Trooper” from his ‘Nebraska’ album.
From Brave Radio: “The VAN HALEN saga continues - sources say Warner Brothers is trying to force Eddie and the gang to take David Lee Roth back. Let's hope it happens.” [Um…let’s hope it DOESN’T happen. To me, this would be nothing more than a sad cash in attempt, especially if the band were forced to do it, it would turn out more half-assed than VH3!]
SLASH on Axl Rose: "Everything with Axl and I is cool. My direction is more or less the same as it ever was. Where with Axl, being the vocalist, visionary-type guy, he's turned it into something else that I can't relate to. That's why we're not together. It's nothing personal."
Sweden's SUGAR SHOCK recently opened their official website at http://www.sugar-shock.com. The band has been described as a "streetfight between Bay City Rollers and The Ramones with Poison as the referee". Download samples or contact the band at email@example.com.
The next DAMNED NATION disc will be titled “Grand Design”.
Glam website 'Glitzine' has started to publish their 'Top 45 glam of all time' list. Check it out at http://www.glitzine.com/stome/top50.htm.
Michael Clayton on the new 'not TYKETTO' album: "The record sounds unbelievable, halfway through lead vox, doing more rhythm guitars tomorrow. So far it seems we are accomplishing our goal of making the Tyketto fans happy, and still breaking some new ground. My personal faves are The Voice (1999 Zep and Bad Co. vibe), Is That All There Is will put a very big smile on the face of our Don't Come Easy fans, and Handful of Rain is possibly the best song Danny has ever written."
The latest on 'Z - 2000'. It will be held at Maximes in Wigan on Sunday, April 30 and features: LILLIAN AXE, Ex-TYKETTO, SAVANNAH, DANNY DANZI, DAMNED NATION, ACES HIGH, SEVEN WISHES.
SCUDIERO has a new vocalist in Johan Persson.
Noteworthy New Releases:
GUNS N' ROSES - Live Era '87-'93
PHIL COLLINS - THE HITS, Atlantic, 1998 [Similarities: Elton John, Don Henley, Rick Springfield]
Love him or hate him, let's face it...the guy has had an amazing chart run (both solo and with Genesis). Like the Genesis collection reviewed below, this is a nice run through of some of the best pop/rock of the 80s (and in this case 90s). Though maybe a touch too MOR for some, I actually appreciate some of his material more now then I used to (the catchy "Two Hearts" or the ballad "Against All Odds" hit me now when they never used to). Songs like "Another Day In Paradise" or "Take Me Home" wouldn't sound out of place on any Genesis disc. Phil even dabbles in AOR in such monster tracks like "Easy Lover", "I Wish It Would Rain Down" (where Clapton simply shines in his soloing) and the brilliant "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven". About the only spots he loses me on is the overwrought balladry of tunes like "Separate Lives" or "Groovy Kind Of Love". And, "Susudio" is a touch too mechanical for my tastes. Rounding out the collection with his excellent collaboration with Babyface in the Steinberg/Kelly penned "True Colors" (much superior to Cyndi Lauper's hit version), I must say this is more impressive that I would have originally thought and glad that I picked this up as it's been getting some heavy play around the SFK office.
GENESIS - TURN IT ON AGAIN: THE HITS, Atlantic, 1999 [Similarities: Marillion, Mr. Mister, Tears For Fears]
A decent collection from this legendary prog band that could have been SO much better. It's a little schizophrenic in that it mainly concentrates on the Phil Collins era (easily the most commercially popular era of the band) yet throws in two tracks with Peter Gabriel (and one from the ill-fated Ray Wilson era).
So either this should have been a two-disc set or the three aforementioned tracks should have been deleted to make way for some glaring oversights (no "Illegal Alien", "Home By The Sea" or especially "Paperlate"). What's left though is some of the best melodic pop/rock from the 80s. Though big hits, songs like "Land Of Confusion" and "I Can't Dance" still leave me cold, yet I'm easily warmed over by such classics as "Mama", "No Son Of Mine" and "That's All". Plus, ballads like "Follow You Follow Me" and "Throwing It All Away" still sound great and are romantic without being sappy. Though purists may scoff at a 'hits' collection rather that a 'best of', this is the only game in town as far as a proper Genesis compilation so if you don't have any in your collection, this is a decent pickup. But fans already have all these tracks and the one bonus, "The Carpet Crawlers 1999" isn't enough to warrant a purchase.
JADED HEART - IV, MTM, 1999 [Similarities: Guild Of Ages, Bonfire, Axe]
I will admit that, and call me crazy, I was not a fan of the the band’s “Slaves And Masters” CD (which it seems everyone and their mother went ga-ga over it). So how does this new effort fare (which again, everyone seems to be going ga-ga for)? More of the same I'm afraid. On first listen, this did absolutely nothing for me. This is progressively driven pomp that is really not my bag. Though songs like the excellent ballad "Way Back Home", the stomping GNR-like "Take My Soul" and the very big sounding "Hey God Don't Hesitate" are good enough, the rest is just so average and beneath the obvious talents within the band. Everything has such a 'heard it all before' feeling that it's hard to shake, and in the end rather boring. And don't even get me started on the damage they do to Rainbow's "Stone Cold". Musically they sound pretty tight, but I'm not sure if Michael Bormann's screechy vox are right for the music. I'm sorry but I honestly don't get the appeal of this German mob.
MARILLION - MARILLION.COM, Spitfire, 1999 [Similarities: Queen, Jellyfish, Rush] [ http://www.marillion.com ]
This is by far the most commercially accessible album that the band has done from start to almost the finish. Far from selling out to any sort of current pop trends, the band has actually taken a step towards simplicity and it suits them well, much like the way Rush has. Though they still retain their prog roots on tracks like opener "A Legacy" or the overlong epics "Interior Lulu" and "House" (both of which I could have done without), the quick hits of songs like the rocking first single "Deserve" (with it's cool horn riffs), the smooth and building "Go!" and the groovy yet catchy "Rich" (with big hit single potential) show a band not afraid to take a few chances. The cooly titled "Built In Bastard Radar" is so quirky yet so commercial that it really puts one in the mind of classic Queen (especially Steve Rothery's excellent soloing). And with "Tumble Down The Years", a sort of mid-tempo strut that reeks of Burtnick/Waite, the band just may get that elusive American breakthrough single. Those who found their last effort, "Radiation", to be too much of a departure will glad to hear much of the familiar Marillion sound return, without ever really visiting any of their old haunts. Superb stuff and the finest album of it's kind this year.
SHOTGUN SYMPHONY - SEA OF DESIRE, Frontiers, 1999 [Similarities: Kansas, Xenon, Aviator] [ http://home.att.net/~shotgunsymphony ]
Kicking off with the very arena friendly title track, a couple of things are immediately obvious. First off, you're hit with a huge wall of keyboards that are so lushly produced that they floor you like a tidal wave. And secondly, Tracy White is one hell of a vocalist that shows flashes of a young Dennis De Young. Their last few albums ware almost 'bandwagon jumping efforts' that went nowhere. So, the band has returned to their pomp roots and the results, at times, are pretty spectacular. Their sound has a real early 80s AOR vibe, yet never feels all that dated. From start to finish I was quite taken with this disc, simply because there's just keys, keys and more keys! Songs like "Believe In Me", "Dancing On Fire" and the Styx-like ballad "What I Wouldn't Give" are all perfect examples of AOR done right (unlike many of the other cookie-cutter genre releases as of late). And just wait until your ears get a hold of "Phases", a brilliant AOR track dripping with a huge chorus, a huge melody and (wait for it) huge keys. Could this be that monster AOR release we've all been waiting for? Just may be...
(Re)Views From The Hill:
METALLICA: S&M, Elektra [Similarities: Helloween, Gamma Ray, Dream Theater, Queensryche]
I remember back in the day, when Mustaine was still grimacing in the ranks of Metallica, prog rockers hated them and likewise true metal hated "wimp rock" fans. No metal-head would have believed that Metallica would have gone down the road of so many prog rock/hard rock dinosaurs and done an album with a symphony.
In my ever so humble opinion, Metallica have taken their songs, added the extra element of Michael Kamen’s full orchestra and produced a techno metal/prog masterpiece. The album is simply one of the best releases in any genre of rock this year or any other year of the 90s. Hard rock/prog fans who never gave former speed metal kings Metallica a listen should toss all their pre-conceived notions and give this a listen.
Every single one of Metallica’s songs on this 2 CD, over 2 hour set (plus newies No Leaf Clover and Human) are born anew with addition of the full orchestra. For good measure the band open’s the night’s proceedings with a cover of "The Ecstasy and the Gold" from the "Good, Bad and the Ugly" soundtrack. This album proves once and for all that Metallica should be seen as not only talented musicians but talented songwriters as well. The band even managed to breath new life into several songs from their most recent lackluster release ReLoad. What truly shine however are some of the classics of the band’s back catalogue, with tracks spanning their entire career from "Ride the Lightning" onwards. Most spectacular however are some of the renderings of their mid-career output like the awesome "One," "Of Wolf of Man", "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and of course that great ode to nightmares: "Enter Sandman."
Michael Kaman and Metallica made a great effort to blend the sound of the band and symphony so that they intermingle and neither dominates. Add to that the at times eerie sing-alongs from the crowd, producing an incredible sonic treat (ex: Human intro). For those of us that also enjoy classical music, the album comes across at a late 20th century Wagnerian opera or recital. Kamen himself calls it a "Wagnerian Orgasm." Beautiful strings combine with crushing guitar and bass in a pleasurable cacophony of intense music. For the total experience I would recommend either the DVD or VHS of the night’s performance, or wait till its shown on VH-1 again. The visuals that were used in the concert added an extra element to this most impressive performance. To see the violinists playing as hard as your average metal guitarist is something to behold. I cannot recommend this album more highly, I believe it to be an instant classic. It will and should bring Metallica to a whole new audience. Don’t worry if you don’t know Metallica’s music or own every single one of their albums, this is all the introduction you will need. S&M is a must have, period.
AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):
Major labels are at their
bizarre best again! EMI might be the third largest label in the world but it’s
never short of a wacky plan, especially if it can get some brainwashed market
money men to buy it.
EMI’s latest dazzling idea
is to pull out of the manufacturing and distributing side of its business! These
divisions, which are among the largest in the US and Europe of any label, could
then be hived off into a separate company or incorporated into a new joint
venture. EMI’s chief executive Ken Berry comments: “We would consider
outsourcing or joint venturing in some way. We need an exit strategy and we are
developing one.” Sounds like someone needs some money to hide how bad they are
at selling music in a convincing way! From their point of view, however, making
and distributing CDs is seen as “no longer a core business” – there goes
the baby with the bathwater!
Strange need, that EMI sees
hiving off two of the most important divisions of any major label as part of a
way to “concentrate on developing and exploiting music”. Interesting use of
the work “exploiting”! EMI also says that not having its own distribution
network will “help it cope with a world that will see music increasingly
downloaded from the internet”. Here we go again (!), maybe the labels are
trying to appear like internet start-up companies so they can ride the crest of
the wave stocks for that sort of organization do. From this point of view, I can’t
help feel it sounds like a label trying to cut off its nose to spite its face!
Getting your music available wherever possible is the key to selling it…, EMI
used (in Europe) to be one of the better labels for letting smaller labels use
its manufacturer and distribution networks (albeit for a price), but I guess
that’ll fall by the wayside too.
Now here comes the rub, EMI
thinks that shedding these divisions will save it some £50 million to £60
million a year, and that the costs of the restructuring could be funded from the
sales themselves. Ahh, stock analysts are going to love the sound of that even
if it is mortgaging the family silver and then throwing away the key. EMI also
sees that it could keep funding “expansion” by licensing its back-catalogue
to internet based custom CD makers and internet jukeboxes, what sort of strategy
is that! The phrase “money for nothing” comes to mind, but probably not in
the way Dire Straits intended it….
In an overall financial sense,
EMI expects to increase its profits by a further 10% over the coming months and
highlights Asia as showing “by far the strongest growth”. By “growth”
they mean something like 2% in increased sales! Wow! But, it continues to lose
market share in the US hand-over-fist and has made “finding new talent in
North America a priority”!
It never ceases to amaze me how labels are so quick to let the financial markets lead them around with a ring through their nose rather than believing in what they do or the power of music. No wonder melodic rock is in a near terminal decline!