STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 02-07-00

Official Nonsense:

Editor and Dr. Evil - Kurt Torster

Mini-Me's:

-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)

All e-mail should be directed to ktorster@yahoo.com.
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Kurt's Krap:

Last week I mistakenly attributed an email from Phil Leahy as a member of Double Eclipse. He's not. I was thinking of another Phil...mainly Phil Hackney! Oops.

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http://cdnow.com/from=sr-38281 $10 off a $24.99 order

News Bytes:

DEF LEPPARD recently held a poll on their website to pick the third single off their "Euphoria" album and the winner was "21st Century Sha La La La Girl". The band will hit the road this summer with JOAN JETT in support.

BON JOVI Jovi fans can get a taste of the band's upcoming album this Thursday. The band will perform live and online in an Internet-only concert that'll be cybercast at http://www.rollingstone.com/bonjovi  (beginning at 8 PM EST). The performance is the wrap-up party to Bon Jovi's Web sessions "The Making of Bon Jovi 2000", a six week behind the scenes making of the band's latest.

I meant to mention this last week, but did anyone catch FAITH HILL's amazing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl? Wow...

Frontiers has signed German rockers FAIR WARNING and will release their latest album "Four" in March.

VAN STEPHENSON has retired from new country/AOR act BLACKHAWK after a grueling bout with melanoma cancer. He will continue to write songs with the band but not perform anymore. There will be a "Greatest Hits" from the trio released April 18, with one new track in "I Need You All The Time".

THUNDER will perform one last show at a venue and date yet to be determined. The band will incorporate an acoustic session into the set as well as a Q&A, film highlights and a full blown live show. Tix can only be had from the band's website at www.thunderchannel.com.

MOTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx recently finished his latest side project - a group called 58 that includes Steven Gibb (son of the BEE GEES' Barry Gibb). The quartet's debut album, "Diet For a New America," is due out May 16 on Americoma/Beyond Records and features nine songs that blend melodic pop and hard rock with industrial and other state-of-the-art sounds. In the meantime, look for Da Crue to tour with MEGADETH this summer.

According to Stephen Pearcy, he neither quit nor was fired from RATT. Huh? Then why ain’t he with them anymore?

Over at www.retrorewind.com you can help select songs and bands for an upcoming STYX tribute.

Looks like PAUL STANLEY will take the role in Broadway’s ‘Jeckyl & Hyde’ after his successful stint in ‘Phantom Of The Opera’.

KYLE VINCENT has started work on his next album with Parthenon Huxley and Tommy Dunbar.

Fantasy Records will release a "Best Of" from old school AORsters TAXXI later this spring.

Dave Sabo says a reformed SKID ROW, without Sebastian Bach and with John Solinger at vox, will be opening for KISS this summer.

PAUL MACARTNEY is putting together a compilation of the best known material from his days with WINGS to be titled "Wingspan".

Look for another MR BIG live EP to follow up their "Get Over It" album from last year, for Japan only.

There will be another EUROPE "Greatest" set released that covers the band from their beginning all the way through 2000 (I assume then it includes that dance remix of "The Final Countdown").

Wow! How about ABBA turning down $1 Billion to reunite for a tour? Says Benny Anderson, "We have never made a comeback. Almost everyone else has. I think there is a message in that."

Former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford and IRON MAIDEN vocalist Bruce Dickinson have recorded "The One You Love To Hate," a new track that's slated to appear on Halford's next album, which is due out later this year.

You can grab a limited edition MICHAEL BOLTON sampler titled "Warm And Tender Love" at local Meijers, Shopko or Bradlees stores which contains: Soul Provider, That's What Love Is All About, Missing You Now, What You Won't Do For Love, Warm And Tender Love.

The first single off of HANSON's upcoming album will be "This Time Around". You can catch a sample over at the band's website at www.hansonline.com.

Rick Manwiller (keys/vox for DAKOTA) is working on a "very mainstream AOR" solo project, tentatively titled "Adults Only". According to Rick, "early rough mixes have a very Survivor / Journey / Marie Osmond / Frank Zappa sort of vibe".

THE SMITHEREENS will be touring with ELVIS COSTELLO and SQUEEZE this summer.

GARTH BROOKS has signed on for spring training with the New York Mets. In the meantime, he has released another single from his "Sevens" album in "Do What You Gotta Do". Looks like he left his CHRIS GAINES persona for dead.

Both JIMMY PAGE/BLACK CROWES and THE WHO will release live albums exclusively through Musicmaker.com (in other words...free downloads).

LILLIAN AXE has pulled out of this year's Z-2000 fest. Seems Jon Ster is a wanted man in the UK for failing to appear in court and Ron Taylor has previous personal commitments. Those appearing at Z-2000 include VAUGHN, SAVANNAH, 24K DANNY DANZI, DAMNED NATION, ACES HIGH, SEVEN WISHES and CONTAGIOUS.

CC Deville has left POISON. Seems he was a tad pissy that his other band, S7, wouldn't be allowed to open for his main band. Says Bret Michaels, "I think it's an extremely cowardly move for CC to take the approach of a very cheap publicity stunt, to get himself some notoriety for his solo record. I just think it's cheesy". In the meantime, Tracii Guns has stepped in to take CC's place as the band gears up for both the long awaited release of "Crack A Smile" as well as "Poison 2000: Live Plus Five".

There are rumors that TEARS FOR FEARS are reuniting, but Curt Smith said that it’s not true.

Word is that THE CULT knocked them dead at a performance at the Sundance Festival. The band reportedly has 40 tunes ready for the next album.

You can find new songs from power poppers LIT and BLINK 182 on “The Solution To Benefit Heal The Bay”.

Noteworthy New Releases:

AMBROSIA - entire catalog reissue

ROXY MUSIC - entire catalog reissue

TINA TURNER - Twenty Four-Seven

Kurt's Picks:

BUCKCHERRY - BUCKCHERRY, Dreamworks, 1999 [Similarities: Guns N' Roses, Skin, AC/DC] [ http://www.dualquad.com/buckcherry ]

Anyone bemoaning the lack of hard rock in today's mainstream need to look no further than Buckcherry. Recalling the classic late 80s period where glam, gutter and metal all seemed to collide, these LA by way of PA rockers help you easily forget the grunge revolution ever happened, throwing a little sex and attitude back to the masses. From the kick ass opening ode to cocaine in "Lit Up" to the smooth ballad-like "Check Your Head" and "For The Movies" to the glammy "Dirty Mind", this is a roller coaster ride of riff happy proportions. Brash yet melodic, Terry Dale's and Steve Jones' production lets the band just do what they do best...get in your face without entirely ripping it off. On the other hand, it's not the most original thing I ever heard and if you close your eyes, you'd be forgiven if you think this is some long lost Bon Scott tape. Original it's not, but honestly, there's also nothing else out there that sounds like it either.

RON DANTE - FAVORITES, RKO, 1999 [Similarities: Richard Marx, Kyle Vincent, any 70s 'AM Gold' type act] [ http://www.rondante.com ]

Ron Dante has a pretty illustrious career, especially considering that most have probably never heard of the man. He is (was) the voice of The Archies (yeah, "Sugar Sugar") as well as songwriter and producer extraordinaire for acts like Barry Manilow, John Denver and Irene Cara as well as even some Broadway shows. But on this disc, he really plays a collection of his favorite oldies tunes in an upbeat and modern pop/AOR way. While some of it was a little too dated and moldy-oldy for me, there are some absolute gems here that give some Westcoasters a run for their money. Opener "I'd Wait A Million Years" is a storming AOR track. And songs like "Temptation Eyes", "Where Were You When I Needed You" and the superior pop of "Give Me Just A Little More Time" all follow in that arena rock vein and are excellent. But on the other side of the coin, with tracks like "Windy" or "Let's Live For Today", I am stuck with the feeling that these tunes were done by the Silver Platters of 'Brady Bunch' fame (tongue in cheek) and feel rather shallow and empty. And I honestly could have done without covers of "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and "Jackie Blue", which were never really favorites of mine to begin with. Some hit, some miss, but an interesting package nonetheless from a very fine vocalist.

FASTBALL - ALL THE PAIN THAT MONEY CAN BUY, Hollywood, 1998 [Similarities: Marvelous 3, John Mellencamp, The Smithereens]

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect here. I loved their catchy as hell first single "The Way" (but was wondering if they were a one hit novelty act). Then their latest single, the ballad "Out Of My Head", has no pun intended, really got stuck in my head. So I took the plunge was pleasantly surprised that this is one superior power pop band with some flashes of roots rock that gives them not so much an original sound but rather an identity. The songs on here, for all intents and purposes, rock a little tougher than originally thought as tunes like "Better Than It Was", "Sooner Or Later" and "Damaged Goods" all stomp with the best barroom rock, yet boast more intelligent lyrics. And with the more melodic "Warm Fuzzy Feeling" and "Nowhere Road", the band show off many sides to their sound. And without a doubt, one of THE best tunes I've heard in some time, "G.O.D. (Good Old Days)", is an upbeat horn infused rocker that is demanding to be a hit single. This may be one of those band that will consistently crank out radio hits and the next thing you know, will have amassed one hell of a back catalog (ala Collective Soul). Infectious and impressive.

HUGO - TIME ON EARTH, Frontiers, 2000 [Similarities: Journey, The Storm, Ten]

For what it's worth, I still considering Hugo's self-titled debut to be one of the highlights of 90s AOR. So after all this time, the man had a lot to live up to with this release, and for the most part has succeeded brilliantly. There are a few missteps on his road to glory but they are pretty minor in the big picture (more on this later). And, considering that he is a dead ringer for Steve Perry, there's no way this wouldn't sound like Journey unless he went the rap/rock route ala Kid Rock. So what we have here is premium blend AOR with big harmonies, catchy choruses and shiny leads and riffs surrounded by fluffy keyboards...in other words, all the ingredients to make a perfect AOR album. I just think it came out a little under cooked (erm, under-produced). The songs themselves are incredible though. From the glorious opener "Can't Stop Loving You" to the gorgeous mid-tempo "Anyone In Love" to the sheer bliss of "I Will Be Waiting", it's pretty close to the album we've all been waiting for. But like I said, the production is a little thin and it can tend to make Hugo sound a bit mousy at times. And funny enough, the one track I was really looking forward to, his cover of Triumph's "Magic Power", is really the one song here I could have done with it. To me, it's a disaster as he doesn't really sound all that good here and in the end adds nothing to the original. Short of that though, it really doesn't get much better than this and I would expect to see this near the top of everyone's top 10's when year end rolls around.

MARVELOUS 3 - MATH AND OTHER PROBLEMS, Deep South, 1997 [Similarities: The Loveless, Cheap Trick, Enuff Z'nuff]

OK, so yeah this is a couple of years old. But I am still so enthralled with their 1999 release "The Hey! Album" that I thought I would re-visit their indie debut. While the core sound is there, this is more glammy and not as slickly produced but still packs a whole lot of fun. Butch Walker has a knack for throwing about some kicking melodies that are hard to ignore. While tongue remains firmly in cheek on most of these tunes (which takes the album way above average lyrically), the songs themselves are usually pure candy hard pop confection. Opener "Appetite" is the sort of song the band excels at. Tight and punchy with superior lyrics, it's exactly the type that dominated their essential 1999 release. Ditto for the jumpy "Make Up", the rather poppy "Leopard Print" and the glam tinged "Valium". 80s hard rock fans will eat up "Bottle Rocket", which could almost be a throwback to their Southgang days. The band does slip a little here and there, with songs like the dragging "Pizza And Wine" and the rockabilly "In The Beginning Of Relationships" being pretty throwaway. But the good far outweighs the bad and fans of their other work will find much here to their liking. But for the  uninitiated, I would suggest sticking with "The Hey! Album" for now, as it's easily one of the best hard rock releases of the 90s.

(Re)Views From The Hill:

ASPHALT BALLET, VIRGIN RECORDS [similarities: Guns & Roses, LAGuns, Skid Row, Dangerous Toys]

FASTWAY: ON TARGET, Griffin Music (re-release of GWR Records release) [similarities: Europe, Whitesnake, House of Lords]

January is a slow time of year for releases so I had to go digging in Strawberries discount bin for this week’s selection, I was lucky enough to find two diamonds amoungst the coal ($3.99 diamonds at that). More surprising is the fact I have never owned either album in any form. It was truly a case of, "how the heck did I miss this one!’

On to the tunage. First we have Asphalt Ballet (Named for the police expression for a motorcyclist who has killed himself going too fast.). AP produced a cleaned up version GnR/LAGuns//DT gritty rock/metal. The type of stuff that’s obnoxious loud and in your face. AP, via the great pipes of Gary Jefferies rise above the GnR copycat bands that so permeated LA in the late 80 and early 90s. AP have the edge because they can write a decent catchy tune. In the end AP are a cross between Guns n Roses and Skid Row.

Standout tracks on this one include "Tuesday’s Rain" which is a piano and guitar based rocker that has you humming the chorus after the first listen. "Heavan Winds Blow" is a great mid-tempo rocker that really allows Jefferies to show off his quite talented pipes, while "Wasted Time" is a great mid-tempo bluesy ballad complete with a great sing-along chorus. "Do it all over Again" ends this disc with a nice little acoustic ditty, not long in length but a great end to decent album.

This is one of those familiar but pleasant experiences, that leaves you wondering where the band would have gone with even half the success of GnR.

Fast Eddie Clarke got together a formidable band for this release. It features the keyboards of Don Airey, journeyman keyboard player, Neil Murray, journeyman bass plucker and the pipes of Lea Hart. Songwriters include Bernie Marsden formerly of Whitesnake and Terry Thomas. This is quite a formidable line-up and they manage to produce a pretty impressive album of Whitesnake/Europe "big songs". Considering two members of the band played on Whitesnake’s 1987 opus, it is not surprising that the album sounds so similar. For the perfect reference listen to the "radio edit" version of "Here I go Again". In a sense this is Whitesnake sans Coverdale.

Airey’s keyboards are featured heavily in all the tracks on this album. "A Fine Line" is an excellent mid-tempo ballad with soaring keyboards and vocals. "You" is a great rocker with a keyboard/guitar duel between Airey and Fast Eddie. With a title like "Show Some Emotion" you know you are in for a piano intro-ed weepy ballad, finally "Close your Eyes" is a great rocking track. There is not a dud in the whole lot. "On Target" is just the sort of thing to lighten a dark brooding day in the Maine winter.

While both of these albums are great, I would recommend the Fastway as a must purchase. Both provide some new but familiar 80s rock, that will remind you why you liked this stuff in the first place. Two gems for less than the price of a recent release. - MD

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

It might be the 21st Century now, but it appears the music business is still out of fresh ideas. While the mainstream media talks of the "exciting" Time Warner/EMI "merger", other labels are acting reactively without any form of serious thought behind their actions. It's a feature of our world now, that people do thinks because of what stock brokers and stock market watchers think rather than with some greater purpose. Warner's gone out and got EMI, and now everyone else has to be seen to react so as not to appear weak.... Ye gods!

First to feel the need to get their knee-jerk reaction in are Bertelsmann (BMG as they're normally known) and Sony. Yep, they're already talking about "co-operation" in the music operations. Neither has any official statement at this point, though they do admit "conversations" have taken place and stress it would only be a form of co-operation and certainly not a merger like Warner and EMI. Co-operation could focus on pooling manufacturing and distribution, but will that be enough to keep the suits on Wall Street and NASDAQ happy? BMG fancies the title of "The Biggest Music Group in the World", but they'll have to do a lot more than that to reach that point.... Even getting together with Sony would only give them around 29% of the market.

Only just a few short years ago there were six big labels, right now we have four, and if this continues, maybe soon it'll only be two. Even with six the majors were pretty out of touch, so it's only going to get worse and damage music off any category. Indications already are that European and US competition authorities are already beginning to take some serious interest in the music industry in the wake of Warner-EMI. If they do take a good look, what they see won't be pretty. The music business has become the most clearly exploitive industry in the world, but no-one wants to actually admit it....

Onto more interesting matters, New Jersey's Tradia have completed the recording and mixing of their long-awaited third album. It's already been delivered to UK label FM-Revolver though I'm not sure of the exact release date. Having heard an advance version, I must say it's really a lot more varied than I would have expected from a Journey-influenced pomp outfit, when it's good - it's really good, but a couple of the tracks come away as too modern....

The Good Rats are working on a new album right now (in the same vein as "Tasty Seconds" from a couple of years back). Most of the tracks are complete, but a few more are still being worked on. Band leader Peppi Marchello is also calling in his sons Gene and Stephan to appear on a few of the tracks.

MP3.COM:

[Found a cool artist on MP3.COM? Let the SFK world know about it!]

From: "Jeff Cooper" jeff@marimba.com

Also a few bands that I've found on MP3.com that are worth checking out are Gunburner, No Connection and Moke.

From: "Freddy Aries" cheiron@bigfoot.com

Remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned Eclipse (Sweden) as one of the noteworthy downloads at mp3.com? Well, I was just browsing the mp3.com site again, when I noticed this on the Eclipse page: > We have just got signed to Z-Records in United Kingdom and our debut cd will be out in late 2000 Hmm... did I miss that the first time around, or is that a recent addition? In the latter case... does that mean Mark reads your mp3 section too? Hmmm... And there's a new tune of the month (The Right Move) over on Ruby Faith's page at mp3.com... don't miss it! She mentions something about a possible record deal with a European label as well... could it be... ? Naaah, that would be too much of a coincidence!

Anyway, here's my mp3.com Pick Of The Week: Love Hunter Check this guy out! Only one song available for download ('You Gotta Love It'), but don't let that stop you from listening to his stuff!

Now: You've got a Friend! Check out the MelRock account under the 'My Friends' menu on the SFK I-drive! (same password! - rocksfk) Another 70MB of mp3 space! I created it to backup some of the older files on sfkrock. Also check out the mp3.com section there, where I have put some of the tracks I've mentioned in past releases (thanks to the i-drive/mp3.com sideload option, this doesn't cost me any space!) The idea was, when the sfkrock section is full, to move the mp3s that are the oldest (see the upload date under the file properties) to the melrock site, and keep them there for a while longer. And when the melrock site is full too, the oldest files there will be deleted. Double life for all songs, through double  capacity. I was thinking of something similar for the mp3.com section. Right now the sfkrock site contains, in the mp3.com section, the 2 songs I mentioned above (Ruby Faith and Love Hunter). They are also present at MelRock's mp3.com section, where they can basically remain forever. My idea was to remove these songs from sfkrock's mp3.com directory after about a week, and put some new songs (from the mp3.com section in next week's sfk) there.

PS: one final request to you and everyone else: when you upload a song, no matter if it's from your own harddisk or from mp3.com, please *do* rename it (properties box on the left side) so that it includes the artist's name.

Feedback:

From: "Mike Johnson" mikej@hookerdejong.com

I wanted to respond to your report last week on Rev. Right Time and the First Cuzins of Funk. They are from Flint, Michigan and have been playing around for some time. I've seen them at least five times and they are a GREAT funk band and one of their shows is always a good time. It was my impression (as told by the Rev. himself!) that they are already signed to Atlantic and went to New York in October to record their album. He said at a show in December that the Doobie brothers were interested in a song of theirs and might come in and play on the album. They played a couple cuts at that show and it sounded really good. It is very possible in my opinion that you could hear much more about this band in the future. Take care and thanks for the wonderful weekly reading!

From: Tim Wadzinski tsw512@yahoo.com

Steve and I just wanted to correct that D&W review that ran in last week's issue. "Chant" is not a bonus track, it's a regular track on all versions of the album. A cover of Cream's "White Room" is the bonus track on the Japanese version. "White Room" and "The Whistler (alternate version)" are the bonus tracks on the double LP version.

[That was Marty's review I believe. I still haven't heard the album yet.]

From: McGeeF19@aol.com

Official word is guitarist CC Deville is out of the band Poison (again). The band is temporarily making use of a guitarist from LA Guns for the 'Live + 5' album in the works and will likely use him on another summer tour before deciding what direction to head in for the future. Commentary: These guys are about to fuck up their unique opportunity to re-emerge in the rock music scene. They put together a highly successful reunion tour last summer accompanied by Great White, Ratt and LA Guns but the key was to follow it up quickly with a solid new album to capitalize on their welcome return. To let the momentum slack off while 1) Delaying a solo album from Bret, 2) Releasing a several years old album with yet another guitarist, 3)Eventually returning with a new release of a live album (ugh) even with a few bonus tracks to lure in those who generally pass over live albums and finally to tour again, likely playing the same early material to dwindling crowds is the kiss of death. Yeah, we welcomed them back and turned out to hear them sing 10 year old tunes but we thought they were coming back to stay...not to cash in on us and we won't keep turning out for shitty tour after tour (molding themselves in the fashion of the worthless bands who tour each summer; never releasing new material, rarely playing a noteworthy performance and usually playing at shittier and shittier venues). Why not spare us the misery and I'll hand them $20 and they can sit in my backyard amidst a pile of empty beer cans, strumming a guitar and singing the blues? Of course, that's just my opinion...I could be wrong...

From: Oscar Montezuma montezuma@rossello.com.pe

Dear SFK fans and friends, Last SFK i posted i was preparing an i-drive following the same guidelines as great Kurt's idrive. I am almost finishing and polishing some things and i will shortly give away the password for you people in order to down or upload stuff but ONLY Latin AOR or pop rock. Lack of latin MP3 stuff on the web is a critical issue.

A todos los amigos latinos fans del AOR y de su difusion por MP3s comuniquense conmigo por mail para quizas intercambiar algunas ideas sobre esto.

[I hope to God he wasn't cursing me out in Spanish!]