STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 01-03-00

Official Nonsense:

Editor and Father Time - Kurt Torster

The Babies New Year:

-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.
Snail mail address for press kits & CDs, porno tapes,DVDs, Star Wars toys, money, etc.:
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You are free to pass along this copy of SFK to whomever you wish (through either e-mail or print out). You are also free to take news and reviews with the stipulation that you let your readers know where it came from (and sending a copy to us would be nice!).

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We here at SFK hold the right to print any and all E-mail sent to us unless you specifically state not to.

Kurt's Krap:

I’ve set up a small FTP site where we can exchange MP3s or rare or out of print tracks. Check it out at www.idrive.com (username: sfkrock password: rocksfk). Please don’t upload new and in print tracks. I will be clearing out tracks every couple of days to make way for new ones so enjoy. Already there’s some pretty cool stuff up there including some Great White and Bon Jovi B-sides as well as the techno remix of “The Final Countdown”.

Koupon Korner:

CD NOW ($10 off $14.99 or more - working again)

http://www.cdnow.com/from=mad:4:qck:sgpg:will/from=sr-38281

http://www.cdnow.com/from=med:y:bri:rgpt:offer/from=sr-38281

http://www.cdnow.com/from=mad:4:qck:sgpl:offer/from=sr-38281

News Bytes:

RICK SPRINGFIELD's show at the Universal Amphitheater in LA has been postponed until (tentatively) sometime in March 2000. Check www.rickSpringfield.com for more info.

OK...so now I am hearing that the COVERDALE/VAN HALEN stories are bullshit again. Some say 'true', some say 'false', I say 'who gives a shit anymore?'. This is gonna be worse than all the damned Motley Crue stories!

Razor & Tie has released the third of their 'Monster' series with "Monster Madness", which features artists like MOTLEY CRUE, LITA FORD, SKID ROW, POISON, WINGER, FIREHOUSE, TWISTED SISTER, QUEENSRYCHE, FAITH NO MORE, QUIET RIOT, WHITE LION, WARRANT and more. More info at www.musicspace.com.

VH-1 has a ‘Behind The Music’ planned on power pop legends BADFINGER.

JOE LYNN TURNER has signed with Pony Canyon in Japan. He will also take part in a tribute to Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhodes. (does anyone make original music anymore?!?)

Ex-Coney Hatch man CARL DIXON has signed with MTM for his new album. There’s talk of a possible contribution from RIK EMMETT.

MEGADETH’s “Risk” has gone gold.

Talk is that KISS is in the studio recording “Alive 4”. Huh?

Cleopatra will release a LOVE/HATE rerecorded hits disc. Is anything on this label not a remixed tribute or re-recorded?

Info on the drive for “VH-1 Behind the Music/Storytellers Campaign” for JOHN WAITE at http://www.johnwaite.com/jwi/wwc/campaign1.htm.

The new TRIBE OF GYPSIES album, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” is out in Japan on JVC.

The DIXIE DREGS will be opening some shows for DREAM THEATER.

Z Records has signed BADLANDS to release their “Dusk” album.

Kurt's Picks:

BEATS WORKING - CALM, Swamp, 1999 [Similarities: Marillion, Toto, Genesis] [ http://www.swamp.co.uk ]

The first word that pops to mind is class. Sheer and utter class. Though I know nothing of this band, this is certainly a nice introduction. What this is, in it's basic form, is highly accessible prog that practically borders on the most commercial of AOR (think post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd). From the smooth as silk vocals of John Hardman to the steadfast melodies of his supporting cast, there's not really much to think ill here. Though nothing here jumps out and grabs you with any sort of immediacy, all the songs have that familiar feeling that straight out of the box are easy on the ears (not unlike a touch of Dire Straits). Songs like the vast sounding "One Man" or the chiming "Pathway To Your Heart" grow on you with each subsequent listen and carry a classic sort of vibe that seems to elude many bands. Not earth shattering by any means but fans of any of the mentioned artists could do worse than search this lot out.

BOB CATLEY - LEGENDS, Frontiers, 1999 [Similarities: Ten, Magnum, Dio]

Bob's debut solo album "The Tower" was a corker so I was pretty much expecting another superb release. Well, though slightly disappointed only in that Bob is starting to tread a little too close in sound to Ten for my tastes (each song tends to sound 'samey' after a while), overall it's another high quality release for the melodic vocal legend. Gary Hughes gives the whole project a rather big production that actually dwarfs his own recordings with Ten. Each track is very grandiose, which can be both a strength and weakness in that they all sound amazing but can also be a little tiring too. Oddly enough, though I mostly cannot stand long songs, the best song here is the 9+ minute epic "The Light" which just has to be heard.

Twisting and weaving it's way, the song is never dull and at times has the feel of different songs all at the same time. All the other songs are based on various works of literature or pop culture and, at least for me, are at their best when based a bit on reality, like Elvis (the driving "The Pain") or Marilyn Monroe (monster ballad "Tender Is The Night"). But the very big AOR of "Shadows Of The Night" (based on Dracula) is also very tasty. Bob continues to prove, that with the right friends (in which this time he's generously backed by members of Ten), he's simply one of the most amazing vocalists working in the genre today. If you miss Magnum's earlier work than grab this pronto.

THE MERRYMAKERS - BUBBLEGUN, Big Deal, 1999 [Similarities: see review] [ http://www.merrymakers.se ]

Proudly wearing their influences like a badge of honor, this Swedish duo have thrown forth one of the most delightful pop albums in many a moon. Recalling the best pop from the 60s (The Beatles and The Monkees), 70s (The Raspberries and Badfinger), 80s (Squeeze and Enuff Z'nuff) right into the 90s (Jellyfish and Gin Blossoms), they take all they were given and wound up creating one of the most infectious blends to ever grace a stereo without copying anyone outright. Highlights? How about the whole album? Well, I guess if I had to single tracks out, on this particular spin my favorites were the rocking "Troubled Times" and the huge melody of "Superstar", but each listen brings a new set of favorites. Like the very McCartney/Wings sounding "April's Fool" or the monster arena rocker "A Fine Line". The songs are all well written from a lyrical standpoint and superbly produced and crisply played. If you're the slightest bit of a pop fan than they don't get much more essential than this. And, buy now and you'll get a bonus disc that features a slew of cuts from their out of print debut album.

(Re)Views From The Hill:

YES: THE LADDER, BMG Records [Similarities: Marillion, Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, old Genesis]

The last few Yes albums have been fairly dull affairs for me at least. So it was with some reluctance that I bought the new effort from Jon Anderson and company.

One thing that actually made a big difference to me was the preview of the PC game Homeworld that featured as a bonus on the CD. (Even though I am a Mac user and there is not chance of the title coming to the Mac.)

The title track is sub-named "Homeworld", the song does a great job of summing up the "epic journey" nature of the game. Rather than some contrived patch job of a theme song, "The Ladder" truly evokes the feel and ethos of the PC game and should bring Yes to a whole new audience of RTS gamers. My reluctance was mostly unjustified, this album made a quick jump into my year end top 10, displacing some formidable competition. This is the best Yes since the "Owner of a Lonely Heart" era, there are several tracks on this release that could be released as singles if the band choose to do so. The most obvious of these is the love ballad "If Only you Knew" which Jon dedicates to his wife in the liner notes. A catchy crisp and short track that would make a good single and could even make it to rock or even mainstream radio.

"Lightening Strikes" is another great track with is very catchy and fast paced, it shows a strong reggae influence in the middle and contains some great keyboard playing. The intro is most interesting as well, which features the "Margarita Horns". "Can I" is an interesting north Africa tinged intermission to album. Besides "If Only..." the middle does lag a bit, with several tracks that do not live up to the quality of the rest of the album.

The last two tracks on this album are exquisite examples of Yes at their best. The nine minute "New Language" with its extended jam in the middle, jazz breaks and ever-changing tempo is a delight to behold.

As is the last track on the album a short but powerful track called "Nine Voices" which features some lovely harmonies as well as wonderful mellow mandolin strains.

Of course one cannot help thinking of the tragic nature of the making of this album. The album is dedicated to the producer, Bruce Fairbairn, who died near the end of the recording of the album. This is a fitting tribute the talents of the producer and the band, and is recommended for all who like good music. - MD

TOTO: MINDFIELDS, Legacy/Sony [Similarities: Cheap Trick, Styx, REO Speedwagon]

For some reason I was asleep at the wheel when this album came out in November and I totally missed its release. While shopping for Xmas present on Amazon.com, I endeavored to get myself a disc of some sort, and somehow remember hearing that TOTO had a new disc coming out sooner or later. I am so glad I ordered this one instead of something else, for simply put Mindfields is album that reminds one of the reason for listening to AOR in the first place.

Not only is every track an amazing slab of AOR but this disc has a running time of 74 minutes with 14 tracks, one of which is the Japanese bonus track, a rare studio version of Spanish/flamenco influence and exceedingly mellow "Spanish Steps". If is patently obvious that one of the reasons this album is so good is the fact that most of the vocals are handled by the band's original singer Bobby Kimball. You know, the bloke who dated Rosanna Arquette and wrote a hit about her called "Rosanna." Other hits sung by Bobby are the awesome "Africa" and "Hold the Line".

Although highlights are hard to pick out on this disc, some of them are the great mellow love song "Melanie" which should be a huge hit, as big as "Rosanna". For those are wish to see the video of the song www.sonymusic.com/artists/Toto, has the entire video as well as "Hold The Line" and "Africa" in QT4 format for download, as well as a complete discography of the bands impressive and lengthy career. "Mad About You" is a trademark catchy ballad, with high emotion vocals and guitar that should be huge as well. The other in the trio of catchy as hell ballads is 'After your Gone" with it mellow vibe and awesome vocals.

"Mysterious Ways" is a track that would fit in well on the last Unruly Child record, and to me it sounds as if Kelly Keeling snuck into the studio to record the vocals to this great track. TOTO also manage to sound like the Police on "Caught in the Balance", but it works and it works well. "Selfish" is in the Eagles/Joe Walsh/T-Rex vibe, but it works damn well.

The tracks on the album range from straightforward rockers, to reggae, blues, jazz and even some gospel tinges to a few tracks. It goes without saying that the musicianship is absolutely top drawer and well as the production. This never more so true that on the 7 minute, Dream Theater-like epic "Better World".

This is one of my top albums of the year. It is a must for any self-respecting AOR fan, one of the greatest albums of the year and maybe even the decade. With apologies to the brilliant Steve Lukather (who sings on a few tracks), Bobby makes a welcome return to the band. A complete and utter tour-de-force, TOTO & Bobby Kimball are an unbeatable combination, long may the reign! - MD

JIMI JAMISON’S SURVIVOR - EMPIRES (USGRecords/Frontiers Records, 1999) [ http://www.frontiers.it ]

Frankly, I’m very pleased with this rock solid release from Jimi Jamison & co. In a recent article, Jimi addressed the controversy surrounding who has the right to utilize the Survivor name by acknowledging that the fans would have their own perception of who composed the identifiable elements of the band. Well, for my two cents worth, the sound I identify with Survivor is that of Jimi Jamison. He was the vocalist behind the tracks which I identify with Survivor and frankly I think the whole squabble is a bit trivial.

That being said, what we have here is a wonderful return to form from one of the premier voices of rock n’ roll. Harkening back to where things left off with the last Survivor release Too Hot To Sleep, this release carries on and improves on that album. I particularly welcomed this return to form as I was among the few who didn’t enjoy Jimi’s solo release When Love Comes Around. For some reason that album just seemed flat to me and after a few listening I gave up on ever getting into it.

Empires has a wonderful mix of ballads and rockers. I’ve always enjoyed the ballads and think those represented here are among the best from Jimi (particularly ‘Just Beyond The Clouds’ and ‘November Rain’). Even ‘Empires’, a duet (always a dangerous proposition) with Lisa Frazier works beautifully.

The album opens with a cracker of a tune with ‘Cry Tough’ which is classic Survivor. The pace continues with the excellent, guitar heavy ‘Run From The Thunder’ and then we have the famous Baywatch tune ‘I’m Always Here’ which has been tweaked a bit and sounds great. Other tracks on the album include the tempo shifting ‘First Day Of Love’, ‘A Dream Too Far’, ‘Love Is Alive’ and a solid rendition of ‘Calling America’. As an additional bonus to the 11 tracks forming the core of the album we have the inclusion of live versions of ‘Burning Heart’ and ‘Rebel Son’. Both live tracks sound terrific. A glorious return. - McGee

PRETTY BOY FLOYD - PORN STARS (Deadline Music, 1999) [ HTTP://HOMEPAGES.GO.COM/~PRETTY_BOY_FLOYD ] [Similarities: Glam-era Poison (Look What The Cat Dragged In, Open Up And Say...Ahh), Warrant (DRFSR)]

This is a mixed bag of treats and misfires. A good review led me to pick up the bands EP A Tale Of Sex, Designer Drugs And The Death of Rock n’ Roll, an excellent 5-track cd which was followed up with this release. If you’re familiar with earlier Poison material which was more rooted in the glam scene you have an idea of what you’re in for here ~ the band is even done up on their album covers in the full glam apparel. Lead vocalist Steve Summers has a voice for glam rock and when it is employed with a good number the band can really knock off an infectious groove.

The problem is the album is equally comprised of dead on arrival numbers ranging from the simplistic and inane (Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz) to the downright ridiculous (Your Momma Won’t Know). The album opens with three stellar tracks, beginning with ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ which also appeared on the EP and is very reminiscent of Poison’s ‘Love On The Rocks’.

This is followed up with another infectious rocker in ‘Rock & Roll Outlaws’ which is then followed by ‘Shy Diane’, which along with ‘I Wanna Be With You’ start slowly and both build to terrific up-tempo rockers.

Other decent tracks include ‘Shout It Out Loud’, ‘Saturday Nite’, ‘48 Hours’ and ‘Restless’ with most bearing a striking similarity to Warrant material, like ‘Big Talk’ from the Dirty, Rotten, Filthy Stinking Rich album.

While the album may merit attention for its better tracks, you’ll be prone to hit the skip button over some of the grating numbers which keep this album from being a solid release. For those unfamiliar with the band you would be better served by checking out A Tale Of Sex, Designer Drugs And The Death of Rock n’ Roll first, which has 5 solid tracks including the best of the batch from the band in the catchy track ‘Shut Up’. - McGee

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

Dakota will release their new album "Little Victories" in mid-January. Although the album was completed as far back as August last year it has taken some time for its release details to get sorted out, and it's also been re-mastered. The band are releasing it on their own label (pressing is underway as I write this) and emphasize that they are no longer connected with former label Escape Music in any way. The band are looking for further distributors (AOR Heaven and Thoughtscape Sounds are already on board) and anyone who's interested should send an email to the band at HahDaddy1@aol.com. Bill Champlin guests on the new album singing a duet called "Brother to Brother"....

Also coming from Dakota at the same time will be a live album from 1980, which will be limited collectors' edition. That release will also celebrate the band's 20th anniversary and is sure to have a lot of interesting details included....

Japan starts off the new century with a few interesting releases before the end of this month. Andy Timmon's new one "The Spoken and the Unspoken" comes out on January 21st, as does three re-issues from Westcoast singer Bull Labounty: "Rain in my Life"; "Sunshine Memory", and "This Night Won't Last Forever". January 25th will see Jeff Kollman's new album - "Shedding Skin"- issued. While not of two much interest to me, some of you might want to know that Bob Catley's "Legends" gets a Japanese release on February 2nd, and for Japan only on the same day will be released a double CD of "The Tower" and "Live at the Gods (1998)".

Someone actually complained that I didn't do a top 10 list for 1999! Well, if it helps I can say that my two favorite albums of last year were Kim Mitchell's "Kimosabe" and Jeff Golub's "Out of the Blue". Kim Mitchell's album has only been out for a short while, but I can't stop listening to it! Great songs and all the quirky attitude you'd expect from Kim, plus some fresh sensitivities that are a little unexpected. It might essentially be a bit of a "comeback album", but it's clear that it's a musician doing what he wants to and not unnecessarily trying to corrupt his sound just to sound more "modern". And, you get guest vocal appearances from Andy Curran (ex Coney Hatch, Soho 69) and Lisa Dal Bello. Jeff Golub's album  meantime is all about how jazz guitar can be bright and sassy while taking in a cornucopia of diverse influences - definitely brain food!

The proper AOR Basement URL - http://www.aorbasement.com/ is back in action properly again, so go back to using that. Right now the links page has been updated and some new reviews are on the way also.

MP3.COM:

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

From: "Freddy Aries" <cheiron@bigfoot.com>

Some more about mp3 downloads from the web.

* The Z Records promo album is now available for download at www.melodicrock.com Don't miss it!!!

* www.mp3.com: - New up there is the Hagar/Hart project song "Code War Y2K"- a song about coming New Year's, done by Sammy Hagar and Mickey Hart. Don't miss this one!

- Some more (past) SFK-reviewed bands on mp3.com:

- London Drive (7 tracks from their album "Awake" and 1 extra track)

- Network (3 songs from "Crashin' Hollywood")

- Norway (3 songs from their album Night Dreams)

- A general hint to find more great stuff: search for Similar Artists to a well-known artist or band playing the kind of music you're looking for (eg. Journey, Van Halen, Richard Marx, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Bad English, Pat Benatar, Styx, Def Leppard, Velocity (!), etc.). You'll be surprised how much good stuff shows up!

- Some examples that should appeal to several of the SFK readers:

-Mystery (esp. "In My Dreams"; cf. Journey, Valentine!!!)

-Vision 180 (!!! If you like Journey, The Storm, Savage Garden - get these songs!!)

-Sean Michael Mormelo ("Washed Up At 25"; great acoustic track!!!)

-Atello (!)

-Blind Alley (!)

-Primal Heart (eg. "Just Once")

-Joe Chandler (good Journey-style songs... if only he had Steve Perry's voice!)

-Ruby Faith & The Waiting World - these songs *are* good! If you like early Pat Benatar, Witness, Sue Saad, Patty Smyth - check this out!

-Scream Of Consciousness (eg. "Another Lie")

-Geoff Coleman (he's an amazing guitar player, and a good singer too!)

-Exit The Band ("Sea Of Love")

-Roneet (Czech band; "My Sweet Home" reminded me of early Shotgun Symphony)

-Vessell (Christian rock band; eg. "What's Wrong With Living?")

-Seixas (eg. "Without You")

-ReLeaf

-Backburner

-Eclipse (Sweden; esp. "Far Away")

and some slower stuff:

-Kristin Banks (she has some quite good songs in the pop/rock/country field),

-Emily Richards (check out eg. "Do You Remember")

* Shania Twain: -Did you know there's a 4th album available from her (for download)? Check it out at: http://www.musicmaker.com/cgi-bin/getcatal.tcl?wm=1&ct=ShaniaTwain&wm=3 If ever there was a time that Shania rocked, this must be it! (But I'm afraid you're a little too late now - the album WAS available as FREE download for a while! Now they have some lame xmas songs there...) Enjoy!

From: Shoebox <reverendshoebox@yahoo.com>

I don't know if anybody who reads SFK will care, as I doubt my stuff qualifies as melodic rock, but my band "Worm Quartet" has a few MP3s up. It's basically a comedy rock thing...often leaning toward punk. Go here: http://www.geocities.com/reverendshoebox/wq

Feedback:

From: "Michael Paul" <mpaul@meditech.com>

that's pretty bold putting Slang in the top 10 of the 90s..I am a huge lep fan and no matter how hard I try, I can't like that album. I totally dig euphoria though..I think almost the whole album is awesome..well, at least the Leps were mentioned. Happy Y2K!

From: Janni <_janni_@yahoo.com>

Hi Kurt, I subscribe to your SFK Newsletter, and just have to tell ya how much I TOTALLY agree with your pick for album of the year! (M3) I am so proud of my hometown Georgia boys I can't even see straight! What a great disc, and it hasnt left my cd player either!!

From: "Peter Edwardson" <Peter.Edwardson@ukgateway.net>

Good to see your highly favourable review of "Have A Nice Day" by Roxette and the #5 placing for "HAND" in your Top 10 albums of 1999. A brilliant power pop album and Marie knocks spots off Mariah, Céline and Whitney when it comes to singing ballads. As you hadn't heard this album when I mentioned it earlier in the year I suppose I must take some of the credit.

In a different direction I was pleased you found something good to say about "Age of Innocence" by Emerald Rain. This band are far more than just Harem Scarem clones - influenced by, of course, copyists, no way. Hopefully you went back and found new depths in "Broken Saviours".

Keep on rockin' in 2000!

From: "ady berry" <adyb@mcmail.com>

Is there any good record stores to pick up The Loveless cd? Tried Tower, CD Now etc. I know it's a couple of years old but I got a track on a Frontiers Magazine sampler which was superb but I've never managed to get it in the UK. By the way Marvelous Three is the best cd of the year by a mile!

[I did some hunting around for you but came up empty. I would suggest you haunt eBay as every so often a copy does pop up there.]

From: "Michael Paul" <mpaul@meditech.com>

On www.dlrnd.com (the David Lee Roth News Desk), there is a statement that according to the VH camp, or someone close to it, that the rumored tour with DLR and Sammy Hagar will NEVER happen. It seems that any type of reunion is very unlikely..

From: McGeeF19@aol.com

As we head into a new year, decade and millennium I thought it might be appropriate to take a look back at 5 noteworthy artists/projects from the past few years. Rather than compose a best of list, this is a brief synopsis of some memorable highlights from recent years...

1. John Waite: Temple Bar (imago, 1995) & When You Were Mine (Mercury, 1997); http://www.johnwaite.com/

In a stellar career marked by numerous hits as a solo artist and member of The Baby’s and Bad English, John Waite has firmly established himself as one of the premier talents in the business. Following the break-up of Bad English, John returned to his solo career with the brilliant Temple Bar recording which is, in my opinion, the highlight of his lengthy career to date. Dark, moody, introspective this masterpiece and its follow-up When You Were Mine marked a change of pace to an acoustic based sound. No one does it better. Highlights from Temple Bar include ‘How Did I Get By Without You?’ which is reminiscent of the sound and vibe of the smash hit ‘Missing You’ as well as a brilliant cover of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and the stellar tracks ‘Price Of My Tears’, ‘Downtown’ and ‘The Glittering Prize’. The album features songwriting collaborations with talented singer/songwriter Mark Spiro and the album marks the beginning of a wonderful pairing of talents with John and extraordinary guitarist Shane Fontayne (formerly of Lone Justice). A new album is rumored to be completed, but no label or release is scheduled as yet. In the meantime, Temple Bar, while out of print can blocated without much difficulty (appearing regularly on eBay among other sites) and When You Were Mine is still readily available.

2. MICHAEL HUTCHENCE - MICHAEL HUTCHENCE (self-titled), (V2 Records, 1999); http://www.michaelhutchence.v2music.com

My personal choice for album of the year for the past year, hands down. In his final venture away from the ranks of INXS, vocalist Michael Hutchence spent three years striving for that perfect sound and he nailed it. The vocal performance is stunning and the techno soundscapes created on this recording match Michaels vocal talents perfectly. For reasons unbeknownst to me some people like to exclude Michael from the ranks of melodic rock, but to my way of thinking, this cd is one of the best rock releases of all time. Look for general release domestically in February, in the meantime the import version is readily available.

3. Torstein Flakne - Shoot The Moon (Mercury, 1995); http://home.sol.no/~roghog/stage_dolls.htm

The tremendously underrated, talented singer/songwriter/guitarist from fave band Stage Dolls took a brief departure from the band to record this wonderful album. Containing 12 tracks ranging from the up-tempo ‘All Et Everything’, to the crescendo building ‘Walkaway’ to stripped down numbers like ‘The Waiting Kind’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ this album is a gem and a testament to the many talents of Torstein Flakne. Since then Torstein has returned to the ranks of the Stage Dolls with the excellent Dig album. The band has headed back to the studios to record their 7th album, likely to be one of the highlights of the coming year. Get it while its still available!

4. Joey Tempest - A Place To Call Home (Polydor/Polygram International Music, 1995) & Azalea Place (Polydor/Polygram International Music, 1997); http://www.joeytempest.de/

I have seldom seen an artist so successfully make such a marked transition in their sound. While I was a casual fan of Europe, I never was overwhelmed by the band so it was a delight to be surprised by the new direction taken by this talented artist. All the elements of the sound have changed, from the flavor of the music to the key in which Joey sings. If I hadn’t known who I was listening to inadvance, I may likely not have identified the voice. In fact a few people I turned on to these albums without identifying the singer in advance didn’t place Joey at all. I actually heard Azalea Place first and from the very first track I loved it. Stripped down with an acoustic flavor yet urgent energy to them (which is always right up my alley), both Azalea Place and A Place To Call Home are well worth locating. Azalea Place is still easily found, but take note that there is a version available with two bonus tracks which are well worth the extra price (Amazon.com has the bonus track version available). While A Place To Call Home is out of print I have seen it from time to time on eBay or drop my friends at Wishing Well Entertainment ( http://getnet.com/~wishwell/index.html) a note and they’ll gladly try to locate a copy for you.

As an aside, I’d like to take a moment to compliment Andrew who runs the superb site Melodicrock.com ( http://www.melodicrock.com/) for his excellent reviews, which included a great review for Azalea Place which prompted me to track down a copy. Andrew has some of the most thorough, well written reviews I’ve read and can be relied upon for an honest appraisal of each album (unlike some of the reviews in some of our less noteworthy melodic rock publications who demonstrate poor writing skills and definite biases towards certain labels, whether the artists and albums merit the praise or not).

5. Corey Hart - Corey Hart (Sony Music Entertainment (Canada), 1996) & Jade (Sony Music Entertainment (Canada), 1998); http://www.coreyhart.com/

If you’re familiar with Corey Hart from his numerous hits including ‘Never Surrender’, ‘Everything In My Heart’, ‘Boy In The Box’ and the well worn ‘Sunglasses At Night’ you have an inclination for the sound you’re going to get on his latest releases, but Corey returned with his self-titled cd with a marked maturity and focus in his sound. While both albums have garnered attention in his native Canada, there hasn’t been a domestic release of the albums or much attention paid to them stateside. If you haven’t heard these gems but were ever a fan of Corey Hart, do yourself a favor and check them out. Marked by wonderful tracks like ‘Black Cloud Rain’, ‘Third Of June’, ‘Angel Of My Soul’ ‘Without You’ and ‘So Visible (Easy To Miss)’ these albums will pull you back into the fold of long time Corey Hart fans. While I have seen them available at some of the online mega-stores, I can highly recommend A&B Sound ( http://www.absound.ca/) for their availability, pricing and prompt shipment.