STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 03-20-00

"Without music life would be a mistake." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Official Nonsense:

        Editor and whatever - Kurt Torster

Whoever deserves credit other than me:

Ian McIntosh (AOR Basement)
Tim Henderson (Brave Words)
DJ Klaus Brandlhuber (RockTracks)
Peter Sims (Now & Then / Frontiers)
Ove Gustafsson (MTM)
Mark Alger (Z Records)
Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)
Marty Dodge (http://www.lupusandco.com)
Alex Richter (Hard N' Fast)
Martin Hennessy III (80's Nuts)

All e-mail should be directed to ktorster@yahoo.com.

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SFK c/o Kurt Torster
68 Lindbergh Blvd
Bloomfield, NJ 07003 USA

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Kurt's Krap:

Sorry about last week but this will be an ever evolving process for me making the whole thing look better. Seems like from the mail I everyone for the change (provided I guess that it works!). I apologize if you are still having problems but I am doing my best to make everyone happy.

Last week I made a mention of an album I've been digging lately from The Plimsouls. A few wrote in asking about it so...it was The Plimsouls debut album that has eight bonus tracks, reissued on Rhino a couple of years back as "The Plimsouls...Plus". They play power pop yet make it dirty and raunchy and 20 years on it still sounds amazingly good. I highly recommend it for fans of The Loveless, Dramarama and the like.

I imagine that a lot of you are like me in that you are a "child of the 80s". Well, I cannot say this enough but you have got to watch "Freaks & Geeks" on Mondays at 8PM EST on NBC. That show has almost perfectly captured the time of the early 80s and brings back maybe one too many memories.

From the Uh...Duh! File: A few weeks back I reviewed Nelson's "Life" and was raving about the song "She Shelia". I dunno why my brain didn't put it together then, but this is a cover of the classic 80s tune from the Producers.

I almost didn't get this issue out. This morning I caught on VH-1 the video for Faith Hill's "Breathe". Speaking from a guy point of view...WOW!

News Bytes:

Shania Twain's "Come On Over" has passed the seventeen million sales mark and has become the best selling album by a female of all time as well as the best selling country album of all time. And as it stands, only four other single albums stand in it's way for it to become the best selling album ever (being of course Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors", Led Zeppelin's "IV", Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and The Eagles' "Greatest Hits").

Ex-Beach Boy Brian Wilson will record a live album at his April 7 and 8 shows at the Roxy in Los Angeles.

Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy has signed with Frontiers to release a solo album titled "Time Passages". Helping Kelly out are bandmates Jack Blades, Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis as well as Bruce Gaitsch and Brian Bart. Tracks include "Bottled Up", "Time Passes", "I'm Still Here","Soul", "The Moon" and "Before Anybody Knows I'm Gone" (co-written with Jim Peterik).

Kelly is also rumored to have joined the Damn Yankees, as rumored many a moon ago in SFK. What is confirmed though is that Damon Johnson, ex of Brother Cane, has replaced Tommy Shaw.

The incredible Bad Habit have released a compilation called "14 Years Of Bad Habit", which contains all five tracks from their unreleased "Young And Innocent".

The setlist for the March 11 opening show on the Kiss tour: 'Detroit Rock City', 'Shout It Out Loud', 'Heaven's On Fire', 'Deuce', 'Calling Dr. Love', 'Shock Me', 'Psycho Circus', 'Firehouse', 'Do You Love Me', 'Let Me Go Rock And Roll', 'Into The Void', 'Cold Gin', 'God Of Thunder', 'Lick It Up', 'I Love It Loud', '100,000 Years', 'Love Gun' and 'Black Diamond'. Look for their Pepsi commercial to debut during the Oscar telecast on March 26.

Wanna see the Foo Fighters tomorrow night in San Francisco? You can grab some leftover tix to the sold-out show here.

Came across a rather cool site called The Musical Crossroads, which has sections on many SFK faves in the worlds of AOR, Westcoast and roots rock. Check it out.

Ron Flynt And The Bluehearts released their first album, "Big Blue Heart" last week on YaYa Records. Ron was a founding member of power pop legends 20/20 and the album features artists like Dwight Twilley and Bill Lloyd as well as his ex-bandmates.

Here's the tracklisting for the upcoming Vaughn disc "Solider And Sailor On Riverside": Bad Water, Is That All There Is, Healing Hands, A Handful Of Rain, Stone Monkey,  Shadowland, Paradise Ain't Home,  Soldier And Sailor On Riverside,  Gandy Dancer and The Voice.

The hit "Amazed" by Lonestar was almost recorded by Boys 2 Men and Nsync had the country/rock act not recorded it first.

Radar is a new band featuring Pamela Moore (Sister Mary from Queensryche's "Operation: Mindcrime"). Their debut, "RPM", will be released by Point/AOR Heaven.

April 25 sees the release of the first album from Transatlantic titled "Shuttlecock", the band formed by ex-Saigon Kick vocalist Jason Beiler and ex-Extreme bassist Pat Badger. The title track hits radio April 4.

 More on the live issue of Pink Floyd's "The Wall". It will contain two previously unreleased tracks in "The Last Few Bricks" and "What Shall We Do Now?".

Bruce Springsteen will make an appearance as his first speaking role in the new John Cusack movie "High Fidelity".

Some possible song titles from the upcoming Diving For Pearls album include "Lonely Is The Dark", "The Truth Is", "Heaven Only Knows", "All Shook Up" and "If I Only Knew".

The upcoming release schedule for MTM shapes up to be:

March: 101 South

April: Von Groove - Driving off The Edge, Brian McDonald - Wind It Up

May: Raine - Peace, Kharma - Wonderland, Storyteller - Corridor of Windows

June: Joe Lynn Turner - tba, House Of Shakira - tba, Axe (possible)

Coming soon is "A Tribute To Van Halen" which features vocalists Jack Russell ("Unchained"), Mark Slaughter ("I'm The One"), Joe Lynn Turner ("Dance The Night Away"), Doug Pinnick ("Light Up The Sky"), Jani Lane ("Panama"), John Corabi ("Hot For Teacher"), Stephen Pearcy ("Running With The Devil"), Gunnar Nelson ("Pretty Woman"), Fee Waybill ("Atomic Punk"), Jeff Scott Soto ("So This Is Love") and David Glenn Eisley ("Little Guitars") being backed by a variety of musicians including Marco Mendoza, Doug Aldrich, Reb Beach, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Bruce Kulick, Brad Gillis, Mitch Perry, Billy Sheehan, Eric Singer, Gregg Bissonette and Frankie Banali.

Speaking of Van Halen, I got a note from the webmaster of the official site for the band concerning all the rumors and bullshit surrounding the current vocalist situation: "Many folks continue to email me asking why rumors aren't posted to the site and when the band is going to announce what they are doing. Once the band has cemented their plans, rest assured information will be posted. The downtime will be all but a memory! Before you know it, you'll have all the VH news you can swallow and then some! As far as rumors go, please remember rumors are rumors. The band is not going to post rumors to their own web site. Only solid facts and information will be posted. Just because you hear something on the radio or read it on a website, doesn't mean it's true. More than a few rumors have recently been proven false that were reported by legitimate news web sites and/or admitted to being fabricated by 'inside sources.' One thing you can be sure of: when news and band updates are posted to van-halen.com, they are the real deal! Also, keep in mind that's there's much more to the site than just the news page. If that's all you're looking at, you're missing out on all kinds of great VH information!"

Warner Canada has put up a page for Rubber. It's amusing in the sense that it makes them sound like a new band altogether with no mention of the Harem Scarem name anywheres to be found.

German rockers Frontline have a new website to go along with their "Right Attitude" release.

May 23 is the date for the new Pearl Jam album "Binaural". The first single will be "Nothing As It Seems".

58, the band featuring Nikki Sixx and Steve Gibb, release their "Diet For A New America" on May 16. Said to be "electronica, hip-hop and beat poetry", it includes a cover of Gilbert O'Sullivan's pop chestnut "Alone Again Naturally".

Tracks for the upcoming Motley Crue album ,"New Tattoo": 'Dragstrip Superstar', 'Hollywood Ending', 'God Drives A U.F.O.', 'Punched In The Teeth By Love', 'Treat Me Like The Dog I Am', 'Timebomb', 'American Zero', 'White  Punks On Dope', 'First Band On The Moon', 'Hell On High Heels', 'Pornostar' and 'I'm A Fake (Just Like You)'.

Street Talk has finished their second album, "Transition", to be release by AOR Heaven/Point Music in May. Tracks include: Someday (I'll Get Over You), Need Someone, If Anybody Breaks Your Heart, Let Me Be The One, Always Stand By You, Ye Gods And Little Fishes, Everything I Do Is Just For You, Energizer Bunny, Don't Give Up On This Love and When You Lose The One You Love.

Not too long ago a reader wrote in looking for info on the act David+David. Well, I just happened to come across this site dedicated to the duo.

Emerald Rain has released a limited edition live album called "Live2K". Recorded December 18 in Ontario, Canada it has the following tracks: Never Surrender, Desperate Heart, Heart On The Line, Your Disguise, Age Of Innocence, Come Clean, High Road To Nowhere, Broken Saviours, Endless Grey, Don't Tell The Rain, Dungeon Drums (Drum Solo), Misery Loves
Company, Take A Stand, No Saviour, Man In The Box
and Take A Stand (previously a Japan only bonus track). Hit their website to grab a copy.

Supposedly, as reported in last week's SFK, Robert Mason is the new Ratt singer.

April 25 will see the release of the CD for "The Best of VH-1's Storytellers Volume 1". Tracklisting: David Bowie "China Girl", Stevie Nicks "Edge of Seventeen", The Pretenders "Chain Gang", Counting Crows "Rain King", Dave Matthews "Crash", Jewel "Who Will Save Your Soul", Lisa Loeb "Stay", John Popper "Regarding Steven", James Taylor "Mexico", Sheryl Crow & Stevie Nicks "Strong Enough", Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams", Natalie Merchant "Carnival", Elvis Costello "Just a Memory" and Bee Gees "How Deep Is Your Love".

Nelson will be playing a free show on April 15 at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas.

Drummer Josh Freese has left the ever revolving membership of Guns N' Roses.

VH-1's "Men Strike Back" show features Sting along with Tom Jones, Backstreet Boys and Enrique Iglesias. It will air live at 9PM EST on April 18.

Hollywood Records will be releasing Duran Duran's "Pop Trash" on June 6th. The first single, "Someone Else Not Me", will be hitting radio stations May 2nd.

Musicmaker is still offering free downloads from the Jimmy Page/Black Crowes album "Live At The Greek". The first single, "What Is And What Should Never Be" was the most added track at rock radio last week.

Canadian rockers Brighton Rock will be releasing a "Greatest Hits And More" in the near future.

Smashmouth release a new single in "Waste". The band can also be heard with the hyper-catchy "Come On Come On" on the recently released soundtrack for "Snow Day".

Noteworthy New Releases:

THE BEACH BOYS - Endless Harmony
DAD'S PORNO MAG - Dad's Porno Mag
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - All-Time Greatest Hits
MARS ELECTRIC - Beautiful Something
POISON - Crack a Smile & More!

Radio Koolness:

[The top 5 on the radio this week (courtesy of WPLJ radio).]
1 Third Eye Blind - Never Let You Go
2 Smash Mouth - Then The Morning Comes
3 Robbie Williams - Angels
4 Fastball - Out of My Head
5 Faith Hill - Breathe

Moldy Oldys:

[What's kicking old school on the SFK Deck O' Death this week:]
Queen - A Day At The Races/A Night At The Opera, Venice - Venice, John Waite - Rover's Return, The Plimsouls - Everywhere At Once

Kurt's Picks:

D-Generation - Through The Darkness, Columbia, 1999
[Similarities: Guns N Roses, The Loveless, old Aerosmith]
Taking gutter glam to a new melodic high this group of New Yorkers have been on the verge of the big time for quite a while now. Given just a little bit of push they may just be the next band to change musical climates (ala GNR, Nirvana, etc). Taking elements of glam, gutter punk and huge does of melody, D-Gen rips through fourteen scorchers with riffs that cut like a razor and lyrics that are thought provoking and full of smoke and energy. Bowing to no modern influences, the band is almost more late 70s than anything 80s yet have a sound that easily fits into any modern rock or pop format. Among the songs here there are no real lowlights and it's hard to single out any track when they're all as good as the next. But if I have to play favorites, the trio of "Rise And Fall", "Good Ship Down" and "Sunday Secret Saints" all have some serious singles potential. Produced to perfection by the legendary Tony Visconti this is pure rock and roll they way it should be.

Melissa Etheridge - Breakdown, Island,1999
[Similarities: John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi]
This is one of those albums that requires a few spins and some time to reflect and only then will you realize how good it really is. Sounding not unlike Mellencamp or Springsteen at their most commercial, Ms. Etheridge weaves through eleven tracks of mid-tempo arena rock and acoustic tinged power ballads that just may be her finest hour yet. Lyrically intense, mature and heartfelt, she lays everything on the line in the best singer/songwriter traditions and thankfully avoids being too preachy or pretentious (though the obvious gay overtones in "Mama I'm Strange" doesn't hurt the fact that it may be the best song on the disc). Though there's only three real rockers in "Angels Would Fall", the previously mentioned "Mama I'm Strange" and the rhythmic "Scarecrow", the ballads are all quite good ("Stronger Than Me" and "Enough Of Me" are two standouts among the many) proving there's more than enough style and substance behind the passion and melody to bring this to near classic status. I think the only complaint you can lodge here is that there's probably too many slow tracks as compared to more up-tempo fare and nothing really flat out rocks like some of her previous material. But all told, a moody borderline classic...

Firefly - After The Fire, Escape, 2000
[Similarities: Foreigner, Bad English, Giant]
Firefly is back with their second release and it's a mostly hard rocking affair that shows moments of brilliance in it's mix but also shows signs of being nothing more than average. Some of the songs on here are simply marvelous. When the band sticks to the tried and true AOR formula they reach their pinnacle on tracks like album opener "Shadow Of A Doubt", the soaring "After The Fire" or "Find A Way". It's when the band tries to rock hard and heavy, like on "Mary Gets Wise", "The Garden" or "Tell Me Why", that I lose interest. For whatever reason, the sound just doesn't come across as natural as compared to the other songs on offer. Musically, this is a hugely talented mob (any act with Ron Wisko and Ricky Phillips is OK by me), and sound amazing even on the songs I didn't care for. And vocalist John Pratt needs to be singled out as a vocalist supreme and throws some incredible strength behind his singing. Easily there's more better than not here and makes, if not at least a temporary diversion, a worthy addition.

Open Cage - Far From Home, 1999
[Similarities: Matchbox 20, Smithereens, Live]
Packed with enough hooks and melodies to make any SFKer happy, this PA band caught me totally by surprise. When I popped the disc in for a listen I was not in the best of moods and honestly wasn't expecting much. By the end of the first song (the bouncy "Use Me") my mood had swung and I was quickly grabbing the liners to find out more. The band calls itself "infectious melodic rock" and that's about right on target but there are hints of modern pop thrown in as well. From the upbeat pop of "Miss You Most" and "Lost Boys" to the slow and moody "One More Day" (which is one of the best ballads I've heard in ages) and "Anal Girl" (if that's not a sing-along, I dunno what is), this band deserve exposure far beyond what I and various melodic press can give them. They really have the sound that seems to effortlessly blend genres and if this were on a major, I have no doubt it would be all over radio. Hit their website, buy this disc and spread it around. It could be big...

Poison - Crack A Smile & More!, EMI/Capitol, 2000 (originally issued1996)
[Similarities: Van Halen, Mr. Big, Firehouse]
Finally, after four years and countless bootlegs floating around the net, this album gets it's proper release. About bloody time too as it's easily the best and most complete album the band has yet offered. Not including the eight bonus tracks (more on that in a sec), there's simply no filler in the bunch, and how many Poison albums (much less any albums from the hair bands) could you say that about? Moving ever so slightly away from their earlier bubblegum glam sound and setting into a more straight ahead rock groove, this is the album that should have given them respect along with all the past sales they've racked up. But with musical climates what they were in 1996 it's no wonder this thing sank without a trace. But who among us could deny such storming arena rockers as "Cover Of A Rolling Stone", "Sexual Thing" and the aptly named "Tragically Unhip"? And with ballads always being a strong suit, the band does no disappoint with the heavy yet tender "Be The One" or the sweeping "Lay Your Body Down". Point being made, this is easily one of the most fun and easy to digest albums of the 90s and still sounds great today. As for the bonus tracks, included is four cuts from the band's cracking appearance on MTV's Unplugged (with songs like "Unskinny Bop" and "Talk Dirty To Me" taking on a whole new groove) as well as various outtakes and b-sides. Now that this thing is official, BUY!

(Re)Views From The Hill:

Corrs: Unplugged, 143 Records/Atlantic

[similarities: SheDaisy, Crowded House, Nelson]

Familiar format, sometimes works, sometimes doesn't, but with the Corrs it works brilliantly. The Corrs Irish traditional laced pop that never gets too complicated in its "plugged in" form, relying a great deal on traditional instruments. Still, the stripped down versions of the songs are different enough to warrant a listen. The unplugged versions are even mellower than their normal output, making this very much a "late night , bottle of wine and fire" type disc. Lets face it, the three ladies voices that make up the Corrs (all sisters) have voices that resemble audio honey. Courtney Love or L7 this certainly isn't!

Not only do you get all of the bands hits "unplugged" but you get 5 new tracks, both an original and a few covers. This disc, hovers around the maximum time possible on a CD (with 14 tracks), so much so that when it ends, it is rather abrupt, no so much as a goodbye! There is not much banter or crowd noise on the disc, much to relief of anyone listening to it, for it would ruin the mood. The covers range from a Hendrix tune (Little Wing) to a wonderful version of the REM's "Everybody Hurt". This version is so good that I almost forget it is written by one of the most vile people in the world: Michael Stipe.

Just to make things interesting the Corrs cover a track by one of their country's greatest rock exports, Thin Lizzy. I wonder how Jimmy Bain likes this version of the tune, "Old Town" that he penned with his drinking partner Phil Lynott. A fitting tribute to a great talent that died too early. There is also another cover of a song called "No Frontiers".

Besides the 4 covers, there is one new track, "The Radio," which is the first single from the album. This is a typical mid-tempo Corrs tracks that has the 3 ladies singing at their harmonizing best. The rest of the album is filled to the brim with the band's hits from their first two albums, including tidbits of their more famous instrumental reworkings of traditional Irish songs. For the most part if you like the Corrs, you will adore this album. For those new to the band, you could pick worse introductions to this quartet from the emerald isle. This disc serves to pass the time till the release of the band's third album sometime this spring, which will feature a rocked up version of "The Radio".

Another week, another talent trio of singing and musically talented sisters. Who says all women musicians have to be pissing and moaning or getting their kit off to sell records. Yet another great album in MTV's "Unplugged" series and a must for fans of this most interesting of pop bands. This disc will feature on my CD player for a long time to come, much like the previous two Corrs' albums. - MD

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

Did anyone notice? CD Now and CBS Sony (with Time Warner) have terminated their merger agreement that would have combined CD Now and Columbia House, just a couple of months after fan-faring their supposedly triumphant "brave new world" deal.....

Last July it was all about being the biggest music retailing company in the world and being at the forefront of the digital direct music distribution system. Now it all seems to be a bit of a backtrack. Instead of merging, Columbia House will commit $51 million to CD Now: $21 million would be earmarked for a direct equity stake while the rest would essentially be a loan. Hmmmn, that's barely even beer money for Wall Street suits who'll give anyone that can even spell "e-commerce" $100 million or more!!!

One thing is clear, CD Now (by virtue of its size) is a powerful force in the new music environment - it just doesn't seem to understand what to do with that power or, for that matter, understand how to make money. Investment bankers have already been called in by CD Now to "help the company explore ways to reduce its operating expenses and expand its business". Good policy, investment bankers have screwed up every major record label, so they might as well do the same for internet retailers! It's only fair!

But maybe, just maybe, people are beginning to see that the whole e-commerce buzz in the music industry is just a special form of hype to line third parties and intermediaries pockets, and set up a few executives for life. Look at CD Now's stock, just a year ago its shares fetched a hefty $39.25 each, today you pick them up for $8.25 a time - clearly not a good investment, clearly a bad past performance, yet brokers will still give them a strong buy recommendation. Why?

CD Now is quick to cry wolf by saying the Columbia House deal falling apart was not, perish the thought, its fault. As the company says: "It didn't make financial sense any more. The cash position and debt levels at Columbia House were not what we envisioned when we agreed to merge in July. It became clear to all of us that Columbia House was the wrong vehicle." But that's hardly the real rub is it? For a company who's stock is plummeting? The real reason seems to be that Columbia House thought Amazon.com was stealing CD Now's thunder. And, don't forget, Time Warner owns part of Columbia House so it'll have plans for a bigger and better Death Star, sorry I mean "Media Conglomerate", which it can stick together with AOL which it also controls via merger.

Well, someone is going to have to remember that it doesn't matter how fancy the box is, you've got to have something to go in it. Unless of course you're just out to stiff some investors who don't know any better....

Feedback:

From: Stacy Jenkins stacy@stomachmonkeys.com

Hi Kurt-you mentioned the Good Rats in your current SFK issue.  I was wondering WHICH version of the good rats you are refering to?  Is it the original classic lineup with Peppi Marchello, John Gatto, Joe Franco etc... OR is it Peppi and his son Gene, making a mockery of the GR name?

[It's Peppi and sons...]

From: Kim Luty kim@kimothee.com

Kip Winger did an interview on thetourbus.com over the weekend...new album should be out in a few months (no release date set), and they played some snippets of songs from it (I wasn't able to listen "live", just from the saved interview on their web site). From what I heard, they totally rocked!  Rod Morgenstein played drums on virtually the entire album and Reb Beach played guitar on a couple tracks, and had, as Kip said, an "unofficial" reunion.  They have been offered big $$ to get back together, but their biggest fear is that a new album wouldn't measure up to their extremely critically underrated Pull.  If the clips are anything to judge, he has nothing to worry about!  He did say that a Winger reunion is a distinct possibility, and that if us, the fans, want one, sign up for his mailing list on kipwinger.com (site should be live in a month and a half or so), send an email, and also send emails to Rod at rodmorgenstein.com and Reb at rebbeach.com.