STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 03-27-00

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

Official Nonsense:

 Editor and Academy Award Winner for Best Bullshit Ezine - Kurt Torster

Nominated for various other catagories:

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.

Snail mail address for press kits & CDs, porno tapes, DVDs, action figures, HotWheels cars, money, booze, naked pictures of your wife or girlfriends, etc.:
SFK c/o Kurt Torster
68 Lindbergh Blvd
Bloomfield, NJ 07003 USA

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Kurt's Krap:

Not that we all haven't known this for a long time, but MTV REALLY REALLY SUCKS! I was surfing around the channels the other night while the wife was sleeping and I came across what I think was supposed to pass for comedy. Some absolute horseshit called "The Lyricists Lounge", where it's nothing but homeboys acting out skits. Now first, I honestly could not understand what ANYONE was saying. If they weren't mumbling then they were talking all jive and making no sense whatsoever (and it's not because I'm getting old either...can anyone honestly say they can appreciate this crap?). It's no wonder today's youth has no respect for anything if this is what they're looking up to.

You know who else really sucks? NBC for canceling Freaks And Geeks.

News Bytes:

Faith Hill releases the second single from the multi-genre smash "Breathe" album in "The Way You Love Me". Faith will be taking part in the upcoming "VH-1's Divas 2000" concert.

Speaking of Faith Hill, she recently filmed a Pepsi commercial where she was backed by members of the incredible Venice.

Venice meanwhile will be reissuing their long out of print "Garage Demos Volumes 1 (Slow Stuff) and 2 (Fast Stuff)". They are available at the shows for $15 or by mail for $20 by sending a check, money order or IMO (add extra $5) to: Venice, 12228 Venice Blvd., #435, Los Angeles, CA  90066 USA. Sound clips are available at the incredible Venice Central.

Jaime Rowe of Christian rockers Guardian will be performing a solo set at the Stryper expo in New Jersey. Guardian also just released a live album that includes a cover of U2's "Pride".

Kyle Vincent is getting ready for album number five, which he calls "more power than pop". Meanwhile, his classic "Wow And Flutter" album will be reissued in Japan with the bonus track "Tell It Goodbye" while his "Sweet 16" disc gets reissued in Australia with the karaoke version of "No Matter What Will Be".

Also, finally getting a new album ready, after a year of tragedy, Rush is looking to get a new disc out by year's end.

Some new compilations to keep your eyes and ears out for include releases from The Babys (the original anthology with six bonus tracks), David Casidy & The Partridge Family (including tracks from David's 70s platters), Bay City Rollers, Leo Sayer, underground pop legends The Posies, Canadian pop rockers The Pursuit Of Happiness and The Raspberries (the original collection with six bonus tracks).

Dave Baldwin has updated his website.

Rumor has it that Garth Brooks will have a new album out in November.

Paul Shortino and Jimmy Crespo have teamed up to record the album "Sneak Preview". The album will have a cover of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls".

You can download a Liquid Audio copy of Blackhawk's "I Need You All The Time" from their upcoming "Greatest Hits" album.

Head over to Rock Tracks to hear soundbites from the upcoming Vaughn album and the long lost AOR classic from Aidean.

Higher Ground have released the album "Perfect Chaos", featuring the single "Ghost In My Head" as  well as the tracks "Forever On My Mind", "Everlasting Love", "Freedom", "If I Could", "Turns Into Stone", "Trying", "Keep This Dream Alive", "Someday", and "Last Man". More info at their website.

July 11 will see the release of the new Kansas album "Elsewhere" on Magna Carta which features the original lineup including vocalist Steve Walsh.

Sister Hazel is currently putting the finishing touches on their new Universal album, "Fortress", which is scheduled for release on June 27. The first single will likely be "Change Your Mind".

 Lionel Richie has just about finished his new album, which will be called "Renaissance".

Melodica, featuring Ted Poley and guitarist Gerhard Pichler will release an album for Frontiers in June. The touring band features Shotgun Symphony's Charlie Calv and Norway's Joe Slattery and Marty Bassington. Ted releases his latest solo album in October with an acoustic teaser in September.

Jorn Lande (vocalist for Millenium, Vagabond and The Snakes) releases his solo disc "Starfire" in May. The disc will feature guest shots from Ronnie LeTekro and Ralph Santolla. Besides the originals, cover tracks include "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" (City Boy), "Edge Of The Blade" (Journey), "Break It Up" (Foreigner) and "Burn" (Deep Purple).

The David Glenn Eisley album will be called "Stranger From The Past".

Phil Collins took home the Oscar last night for "You'll Be In My Heart" from the soundtrack to Tarzan.

The magazine MHR has had their financing pulled for various reasons and will not be out for it's expected first issue.

Noteworthy New Releases:

LED ZEPPELIN - Latter Days: Best of Vol. 2
MR. BIG - Get Over It
THE POSIES - Dream All Day: The Best of
THE TUBES - Dawn of The Tubes
W.A.S.P. - The Best of The Best 1984-2000

Radio Koolness:

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

Moldy Oldys:

[What's kicking old school on the SFK Deck O' Death this week:]
James Taylor - Greatest Hits, Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action, John Waite - No Brakes, Lionel Richie - Greatest Hits, Phil Collins - Tarzan OST

Kurt's Picks:

Frank Bango - Fugitive Girls, Not Lame, 1998
[Similarities: Elvis Costello, the darker side of the Beatles, the Police]
At first this really did nothing for me. But give this thing a chance and certain songs really begin to stand out among the mire. A little slow, dark and plodding at times, the upbeat portions really shine. All the songs have great harmonies but for a pop record, it can be a little hard to digest. Although lyrically it borders on genius, melodically it seems to lack the candy gloss throughout that eeks through on the more true pop of "Candy Bar Killer" and the goofy yet lovable "Ape". I wanted to like this but my mind just kept wandering during the quieter moments and overall was left feeling bored. Just a tad too quirky for my purist tastes...

Marillion - Marillion.co.uk, Racket, 2000
[Similarities: Genesis, Queen, Journey]
Is there a better and more original band working today? Talented beyond all belief, why they cannot break out of their cult status is beyond me. They can just as easily appeal to fans of AOR, prog and even pop. This seven track EP is a tasty sampler of songs from various releases on the band's own label and it only goes to prove that what many a fan knows...there is no one else out there like them. All live songs, you get an unplugged version of their single "The Answering Machine" as well as full-blown band shots of the grand "The Space", the gorgeous hit worthy ballad "The Great Escape" and the absolutely immense building rocker "Afraid Of Sunlight". This is also an enhanced CD, which includes video of some of the tracks as well as a band interview. Though essential for fans, newbies are advised to look towards their "Best Of Both Worlds" compilation.

Myracle Brah - Life On Planet Eartsnop, Not Lame, 1998
[Similarities: The Beatles, Jellyfish, Badfinger]
Many pop writers put this in their top 10 lists for last year (if not right at the top) and I can see why. Twenty quick and melodic shots that sound like the Beatles at what was arguably their peak era of "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver". Songs like "Whisper Softly", the monstrous "Getting Over Delusion" and the chiming "Medicine Man" are some of the highlights in a disc packed with pop gems. But then to single those out, I feel like I'm ignoring such great songs as "Good Day To The Night" or the beautiful "Anything But The World". I'll tell you, it's not often that you come across an album with twenty good songs and no filler. For fans of dreamy orchestral pop, this is an absolute dream. Hard rockers though will be put off unless they're looking for something to maybe unwind with or relax with their better halves. But I'll be damned if this isn't some of the best pop of it's kind since Jellyfish (just don't look for any explanations on the name of the band or album...you won't find one from me).

Splender - Halfway Down The Sky, C2, 1999
[Similarities: Duran Duran, Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish]
I first heard this band a couple of weeks back with their huge power ballad "I Think God Can Explain" and it just floored me. The song itself comes across like a modern day Duran Duran but I was a little hesitant to grab this as in this day and age, sometimes one song is all a bad is good for. Glad to say that's not the case here. This is one song after another of perfectly crafted modern pop rock that takes it's cues from the late 70s/early 80s new wave and skinny tie power pop. Most songs here avoid cliché and just when you think you got this album nailed, the next song comes and just takes you by surprise. From the hard rocking pop of "Yeah, Whatever", "I Apologize" and "Walflower" to the soaring grandness of the previously mentioned "I Think God Can Explain" or the building "Irresponsible", this is the latest in what I hope to be a long line of discs from major labels that seem to embrace good ol' fashioned melodic rock (ie. Tal Bachman, Marvelous 3, etc.). Produced to perfection by the genius, Todd Rundgren, this is highly recommended.

Various Artists - The Lost 45's Of The 70s And 80s, Varese, 1998
Now, this is what an AOR compilation should be. Shying away from filling the disc with the same songs that seem to be on every other collection, this set (based on a radio show/website by the same name) really goes for the jugular with songs that are either long lost and out of print or just haven't been heard in recent memory. Of the fourteen tracks, nine I would call "pure AOR", and the others are all from the AM Gold/70s pop radio mold that fit right in. From that AOR side of things, you will find songs from Tony Carey, Steel Breeze, Chilliwack, Balance, Franke & The Knockouts, Van Stephenson, Tycoon, Sneaker and Quarterflash. There alone makes enough of a killer compilation. Throw in songs from Eric Carmen and a handful of others and you're left with some brilliant listening that is truly a "something for everyone" kind of set. What's more, the liner notes make for some fascinating reading. Now, where the hell is "Volume 2"?!? [Here's the tracklist: Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance, Tony Carey - A Fine Fine Day, Steel Breeze - You Don't Want Me Anymore, Chilliwack - My Girl, Starbuck - Moonlight Feels Right, Eric Carmen - I Wanna Hear It >From Your Lips, Balance - Breaking Away, Franke & The Knockouts - Without You, Kenny Nolan - Love's Grown Deep, Van Stephenson - Modern Day Delilah, Tycoon - Such A Woman, Rupert Holmes - Him, Sneaker - More Than Just The Two Of Us, Quarterflash - Find Another Fool]

(Re)Views From The Hill:

Kitaro: "Thinking of You", Domo Records
[similarities: Mike Oldfield, Vangelis]
Kitaro has sold over 15 million records worldwide with his instrumental world music. He became so popular in his native Japan that he felt the need to emigrate to Colorado in the US. Of some interest to SFK readers is the fact that Kitaro has collaborated with Jon Anderson of Yes and Mickey Hart of the Grateful dead.

Kitaro has scored films like " Heaven and Earth", " The Soong Sisters", as well as being the composer for a Broadway show and the soundtrack to an NHK (Japan) documentary on the silk road. You have probably heard his work and never known it.s Much of the music on this disc is of little interest to hard rock fans however there are touches of prog towards the end of the album that reward the patient listener,

Of most interest are track 6, with its pleasant sound that would not be out of place of one of the more mellow of progressive albums of late. Track 7 is my personal favorite because of its creepy Omen/The Exorcist like quality. The track is just crying out to be put on a good suspense thriller soundtrack and used in a tense scene as background music. Kitaro wrote, produced and arranged the album in its entirety as well as playing all the broad range of instruments that make an appearance on the album.

While this is not my idea of a good listen. I would recommend this album to anyone who would like a good "chill album" and is interested in something that has some familiar touches to it.  Most of the album has a background filler quality to it, so much so that it is easy to ignore if one is doing anything else. - MD

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

People having been making plenty of noise at the moment about the future of the music industry, mainly because the Wall Street suits fancy throwing money after every internet venture possible. With the sheen finally coming off all these internet stocks, maybe it's a good time to think about where the specialist melodic rock labels are going - all that the majors do doesn't really count for a whole hill of beans for rock fans, and its still the specialists that are the only labels providing some measure of support to it, whether it's genuine or not.  

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, for melodic rock to make a come back to any useful degree, there has to be a US indie that gets the right sort of success and makes the majors wake up. Some might say that CMC International are just that sort of label, but the industry always views them as a "golden oldie" specialist with bands like Styx and 38 Special on the label. Add Judas Priest to the roster and you've a bit of cabaret feel! CMC really seems to just be pumping product from established bands to their existing fan base, and nothing else. In the US, Song Haus might become something of a force in the long run, but they're taking a "less is more/easy does it" policy of concentrating on a few releases rather than getting suckered into releasing too much too soon thus spreading their support too thin....

What of the Europeans? Well, it's all still a little provincial and you can't really see any of them emerging as a world force. But it is interesting to see how they're attitudes and positioning in the market is changing.

Where are they, then: MTM seems to be easing off the gas from their original hectic release schedules in an effort to concentrate on promoting what they do release properly; Frontiers seem like kids in a sweet shop signing everything that moves and dreaming up solo projects from members of any half-established band; Now and Then and Z Records seem to be trying to outdo each other in a competition to have the heaviest (in a heavy metal sense) roster possible, and moving away from AOR; Escape seems to be putting out the same old same old, just with the names and musicians shuffled differently each time; and Point in Germany still has to do something distinctive and original.

We've already seen some European labels go under, mainly because they set their heights too high too quickly. But should they be content working to serve the same parochial market? Expansion could prove risky, so most chose not to try.....

The way melodic rock is actually sold is killing it. Unless it's easily compared no one thinks it will sell. Making a release that mail order retailers can describe as "just like Survivor" or "the best album Journey never made" is the wrong way round to do things and, frankly, shameful. It's time for a new set of defining bands to appear....

The next two years are going to be critical. The labels (and maybe the audience too!) needs to move on and be part of a bigger picture that guarantees the future health of melodic rock, so it's not an insular clique trying to feel superior. If that continues melodic rock as we know is dead! Sometime soon creative new releases have to come, and that doesn't mean rehashing old material or finding some unreleased "undiscovered classic" album from 12 years ago to spearhead a release schedule!  

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

From: Shoebox reverendshoebox@yahoo.com

Hello! There's a new song from my band, Worm Quartet, now up at mp3.com! It's a comedy rock thingy called "I Don't Give A Shit About Your Website." http://www.mp3.com/WormQuartet

Feedback:

From: Jennifer [thetrslv@gte.net]

Subject: Bon Jovi video shoot
My friends and I got there about 5:30, right away went down to the tunnel where all the extras were lines up against the wall. We filmed some scenes where we were supposed to be in line and excited to be there. Then we got to film scenes where we were in line but the line was moving so we were walking into the tunnel. There were cars lined up alongside and in the tunnel and some extras were put into the cars to make it look like they were stuck in traffic waiting to get in also. Finally we were lined up along the tunnel wall and told that when the music started to start moving fast toward the stage. That was the most fun cause the band was on the stage and we all wound up in a mob in front everyone trying to get as close as they could. :) They had us do each scene 4-5 times and at the end they had the crowd sing the chorus of the song and said it was going to be used in the video. We were done filming about 10:30 although they kept a few people to shoot one more crowd scene. It was my first time being in a video shoot and it was so much fun!!!

From: Tom Soares tsoares@ici.net

Subject: Kelly Keagy
Hey Kurt,  In your latest SFK you mentioned about Kelly and also about Jim Peterik. Just thought you might like to know that Jim is holding his second World Stage Concert May 13 at the Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana!! The show will feature Don Barnes, Kelly Keagy, Cathy Richardson, David Carl, Jeff Boyle, Marzette Griffith and possibly Kevin Chalfant. Also, the Ides of March Brass and the World Stage Band will perform. Tickets will be on sale soon through Ticketmaster and the Star Plaza box office. Songs in the show will include new ones from the World Stage CD, plus many of the guest artists' hits, some of which were co-written by Jim. It will be perfect timing for the April 18th release of the World Stage CD which features duets with these and other GREAT artists. You can get all the info on this project and of the sure to be a sell out show at http://www.jimpeterik.com/

From: "Ray Burtoff" tcpepper25@home.com

Hello there! My name is Ray Burtoff, and I am the lead singer for Open Cage, a band you reviewed in your spring edition of SFK. Just wanted to pass along a LARGE THANK YOU for the rave review! You obviously know just how hard it is to get something started in the music world, and your support is really uplifting to us. We're just about to start work on our next album...I'll keep you posted! THANKS AGAIN!!!

From: McGeeF19@aol.com

Subject: Mike Tramp Tour Dates
Preliminary tour date information for Mike Tramps' upcoming tour, information provided by TrampUniverse...

Gig List

28 Apr 2000 at Jaxx, 6355 Rolling Road, Springfield, Virginia, United States
Phone Venue: (703) 569-5940

29 Apr 2000 at L amour, 1546 62nd Street, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Phone Venue: (718) 837-9506

2 May 2000 at Annies, 4343 Kellog Ave, Cincinatti, Ohio, United States
Phone Venue: (513) 321-2572

4 May 2000 at The Flying Machine, 3970 Josephine St, Lorrain, Ohio, United States

10 May 2000 at Lucky Dog Café, 89 Green Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Phone Venue: (508) 363-1888

12 May 2000 at City Limits, 57 East Main Sreet, Waterbury, Conneticut, United States
Phone Venue: (203) 757-0111

From: FrancisS98@aol.com

www.subwaymusic.de check it out - the new homepage from the melodicrock and AOR-band SUBWAY, with mp3, pictures, infos and more - dont miss it