|Editor and QuarterBack - Kurt Torster|
The Offensive Offense:
|-Ian McIntosh (AOR Basement - http://www.aorbasement.com )|
|-Tim Henderson (Brave Words - http://www.hardradio.com )|
|-Peter Sims (Now & Then/Frontiers - http://www.nowandthen.co.uk )|
|-Ove Gustafsson (MTM - http://www.pi.se/mtm )|
|-Mark Alger (Z Records - http://graffiti.virgin.net/zero_option_pro.z_records/ )|
|-Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)|
|-Marty Dodge ( http://www.lupusandco.com )|
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Thanks to everyone who sent me their songs for the Ultimate AOR compilation. A lot of great songs and even better comments throughout. And I guess I'm not the only one sick of seeing the same damned songs on each and every compilation that comes out. It showed me how deep the fandom runs in this genre. I'll give up more details soon about the label and all...
Check out the new DVD Deals mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org. Itís place to discuss all those great net deals and coupons on DVDs, CDs, videos, books, etc.
[I've been digging up deals all over the net where you can save on CDs, DVDs, videos and books. Just follow the links below (and/or use the code if needed).]
AMAZON (use code PRESENTS-4-ALL for $10 off a $25 order)
BARNES & NOBLE (use code CTREATS or CZVRCH7 for $10off a $10 order!)
CD NOW ($10 off $14.99 or more)http://www.cdnow.com/from=red:x:cda:td1099/from=sr-38281
SHANIA TWAIN's superior 'International Mix' of her "Come On Over" album will be released in the US on November 23. This version strips away the fiddles and all and beefs up the guitar, making it a true AOR release. The US version has just gone over 14 million in sales.
On a similar note, FAITH HILL's "Faith" just broke the four million mark while the MONSTER BALLADS compilation has just gone platinum.
Andy Bell, formerly of power pop band RIDE, has joined OASIS.
Word on the net is that QUEENSRYCHE were actually booed at the end of their Las Vegas set. The current setlist seems to practically ignore anything before ďOperation: MindcrimeĒ and relies more heavily on the past few discs.
Here's the tracklisting for the upcoming new BRYAN ADAMS hit set "The Best Of Me": The Best Of Me, Can't Stop This Thing We Started, I'm Ready (Unplugged Version), Summer Of '69, Let's Make A Night To Remember, All For Love, Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman, Run To You, Cloud Number 9 (Chicane Mix), (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Back To You (MTV Unplugged), When You're Gone, Please Forgive Me, The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You, Inside Out (wot? no "I Wanna Be Your Underwear"?!?). There will be a special UK double CD versions that includes five tracks: Summer Of 69, Back To You, Rock Steady, Can't Stop This Thing We Started And Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman...all recorded earlier this year in South Africa. More info can be had at his excellent official site www.bryanadams.com.
MTV premiered the latest video from the upcoming live GUNS N' ROSES, "Welcome To The Jungle" last week which is a live clip interspead with news footage of things like Rodney King and the Columbine Massacre. The next studio album is set to be titled "Chinese Democracy", and looks like Dave Navarro will be handling guitars full time while BRIAN MAY will also make appearances on the album.
DEF LEPPARD, along with openers, will play a pair of shows on December 31 in both Rosemont, IL and Milwaukee, WI.
Got a note from Jeff Watson letting me know that the supposed NIGHT RANGER side-project, Bad Venue is nothing more than an internet hoax.
Legendary keyboardist Don Airey has joined TEN.
Right after the release of their album (reviewed below), MILLENIUM have a new singer in Jorn Lande, replacing Todd Plant.
KNAC radio is spreading rumors that Sebastian Bach will be the next singer for VAN HALEN.
Danny Vaughan has confirmed that the reformed members of TYKETTO will not use the name 'Tyketto'. Instead, they are looking for suggestions for a name that would be along the lines of 'Danny Vaughan's xxx'. A funny post from the AORMUSIC mailing list this past week suggested 'Danny Vaughan's Survivor'...
I'm hearing power melodic rockers SLEEZ BEEZ might be getting back together.
Look for BALANCE OF POWER's "Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion" to be released next week. More info at www.nightmare-records.com.
MHR Magazine is now online at http://graffiti.virgin.net/mhr.web.
TAL BACHMAN seems to be TV's theme song boy, as HBO's 'The Sopranos' will feature the hit "She's So High" while 'NYPD Blue' will use "You Love Like Nobody Loves Me" in their commercials. Throw that in with his new video for "If You Sleep" and his participation in the upcoming 'Dawson's Creek' concert, and that's some push that he's getting from his label.
On Friday, December 3rd, JOHN EDDIE will participate in Hungerthon, a Concert to Benefit World Hunger Year (WHY). Also performing are SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY, MARSHALL CRENSHAW and many others. Tickets are now on sale online via Ticketmaster. More info at http://www.johneddie.com/showinfo/hungerthon.html.
According to a recent British survey, THE BEATLES were ranked the best band of the century, followed by QUEEN, the STONES, U2 and OASIS. Album of the century went to the BEATLES' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
THE PRETENDERS are talking of undertaking a major venue tour in 2000.
Next summer you can catch JOHN MELLENCAMP all acoustic as he hits small venues for a continuation of the 'Rural Electrification' tour.
BILLY JOEL may also tour in the New Year, extending his mini-tour of December, which culminates in a New Year's Eve show at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Noteworthy New Releases:
38 SPECIAL - Live From Sturgis
CHICAGO - Rock in Toronto
THE FIXX - The Ultimate Collection
HELLOWEEN - Metal Jukebox
FAITH HILL - Breathe
JARS OF CLAY - If I Left The Zoo
NILS LOFGREN - The Ultimate Collection
MARILLION - Marillion.com
THE MAVERICKS - Super Colossal Smash Hits of the '90s, The Best of the Mavericks
PRINCE - Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic
QUEEN - Greatest Hits, Vol. 3
T'PAU - Red
TOAD THE WET SPROCKET - P.S. A Toad Retrospective
TONIC - Sugar
Original Soundtrack to - "End of Days" (new ArnoldSchwarzenegger film w/a new Guns N' Roses' song, "Oh My God")
DEPARTURE - OPEN YOUR MIND, Escape, 1999 [Similarities: Journey, Kansas, Styx]
Opener "Fair Warning" is about as strong as an opener as I can remember. Problem is, the song is so good that it really overshadows the rest of the disc. Singer Dave Baldwin, a favorite and good friend of SFK, sounds amazing here (ballads being his strongpoint...check out "You Were Mine" and be awed) and the playing guitarist Mike Walsh is also very good. Though songs like "Believer", the excellent mid-tempo "Hard To Say No" and the huge ballads "Destiny" and "Hurt Sometimes" are all very memorable, they just don't really stand out from so many other AOR releases of this or any other year. They all have a very 'heard it all before' feel. It's a shame too, because the whole package seems to lack any feeling or passion and in the end becomes the very definition of 'faceless'. The AOR equivalent of a McDonalds hamburger, tasty but not very filling.
METROPOLIS - THE POWER OF THE NIGHT, MTM, 1999[Similarities: Toto, Chicago, Richard Marx]
[ http://www.total.net/~wychwood ]
Smooth as silk, this release is the latest from AOR legend (and maybe genius) Stan Meissner and his partner Peter Fredette. To say this is a classy release is an understatement, as this may be the most professional sounding issue MTM ever put out (and that's not a knock on anyone on their roster but rather how strong my feelings are on this puppy). Just listening to these eleven tunes just put in the mind of the best of any Westcoast AOR artist you can think of. First time through I thought this thing was good, but on each subsequent play it simply got better and better. Songs like opener "Wild And Blue", the guitar driven "Never Look Back" (just try getting this thing out of your head), the HUGE "Whatever It Is" and the arena rocking "The Best Is Good Enough" are some of the best songs I've heard all year and are practically begging for repeat play and should easily join the rank of klassiks. Fredette's vocals are much in the Peter Cetera vein and every time when the chorus breaks his voice takes you into melodic heaven. The production is crystal clear, the songwriting is superb and I honestly could not find fault anywhere (and believe me, I can be a picky bastard). Those (like myself) bemoaning the fact that the AOR genre has stagnated can breathe a sigh of relief...a savior has been born. As it stands now, AOR album of the year...
MILLENIUM - ANGELFIRE, Frontiers, 1999 [Similarities: Harem Scarem, Dokken, Ten]
A lot of times albums can be considered top heavy. And by that I mean that all the best songs come first on the disc while the filler takes up the end of the disc. This may be the first album I can remember that the opposite is true. I was pretty bored listening to the first half of this disc, really thinking it was nothing more than your run-of-the-mill riff based rock. But somewhere near the end, things suddenly became interesting. Though I had a hard time getting into songs like the silly "Shamen" or the 'oh so average' "Heaven Sent", others like "Until The End Of Time" and the big ballad "Julia" sort of made up for it. But like I said, it's towards the end when things sound like they really start to gel. The acapella "Remember" is stunning. And I think the back to back combo of "The Color Of The Night" and "Hide Behind My Face" really captures the sound the band was trying to achieve throughout the rest of the disc. The guitar playing of Ralph Santolla is the stuff of heroes and puts me in the mind of Pete Lesperance or Nuno Bettencourt. Overall, pretty average but it certainly has some standouts that warrant further attention.
GARY MOORE - OUT IN THE FIELDS, Virgin, 1998 [Similarities: Whitesnake, Ten, Rainbow]
After listening to this set that comprises the best of the Irish axe slinger, I'm left wondering if there's just not a better guitarist in rock over the past 15 years. Granted his songwriting wasn't always the best and his vocals left a bit to be desired, but his fretwork lifted every song high into the heavens. From his early 80s hard rock (to which the term average applies all too easily to his cover of "Wishing Well") to his mid-80s work with Phil Lynott right on to his discovery of the blues in the 90s, the one constant in all these songs are the excellent and passionate playing in which he treats his guitar better than some of us treat loved ones. I defy anyone to not be moved by the moody "The Loner" or the drop dead gorgeous "Still In Love With You". Musically, songs like "Out In The Fields" or "Wild Frontier" are those rare songs where everything just goes right and all that's left is for you to bask in their glow. I've always enjoyed Moore much more than someone like Clapton and this disc is a great reminder of why.
(Re)Views From The Hill:
TNT: TRANSISTOR, Spitfire Records [similarities: Harem Scarem, Pretty Maids, Jekyl & Hyde]
I had high hopes for this new one from TNT, having enjoyed Tony Harnellís Westworld side project a lot. Unfortunately that album doesnít seem to have rubbed off to much on this, the latest TNT release. In fact if you compare this to TNT at their best during the Tell No Tales era of their career this album frankly blows. One is not encouraged by the crap scratch and techno intro to "Just Like God." Other tracks have a harder "modern" feel to them which just does not work. That is not to say there are no gems on this 42 minute, 11 track CD. It is a mixed bag to say the least, very patchy and unfocused. Highlights include the second track, a very catchy number that harkens back to the good oleí days of the band: "Wide Awake."
"Fantasia Espanol," a great slow ballad with Tony matching the acoustic guitar of Ronni Le Tekro brilliantly. This track shows them at their best, and makes the rest of the rubbish on the album look all the more pathetic.
Towards the end of the disc there are some more brief glimpses of the bandís former brilliance with the great funk and gospel tinged "Into Pieces," complete with background singers. The next track "Under My Pillow" is another nice mellow acoustic track complete with a female voice duet that soars into a arena-like power ballad.
It just a pity that Tony and Co. did not end the album with this track, as the last track "No Guarantees" is another Firefly type era song that just leaves me cold.
Is TNT a spent force? There are some almost classic TNT tracks on Transistor but the problem is that you have to sit through some fairly rubbish filler material to get to better bits. This album is a major disappointment, if you donít already have Tell No Tales on CD, treat yourself or even pick up TNTísrecent greatest hits release, also distributed by Spitfire. - MD
THUNDERHEAD: "UGLY SIDE", SPV [Similarities: AC/DC, Saxon, old Def Leppard, Tygers of Pan Tang]
"Ugly Side" is a comeback album of sorts for Thunderhead, a band that was last heard of in 1995. The brainchild of lead singer and New Haven native, Ted Bullet the band was put on hold while he did a stint in Sonofabitch, with 3 founder members of perennial NWOBHM stalwarts Saxon. That brief fling now over, Bullet returns with a scorching album of old school hard rock, complete with the gritty album cover of some guy getting the crap kicked out of him.
The band features a former member of Malmsteenís touring band, drummer BJ Zampa and two members of Joint Forces Mark Franco and guitarist Jimi Bell. Bell has also done work with Geezer Butler of GZR and Black Sabbath fame.
This is no bones bluesy hard rock album with lots of melody and attitude, something so lacking in the 90s. Highlightís include "Rock Bottom" a great rocker that will no doubt go over great in a live setting. "Blood" is a great bluesy gritty grunter with some nice acoustic touches. "High and Donít Care" features only acoustic guitar and a duet with the slide guitar of one Steve Delacy of Kim Carnesís backing band. For those of you who like a bit of fist in the air there is "Real Hard Time" which combines elements of AC/DC and Sabbath to good effect. If you often reminisce about the tougher edge of 80s hard rock, then Thunderhead is for you. This will be more than amble to tide you over until the next AC/DC album hits the stores.
AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):
I know I've harped on a few times about the big labelsand their attitude to the internet and all that, but there was an interesting development backed by the Seagram-owned Universal Music Group this week.
Universal has announced that it plans to set up a "multimedia record label and online music community". The intention is to let artists submit music over the internet and then hear feedback from both A&R professionals and regular music fans. I'm not totally sure what the URL but it is going to be called "Jimmy and Doug's Farm Club.com" (try typing that in a hurry! Maybe it's just farmclub.com) and will further "showcase the most popular new artists found through the site on a weekly cable television show on USA Networks". Universal also goes on to say "successful new acts will ultimately be offered a record contract" - oh yeah?
However, my initial skepticism was reduced when I saw who was backing it: Doug Morris (who heads up Universal and has "good ears") and, best known for his production and one-time marriage to Stevie Nicks, Jimmy Iovine. Morris himself says that he thinks the internet can totally change the role of traditional A&R men: "The world wide reach of the internet is much greater than any individual A&R source. I believe that in the future the majority of music that becomes available will be auditioned and discovered through the internet."
Sounds good, one thing that struck we was that Universal would be able to expose new music to the market without really spending much. But Edgar Bronfman Seagram's Chief Executive says: "We will spend what it takes to be dominant force in this space. There will be significant investments, but we expect significant revenues. The primary driver of Farm Club is hope." (!!!) However, he did concede that the more prosaic commercial drivers of the venture would be a new stream of advertising revenue, access to a global group of music consumers, concert promotions and electronic commerce.
For the point of view of this publication, this marks an ideal opportunity for people to really make their voices heard by the record companies. If some decent melodic rock bands can get exposure through Farm Club, we can then exercise some force of numbers and prove to record companies that people still want to hear more such music and are happy to stand up and be counted!
From: "Stephen Christian" <email@example.com
[Re: my review of Icon's "Live Bootleg"]
Everyone has an opinion and they're entitled to it. I stand by the release of the CD. Why? First off, fans have been asking us for years for ANYTHING by the band. We looked for years for anything we could find by the original lineup. We would have preferred a multi-tracked board tape, but there just aren't any in existence that we know of.
Second, I figured if everyone knew up front what they were getting, they could make their own choice if they wanted the album. We have provided sound samples on our website and have disclosed the album's source.
Third, I have yet to hear any boot by the original band that sounds as good as this album does. I'll grant you, it's no 'KISS Alive!' or 'Cheap Trick At Budokan', but for what it is, we added some major sonic capabilities compared to what it was. We agonized over the fact of people knowing exactly what we had to offer, hence the word 'bootleg' in the title. We also wanted to improve on any aspect that we had control over.
Unfortunately, the packaging is better than the product, but here's what we figured would be the best part for the consumer. It would sound better than the average bootleg, it would have better packaging, would cost less than the average bootleg ($20-25) and the artist would not be ripped off from what was rightfully theirs. Show me one 'bootleg' where the artist received payment from their product being bootlegged (I'm not talking about Aerosmith's 1st live album either).
All in all, I don't want you or anyone at SFK to take this that I'm upset or angry. I respect you for having your opinions. I prefer honesty over kissing ass any day.
Keep up the great work. Look forward to the next issue as always.
Sincerely, Stephen Wilkinson, Epilogue Entertainment
From: Jim David <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for the good review of Ken Tamplin's album "Brave Days of Old." Ken has been one of my favorite artists since his days with Shout back in 1988-89, and I once had the privilege of meeting him backstage after a concert. Christian rock has often been criticized for a lack of talent and originality, but that cannot be said of Ken Tamplin. The Shout reunion album isn't scheduled for release in the U.S. until February 2000 (according to the Z Records web site), but I'm going to try to obtain the CD from a European distributor (the Europe release date is Dec. 1). If I can get the CD, I'll let you know what it's like; should be a good one.
From: "Del Nergaard" <email@example.com>
Would you mind either asking your subscribers, or just anyone you know that might have had dealings with 'Kim Fowley', just what they thought of the experience. He is chasing the band I represent (SUGARWOOD, a UK based rock band) and insisting they'll be huge...but only if they work with him. This is ringing a few alarm bells for me. I know from what I've already read on the 'net' that he's worked with some big names, but I've also read/heard some dubious comments about him as well. If you or any of your readers have had any dealings with Kim, I'd like to hear about them.
From: "Peter Edwardson"<Peter.Edwardson@ukgateway.net>
SFK readers may like to take a look at my fledgling personal music page http://members.tripod.co.uk/Curmudgeon/music.html. I'm not trying to rival melodicrock.com, just publishing a few reviews of CDs I've enjoyed, and attempting to put the music in context. If you explore the other areas of the site, you'll also come across a lot of interesting (but very British) stuff about drinking, driving and the pitfalls of combining the two.
It's amazing to us poor downtrodden Brits that most US states still have a 0.10% drink-driving limit! We have had 0.08% since 1967 and are now threatened with a further reduction to 0.05%. Visit my site for further details: http://members.tripod.co.uk/Curmudgeon/trans/dd.html