|Editor and King Of The Dipshits - Kurt Torster|
|-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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We've moved the SFK website to http://sfkrock.web.com Easier to remember, no? Thanks to Tim at Detritus for that tip ( http://detritus.web.com). And don't forget, if you're not nearly as wimpy as us around here, then get your hard rock fill at Tim's site.
Finally starting to make a dent in all those CDs still sitting around waiting to be reviewed. Look next week for a write up on the fabulous new Marillion disc, which may be the band's best AND most accessible in a long time.
If you’re into sports memorabilia, I have up on eBay an unopened 1989 Upper Deck Baseball Factory set (which features Ken Griffey’s rookie card). Check it out at: http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=205044977
I will not say another word on the whole VAN HALEN situation until there is ANY concrete proof to any of these rumors. I know I can’t be the only one hearing a new story every 5 seconds from the brother of the brother of a guy who once touched Eddie’s guitar pick in Austin, TX (so it must be true!).
CROWN OF THORNS main man JEAN BEAUVOIR has released a new solo single titled "High On My Baby", now available in France. Meanwhile, the new COT disc "Destiny Unknown" will see it's release in January of the New Year. The first single is set to be "Here She Comes".
Regretfully, JAIME KYLE pulled out of this year's Gods '99 for personal reasons.
JUNKYARD (they're still together?) will release the live "Shut Up We're Practicing" early next year.
Axl Rose has confirmed that the latest GUNS N' ROSES lineup actually did re-record "Appetite For Destruction", but no word on what they do with those recordings.
Sad news reported in ‘Brave Words’: Former RATT guitarist Robyn Crosby is losing his battle with HIV. Any get-well cards can be sent to: P.O. Box 282, Massena, NY 13662-0282. All mail will be forwarded to him.
SHANIA TWAIN's "Come On Over" is now the second biggest selling female disc of all time, following Alanis Morisette's 16 million selling "Jagged Little Pill". Something tells me that she should surpass this easily.
FAITH HILL's "Breathe" (reviewed below) debuted at number one on the Billboard Albums chart.
Just imagine, 15 years ago QUIET RIOT’s “Metal Health” was the number one album in the US.
Cleoparta Records MUST be stopped. C’mon, a tribute to the HUMAN LEAGUE?
There’s a rumor that METALLICA wants rapper Dr. Dre to produce their next album. Is this for real?
ROBBIE WILLIAM's new single for the double A-side of "It's Only Us"/"She's The One" debuted at number one on the British singles chart.
PLATYPUS (featuring KING'S X's Ty Tabor, DREAM THEATER's John Myung, DIXIE DREGS' Rod Morgenstein and PLANET X's Derek Sherinian) will release “Icecycle”, the follow up to last year's “When Pus Comes To Shove”.
February of 2000 will see the release "Don't Fear The Reaper", a new BLUE OYSTER CULT compilation. Tracks to be included: "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll", "The Red & The Black", "Flaming Telepaths", "Astronomy", "This Ain't The Summer Of Love", "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "I Love The Night", "Goin' Through The Motions", "Godzilla", "In Thee", "The Marshall Plan", "Black Blade", "Joan Crawford", "Burnin' For You", "Shooting Shark", "Take Me Away".
The daughter of PAT BENATAR and her husband Neil Geraldo has formed a teen-pop girl group called Glow. The duo is writing and producing the music for the as yet unsigned trio.
Now that GARY GLITTER has confessed to child pornography charges, sports arenas around the world have already started to drop his "Rock And Roll Part 2" from their playlists. [Personal opinion time, but am I the only one that thinks "Don't Give Up" by THE STORM would make a great sports anthem?]
HUMAN RACE will play Trubaduren in Gothenburg, Sweden on Friday at 8PM.
Though it's to be released tomorrow, Elektra has made the entire new METALLICA CD available online. Check out the 24-hour a day stream at www.metallica.com.
Power poppers LIT will release a new single in "Miserable".
Look for KINGDOM COME's “Balladesque”, a new 11-track Best Of CD.
LA club Scream has reopened its doors and seems to have become the new hot glam hangout. Already regulars include members of FASTER PUSSYCAT, VIXEN, DOGS D'AMOUR, THE ZEROS and THE NYMPHS.
ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION drummer RJ Vealey died of a heart attack just minutes after the band finished performing a gig on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando this past Sunday. The 37-year-old was with the band since 1995.
STEELY DAN's new album, "Two Against Nature will be released February 29 by Giant Records. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have been working on "Two Against Nature" for the past four years, following summer reunion tours in 1993 and 1994. The titles on the nine-song album include "Gas Lightning Abbie", "What a Shame About Me" and the title track.
Noteworthy New Releases:
MICHAEL BOLTON - Timeless: The Classics Vol. 2
LED ZEPPELIN - Early Days Latter Days
METALLICA - S&M (two CDs w/the San Francisco Symphony)
BRIAN SETZER - Collection: 1981-1988
TOTO - Mindfields
Various Artists - Friends Again
SEBASTIAN BACH & FRIENDS - BRING 'EM BACH ALIVE,Spitfire, 1999 [Similarities: Metallica, Pantera, Judas Priest]
Look beyond the atrocious back cover of Seb's band dressed Village People-like (which features Richie Scarlet and Anton Fig) and you'll find some smoking, hard driving and real rock and roll that is not at all unlike Skid Row in their prime. This disc has six new studio songs and eleven live cuts. On the original side, only the driving "Rock And Roll" and "Blasphemer" really caught my attention as the others seemed to drag on far too long ("Superjerk" sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins outtake) and on some, like "Counterpunch", Seb doesn't sing as much as he screams. But get to the live tracks and things start to shape up a bit. Though the sound quality is not the greatest, the performance is full of energy and life. Mainly a run through of some of the Skidster's more well known songs, it's pretty cool to hear "18 And Life", "Riot Act" and the mostly acoustic "I Remember You" given the live updated treatment, though Seb's vocals (or rather his screeching) can be much to take after a while ("Beat Yourself Blind" is practically unlistenable). Essential for fans of latter day Skid Row/Sebastian Bach or those into the heavier side of the spectrum. Melodic fans though might be better off elsewhere.
FIREHOUSE - CATEGORY 5, Mystic, 1998 [Similarities: Journey, Def Leppard, Harem Scarem] [ http://www.firehousemusic.com ]
Funny how things work. I never used to like this band one bit. Not really sure why, but for whatever reason they just rubbed me the wrong way. But now, I'm pretty into this quartet, who I now realize pumps out some consistently high quality melodic rock. Even when they step back into rock cliches, like on "Get Ready" or "Have Mercy", the results are tolerable when they're surrounded by such gems as "Acid Rain", the HUGE "Dream" and the hit-worthy "The Nights Were Young".
This is a very mature sounding release that seems the band starting to embrace their strengths as a melodic rock band and shying away from some of their 'hair metal' past. This becomes very noticeable on songs like "If It Changes", where the production takes on a Mutt Lange-like quality where you can hear all those textures and layers piled one on top of the other.
And, of course, no Firehouse disc is complete without the BIG sounding power ballad, and "The Day, The Week And The Weather" fits this bill rather nicely and should have followed it's predecessors to the top of the charts. The more I listen, the more I'm starting to think this may be their best album to date.
FAITH HILL - BREATHE, WB, 1999 [Similarities: Shania Twain, Jaime Kyle, Trisha Yearwood] [ http://www.faithhill.com ]
I think at this point that any country diva that sets her sights on the pop crossover market will always be compared to Shania. Faith's last disc, simply titled "Faith", has already gone quadruple platinum and I honestly see no reason why this one won't do twice that. Whereas Shania has a more bombastic and over the top sound (thanks to hubby Mutt Lange's contributions), Faith takes her material into a more soulful territory (in feeling, not style). And whereas Shania seems more the party/good time girl, Faith comes off like her grown up big sister. The album, for better or worse, is heavily loaded with ballads (more on that in a second). It starts out energetic enough with the rocking "What's In It For Me" and the superb AOR sweep of "I Got My Baby". Other up-tempo highlights include the toe tapping "The Way You Love Me" and the rolling "If My Heart Had Wings". As for those ballads, some of them are excellent but there's just too many of them smacked back to back and tends to drag the album down a little. The 'from the heart' "Love Is A Sweet Thing", her duet with hubby Tim McGraw in "Let's Make Love" and a cover of Bruce's "If I Should Fall Behind" all stand out though. A great production brings out Faith's voice to the fullest.
This is worthy simply for the great pop tracks as well as some of the ballads. [Bonus guy points for the INCREDIBLE pictures on the cover and in the booklet.]
SAVAGE GARDEN - AFFIRMATION, Columbia, 1999 [Similarities: Journey (ROR-era), Mr. Mister, Roxette] [ http://www.savage-garden.net ]
PERFECT pop tinged AOR that just may be the chart savior we're all waiting for, the one that may open the floodgates. Let's face it, this thing is gonna sell millions and with good reason. It has already taken permanent residence in my CD player and it's looking now to be the 'SFK album of the year'. Though maybe not AOR in the most strict and pure sense, you ain't gonna get much closer in the mainstream folks.
Not a single track goes awry and possibly all future hit singles, I'm left here in stunned silence that this album is THAT good. Though all the songs are equally as good, a few did stand out. "Crash And Burn" is simply phenomenal and may go down as one of the decades best tracks. The opening title track is a rocker and really makes you take notice. "The Animal Song" and the HUGE ballad "I Knew I Loved You" are already deserved hits and songs like the introspective "Two Beds And A Coffee Machine" and the arena ready "Chained To You" should follow in their wake. Helping out the duo of Darrin Hayes and Daniel Jones are such melodic stalwarts as Michael Landau, Michael Thompson and Steve Smith. If I have to bitch about something, it would be ending the disc with three ballads back to back to back, which seem to have things go out on a low rather than a high (though they are all excellent). All combined, this is about as essential a pop/AOR album as you're ever going to find.
(Re)Views From The Hill:
KIP WINGER: DOWN INCOGNITO, Deadline [similarities: "unplugged" Tesla, Eric Clapton, Kiss, Whitesnake]
You either love or hated Winger in the eighties, no one seemed to be neutral on the band. You either liked their testosterone fueled melodic rock or you loathed their pretentious manufactured pop metal. One way or the other the first two Winger albums went Platinum and spawned a whole shed load of hits. Lets face it, Winger did "power ballads" like no one then or since.
Look at any 80’s rock ballad collection and Winger will feature at least once. Fast forward a decade or more, Winger is a history, its virtuoso band members, now wealthy, are off doing whatever music they want to do. Kip Winger mature and older has done what so many of his 80s contemporaries (Mike Tramp, etc) tried and failed, go solo and get poppy. His ridiculously titled ThisConversationseemslikeadream failed to re-launch his career anywhere other than Japan. What does he do? Join the "unplugged" bandwagon of course!
Unlike some of the other unplugged efforts Down Incognito works on all levels. I have heard some rumblings of discontent about this record, however Whitesnake’s "Starkers in Tokyo" got filleted by some as well, and I love that album. This album both has studio acoustic versions and some live acoustic tracks recorded in Paris with a band. The album is sort of a Winger’s Greatest Hits Unplugged with a few of Kip’s solo stuff thrown in for good measure (Another Way, Daniel, How far will we go?, Naked Son & Steam). It is obvious from the comparison of the tracks that his solo stuff pales in comparison to the band’s material.
Winger the band’s stuff holds up really well under the conditions. Tracks like "Headed For a Heartbreak", "Miles Away" and "Under On Condition," lose none of their potency until the stripped down spotlight. Kip displays that his voice was an integral part of the success of the band that bore his name. He wasn’t just a pretty boy, the bloke has some pipes as well. A very mellow album with no fluff, that serves to remind one what a great band Winger really were. Makes you even wish they would get back together again and show the crap 90s how to make real pop rock music. What would be a true 80’s hair band revival be without Winger?
If you liked either Winger the band or Kip’s solo stuff then this is great purchase. - MD
NEAL MORSE: S/T, SPV/Koch [similarities: Squeeze, Spock’s Beard, Marillion]
Lead singer of Prog Metal upstarts and goofy named "Spock’s Beard," has released a solo album. Instead of producing an album of stuff that did not make a the cut on his band’s albums, he has released an album of music that would not be not considered "prog." Well everything but the last track on the album a 4 track song called "A whole ‘nuther trip." This is probably a nod to all the fan’s of his day job.
Most of album would not seem out of place on either a Squeeze album or a Finn brother’s album. A quality pop rock album that should feature high on the music charts but for reasons all well known, has not chance of ever getting there.
There is a natural progression on the album moving from approachable pop rock to the final triumphant prog track. Tracks like "Emma" "Nowhere Fast and "Landslide" really smack of Squeeze and their height or even Crowded House. Considering Morse is LA born, he seems to be give his appreciation to some of his influences. Not a shock really as Morse spent considerable time busking the European small club circuit before returning to the US and forming Spock’s Beard. Morse also did time in his hometown of LA as a session musician for such luminaries as Al Stewart and Peter White. As you would expect from such a Prog veteran Morse does almost all the instruments on the album.
This is a very laid back album, that successful molds Morse’s ethereal vocals with guitar and melody, complete with strings. There is not a duff track on this album, everything from jazz to classical guitar can be heard on here.
This is not Morse’s only side-project, he is soon to heard on album featuring 3 other Prog heavies, Mike Portnoy (DT), Pete Trewavas (Marillion) and Rione Scott from The Flower. Expect to see product from this Prog supergroup sometime n early 2000.
Destined to go un-noticed by all but Spock’s Beard fans, this album deserves a listen. A worthwhile addition to any rock fans disc library. An album to be taken out on those long winter evenings when the fire is roaring and wind is blowing, with a glass of fine wine. - MD
MICHAEL HUTCHENCE - MICHAEL HUTCHENCE, V2 Records, 1999 [ http://www.michaelhutchence.v2music.com]
After some delays, the self-titled debut solo album from the INXS vocalist is now available and it is a masterpiece. Returning to the stunning, edgy, techno-influenced sound of his previous departures from the INXS ranks (Max Q album and the remake of the single The Passenger from the Batman Forever soundtrack) Michael was able to complete preliminary work on this album before his unfortunate demise in November of 1997. The album was mixed and completed by Andy Gill (ex-guitarist Gang of Four) and Danny Saber (Black Grape), both of whom had worked closely with Michael on the recording of the album.
Comprised of 13 songs ranging from hard edged, guitar driven rockers like Let Me Show You and Put The Pieces Back Together to funky numbers like Get On The Inside and haunting ballads (Flesh And Blood) the album wanders a musical terrain held together by the personally introspective lyrics and intense vocal performance from Michael Hutchence. Perhaps one of the most anticipated tracks will be the collaboration with Bono of U2 on Slide Away, which is, fittingly, the final track on the album. A haunting, mesmerizing track which features one of the best vocal efforts from Bono ever, the song, which was completed by Bono and Gill after Michael passed away, is a moving tribute to Michael.
Michael Hutchence was a talented artist, who expressed himself so passionately through his music. This album will stand as a testament to his immense talent and musical vision. - JM
MICHAEL SCIUTO - EDGE, 7th Floor Records, 1999 [Similarities: Rick Springfield, Survivor] [ http://www.michaelsciuto.com]
In another day and age, when songs by bands like Survivor and Glass Tiger climbed the charts you would already know Michael Sciuto. His terrific debut release, currently available through AOR Heaven(http://www.aorheaven.com) features no less than three tracks which, in another time, have top 40 hit written all over them. The entire album is a brilliant debut and has been in my cd player on a regular rotation the past few weeks.
There is a difficulty for a reviewer in conveying whether the reader would like an album when they may be unfamiliar with the artist. For those of you who like to try before you buy, the fantastic single ‘Edge’ which opens the album is featured on the currently available Melodic Rock Vol. 3 sampler which also features 16 tracks from other artists including Hugo, HUSH, Newman and The Distance. ‘Edge’ is an infectious rocker which showcases Michaels’ strengths in combining keyboards, driving guitars, melodic hooks and passionate vocals. Its one of those songs where as soon as it ends you want to skip back to the start and play it again.
In his review at AOR Heaven, Georg compared this album to the wonderful material we have heard from Rick Springfield over the years and the comparison is accurate. Songs like Broken Heart In Paradise, I Had A Dream Last Night, Perfect Weather, Human Race, Art Of Love and Stand By Me are simply wonderful, high quality melodic rock and will have you singing along.
The third track on the album Every Night I Wonder is, in my opinion, the standout track of the album. Its worth the price of admission alone. The album also features two great ballads in Our Love and One Love To Give. In short, this is a great album which melodic rock fans will love and deserves a place in your collection. Buy it today! - JM
WARRANT - LATEST & GREATEST, Deadline/Cleopatra, 1999 [ http://www.warrant.net/home.html]
The latest release from Warrant features the band revisiting a number of singles spanning their career to date and includes three new tracks as well as a few re-mixes of songs as a bonus on the album. I have long admired the band, however, this album falls flat, even after listening several times. Most of the songs, taken individually, are quite good. The problem is that they are beginning to stale, with several tracks surfacing for the fifth time (having appeared on their original respective albums, as well as the first Greatest Hits cd and the Rocking Tall and Live albums). The band did re-record the songs for this album to give the tracks more of a feel as to how they have evolved in playing them live over the years, but the changes are minimal and nothing noteworthy is brought to the new recordings.
The bands first album, ‘Dirty, Rotten, Filthy Stinking Rich’ is represented here by 4 tracks, including Down Boys, Sometimes She Cries, 32 Pennies and Heaven. Their sophomore album, ‘Cherry Pie’ is represented by the title track along with Uncle Tom’s Cabin and I Saw Red. Notably the only track from the bands next three studio albums, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Ultraphobic’ and ‘Belly To Belly’ is Hollywood (So Far, So Good) from the ‘Dog Eat Dog’ LP. Despite the fact that the first three albums were the most well received in terms of sales, there are a number of stellar tracks on the following albums. That those albums failed to reach the same level of success as the prior albums is due to a shift in the music marketplace, not any shortcomings on the part of the band. And a greatest hits album is a good opportunity to acquaint listeners with songs they may have missed out on, which the band failed to capitalize on here.
The album does feature some new tracks in The Jones, Southern Comfort and Bad Tattoo, the latter two of which are excellent and display the gifted talents of singer/songwriter Jani Lane in composing pop tunes.
The album also features the very good song Thin Disguise which has only surfaced previously on the first Greatest Hits album. The cd ends with the inclusion of four re-mixes, including two additional versions of Down Boys as well as re-mixes of Cherry Pie and 32 Pennies. Re-mixes, as a generalization, have a tendency to not be as well accepted by core fans and while I personally don’t mind hearing them, they lack a fresh dimension, which this album sorely needs. Warrant would have been better served by including a few of their other unreleased gems such as Very Fine Line, The Power, Lincolns, Mercurys and Fords or Medicine Man. Fans of the band will likely pick up the album to complete their collections, and they do get a few good unreleased tracks but the album on a whole has little to offer for casual fans of Warrant, unless they are missing the first two albums or the previous Greatest Hits compilation. Hopefully the band will focus their energies into recording an album of all new material in the near future and perhaps, as an aside, someone will look into getting the wonderful side project of a few of the members (Jabberwocky) which has yet to see the light of day, released as well. - JM
AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):
Talented Chicago-based fusion guitarist Toshi Iseda is mixing his new CD "Rama" right now and is looking to have it released later this year. There's an extensive list of great names helping him out this time around including Andy West (from the Dixie Dregs), Mike Portnoy (from Dream Theater), Rod Morgenstein (from the Dixie Dregs, Winger and Rudess/Morgenstein), Jonathan Mover (ex GTR and now Joe Satriani band), well traveled Swedish keyboard player Jens Johanssen, Derek Sherinian (formerly of Dream Theater), John Petrucci (yet another Dream Theater man), and more besides. Most of Toshi's material is recorded with a seven-string guitar and is well worth checking out. More details from http://www.overthetop.com/. Mixing of the new album is taking place at Steve Vai's studio "The Mothership" and as spoon as that's done, Toshi's going to start work on his third solo album which is tentatively titled "T2K - Twizted".
This week sees several new albums come out in Japan: Emerald Rain-"Age of Innocence", the always cool Niacin with a new one called "Deep" (which has one bonus track just for Japan), Shotgun Symphony-"Sea of Desire", The Corrs- "MTV Unplugged", and Lana Lane- "Best of Lana Lane Volume One" (sorry, don't know if that includes any new or rare tracks....).
People in Japan obviously want to be able to give UFO albums as Christmas presents as most of their back catalogue is being reissued. All have been remastered and the releases are due on December 8th. Some also include bonus tracks, they are: "Force it" (no bonus tracks), "Lights Out" (one bonus track), "Making Contact" (one bonus track), "Mechanix" (one bonus track), "Misdemeanor" (three bonus tracks), "No Heavy Petting" (no bonus tracks), "Obsession" (no bonus tracks), "Phenomenon" (no bonus tracks), "Strangers in the Night" (two bonus tracks), and "The Wild, Willing and the Innocent" (one bonus track).
Hi All, Kurt did a great review on Majestic Magazine but had only one complaint: the load time. Majestic Magazine has been completely revamped now. Less graphs, less load time and still more professional looking than it's ever been. Check it out at http://start.at/majesticmagazine.
From: "Kimmo Lauttalammi" firstname.lastname@example.org
Just read your review of Millennium...Funny, I thought the first 6-7 tracks were awesome and then the albumtook a dive!
From: "Annette Reburn" email@example.com
I was thrilled to see this review on your online newsletter. I love Dave Baldwin's work. Do you know if this CD is available commercially yet? I live in Alabama and sometimes I have to special order his work.
[It's out on Escape music. I would suggest checking www.aorheaven.com. Dave, BTW, just got married so an SFK congrats go out to him and his bride.]
From: "Deborah Townson"Florida-Delilah@worldnet.att.net
Hey Kurt, Just wanted to add my own vote of praise for the Metropolis CD. From start to finish, every song on the CD was worth the listen .... and worth the wait! Hard to believe this material spans a ten-year period, isn't it? It sounds better than a good bit of the new stuff that's rolling off the presses these days. However, I personally hear no resemblance between their sound and that of Toto, Chicago, or Richard Marx .... maybe because I never cared for that "style" of music ... I think they have more of a "rock" feel, in my untutored opinion! :-) I also think "Never Look Back" is one of the best songs I've ever heard ... from any artist on any label at any time. "The Power of the Night" ... words, music, vocals, everything .... raises goosebumps on my arms every time I hear it! At any rate, enough prattling .... keep up the good work and I look forward to your next issue!
From: Rob firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! Have you read the story at KNAC.com about Sebastian Bach joining Van-Halen? I bet you haven't, here's why. It factually reports the following- KNAC's crack reporter, Long Paul, took this opportunity to dig up the truth. LP called Bach's label, Spitfire Records and asked them point blank -- on the air -- if Bach was the next guy to hang out with Eddie, Alex and Michael. Spitfire flatly denied the story. In the future, while we love being credited, please do so responsibly so your readers can get the "real info" that they are looking for. Since I see that Hard Radio is on your "offensive team", (well named I might add) one can only surmise that, like them, you are amateur in your approach to being credible. Feel free to print this e-mail as a retraction to your sloppy journalism.
[Consider it done. And hey, if we were professionals we'd be getting paid!]