STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 11-8-99

Official Nonsense:

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)
-Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)
-Marty Dodge ( http://www.lupusandco.com)
-Keyji Johnsen

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

Snail mail address for press kits & CDs, porno tapes, DVDs, Star Wars toys, money, etc.:

SFK c/o Kurt Torster

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The Legal Mumbo-jumbo:

You are free to pass along this copy of SFK to whomever you wish (through either e-mail or print out). You are also free to take news and reviews with the stipulation that you let your readers know where it came from (and sending a copy to us would be nice!).

The Escape Clause:

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

Kurt's Krap:

Look below for a new section, the Koupon Korner. The name is self-explanatory.

Some exciting news around here at SFK. I have been tapped by one of the major labels in the US to put together the ‘utlimate’ AOR collection (and write the liners for it too) to be released on CD next year. I’m gonna need all your help on this one, so look for a separate note concerning this and how you can help out.

A quick plug for a GREAT ezine, Organzied Chaos. Send your SUBSCRIBE request to local@ultranet.com.

Koupon Korner:

[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) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect-home/sfk

BARNES & NOBLE (use code CTREATS or CZVRCH7 for $10 off a $10 order!) http://bn.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=17379532&categoryid=homepage

CD NOW ($10 off $14.99) http://www.cdnow.com/from=red:x:cda:td1099/from=sr-38281

News Bytes:

After months of rumors and speculations it was officially announced that Gary Cherone has left VAN HALEN after only one album. No word on what either camp has planned or what will become of the 20 odd songs recorded for the new album, but there were some rumors of Eddie working on songs with DAVID COVERDALE as well as rumors of Gary going to work with QUEEN. A big rumor floating around says that SAMMY HAGAR will rejoin the brothers Van Halen, but Hagar said he would only rejoin the band if DAVID LEE ROTH were included as well. WOW…would that be cool or what?

Over at www.thunderchannel.com they are reporting that classic Brit rockers THUNDER have called it a day.

NIGHT RANGER members Jack Blades, Jeff Watson and Kelly Keagy have been recording music under the name Bad Venue. Meanwhile, Brad Gillis is readying a solo release titled “Gilrock 2000”, which will feature Gary Moon and Kevin Dubrow handling the vocal duties.

The next TAL BACHMAN single and video will be for “If You Sleep”. Tal is currently on tour opening for the BARENAKED LADIES.

MTV premiered the new METALLICA video, a S&M performance for “Hero Of The Day”.

Mega-babe Jennifer Aniston has joined the cast for the movie ‘Metal God’, the story based on JUDAS PRIEST singer Ripper Owens’ life.

Epic will be releasing a remix of EUROPE’s “The Final Countdown” in time for the new year.

Deadline will release tributes to DEF LEPPARD and SCORPIONS, both of which will feature members of LA GUNS, QUIET RIOT, BULLETBOYS, BANG TANGO, KIX and others. Does anyone really enjoy these?

KISS will tape their Vancouver New Year’s Eve show for their “Alive 4” CD and video package. www.kissonline.net will announce the ‘big surprise’ opening acts soon.

MEAT LOAF has kicked off his two month "Storytellers" tour, where he plans to play a different, spontaneous setlist every night.

SAVAGE GARDEN will webcast two performances for New York City radio stations. The first is tonight at 7:30 on Z-100 and then the other at 6PM for an acoustic performance on WPLJ. Check it out at www.savagegarden.com and look for a review of their latest, "Affirmation", in next week's SFK.

The DEF LEPPARD "Euphoria - Mega Edition" has been postponed indefinitely. Their next video will be their 'Storytellers' performance of new single "Paper Sun".

Wow...SANTANA held on to the number one spot on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, holding off rapper Master P and the latest from STONE TEMPLE PILOTS.

Frontiers Records has a website now at www.frontiers.it.

Miami's FREEDOM CAGE, who are said to resemble Firehouse in sound, have signed with Z Records.

Noteworthy New Releases:

[* recommended by SFK]

SEBASTIAN BACH (ex-Skid Row) - Bring 'Em Back Alive

COUNTING CROWS - This Desert Life

FOO FIGHTERS - There Is Nothing Left To Lose

SAVAGE GARDEN - Affirmation

TWISTED SISTER - Come Out And Play, Early Works (w/unreleased tracks), Love is for Suckers, Under the Blade and You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll (all remastered)

Kurt's Picks:

FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS - THE SWEETHEART COLLECTION, Razor & Tie, 1999 [Similarities: Bon Jovi, Rick Springfield, Hall & Oates]

It's entirely possible that Franke and his Knockouts are one of the most unheralded acts in all of AOR history and this collection goes a long way towards making that case. The influence they had on countless artists is unbelievable, as just listening to this disc you will hear traces of so many AOR acts that followed in their wake. Though it's interesting to hear Franke's original demos of the 'Dirty Dancing' stalwarts "Hungry Eyes" (I much prefer the Eric Carmen version) and "Time Of My Life" (bland 80s pop), it's the songs from the three Knockouts albums that are the focal point here. From the top 40 hit "Sweetheart" to big ballads "She's A Runner" and the monster "Come Rain Or Shine" to the punchy arena rock of "You're My Girl" and "You Don't Want Me", these are practically blueprints for the type of music most of us have come to know and love, and I'm not sure that many have done it better. While I'm at it, I want to throw a nomination in for "Morning Sun" as possibly one of the true melodic classics. Though their albums contained a good amount of filler, this collection does not. Fourteen AOR classics (and the two DD throwaways) make this pretty damned essential.

PLAYER - THE BEST OF PLAYER, Polygram, 1998 [Similarities: Toto, Chicago, Journey] [ http://www.playertheband.com ]

My only exposure to the band Player before this was for their 70s mega-hit "Baby Come Back". Little did I know that the band actually carried on into the 80s and even recently reuniting for an album in 1996. The fifteen keyboard dominated songs here are all smooth West-coast AOR that is just the thing for a breezy summer night. Though none of the songs ever really 'rock' per se (think Journey ala "Raised On Radio"), they're all so well done that those looking for a step away from loud will enjoy this thoroughly. What is the real kicker though is how well these songs sound nearly 20 years on. The harmonies and melodies of songs like "This Time I'm In It For Love", the superb mid-tempo "Wait Until Tomorrow" and "It Only Hurts When I Breathe" and the beautiful ballads "It's For You" and "Bad News Travels Fast" show the recent flood of uninspired melodic rock artists that it's more than just going through the motions. Music needs passion and feeling, and Player had plenty of it going on. I'm surprised actually that the band became a one-hit wonder because there are fourteen other songs that could easily have proved otherwise. Sheer class...

SEVEN WISHES - SEVEN WISHES, Z Records, 1999 [Similarities: Dokken, TNT, Harem Scarem]

I can't help of thinking of Dokken while listening to this as guitarist Anthony Cedergren has got his George Lynch routine down pat. The riffs seem to be lifted straight out of the Dokken catalog, but it's hard to say this is outright cloning. Anthony seems to add his own twists and spins and that helps keeps things very interesting. The songs here are all crunchy and catchy rockers that ooze atmosphere and stick in your head long after the disc stops playing. Though my tastes have been running more on the pop side of things these days, when an album like this comes along it makes you remember what you loved about hard driving rock in the first place. Songs like the killer opener "We Want It All" and the hard driving "Life Goes On" just flat out kick you in the face yet retain more than their share of melody. The band have truly captured the vibe and feeling of the best 80s hard rock without going to far to sound unoriginal.

VARIOUS ARTISTS - THE BEST AMERICAN ROCK ANTHEMS EVER PART 1, Virgin, 1999

This is possibly THE most complete AOR compilation ever attempted, and considering it's a major label release, makes it even the more incredible. It's always easiest that instead of reviewing the package is just letting the tracklisting speak for itself: JOURNEY - Separate Ways, RICHARD MARX - Satisfied, RICK SPRINGFIELD - Love Somebody, BAD ENGLISH - Ghost In Your Heart, BOSTON - Amanda, DARE - Abandon, STARSHIP - It's Not Enough, MR. MISTER - Kyrie, JOHN PARR - St. Elmo's Fire, REO SPEEDWAGON - Take It On The Run, FOREIGNER - Feels Like The First Time, ALDO NOVA - Fantasy, RUSS BALLARD - A Woman Like You, BRETT WALKER - Lecia, KANSAS - Fight Fire With Fire, NIGHT RANGER - Don't Tell Me You Love Me, LE ROUX - Carrie's Gone, STYX - The Best Of Times. As you can tell, this was done by someone with a real love of the genre. And throwing in general obscurities like Dare, Brett Walker and Le Roux was a nice touch. I honestly cannot think of anything missing here, but considering the 'Part 1' of the title, I guess whatever may have slipped through will be there for 'Part 2'. Just set your CD player on Repeat and step into a little slice of heaven...

(Re)Views From The Hill:

HELLOWEEN: "METAL JUKEBOX", Castle Communications [similarities: Gamma Ray, Dream Theatre, Freedom Call, Iron Savior]

Helloween have had some fun with this release, compiling a collection of songs that inspired and amused them. The range on this album runs from Abba and Bowie through Jethro Tull to Faith No More and the Scorpions. Granted nothing on this album rivals the hilarity of Gamma Ray covering, Pet Shop Boys "It's a Sin" on their last album. Andi Deris does not make a hash of any of the tracks on this album and every single one stands the Helloween treatment. Andi demonstrates his range and ability with his take on each of the tracks. The band adjusts their sound just enough to pull it off while giving each track a new twist. This should not be that much a shock to the fans of the band as they have been fairly frequent guests on the myriad of tribute albums kicking around. Unlike other bands cover albums, like Skid Row and Guns n Roses album of a similar type, it is clear that boys are having a cracking good time.

Some may wonder why they choose Alex Harvey "Faith Healer" and Focus "Hocus Pocus", they still manage to make these tracks interesting. Highlights include the aforementioned Jethro Tull cover "Locomotive Breath" and a cracking good go at Cream's "White Room." Rather than being a novelty, "Metal Jukebox" is a pretty good little album of 11 tracks that more than amply fill the Helloween need until their next album is released sometime next summer. (Together with solo albums from at least 2 members of the band.) If you are interested in buying something a bit odd, but satisfying, then look no further than this album. Helloween have proven yet again that they are masters of whatever they put their hand to, now all we have to hope for is a whole album of tunes in Latin! - MD

JETHRO TULL "J-TULL.COM", Fuel 2000

In one of the oddest interviews I have read in many a year, I discovered that Jethro Tull are cited by many a metal band as an influence. What is more interesting is the fact that some of those most influenced by Tull are bands are the more extreme of the metal genre. I never knew that death, black, and doom metal bands look to Tull as a major influence. (I can just see it now...Tulling for Hell: A Black Metal Tribute to Jethro Tull.) And where might you ask did I find out this little piece of trivia, why in Metal Maniacs of all places. This month's issue has a full feature on Anderson and Co.

On to the album, which is named after the website for the band, featuring some of the best tracks Tull have done in a decade. The cover features a Ram-headed humanoid character is some sort of devotional pose, (hrm looks a bit black metal to me...) on the back the creature is playing the flute naked, with his penis blanked-out no doubt to spare sheltered Americans the sight of a willy. There are 14 listed tracks on this album with a bonus track being a preview of Ian Andersen's solo album. Upon allowing the disc to go on the listener is complimented by Mr Anderson for discovering the hidden track. At almost an hour of music, this album gives great value for money. As typical with a Tull album it is a mellow affair with plenty of Ian's flute and crisp vocals to lull you into relaxation. Like the rest of Tull's album this is far from a party album to put on before going out on the piss. However this is a great mellow album that provides a pleasant backdrop to relaxation or a good book. The biggest highlight of the album is the title track but there are no dogs on the entire thing. I highly recommend this disc to anyone with a taste for folky eccentric English rock. It is especially good for fans of mangos, as J-Tull contains two tracks that mention the fruit. There is a theme running through the album about technology and the internet with songs titles, such as "Nothing @All" and "Dot Com." Amusingly enough Anderson looks like he could be a Venture Capitalist from the Valley in band pictures on the album, sporting short hair, sunglasses and a goatee. They even take a stab at weather in "El Niño."  Everything on this album is great, this is the mellow out album of the year. And to think I bought it cause of Metal Maniacs. - MD

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

Gypsy Soul have just completed recording of their fourth album which will be called "Superstition Highway" and be released by Off The Beaten Track Recordings and WorldSound later this year. The band have also recently done the music for a new film which Brooke Shields stars in, though I don't know its title as yet.... To mark all this the band will be having a "Gypsy Soul CD Release & Christmas Concert" on Thursday, December 16th in California - go to their web site at http://www.gypsysoul.com for full details. The concert will be co-headlined with Orange County-based new-age, rock group, Insight. Also at the Gypsy Soul website you'll find that the band are setting up a special web-based fan club where members will be able to download exclusive live and rare songs direct to their PC. If you've never heard Gypsy Soul then I urge you to check them out as they're mixture of styles is very invigorating.

Further to the success of Charlie Farren's current "Deja Blue" release, there seems to be possibility that Warner Brothers is going to re-release the first Farrenheit album on CD early in the new year. A limited number of the original tapes are still available from Charlie's web site. The second never-released Farrenheit second album "F2 - Raise the Roof" has been remastered and also looks likely to see the light of day on CD in the new year. Not content with just that, Farren's first solo album "Greasetown" (which is essentially a third Farrenheit album anyway) has also been remastered and will follow "Raise the Roof" onto CD.... The potential for a live CD and video is also being explored with a release provisionally scheduled for early 2000. Further details on all these releases are available from http://www.charlie-farren.com/. Fans of people like Glen Burtnik (at his best) will find heaps to like in Charlie's material, so surf in past his web site....

The Outfield are now writing songs for an all new studio album and are preparing their own studio in the UK for the recordings. The writing of several new songs is already complete, but it is likely to be into the new year before recording begins in earnest. To me, The Outfield is probably the best melodic AOR band the UK has ever produced, so let's hope the new album can be successful and lead to more....

Feedback:

From: "Nick and Claudia DiTondo" curlynick@entercomp.com

Response to the little (BIG) letter from this week in your mailbag:

Part of what you said made sense, but where you were going at the end made no sense. First off, AOR and Hard Rock music are taking a beating because the music isn't about talent these days. It's about the flavor of the month. Money makes the music industry go around, and that is why you see MTV literally hoarded by other forms of music, and not AOR/Rock. I agree that Saturation is what killed Hard rock in the 90's, that and Nirvana's springboard for every Nirvana wannabee's we have had in the later 1/2 of the 90's also killed rock to a point. But again look at the saturation of Grunge. Is it still selling?

(Honestly?) Right now the big thing is Rap, Glam Pop and Heavy Metal Rap. Why??? Because the public that buys the albums of the day goes in crazy circles. Rap is literally the disco of the 90's. And like all things, Rock in it's next phase will spring it's ugly head back out in the next few years. WHY???

1. Saturation of Rap. While it isn't my cup of tea, eventually even those that LOVE rap, can't stand to hear it EVERY day. (Just like you, they also will buy the off chance R&B or Mozart pickup). Oddly, Rap cd's are getting outsted lately from Country albums as of late. (Note* They had a pretty solid stronghold for quite some time but over the last year or so there has been a solid decline in sales, Likely from the same thing that killed Rock in the late 80's. Too many one shot wonders and not enough solid albums getting out there).

2. Lack of true talent in pop. Will the person who wrote "I dig chicks that wear Abercrombie and Fitch/Chineese food make me sick" Fall off the face of the earth with that kind of stupidity!!!!!! Does this look like talent? You have to think that somehow this cannot go on, simply from the lack of intelligence... Looks alone take you so far (Spice Girls ring any bells?) but talent is what keeps you in the game, and that is why even as the Baby boom of the 70's and 80's get older, they too will begin to want to hear something other than the mindless sap that Pop is becoming. You do get a little more wiser with age (I hope) and with that your tastes begin to change too.

The results are that if you see an album review from a band that looks interesting via internet (FROM A NON-BIASED WEBSITE a-la SFK or Brave Words, ect.) TAKE A CHANCE!!!!!! CD Retailers on the net are even hooking up with MP3 to get samples out there to listen to. And Just like everything else Rome was not built in a day. CD sales dictate the trends of music, and yes your purchase DOES make a difference!!!! - even if it means that you are going backwards ( a-la going for early 80's late 70's AOR instead of Ricky Martin does tend to get noticed. They will want to know why Zeppelin 4 is selling more this week than Britney Spears or Pink Cream 69's Live album had a bigger opening day than say Jessie Camp.) BecauseTalent does rise to the top, that's why!!!!

I do agree however that we as the AOR/Rock public need to REQUEST and BUY these albums on the off chance that the radio station might just take notice!!! MORE TOWARDS REQUESTS!!!! Too many times the Request lines at your Radio station are what dictate the play selection later. Because the computer starts taking it into it's little bean count, and Mr Music director takes notice when the bell curve dips (even at MTV!!!) towards one particular group or trend. An example - "Crossover" Country is even branching into Rock themed songs, Why?!?!? 'Cause even Good 'ol boys know you want it! (Hell some of it is actually pretty damn good!!!).

To give such a generalization that Rock is dead couldn't be farther from the truth. And I think that as we progress into the next wave of music, that a newer form of AOR Rock will come more into the mainstream and Record Companies will begin to take notice. They need to $ell record$ Too!!!!

Have heart my friend, our day will come again!!!!

From: Ejs87213@aol.com

I hadn't seen a review of the "new" Angel CD "In the Beginning", so I thought I would share my thoughts. I had been looking forward to this CD, but as I listened and read the liner notes, it became clear that putting the Angel name on this CD was a stretch. Yes, Frank DiMino still does the vocals, but he seems to have traded the title "Angel lead singer" for "Robert Plant impersonator".

His new collaborator, Richard Marcello, does little to help, as 8 of the 10 songs on the album sound more like Led Zeppelin than Angel. Marcello shares writing credits on these songs, and some of them, such as "In the Wake of the Storm", are outright Zeppelin rip-offs. Marcello's guitar playing throughout the CD makes it seem like a Jimmy Page tribute album.

Having said all that, there are a few bright spots on the album. "Hero" is a rocker in the classic Angel vein. Former Angel guitarist Punky Meadows adds a great guitar solo to this tune. This is as close as it gets to the Angel of old. The other highlight is a power anthem written by Frank DiMino entitled, "Set Me Free". This song approaches the classic Angel lineup; it features Meadows on guitar, DiMino on vocals and keyboards, Felix Robinson on bass and Barry Brandt on drums. Unfortunately, these two songs hardly justify the other eight indulgences of DiMino and Marcello. If these two wanted a vanity project, that's fine. Let's just leave the fine Angel legacy out of the mix.