|Editor and Godfather - 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)|
|-Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)|
|-Marty Dodge (http://www.lupusandco.com)|
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CD NOW is running a $10 off everything in the storesale...check it out: http://www.cdnow.com/from=sr-38281
OK, so I'm back from Houston.
GUNS N' ROSES forthcoming double live album will becalled Live Era '87 - '93 and will feature the following tracks: CD1 - 'Nightrain', 'Mr Brownstone', 'It's So Easy', 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'Dust N' Bones', 'My Michelle', 'You're Crazy', 'Used To Love Her', 'Patience', 'It's Alright' and 'November Rain'. CD2 'Out To Get Me', 'Pretty Tied Up', 'Yesterdays', 'Move To The City', 'You Could Be Mine', 'Rocket Queen', 'Sweet Child O'Mine', 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door', 'Don't Cry', 'Estranged' and 'Paradise City'. The album was mixed by Andy Wallace. Watch for the album through Geffen on November 22.
INXS has launched their official website at (duh!) www.inxs.com . They hope to feature MP3s of rare tracks along with the usual web fare.
The latest single from MATTHEW SWEET, "What Matters", sees it's release this week. It's from his upcoming "In Reverse" album.
SFK partner Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles has chose VAN HALEN’s 1978 debut as the best album of the 70s. Look for the band’s “Video Hits Volume 1” to get it’s DVD release in November.
TED POLEY has signed with Now & Then/Frontiers.
November 15, the ex-TYKETTO members now signed with Z wil l do a radio interview on New Jersey’s WDHA FM (105.5). Catch it on the web at 8PM EST at www.wdhafm.com.
Here’s the tracklisting of DREAM THEATER’s upcoming “Scenes From A Memory”: Regression, Overture 1928, Strange Déjà vu, Through My Words, Fatal Tragedy, Beyond This Life, Through Her Eyes, Home, The Dance of Eternity, One Last Time, The Spirit Carries On, Finally Free. Look for Michigan rockers TILES to open their European tour.
BRYAN ADAMS has once again teamed with TINA TURNER for another duet, this time on "Without You" from Tina's new album "Twenty-Four-Seven". Bryan meanwhile will release a second volume hits package, which features a new song in "Best Of Me" (coincidentally the name of the album too) as well as all his singles since his last hits set.
Speaking of hits sets, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN will release another next year to go along with the US release of his latest studio disc "Alchemy". His back catalog will also see an enhanced reissue.
EMI will release the BRIAN SETZER “Collection 1981-1988” next month with the following tracks: "(She's) Sexy +17" (Stray Cats), "Rock This Town" (Stray Cats), "Summertime Blues" (outtake from Live Nude Guitars), "The Knife Feels Like Justice", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Echo Park" (outtake from Live Nude Guitars), “When The Sky Comes Tumblin' Down", "Cross of Love" (B-side of "When The Sky Comes Tumblin' Down"), "Every Tear That Falls", "Thing About You" (outtake from Live Nude Guitars), “Waiting for Desiree" (outtake from Live Nude Guitars)*, "Bobby's Back", "Keep Your Lovin' Strong " (B-side of "Boulevard of of Broken Dreams"), "Living Souls" (outtake from Live Nude Guitars), "The Rain Washed Everyhing Away", "I Won't Stand In Your Way" (a cappella version; B-side of "I Won't Stand In Your Way") (Stray Cats), "Runaway Boys" (live on NBC Radio Dec. 9, 1982 (Stray Cats) (studio version was produced by Dave Edmunds), "Chains Around Your Heart"
DANNY DANZI will release his excellent debut in the USon February 15, 2000.
Also due in February is BRET MICHAELS solo disc, “Ballads, Blues And Stories”.
November 23 is the official release date for METALLICA's "S&M", their two disc set recorded at their concert with the San Francisco Symphony.
Stephen Lironi and Mark Hudson are once again in control of the next album from HANSON.
In the wake of the demise of Hard Roxx magazine, a new melodic rock mag called MHR will be launched that will be supported by both Mark Alger of Z Records and Khalil Turk of Escape. Look for the first issue in November featuring YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, FIREHOUSE, DANNY DANZI, MITCH MALLOY, RIOT, TNT, CRIMSON GLORY and a free CD. They have also set up a mailing list atOnelist.com called MHR. Contact info is: email@example.com or snail mail at: MHR Magazine, 34 Farriers Way, Netherton, Liverpool, L30 4XL, England.
Look for PETER FRAMPTON to appear on the Nashville Network’s ‘Players’ on November 24.
The SCORPIONS have postponed their tour due to Rudolph Schenker’s ongoing back problems.
PC69 will be touring South America with DC COOPER. Look for a new disc from PC69 in February.
October 19 will see the release of the new album from Joe Jackson, an all-instrumental affair with guitarist STEVE VAI guesting.
John Kalodner’s Portrait Records has signed two new bands in MARS ELECTRIC and UNION UNDERGROUND. The label has also signed CC DEVILLE’s THE STEPMOTHERS.
Look for a 1981 PINK FLOYD concert to be released as “Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall In Concert” through EMI.
JOHN WAITE will perform on December 2 for a benefit for the Shade Tree Women’s Shelter at the Sunset Station Casino in Nevada. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Ex-Loudness/Yngwie vocalist MICHAEL VESCARA has signed with Z Records. Look for his “Windows” album in November.
MARILLION’s latest, “Marillion.Com” is now available through their website.
The last bit of tour dates for the GOO GOO DOLLS: 10/19 Penn State/Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa. 10/20 University of Massachusetts Mullins Center, Amherst, Mass. 10/21 GQ Man of Year Awards, New York.10/22 Towson University Towson Center, Towson, Md. 10/24 Sienna College, Loudonville, N.Y. 10/25 Broom County Arena, Binghampton, N.Y. 10/27 Montclair State University, Montclair, N.J.
Noteworthy New Releases:
[* recommended by SFK]
PAT BENATAR - Synchronistic Wanderings
DAVID BOWIE - Hours...
ERIC CLAPTON - Clapton Chronicles: The Best Of
MELISSA ETHERIDGE - Breakdown
*ROXY MUSIC/BRYAN FERRY - More Than This: The Best Of
LIVE - The Distance To Here
PAUL MCCARTNEY - Run Devil Run
MISFITS - Famous Monsters
TED NUGENT - Great Gonzos: The Best Of
XTC - Homespun: The Apple Venus Vol. One Demos
BAM BAM BOYS - LET ME TOUCH YOUR SKIN, Riversidesingle, 1999 [Similarities: Europe, Whitesnake, Ten]
Though it's only a one song single, if this is a signof things to come, this silly named lot could be HUGE. A storming ballad that has hit written all over it. I could go on and on and fill this review with all the usual 'AOR review' cliches, but I think I'll save it for the full album. I'm trembling...
GARTH BROOKS - IN THE LIFE OF CHRIS GAINES, Capitol, 1999 [Similarities: Jon Bon Jovi, The Eagles, John Mellencamp] [ http://www.chrisgaines.com ]
OK...this is Garth Brooks posing as a rock star named Chris Gaines, and this is supposed to be a collection of his greatest hits. Huh? Well, if you're a bit confused, it's all a pre-soundtrack for a movie Garth is working on called 'The Lamb'. It's no secret that Garth has an undying love of classic rock and pop and he's let those influences show, setting aside any notion of this being a country album (he does come close though on the ballad "It Don't Matter To The Sun"). Each song here has a familiar feeling, yet they hold up well after repeat listens. Whether he's emulating the Eagles ("Drifting Away" is primo Don Henley), Bob Seger (ironically with a tune called "Main Street"), the Beatles (the piano ballad "Maybe") or modern roots rockers ("Unsigned Letter" has a Matchbox 20/Wallflowers sound going for it), all told it's an interesting mix of music that has kept it spinning in my disc player for days now. He even getsa little Prince-like vibe going on "Lost In You" and "Way Of The Girl". Overlook the rather ridiculous concept here (Garth as goth?) and you may easily find yourself digging this as much as I did.
JOHN ELEFANTE - DEFYING GRAVITY, Frontiers, 1999 [Similarities: Mark Spiro, Magnum, Michael Sweet]
Though the lyrics leave me a little cold at times, there's no denying how good the music is. The songs are sometimes a little too Christian for my tastes but that doesn't mean they're not any good. Because on their own strengths, John has come up with a corker of a melodic rock album that's more pop than pure AOR, but that's OK with me. Songs like the incredible strut of "The Stream" (a contender for song of the year for sure), the very grand and sweeping title track and the mid-west-like "Exit 39" are all among some of the best I've heard this year. And to be honest, there's not a bad song to be found here and all are equally deserving of your attention. John sounds amazing and shows he hasn't lost one bit of power since his days with Kansas. For those into Christian rock, this is essential. For the rest of us, highly recommended.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - 1978, Popsquad, 1999 [ http://www.popsquad.com ]
With the glut of tribute albums flooding the market, it's nice to hear bands doing cover material as whole new interpretations rather than just your typical straight jobs. "1978" features fourteen covers, all hits from the year 1978, done in fine pop fashion. What's most interesting here, is that it highlights how great radio and music were at the time, where pop, rock and disco all shared the charts and airplay together. The easiest way to tackle this vastly interesting disc is simply go track by track (since each song really merits it's own mention): -RIDEL HIGH kicks things off with a super soft Bee Gee like rendition of the Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated". It's got to be heard to be believed. Trust me, you've never heard the Ramones done this way. -PINT SIZE sound a bit like the Cardigans and do a decent, if sparse, version of Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" and by the end takes it in almost a Faith No More direction. Got better with each listen. -The Cars' "Moving In Stereo" is taken in an almost Bowie-like direction by TANGERINE and is for the most part, a pretty faithful cover. Nothing really special here. -SUPERPREMIUM handle the Police's "Roxanne" as sounding a bit like Steely Dan or the Doobie Brothers. They add some nice harmonies to the chorus while taking the pacing of the song from the original frentic to balladic. Very nice. -Since I can't remember hearing what Elvis Costello's original version of "No Action" sounds like, I really can't compare this new version from THE LAPDANCERS. Needless to say, Ernie Miller certainly sings like Costello. It's good, but I would imagine this is a pretty straight take. -The one man band LINUS OF HOLLYWOOD takes Nick Gilder's "Hot Child In The City" and turns it from bubblegum-glam to lounge-lizard like. Acoustic, with nice backing strings, I must say this rather grew on me. Reminded me of the Partridge Family actually. -CODY JARRETT has a real 80s hard rock feel (and sounds like Phil Lewis) and turns in a rocked up version of the Babys' "Head First". -JAMES INTVELD turns in a nice acoustic reading of "How Deep Is Your Love" from the Bee Gees, coming across like James Taylor or Kenny Loggins. -RANDOM do a very original take on Queen's "We Will Rock You", taking it away from it's primal and spare sports rhythm and tacking on a Def Leppard like melody creating almost a whole new song. Excellent. -Again, giving a song a different tempo seems to work wonders. TOMMY KILZER speeds up Russ Ballard's "New York Groove" and gives it a stomping glam edge that actually improves both the original and Ace Frehley's version. -Another Elvis Costello cover in the form of "This Year's Girl" is done by ADAM ORTH. And again, since I'm only vaguely familiar with the original, I have little to compare it to other than saying it sounds like a punked up version that is neither bad nor good. Just sorta there. -SPACE EATER strip the Sweet's "Love Is Like Oxygen" away from the original's high production values and actually makes it sound like early Sweet. Raw and missing a much needed gloss. -If you ever wondered what the Bangles would sound like covering Cheap Trick, then check out BELLE ACADEME doing "Surrender". Not as bad as you would think, but nothing all that great either. Nicole Bahucet is a dead ringer for Susanna Hoffs. -Saving the worst for last I guess, Terrell's "Some Girls" actually makes me yearn for the Stones' original. I suppose I never had an inkling to hear them done up in honky-tonk blues being sung by David Byrne. Points for originality though as you can't say this sounds anything like the original. Overall, this is how tribute albums should be done. I mean, if I want to hear a straight take on any given song, then I'll just go listen to the original. High marks to Popsquad for such a diverse collection and especially for the tracks from Ridel High, Superpremium, Linus Of Hollywood, Random and Tommy Kilzer.
WESTWORLD - WESTWORLD, Spitfire, 1999 [Similarities: TNT, Journey, Dokken] [ http://www.spitfire.com ]
This is a project I've heard much about (any CD involving Tony Harnell of TNT and Danger Danger's Bruno Ravel immediately piques my interest) and have now finally gotten to hear. Honestly, this is more 'TNT-sounding' than that bands latest TNT disc, and if their new sound turns you off a bit, then look no further than Westworld (well worth the wait I might add). This album is mostly the work of Tony (who sounds in fine and controlled form) and guitarist Mark Reale (who thankfully does nothing to sound like Ronnie LeTekro) and (dare I say?) it's a touch better than the recently released "Transistor" (also on Spitfire). Songwise, the songs are very melodic and sound like the band was trying very hard to capture a sound that seems lost and they succeeded, even going so far as to add their own little flourishes of originality. From the catchy arena rockers like "Illusions" and the crunchy "Bring The Water To Me" to grandiose power ballads like "Heart Song" and the Morning Wood-like "Suicide", there is something here to surely please every melodic rock fan. It's almost a shame that they couldn't turn this into a full time gig. If you're crying out for old style 80s hard rock brought into the 90s (without the modern sound to accompany it), Westworld has answered your call.
(Re)Views From The Hill:
QUEENSRYCHE: Q2K, Atlantic Records [similarities: Royal Hunt, Dream Theatre, U2]
As a ‘Ryche admirer since the "Rage for Order" days, I was really looking forward to this new release. Having been a bit disappointed by the last few releases, I held out hope that they might have returned to their glory days of old. First impressions were less than positive, love the cover of the album but think the title is lame and cliché. I was not at all impressed with the album on first or second listen either. Nothing on this album lept out at me like "Silent Lucidity" or "Do you Believe in Love?" from Empire and Operation: Mindcrime respectively. To be truthful on the first full listens, the term "shite" entered my head. Is Queensryche a spent force? Q2K definitely requires several listens to get into, it is a very distant piece of work that requires effort on the part of listener. There are a few tracks that are more memorable than others. "When the Rain Comes," shows flashes of the ‘Ryche’s previous periods of brilliance. It is a mellow tune where Geoff Tate is allowed to show off his brilliant voice. Another stand out is "Sacred Ground" which has an almost U2 feel to it while retaining elements of some of Queensryche older standout tunes. "Right side of the Mind" the final track on the album has some potential and shows that there is still some hope for the ‘Ryche. One of the problems with the album is the samey drumming on the album. The drumming seems subdued and bored, varying little from one song to the other. It is possible that in turmoil in the band and the departure of an original member affected the creativity of the band. Either the way the album feels flat and uninspired. It is possible that I am just missing something and that I will discover the brilliance of Q2K in the weeks or months to come, I so want to like this album. I would definitely recommend that you either borrow this from a mate or go to a record store before you purchase this one. I cannot in good conscience recommend this one, like I have some of their albums in the past. Q2K is a major disappointment that, in face of the awesome new Megadeth album, does not stand up. I will be interested in seeing others comments on Q2K. - MD
BAD HABIT: ADULT ORIENTATION, MTM Music [similarities: Toto, Journey, Def Leppard, Mike and the Mechanics, Bad English]
Another MTM release, another amazing chunk of AOR rock. Bad Habit hail from Sweden and produce mellow AOR, consisting of mostly lighters in the air ballads ("Suddenly") and weepies ("Girl"). They do this brilliantly, so much so that it is bloody hard to pick the highlights on this album, every track is a stunner, with no dogs in the lot. If there is any weakness, it is in the singer, Bax Fehling, whose voice sometimes peters out on the high notes. However when he keeps to his range he comes across, as a competent vocalist suited perfectly for the music his band produces. John Waite could be considered the most likely benchmark for Bax, especially in Waite’s Bad English days. Tracks on this album should be filling the Top 40 on both sides of the Atlantic. Almost every track on the album has hit written all over it. The fact that the lads are good looking and unthreatening does not hurt as well. The cover art makes them almost look like a boy band, the five of them poised as if they are looking into crowds of adoring fans. These guys are talented, only the drummer and the vocalist are missing songs on the album, while Hal Johnson (guitars) wrote or had a hand in the writing of the most songs, other members contribute tracks. Infuences abound on the album, some of which are more obvious than others: "Make it Easy" is pure Hysteria/Adrenalize Def Leppard, one that has a guitar riff that sounds so familiar it hurts. "Makin the Headlines" starts out like classic Mike and the Mechanics before reverting to something more original, while the Rutherford like guitar fills remain. "Hard Rain Fallin" is catchy as hell and reminds me of the Dan Huff produced country band Lonestar. Its new country tinged melody, really grabs you and gets you to sing along. The final track "Forever" with its violin and piano, is a soft candlelight and champagne, type love song. On this weepy, Bax sings a duet with the silk voiced Sara Heurlin, who could melt that hardest of hearts. You could just imagine these two singing this baby on Solid Gold back in the 80s after the track appears in some highly successful romantic movie. Tracks 2 & 4, "Heart of Mine" and "Miss it When its Gone" are great up-tempo sing-alongs with catchy choruses that have all the elements to make them stadium hits were they given the chance This album is just classic AOR/pop rock and would probably have gotten them major airplay in the mid-80s. More importantly these boys sound like they are having a hell of a lot of fun. Bad Habit should be huge worldwide, they probably won’t be, but they are definitely one to watch. One movie director with some taste picks up one of their ballads for his latest "chick flick" and these guys will be all over the radio. - MD
MARK SPIRO - STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF, MTM Music, 1999
What seem to be coming out in Mark's last few albums, is that Mark is a wonderful co-writer of music, but he doesn't fare as well when he's the main song writer. Whether this is solely due to the limits that is imposed by composing most of his material with keyboard, sequencer and nothing else, I can't say. This album is a good example of this point, and it is important to point out that some co-writers bring the best out of him, but he doesn't do as well with other co-writers. The album kicks off with I'll Be There, a wonderful song co-written by Jim Vallance. In the mid-80's, this would go straight into Billboards Top10. In today's climate, we'll be the only ones that'll appreciate this gem. It is also clear why Michael Thompson is his preferred co-writer, Michael's guitar provides an important contrast to an otherwise keyboard-and-sequencer dominated album. Vendetta is hard-rocking and The Rhythm Of Your Soul is a mid-tempo song that somehow works (contrast this with Half Light, which is composed along the same lines, but strangely doesn't work. To me it feels like the verse and the chorus of Half Light are 2 bit-songs stuck together with a cellotape or something). The 2 songs co-written with Jamie Jaz are slow to mid-tempo songs, I like the laid back feel of Can You Hear The Night. There's only 2 songs that Mark wrote by himself--and one of them (Love In A Western World) didn't need to go in the album. Can't Take That Away is good and solid, though. Give this album a few listen, it's a grower. And it's definitely better than Devotion. So conclusion? It's an okay Mark Spiro album and a good AOR album. As much as I like this album, I feel that Mark hasn't matured too much musically since Now Is Then... extravaganza. Perhaps it's time for him to introduce a new dimension to his sound. How about forming a band, Mark? - KJ
AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):
Over at the AOR Basement web site (http://www.aorbasement.com/) new reviews are still being prepared (I know it's taking forever!), but for a change in this column I thought I'd offer some short reviews on a few CDs that aren't, for whatever reason, going to be reviewed at the site but might be of interest to some SFK readers.
Fans of early Motley Crue and the better side of Dokken, or even Cry Wolf, might find quite a lot to like in Louisiana band Mad Margritt. Their debut CD on Delinquent Records has a lot going for it and way better production than most other indie CDs in a similar vein. Get further details on the band at http://www.madmargritt.com/ and by the look of it the band play out quite a lot, so if you're in the area....
Lost Angel have a CD out which, although it doesn't do much for me, will appeal to fans of heavier melodic rock. To me the sound like how the Canadian band Fist (also known as Myofist) sounded on their last album in the mid-1980s, with similar rough and tough vocals. Not exactly starting, but worth hearing if that sort of material lights your candle. More details at http://www.lostangel.com.
Forever Gypsy are another heavier band that seem to have some quite good ideas, but don't manage to quite put them together cohesively. The quality of the vocals and the production on their debut CD leaves something to be desired, but with some direction they could develop into something more interesting. They have a home page at http://www.ebonyrecords.com/. They are also now in pre-production for a second album which is intended to be produced by former Ted Nugent bass player Michael Lutz, and what I've heard of new material for that release suggests they are indeed taking a step forward.....
Only having a three song mini album available seems a bit of a limiting factor for Stalking Horse, but while their material seems a little thin, the third song on that release hints at real potential. Could be a project to watch for in the future at http://www.bloodspoint.com/.
And, finally, if you prefer your rock with a slightly more poppy edge like Cheap Trick mixed with the Rembrandts you might like Open Cage. They seem to have released several albums so far, but I've only heard one. While lacking a little in variety it's still worth giving some attention, visit http://www.opencage.com/.
From: "Alan Haber" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hi, all. Sure as Halloween is just around the corner, and spring training is a scant five or six months, give or take, away, it's the October issue of the Pure Pop web zine, now available at http://www.purepop.com. It's our biggest issue yet. We'd be bursting at the seams if we had any seams. Here's what you'll find, all brand new and freshly scrubbed for your listening, dancing and romancing pleasure:
- A review of the new, to-be-released-on-November-19 Smithereens album, God Save the Smithereens, and your chance to win one of 10 copies we have to give away, courtesy of the fine, fine folks at Koch records, and news of an in-studio performance by the group, to be aired on the Pure Pop radio show on October 23
- The first of a wide ranging, two-part interview with Michael Carpenter and a review of his Pure Pop Essentials album on Not Lame, Baby - A you-are-there review, by Eric Sorensen, of the Kennedys' recent marathon show in Bethesda, Md.
- John Holcomb on the joys of NRBQ in the latest edition of his popular The Pop Life column
- Bill Lloyd on the joys of NRBQ in our Pure Pop Guest View corner
- The latest communiques from David Bash (Bash on Pop), John M. Borack (Borack's Pop Spot), and Eric Sorensen (Jingle Jangle Morning)
- The first installment of our new Pop for Beginners column, written by John M. Borack
- Reviews of Dwight Twilley's Tulsa, Stackridge's Something for the Weekend, Blue Cartoon's Pure Pop Essentials-worthy Downtown Shangri La, and the Boys Next Door's self-titled Sundazed compilation
- The latest Pure Pop radio show playlists, exciting guest news, a information-packed editorial, updated links, new discs in the Pop Shop, and much, much more! Whew! It's our biggest issue yet... but wait, there's more! November's issue will be even bigger! Check the editorial for info on some upcoming features. I'm runnin' out of cyber-ink, I tell ya! Hope you all enjoy what we've got for you this month!
From: "Vroe, Philip de (GEP)" <email@example.com>
Sun Red Sun was a band founded by guitarist Al Romano. Ray Gillen sang on several tracks, but was not able to finalize the project due to his illness. Other well-known names that contributed are drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow/Black Sabbath) and bass player John McCoy (Ian Gillan's band). Recently two new versions of the Sun Red Sun CD have been released. Each CD has 12 songs, and is available for $15 each (incl. postage) through Crook'd Records, PO Box 25, Jamestown, NC 27282, USA, phone/fax +1-(336)-454-0040, e-mail crecords@InfoAve.Net, website http://www.crook-drecords.com
The first CD is called "Ray Gillen Memorial Tribute" and is built around various versions of the four songs that Ray sang on in 1993. "Hardlife" and "Lock me up" are fast and furious metal songs, while "Outrageous" and "I know a place" are up-tempo rockers. As I knew Ray only from the (fantastic!) blues/rock Badlands songs, it was interesting to hear Ray on this more metal-oriented material. From these recordings, it once again becomes clear what a great talent Ray Gillen was. I wish he would have had many more years to sing & write material. Part of the proceeds from the CD will be donated to AIDS research in Ray Gillen's name.
The second CD is called "Lost Tracks". Ray's vocals have been substituted by those of John West, as the band's manager had advised to have a new vocalist re-record the material after Ray died. John West is rising to fame nowadays as a solo artist, the singer for Artension, as well as doing the 1998 tour with Lynch Mob (apparently on Glenn Hughes' recommendation). The CD also contains several songs starring guitarist Al Romano on vocals, as well as two live versions. A very amusing part of the CD is the track "The Hawaiians", in which an Electrolux vacuum cleaners tele-sales lady gets thoroughly fooled by the band. Crook'd Records is also exclusively distributing the re-release of the hard-to-find Rondinelli "War Dance" CD, recorded in 1985 with Ray Gillen on vocals, Bobby Rondinelli on drums, his brother Terry on guitar, James Lomenzo on bass, and Cory Davidson on keyboards. This was the unsigned band Ray left to join Black Sabbath after Glenn Hughes had been fired.
‘Remembering White Lion’ is the latest release from the former front man of White Lion and while the album does not represent a reunion of the band it does see the vocalist revisiting a wide range of tracks from the bands 4 albums. I was interested to hear the album as I thought the idea of re-recording songs is particularly innovative as vocalists tend to mature in their sound with the progression of time. Well, this album does not disappoint. Mike has totally redone 12 tracks, 3 each from the 4 studio albums from the White Lion era. While there is the inclusion of the bands three biggest hits in ‘Wait’, ‘Little Fighter’ and ‘When The Children Cry’ the rest of the album features the songs Mike had developed the strongest personal attachment to. I have had a great admiration for Mike since the breakup of White Lion as he has shown a total commitment to striving for his best creative output, with the three wonderful Freak Of Nature albums as well as his first solo release. I was particularly enthralled with the final Freak Of Nature release ‘Outcasts’ which had a terrific raw sound to it. Well, Mike has struck gold again here recording the 12 tracks in a totally new, raw form which provides the best versions of these songs. The three tracks hailing back to the debut album, ‘Fight To Survive’, include ‘All The Fallen Men’, ‘El Salvador’ and ‘Fight To Survive’ the best of these is the infectious rocker ‘All The Fallen Men’ which opens the album. I have to admit I became a fan of the band following the release of the ‘Pride’ album and never really got into the first album. The renditions from the first album included here are terrific though and Mike has enhanced them in a fashion that has to be heard to be appreciated. Perhaps their most well know album, ‘Pride’ sees the tracks ‘Wait’, ‘When The Children Cry’ and ‘Lonely Nights’ revisited here. The clear winner of this group is ‘Wait’ which has been changed to more of an acoustic-based sound and is simply stunning. The other two tracks are exceptional as well, particularly one of my long time favorites ‘Lonely Nights’. My favorite studio album was the third release, ‘Big Game’ which is represented here by the songs ‘Little Fighter’, ‘Broken Home’ and ‘Living On The Edge’. I couldn’t argue against the selection of any of these tracks and they are brilliantly redone. ‘Little Fighter’ takes the runner up prize as my second favorite track on the album, while ‘Living On The Edge’ is my personal favorite and showcases the passion Mike brings to the music. The final studio album, ‘Mane Attraction’ is revisited here in the form of a totally kicking version of ‘Warsong’, ‘She’s Got Everything’ and a terrific new version of ‘Till Death Do Us Part’. Mike is a rarity in his total commitment to making great music and I think he has really hit his stride with the raw sound of this album and the Freak Of Nature ‘Outcasts’ cd. As a fan I also appreciate his personal involvement in writing detailed liner notes which provide a backstory to the album ~ another touch of class from a talented artist. This album has catapulted to the top of the list as my favorite White Lion release and will likely claim the title for best album of the year. Score: 10/10 Recommended for fans of White Lion, Freak Of Nature, Mike Tramp and hard rock fans everywhere. Also recommended: Freak Of Nature ‘Outcasts’ Remembering White Lion: Track Listing: All The Fallen Men, Warsong, El Salvador, Wait, Little Fighter, When The Children Cry, Fight To Survive, Living On The Edge, She’s Got Everything, Lonely Nights, Broken Home, Till Death Do Us Part
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