STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 08-07-00

”There are three essential Commandments:

·        Respect The Elders.

·        Embrace The New.

·        Encourage The Impractical and Improbable, Without Bias.

-David Fricke”

Official Nonsense:

·        Editor and 80s Geek - Kurt Torster

Other geeks from various decades:

·        Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)

·        Marty Dodge (http://www.lupusandco.com)

·        Jason Grubbs

·        Tim Henderson (Brave Words)

·        Martin Hennessy III (80's Nuts)

·        Ian McIntosh (AOR Basement)

·        Mark Orsted (Heavens Smiling)

·        Dave Reynolds

·        Alex Richter (Hard N' Fast)

·        George Thatcher (Heart Of Rock)

·        Mike Waugh

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

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SFK c/o Kurt Torster
68 Lindbergh Blvd
Bloomfield, NJ 07003 USA

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Kurt's Krap:

I must be constipated…got nothing to say this week.

Kurt’s Kause Of The Week:

OK…here’s one for ya. DVD Talk is THE place on the Internet for, um, DVD talk. Great message boards where you can find out about bargains and coupons (that work for CDs too usually). I can’t help it…it’s an addiction.

News Bytes:

Spitfire has an awesome schedule for the rest of the year. Due are new albums from Enuff Z’nuff, Britny Fox, Firehouse and Sebastian Bach as well as many classic reissues from Grim Reaper, Helloween, Dio, Krokus, Tommy Shaw, Eric Martin, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Yngwie Malmsteen, David Coverdale, Deep Purple, Rainbow and Ted Nugent. Phew…

Current Yes keyboardist Igor Khoroshev was charged assaulting two female security guards backstage at a recent performance in Washington, DC. He faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Vocalist Tommy Heart has left Fair Warning. His new band SoulDoctor features members of Bonfire and Victory. The full story at Tommy’s website.

Z Records has signed Enuff Z’nuff to release their “Ten” album throughout Europe. The band hopes to play the Z-2001 show. Spitfire will release the album in the US.

Gary Cherone’s new band is called Tribe Of Judah, described as a cross between Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails. Personally, I wish Gary would hook up with the ex-members of Queen.

David Lee Roth will be hitting the road, solo, in September. Now depending on who you believe, assuming the reunion is on…he’s simply “tired of waiting for something to happen”.

Nine Days has hit #1 on the Billboard singles chart with “Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)”. Over the past few weeks, bands like Vertical Horizon and Matchbox Twenty have also hit the #1 spot. Who said melodic rock is dead?

Grab yourself a live MP3 of Jon Taglieri’s Need To Hear” over at Rock Reunion.

Over at the Marillion website, you can grab the “Singles Collection 82-88”, a 12 CD box set containing all the band’s singles and respective B-sides.

Look for Everclear to release the awesome “AM Radio” as the follow up single to “Wonderful”.

Prime Time, featuring ex members of Royal Hunt, Elegy and Narita, has signed a deal with Frontiers/Now & Then. “Free The Dream” will be released in early 2001.

The tracklisting for the upcoming Freddy Curci compilation “Then And Now”: When I'm With You (live), Haunted Heart, More Than Words Can Say, Waiting For Love, The Power, Into The Fire, Perfect World, Brown Eyed Girl, Dreamer's Road, Senza Te (Give Me A Reason To Stay), Just To Be Close, Bare Necessity (unreleased), Finally (unreleased), Ti Sposerò (Real Love), Diamonds and Un Amore Tutto Mio (Finally).

September 22, there will be a benefit concert in Chicago in honor of Ansley Dunbar’s five year old son Dash (who recently lost his battle with cancer). Appearing at Joe’s Sports Bar will be Two Fires, Kip Winger, Rik Emmet, Jim Peterik and others. More info at Kevin Chalfant’s website.

Billy Idol will release “The Greatest Hits” in September. The only bonus track will be an acoustic version of “Rebel Yell”, recorded with Steve Stevens.

Rare MP3 Of The Week:

On the “Crush” tour, Bon Jovi has been playing an acoustic version of “Runaway”. Here it is (I think from a radio show but I’m not sure)...

Live In Your Face:

Neve / Hanson
08/22/00        Atlanta, GA           Tabernacle
08/24/00        Tampa, FL             Tampa Bay Performing Arts Ctr
08/26/00        Sunrise, FL            Sunrise Musical Theatre
08/29/00        Orlando, FL            Hard Rock Live
08/31/00        Charlotte, NC         Ovens Auditorium
09/02/00        Greensboro, NC      War Memorial Auditorium
09/06/00        Richmond, VA         Carpenter Center
09/08/00        Norfolk, VA             Norva Theater

Third Eye Blind/Vertical Horizon/Nine Days
8/8 Wilmington, DE @ Summerstage @ The Kahuna 8:00p
8/9 Salem, VA @ Civic Ctr 7:30p
8/11 Charlotte, NC @ Blockbuster Pav 7:30p
8/12 Walnut Creek, Raleigh, NC @ Alltel Pav 7:30p
8/13 Knoxville, TN @ World’s Fair Park Amph 7:00p
8/15 Columbus, GA @ Civic Center 7:30p
8/16 Birmingham, AL @ Oak Mountain Amphitheatre 8:00p
8/18 Little Rock, AR @ Riverfest Amphitheatre
8/19 Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pav 7:00p
8/20 Dallas, TX @ Smirnoff Music Center 8:00p
8/21 San Antonio, TX @ Sunken Gardens 6:30p
8/23 Phoenix, AZ @ Mesa Amphitheater 6:30p
8/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre 7:30p
8/26 San Francisco, CA @ Chronicle Pavilion 7:30p
8/27 Sacramento, CA @ Sacramento Valley Amphitheatre 7:30p
8/29 San Diego, CA @ Open Air Theater 7:30p
8/30 Fresno or Bakersfield, CA (TBA)
9/1 Reno, NV @ Reno Hilton Amph.
9/2 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues (w/ Third Eye Blind only)
9/3 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues (w/ Third Eye Blind only)

Goo Goo Dolls
8/28 Pueblo, Colo., State Fair/Events Center.
8/29 Lincoln, Neb., Nebraska State Fair.
8/30 St. Paul, Minn., Minneapolis State Fair.
9/1 Essex Junction, Vt., Champlain Valley Exposition.
9/2 Syracuse, N.Y., New York State Fair.
9/3 Allentown, Pa., Allentown Fair.
9/4 Canfield, Ohio, Mahoning County Fair.

Noteworthy New Releases:

BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA - Vavoom!

Moldy Oldys:

[What’s kicking old school on the SFK Deck O’ Death this week:]
i-Ten – Taking A Cold Look, Paul Janz – Presence, Garth Brooks – Double Live, Lava – The Rhythm Of Love, Queen – Live At Wembley

Kurt’s Picks:

Angry Tears – Angry Tears, Escape, 2000
[Similarities: Firehouse, Baton Rouge, Danger Danger]
The latest project from AOR wiz Jack Ponti is a huge disappointment. Sorta like 80s arena rock with a 90s grunge production, it’s like the songs are trying to be upbeat and dark at the same time. And that’s not even counting the fact that all the songs sound pretty much the same. Singer Joey Sinopoli has a gruff low toned voice that is actually a bit irritating (not bad…just doesn’t fit the music) and may be the reason a lot of these songs fall flat. There’s just nothing here that makes you want to come back for more short of the closing number “Other Side Of The Night”. Considering the song writing team involved, this has got to be considered one of the bigger letdowns in recent memory.

Babylon AD – American Blitzkrieg, Apocalypse, 2000
[Similarities: Motley Crue, Warrant, LA Guns]
I’ll be right up front about this. I never liked Babylon AD and consider them one of the bands that was responsible for killing off melodic rock to begin with (when bands were signed in droves for their look rather than sound). So to say that I wasn’t really looking forward to listening to this is an understatement. Good to know that the boys didn’t disappoint me. This is aggressive and out of character from their party-like 80s anthems (which were listenable at the least). It reeks of the type of musical attitude change bands like Warrant and Danger Danger attempted to sound modern instead of just playing from the gut. Touches of Rage Against The Machine, modern day Metallica and Motley Crue all figure prominently in the mess of a mix. Not that all is bad as every album has its good moments. If the rest of the album were like the stomping shout along “I Wanna Live”, we’d be talking classic. This album has done little to change my overall opinion of the band.

Hobbit – Two Feet Tall, Midwest, 1999
[Similarities: Kansas, Styx, Kharma]
A compilation from this vastly unknown and criminally unsigned Texas pomp act (ranging from the years 1979-1983), I gotta admit…this is good. Keyboard lovers will be in heaven as each song is driven by a highly catchy and most of the time, very memorable keyboard riff. Amazingly enough, the sound isn’t all that dated either. How some of these songs slipped the AOR heads is beyond me as songs like “Love Is Forever”, “Need Your Love” and “Till I Get You Back” are just glorious. I could have done without the track “Puppets” though as it’s slow pacing just doesn’t fit in with the rest. The vocals of Gene Fields are a cross between Yes’ Jon Anderson and Styx’s Dennis De young and suit the music well. Lovers of late 70s/early 80s AOR, snap this up pronto (just try to avoid looking at the band picture on the back…).

Heart & Stone – Legacy Of Stone, Anton, 1997
[Similarities: Live, Creed, Pearl Jam]
Nondescript modern melodic rock that is big on the melody and low on the originality. Nothing here stands out enough the leave any sort of lasting impression. None of the twelve tracks is all that bad but they are all so unmemorable that by the time the next song starts, you’d never remember a single thing about the previous track. If Creed plays their cards right, they could just rerecord this disc for their next outing and no one would be the wiser.

Lana Lane – Secrets Of Astrology, SPV, 2000
[Similarities: Ten, Magnum, Dream Theater]
Two things that don’t sit well with me…”dungeons & dragons” type prog and female hard rock singers. So imagine my shock to discover that Lana and band (led by the massively talented Erik Norlander) throw out a pretty amazing album full of pomp epics with huge keyboards surrounding every note of her amazing voice (one of THE best I’ve ever heard…male or female). Though this kind of symphonic rock is not my favorite, there is no denying this is a quality release that has to rank among tops of this sub-genre. I’d be hard pressed to find fault anywhere, with such fantastic AOR tracks like “Alexandria”, “Raining” or “Speed Of Sound” standing out from an impressive crowd. Those with the slightest inkling of prog or pomp taste should absolutely add this to their collection…the rest of us? Sure…if only to hear THAT voice.

Molly Hatchet – Live At The Agora Ballroom (1979), Phoenix Gems, 2000
[Similarities: Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, ZZ Top]
Southern boogie at it’s finest, and it’s never better than when it’s played live. Like a well-oiled machine, Molly Hatchet blows the roof off the Agora Ballroom. Essential for fans of this genre, though the rest of us may get bored by the extended jams and riffs, and some of their most well known songs are not included. Not much more I can say…

George Pegula George Pegula, demo, 1999
[Similarities: Michael McDermott, Meat Loaf, Matchbox Twenty]
Amazing how much decent stuff is floating around there going unheard. George is your typical singer/songwriter that, although offers nothing new, does what he does very well. Songs like “Marilyn” (produced by Dakota’s Jerry Hludzik) and “Drive” bring to mind many AOR artists that dabble with roots rock. Nothing earth shattering but certainly the potential is there for the future.

Planet X – Universe, Century, 2000
[Similarities: Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai]
All instrumental prog-fest from the trio of Derek Sherinian, Tony MacAlpine and Virgil Donati. Talented beyond belief, the only thing missing are the songs. Wait, that’s not entirely fair because there are songs here…just not to my melodic tastes. If you are the type of person who loves when Dream Theater goes on long fusion-like instrumental passages, then you’ll be heaven listening to a whole album of them sans vocals. Not for me…

Rampage – Fear Inside My Head, demo, 1997
[Similarities: Iron Maiden, King’s X, Scorpions]
Whoa…every so often you come across a CD that is totally not what you were expecting. A mix of powerful riffing and almost prog-like melodies (without the keyboards), this is not unlike a lot of early 80s metal that was radio friendly yet bowed to no one. Great vox, melodic and upfront guitars and interesting rhythms highlight songs like “You Are My Enemy”, “Feel The Rain” and the almost AOR-like “Self Indulgent Smile”. A very nice surprise, these Canadian rockers now just need a label with a budget and a masterpiece just may be waiting around the corner.

Jeff Watson – Around The Sun, Frontiers, 2000
[Similarities: Night Ranger, Kansas, Boston]
Jeff, along with Brad Gillis, has always been one of my favorite guitarists. His melody lines are always so smooth and memorable, and here the guitar playing is top notch. While this is not up to the standards of Night Ranger, this album has some decent songs (the title track standing out the most for me). With songs sung by Steve Walsh, Aaron Hagar as well as Jeff himself, there is nice variety in style (as well as quality unfortunately). As most of this was recorded in 1992-3, a lot of this is good but feels like leftovers. Something tells me most of the songs would have been a lot better as instrumentals (of which only one here is). Most of the time I just felt bored as things tended to meander. For die-hard Watson fans only.

(Re)Views From The Hill:

The Boston Brats at the Linwood - A Breath of Fresh Air
I caught the Boston Brats at the Linwood on 7-30-00 and they did what they do best: tear up the Boston underground. It was a typical show for them which included topless girls, Dez Break Dancing over beer bottles in the middle of the crowd, Nikki Stone (The guitarist) ripping through a G-N-R sounding solo on his silver speckled Les Paul, and some good old fashioned LOUD rock and roll!

The stage presence of the Brats is that of a veteran rock band however, nothing ever seems to be routine with these guys. They are never afraid to mix up their set list and they encourage and often demand audience participation. The barrier between the band and the fans simply does not exist and their attitude carries over to after the show where everyone in the bar from the toilet cleaner to the fans up front are invited to the backstage party.

The Brats came on around 12:20 and ripped through a set of classic Brats tunes starting with King of this Town (although they didn't use pyro for their opener as they usually do..) They also played Don't waste my time, Shufflin Dice, 57 chevy, Motherf*%ker, Backstage Party, one new song and their always explosive finale: Bottom of the Bottle. Half of the crowd was on stage for their last song (including me..) I staked out a spot next to their Drummer: Mick Silver and watched him tear through a pair of drum sticks with some angry fills. Brats bassist Todd Harvey 8-Ball (who  has been known to wear a black D.A.R.E. shirt) graced the left side of the stage with his patented backup vocals screaming upward into the microphone. Dez, the lead singer for the Brats, offered a Boston Brats tank top to the first girl who "showed some skin." Most lead singers go through the same speeches to the audience at every show and to those who frequent these bands, it becomes a running joke. Dez (who has a different hair color at almost every show) is never afraid to mix it up with the fans and speak what's on his mind whether it be how many Jack-and-cokes he's had, how he mistakenly took a swig from a beer bottle full of urine (there was no bathroom  backstage and someone made a toilet out of a Corona bottle), or how the Brats are poised to bring  rock and roll back to the mainstream.

Missing from the set list Friday night was their first single: Takin Over. Right now, the Brats are out "Takin' Over" the West Coast until Mid August. You can check out tour dates for the Boston bad boys at http://www.bostonbrats.8m.com. Hopefully these guys won't get signed so they can remain Boston’s Best kept secret. They continue to exhale a breath of fresh air into the boring music scene on the East Coast. Is the world ready for the Brats? I don't think it matters because they're coming and you're all invited to the Backstage Party. – Michael

Queensryche: Greatest Hits, Virgin/EMi Records
[similarities: Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Vanden Plas]
Listening to this disc is in itself a decidedly mixed pleasure. It is wonderful to hear all the great moments of the band, but it also reminds the listener of how bad they have become. This 16-song compilation traces the bands history from their first EP all the way to Hear in the Now Frontier, their last, but one, album.

Listening to this collection leaves one wondering whether or not it might be a better idea for the Ryche to call it a day now that the man responsible (in full or in part) for 12 out of these 16 songs has left the fold. Or better yet maybe DeGarmo will take heed of the fans’ plight and rejoin his former band.

Earlier albums are represented by 2 songs apiece, up to and including the awesome Operation: Mindcrime, while the latter 3 are represented by 3 tracks a-piece. There are two bonus tracks on this compilation, both Japan only bonus tracks, from the last two albums represented on this disc. Fortunately, no one thought it a good idea to include any lame re-mixes on this album, all the tracks that are represented on the album are actual album tracks.

The bonus tracks are alternate recordings of "Chasing Blue Sky" and "Someone Else". Both of these of bonus tracks are a true bonus to the collection and are great to listen to, neither feels tacked on. All the songs have been digitally re-mastered in 24-bit.

The tracks trace the Ryche from their early metal days (best represented by the old favorites, The Lady Wore Black and Queen of the Reich from their first EP,) through their more progressive sound, then into their more commercial sound, and back to a darker edge.  The album really shows how the band grew in a career, from songwriting to musicianship. Tracks like powerful, "I Don’t’ Believe in Love", the opinionated, "Empire" and the awesome, "Silent Lucidity" really shine as examples of this band at their absolute best. Even the later emotive track, "Someone Else" shows just how good these guys can be when they hit their mark.

This is a fitting testament to a great band that has fallen from their heights. I highly recommend this album to anyone with even a fleeting interest in Queensryche. I know that I will listen to it again and again on one of the long plane journey’s I seem to be taking these days. Much imitated, but rarely topped, surely we must wonder whether they can reach these heights again. - Marty

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

I know in recent weeks I've been moaning on about the melodic rock industry's (and I guess music industry as a whole) inability to really seem like their in it for the long-term or for the love of music. However, something else that's maybe holding the genre back is the lack of a real, new "land mark song".

Now before you start wondering what the heck I'm on about, think back to your formative days as your musical appreciation really developed: there will be at least a couple of songs that really became musical land marks and really defined music that made you say " wow, I gotta here more stuff like this". For me I can still remember being five or six years old and hearing Free's "All Right Now" for the first time (in a beachside café) and being drawn into it like no other music before. Then when I was just over 10, Jefferson Startship's "Jane" was standing up and being counted while the world was awash with punk and new wave and I really knew where I wanted music to take me. For people that are already into the genre they're songs that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, for people that have never been exposed to it, they're songs that get them into a form of music rapidly. I would bet that (love them or hate them) Bon Jovi's "Runaway" also did the same thing for a huge amount of our readers.

The problem is, a lot of the current bands are making music that simply isn't distinctive enough to be considered that significant or to actually make a landmark. Both the bands and the labels are too easily satisfied. Most of it is rehashed, old ideas that no one in the mainstream is ever going to give the time of day.

Melodic rock is in desperate need of a defining moment at present, but god knows where it's going to come from!

[I agree 100%. Can anyone name the last landmark AOR album? Was it The Storm or the debuts from Crown Of Thorns, Harem Scarem or even Hugo? We’re talking close to six years ago! I think the closest album in recent memory is Kharma. Time will tell if it holds up.]

Reader profiles:

Name: Mike Matney

Place where you live: Scott Air Force Base, Illinois

Age: 34

Favorite Artist: Magnum

Favorite Song: Rush - Limelight

Favorite Ballad: Roxette - Listen To Your Heart

10 Albums You'd Bring If Stranded On A Desert Island:

Magnum - Wings Of Heaven
Bob Catley - The Tower
Rush - Signals
Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
All About Eve - Scarlet & Other Stories
Pretty Maids - Future World
Dream Theater - Images & Words
Savatage - Dead Winter Dead
Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction - Tattooed Beat Messiah
Pink Cream 69 - Electrified

I limited myself to only one Magnum and one Rush album which was pretty tough!

Website: http://www.geocities.com/matneym

[If you’d like to be featured in SFK’s Reader Profile, drop me a line at ktorster@yahoo.com.]

Feedback:

From: Don Nafe dnafe@magma.ca

Subject: Reply from Powerplay
Hi Kurt, I guess my email to Mark at Powerplay must have hit a nerve somewhere because emailed me.

In essence he apologized for not getting back to me, as he has been extremely busy and although he thought our CD was mediocre at best, he too was surprised at the review Matt gave us.

Fair enough (thanks Mark)

Then Matt (the reviewer) replied to a post I left on their Web Board saying he was happy that we took the review so well but stood by his review, although he admits "I've seen good reviews for your CD, so do acknowledge that I may be wrong, but can only give my opinion. (It would be cheating the readers otherwise)"

'nuff said...matter closed

[Don is from the band Chapter 23.]

From: "Ray Garcia" raychile@hotmail.com

Subject: Ian MacIntosh
hey kurt: please tell Ian Mac that I , for one, can't get enough of Danger Danger articles...articles about the abundance of "unworthy" zines out there, those I can do without...

[I hope to God we’re not an unworthy zine!]

[If someone's going to try and pick a fight with me, they could at least spell my name right! - Ian Mc.]

From: "Eric Curtner" eric.curtner@gs-hydro-us.com

Subject: Disagreement on Crue review
In response to this review, if you want to call it that. I want to start by complimenting you Kurt, I really like the weekly info letter, and have pretty much agreed with you in the past on your reviews. As a Motley diehard from the very beginning, I almost had to laugh at this review. This album is a joke, and Nikki knows it. He is giving the fans what they wanted, for the most part. A lot of Motley fans have grown up, matured, still young at heart, but serious about good music. I have a hard time enjoying listening to this. I honestly think they should leave the tongue and cheek music to people who are good at it, like Lit or The Marvelous 3, Offspring. I became a Motley fanatic because there was always something exciting or fresh on a Motley album. This album is back to there roots, but even "Too Fast.." had more effort and better songwriting than this. Now, Fake is one of the few highlights of this album, where you got filler from I have no idea. The only people that think Mick plays like shit are bad guitarists, and people who have never picked up a guitar. Good and even great musicians, from interviews with Guitar Magazine to Metal Sludge praise Mick with some of the most awesome licks they've ever heard. He is not Yngvie, Vai or Satriani, and thank god, because those guys are boring as hell. I want loud, rude, and raw, and that is Mick Fucking Mars. The only way this album is even somewhat decent is cranked loud as hell so you can hear Mick's rippin' riffs. Nikki, we deserve better. Vince, we deserve Corabi. Randy, no complaints, but Tommy did help write some good songs. Anyways, that's my take.