STRIKTLY FOR KONNISSUERS 9-20-99

Official Nonsense:

Editor and Godfather - Kurt Torster

The Capos:

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)
Georg Siegl (AOR Heaven - http://www.aorheaven.com)
Ove Gustafsson (MTM - http://www.pi.se/mtm)
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

68 Lindbergh Blvd

Bloomfield, NJ 07003 USA

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The SFK Homepage: http://www.mindspring.com/~ktorster

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The Pop Music Mailing List: http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/popmuzik

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:

CD NOW is running a 30% everything in the store sale...check it out: http://www.cdnow.com/from=sr-38281

I forgot to mention that the Song Of The Week vote is in full effect. Head over to the SFK site every week to download a new mystery MP3 and vote whether you think it’s a smash or trash. I’ll extend the first week’s vote an extra week.

Thanks to Hurricane Floyd I had five inches of water invade my recently remodeled basement. Curse you Mother Nature!

News Bytes:

In absolutely huge news, Fronters/Now & Then has signed SIGNS OF LIFE, a new supergroup featuring Terry Brock (STRANGEWAYS), Randy Jackson (ZEBRA), Mark Mangold (DRIVE SHE SAID, MICHAEL BOLTON, TOUCH) and Chuck Bonfante (DRIVE SHE SAID). The bass player is of yet to be determind.

NILE ROGERS’ Sumthing Distribution will now be responsible for distributing all of Now & Then/Frontiers releases in the US.

In similarly huge news three fourths of TYKETTO (including vocalist Danny Vaughan along with Michael Clayton & Jaimie Scott) are set to reform under a new name, signing to Z Records.

Some KYLE VINCENT news for you…first off, he has a new single available for the previously unreleased "Tell It Goodbye" (his ode to Candlestick Park). You can grab one for $6 from his website. Secondly, he will make a trek to New York to perform at The Fez on October 11.

BRYAN ADAMS is set to open for Celene Dion on New Years Eve in Montreal at the Molson Center.

Guitarist/producer DANN HUFF is up for a musician of the year awards at this year’s Country Music Awards. SHANIA TWAIN, FAITH HILL and GARTH BROOKS are also up for multiple awards.

Meanwhile, GARTH BROOKS will make the live debut of his CHRIS GAINES persona on a November episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’.

Also hitting TV in November will be RICKY MARTIN and his special for CBS. He will be joined by CARLOS SANTANA. RICKY will also release a home video/DVD called "The Video Collection", featuring all his videos and his smashing performance at last year’s Grammy Awards.

THE OFFSPRING’s next single will be "She’s Got Issues".

THE CULT has signed with Atlantic for a two-album deal.

VON GROOVE plans to release an acoustic best of later this year.

Anyone care about more brushes with the law involving members of MOTLEY CRUE? I didn’t think so.

At www.kingjizzo.com, you can get the latest JIZZY PEARL (ex-LOVE/HATE, LA GUNS) disc, "I Got More Crickets Than Friends".

IRON MAIDEN’s frontman BRUCE DICKINSON will release a live album titled "Scream For Me Brazil" on October 11, recorded on his "Chemical Wedding" tour.

RATT’s latest will be issued in France under a new title "Never Forget Your Past, It’ll Come Back To Kick You Ass".

Piano man JOSHUA KADISON will release his latest disc, "Troubadour In a Timequake", exclusively through his website at www.joshuakadison.com.

Your weekly GUNS N’ ROSES bullshit: ex-guitarist Robin Finck parts have been deleted by Axl Rose, set to be replaced by Dave Navarro and possibly bit parts played by Jimmy Page and Brian May.

Are you ready for yet another go around for THE WHO? Well, it looks like the band will reunite at least one more time for a charity show at the Chicago House Of Blues in November.

DREAM THEATER European dates:

Mon November 8 - Docks - Hamburg, Germany

Tues November 9 - Capitol - Hannover, Germany

Thurs November 11 - Ijssehal - Zwolle, Netherlands

Fri November 12 - Anetenne Belgique - Brussels, Belgium

Sun November 14 - Palladium - Koln, Germany

Mon November 15 - Forum - Nurnberg, Germany

Wed November 17 - Volkshaus - Zurich, Switzerland

Thurs November 18 - Colosseum - Munich, Germany

Fri November 19 - Filaforum - Milan, Italy

Sun November 21 - Transbordeur - Lyon, France

Mon November 22 - Forum - Stuttgart, Germany

Wed November 24 - Elysee Montmartre - Paris, France

Noteworthy New Releases:

[* recommended by SFK]

THE BEATLES - Yellow Submarine

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS - Long Train Runnin’

MARTINA MCBRIDE - Emotion

MEAT LOAF - VH1 Storytellers

IGGY POP - Avenue B

QUEENSRŸCHE - Q2K

RONNIE SPECTOR - She Talks To Rainbows

Kurt’s Picks:

LIT - A PLACE IN THE SUN, RCA, 1999 [Similarities: Marvelous 3, Third Eye Blind, Stone Temple Pilots] [ http://www.litlounge.com ]

I was turned on to this band by their incredibly catchy single "My Own Worst Enemy", a neat slice of Van Halen inspired power pop. But I didn’t want to take a chance on a whole CD based on one catchy tune, especially in this day and age of one hit wonders. The second single though, the equally catchy "Zip-Lock", secured my purchase. Was it worth it then? Well, mostly. It is nice to hear a band that can actually play and not be ashamed to show off their chops a little. And an added bonus is that AJ Popoff can actually sing. Each song is catchy and the choruses remind me of early 80s Rick Springfield. Songs like the aforementioned singles, "Lovely Day" and "Quicksand" have hit written all over them and will probably push sales of this thing into mega-platinum territory. But tracks like "Miserable" or "Perfect One" just were missing that spark of individuality that, at least to me, is becoming so very important in the ever changing music biz. Plus, over the course of a whole album the songs started to blur a little, becoming a little faceless and generic over the long haul. But again mostly, Lit is great in typical 90s fashion, and the songs that are sharp are memorable and should stand the test of time well. Though I don’t dare call them one hit wonders, as there is way too much talent here for that, what the band does need is just that one thing to separate them from an already overcrowded genre.

THE KNACK - PROOF: THE VERY BEST OF, Rhino, 1998 [Similarities: Cheap Trick, The Raspberries, Enuff Z’nuff]

It’s a shame that this band will always be associated with their two ‘love em’ or ‘hate em’ hits "My Sharona" and "Good Girls Don’t". Because what this disc does (as it lives up to it’s title) is prove that this band had a knack (erm) of creating super catchy songs that you like on first listen, and from there it just turns into infatuation and eventually love. Who can deny a song like "Your Number Or Your Name", "Another Lousy Day In Paradise" or the huge arena rocking "Rocket O’ Love" and honestly say they are a fan of great melodic pop rock? And once again, Rhino has done an admirable job with this set with excellent liner notes and some great bonus tracks (including their covers of "That Thing You Do", "Teacher Teacher" and "I Knew The Bride"). This, along with their superb "Zoom" release, shows that this band turned out WAY better than anyone could have thought.

MARVELOUS 3 - HEY ALBUM, Elektra, 1999 [Similarities: The Knack, Candy, The Loveless] [ http://www.themarvelous3.com ]

Every so often your ears get a hold of something that words just can’t describe. Though it can mean something rather bad, this is anything but. M3 (featuring members of Southgang) play what is best described as modern pop...you know, the kind that is basically dominating ‘rock-40’ radio. Whereas many of these bands seem good for only a hit song or two, M3 has filled this disc to the brim with twelve incredibly catchy tracks with nary a filler in earshot. Whether your fix includes quick and snappy pop (the too catchy to be true "Write It On Your Hand" and "Indie Queen"), raucous rockers (the killer opener "You’re So Yesterday" and the awesome "Freak Of The Week") or mellow moments (the witty "Every Monday" and new single "Let It Go"), it’s all here for your pleasure. If anyone is wondering where the future of melodic rock may be headed, then look no further.

STRANDED - LONG WAY TO HEAVEN, Escape, 1999 [Similarities: Rainbow, Foreigner, House Of Lords]

I must admit that on first listen, this disc didn’t do all that much for me. But it was upon subsequent listens that it really opened itself up. My initial opinion is that much of it felt uninspired and rather lacking any passion. But songs like "Only Human" (which is a great and bouncy piece of pop rock), the arena rocking "Coming Of Age" and the stupdendous mid-tempo "Still Want You" that started to change my mind for the better. And lump in tracks like the title cut and the soaring "Always" and I’m left feeling that I’m glad I didn’t dismiss this too early and give it it’s proper chance to shine. The musicianship is perfectly played and the vocals of Troy Reid (ex of Agent) remind me of a lower toned Ronnie Dio and are flawless. On the downside, the opener "Somebody Laughs" seems rather generic and "Spaceman" is just plain stupid. But overall, this is a rather nice surprise.

(Re)Views From The Hill:

FERGIE FREDERIKSEN - EQUILIBRIUM, Avex, 1999

When I first heard this album, I was angry beyond belief. How, I wondered, can a bunch of such sterling talent produce an album that is so utterly forgettable? That feeling has now been replaced by that of sadness, because I realise that this album reflects the state of the genre that we love so much and nobody else gives a shit about. If the music sucks why should anybody care about AOR anyways? Let’s talk about bad musicianship. When you assemble peoples like Neal Schon, Steve Porcaro, Tim Pierce, Jef Scott Soto, Kelly Hansen and Jim Peterik, you would expect a result that is substantially better than this. Has all creativity been sucked out of these musicians? Even Fergie himself seem to be singing in a key totally unsuited to him half the time. Production doesn’t help either. One song just merges into another to form an utterly forgettable blah, and I wish the production was able to contrast the individual songs better than this. Pity, because I don’t think the song-writing itself is that bad. But taken together with the marginal production and uninspired musicianship, it does very little to redeem itself. This album can equilibrate all it wants at the bottom of the AOR pile. - KJ

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

Criminally underrated Charlie Farren should have another couple of CD releases out in the next couple of the months. His excellent first solo album "Grease Town" is going to finally get released on CD, and the full second Farrenheit album is also now going to finally see the light of day. Seven songs from the 10 track Farrenheit album have already seen the light of day on a very limited promo release, and were excellent, so it should be superb to see the full project get released. Get further details from http://www.charlie-farren.com and you can also download material from Charlie at http://www.mp3.com/charliefarren/.

Riverside Records will be releasing the long-lost album from Swedish band the Bam Bam Boys on October 11th. Originally recorded back in 1989 the release fell through the net, which was a real shame as it’s one of the better Scandinavian releases from that period with fine melodic rock and AOR featured all the way through. The band included names like: Göran Elmquist (Talk Of The Town/Rat Bat Blue etc) Fredrik Von Gerber (Easy Action/Rat Bat Blue/Jean Beauvoir/Red Fun) Gunnar Hallin (Neon Rose) and Matti Alfonzetti (Jagged Edge/Skintrade) and additional keyboards by Mats Oluasson (Yngwie Malmsteen).

On the Christian front, Jars of Clay’s new album comes out November 23rd. Initial reports suggest it’s "excellent" but I’ve always thought they were one of the most over-rated bands of recent years and are really lacking in quality. Michael W. Smith will also have a new album out well before the end of the year.

Japan still loves to see bands releasing albums at the drop of the hat, and British band Balance of Power have a new called "Ten More Tales of Grand Illusion" coming out October 20th. Hasn’t their second album barely been out for any length of time?

Over at the AOR Basement site (http://www.aorbasement.com/) there still haven’t been any new reviews uploaded, but the links page does have another 40-50 new links included now....

Feedback:

From: "Peter Edwardson"

<Peter.Edwardson@ukgateway.net>

Hi Kurt, This whole pop vs rock thing is always a difficult one. I know a few weeks ago I questioned the coverage you were giving to Ricky Martin and managed to touch a raw nerve with you.

[I still think that if people would go deeper than "La Vida Loca", they may like what they hear as Ricky’s songs by Desmond Child, The Hooters and Diane Warren reek of ‘AOR’. So does he have a place here in SFK? To me he does.]

Surely AOR started off as mixing rock musical stylings with more accessible and commercial song structures - Asia against Yes for example - so we can’t be too intolerant. For example I like Roxette - well described as "seductive Heart meets ABBA bubblegum". They have much more of a rock pedigree than Shania or Ricky (check out "Sleeping in My Car" from "Crash Boom Bang") and Marie has one of those voices that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. They released a very enjoyable new album earlier this year called "Have a Nice Day" which I don’t think was even released in North America. Is that SFK material?

[It sure is...just haven’t gotten around to getting a copy yet.]

If you give Shania house room (and who wouldn’t?), then what about Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood - both attractive women of a similar vintage, and arguably better singers - who have used AOR songwriters like Diane Warren and Desmond Child to broaden their appeal beyond strict country?

[I have certainly liked what I have heard from both Faith and Trisha but again, have yet to get around to getting copies yet. My money only goes so far...]

What about Céline Dion, who has recorded some no-holds-barred rock ballads like "I Don’t Know" from "Falling Into You"? If you like Robbie Williams, then how far are you prepared to go into the bowels of British boy bands and trash pop? Anyone for Steps? Can Oasis be considered a melodic rock act?

[Well, we have featured both Oasis and Robbie Williams in SFK.]

Would you give the Corrs the time of day (musically) - given that they have worked with American AOR songwriters?

[Haven’t heard much of them.]

Why do you never say much about Sheryl Crow, who is much more "rock" and a performer of far more artistic worth than Shania Twain?

[Personally I do not care for anything from Sheryl Crow.]

I’m not asking you to answer these questions, but they show how life’s never simple. The odd excursion’s fine, as I’m sure most of us like "pop" of some kind, but don’t stray too far from the path. (By the way, the new Jethro Tull album is a brilliant piece of intelligent, quirky, mature ROCK!)

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