Column from October 25th, 1999 issue

First off, there is finally new reviews available at the AOR Basement site (, and hopefully some more will follow in the next couple of weeks.... Obviously it's still not updated as frequently as Kurt would like (his comments in his web site reviews are perfectly valid), but that's the nature of the beast....

Been wondering if it's appropriate for me to comment on some of the issues going on with the current Euro-based melodic rock magazines.... I'll make my comments anyway though I'll probably get flamed by someone at some point!

So we're getting an all-new magazine called "MHR"? And it's supported by Escape and Z Records? Oh great, how inappropriate and how much longer can European AOR circles go around in it's own little vacuous world!

In the real world, record labels and review sources should be completely divorced from each other. But that's not what happens in the current market, all the labels think the only way they can generate sales is by getting glowing review after glowing review in paper magazines that have a very limited, and cliquey, circulation and are almost all sub-economic. They need to use a little more imagination to reach a bigger audience that can help melodic rock get back on its feet properly rather than just being content with ramming endless similar releases down the throats of the same listeners over and over again. The fact that Hard Roxx is switching to a web based only publication medium, definitely suggests to me that it could make no money in a traditional form. So, essentially we end up with a load of publications, some of which are enthusiastic - some of which are truly misguided and written in a juvenile form, that become purely promotion outlets subsidizing the labels out of the goodness of their hearts. None of them see the bigger picture of what music means in a bigger sense and most of them continue to reinforce their own directionless dream world.

What labels don't see is that the more urbane listener rapidly becomes totally distrustful off all these review sources, as once they hear some of the releases involved they turn out to be substandard, or miles away from what they were expecting.... How many of the currently hip releases will actually stand up to close scrutiny in 10 to 15 years time? Not that many, I think..... People are too easily satisfied with average, or deeply flawed, releases these days. The same listeners also become very distrustful of the labels who churn out endless releases that no one ever seems to criticize.

Sometime, someone's got to really wake up and prove they really care about restoring the health of melodic rock in general and not just making a quick (and lets face it, modest) buck right now.... Only then will the music we love start to win back its lost audience and prove its real viability to survive in the contemporary world.