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Editor and Rams - Kurt Torster


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Kurt's Krap:

This is a short but sweet issue of all news. I just haven't had the time this week to listen to much new music. But as you can tell below, I've had plenty of time to ramble...

Let me tell you guys, if you ever think of getting a septoplasty...think real hard because you are in for one uncomfortable week. The surgery itself went great as did the initial recovery. Problem is, after a day or two it feels like the worst cold you ever had and there's not a damned thing you can do about it. My nose has been stuffed all week (now that the bleeding has stopped) yet I cannot blow it or take anything for it. I have sore spots on my throat which bring tears to my eyes from all the dry mouth breathing (cold liquids are totally out). And those, in turn, are affecting my ears and, if you can imagine, the nerves in my teeth! But if I can breathe again, it's all worth it.

On the plus side, I did get a week off from work and got to totally be a kid again and catch reruns on TV Land of 'Emergency!' (which was my favorite show as a 70s pre-teen. For more info check out I honestly forgot how good this show was and really a precursor to shows like 'ER' or 'Third Watch'. And ooh that Dix! Those close to me already know this, but my wife and I are expecting another child this summer. According to the ultrasounds, there's almost no mistaking it's a boy. So pretty soon look for the Baby Pool contest where you can win a prize package I'm trying to put together with the help of all the big labels and some of our favorites around here. Last time out this contest went real well with the first child and many artists and labels like MTM, Dave Baldwin and Velocity are to be thanked.

News Bytes:

Your weekly VAN HALEN rumors: David Lee Roth has been yapping it up at local strip clubs about how he has been in the 5150 studio recording with the band. Meanwhile, members of DLR's band have been shopping themselves around looking for new gigs. The other rumor just has the VH boys reaching out to DLR as well as SAMMY HAGAR for the possibility of a reunion tour for this summer (but no recording).

[Personally, I think the whole DLR fiasco, if true, is a big step backwards for the band. Let's face it, both artists last albums pretty much sucked. Suck + suck = sucks real bad (not to mention it reeking of cash-in).]

MILLENIUM will release an EP with both two new tunes and a handful of cover tunes: "On and On" (MSG), "Jane" (Jefferson Starship), "Love Is Like Oxygen" (Sweet), "I Surrender" (Rainbow) and "Hourglass" and "Chasing Time".

The GOO GOO DOLLS recently redid their hit "Slide" for 'Sesame Street' and renamed the song "Pride". Johnny Rzeznik has already started the writing process for their next album, which he says will have some "dirty bitch horns".

Kevin Cadogan is out, Tony Fredianelli is in with SF power poppers THIRD EYE BLIND. Their latest single, "Never Let You Go" is starting to make big inroads on the pop charts as it has broken the US top 20.

Caught a new (?) band while home this week called VERTICAL HORIZON. Great stuff, I hope to hear more from them soon.

FASTBALL has begun work on the follow up to their "All The Pain That Money Can Buy".

HALL & OATES have pushed back their upcoming hits set "Rock And Soul 2" to release their follow up to "Marigold Sky".

Look for RICK SPRINGFIELD to star with the BEE GEES and Olivia Newton John in an upcoming Aussie themed spot for AT&T.

STEVE STEVENS has hinted that he is leaving BILLY IDOL and the rock world behind for that of fusion jazz.

THE EAGLES are heading into the studio to record their first proper studio album since 1979's classic "The Long Run".

DOUBLE ECLIPSE's Phil Leahy hipped me to this site: For those who like to rock, visit this amusing web site, a Swedish teenager has recorded himself and his Casio keyboard performing covers of Iron Maiden hits from his bedroom. If you have any interest in metal, this site is simply not to be missed. Check out also the photo of Anton living the dream.

SAVAGE GARDEN's "I Knew I Loved You" has hit the number one spot on the Billboard singles chart while the album has already gone double platinum. Their next single for "Crash And Burn" is out soon.

ROBERT PLANT is planning a stretch of solo acoustic shows later this spring.

JOE SATRIANI's upcoming album is titled "Engines Of Creation".

METALLICA's "S&M" has already sold 4 million copies.

Over at you can order ZEBRA's video collection, which also includes footage from China Rain.

SEVEN WISHES has a new website at (where else?)

Those still on the hunt for THE LOVELESS’ classic “Tales Of Gin And Salvation” might be able to find a copy from Airmail Music in Japan, who hold the license for the album. You can contact Hiroshi Kuse, Airmail Recordings, Plaza Royal Five #1507, 2-10-3 Shimotakaido, Suginami-ku Tokyo 168 Japan (Phone - 813 5376 1193)

Noteworthy New Releases:

THE BABYS - Anthology

PAT BENATAR - King Biscuit Presents (1980)

CHRIS DE BURGH - Lady In Red: The Very Best of




STRAY CATS - Greatest Hits

Kurt's Picks:

Though I haven't had any time to formulate any real proper reviews, I have been listening a lot to some older releases from Bread, Firefall, Pearl Jam, U2 as well as new things from Brett Walker, Jason Falkner, Frank Bango, Fastball, Great White, Ron Dante, Amanda Marshall, Tommy Keene and the soundtrack to the Sopranos (all reviewed soon). And with new ones due any day now from Crown Of Thorns and Hugo, this spring is looking mighty fine for the melodic rock world.

(Re)Views From The Hill:

CRIMSON GLORY: ASTRONOMICA, Spitfire Records [Similarities: Dream Theatre, Annihilator, Gamma Ray]

When the first CG album came out I was a hard arsed egotistical college DJ, who took one look at them and was sure they would be total crap. With their faces covered in tin foil and a lead singer named Midnight, they looked like total plonkers. The press release was even worse, blithering on about the collective and other bs. After I stopped laughing I played the CD and was pleasantly surprised, well except for the annoying leader singer who sounded like a strangled cat.

Over a decade later and I am reviewing a CG CD, with a new singer and Savatage’s ex-drummer/founding member Steve Wacholz. Have they improved since their spotty debut? Well er yes and no. For some reason their current singer Wade Black (Lucian Black) has the same habit of going into banshee like falsetto off and on. Thankfully he manages not to ruin the album with his wailing, and when he singing normally he has pretty good voice. Black shared a vocal teacher with Geoff Tate, but Black is not in the same class as Tate by any means.

Now to the music, the album is not without gems. The last track is polluted with a lot of the noise at the end, containing 911 calls about UFO sittings. This is a complete waste of space and is amusing once, but has you reaching for your stop button on the next listen. They don’t even have the decency to hide a hidden track in the 20 minutes of crap at the end.

The title track sounds like Dream Theater at their hardest. "Edge of Forever" has a great mellow intro and sounds a bit like mellower Skid Row (18 and Life) singing power prog. "Touch of Sun" is simply a great track that has you wishing for more tunes likes this. Great fret work is combined with some damn good singing for a catchy track. Black at his best sounds a lot like Sebastian Bach, which is not a bad thing. "Cyoonia", the final track is great little ditty that would sound good on any good prog/power metal compilation.

This album is not that bad, but I have to say certain German bands do this much better. The timing on this album could not have been worse as recently there have been a large crop of great albums in this genre. There is hope for these guys though, if they concentrate on the strengths on this album and get Black to quit screaming they might really have something. The musicianship on here is great, and there is some semblance of good song writing. - MD

DEMONS & WIZARDS, SPV [Similarities: Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian]

Despite the fact that D&W, is a collaboration between an American guitarist Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) and German vocalist/ bassist Hansi Kursche (Blind Guardian) this is a German prog metal release. It is so much so that I refer to this album and Demons und Wizards. If you like any of the bands in the similarities section of this review, you need to get a hold of this album.

Every track on this opus is a corker, containing amazing guitar work and vocals that range from full on Maiden-esque metal to mellow balladry and harmonizing . Hansi even manages to sound like CSN&Y "Fiddler on the Roof", instead of a fiddle Jon provides some awesome acoustic skills, that is before kicking it in and going full on prog metal. This album has elements that would not feel out of the place on any of Richie Blackmore’s recent output. These tracks sound extremely epic in scope, running the full gamut of power/prog metal. This heads down metal with brains. I prefer this album to Iced Earth, who seem to me to be Iron Maiden wannabes with a bit of talent and not enough originality. If Jon learns anything from this little outing, Iced Earth fans could be in line for a great album.

Much like Iron Savior, Kai Hansen’s side project from Gamma Ray, this band takes the talents of all the musicians involved and heads to another plane of skill. If you are into this sort of stuff, like I am, you have to get this album. If you are really fortunate you will be able to find either the limited edition CD with a bonus track and special packaging, those of you who truly want to be retro you can buy a 2 LP album.

This 54 minute epic album, does not have porker on any track. The cover of the album is very Dio-esque with Death playing fiddle to two small children. There is a trilogy of songs near the end of the album called "Tear Down the Wall", "Gallows Pole" and "My Last Sunrise" which tells the story of a gnome called Azreal, the creator of the universe who gets sick of his creation and destroys only to let a friend have a go. The bonus track in the Special Edition is called "Chant" and is well worth the effort to get it. For more info on this album go to - MD

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

Charlie Farren should have the second and third Farrenheit CDs finally out on CD in March. The second is the excellent "Raise the Roof" which I've talked about before and the third is "Grease Town" which has only been available on tape and also masquerades as a Charlie Farren solo release some of the time.

Been looking closely at some of the things coming out in Japan over the next month or so, and here's some of the more interesting (for whatever reason) things that are on the way: Anthem has a new album coming on February 23rd which will feature Graham Bonnet on three or four tracks; Faith Hill's "Breathe" comes out February 9th and gets one bonus track; Jaded Heart's boring "IV" comes out towards the end of February and gets a bonus song (please don't let it be another god awful cover!); Enuff Z'Nuff has a new album due on March 1st, and it will have one exclusive bonus track for Japan; Joe Satriani has a new album coming March 15th called "Engines of Creation" and it too will have a bonus track for Japan; John Sykes has two albums coming March 8th - "Chapter One" and an untitled new album; and Michael Schenker releases "Adventures of the Imagination" coming March 1st.

Oh and here's an interesting quote, that will strike a cord with all UK based readers. Virgin's Chief Operating Officer Simon Wright says, "Pressure from Internet selling could drive Virgin Megastores to pull out of the music retailing business". Wright went on to say that "even a 10% fall in CD sales because of the Internet would be enough to make most retailers non-viable. At the moment the view in Virgin is that the terms being offered by the record companies would not justify further investment in music."

That's an interesting and downright funny comment to make. Everyone in the UK knows that the labels and retailers totally stitch them up with exorbitant profit margins. I mean, a UK retainer probably has more than double the mark-up in each CD that their American counterparts have.... Conclusive proof of what Virgin is all about, now they'll have to find something else to exploit mercilessly. Weren't they just taking about trying to target a slightly older audience last year, guess they've forgotten about that now. Like every other big organization in the current music industry, they need to stop moaning about  changes and think about how they can react and actually improve things....

From: "Danny Danzi"

As you know, the "Danny Danzi" CD "Somewhere Lost In Time" will be available in all the U.S. stores as of February 15th, and pre-orders have since been astonishing! We have tours in the works and various things planned for this year, so I wanted to let you all in on a "definite" so you have plenty of time to prepare!!!

We have since hooked up with Electric Factory and will put on a show at the Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia. We're hoping to make a major impact here in the states as the first European rock record label to break major ground in a US industry that seriously has a lack of good commercial rock bands. I understand that some of you live out of the U.S. but figured I'd pass this along to you as well because I know of your loyalty to this genre of music. Your support and friendship as always, are appreciated.

Z-2000 USA: We promised the show, and we are pleased to confirm the following details. Please note that tickets are not yet on sale, but we will gladly provide information and put your name on a holding list. venue: THEATRE OF LIVING ARTS [TLA] street: SOUTH STREET city : PHILADELPHIA date : 14th October 2000 confirmed acts - DANNY DANZI, SAVANNAH, FREEDOM CAGE acts tbc - VAUGHN, MVP, SHOUT, LILLIAN AXE If you would like more info please e mail or and we'll definitely get back to you. I hope to see you there!!!! Take care and thanks!


I hadn't seen it mentioned in SFK -- did you know that Mark Spiro produced and sings back-up on John Berry's new CD? Based on the short messages in the liner notes, it would appear that it was more of a close collaboration and some other producer-artist relationships.

From: "Greg Latiolais"

Please include this in the next edition of SFK. Keep up the good work, man. :) Near Life Experience have re-released their Demo One collection, this time on CD. The CD includes the extra track, Broken Man, which was previously unavailable. More info on the CD and Near Life Experience can be found at NLEWEB -


excellent list of music. Couple things: 1) I cannot find where to purchase "The Loveless" CD...can you suggest somewhere to look? 2) I am in a band that specializes in melodic rock called OPEN CAGE. Please check out us sometime at Maybe we will make your list someday!


Hey Kurt-- The Hugo link you had in SFK had no sound samples. Here's a link that does...

From: Oscar Montezuma

Let me congratulate you for the great job and effort you devote weekly giving as a result awesome SFK. Also for the great idea of i-drive. It let me finally get the full version of "I Cant See It In Your Eyes" (Journey TBF's Jap version) and other great rare stuff. Here are some suggestions for you to place in your idrive:

-Every Breath You Take (version from Sting's MTV Unplugged)

-Live Journey songs from the "1999 Vacation's Over Tour" (many people in the Digest run by Dan Stacy can help you get great versions with brand new lead vocals Steve Augeri)

-Firehouse "Category 5" (correct me if i am wrong but its the one after "Good Acoustics")

-Stuff from "Frontline"

-The Storm (debut album -so difficult to find nowadays)


-Just If I (various)

-Guitar Zeus CD (Schon, Slash, etc)

-Stuff from Valentine (ex HUGO band)

-Kevin Chalfant's stuff (The View, 707, Steelbreeze)

-Damn Yankees (live, acoustic, rare stuff)

-Melissa Etheridge (live, duets cd)


-Mark Spiro

-Fergie Friedricksen (Equilibrium)

-Sammy Hagar


-Solo and side projects

I have also some rare MP3s you may want in your idrive, they are rare BON JOVI tracks, acoustic and unreleased versions. Just let me know. As a result of your great idea of setting up an idrive account, i am doing the same, and i also take this chance to communicate to all interested fans and collectors interested in tasting good Latin AOR mp3s i am in the mp3 uploading process of good latin aor stuff for you to know also about the Latin American AOR scene. I let u know when i finish. All the best in recovering from your surgery.

[As a note to everyone, the idrive is open to all to upload and download as they please. The only thing I do ask is that the tracks be kept to things out of print or rarities and not thing in print that are still readily available.]