”There are three essential Commandments:

·        Respect The Elders.

·        Embrace The New.

·        Encourage The Impractical and Improbable, Without Bias.

-David Fricke”

Official Nonsense:

·        Editor and Vice Presidential Candidate - Kurt Torster

Other members of the SFK party:

·        Carrie Borzillo (All Star Daily News)

·        Marty Dodge (

·        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

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Kurt's Krap:

Seems the SFK I-Drive has gone buh-bye. Anyone have any suggestions? I have received permission to upload a couple of out of print, full CDs of some classic melodic rock discs but have no where to put it.

Peeve of the week #1: Anyone actually ever read the reviews on Amazon.Com? They’re hysterical! Seems there is never any middle ground as each album seems to be either the “greatest ever made” or the “worst ever”.

Peeve of the week #2: Does EVERY single band site on the net really need a Flash intro? Even though I have the cable modem and it still bugs me that I have to spend that extra second to click “Skip Intro”.

Kurt’s Kause Of The Week:

[Ah hell, why not get a little political (or even politically incorrect)? There are loads of issues I believe in or support, and this little bit is not meant to get too deep into anything controversial.]

I am FAR from the most religious person around. While I don’t really believe in any one religion, I do believe in some sort of God (or higher being). I came across a website that deals with the topic in a very fair and across the board kind of manner. BeliefNet transcends religions and caters to those unsure of things. It’s also a web designed and fascinating website.

News Bytes:

The upcoming Rick Springfield live album will also have some multimedia video footage. Over at SRS WowCast you can watch an interview with Rick as well as grab a free MP3 of “Free” from that upcoming live album.

Genesis will release “Archive 2: 1976-1992”, a 3 CD set that contains unreleased songs, 12” mixes, live cuts and demos.

The new Motley Crue album “New Tattoo” (review next week) debuted at #41 on the Billboard charts with sales just over 37,000. Everclear’s Learning How To Smile” (which is pretty awesome I must say) meanwhile, debuted at #9.

Word has it that both VH-1 AND MTV will add the new Roxette single, “I Wish I Could Fly” from the upcoming Edel US reissue of “Have A Nice Day” (reviewed here last year…it’s an awesome disc). More info at their newly redesigned website.

You can catch clips from of the new album from The Wallflowers at their website.

Bad Influence, featuring ex-Thunder members Harry James and Chris Childs, have a new CD out. Check out samples at their website.

The fourth single from Savage Garden’s Affirmation” will be the title track.

Smithereens lead singer Pat DiNizio is running for senate in New Jersey. More info at his website.

Anthrax has left the Maximum Rock tour under auspicious circumstances.

Look for The Corrs to perform on ABC’s Good Morning America on August 25. Their new album “In Blue”, with songs written by Mutt Lange and Shania Twain, will be out in the US on September 12. Look for a review here next week.

September 23 in Pheonix, AZ, Stevie Nicks will perform a benefit concert for the Arizona Heart Institute and will feature friends of hers like Don Henley and Lenny Kravitz.

In some pretty depressing news, Billy Corgan is threatening another Smashing Pumpkins album.

The tracklisting for the new “Union Volume 3” 2 CD compilation from Frontiers/Now & Then: CD1: TWO FIRES "Rivers Of Destiny", MELODICA "Hardest Part Of Love", EMERALD RAIN "Desperate  Heart", LOST WEEKEND "Holding On", JEFF WATSON "Life Goes On", GOOD RATS "Cover Of Night", FAIR WARNING "I Fight", STREET LEGAL "Wrong Side Of Town", NORWAY "Heaven In Your Arms", HUGO "Anyone In Love", JIMI JAMISON`S SURVIVOR "First Day Of Love", JOHN ELEFANTE "The Stream", SHOTGUN SYMPHONY "Believe In Me", BOB CATLEY "The Light", PHOENIX DOWN "Reckless" CD2: TEN "The Stranger", JORN "Starfire", THE VIEW "Keys To The City", HEAVEN`S FIRE "Can You Believe", VOODOO HILL "Spun In Lost Wages", MILLENIUM "Chasing Time" (rough mix), THE SIGN "Aryon" (rough mix), TEER "Romeo" (rough mix), TALON "Paradise" (demo), STUART SMITH "Politician" (rough mix), KELLY KEAGY "Anything Goes" (rough mix), DAVID GLEN EISLEY "Don`t Turn Away" (rough mix), TERRY BROCK "Your Man Again" (demo), SEVENTH KEY "Missy" (demo),  PRIME TIME "Hanging On" (demo), MILLENIUM "I Surrender" (rough mix)

Eclipse, a new act on Z, has nearly completed their debut album, which features guest shots from Kee Marcello and Mats Olausson.

RIP: Mike & The Mechanics vocalist Paul Young died of a heart attack last Saturday at his home in England.

RIP #2: Mike Hartman, former David Lee Roth Band guitarist, passed away July 7 after suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. Another former DLR guitarist, Jason Becker, is currently suffering from ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), which unfortunately has no cure.

Norwegian band Rain (featuring Jaded Heart’s Michael Borman) is currently shopping around their demo. I have heard a lot of these songs and they are fantastic. Very 90s Bon Jovi-esque. More info at their website.

Pop legend Brian Wilson performed the entire Beach Boys classic “Pet Sounds” in its entirety last week in Philadelphia.

Jersey rocker John Eddie will be reissuing his two long lost albums he recorded for CBS back in the 80s as a double set. The debut featured his minor hits “Jungle Boy” and “Pretty Little Rebel” while “The Hard Cold Truth” featured the single “Swear” and was recorded in John Mellencamp’s home studio with his backing band.

INXS will hit the road with new singer Jon Stevens (ex of Noiseworks) in New Zealand and maybe Australia. The band hopes to have an album completed and ready in the new year.

Spinal Tap is holding an essay contest for those interested in taking the “death seat” of being their new drummer.

Swedish AOR act Talk Of The Town released their new album “Transition” last week in Japan.

CampChaos, the comedic masters, have a new cartoon on their site featuring parodies of Metallica, Elton John and a host of others doing their version of “Sue All The World” (sung to the tune of “We Are The World”. It’s absolutely hysterical.

Stone Temple Pilots will release a hits collection titled “Big Bang Babies” later this year. It will contain the obligatory new tracks as well as some “surprises”.

August 22, Dee Snider will release what is most likely his last album in “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down”.

Am I the only one who still thinks that the Van Halen mess is all bullshit? Seems another date came and went, with that supposed big announcement never happening. A new set of rumors is now saying that the Ted Templemen produced album is near complete as the band are recording in New York (why wouldn’t they use 5150 I wonder…erm). And before anyone thinks the re-masters mean anything, Warner is re-mastering A LOT of their classic catalog, not just Van Halen’s. I’m not saying never…but jeez people, until something is “official”, can we move on with our lives?

Live In Your Face:

Sister Hazel
7/26 New York, Irving Plaza
7/27 Buffalo, N.Y., Lafayette Square
7/28 Boston, The Avalon
7/29 Philadelphia, Theater of Living Arts
8/1 Chicago, House of Blues
8/3 Nashville, Riverfront Park
8/4 Cincinnati, Bogarts
8/6 Grand Rapids, Mich., Orbit Room
8/14 Kansas City, Mo., The Beaumont

Noteworthy New Releases:

FIREHOUSE - Bring Em Out Alive
NIGHT RANGER - 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection
JON SECADA - Better Part of Me

Moldy Oldys:

[What’s kicking old school on the SFK Deck O’ Death this week:]
Journey – Greatest Hits Live, Survivor – Prime Cuts, Triumph – Classics, The Kinks – Come Dancing, Michael McDermott – Michael McDermott

Kurt’s Picks:

Creed – Human Clay, Wind Up, 2000
[Similarities: Pearl Jam, um, Pearl Jam and uh…Pearl Jam]
There is “sounding like another band”, and then there’s outright cloning! I must admit, the single “Higher” is catchy as anything and never fails to have me cranking the volume. And, the ballad “With Arms Wide Open” is a pretty soaring piece of rock. But…original? Not even close. And the rest of the album, with it’s blatant nods to the Seattle grunge movement would be laughable if they weren’t so serious about it all. The band sound pretty tight and are well produced but that cannot hide the fact that this may be the single most unoriginal slab of plastic and aluminum I’ve ever heard.

Neve – Neve, Portrait, 2000
[Similarities: Mars Electric, Marvelous 3, Lit]
Has somebody put something in the water? How else to explain all these fabulous new pop/rock acts that borrow liberally from both late 70s power pop and 80s arena rock? Those with a flair for the power pop tip of melodic rock will think they’ve died and gone to heaven when hearing songs like “Six Feet Under”, “Motor” and the strings filled ballad “Absent”. Also notable is the very glammy “Anything” which actually reminds me of the sound that Motley Crue has been striving for as of late. It gets harder and harder to review albums like this and come up with something new to say, but this is as good as all the other great pop releases as of late and if it’s your bag, add this to your shopping list pronto.

Nine Days – The Maddening Crowd, Sony, 2000
[Similarities: Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, Vertical Horizon]
Hugely catchy roots pop with more bite than is usually heard and seemingly influenced by 80s arena rock. Undoubtedly you’ve heard the first single, “Absolutely (The Story of A Girl)”. The rest of the album follows suit as songs like the Bon Jovi-esque “Sometimes”, the bombastic “257 Weeks” and the brash “Back To Me” should be all over radio in due time. Even the slower edge fare like “Bitter” strikes all the right chords. Lyrically, they are a notch above the competition and seem to forgo the obvious downbeat modern rock trappings. Nothing all that original but very well done and of the twelve songs there is not a moment that leaves you bored. Add this band to an ever-growing line of new rock acts destined to rule the charts, and deservedly so.

Michael Nitro – Counting The Days, Seymour, 1999
[Similarities: Tesla, Badlands, Black Crowes]
OK…I admit, when I saw the name Michael Nitro, I didn’t hold out much hope, given the silly moniker and all. But DAMN if this isn’t some tasty (and at times very original) blues and funk soaked hard rock that is unpretentious and unforgiving. Though some of the lyrics get bogged down in classic rock clichés, the music more than makes up for this. Influenced by the past, Michael’s own spin on things keeps it interesting with tracks like the funky “Get A Life”, the stomping “Hell’s Train” and the very melodic and building “Belgium” making their own loud impression on the rock world. Though he loses me on the drawn out and brash “Psychotic Plans”, I guess everyone is entitled to a bad moment or two. Thoroughly impressive and a whole lot of fun to listen to. [Samples are available at the band’s page at MP3.Com]

Styx – Brave New World, CMC, 1999
[Similarities: Queensryche, Kansas, Damn Yankees]
Not the most immediate album considering the artist but I have to admit, I was hooked after a couple of spins. More Tommy Shaw then Dennis De Young, it’s modern sounding yet there’s no doubting this is Styx, especially on the glorious harmonies that surround practically every chorus. Whether it’s the darker edged title track, the thumping acoustics of “Best New Face” or the Chicago-esque “Great Expectations”, this album should not be relegated to one listen but rather be given a chance to nurture. There are a couple of bum moments. “Fallen Angel” is different but not in a good way. “Heavy Water” is a tad dark and heavy and feels very out of place. Overall, the signature sound of over the top keyboards may not be present but this guitar driven disc brings the classic band into the new millennium rather nicely. While not entirely essential, it’s nothing the band should feel ashamed of either.

Toad The Wet Sprocket – PS (A Toad Retrospective), Columbia, 2000
[Similarities: Gin Blossoms, Crowded House, Hootie & The Blowfish]
Absolutely essential collection for anyone who likes jangly power pop. Besides all their various radio hits (like “Come Down”, “All I Want”, “Walk On The Ocean” and “Fall Down”) you also get remixes, b-sides and a pair of new tunes, all as good as any of their singles. For the uninitiated, Toad had a very melodic sound not unlike Gin Blossoms, though with more of an acoustic edge and is so smooth on the ears. These are the kinds of songs one never gets tired of hearing and if you love just good melodic pop, then this certainly belongs in your collection, if not a semi-permanent home on your CD deck.

Von Groove – 3 Faces Past, Z Records, 2000
[Similarities: Winger, Firehouse, Bon Jovi]
Longtime readers probably know two things about me…I tend to love “unplugged”-like affairs and that I was never a big fan of this Canadian trio. So I purposely went into this “acoustic hits disc” with as open a mind as I could. And I must admit, I did like some of these songs a lot in this newer setting. With songs like “Better Than Ever”, “Lady Blue” and “Tell It To Me” greatly benefiting from this laid back atmosphere, the songs come across as more commercial and not the unfocused hard rock I remember. And “Fooling Yourself” has to be singled out as just awesome. Will this make me a fan? Doubt it…but I may have to give the older songs another spin just to be sure. At least I now have something from this band I can consider a “keeper” for my collection. And for what it’s worth, I’ve been listening to this disc a lot since I got it, even more so than albums I consider “Album Of The Year” contenders…

Wonderland – The End Of Bliss, Jerico/Sire, 2000
[Similarities: Queen, Paul McCartney/Wings, Jellyfish]
This is possibly the freshest sounding disc I’ve heard in a long while. Wonderland has an original sound that brings to mind the versatility of Queen (vocalist Scott Kail is also, at times, a dead ringer for Freddie). Whether it’s the pop sounds of “Wait Until The Morning Comes” and “I Can See You Crying”, the driving rock of “Jimmy” and “Later On” or the hard to describe fare like “Peppermint Girl”, this album has so many different sounds/styles yet never feels fractured at all. Original and inspiring, these are the kinds of songs that make you feel passionate about being a music fan. Sounding as good on the tenth listen as it does the first, this is easily one of the best of the year (and maybe of year’s past as well). Buy buy buy!

(Re)Views From The Hill:

House Of Lords - House Of Lords, Axe Killer, 2000 (re-issue)
France’s Axe Killer labels latest re-issue is the House of Lords first album (CD). This has always been one of my favorite albums, and I was eager to hear the "new and improved" version.

A bit of background, House Of Lords was formed out of the group "Giuffria"(who released 2 albums, the 1984 self-titled, and the 1986 Silk + Steel). Greg Giuffria (keyboards), Lanny Cordola (guitar), Chuck Wright (bass- who played on the first G. album) and new members, drummer Ken Mary, and vocalist James Christian (who exec producer and label owner Gene Simmons had recommended).The two later releases from this group featured various band members (between the two Giuffria albums, and the three HOL albums, there was never the same line-up twice)! A few songs on this album (Pleasure Palace, Slip of the Tongue, Under Blue Skies, and Jealous Heart) were written during the Giuffria time period, with then vocalist David Glen Isley sharing the writing credit.

If you have always had this album, as I have (which originally came out on CD, Cassette, *and* vinyl in 1988 on now-defunct Simmons label) there are no surprises. If not, you missed a classic and now is your chance. The album is a heavy keyboard driven (with a great extended keyboard based intro. to the first track, Pleasure Palace), yet with the guitar parts blending and countering perfectly. The songs range from the heavier side (Pleasure Palace, Slip of the Tongue, Hearts of the World) to upbeat melodic rockers (I Wanna Be Loved, Lookin’ for Strange, Under Blue Skies, Call My Name) to a heavy/power-ballad style where the band really achieves their own sound (Edge Of Your Life, Love Don’t Lie, Jealous Heart). A bonus is the 1 minute acoustic guitar piece by Lanny Cordola prior to the last track, Jealous Heart. This album seems to continue in the direction that the band Giuffria was going in, although overall it’s heavier than Silk + Steel, yet the instrument arrangements are similar. It is also similar to the two other HOL releases, Sahara (also recently re-issued by Axe Killer) and the hard to find Demon’s Down, as well as James Christian’s solo album, Rude Awakening.

Regarding the "re-packaged" version, I have to give high marks. The original packaging was a black and white booklet with lyrics and credits. (The vinyl version had a clear plastic insert, no lyrics, credits on the back cover.) The Axe Killer version has a full color booklet, with lyrics, credits, individual member photos and a group photo, and a brief one page liner note mainly on the background of Greg and his previous bands. The back insert has the serial number listed out of the 3000 copies being made, and the jewel case comes in a cardboard outer sleeve, with a larger front cover emblem, and the song listing on the back. The "bonus track" …well, it’s actually a remix of Love Don’t Lie, which appears to be the "radio edit" (read: shorter) version. The second verse is cut out, some background vocals are removed, and the guitar is a bit buried compared to the full length version. I suspect that this remix is the same version that was previously available on the CD single back in ’88. As for re-mastering, I compared it to the original CD version, and the re-mastered version has an overall higher output volume, the bass and high end are accentuated, yet the guitar volume is mixed back (although I think this is just a perceptive result of having the bass and high end increased). It sounds to me as if the "re-mastering" was done by processing the master through a compressor and aural exciter, with slight equalization, as opposed to performing a full remix of the original multitrack tape. Overall, the sound quality of this version just blows away the original -- greater highs, greater lows, and overall clarity.

This album is a collection of well-written songs, expertly arranged, well played, and has a very current heavy kicking sound, especially considering it was originally recorded in 1988. What I feel set this band apart and defined their sound was the complex interplay between the keyboards and guitars. Both are very strong, yet don’t try to overpower each other. All of the songs achieve a sense of power, and retain melodic elements -- no screaming or repetitious riffing here! One of my fav albums and a great example of melodic/hard rock. This album originally came out with the right sound at the right time, and it’s nice to see it re-issued now. Even if you already have the original CD,(or CD and vinyl as I do) the re-issue is worth picking up for the improved sound quality alone, and the booklet is a bonus! There is even an order form for a HOL "Sahara" T-shirt!

With the recent news that HOL has reformed (with the line-up from this album) to do a new studio album, I look forward to new material from this group. - Mike

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

OK, back from holiday, but not refreshed! Is it just me, or does every where you look give you the impression that any melodic rock comeback is fizzling out completely? Maybe it was all a bit of pipedream anyway....

Regardless of that thought I'd update you on a few bits and pieces of news this time around:

In Australia John Farnham has a new album coming out on August 4th. It's called "33 1/3" but I don't know too much about who plays on it, or anything like that. A single called "Trying to Live my Life Without You" has already been issued. Excellent Australia guitarist Tommy Emmanuel also has a new album out called "Only" and he's embarking on a tour of Australia from late August through to mid-September.

Something that does begin to worry me is that the number of melodic releases in Japan seems to be slowing down. That market in Japan always seems to have been insulated from everything else that's happening in the other music markets worldwide, and any drop-off in the number of releases there could be the start of something very sinister!

Some of the new stuff that IS coming out in Japan at the moment is yet another solo album from ex-Mr Big guitarist Paul Gilbert. This one’s called "Alligator Farm" and it's available right now. Jeff Golub's slightly disappointing "Dangerous Curces" is also out there too with one bonus track. Kansas' new one also gets a bonus track for Japan and Steek Talk's "Transition" just cam out with two bonus tracks. There's also a few interesting DVDs coming out in Japan right now: two from Japanese fusion band T-Square (60 minute "Live Natural" and 52 minute "Magalith), and Rush's "Exit... Stage Left" which has a running time of a slightly miserly 59 minutes.

Gypsy Soul, who remain one of my favourite cross-over bands have just started recording their fifth CD. The fourth - "Superstition Highway" has still to see a commercial release, but they're going back into the studio anyway to commence a mostly acoustic project. More details from and they're even taking some requests for the new album!

Reader profiles:

Name: Todd Petersen

Place where you live: Crystal Lake, Illinois

Age: 33

Favorite Artist: Queen

Favorite Song: Don't Look Back – Boston

Favorite Ballad: Don't Let It End - Styx

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

Ear Candy - Kings X
A Night At the Opera – Queen
Age of Impact - Explorers Club
Vienna – Ultravox
Scenes - Marty Friedman
Rising Force - Yngwie Malmsteen
Heaven and Hell – Vangelis
2112 – Rush
Rendezvous - Jean-Michael Jarre
Liquid Tension Experiment 2 - Liquid Tension Experiment

Website: (my cd-r trade site)

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


From: Michael Paul

Subject: Def Leppard in mass
Hey guys, I went to see Def Leppard in Mansfield, MA last night and let me say something: It was total Hysteria!!! (pun intended..) They tore up the place with melodic rock and roll and a set list that threw in some of the biggest surprises imaginable!!! Here's the skinny:

They came on at about 8:30. The seats were almost all full with the exception of some in the back corners..I missed the opening band, but who cares? The Leps opened with Rock Rock til you drop. When they came out, I could tell the boys were on their game and looking good. Joe lost about 15 pounds and his hair has grown back a bit. He also took that awful light blond color out of it and it looks like joe Circa 1988. Sav has started to regrow his hair and it looks much better when its all down around him. Phil came out in all black and it only took 2 songs before his shirt came off. Vivian and Rick looked the same as ever..

They played a 2 hour set that included songs that they had never played before and have since dropped from the setlist. Heres what I can remember:

Rock rock til you drop, Action (from retroactive!!!!), Women, Make love like a man (couldn't believe this one!!), Foolin, Animal, Hysteria, Paper sun, Excitable (they never played this!!!! what a surprise!), Two steps behind (acoustic), Bringing on the heartbreak (1/2 acoustic, then electric), Gods of war (this was awesome!!!), Promises, Slang, Rocket, Armageddon it, Photograph, Rock of Ages, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Encores: Love Bites, Do you wanna get rocked?,

I was absolutely stunned and very happy to hear some of the rare lep tunes like gods of war and excitable. Excitable is the worst song on hysteria but thats like being the worst 1000 dollar bill in a wallet if you know what I mean..I couldn't believe it when they ripped into Make love like a man. I never thought I'd hear that again..

This was the first show of this half of the tour so I am not sure how the setlist will endure but it was just a great mix of stuff with an emphasis on Hysteria/Pyromania.

If I had to give them a critique it would be that they should put more back into their stage show such as pyro or confetti or bring the lasers back. They never used any pyro or confetti though from what I can remember...

All in all this was one of my favorite lep shows ever. Had it been "In the Round" like the early 90s, it would have topped them all. Whether you judge Def Leppard by how many different guitars Phil uses on stage each night, how long it takes for Joe to tell the crowd that they're the loudest crowd he's ever heard or by the 2 hours of great melodic fist pumping music, this is your show. The Leps have once again shown me why they are my favorite and undeniably one of the best Rock and Roll Bands out there. Pour Some Sugar on that!


From: TwistedWays

Subject: A Few Thoughts…
Just wanted to mention that you were right on the money with the Babys  reissued/remastered Anthology CD. I *finally* got around to putting it in my CD player and *wow*, the quality is tremendous, and all those "extra" songs they put on are simply amazing! In the ole 5 disc changer, I've got, in order, Great White - Once Bitten; Compilation - Guitars That Rule the World; Van Hagar - 5150; new Babys Anthology; and Toad the Wet Sprocket - Fear.  The latter 2 are great back to back....

Also, a mentioned Vertical Horizon...I really like "Everything You Want", but the rest of the CD didn't do a whole lot for me (which was unfortunate, since I had high hopes for it).  However, another new band that is worth a listen is 3 Doors Down. Don't recall if you've reviewed them at all, but they currently are getting a bunch of M2 / VH1 airplay for "Kryptonite" (very cool video). I picked up their disc, too, and it's a solid listen.

[It took me a few spins because I thought the very same thing of Vertical Horizon. I have now grown to love it and it hardly leaves my car player.]

From: Jeff Maher

Subject: Samantha 7
I read Marty’s review of Samantha 7.  I was wondering, how do the songs compare to "I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine," the song CC sings on Poison's Power To The People?  Are they similar?  Way off? 

I'm interested in hearing/buying this album, but current financial difficulties have forced me to be more picky about the CDs I buy.  I haven't even bought the new Crue album yet...  soon though.

 Thanx and keep up the good work