”There are three essential Commandments:

·        Respect The Elders.

·        Embrace The New.

·        Encourage The Impractical and Improbable, Without Bias.

-David Fricke”

Official Nonsense:

·      Editor and witless moron - Kurt Torster

Other people that may be morons:

·        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

All e-mail should be directed to

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Bloomfield, NJ 07003 USA

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Kurt's Krap:

My cable company just added CMT (Country Music TV) and I must say I’m hooked. I cannot believe how many of these acts sound inspired by the early 80s AOR.

A lot of good mainstream releases as of late or due soon. Look for reviews of new albums from Green Day, The Wallflowers, Marvelous 3 and the Barenaked Ladies over the next few weeks.

News Bytes:

More news on the upcoming special edition of Rick Springfield’s Alive”. The price is $65 (pre-order paid in full) and admittedly contains some amazing bonus footage for the fans which includes: the ENTIRE set of 4-track demos from the “Working Class Dog” album (recorded by Rick right after they were written), three unreleased songs from 1983 (“Smile For The Camera”, “The Human Sea” and “LIO”), new studio recordings of “Christmas Eve In Memphis” and “My Father’s Chair” and on and off stage video footage from the “Karma” tour. Each of the 5500 copies will be personally signed by Rick. Head to his website to order. The single disc retail version will be out in early 2001.

From the “if it’s too loud” file: Def Leppard had to hand out refunds after complaints that their concert at the Oregon State Fair was too quiet. A city noise ordinance prevented the band from playing any louder.

Sammy Hagar is claiming that David Lee Roth is out of the supposed Van Halen reunion and is currently in he hospital having back surgery.

Thunderstruck 2001, a convention in honor of Thunder will be held in June of 2001 in Blackpool, UK and will feature performances from Bob Catley, Ten and The Promise. More info at the website.

Shy will release their reunion album in 2001 and features the songs “Heaven Tonight”, “Sky Diving”, “Communicate” and “Marie Ann”.

AOR Heaven will be releasing new albums from Alyson Avenue, SayIt and Gatling Gun over the next month or so.

Unfortunately, due to back problems of his own, the Jimmy Page/Black Crowes tour of the US and Europe has been cancelled.

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson will be doing the music for the upcoming sci-fi television series Andromeda.

New at Camp Chaos, the Fire Bad! Game where you must extinguish flames from Metallica’s James Hetfield.

MTM kicks off their Metal subdivision with the release of Toxsin.

Lenny Kravitz will release “Greatest Hits” on October 24. It features fourteen songs including "American Woman”, "Fly Away”, "Black Velveteen”, "I Belong To You”, "Let Love Rule”, "Stand By My Woman”, "Mr. Cab Driver”, "Always On The Run”, "It Ain't Over Till It's Over”, "Are You Gonna Go My Way”, "Believe”, "Heaven Help”, "Rock and Roll Is Dead”, and "Can't Get You Off My Mind" as well as a new track, "Again”.

Eddie Trunk, host of the very cool Saturday Night Rocks radio show on WNEW in New York has his own website. Check it out.

Ten’s recent release “Babylon” entered the German album charts at #100. This is the first time a release from Now & Then/Frontiers has charted in a European country. Congrats to all involved.

Kip Winger has singed with Now & Then/Frontiers to release his album “Songs From The Ocean Floor”. He will be performing acoustically at the Gods 2000.

Out Of The Silent Planet” will be the second single from Iron Maiden’s Brave New World” album.

Someone please make it stop! I got word that there are tributes to Michael Schenker, Aerosmith and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the works.

October 7 on US Pay Per View you can catch Kiss taped at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Third Eye Blind already have their next two singles lined up, “Wounded” and “10,000 Julys”. Their planned EP release of “Slow Motion” has been put on hold until next year.

Rare MP3 Of The Week:

Instead of going rare this week, I decided to every so often offer up a song from an album I feel was CRIMINALLY ignored. This week, check out the hard rocking “Animal Heart” from Glass Tiger’s Simple Mission” album. You will not believe this is the same band that released more poppy songs like “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone”.

Noteworthy New Releases:

Various Artists - VH1: The Best of Where Are They Now?

Moldy Oldys:

[What’s kicking old school on the SFK Deck O’ Death this week:]
Glass Tiger – Simple Mission, Shadowland – The Beauty Of Escaping, It’s Alive – Earthquake Visions, Brian Wilson – Live At The Roxy, George Michael – Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best Of

Kurt’s Picks:

400 Horses – 400 Horses, A2, 2000
[Similarities: Kiss, Hair Of The Dog, Aerosmith]
Slogging old school metal album that did nothing for me. Every so often it would catch my ears with a nice injection of horns or a cowbell, but this is one of those ‘heard it all before’ releases that sadly has nothing new to offer the genre. Steve Plunkett-like vocals surround some tasty lead guitars but the songs left a lot to be desired. About the only song that hooked me from start to finish was “Over And Done” where the band pulls off their best Autograph impression. Even though the verses were nothing special, every other song has a big chorus that is pretty hard to put off. I have a sneaking suspicion this won’t be the last we hear of 400 Horses and there’s a good chance they will only get better.

Gary Barlow – Twelve Months Eleven Days, BMG, 1999
[Similarities: Savage Garden, George Michael, Robbie Williams]
Very likable radio pop that is also very forgettable, which is it’s biggest sin. Nothing here is all that bad and some of the songs certainly have hit potential (with “For All That You Want” and “Stronger” dominating the mix) but the whole album just had a feeling of “background music”. Pleasant to listen to and you may even hum along here and there but nothing here grabs you and makes you want to play it. The ballad “All That I’ve Given Away” sounds like a Mike & The Mechanics outtake and has some very nice soulful harmonies. Gary is a very good singer, he just needs to surround himself with better material.

Fastball – The Harsh Light Of Day, Hollywood, 2000
[Similarities: Sister Hazel, Marvelous 3, Cheap Trick]
Unfairly pegged as a “one hit wonder”, this album proves this Texas group still has a lot of life left in them. The album kicks off with the blazing “This Is Not My Life” and rarely lets up from there, only slowing down for the occasion ballad. With can’t miss singles like the amazingly catchy arena rocker “You’re An Ocean”, “Wind Me Up” and “Morning Star” (which reminds me of Steve Miller in his prime) surrounded by slower but none the less infectious ear candy like “Goodbye” or “Dark Street”, they’ve managed to better their last effort (which I personally thought was great) and have merged the worlds of power pop and melodic rock rather nicely. And as long as they keep taking chances on songs like “Love Is Expensive And Free” or “Vampires”, it gives me hope that other acts can answer the challenge.

Higher Ground – Perfect Chaos, ProActive, 2000
[Similarities: Toto, Survivor, Marillion]
I couldn’t knock this one if I tried. Though maybe a touch formulaic in bits, that’s about the worst I could say here. A near perfect blend of Westcoast AOR and harder edged melodic rock, Sweden’s Higher Ground has come up aces. The first listen through your mind is thinking it’s good…not great…but good. Each listen changes that opinion for the better. Songs that may have been dismissed first time out as filler become favorites after a while which gives the album something that the genre desperately needs…legs. In other words you won’t get bored too quickly. Though Toto is the strongest comparison by far, so many other bands spring to mind at any given time. Some songs are great from the start. “Forever On My Mind”, “Freedom” and “Turns Into Stone” are as strong as anything in recent memory. While the rest may take some time to digest, it’s well worth the investment of time. The heirs to Toto’s Westcoast kingdom…

Steve Walsh – Glossolalia, Magna Carta, 2000
[Similarities: Marillion, 90125 era Yes, Meat Loaf]
When the title track came blaring out of my speakers I had, for a second, thought someone had mislabeled a Soundgarden CD with this one. Heavy as shit, quirky as hell and not at all what I was expecting, I had wondered where the disc was going from here (“I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”). Playing much like musical theater, the songs range from the majestic (“Serious Wreckage” and “Kansas”) to the down and dirty (the big arena rocker “Heart Attack” and the Dream Theater-ish “Smacking The Clowns”). Not an album to be taken in one sitting, and certainly nothing that has any instant appeal, this is thinking man’s prog that is both eclectic and extreme. It is also the kind of album, depending on your musical tastes, that is either a reawakening of your musical soul or a huge pile of pompous horseshit. Personally, any album that can stir two such passionate and opposite sides is impressive. A mighty release that, in years, may be considered a classic.

(Re)Views From The Hill:
[Note: these are reviews done by outside contributors and not myself – Kurt]

King Prawn: Surrender to the Blender, Spitfire Records
[similarities: The Clash, The Specials, Kid Rock]
King Prawn are an English foursome who do several different types of music, not much of it any good. Most of this disk is derivative of one genre or other. It is a mixture of rap-rock, hip-hop and ska. Never really gets going in the end. As with a lot of this genre its highly political, very left wing. As the name of the album suggests is a mish-mash of styles.

There is some interesting stuff on here. "Someone to Hate", which is the first single in the UK, is a hip-hop flavored distorted vocals and strings kinda thing. "No Peace" is a pretty catchy punk-ska outing with the requisite horns and some rifting that sounds a bit like Anthrax circa "I’m the Man." "Your Worst Enemy" is a very catchy old school 80s ska track that gets your feet tapping, very danceable. "Espiritu du Carnival" is an instrumental that has some great horns and drumming, making it damn catchy.

Listening to this disc reminds you of why some of those 80s ska bands were so good and why imitators are so bad. It’s not worth much at all, except as a mild curiosity. Hard to get into after repeated listens, it is a wonder that Spitfire is handling these guys as most of the label’s output is of the utmost quality.

If you would like more info on this lot Or head to the Spitfire website.

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

Back again this issue, but on-going mess here might mean this column might be "Missing In Action" at some other point of the coming weeks....

Anyway, here's an issue that I'm increasing feeling is worthy of debate: does MP3 devalue music?

My main issue is sound quality. CD is already less than perfect music delivery method where you can spend a lot of cash on a player to get very small incremental improvements. MP3 is way inferior to that and does nothing to make the music alive in any way. In sound quality terms, if something thinks what MP3 produces is acceptable, they either have no standards at all, or a serious hearing deficiency. It strikes me as bizarre that while the whole music industry is fighting about what is going to be the next carrier medium, to improve sound quality and stimulate sales, all the focus is on something that has all the subtlety of a tin can with some string attached! Whereas people of one generation can dig out their old vinyl albums and marvel at the production values, that's never going to happen with MP3s, they just can't communicate enough.....

That's why I feel MP3 is devaluing music: it makes music into too much or a disposable commodity. It might well have a role as a means for unsigned bands to distribute their music and to get heard, but that's it. It is also takes the record labels collective eyes off what new music they should be supporting - thanks to MP3 they're all too busy launching court cases against Napster and their ilk, or trying to find copy protection methods which also nearly all denigrate music quality and put far too many business controls in place.

MP3 might sound like a great idea, but it's going in completely the wrong direction....

Reader profiles:

Name:  Neil Thomas

Place where you live:  Oklahoma

Age:  36

Favorite artist: Styx

Favorite song:  Dokken "In My Dreams"

Favorite ballad : Lynch Mob "Dream Until Tomorrow"

10 albums I would take if stranded on a desert island:

Styx "The Grand Illusion"
Bodragaz "Somewhere In Switzerland"
Coney Hatch "Best of Three"
Storyteller "Corridor of Windows"
White Sister "S/T"
Kingdom Come "Master Seven"
Asia "Arena"
Saga "Security of Illusion"
Spys "Spys/Behind Enemy Lines"
Wrabit "Wrough And Ready"
Touch "Complete Works"


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


From: "Mark  Evans"

Subject: Bon Jovi Live at the Brittania Stadium
Hi Kurt, Here's a quick review of Bon Jovi, it's a bit late due to holidays but here goes-

Bon Jovi played Brittania Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent home of my local soccer team Stoke City on August 23rd. It was the biggest gig we've had in Stoke for years and needless to say it sold out pretty quick. I was not very impressed with 'Crush' but I had to go. Support was from Toploader, pretty poor they were too, BJ should have got somebody better! BJ kicked off with 'Livin on a Prayer' and romped through a 2 hour + set of old classics and new songs. Sambora was on excellent form; highlight of the show for me was the guitar solo on 'Next 100 Years'. Awesome !

They finished off with a rollicking version of 'Keep the Faith' and loads of fireworks.

30,000 people went home extremely happy, including me. Bon Jovi still kick ass !!!