“And the smallest streams, run to the rivers
 And every river, runs to the sea
 And every little bit of love I give to another
 You know what I believe, it comes back to me”

- Rick Springfield, Karma

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·      Editor and nonsense creator - Kurt Torster

Keepers of all that's nonsensical:

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·        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:

Got a hold of the new Journey album. It’s still due out in Japan in October and I think it may be worth it to pick it up. I love it and don’t know how any self-respecting Journey fan could possibly wait.

Good to see the announced Bon Jovi US dates. I’ll be there at the Meadowlands November 16. The album and single are starting to catch on in a big way here in the states. Should give the mainstream a nice injection of melodic rock.

Speaking of, I personally think the mainstream music scene is as strong now as ever as far as the melodic side of things is concerned. Sure it’s not AOR in the purest sense, but who among us can deny just how good artists like Sister Hazel, Marvelous 3, Tsar, Neve, Mars Electric, Matchbox Twenty, BB Mak, Hanson or Even And Jaron are? At least here in New York, radio is once again a joy to listen to with WPLJ playing one great song after another. And I’ve also become somewhat hooked on New Country (thanks to CMT), as it simply amazes me how close in sound a lot of the artists are to early 80s AOR. Just check out Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Lonestar or Collin Raye for proof of this. It is a good time to be a melodic music fan again.

News Bytes:

Get your VCR’s ready…this Friday night, September 22, on VH-1 it’s a night of Bon Jovi, kicking off with their Behind The Music show and moving into a live 90 minute edition of Storytellers. The band also announced the dates for the first leg of their US tour (with openers rumored to be either Marvelous 3, Sister Hazel or Neve):

Nov. 3: Charlotte, N.C. (Independence Arena)
Nov. 5: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (National Car Rental Center)
Nov. 8: Boston (Fleet Center)
Nov. 10: Philadelphia (First Union Spectrum)
Nov. 12: Pittsburgh (Civic Arena)
Nov. 14: Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (First Union Arena)
Nov. 16: E. Rutherford, N.J. (Continental Airlines Arena)
Nov. 18: Detroit (Palace Of Auburn Hills)
Nov. 20: Chicago (Rosemont Horizon)
Nov. 22: Indianapolis (Conseco Fieldhouse)
Nov. 24: St. Louis (Savvis Center)
Nov. 25: Cincinnati (FirstStar Center)
Nov. 27: Toronto (Air Canada Centre)
Nov. 28: Montreal (Molson Centre)

As previously reported in SFK, it has been confirmed that Journey’s Arrival” will be released in Japan on October 18. It will contain one bonus track. And not that I condone this sort of thing, but if you absolutely cannot wait until next year, the album is all over Napster.

Don Henley will offer a remixed version of his next single, “For My Wedding”, in a country version.

The European release of Asia’s Aura” has been delayed until early 2001.

Escape will be offering up a tribute to Foreigner, featuring artists from their roster including members of Alliance, Heartland, Firefly, Intruder, The Message, Departure, Pokerface, Strande and Change Of Heart.

Phil Collins will reunite with Genesis, for at least one show on September 21 at the London Hilton for the British Roll Of Honour.

Also rumored to be reuniting for a live show and possible live album are Tesla. As reported way back when in SFK, the band hope to play an October 25 show in Sacramento, CA.

November 21 seems to be the release date for the DVD of Bruce Springsteen’s Live >From Madison Square Garden”.

The new album from Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force, “War To End All Wars”, features 14 tracks, clocking in at over 65 minutes. The tracklisting: 'Prophet Of Doom', 'Crucify', 'Bad Reputation', 'Catch 22', 'Masquerade', 'Arpeggios From Hell', 'Miracle Of Life', 'Wizard', 'Prelude', 'Wild One', 'Tarot', 'Instrumental Institution', 'War To End All Wars', and 'Black Sheep Of The Family'.

The next single from Faith Hill, Never Gonna Be Your Lady”, will be available for download from Faith’s website.

Savannah release their latest album, “Forever’s Come And Gone”, on October 23.

Michael Mueller and Barish Kepic of Jaded Heart started a new project called Fate Of Nations.

Look for Snakes In Paradise to sign with MTM.

The Offspring plan to release their new album for free in MP3 format on their website, a full month before the official retail release.

Rare MP3 Of The Week:

Ex-Jellyfish member Jason Falkner has recorded his own spin on Def Leppard’s Photograph”. If you were ever curious to hear a power pop rendition of the song done in a 3-minute blast, now’s your chance.

Noteworthy New Releases:

HARVEY DANGER - King James Audio
JOAN OSBORNE - Righteous Love
STEVE WALSH - Glossolalia

Moldy Oldys:

[What’s kicking old school on the SFK Deck O’ Death this week:]
Faster Pussycat – The Best Of, Cliff Richard – 1980s, Dan Reed Network – Live At Last, Rick Springfield – Tao, Little Texas - Superhits

Kurt’s Picks:

Bryan Adams – The Best Of Me, A & M, 1999
[Similarities: Bad Company, Tina Turner, Neil Diamond]
Focusing on the handful of albums released after his last hits collection, this is a hit and miss collection of overplayed ballads, unplugged tracks and some great rockers along with a new song, the midtempo title track. Overall there are some gems buried within if you can get past all the sappiness of huge hits like “Everything I Do”, “All For Love” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. I found myself skipping tracks just to get to songs like “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started”, “Back To You” and “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me”, which to me hardly signifies “the best”, and only made me remember when this guy had the magic touch rather than the balladeer hand he plays now. Where are such great songs are “There Will Never Be Another Tonight” or “I Wanna Be Your Underwear”, both sizable singles? This is a really sad cash in attempt from a man who once knew how to rock.

Matt Bruno – Punch And Beauty, Parasol, 2000
[Similarities: Jason Falkner, Matthew Sweet, Brian Wilson]
It’s not often that “power pop” and “heartfelt” are found in the same sentence, yet on this release from Matt Bruno, you will find just that. Sounding influenced by people like Phil Spector or The Beatles, this is far from a nostalgia trip and very firmly rooted in today. I hate to come across as goofy but these songs are both punchy and beautiful. The rockers, like “On Top Of The World” and “Dancing”, are full of so many catchy hooks you’ll be unsure of what to do with them all, while ballads like “So Unlikely” and the incredible “Simply Yours” are grand yet fragile and from the heart. And if there were any justice in this world, someone would take "Lover May I?" and turn it into a huge hit. Lyrically everything here is very intelligent and mostly devoid of clichés. Matt’s voice is a touch low in a Bowie sort of way but it does nothing to detract from the music. Exactly what the pop world needs more of, artists not afraid to take some chances and put new spins on things.

Green Day – Warning, WEA, 2000
[Similarities: The Knack, The Beatles, The Kinks]
Mature is the first word that pops into mind upon listening, and that’s a good thing. While that brashy power pop/punk sound is still remotely in the background, this for the most part is a radically different Green Day then most will remember. The opening combo of the title track and “Blood Sweat And Booze” are acoustic stompers that actually reminded me of The Alarm. The whole album is a throwback to various classic rock sounds and not at all what I expected. While the band has always had an ear for big ‘ear candy’ melodies, tis time out they are still there though the buzzsaw chords have been calmed a bit. Acoustic guitars dominate most of the mix. This is from beginning to end one of the most toe-tapping entertaining discs of late. Just try to deny your ears songs like “Dead Beat” or “Minority”. And with tunes like “Castaway” or “Hold On” even mixing up the sounds a bit, this eclectic bunch of songs shows depth far beyond what anyone probably imagined a couple of years back. Considering that they lost most of the fickle fans they’ve made over the years, this is a huge step towards gaining a lot of them back.

SR-71 – Now You See Inside, RCA, 2000
[Similarities: Mars Electric, Neve, Goo Goo Dolls]
Another of the new breed of melodic power pop bands, SR-71 has it all going on. Crunchy riffs, big sing along choruses and the more than capable vocals of Mitch Allan. And like all the other bands of late in this genre, they have more in common with late 80s hair metal than anything else. The phrases “bubble gum” and “ear candy” kept filling my mind as catchy songs like “Right Now”, “What A Mess” and “Fame” have me grooving along with not a care. Could this be the first hard rock boy band? The comparison is not too far off the mark as these pretty boys can rock. I think we said the same thing about a lot of bands 15 years ago. Roll down the windows and crank this one up…LOUD.

Tsar – Tsar, Hollywood, 2000
[Similarities: Cheap Trick, Poison, old Kiss]
Say what you will about the current state of the music scene but I think it’s great and getting better all the time. I can’t remember the last time we had so many good bands kicking around (ie. Neve, Mars Electric, Matchbox Twenty, Savage Garden, etc.). Well, get ready to add Tsar to the list, and clear them a spot at the top. Filled with big anthemic melodies, Tsar may be the cream of the crop when it comes to the new breed of melodic rock. Whether you’re looking for bruising rock like “I Don’t Wanna Break Up” and “Kathy Fong Is The Bomb” or you’re willing to tone it down a notch like on “Ordinary Girl” and “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die”, you will be hard pressed to find anything out of sorts here. May be the best power pop release of the year.

Barry Williams – The Return Of Johnny Bravo, Good Guy, 1999
[Similarities: I couldn’t if I tried!]
Yes, this is the same Barry Williams that played Greg Brady (who I guess in turn played Johnny Bravo). I know this is supposed to be a goof but ya know what? Barry can actually sing. He’s got a very Dennis De Young quality to his vocals and I would imagine with the right material, the results could be pretty good. But that’s where the niceties end. This is just so awful I cannot convey how bad this is. I know it’s all tongue in cheek but his license to sing should be revoked after hearing what he did to songs by Queen, the Bee Gees or Huey Lewis. I’m left speechless.

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

[Nothing this week. How about if I offer up a joke instead?]

Nuns are expected to make one final confession before being admitted to Heaven to become angels. When several nuns died together in a car accident, they formed a line waiting to be absolved of their sins before being made holy. "And so," asked St. Peter of the first nun, "have you ever had any contact with a penis?" "Well, " she replied, "Once I did touch just the tip of one with the tip of my finger." "Okay," said St. Peter, "dip your finger in the holy water and pass on into Heaven." The next nun admitted, "Well, once I sort of massaged one a bit." "Okay," said St. Peter, "rinse your hand in the holy water and pass on into Heaven." Suddenly there was a jostling in the line. "What's going on here?" St. Peter asked as two nuns jockeyed for position in line. "Well, your excellency, if I'm gonna have to gargle, I want to do it before Sister Mary Thomas sticks her butt in!"

AOR Basement (Ian McIntosh):

[Ian is taking care of some personal business and should return next week.]

Reader profiles:

Name: Nikki Vaughan

Place where you live:  Gold Coast, Australia

Age: 32

Favorite artist: (this week) Bon Jovi/Marvelous 3

Favorite song:  changes every week, this week = It's My Life

Favorite  ballad :  I Remember You

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

changes from week to week, but here tis now:-

Marvelous 3 - Hey! Album
The Badloves - Holy Roadside
Moving Pictures - The Ultimate Collection
Bon Jovi – Crush
Richie Sambora - Stranger in this Town
Paul Rodgers - Muddy Water Blues
Slaughter - Stick It To Ya
Def Leppard – Hysteria
Jeff Buckley – Grace

and i'd have to make an mp3 compilation of the best of the best as my 10th incl. Hardline / Cheap Trick / Danger Danger / Tal Bachman / Baby Animals / Jimmy Barnes / Van Halen / Extreme / Skid Row / Damn Yankees / Cinderella / Jude Cole / GnR / Don Henley / Motley Crue / Warrant / Mr Big / Tesla / Noiseworks / Pearl Jam / Queen / Bad Company / Roxus / Thin Lizzy / U2 / Zakk Wylde / John Farnham / Black Crowes

Website: none

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



Subject: album of the year
Everclear: Songs From An American Movie Vol. 1: Learning How To Smile

This is totally awesome. Even beats Sister Hazel and the Goo Goo Dolls (barely, but still :))

The songs are just "wonderful", the pictures are incredibly funny. These people are real characters, and also great musicians. The two singles "Wonderful", "Am Radio" are just a teaser of how good this record is, including a totally awesome, fresh rendition of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl".

Sorry kids, this (and other great stuff like Evan & Jaron, Marv3, Sister Hazel, Vertical Horizon, 3rd Eye Blind, etc.) is what's left of melodic rock. Or I should say, the resurgence we were waiting for came in a totally different way, from a totally different direction. But it totally kicks ass!

Zsolt Jeszenszky, musical director, Radio Bridge
listen online w/ RealPlayer at:

From: pritchard michael

I wanted to follow up on what Ian said in the last issue, regarding MP3 going in the wrong direction. I agree completely!! Speaking as someone who makes music and has hands in production, it makes me sick to think that people would convert something that others have worked very hard to get the best possible tone, sound, etc. into absolute crap! MP3 will never sound as good as a full fidelity, uncompressed medium. I remember when this might have mattered to people.

However, I fear, we are doomed to be plagued by MP3 and other, similar systems, for a long time. Look at the Beta vs VHS wars of the 80's. VHS won out over a far better format, because it was cheaper. Period. The masses don't care about quality any more. The "dollar" is the bottom line. Why pay more for something you can get for almost nothing??

I would agree that for sending files over the internet or perhaps for bands posting demo material on web pages, MP3 is fine. You wouldn't expect perfection here. I keep hoping that that's as far as things go and that we keep the CD or DVD, in some form, for a long time...unless a *better* system comes along.

Personally, after hearing an MP3 demo, I decided that I would never, ever use such a poor sounding system. I'll hold out to the end. And yes, I do still have a working Beta VCR. <grin>

[I personally think that MP3s are GREAT for sampling tunes before you buy but I personally want the whole package...the artwork, the liners, etc. And lately, thanks to Napster, I've been able to download albums I've been reviewing, and if I wind up liking them, I am one of the few (I suppose) that actually buys the album simply for the reasons both you and I stated.]