Lately we have had many re-issues and re-releases on CD. Even more interesting is the fact that most of these re-issues also contain some unreleased bonustracks. Even more worth spending your money on. The past few months from two groups there is a lot of unreleased and re-issued material available. I'm talking about the groups STARZ and AMERICAN TEARS.
Now available through the website of former STARZ-guitarist RICHIE RANNO are six new CDs of STARZ including mostly unreleased material. These are 4 Live CDs and two CDs filled with Demo Material of STARZ as well as the first HELLCATS release. Below you can read the reviews of 4 of these CDs. Also print are reviews of the 3 re-issued albums of AMERICAN TEARS. These 3 CDs have been released through Frontiers Records. Interesting for the fan of TOUCH and early Progressive/Pomprock.
Also the recordlabel has started their first re-releases/re-issues. The re-release of the debut of PHANTOM'S OPERA is reviewed below, much more to follow...
This CD contains both the obscure and rare first HELLCATS mini-album 'Hellcats 1' and the STARZ mini-live-album 'P*ss party'. The first 5 tracks are the HELLCATS songs and these sound pretty nice and are pure STARZ rockers. Opener "It's alright" is probably the best song on this record, a great uptempo melodic rocker in the pure STARZ style. The following 3 tracks ("You make it swell", "Teenage tiger" and "Rock & Roll man") are all typical nice 70s rockers in the STARZ and KISS direction. Last song of HELLCATS is called "Auto Erotica" and is bringing back some cool melodies.
The other 5 recordings are like I said from the STARZ release 'P*ss party', an album that was first released by Heavy Metal Records back in 1985 and is now for the first time available on CD. The songs are recorded live and include two covers, a Reggea song, a new STARZ song called "P*ss party" (good typical STARZ rocker) and a great interview recorded back in 1976 when the band just had been together for 1 year and was talking about their first album.
If you're a STARZ fan, you can't
miss this release. This CD as well as the below reviewed 3 CDs of STARZ
available through the official website of STARZ
and RICHIE RANNO GROUP
This CD contains a Live recording
of a STARZ concert the band gave in Toronto, Canada back in 1978. The CD
was previously released as 'Live in Canada' on LP by Heavy Metal Records
in 1985, so this is a re-issue. The band has released many Live CDs, but
I think this one is their best, also the sound is pretty good and this
must have been a great concert including the best songs of the band. Great
to hear the best STARZ song ever, "Last night I wrote a letter", in a live
version. This is really fantastic 70s Melodic Rock. Also great to hear
are those classic 70s rockers such as "Outfit", "Subway terror" and "Waitin'
on you". The whole CD is full of that typical 70s Rock'n'Roll. So, if you
want to hear that good-old-time rock'n'roll from the 70s, I can really
recommend this great live CD of one of the best rockbands from the 70s.
Also this Live CD is a recording
of a concert STARZ gave back in 1978. This is a double Live-CD containing
18 tracks and a different setlist than the other live-CD. On this Live
CD I heard the more AOR/Melodic Rockside of STARZ which is really great.
I'm talking about the fantastic songs "She", "Hold on to the night" and
"Anyway you want it" (pure 70s AOR semi rocker/ballad). These songs are
all taken from the 'Violation' album of the band. And can be heard on this
great live CD. Also their classics "Cherry baby", "Waitin' on you", "Fallen
angel" and "Boys in action" are present here. Just a great live CD. Now
we can only hope this classic 70s rockband will get back together again,
just like we saw recently with similar 70s rockacts such as KISS and ANGEL.
This is the first release on the Rewind Recordlabel as a sublabel of SongHaus Music. The debut album of PHANTOM'S OPERA was first released on Long Island Records in 1995, but it never got an official US release, so that's why it has now been fully remastered by the recordlabel of SOJOURN/SPENCER BULLOCK main man Dane Spencer. Besides all the original tracks of that debut, this re-issue is also interesting, because there are 4 new bonustracks added.
"Lie Laura", "Just a matter of time", "It ain't love" and "Lovin' you is a sin" are just a few examples of how good this debut sounded back then and yet still sounds. And now this re-issue of the debut contains also bonustracks. Let's talk about those bonustracks. The first bonus track "Can't stop me now" is without any doubts the best one, because this is PHANTOM'S OPERA at their best, pure classic 80s AOR with great keys and harmonyvocals and a lovely chorus. The other 3 are somewhat different and not so in the AOR/Melodic Rock direction like the rest of the CD.
"That's fashion" is something
MPG might have done if they had released another album. Still if you missed
out this classic the first time around, then this is the chance to get
to know the classic debut of PHANTOM'S OPERA. Even if you like their recent
albums, this debut is their best and also their most AOR orientated one.
Back then I reviewed the album too and said it sounded a lot like BON JOVI
sounded on their first two albums. Well, after listening a couple of times
again to this album, I still think that comparison has it's value. On later
albums the band headed into a ROBBY VALENTINE direction, but this debut
is a classic AOR release that cannot be missed in the collection of a decent
The first release 'Branded bad' dates back to 1973! Musically the band played on this album very progressive rock based material. I would like to describe the material as a mixture between STYX and DEEP PURPLE. Surprisingly there is no electric guitar on the album, the heaviness comes from the electric bass of Gary Sonny and keyboards of Mark Mangold. This album sounds dated of course, but marketed the own musicstyle they were heading for.
If you want to know how Mark
Mangold, the God of Pomp Rock at the end of the 70s and the King of AOR
in the 80s, started his musical career, then you must surely buy this CD,
but don't expect material in the style that made him famous.
'Tear gas' is the second release of the band. The re-issue of this album has two bonustracks titled "My mama didn't raise no fool" and "Leroy diminished". The musicstyle on this CD is still very progressive, but tracks like "Serious blue boy (Sail on)", "I saw a soldier" and "The war lover" already showed the Pomp Rock direction they were heading for.
Together with the debut album, these two albums are very 70s Progressive Rock orientated and recommended if you like the early KANSAS (without the violins), GENTLE GIANT and PAVLOV'S DOG. But the pure Pomprock in the TOUCH style really had it's start with the next album 'Powerhouse' which is discussed below this review.
The third and final release of AMERICAN TEARS is without any doubts their best and most recommended release. First released in 1977 at the start of the Pomp Rock era from 1977-1982. Still an underrated classic. 'Powerhouse' contained some great Pomp Rock, including two songs that were later re-recorded by TOUCH on their only album. The versions of AMERICAN TEARS of the classic Pomp Rockers "Last chance for love" and "Listen (can you feel it)" are as good as the TOUCH versions.
The bonustrack "Born to love" is probably the least interesting song of this rather great album. My favourite songs of the album, beside the already mentioned TOUCH songs, are "Promise to be free" (classy piece of a Pomp Rock Ballad), "Don't give it away" and "Say you'll stay" which all saw the first steps into Pomp Rock.
The re-issue of 'Powerhouse'
is very interesting and a good move of Frontiers Records. Everyone who
wants to know how the Pomp Rock and also the AOR all started back in the
70s can hear it on this CD.