HEAVY BIRTHDAY-KARO (1988/FRONTROW)
This is very underground, although
there appear some well-known names. KARO was a German band formed around
keyboardplayer Karo Straub. Besides him the line-up of KARO was completed
with Ronald Bosien on drums, Dieter Seeburg on bass, Erich Holstein on
guitar, and Lutz Salzwedel on lead vocals. On the photos on the album-covers
you can see 4 men, but the line-up of the band listed 5 men. I don’t know
why one of the bandmembers didn’t appear on these photos.
Anyhow, the only (???) album
‘Heavy birthday’ of KARO was produced by Peter Hauke. Peter produced the
debut-albums of CRAAFT and WHITE LION in the past. And this album of KARO
is actually reminding me of these bands. 3 tracks on side-A were produced
by Tony Platt(LILLIAN AXE, JEFF PARIS) and to be honest these 3 songs are
the best ones of the whole album. I’m talking about the tracks “Wanna be
loved” (a brilliant cheerful and catchy uptempo A.O.R.-rocker with a fantastic
sing-a-long chorus, smooth keys and perfect harmonyvocals), “One of a kind”(good
uptempo melodic rocker) and “Sister,sister” (fantastic pure A.O.R. that
is a bit in the SURVIVOR-style, what a superb chorus can be heard in this
These 3 Tony Platt-produced tracks
are high-class AOR and sound incredible good. The melodic rock/aor of KARO
does sound very cheerful and is in the German tradition of CRAAFT/AIDEAN/NO
CREDIT/DOMINOE... If you like bands like these, then KARO is a must for
you! The 3 tracks I mentioned are really the best songs of the album, because
the rest is sometimes just average. But still there are some interesting
tracks to hear, such as “Ball of fire”. This is very good rough melodic
rock, on backing vocals is FERGIE FREDERIKSEN(former vocalist of LE ROUX,
TOTO and more recently FREDERIKSEN/PHILLIPS). The song reminds me a bit
of that FREDERIKSEN/PHILLIPS-album from 1995.
Besides the 4 mentioned fantastic
tracks that can all be found on side-A of the LP, this side contains the
song “Still hate to loose”, which is a bit weaker slowtempo melodic rocker.
Side-B also contains 5 tracks, but unfortunately it doesn’t feature such
excellent songs like on side-A. The material on side-b is simpler heavier
melodic rock, still it captures the songs “Call of the wild” and “Cold
shoulder” that are 2 nice melodic rockers like BONFIRE.
The remaining 3 tracks are a
bit weak, the song “Out on the line” is RATT;ish and is really nothing
special. But if you first listen to the wonderful side-a of this album,
it will be worth the money to buy this album. Last thing I would like to
mention is that all the tracks were composed by the band, but the lyrics
were all done by an American(?) called Roy Dean Brown.
I don’t have any clue if the
band or any of the members made more music than this album from 1988. If,anyone
knows, contact me.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
HIGH ADVENTURE-KENNY LOGGINS
KENNY LOGGINS is an American
artist who made a lot of albums and also did a lot of songs for soundtracks.
His albums were almost all filled with popmusic, but those moviesongs he
did were often AOR-songs. Especially his songs for the movies 'Footloose'(the
track “I'm free”), 'Top gun'(“Danger zone” and “Playing with the boys”),
'Over the top'(“Meet me half way”) and 'Caddyshack 2' (“Nobody’s fool”)
are good A.O.R.-orientated songs. The first AOR-songs on a solo-album of
Kenny, can be found on this solo-album titled ‘High adventure’.
As far as I know it is the only
solo-album that feature pure AOR-songs, only his solo-album ‘Back to avalon’
from 1987 has some AOR-influences, but ‘High adventure’ features 1 really
interesting track. It is the opening tune titled “Don’t fight it”, written
by Kenny, Dean Pitchford and STEVE PERRY(of JOURNEY). The song is a duet
between Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry and can be described as a fantastic
uptempo A.O.R.-rocker that is similar in style to JOURNEY(like their song
“Any way you want it”). If you’re a Journey/Steve Perry-fan, then you must
really listen to this great song.
Musicians on “Don’t fight it”
are Neil Geraldo of PAT BENATAR’s band on guitars, session musician Tris
Imboden on percussion and Kenny himself on rhythm guitar. Some other niusicans
that appear on the LP ‘High adventure’ are MAX GRONENTHAL(38 SPECIAL),Paulinha
Da Costa(RICHARD MARX) and Richard Page(PAGES/MR. MISTER).
Besides the brilliant A.O.R.
opener, only the tracks “Swear your love” and “If it’s not what you’re
looking for” are interesting. “Swear your love” is very good pure AOR-rock
with some crushing guitarwork. “If it’s not what you’re looking for” has
some FRANKE&THE KNOCKOUTS relaxed AOR-feeling, and it features an incredible
splashing guitarsolo. Only thing about this song is that the chorus kinda
sounds like Hall&Oates, which means it is a bit poppy, but the guitarsolos
are very good.
That last song I mentioned was
co-written by DAVID FOSTER. These 3 tracks are interesting for AOR-fans,
the rest of the album is pop-based and sounds a lot like Michael McDonald.
But if you’re a rich JOURNEY-fan, you must buy this album for that fantastic
song “Don’t fight it”!
(Points: - out of 10)
I haven’t got any info of this
American band, but they released 1(?) album in 1979. The beginning of the
LP is spectacular. Opener “Keep the ball rollin” is an amazing stunning
AOR/ Pomprocker like LE ROUX(‘Up’) and has an excellent cathcy chorus.
What a fantastic song! Unfortunately, the rest of the LP is a little bit
disappointing. Only the songs “Blue winter”(AOR-ballad),”Abalina”(AOR-ballad)
and ‘ “I’ll hold on to you”(LE ROUX-AOR) are really good. Songs like “Eddie”,
“Don’t cry”, “Beggars day” and “Be ready for me tonight” are just average
AOR/Rocktracks that are not bad, but after hearing that fantastic opening
song, these tracks are sounding a bit weak. So, I can only recommend this
album to the AOR/Pompfan that collects everything there is about this genre.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN-SUSAN
Sorry guys, no one named Susan
in this band! This group from New York City seems to have been the brainchild
of two brothers Charles and Mike Leland. Where these guys are at now, I
haven’t a clue, but they did leave us a pretty good rock album. Listening
to this record I am reminded of THE BABYS rockier material, and the late,
great FOTOMAKER. Although none of the tracks on this LP really stand out,
there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm behind the recording. In particular
on the opening track “Takin’it over”.
I was living in New York at the
time this album was released, and I can tell you it received very little
airplay. Too bad, as I feel they might have done an even better second
album if they had the chance... Who knows?
(Points: 6.0 out of 10/Eric
EMPTY HANDED-JET (1981/THIRDCOAST
JET was a band that released
only 1 album titled ‘Empty handed’ on a very obscure recordlabel. The album
was very underground and it wasn’t until this year that I first saw the
name of the band mentioned somewhere. The album of JET was released in
1981 and so almost 17 years has passed before it was really discovered.
I think this review will be the first that appears in a fanzine that is
based on A.O.R./Pomprock. Of course this is a real shame, because ‘Empty
handed’ is almost a classic, but better late than never.
The line-up of JET featured a
female vocalist called Barbara Barrow, who had a voice that sounded like
Cherie&Marie Currie. Besides Barbara, JET further featured 5 other
musicians in the line-up. Their names are Danny Torroll on guitars, Michael
Smith on Guitars, Ricky Niez on bass, Keith Montross on keyboards and Billy
Johnson on drums. But I don’t think anyone knows these musicians, because
after the release of ‘Empty handed’ I never saw their names mentioned somewhere
and I think they only played on this LP. The LP of JET was produced by
Sam Lynn and there are 8 tracks on the album.
The music on the LP was and still
is high-class A.O.R. with many Pomprockinfluences. Especially the first
2 tracks on side-A are superb songs that are a wonderful mix of 80’s AOR
like TANTRUM/HEART and late 70’s Pomprock like ROADMASTER/ STINGRAY and
the classic debut of BEAU GESTE. Those 2 opening tracks are titled “Night
night night” and “Love slave”. 2 songs that are a dream for both female-fronted
acts and AOR/Pomprock-fans. “Love slave” has not only a fantastic chorus,
but also has some fantastic pomprock-keyboards and it sounds like a mix
of the debut-album of BEAU GESTE (released in 1982 and in case you don’t
have it, you must look for it!) and LE ROUX, only with female lead vocals.
“Night night night” has got such an excellent chorus that is very catchy
and almost unforgettable after you heard it once.
Track 3 on the LP is the track
“Stranded in the moonlight”, a song that was covered by MARTEE LEBOW on
her mini-LP ‘Crimes of the heart’ that was released in 1986. A great album,
by the way. “Stranded in the moonlight” is a nice A.O.R.-song that has
many HEART-influences. The version of MARTEE LEBOW is better than the original
version of JET. The last track on side-A is “Car on fire”, which is a nice
heavier A.O.R.-rocker that has a good chorus like TANTRUM.The first 2 tracks
on side-B are also pretty good and titled “Renegade” (uptempo AOR) and
“Venus and norma jean” (a great uptempo pomprocker that has many PRISM-influences).The
closing 2 tracks are “Carribean snow” and “Barbed wire”, and these 2 songs
are the only ones that are a bit average. The other 6 songs are very good
and all written by guitarist Michael Smith. Notable is that he didn’t wrote
those 2 average closing tracks, that were written by outsider Dick Larsen.
Well, although JET never received
much press and also was and still is very unknown, I can recommend to every
fan of early 80’s A.O.R./Pomprock to look for this wonderful record.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
MY OBSESSION-MERI D. MARSHALL
This is one of those female fronted
poprockalbums of the mid-eightees. MERI D. MARSHALL was a reli-artist and
on her only(?) LP ‘My obsession’, which was released in 1985, does appear
a lot of the famous session-musicians from the L.A.-AOR/Rockscene. On guitars
we can hear Michael Thompson, Michael Landau and Kevin Dukes. On keyboards
we can hear Alan Pasqua, Kim Bullard, Jai Winding. And finally, we can
hear Tom Kelly and Tom Funderburk on backing vocals. All these names are
very well-known among the die-hard AOR-fans, they appeared on many great
Now, you might think that this
is also such a great AOR-album, but to be honest I can inform you that
this isn’t a good LP. Only a couple of tracks are aor/poprock-based, but
mostly it is more pop/disco-orientated somewhat like THEREZA BAZAR. The
interesting tracks are “My obsession”,”Haunt you”, both sound like SHEILA
WALSH/CONNIE SCOTT..., “Tears”, a typical uptempo poprocker a la CINDY
CRUSE, and finally the only real good song of the LP; “I’m thru with him”.
“I’m thru with him” was written
by Phyllis Molinary and LENNY MACALUSO. Lenny Macaluso is not a very well-known
name, but he wrote some classic-aor tracks in the past for STAN BUSH. The
songs “Primitive lover” and “The touch” of Stan Bush were written by Lenny.
So, this song “I’m thru with him” could also been a song of Stan. But it
isn’t, because it appears on this LP of this girl called Meri D. Marshall.
A pretty good song, pure A.O.R. with stunning keys and a great guitarsolo,
very catchy indeed! But 1 song doesn’t make a whole LP good. I can only
recommend this LP to the fan of softer poprock in the style of SHEILA WALSH/THEREZA
BAZAR/RONNIE SPECTOR ...
(Points: - out of 10)
FRANNE GOLDE was an American
female vocalist, who has about the same musical carreer as ELLEN SHIPLEY.
She released an LP in 1979, which is very hard to get and not possible
to review in this issue. And she released this album ‘Restless’ in 1980.
The music on ‘Restless’ is pretty similar to ELLEN SHIPLEY, and also the
back-up musicians on the LP are names we also saw on the 2 albums of ELLEN
SHIPLEY. So, I guess you can say that FRANNE GOLDE is a copy of ELLEN SHIPLEY.
But there are more influences.
Sometimes it sounds like pure
early 80’s female-aor/poprock like early PAT BENATAR, WIDOW, SHEILA...
, but at some points there are also QUARTERFLASH/ELLEN FOLEY similarities.
Additional musicians include Kim Bullard,Eric Scott (of SIGNAL-fame),Peter
McIan( released a solo-album in 1980), members of NICK GILDER’s back-up
band and on backing vocals we can hear Tom Funderburk and Max Gronenthal
(of 38 SPECIAL-fame).
The album starts with the PAT
BENATAR-cover “Lookin’ for the stranger”, pretty much the same version
as Pat did. Other highlights are “Stranded”(great AOR-song),”Shadowland”(very
good uptempo AOR/Poprock in best female-80’s-tradition) and “Cool kids”.
“Cool kids” was later covered by KIX and they made it a big US-hitsingle.
But the version of FRANNE GOLDE is also pretty nice and it was the original
version recorded in 1980, 3 years before KIX recorded it. The rest of the
album is a bit weaker. But I can give this album of FRANNE GOLDE a recommendation
of anyone that loves those typical female aor/poprock in early 80’s tradition.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
If someone asked me to put together
a list of what I thought to be the best Pomp albums ever recorded - Bighorn
would certainly rank close to the top!
Like HEART, Bighorn came from
Seattle, and were discovered at a club in Vancouver, British Columbia.
CBS had high expectations for this, the group’s only album, and I seem
to remember some heavy promotion behind it. The group had a strong local
following in the Pacific Northwest, yet despite tours with VAN HALEN, and
BOSTON, they never really gained any attention in other US markets.
What about the Music, I hear
you ask? Pick any track! This is classic Pomp rock from beginning to end.
How about “Penny for your Dreams”, “Stand Up” or the excellent “Star Rocker”?,
All are enough to satisfy the hunger of even the most jaded Pomp fan. There’s
even String and Choral Arrangements that augment several tracks! I ask
you, how much more pompous can you get?
A beautiful album, right up there
with AVIARY, ALEXIS and other great late 70’s Major label pomp bands. Do
yourself a favor and pick up this album as soon as possible. You won’t
(Points: 9.0 out of 10/Review
by Eric Abrahamsen)
MOLLY OLIVER-MOLLY OLIVER
From the same label that brought
you AVALON’s “Voice of Life” album comes Molly Oliver. Although not quite
as splendid as AVALON, this album does have its strong points.
Molly Oliver’s sound can be compared
to other Canadian groups of the time like MADCATS, or CHILLIWACK circa
the “Dreams, Dreams, Dreams” album with some slight hints at Pomp. “Hey
There” is the opening track. This is not a great start, and does little
to grab my attention. “You didn’t listen to me” is a little better with
a rather infectious hook. “Somebody new in my eyes” is a one of those 70’s
style radio ballads that you just can’t help but like.
A cover of CSN&Y’s “Carry
On” sticks pretty straight to the original and I wonder why they bothered?
Side Two’s “Greet your Neighbor”, and “Rock’n’roll Music” in my opinion
should have been left off the album completely. Terrible stuff! “Where
do we go” and “Living in a Dream” make the second side worthwhile, as both
are very good, but this album could have been so much befter!
This album is not for everyone,
but those who are interested in early AOR, should give this a listen.
(Points: 5.0 out of 10/Review
by Eric Abrahamsen)
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