Finally! In past-issue 1 we did
a story on Franke&The Knockouts, an American band that released 3 fantastic
A.O.R.-albums in the early 80’s. These albums were only available on LP
until now. We are very glad to inform you that 2 of these albums have now
been re-issued on CD by the English AOR-recordlabel Escape Music. And I
can also say to you that also the final re-issue, the self-titled debut
album of Franke&The Knockouts will be re-issued by Escape Music later
this year. So, there’s something to look out for.
First, I'm more than happy to give
you a review of their re-issued 2nd album 'Below the belt',which was a
masterpiece of high-class-A.O.R.-music of the early 80’s. On the original
release were 9 tracks, but this re-issue gives you 10 tracks, including
1 unreleased bonustrack titled “Every little bit helps”. Unfortunately
this bonustrack is a popsong that is in today’s genre and could easily
become a big hit. The song also sounds a bit like TOTO, but the 9 original
songs from 1982 can now be listened to perfectly on CD. Boy, what a classic-aor/pomprocktracks
can be heard on this CD. Opener “Never had it better” is really fantastic
A.O.R. like a perfect mix of SHERIFF and TOUCH, including the brilliant
vocals of Franke Previte.
The following track “Without you(not
another lonely night)” is superb, a calmer A.O.R.-ballad that has a hot
summernight’s feeling when you hear it. The band also scored a hit with
this song in the USA, where they toured with the likes of LOVERBOY and
TOTO. The song also sounds a bit like TOTO, but TOTO had wished that they
would make a song like “Without you”, an instant classic in today’s A.O.R.-scene.
The third song “Just what I want” has such a lovely start in the first
verse that is similar to SHERIFF. A great midtempo A.O.R.-song. You can
hear some fantastic early 80’s AOR-hooklines in the song “Any way that
you want me” that is sounding very much like pomp rock gem TOUCH, especially
the calmer parts just before the chorus. Track 5 “Morning sun(dream on)”
is just a good song, a bit calmer in some parts and not as glittering as
the first 4 tracks, but still a typical Franke-song.
“Shakedown” is on the other hand
pretty heavy in some spots and has a very good chorus. Same goes for “Keep
on fighting”. The remaining 2 tracks are the calmer songs “Have no fear”
and “Gina” that are great to hear late in the evening. “Gina” is actually
a very relaxing AOR-song,pretty soft,but it gives you the feeling you don’t
have any problems to think about. This re-issue cannot be missed by any
fan of the 80’s AOR and Pomprock, especially the first 4 songs are gems
for fans of bands like TOUCH,SHERIFF,early TOTO,early FOREIGNER (I forget
to mention it, but if you listen carefully you will hear that some parts
of Franke&The Knockouts’ music is very similar to the late 70’s-albums
And last thing I would like to
add is that I always loved that fantastic cover and Escape Music hasn’t
changed it happily.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
MAKIN’ THE POINT-FRANKE&THE
One of the last A.O.R.-classics
that now has been re-issued on CD. The third album of Franke&The Knockouts
is an AOR-gem that must be in every collection. The album was produced
by Bill Schnee(Pablo Cruise) and the original release by RCA/Millenium
Records contained 9 tracks and this re-issue gives you an extra unreleased
bonus-track. That bonustrack is the original version of “Hungry eyes”,
which was an enormous hitsingle for ERIC CARMEN in the 80’s. “Hungry eyes”
was written by Franke Previte and John DeNicola(former member of the 70’s
band FLIGHT), and this version of Franke&The Knockouts has a real 'AOR-feeling'
coming over you, far better than the pop-version of Eric Carmen. What can
I say about the 9 re-issued songs on this CD? These are the AOR-classics
everyone dreams about.
Songs like “You don’t want me (like
I want you)”(one of the best pure AOR-songs ever recorded!), ”Come rain
or shine”(superb),”You’re all that really matters”(magnificent AOR-ballad),”Carrie
why?”(AOR at its best with keys,guitars and harmonyvocals in the chorus),
“So cool(nobody’s fool)” and “Outrageous” are classics in the AOR-genre.
Songs like these made this genre unique and so interesting. This is AOR
at the highest quality.
Then I even haven’t mentioned yet
all the famous musicians that appeared on the album. In the line-up of
Franke&The Knockouts in 1984 were Tico Torres (Drums,member of BON
JOVI) and Guitarist Bobby Messano (who played with STARZ,MESSANO and JOE
LYNN TURNER). Some of the additional musicians were Jeff Porcaro(TOTO),Lenny
Castro(THE STRAND),Nathan East(RICHARD MARX), Kim Bullard(STAN BUSH) and
Besides them,also famous mixers
such as John Van Nest,Jack Puig, Doug Sax and Pat Glasser made this album
an instant classic in today’s musicscene. All these people are very famous
and appeared on hundreds of albums, Although Franke didn’t became so famous
with his own band, he became a very famous songwriter and wrote major hits
for Bille Medley&Jennifer Warnes(Their song “I’ve had the time of my
life” is one of the biggest selling singles ever), Cyndy Lauper,Celine
Dion and Kim Carnes. Unfortunately these are all popsongs, so I guess you
can say that Franke said farewell to the AOR-music. But still we can enjoy
his albums that contain some of the best AOR material ever recorded.
(Points: 9.5 out of 10)
HUSH FEATURING ROBERT BERRY-HUSH
Another re-issue by Escape Music.
HUSH featured Robert Berry, who later released some great albums with ALLIANCE,3
and a couple of solo-albums. This HUSH-album was his first musical effort.
It was released in 1979 on an obscure recordlabel that went bankrupt and
caused a split of the band that worked on this album between 1975-1980.
They had some success in Japan and were promised to become popular in The
States, something that never happened.
Their re-isued CD contains 10 tracks
that is a mix of A.O.R., hard 70’s Poprock and Pomprock. Especially the
midtempo aor/ pomp-classified tracks “Alright” and “It’s all too much”
does sound pretty good and quite a bit like ROADMASTER at times. Tracks
like “Saturday night”,”Money” and “You” are pure hard late 70’s/early 80’s
uptempo poprockers like a mix of RICK SPRINGFIELD’s early 80’s material
and RUSS BALLARD’s albums ‘Barnet dogs’ and ‘Into the fire’. Combine these
elements and you will know how this album sounds. A pretty good album and
if you like some of the mentioned acts in this review, you must get yourself
a copy of this CD.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
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