HOT NEW AOR REVIEWS
|JOHN TAGLIERI 'Leap of faith'
(LEAP DOG RECORDS)
JOHN TAGLIERI is coming out of
the New York/New Jersey area. He has a long history
behind him and released independent albums with local and
regional bands such as SNEAKS NOISE. At the age of five
he picked up a guitar and ever since that day, 21 years
ago, he has been busy with music. He played with Rick
Derringer and recently he sang with
Now, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter John Taglieri has released his first solo CD titled 'Leap of faith'. It's amazing to see John has done everything on his own on this CD. He only got help with the production, which is very good for an independent release. This could have easily been a release by a major recordlabel. Not only the production, but also the music is from a very high level. There are 12 tracks on the CD and most of them are in the AOR direction.
The lead vocals of John and the keyboards are very good and sound like high quality AOR should sound. John Taglieri looks a bit like John Elefante and also musically there are a couple of comparisons with him, although John Taglieri is better at times and much more AOR rock based than the calmer stuff of John Elefante.
The opening song of the CD is the titletrack "Leap of faith", a great midtempo AOR song that sounds like a mixture between MARK ALLEN BAND, JOHN FARNHAM (like his most AOR based songs), some RICHARD MARX and even a reference to SIGNAL. Although the latter is only notable, because the AOR chorus and lead vocals on "Leap of faith" are sounding like Mark Free's former band.
Next track though is the killer AOR track that indeed sounds like SIGNAL all the way. The song is called "Shangri-la" and this is a fantastic uptempo AOR rocker in classic 80s tradition. No jokes here, this song is really reminding me of SIGNAL, ALIAS, SURVIVOR and that kinda AOR bands. When listening to the first couple of tracks, I also noticed a reference to the KYLE VINCENT album 'On a night like this' which so many of you have bought the last couple of months. I feel a strong comparison to that Kyle Vincent album on this album of John Taglieri.
But there are more influences on John's CD. Such as the following track "Reason to believe", a beautiful AOR ballad with some great hooklines. I would describe the song as a mixture between JOURNEY and BON JOVI (the good one). Maybe some of you will think different about this song, but you can't deny that this is an excellent AOR ballad that needs to be heard by both AOR and non-AOR fans. This could easily become a major hitsingle. Guys like Richard Marx and Bryan Adams score major hits with ballads, why not a new guy like John Taglieri.
Anyway, the following two tracks are unfortunately less AOR based. "First night" is a very calm acoustic AOR ballad that is a mixture between a softer RICHARD MARX and JOHN ELEFANTE. "I found you" is poppy AOR but has a good AOR chorus and vocals. There isn't much electric guitar on this one though, imagine a soft RICK SPRINGFIELD!
Happily, the next track "The two sides of love" is again akin towards our beloved musicstyle. This song is a nice uptempo AOR/Poprocker that sounds very cheerful and is a mixture between RICK MATHEWS, MICHAEL MORALES and the first JIMMY HARNEN. This is very AOR based and no complaints about soft sounds, because there is a great (electric) guitarsolo during the song.
The following track "Can't you see" has not such a strong chorus, but still is a good AOR ballad that is similar in style to MARK FREE ('Long way ') with some influences of JOHN ELEFANTE. Next track "One more tomorrow" may be a little too soft for the AOR fans, this song is a radio based AOR ballad duet with John's wife Michelle. Nice, but too soft and sweet for my ears. The next track "High road" is uptempo melodic poprock with a bit rough vocals and a comparison to the 'Powerstation years' albums of JOHN BONGOIVI shouldn't be misplaced here.
Then comes the song I was waiting for (and hoping for). The song is called "Hold me close tonight" and this is fantastic classic 80s AOR rock that sounds like a mixture between SIGNAL and BON JOVI (circa 'Slippery when wet'). No doubt about it that this is the best song on this CD. Everything is sounding perfect here. The guitars upfront, a classic AOR chorus, lead- and harmonyvocals, etc. A must to hear if you like pure 80s AOR. This song gets better everytime you play it. It is damn cheerful and a classic AOR song for sure.
I thought the last two tracks on this rather impressive CD took the level down a bit, but boy was I wrong. Because also the last two tracks are very good and AOR orientated. "Need to hear" and "Here without you" are both high class AOR ballads that have again very much 80s BON JOVI influences. But you can also say JOHNNY LIMA goes AOR all the way. Two wonderful tracks and I can't understand why songs like these aren't high up there in the charts, because they have so much potential to become major hits.
In fact, almost the whole CD has that perfect AOR sound you used to hear (in the 80s) in American cars, movies and on the Radiorockstations. If it was 1985 or 1989, John would have been big time and sell millions of records. But it's 1999 and AOR is an underground happening, although it is coming back right now. That doesn't matter to the real AOR fans out there, because they have a new artist on the scene playing wonderful AOR.
I would give this a big recommendation to the fans of KYLE VINCENT (circa 'On a night like this'), RICK MATHEWS, RICHARD MARX (soft and hard), BON JOVI (when they're on their most AOR orientated way), a heavier FERGIE FREDERIKSEN, JOHN ELEFANTE and last but not the least at all, also SIGNAL fans should have a listen to this CD, because a lot of songs on this CD are just pure AOR. The only difference is that sometimes the approach is a bit softer and has some acoustic guitars added, but there are a couple of pure AOR tracks that simply can't be ignored by the AOR fans. For more info on John Taglieri, contact him at Jtaglieri@aol.com and visit his website at: http://www.LeapDogMusic.com
|NIGEL HOBBS 'The river's too
You may remember
English born singer/songwriter Nigel Hobbs from his days
as master musician with UK aorsters Walk The Wire.
"The River's Too Wide" is Nigel's debut cd,
which has taken since 1997 to complete, and the result is
a refeshing mixture of musical styles that is sure to
gain Nigel alot of respect, especially for fans of bands
such as Marillion,Yes, Asia and of course Walk The Wire.
Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|TEN 'Stuck in the
middle' (THE SHOTGUN
Fear not music fans, this is not
the Gary Hughes/Vinny Burns TEN. This Ten are from
Birmingham UK, and play subtle accoustic rock a'la Bryan
Adams. "Stuck In The Middle" is a four track
ep, and features singer/songwriter Dean Cook who has
worked with such artists as Blaze Bayley, Bruce
Dickinson, Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne (playing the drums) to
name but a few, plus various tv appearences and live
performances throughout the UK.
I would like to see Dean concentrate more on songs like "Stuck In The Middle" as I feel he could have a really brilliant aor album under his sleeves, if you take a look at the bands discography on their website,you will see that they have been releasing material since 1992, so let's all do Ten a favour and keep your eyes on them. for more info visit their website: http://go.to/ten or email: email@example.com
Rating: 6/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|GARY SCHUTT 'Playthings'
Guitarist Gary Schutt released two CDs this year. This one is titled Playthings. There are 13 songs on the album and present a diverse range of Hard Rock styles. The beginning of the album is quite heavy and 90s influenced Melodic Hard Rock oriented. Songs like Act of sympathy and Enemy lines do have lots of heavy guitar riffs and grooves, still they can be described as melodic hardrocksongs.
Dont come crying to me shows a different side of GARY SCHUTT, because this song is a catchy 80s typed melodic rocker that stylish moves into the direction of bands like VELOCITY, DAMN YANKEES, HARDLINE... Sometimes in a dream follows and is a nice acoustic melodic ballad. Traumatized is partly instrumental and surprisingly it is a fine melodic rocker that actually reminds me alot of TOTO. But the best songs are kept till the end of the CD.
This might be the last time is a marvellous pure 80s sounding Classic AOR ballad like JOURNEY, FOREIGNER and FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS. This song features killer AOR keyboards and is super melodic and would have had major airplay in the USA if it was released 15 years ago. I totally love this song and only wish Gary could make more of such pure AOR songs on a future release.
Also a fantastic song is Do you still... which is really superb AOR/Melodic Rock like the first TYKETTO, 2nd PROPHET. These are the kind of songs that the AOR/Melodic Rockfans of todays scene love. The rest of the album is not bad, but more akin towards a heavier direction (like MR. BIG).
This album has a lot to
offer for any Rocklover. There is 80s AOR, Melodic Rock,
90s inspired Rock, Poppy material and some Heavy
Rock/Metal. More info at his website:
|BOB CATLEY 'Legends'
The second solo-album of former MAGNUM lead vocalist BOB CATLEY is more AOR oriented than he has ever went. Partly due to GARY HUGHES who has produced this great album. On the latest TEN record, Gary went a heavier direction, but on his solo-albums as well as the albums he has produced lately he moves more into the AOR direction. And so does he make this solo-album of BOB CATLEY sounding more like a pure AOR record. 'Legends' is the follow-up to his solo-debut 'The tower' which was released last year.
This new record contains some great pure AOR songs such as "Shelter from the night" (hooklines all over, sounds like first TEN), "The pain" (classy 80s AOR keys, uptempo melodic rocker), "A beautiful night for love" (AOR ballad with classy 80s AOR keys) and "The light" (uptempo 80s hookladen AOR). But the album also has some epic melodic rockers (like the old MAGNUM) such as "Tender is the night", "Hydra" and "Too late" which are nice songs but not as good as the earlier mentioned AOR oriented songs.
The fans of MAGNUM, HARD RAIN and especially old TEN/GARY HUGHES will be best pleased with this good new solo record of BOB CATLEY.
|EMERALD RAIN 'Age of innocence'
'Age of innocence' is the second CD of the American Melodic Rockband EMERALD RAIN. The musicstyle is still the same as their debut, so basically what you get is mostly uptempo cheerful melodic rock that follows the style HAREM SCAREM created on their debut. But I also hear some direct comparisons to early TALISMAN. Just listen to opener "No saviour" and you understand what I am saying. This uptempo melodic rocker is filled with melodic harmonyvocals and has a great singable chorus and sounds like a mix between the first HAREM SCAREM and TALISMAN/TAKARA.
In this same style, the album continues with great uptempo melodic rockers such as "Desperate heart", "Sleeping in the fire", "Barely holding on", "Age of innocence", "The method" and "Your disguise". Some of these last mentioned songs could have been on the debut of HAREM SCAREM. Still, the band also has a few ballads and midtempo songs on their new CD such as "Don't tell the rain" and "Come clean".
I can easily recommend this new CD of EMERALD RAIN to anyone that enjoys guitar oriented uptempo melodic rock with many harmonyvocals and likes bands such as TALISMAN, TAKARA, first HAREM SCAREM, EYEWITNESS, TEER, MILLENNIUM, MONARCH
|TEN 'Ten/The name of
the rose'(FRONTIERS RECORDS)
FRONTIERS RECORDS has done a great job with the re-release and new packaging of the first three albums of TEN. The first two albums of TEN are released as a double CD and with a total of 28 songs this is quite worth investing your money. The CD contains the best TEN offered in the past few years, because on their more recent albums the style got less AOR.
Their first two records contained fantastic AOR songs such as "After the love is gone", "The torch", "Stay with me", "Can't slow down", "Lamb to the slaughter", "When only love can ease the pain", "Wildest dreams", "Don't cry", "Turn around", "The rainbow", "Through the fire" and "Standing in your light". Songs like these showed GARY HUGHES at his best, melodic vocals and choruses packed in a huge AOR sound.
The double CD contains 3 bonustracks of which two live recordings of "After the love is gone" and "Can't slow down". To me this CD contains the best of TEN and I can easily recommend to the AOR fans.
|TEN 'The robe/Bonus
I think this CD will be more interesting for the fans of GARY HUGHES and TEN fans, because this double CD contains the re-release of the third TEN album 'The robe' as well as a bonus CD that contains 12 unreleased TEN songs. Not really unreleased, because some songs appeared on Japanese releases of the TEN albums and a couple are taken from the 'Live' album. Still, this record has a great packaging and I am not complaining about the great AOR songs on the CDs.
'The robe' showed a heavier melodic rockstyle of TEN, but still songs like "Bright on the blade", "Standing on the edge of time", "Ten fathoms deep" and "Someday" are wonderful AOR songs. On the other hand you could clearly hear and see the change in style, because especially the lyrics of the songs are not that easy anymore if you look at songtitles like "The robe", "Ten fathoms deep", "Virtual reality" and "Arcadia". Songtitles like these are not really common for an AOR band and belong more in the Progressive Rockscene.
The bonus collection CD of this double CD is quite interesting and features some brilliant AOR masterpieces such as "Venus and mars", "Give me a piece of your heart" and "Xanadu", but also here you can hear clearly the heavier (and weaker) side of TEN in songs like "Black moon rising" and "To die for".
Anyway, a good re-release that will please any fan of TEN and GARY HUGHES. It's a must to have for them, because there are lots of unreleased songs on the bonus CD 'Bonus collection'. If you're more into AOR and don't have any TEN record in your collection, I should prefer the 'Ten/The name of the rose' re-release.
|THE LIMIT 'Dysfunction'(OUTHOUSE
Out of Glen Burnie, MD, USA comes THE LIMIT, a great new pure AOR band that has just released a very good album titled 'Dysfunction'. The band consists of Kent Beeghly on Drums and percussion, Mike Duncan on Bass guitar, keyboards and vocals, Tim Haines on Lead and rhythm guitars and vocals and Jim House, Jr. on Lead vocals and acoustic guitar.
The debut album contains 10 songs and the AOR sound of THE LIMIT is comparable to bands such as JOURNEY, THE PROMISE, RETURN TO ZERO, 80s LOVERBOY and NIGHT RANGER. So, this THE LIMIT is a very interesting band for fans of pure 80s typed AOR. The album kicks off with "Rejecting Healthy", a great AOR rocker. Next track "Sweet thang" is a bit weaker groovy rocker, but the rest of the album is pretty much Classic AOR oriented and sounds very good.
"Keep my heart open" is a nice AOR ballad with some great pure AOR keys (like JOURNEY) while the song itself reminds me a lot of THE PROMISE. Next track "What if" has a great AOR chorus and is a BOSTON typed melodic rocker. Following track "Waiting to goodbye" has some very good lead vocals and is a great AOR song that sounds like JOURNEY meets RETURN TO ZERO. The song also captures a beautiful AOR hookline. "Wrestle the wind" follows and is a great uptempo AOR rocker that is very much reminding me of 80s NIGHT RANGER.
Then we get to hear the fantastic song "Leah's lie", a pure AOR song like ALIAS or BRETT WALKER could have done. Following track "Heaven doesn't want me" is another pure AOR ballad that is in the JOURNEY style. "Regret" follows and is a nice 70s STYX influenced Pomprocker.
The closing track of this great album is also the best song on the whole album. The song is titled "We all fall down" and is a pure classic early 80s AOR rocker with some really wonderful harmonyvocals and a killer AOR chorus. This song sounds like THE PROMISE.
The hookladen AOR of THE LIMIT is very good and attractive to anyone that enjoys pure AOR in the best 80s tradition. A definite winner for the fans of bands like RETURN TO ZERO, JOURNEY and 80s NIGHT RANGER. Very soon an interview with this wonderful new AOR band. Now go check out their site at: http://www.thelimitrocks.com
NATT&TAKE is a band out of Kristiansand, Norway. They have released a CD titled 'Sementparadis' which contains 11 well-produced songs. Musically they are playing Progressive Melodic Rock with clear influences from DREAM THEATER and RUSH, yet with an own style in which vocal melodies are sounding pretty good.
Although some of the material is very progressive (like early KANSAS meets RUSH), there are also a bunch of very melodic songs that will even please the average AOR fan. I am talking about songs such as "Radiosender", "Utro drom", "Longa", "Natten din" (AOR ballad with a lovely keyboardsolo, this song is comparable to JOURNEY/STYX), "Noialand" and closing track "Din til doden".
These songs have some very good melodic lead and harmonyvocals and are backed by a melodic guitar/keyboardsound. The melodic choruses are quite memorable. The only thing that strikes me is the fact that all songs are a bit in the same style, kinda slow tempo progressive melodic rock. There are no uptempo songs on the album, but happily the songs are fine to listen to.
If you don't mind the Norwegian language, I think this album will be very interesting if you're into Progressive AOR/Melodic Rock (like TILES, MYSTERY CANADA or 80s/early 90s SAGA). More info at their site: http://home.sol.no/~arloems
|GALLOW'S POLE 'In rock we
trust/Smile of the dolphins'
This band out of Austria has a pure instrumental melodic rocksound, but the lead vocals are actually sounding totally different. In fact, the lead vocals of guitarist Alois Martin Binder are very out of the ordinary and give the band an own sound which is rockin, but melodic. Their debut CD 'In rock we trust' was released in 1992 and counts 10 well-produced tracks.
The style on this debut album is just straight-ahead melodic rock and I actually prefer this record above the new CD 'The smile of the dolphins'. 'In rock we trust' does feature mostly standard typed melodic rockers such as "When the music plays", "Summerrain" and "In the end".
The new album 'The smile of the dolphins' sounds totally different. This new record is a concept album that is based around a bunch of dolphins. Very strange indeed and the lead vocals are only making it sound even weirder. I am not saying it is bad or anything, but this band is really different than anything else I ever reviewed.
Just listen to opener "The smile of the dolphins" (which is featured in four parts on the CD), this song is an epic song with loads of instrumental passages. Very hard to compare this band to a similar sounding band, perhaps RUSH fans will like this. If you are interested in experimental epic melodic rock and want to hear something totally new and different than try this GALLOWS POLE. Their site can be found at: http://www.gallowspole.com
|TIM KARR 'Everybody bleeds' (INDEPENDENT)
Tim Karr released a bit of a tidy aor album back
in 1989 i forget the title at this moment, but since then
Tim has been caught up for years in legal battles with
his old record company. Anyway now he's free of any
contractual obligations, and 1999 sees the return of
perhaps one of the most genuine artists in rock n' roll.
"Everybody Bleeds" is a very nice and catchy
mellow aor album with an r and b edge to it. If you liked
the last Nelson, Innuendo and Johnny Lima albums then you
will fall in love with "Everybody Bleeds". It
takes one or two spins to get into, but when it hits home
you will find a special quality of simple rock music that
pleases the ears and sits nicely next to any latterday
Bon Jovi record.
Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|PANGA NIBAN 'First impressions'
A strange bandname, but
not a bad bunch of musicians out of St.Petersberg,
Florida. Panga Niban's music is based around blusey aor,
a bit like Mr.Big, Nightranger, Dan Reed Network and
Stevie Salas. "First Impressions" in fact is
quite powerful and has quite a good production sound, the
band sound tight and the songs are very infectious. Check
out the first song "One More Time" and listen
to Wes Panganiban's voice, is that Eric Martin or what?
There's even a nice mid section bass improvisation
courtsey of Ted Provard, which reminds me of Billy
Sheehan and Stuart Hamm.
"Peace From Above" is a full on gentle blusey track that is very nice, this is in the Stuart Smith vein and has some great music.The last track "Pushed Around" again has some nice guitar edges and funky rhythms. The only dissapointment is the track "Why", which goes nowhere for me, but, yes Panga Niban have carved themselve a nice little niche into the rock world and I hope they release a full on album very soon as i'm quite excited about this one. For more info email: Ropan@aol.com
Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|ABACUS 'Counter culture'
(DANCING NEEDLES MUSIC)
Mmm, I don't quite know
how to categorise this cd, it's defintley power pop a'la
Pat Benetar, but this female fronted band from Oregon
USA, certainly know what they are doing as each song has
it's own style and charamastic charms of delight. The
music has been simply put together, the lyrics are great,
and you get some nice guitar work from John Rachel and
Ron Ruiz. John also handles the synthesiser work which is
richley featured throughtout "Counter Culture"
Rating: 6/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|CECIL PARK 'Cecil park' (BRUTAL
Denver based act Cecil Park play a nice blend of
modern accoustic rock, songs like
"Somebody/Nobody" and "No Liaisons"
are average alternative country tinted pop fodder with
the best comparisons I can make leaning towards the
accousstic rambling's on Firehouse's "Good
Accostics" album or perhaps Nouveaux's "And
This Is How I Feel" album, not ideal comparisements
anyway as this record is definiteley for fans of bands
like Crowded House, Stone Roses and those type of indy
Rating: - (Review by Nicky Baldrian)