Out of Montana, USA comes this CRUSADER. A Christian melodic hardrockband that recorded this demo CDR in 1994 and ever since the bandmembers have been doing other projects aside CRUSADER. This only CDR release from 1994 gives us nice melodic hardrock without getting too sensational. There are some nice melodic rockballads such as "Never meant to be" and "Don't cry for me" and the acoustic sing-a-long ballad "Christian unity". The only real rocker is opener "Winning warriors (for God)", nice melodic rock. The other rocker "Burning cross" is nothing special. I believe this CDR was a live recording demo, the sound quality is not so good due to the average production. Check out the mp3s of the CDR for yourself at: http://www.mp3.com/Crusader
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
STEALIN' AWAY THE NIGHT-SCOTT MICHAEL WEBB (INDEPENDENT)
SCOTT MICHAEL WEBB is coming out of Jackson, Nebraska, USA. His debut CD 'Stealin' away the night' takes us back into the deep 80s with many keyboards along the way. As like many other mp3 artists/bands, the production and sound of this CDR are not really impressive, due to the fact that this CDR has been recorded from a normal tape because the original mastertapes were lost when making this CDR. The album was recorded over 10 years ago (this can also be heard in the 80s styled music) and the original production was much better than this CDR. But we're here to talk about independent music.
Anyway, like I said musically it is pure early 80s light aor/poprock with many keys and comparable to guys like ALEX CALL, JIMMY MARTIN, DENNIS DEYOUNG and most of all the quirky aor/poprock of MARTIN BRILEY and DONNIE IRIS. In fact, opener "Sticks and stones" could have been a song of MARTIN BRILEY. This is quirky early 80s keyboard orientated poprock like acts such as 4 OUT OF 5 DOCTORS, CALL ME, DONNIE IRIS and even MOON MARTIN brought us back then. It's not bad, but a bit too much to bring these days.
Well, next track "Don't run away" is better. Still in 80s territory, this is nice midtempo 80s AOR like JOHN WAITE crossed with JIMMY MARTIN. Next track " No rules tonight" is one of the weakest tracks on this CD, an average pop/rock&roller a la MICHAEL DES BARRES (remember him?). Happily, the rest of the CDR is much more AOR based an nice to hear too, although the production is very low budget. With a better production and also some better remixed vocals, this would have been a whole lot better.
But let's get on with the songs on this CDR. There is a nice uptempo 80s aor/poprocker like ALEX CALL titled "Miss delirious". The influences of JOURNEY come forward in the following track "No hesitation", some great AOR keys at the start. The following 4 tracks are all in the same category. "Killer look", "Life force", "Stealin' away the night" and "Straight up" (best one) are all uptempo aor/poprockers like DENNIS DEYOUNG on his third CD. Including the cheerful pure 80s keys/synths. This is SCOTT MICHAEL WEBB at his best. "Straight up", the best track of the whole CD, also features much better vocals of Scott.
Closing track "Who are you" is taking the level of the 4 previous tracks a bit down, because this is average poprock like MOON MARTIN brought us 20 years ago. Nevertheless, this CDR captures a couple of nice AOR/Poprocksongs and is very much recommended if you like MARTIN BRILEY, ALEX CALL (his early 80s LP), JIMMY MARTIN and DENNIS DEYOUNG.
The only thing is the weak sound/production which have a negative influence on the total points I am gonna give to this CDR. With a better sound the points would have been higher. But if you like any of the mentioned artists, you should check this CDR.
Visit the mp3 site at: http://www.mp3.com/artists/27/scott_michael_webb.html and website at: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Mezzanine/9208/scottwebb.html of Scott for soundbytes of all the 10 songs of this CDR. E-mail Scott at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
RUDE AWAKENING-JAMES CHRISTIAN (FRONTIERS RECORDS)
If you missed this CD the first time around, then here is a good opportunity to get it now. The JAMES CHRISTIAN CD 'Rude awakening' was first released in 1994 by Now&Then and Empire Records and has just been re-released with the addition of 6 bonustracks. Why these bonustracks weren't on the original release is a big question to me, because a song like "Candle in the window" is as good or even better than the original material. Anyway, this CD is a good collection of some very good AOR/Melodic Rocksongs. Songs like "Best girl", "Pleasure and pain" and "Labour of love" are classy AOR tracks.
Moving over to the unreleased bonustracks, I can tell you that the first bonustrack "Candle in the window" is probably the best song James ever sang on! This is a wonderful piece of classic uptempo AOR with lovely keys, some brilliant vocals and a killer AOR chorus. The song reminds me a little of an other AOR classic song ("Look at what you got" by DRIVE SHE SAID). Looking at the songwriter credits of this fantastic AOR song, I see that none other than Judith Randall wrote it together with James. Judith wrote many AOR classics for acts like STARSHIP, MARK FREE, VENUS AND MARS… No wonder this song is such a superb AOR song! The vocals of James in this song remind me of Jeff Scott Soto. In fact I know realise that the voice of James is often very close to Jeff Scott Soto. His vocals really shine through in the wonderful track "Candle in the window".
The other bonustracks are not so classic AOR based, but still enjoyable. "Woman enough" is clearly rougher melodic rock. "After all" is a bit chart orientated sing-a-long ballad (around a campfire like EXTREME/MR. BIG did on their biggest hits). "Love has no mercy" (co-written by Curt Cuomo and Judith Randall) is again great AOR with a killer chorus, but insiders know that this song was first recorded by the band AIRKRAFT (4 wonderful AOR albums in the 80s, a story on them was published in our past-issues) back in the late 80s. Nevertheless, this version of James Christian is also very fine to listen to.
The following bonustrack "Demons down" (original demo version) is a bit average track and not much more interesting than the original HOUSE OF LORDS version. The final bonustrack "Acoustic medley (live at the gods '95)" is a nice acoustic medley of two James Christian tracks, namely "Pleasure and pain" and "Love should've brought you home", both are also on this CD in the original versions. Concluded, this CD is a nice welcome for AOR fans who missed it back in 1994. But even when you have the original release, this re-release captures some great bonustracks for you. Now we can only hope and pray James will release a follow-up to 'Rude awakening'.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
HEAVEN AND EARTH-STUART SMITH (FRONTIERS RECORDS)
Frontiers/Now&Then has just released the debut album of guitarist Stuart Smith in Europe with the addition of some bonustracks. I have posted the complete review below as it appeared on our site about 4 months ago. From the bonustracks for this European release, I can say that "Memories" is a great new addition with some very good lead vocals of Joe Lynn Turner. "Memories" is a classic sounding rough AOR rocker like RAINBOW used to bring them in the early 80s. Besides, this song sounds a whole lot better than the new solo record of Joe Lynn Turner. The other bonustracks are a few instrumental tracks. If you didn't had enough money for the US release, now here's your chance to buy the European version with some new bonustracks. Not bad! Now follows the original review I did of Stuart Smith's debut album:
Stuart Smith is a guitarist who was born in York, England, but moved to the USA in 1983 where he joined SWEET. Last year he released his first solo-album titled 'Heaven and earth'. On this CD, which was produced by Pat Regan and Howard Leese, Stuart has created a sound that captures many musical experiences. There are AOR songs, Bluesrockers, Hardrocksongs, Instrumental parts and some groovy melodic rock tracks. The list of guest appearances is also very long. On Lead Vocals we can hear Richie Sambora, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes and Kelly Hansen. There are 11 songs on the CD.
Opener "Don't keep me waiting" is a nice midtempo melodic rocker that sounds like a mixture between the old GLENN HUGHES and FOREIGNER. The following track is my favourite one. It is the title track "Heaven and earth". This song has it all to become a winner for the AOR fans. A classic AOR track with a wonderful chorus, beautiful lead vocals of Joe Lynn Turner and a great guitarsolo of Stuart. The song is similar in style to FAKE I D, MARK FREE… A fantastic song and pure AOR! The following tracks have not much in common with AOR. It gets a bit bluesy on tracks like "See that my grave…" and "When a blind man cries". But when Joe Lynn Turner is singing again on a track like "Shadow of the Tyburn Tree", you realize that the combination of Joe's superb vocals and Stuarts guitar is really working well. This song is a pretty nice acoustic epic-ballad. The version of "Do you ever think of me?" (the third one in one year) is classic AOR, but after all those other versions of the song, you may wonder what it is doing on this album. Anyway, this version is also pretty good. Closing track of the CD "Lose my number" is a nice melodic rocker that captures the influence of HUGHES/THRALL.
The CD of STUART SMITH captures many different rockstyles, which makes it hard to recommend to a fan of a certain genre. On the other hand, the album can reach many different rockfans. Visit the WebSite of Stuart Smith for more info at: www.stuartsmith.com
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
STILL THINKING-DAS (INDEPENDENT)
Another independent recording aor/melodic rockband out of the USA. DAS is coming out of Madison, Wisconsin and they have released a 4-track demo CDR titled 'Still thinking'. The band is playing 80s based melodic rock a la DANGER DANGER, BRITTON, early ICON… The first two tracks, "Stand up" and "In God we trust", are nice uptempo guitar orientated melodic rockers a la early ICON.
Track 3 is lighter and better. "Looking glass" has some AOR influences and some Progressive influences. Just like the band added, they have been influenced by JOURNEY and DREAM THEATER. Well, their song "Looking glass" sounds like a mix between those two acts, although it is launched into a 80s melodic rocksound.
The final track, the titletrack "Still thinking", is their best song. This song is a wonderful piece of 80s typed uptempo melodic rock with some dramatic lead vocals and a sound comparable to the first DANGER DANGER. If you like any of the mentioned arena melodic rockbands, then this DAS is interesting for you.
At the moment the band is finishing a new CD, which will probably get reviewed over here in a few weeks. Get all the info, including soundbytes, via their website at: http://www.dasmusic.com and e-mail them at: email@example.com or write to their postal address at: Dasmusic LLP, PO BOX 6405, Madison, WI 53716-0405, USA
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
JUST AS I AM-VU (BARTHOLOMEW PRODUCTIONS)
A few years back this Christian Melodic Rockband released a great album entitled 'All I need is U'. Essential for fans of SURE CONVICTION, NOUVEAUX, STRYPER and DEF LEPPARD. The band has now released a new CD titled 'Just as I am'. And musically nothing has changed. The music is maybe not so interesting for the AOR fan, however if you like 80s kick ass melodic rock a la VELOCITY, first NOUVEAUX, STRYPER (circa 'In God we trust') and the debut of NELSON ('After the rain'), then this CD is a must for you.
The CD has a high quality sound and production and there are quite a few great melodic rocktracks that are reminding me of the great late 80s/early 90s when Arena Mainstream Rockbands like DAMN YANKEES, FIREHOUSE, WINGER, NELSON… were on top of the American Billboard charts. Opener "What are you gonna do?" is an example of this sound, a nice pure late 80s groovy melodic rocker that sounds pretty cheerful and reminds me a lot of the first two WINGER albums. This could easily been a song from 1989!
Next track "Point of view" is a cheerful uptempo melodic rocker in the best 80s style of bands like BRITTON, DANGER DANGER, AUTOGRAPH… Following track "Just as I am" is a super track! "Just as I am" is a fantastic semi melodic rocker that sounds like a mixture between TYKETTO and VELOCITY. The chorus of this song is super and classic AOR based. This chorus is hard to get out of your head after you heard it for the first time. The harmonyvocals of this song and most of the rest of the CD remind me very much of the harmonyvocals of the NELSON brothers. Musically it also is in this genre, the melodic rock of VU is sounding like the NELSON albums 'Imaginator' and 'The silence is broken'.
After this superb song, the band slow things down on the next two tracks. "Broken again" is a soft popballad somewhat like the second NOUVEAUX. Next track "C# Run" is an instrumental filler. "I'm forgiven" is in the same style as the opening track, which means early WINGER kinda melodic rock.
But then we get to hear a really superb classy melodic rocksong titled "Whenever I call your name". This song is what melodic rock was all about back in the 80s. Cheerful, straight-ahead uptempo melodic rock with harmonyvocals to sing-a-long. Just have fun and forget about the problems in this world! The song is in the same style as the NELSON track "After the rain" which was a huge hitsingle in the USA 8 years ago. If you like that song, you will love "Whenever I call your name" of VU for sure.
Unfortunately the next couple of tracks are taking the quality to a lower level. "Most loving man" for example is a 90s based pop/rock song that has nothing to with the earlier on mentioned cheerful 80s melodic rock. "My rock" is much better, although it is simple melodic rock, clearly influenced by 80s PETRA. Also a bit simple party melodic rock is "Holy, holy, holy" (close to STRYPER circa 'In God we trust'). Closing track is a piano based AOR ballad, quite nice, but nothing sensational about it.
This new CD of VU captures some excellent tracks, but also about 5 fillers. Still, if you like the harder edged melodic rockalbums of NELSON and kick ass melodic arena rockbands like FIREHOUSE, VELOCITY, DAMN YANKEES… you will probably love this CD of the American band VU. You can get a copy of this new CD 'Just as I am' and also the debut CD 'All I need is U' of VU through TARGET RECORDS
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
WHILE HE'S AWAY-RAINLORD (INDEPENDENT)
This American band out of Florida reminds me very much of SLYBOYZ. Slyboyz was the forerunner of SAVANNAH, if anyone remembers. That means that this RAINLORD is playing cheerful catchy melodic rock launched in a big arena rocksound. The band exists for some time now and they have performed with big AOR acts like SURVIVOR, 38 SPECIAL… before releasing this CD. In 1996 they released their debut titled 'Medicine for the soul'. The follow-up was 'While he's away', which contained 5 tracks, but the band mailed me a CDR that also contained 3 bonustracks. So there are 8 tracks on this CD.
Opener is the titletrack "While he's away", a late 80s party melodic rocker that is sounding very much like DIRTY BLONDE (does anyone out there remembers that band that released 1 mini and 1 full-length album around 1989?). Also the next track is in the same style. This song is called "Let it go" and is a nice melodic rocker that also has a lot of TRIXTER influences. The following two tracks "Take what you want" and "Getaway sticks" are both simpler early WARRANT/WINGER kinda party melorockers.
"Tears of frustration" on the other hand is a pretty good melodic rockballad that sounds like a mixture between DANGER DANGER and FIREHOUSE. "Bad case of loving you" is a cover. Then comes the best track of the band, namely "By my side". This song is a classic 80s melodic rockballad with some beautiful harmonyvocals. The song reminds me of the ballads of bands like DAMN YANKEES, REO SPEEDWAGON, old DANGER DANGER and FIREHOUSE. Closing track "Don't walk away" is a nice party melodic rocker that comes across like a mix between DIRTY BLONDE and FIREHOUSE.
If you like any of the mentioned bands, then you should check up RAINLORD for sure. More info through their website at: http://www.afternight.com/music/rainlord and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: RAINLORD, PO Box 605, Oak Hill, Florida 32759, USA
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
BLUE THUNDER-BLUE THUNDER (INDEPENDENT)
BLUE THUNDER is a new Austrian Melodic Rockband. This self-produced debut CD sounds very professional and musically it sounds pretty good actually. The band features a girl on keyboards called Barbara Staud, the other 4 bandmembers are men. There are 9 tracks on the CD and the band sounds like those typical German melodic rockbands such as BONFIRE, DEMON DRIVE, BOYSVOICE, some JADED HEART… There is not a weak song on this album. Best songs are "Every beat of my heart" (melodic rockballad), "Hell in paradise" (midtempo melodic rock), "Dancing with wolves" (midtempo melodic rock) and "Sundancer" (BONFIRE/DEMON DRIVE typed melodic rocker). No real complaints on this band. BLUE THUNDER has a good sound and the production is also pretty good for an indie. If typical happy German orientated melodic rock like BONFIRE, DEMON DRIVE is your kind of music, check this band out. For more info, e-mail them at: BLUE.THUNDERdome@aon.at or write to their postal address at: BLUE THUNDER, Siedlungesstr. 25/3, 2551 ENZESFELD, Austria and visit their website at: http://www.BLUE-THUNDER.net
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
ADVANCE PROMO CDR-BLUE THUNDER (PROMO CDR)
This is an advance CDR of what will become the second album of BLUE THUNDER. There are 5 songs included. The band has moved to a bit heavier melodic rocksound, without losing the melodic parts. The first two tracks (Heaven denied" and "Deceiver") of the 5 included are examples of the heavier melodic rocksound the band now has. The band now sounds a bit like VICTORY. The third track "Road of 1000 tears" is like their debut, good midtempo melodic rock with a very good and melodic chorus. Then follows the PINK FLOYD cover "The wall". The final track of this CDR is "She", a nice midtempo melodic rocker. For more info on this upcoming release, visit their website at: http://www.BLUE-THUNDER.net
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
DIANA DEWITT AND THE HIPPIE GYPSIES-DIANA DEWITT (PHONO RECORDS)
DIANA DEWITT is a very much-respected songwriter in both the AOR and popscene. Her classic AOR songs she wrote together with the Randall sisters for the MARK FREE album 'Long way from love' (and the unreleased session/demo tracks that are circulating in the scene) and the VENUS AND MARS album are brilliant and unforgettable for every AOR fan. Now she has also released a solo-album containing 11 tracks that are a bit less AOR orientated, but still similar to her VENUS AND MARS.
The songs sound a bit more like the debut album of VENUS AND MARS, which means a mixture of 90s poprock and 80s AOR. Opener "Who will be the Gandhis" is a bit 90s based average poprocker. Happily, the rest is much better and also more in the AOR style of HEART and VENUS AND MARS, not pure AOR, but AOR orientated songs such as the great (semi) ballads "You break it, you pay for it", "Courtroom battles", "Moment of truth" and "Will you be true". These songs are very much in the HEART/VENUS AND MARS style. A must for female AOR/Poprock fans. Also the midtempo AOR songs "For the rest of my life" and "Hang tough" are reminding me of these bands. Some of the rest is a bit different, such as the funky poprocker "Forget about the bomb" or the 70s based rocker "Lay down (Candles in the rain)".
Although the new VENUS AND MARS CD is much better, I think female AOR/Poprock fans will also love this CD of DIANA DEWITT. It's not in the MARK FREE AOR style of the new VENUS AND MARS, but more in the style of the debut album of VENUS AND MARS and acts like ZIA LINDBERG. For more info, visit the website of Diana at: http://www.phonorec.com
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
CATAPHONIC-SYN D'CATS (TMI RECORDS)
This American band is playing a musicstyle that has influences of 70s rock. In fact, the band reminds me of a cross between BAD BOY and the early 80s sounds of EDDIE MONEY (not at all sounding like Money's latest release). But there are also references to guys like JOHN COUGAR, DANNY WILDE, JOHN KILZER and JACKSON BROWNE. Basically it has a lot of early 80s poprock influences with the addition of some westcoast tingled material. Opener "Slave" does sound different than all the mentioned styles and is more rock a la ROLLING STONES. Happily, the rest of the CD is in the style I mentioned earlier on.
This CD is full of Retro-poprock. "Broken smile" is a nice westcoast influenced poprocker a la DANNY WILDE/JOHN COUGAR. Next track "Bucket seat" is a bit less interesting, because it keeps reminding me of TOM PETTY so much. Following track "Trashy little number" makes it good, as being a moody 70s based melodic poprocker that could have been on the first couple albums of BAD BOY. Later on the CD we get hear more of these 70s rockers. Pretty nice is the melodic poprocker "What kind of fool" that has a lot of similarities to the early 80s records of EDDIE MONEY. "As is" is something totally different, this song is very long 70s based rock a la MOXY! The CD is pretty diverse, so it's hard to label it.
If you like any of the mentioned acts, it's worth a try to check this out. Visit the website of SYN D'CATS at: http://www.raintree.com/goto/syndcats and e-mail them at: email@example.com or write to their postal address at: Raintree, PO Box 52, Annville, PA 17003, USA
(Points: 6.5 out of 10)
BEHIND-CRAZY SWEEPER (INDEPENDENT)
Switserland has a lot more melodic hardrockbands to offer besides GOTTHARD, SHAKRA and newcomers CRYSTAL BALL. One of the bands that still has been pretty much in the underground is the band CRAZY SWEEPER. This band has released 3 CDs and I have never read somewhere about them. This third CD titled 'Behind' was released last year. The album contains 11 tracks and musically it is very much in the SHAKRA/old GOTTHARD and CRYSTAL BALL style. So we get to hear powerful melodic hardrock with heavy guitars, but always an ear for a good melody. The CD starts with "I just need the wind", a nice slowtempo melodic rocker that is somewhere between CRYSTAL BALL and BONFIRE.
The following tracks are all pretty much in the typical German/Swiss tradition Melodic Hardrockstyle, only the songs "Round me", "You will stay" and "Soldier without tears" are sounding a bit more in the heavier 90s style and are a bit average. One song really hit me, the track "Magic". This is really good. "Magic" is uptempo melodic rock that sounds like WILD FRONTIER and CRYSTAL BALL (could've been on their CD 'In the beginning'). If the band would have put more of such cheerful songs on their CD, it could have been as good as the CRYSTAL BALL release. On the other hand, also tracks like "Lose, baby, lose" (melodic rockballad), "Alone" and "You've got to get up" (both MHR like SHAKRA) are worth listening too.
A nice CD, recommended if you're into SHAKRA, old GOTTHARD and CRYSTAL BALL. For more info, visit their website at: http://homepage.iprolink.ch/~joh/ and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: Daniel Peter, CP 42, CH1502 Chatillens, Switserland.
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
SENSITIVE PICTURES-BLINDMAN (CASTLE RECORDS)
BLINDMAN is another Melodic Rockband out of Japan. They were formed back in 1995. Lead guitarist Tatsuya Nakamura already had released a solo-album, before he and lead vocalist Manabu Takaya formed BLINDMAN. In 1998 the band released their first full-length album titled 'Sensitive pictures', an album that contains 10 tracks. Musically the band has a very melodic sound, partly due to the keyboardist Hitoshi Endo, who gave the sound of the band many cheerful keys. However, this guy left BLINDMAN after the release of the CD and the band is currently looking for a new keyboardplayer.
The music of BLINDMAN is pure Melodic Rock with some 80s WHITESNAKE influences. This is mostly coming from the lead vocalist Manabu Takaya, who has a voice somewhere between Paul Shortino, Sammy Hagar and David Coverdale. This is pretty unusual for a Japanese vocalist. What strikes me most is the fantastic sound and production on this CD. It couldn't be better. There are not many weak songs on the CD. Nice melodic rock is what we mostly get to hear.
The best songs are "Broken dreams" (a good slowtempo AOR/Melodic rocksong with some great piano-keys), "Heads or tails" (midtempo aor/melodic rock), "Why did you come back?" (uptempo aor/melodic rock) and "Gaze into your eyes". The latter is the best one on this CD. "Gaze into your eyes" is very impressive uptempo AOR with some splendid 80s classic AOR keys and a very professional sound. If the band would have put more of this AOR based tracks on their CD, the surprise would have been huge, because then we could have had a much better release. Still, this release is worth to check out if you're into Melodic (Hard) Rock. This BLINDMAN is one of the better sounding bands from Japan.
For more info, visit their website at: http://www.geocities.co.jp/Broadway/2345/ and e-mail them at: email@example.com or write to their postal address at: Minoru Washio, c/o Hot Blood Promotion, #301 Taniguchi Bldg, 595-4 Kami-Sakunobe, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki 213-0034, Japan
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
DISCHARGE-WIRED (T.O.S. RECORDS)
This Melodic Hard Rock band from Japan is clearly influenced by everything that is American. They released this self-produced debut CD 'Discharge' back in 1993. The CD is full of pure melodic hard rock (MHR), without any influences of other music styles. The sound is somewhere between 80s DOKKEN, KEEL and RECKLESS on the very melodic songs, while they sound like a mixture between AXEL RUDI PELL and SCORPIONS on the heavier songs. The CD starts with "King of the fire", nothing special MHR. Next up is "Somebody to love", a catchy uptempo melodic rocker in the best 80s DOKKEN tradition.
Next track "Down to the wire" is like the opener, but then we get to hear another catchy uptempo 80s influenced melodic rocker that sounds like 80 DOKKEN, HEAVENS EDGE… The song is called "Just one more time", a very good song and while listening to this song and the rest of the CD, the band reminds me of an English band that has been on the scene for a few years now. I'm talking about the band VANDAMNE (released two albums in the mid 90s). If you like that band, I'm sure you will love this WIRED.
Anyway, after the first couple of songs, the CD doesn't have more sensational tracks, but still contains some nice melodic rockers such as the acoustic ballad "Somewhere in time" or the midtempo "Tell me why". Nice CD of yet another Japanese MHR band. Contactdetails see review of their new demo tape.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
RHYTHM AND ROLL-WIRED (MFACTORY)
'Rhythm and roll' is the second CD release of the Japanese Melodic Hardrockband WIRED. This self-produced CD is a bit heavier and more in the melodic heavy rockstyle. The album was released in 1995. Only 9 tracks are on the CD. Some of the songs remind me of the early SKID ROW, such as the first two cuts "Boys be the rock" and "Skin on skin". Happily, then we get to hear two melodic tracks, namely "When you search for another man" (uptempo melodic rocker) and "The memories" (melodic rockballad). The following 3 songs are again more in the Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal style of SKID ROW. "Tears" is a nice semi melodic rockballad. Their first album was much better. Contactdetails see review of their new demo tape.
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
DEMO TAPE-WIRED (DEMO TAPE)
After two CD releases, the Japanese band WIRED didn't get the chance to release a new CD and so they decided last year to release this demo tape. The Tape contains 4 tracks that have a good production. Musically the band has moved to a heavier Melodic Hard Rock sound. I still think their first CD is their best. The tape starts with "Face to face", a bit average 90s based heavy rock/metal. Next track "Love comes through your mind" is nice melodic heavy rock, again with 90s influences. The best track follows, this is "Alone in the game". A good 80s typed melodic rocker. The tape closes with "Doggy jam", a faster boogie hardrocksong a la VAN HALEN. I think the production and the sound are good, but the songs are just not catchy enough. I would like to hear more tracks like their songs "Alone in the game", "Just one more time" and "Somebody to love". With more songs in this style the band could release a much better release.
For more info on WIRED, visit their website at: http://www.media-blaze.com/wired/ and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 6.5 out of 10)
DEMOTAPE-STREET LEGAL (DEMO TAPE)
I have got very little info around this band. They come out of Norway and have released a 3-track demotape. I believe the band is working on a CD. Anyway, this demotape is sounding very good and professional and it has the quality of a CD. And also musically STREET LEGAL is sounding very impressive. The band is playing pure melodic (hard) rock that reminds me of bands like VON GROOVE, PANGEA and also HAREM SCAREM.
The tape starts with "Chasing the rainbow", high class melodic hard rock in the style of mentioned bands. Then comes the band's best song, "Shadow dance". This is very good classic 80s Melodic Hardrock with great harmonyvocals and a catchy hookline. The song reminds me very much of the last WHITE LION album mixed with AMAZE ME and HAREM SCAREM. The third and final track of this tape is "Calling for you", a good semi melodic rockballad.
This tape is very good and recommended if you like any of the mentioned bands. I am looking forward to the debut album of STREET LEGAL. This band would be perfect for the Z RECORDS label. I cannot see why STREET LEGAL should not be signed by that recordlabel. They fit completely in the label's music direction. For more info on STREET LEGAL, e-mail them at: email@example.com
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
TRIP YOUR EVOLUTION-ELEVENTH
ELEVENTH HOUR is an American band out of Jackson, Mississippi. The 4 members of the band have all had a lot of experience in the music industry, they played in many different bands before they came together and formed ELEVENTH HOUR. And now this band has released their debut CD 'Trip your evolution'.
The CD was well-produced by the band and Randy Everette. It contains 12 tracks and musically it is a bit diverse. Most of the time, the band sounds like a melodic rockband with some light progressive rock influences. The band reminds me very much of the debut CD of the Dutch band LEMON CRUSH. The CD starts with "Do you know", a nice melodic rocker that sounds a little dark. Next up is "No way out", a slowtempo melodic rocker that reminds me a bit of RATT on their late 80s records. "Fear" enters a more progressive metal sound, while retaining the melodic parts during the songs.
The following 3 tracks are the best ones on the CD. "Father time" is a nice semi melodic rockballad with the use of acoustic guitars. "Drowning" is a nice melodic rocker that could have been on the debut album of LEMON CRUSH. "Don't walk away" is a nice semi melodic rocker. The rest of the CD is a bit up and down, without getting boring. "Slow train home" and "I" are both more based on 90s rock, while "The other side" and "No matter where I go" are both in the better melodic rocksound of the 80s.
Concluded, this band is not the typical melodic rockband, but the try to combine melodic rock with influences of progressive rock music and some updated 90s rock/metal. After hearing their debut CD, I think it has worked and happily, the band is more in the melodic rock direction than the progressive rockstyle. Visit their website at: http://www.11THHOUR.NET and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: Eleventh Hour, 3969 Rainey Rd., Jackson, MS 39212, USA
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
DEMO CDR-CIOBA (DEMO CDR)
CIOBA is a new Swedish AOR/Westcoast band that have not released a CD, but a demo CDR featuring two tracks. Maybe not much, but both songs show that we must keep our eye on this hot new band. The band was formed in 1996 and is clearly influenced by TOTO, because both the songs on the demo are very close to the best TOTO offered. "22" is a very good uptempo AOR/Westcoast rocker that is a mixture between PROMOTION and TOTO. Just listen to the impressive sound and production of the band, and you will admit that this band is going to become known very soon in both the AOR/Westcoast and Pop scene.
Also the other song, "Here in the heartland" is very impressive. The song starts a bit poppy, but when the chorus comes around, the AOR is everywhere. The chorus of "Here in the heartland" is huge AOR and similar in style to TOTO (like their biggest hitsingle "Hold the line"). If you have enjoyed the recent PROMOTION, TOTO and HIGHER GROUND CDs, this CIOBA is a must for you.
Listen to these two songs at their website: http://listen.to/cioba and e-mail them at: email@example.com The band is currently working on some new material. I have heard a couple of songs and they are moving much more into pure AOR, some new songs come close to MARK FREE, early FM and even STAN BUSH AND BARRAGE! A band to watch out for in the future!
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
UNKNOWATT-UNKNOWATT (DEMO CD INDEPENDENT)
Leader of this band is keyboardist/drummer Rod Pruitt. He has played in several bands before releasing the CD of this new project, which he has called UNKNOWATT. The band features besides Rod, also Jeff Harmon on lead vocals and Scott Perkins on guitars. There are 8 songs, from which 3 are short instrumental parts. The remaining 5 are a mixture of pure AOR (the keyboards), Melodic Rock (the vocals) and some Progressive and Pomprock in the overall sound. It doesn't sound bad, but the music is very diverse.
Opener "Get out" has some pure AOR keys, while song itself is slowtempo aor/melodic rock with influences of SAMMY HAGAR, WHITESNAKE and also some JESSE'S POWERTRIP. "The door" sounds like a mixture between VAN HALEN (with Sammy Hagar) and JOURNEY. Progressive AOR can be heard in the track "Somewhere", while you can hear some good uptempo AOR in "Turn it around" (a bit short unfortunately).
The best track however is "The altar", a nice semi AOR ballad with great AOR keys and a sound close to JOURNEY. But don't think this CD is sounding like JOURNEY all the way, because the CD has much more influences and is not only AOR based, it is much more in the progressive and symphonic AOR direction. For more info, e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
OUT OF THE BLUE-BIG SMILE (INDEPENDENT)
This is a Canadian band and on their debut CD 'Out of the blue', the music is very diverse. There are quite some differences in musical styles throughout the whole CD. The CD was produced, recorded and mixed by bassist/keyboardist Chris Brockway, who also wrote most of the songs with vocalist Phil Habib.
There are 8 tracks on the CD and like I said when you started to listen to the CD, you will notice a big difference between the songs. Opener "I don't believe" is a weird jazzy funky poprocker that is really nothing special. Next track "Quitter" is instrumental sounding much better and has a nice melodic aor rocksound, a bit like BERNIE LABARGE, only less sensational.
The following two tracks ("Out of the blue" - blues and "Good together" = average groovy poprock) are taking the level down. Happily, the second part is much better and more AOR based. "Waiting for the call" is the first really good song. This is the sound we want to hear, a great midtempo polished keyboard AOR track that sounds like a mix between DENNIS DEYOUNG, DAVE BALDWIN and ROKBOX. But only this song is sounding like these acts.
"Too high to fly" is sounding again different, happily this is nice uptempo poprock like LOVERBOY did in the 80s. Next track "With a little love" is a nice AOR ballad. Closing track "The tease" changes again in style, this is pure blues and has nothing to do with AOR or our musicstyle.
Well, it is hard to give this a good comparison, because the whole CD sounds very diverse in musicstyle. The band is working on a new CD which should be released this year. This should give us hopefully a better view of their musicstyle, because the material is now a bit too diverse.
I think you should better visit the website of the band for more info. Here's the address: http://www.bigsmile.net and e-mail them at: email@example.com or write to their postal address: Chris Brockway, 878 Upper Cage Ave., Hamilton, Ontario, L8V 4K6, Canada.
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
NEW MOON RISING-VENUS
VENUS AND MARS features the female AOR songwriters Robin Randall and Diana DeWitt. Dianne is the lead vocalist and Robin is playing the keyboards. Both girls are very well-known in the AOR scene, because they wrote together with Robin's sister Judithe Randall a lot of classic AOR songs, such as the whole MARK FREE album 'Long way from love' and all it's bonustracks and demorecordings that are now circulating in the AOR scene. And as we all know, this MARK FREE album is one of the best pure AOR albums of all times.
But the girls wrote much more, including songs for acts like STARSHIP, ROXUS, and ROBERT TEPPER… Diana and Robin are one of the best AOR songwriters around and up there with other songwriter-pairs such as Tom Kelly/Billy Steinberg and Desmond Child/Dianne Warren. Now they have released a second CD with their own band VENUS AND MARS. Their first CD 'Grand trine' was more in the 90s pop/rock direction, while still containing some AOR sounds. But if we listen to the new CD 'New moon rising', I can only say that this is a must for every fan of pure AOR.
This CD contains pure AOR and most of the songs could have been on the MARK FREE album 'Long way from love'. There are also a couple of songs that were recorded by MARK FREE, such as the classic AOR tunes "The last time" and "Dying for your love". Just listen to these songs and you agree with me that these girls can easily write a classic AOR song. All the 14 songs were written and recorded between 1985 and 1998. A couple of them appeared on albums of other performers, such as "Tomorrow doesn't matter tonight" on the STARSHIP album 'Knee deep in the hoopla', "The last time" (on both MARK FREE and AGNETHA FALTSKOG solo albums) and there is also a BAYWATCH song titled "Bless a brand new angel".
The list of guest musicians on the CD is also very stunning, it includes famous AOR musicians such as MAR(CIE)K FREE, TONY SCIUTO, CURT CUOMO, TIM LANDERS and many more, who all appeared on many great AOR albums in the past. Because the songs were all written and recorded in a different time period, there are quite a few different producers, such as Curt Cuomo, Claude Gaudette, Michael Hanna, Guy Marshall, Ron Wasserman, Tony Sciuto and Steven Cristol. Musically that doesn't make such a difference, because the whole CD is classic AOR, except a few tracks that were probably recorded last year.
But let's talk about the wonderful songs on this very interesting CD. Opener "Dancing on the highwire" is immediately top classic AOR that sounds like a cross between MARK FREE's solo-album 'Long way…' and HEART at their most AOR orientated 80s albums. What a fantastic start! Also the next track "Leave well enough alone" is similar to this classic AOR sound, and those lovely AOR keys are making this song so incredibly 80s, I love it! The song could have easily have been on the MARK FREE album, this song is a must for the AOR fans!
Then comes one of the few less interesting tracks, namely "Bless a brand new angel". This is a calmer popballad that was featured in one of the episodes of 'Baywatch'. Next up is the melodic rocker "Killer love", which was written by Judithe Randall and Curt Cuomo. Nothing special, just a nice rocker. Can't say that about the following track "The last time". This is a fantastic classic midtempo AOR song and this version of VENUS AND MARS is up there with MARK FREE's version.
"One heartbeat at a time" is also classic AOR, a semi-ballad with the impressive lead vocals of Diana and the additional guitar of Tony Sciuto. Not only this song, but also the next two tracks are pure AOR in the style of MARK FREE's 'Long way from love'. "Last chance cafe" is a bit calmer AOR and "Making out like a bandit" is superb midtempo AOR. Just listen to these songs and you know what AOR is all about. The songs got everything you need to hear in an AOR song. Lovely keys, harmonyvocals and lead vocals and still some melodic guitars. These girls can really write a bunch of pure AOR songs.
"Wanna wanna" is more AOR rock, maybe not a strong chorus line, but the sound is pure classic AOR rock. The song reminds me a bit of DANTE FOX and TONE NORUM (circa her first and second album). "Accidents on purpose" take things into a different direction. After almost only 80s typed AOR, this song is more 90s based pop. Not bad, but after hearing so many fantastic songs, this song is taking the high level a bit down. Happily, the rest of the CD is again in the classic 80s AOR style.
"Tomorrow doesn't matter tonight" is the rework of the classic STARSHIP song and to my ears this is what AOR was all about. So many new bands are saying they play 80s AOR, but this song is above all those bands and when hearing songs like these, I am always thinking that such songs aren't made anymore.
Same goes for the next track "Dying for your love". Last year we got to hear this song for the first time on the re-issued MARK FREE album 'Long way from love'. This version is as good as Mark's version. Classic 80s uptempo AOR and a song that is up there with songs of songwriters such as Kelly/Steinberg and Child/Warren. If it was 1987, this song would have been a US TOP 10 hitsingle. The song is similar in style to songs like "I don't wanna lose you' (recorded by I-TEN and REO SPEEDWAGON) and "In a crazy world like this" (recorded by many artists/bands, including ALIEN, ROBIN BECK and TONE NORUM). To put it in other words, you can't get closer to pure AOR than this!
The following track "When did we become history" is a nice calmer AOR ballad and closing track "Live for the summer" is a nice AOR rocker, but nothing special.
Concluded, this CD is a must for every fan of female fronted AOR and probably the best in this genre since the WITNESS and DANTE FOX releases. But if you like MARK FREE's album 'Long way from love', which I know a lot of you will, then this is a must for you too. The only difference is that a 'real' female vocalist (who looks very good too) did the lead vocals.
Almost the whole CD has a pure AOR sound with it's fantastic keys, beautiful songs and also the lead vocals of Diana DeWitt are very good and as good as Ann/Nancy Wilson from HEART. So, if bands like STARSHIP, HEART, FAKE I D, SIGNAL, ALIAS, MARK FREE… are your favourites, you can easily buy this CD.
The CD has so far only been released through Japanese import, but it is also available through the following website: http://www.phonorec.com This site covers everything about VENUS AND MARS as well as DIANA DEWITT and her side-projects. We will probably have an interview with Diana DeWitt in the next coming months about VENUS AND MARS, her songwriting and the plans for the future. For now, get a copy of this CD today!
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
2-TWO PIECE PUZZLE (INDEPENDENT)
Another independent recording band from Sweden. TWO PIECE PUZZLE features a female vocalist called Anna Savhed and she sounds like TONE NORUM. Musically the band sounds a bit like the first couple of albums of Tone, but more updated. This second CD of the band contains 4 tracks that musically are a mixture of 80s AOR melodies and 90s poprock, a bit like we heard of female performers such as JOSETTE and JACQUIE.
The CD also contains a nice video of the song "Crazy". This is also the opening track of the CD. Definitely one of the best songs of the band, this song is good old 80s female aor/poprock with even some nice hooklines and a sound comparable to the very early recordings of PAT BENATAR. The keyboards of Jesper Rosdahl and the guitarsolo of Jesper Ohlsson give this song a nice AOR sound.
The band has been influenced hugely by TOTO, which can be heard in the instrumental parts of each song, but overall the sound is less AOR orientated than TOTO. The next song "Down on your knees" is more 90s based poprock, still nice to hear and very suitable for radio-airplay. "Weird thing" is a nice poprocker, nothing more, nothing less. Closing track "Give" is much better and is a good AOR ballad.
TWO PIECE PUZZLE is a nice AOR band from Sweden and when things come to a full-length CD, we can see how good this band really is. The band is working on their third CD at this moment, so we have to wait what the new release will bring. For more info, visit their website at: http://www.medab.se/TPP and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write the band on their postal address at: TWO PIECE PUZZLE, Jesper Ohlsson, Blavingegatan 29, 23336 Svedala, Sweden.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
TRAIL OF TEARS-JOE ROBINSON (INDEPENDENT)
JOE ROBINSON is a new AOR singer/songwriter from Liberty, KY, USA. His independent released CD 'Trail of tears' contains 10 tracks. Although the production is not really good, because of the low-budget, it is the music that counts and after hearing Joe's debut CD I heard some excellent AOR tunes in the best 80s tradition. The music of JOE ROBINSON reminds me very much of acts like PHIL VINCENT, 8084, to put it in other words, this is quality AOR/Melodic Rock. The vocals of Joe remind me a little of Stephen Kaemmerer from FRONTLINE.
The CD starts with "Cold hearted woman", a good uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker. The following two tracks ("Loner" and "Trail of tears") are just nice melodic rockers, but track four impressed me very much.
"On the line" is namely a great 80s typed pure AOR rocker in the style of 8084, WHITE SISTER and PHIL VINCENT. Besides, this song has some lovely AOR/Pompkeyboards. One of the better songs on this CD of Joe. Next track "Missing you" is a nice semi melodic rocker.
"I believe" is very much early 80s based, a good straight ahead uptempo AOR rocker that sounds somewhat like LANCE POWERS. The following track "Blue skies" is a nice AOR ballad. Then we get to hear the best track on this CD, namely "Lies". This is a fantastic pure 80s uptempo AOR rocker with again those similarities to the 8084 albums. Also the track "Out of time" has that same AOR feeling, another excellent tune.
The only song I haven't mentioned yet is the midtempo melodic rocker "Situations" that reminds me of a cross between NORWAY and 80s DOKKEN, although not as sensational as these two bands. JOE ROBINSON has released a very good CD. With a better production, I would have given more points, but this should not bother you if you want to hear some pure AOR/Melodic Rock. A must if you like bands such as 8084 and PHIL VINCENT.
Contact Joe at the following postal address: Joe Robinson, 2123 Shugars Hill Road, Liberty, KY 42359, USA and e-mail him at: JoeR1@netscape.net and visit his page at: http://www.mp3.com/JoeRobinson
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
VISION-ONE EIGHTY (ROCKWOOD MUSIC)
Jason Wood and Bobby Loux form together the band 180 (One Eighty). This is brand new Californian AOR band that has been clearly influenced by JOURNEY and THE STORM. Jason plays all the instruments, while Bobby is handling all the lead vocals. The CDR of these guys is titled 'Vision' and as I was informed, the band is working hard on their debut CD. 'Vision' is only a demo tape consisting of 6 tracks. The debut CD will feature another 6 new songs and after hearing this demo CD I am already looking forward to hear that debut CD.
This demo CD opens with "Don't be lonely", a fantastic uptempo pure classic AOR rocker and is definitely the best song of the band. The song reminds me of bands like 8084, SUNSHINE JIVE, FRONTIER, BLUE RAIN, FAITH NATION, FRONTLINE and of course JOURNEY (circa "Separate ways"). If you like any of these bands, then this song is a must to hear. This is the only rocker on the demo CD, because the rest of the material is calmer and more semi rock/ballad orientated, but all very much in the AOR direction.
"One heart" is a nice calmer AOR ballad that comes pretty close to the solo material of STEVE PERRY. "Promises under the sun" introduce some acoustic guitars, while the song itself is just good AOR. "By your side again" was written by Jason with the 'Raised on radio' record of JOURNEY in his mind. This semi AOR ballad is quite similar in style to that JOURNEY album.
The instrumental party rocker "Let it roll" is not really special. Closing track "Dreams" is a good AOR ballad that lift things up to a much higher level than the previous track "Let it roll". When their debut CD is released, I think we can get an even better view on this interesting new AOR band. But even this Demo CD shows that we must keep our eye on this band, because their debut CD could become a big hit in the AOR scene. My only complaint is that I want to hear some more rockers, because their best song is their only rocker "Don't be lonely". This song shows the band at their best and with a couple of more songs in that style, the band could deliver a wonderful debut CD. Let's hope so, their upcoming debut full-length CD will probably give us the answer.
For now, e-mail the band at: Rockto180@aol.com and visit their website at: http://members.aol.com/rockto180
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
PEACE & QUIET-PEACE
(AMERICAN WAVE RECORDS)
This band out of Utah, USA surprised me in a big way. Their independent CD contains 9 tracks that were all produced very well by drummer Walt Jones. Musically it is hardly believable, but this is a pure Pomprockband with references to the late 70s Pomprockbands such a ROSE, TOUCH, AERIAL, LE ROUX (during 'Up' and 'So fired up') and especially ROADMASTER. In fact, some songs are so close to that band, I was almost thinking if I wasn't listening to the same band. But no rip-offs here, this band is really fantastic on it's own and it's really great to hear a band play this kind of music nowadays.
The CD starts with "Keep on pushin" and it is this song that is an ultimate dream for the fans of late 70s/early 80s Pomprock. Those piano-keys in this fantastic pure AOR/Pomprocker are making this song sounding so classic-AOR/Pomp and if bands like ROADMASTER, LE ROUX, HEAD EAST and even SUGARCREEK are your favourites, you should hear this song of PEACE AND QUIET, because this is quite similar in style. After this amazing song, the same style is being continued on the following track "Get out", only this song features female lead vocals.
"Get out" is more sounding like a classic female uptempo AOR rocker somewhere between SHEILA, TERI DESARIO ('Caught') and TANE CAIN. Next up is "Roll", a nice melodic poprocker in the style of late 70s acts such as BAD BOY, STREETHEART…
Next track "That's a lie" takes us right back into the pomprock territory of HEAD EAST, great song! Then we get to hear a pure 80s bit quirky poprocker titled "'Scuse me" which reminds me of DONNIE IRIS and MARTIN BRILEY. Following track "Leave that world" is the song to die for if you're into pure Pomprock.
"Leave that world" is really superb late uptempo 70s AOR/Pomprock which sounds like the perfect combination of SUGARCREEK, ROSE and ROADMASTER. Just listen to the wonderful piano-keys and the classic guitarsolo. This is more than a must for the fan of this genre.
Next song "Main street boogie" is the only weak song on this CD and has nothing in common musically with the rest of this great album. "Main street boogie" is a rocker like a cross between ROLLING STONES and REX. This song should have been left of the CD.
However, the closing two tracks are making this CD a true winner for the Pomprockfans. "Survival" and "Paradise" are both great uptempo pomprockers like SUGARCREEK, LE ROUX and ROSE. Concluded I can only add that this is the new sensation, everyone should check his band today.
We are the first AOR publication that have written about this wonderful new band and I think many websites and magazines will follow, because simply it's hard to ignore this great CD. E-mail the band at: Peace-Quiet@We-Rock.com and visit their website at: http://we-rock.com/Peace&Quiet.html
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
ROCK BEFORE YOU ROLL-SECOND CHANCE (INDEPENDENT)
A new band from Toledo, Ohio, USA that is playing pure 80s AOR. I can't believe my ears as I am listening to the 4-track debut mini-CD of this band, because the rockstyle of this band is just so 80s with it's classic AOR guitarsound and harmonyvocals. It's great that there are still so many bands keeping our musicstyle alive!
SECOND CHANCE released this CD in January earlier this year and are expected to release a full length CD pretty soon. But the 4 tracks on this CD already show that this band is a promise for the future. Included on 'Rock before you roll' are 4 uptempo AOR/Radiorockers with a lovely classic 80s AOR guitarsound and musically very much reminding me of the early SURVIVOR (circa 'Caught in the game'), 80s NIGHT RANGER and most of all 38 SPECIAL (note the bandname reference to the big 38 SPECIAL hitsingle). There are also some similarities to the classic Canadian AOR of bands like CHAMPION, MESSENGER, QWEST, VANCOUVER, LOVERBOY…
Opener "Rock before you roll" is a nice uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker reminding me of STRANGER (circa their 1982 debut) and even EDDIE MONEY (check out his new release which is similar in style to this band).
Next track "Made your own way" has a really fantastic AOR guitarsound which is pure 80s and is very melodic and harmonic. The song itself is pretty good uptempo AOR/Radiorock like 707 and the old SURVIVOR.
The following track "All I want is your love" is the best song of the band, a fantastic uptempo AOR/Radiorocker with lovely harmonyvocals and some catchy AOR hooklines. This song gives me memories of great early 80s acts such as PREVIEW, AVIATOR and even FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS. This kind of AOR isn't heard much these days, but SECOND CHANCE is pretty close in style to Frontiers recording AORsters THE PROMISE. If you like that band, then this band is really a total must for you.
Also the closing track "Don't you leave" is similar in style to the rest, uptempo AOR/Radiorock and this time I am reminding myself to that great U.K. band AIRRACE that recorded 1 classic AOR/Radiorock album back in the early 80s.
Concluded, this band is a must for those of you that are into classic 80s AOR like 38 SPECIAL, the very early SURVIVOR (when Dave Bickler was handling the lead vocals), 80s NIGHT RANGER, 80s LOVERBOY and most of all THE PROMISE (that Scottish AOR/Radiorockband which has just released their second CD). I can't wait to hear a full-length CD of this new sensation.
Contact the band at: SECOND CHANCE, c/o Bert Cooper, 2700 7th Street, Maumee, Ohio 43537, USA or sent lead guitarist/vocalist/producer Bert Cooper an e-mail at: email@example.com
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
CASTLES IN THE SAND-SCARLET
(SAND GALORE PUBLISHING)
Five piece American band from California that released this debut CD 'Castles in the sand' in 1996, but due to some problems with the distribution of the CD, the band is trying to get it re-released this year. I think that would be a great thing to do, because the music on this CD is very good and it would be a shame if many fans of melodic rock would not be able to hear this excellent band. The band and a guy called Troy Barry produced the CD. They did a very good job, because the sound on the CD is very impressive for an independent band. Opener "The lemming king" for example is a great quality melodic rocker with hooklines. The song reminds me of TRIUMPH. The next song "Your idea of love" is melodic hardrock, but nothing special. Same goes for the closing track "Pretty bad mama". But the rest of the CD sounds really great.
Track number 3 "Way to go" is classic 80s aor/melodic rock like the good old DOKKEN. Later on the CD we hear similar tracks such as "For you" and "You" that are both the better tracks of this great CD. Besides the old DOKKEN reference, there is more great uptempo melodic rock in the shape of "The living is mine", "Sands of time" and "Overdrive" that all are in the style of LOUD'N'CLEAR. The only song I haven't mentioned yet is the semi melodic rockballad "Castles in the sand" that sounds pretty nice. Concluded I can only say that this CD is much recommended if you like your melodic rock sounding cheerful, standard in a very good sound/production. If bands like KNOW ILLUSION, old DOKKEN, LOUD'N'CLEAR, early FIREHOUSE, JET RED, SINNOCENCE… are your favourite acts, then I think you should buy this CD as soon as possible.
The WebSite of the band is at the moment not available, so for more info you must contact the band at: SCARLET BLUE, PO Box 716, Lomita, CA 90717-0716, USA.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
SIX INTERLOCKING PIECES-MARK
(BLUE CAR RECORDS)
THE MARK ALLEN BAND is an undiscovered Californian AOR Band that is getting their first appearance in Europe in our magazine. I discovered this great band by a coincidence on the Internet. The Mark Allen Band consists of bandleader Mark Allen on Lead Vocals and Guitars, Tony Agapiou on Keyboards and Guitar, Barney Cortinez on Bass and Michele DiSisto on Drums. Besides these 4 members there are also two very pretty girls singing backing vocals. Just like we saw on the FAKE ID CD some time ago. Musically the MARK ALLEN BAND is similar to FAKE ID. But there are many more influences and references in the songs of the band. Mark Allen himself produced the CD and did a terrific job, because the sound on the CD can easy compete with any of the releases done by the major labels.
There are 10 tracks on the CD and they all contain a diverse range of styles of the AOR/Melodic Rocksound we all love so much. The whole CD is AOR or Melodic Rock, there are happily no other musical influences. Opener "Wishing well" is a nice melodic rocker, but the average chorus make it the least interesting track. Moving on to the following track "Take my heart" and then we can hear some brilliant midtempo AOR/Melodic Rock. This song also captures a beautiful hookline. It sounds a bit like the first album of WINGER. In the same style is the next track "Lightning never strikes" that starts with some great harmonyvocals of Mark and the girls. This song is very much in the style of the WINGER song "Seventeen".
After these 3 good tracks, I thought this was going to be just a good CD. But I was wrong! Track four is a pure AOR song! A killer AOR song! The song is called "I will be there" and already after a few seconds I knew I was onto something special. "I will be there" has it all to become a winner for the AOR Fans. It has beautiful Piano-Keys (like SURVIVOR), hooklines, a beautiful AOR chorus, lovely lead and harmonyvocals and also a classy guitarsolo like we haven't heard for a while. This semi AOR Ballad is as good as (for example) NORWAY, ARTICA, STONE SOUP, MESSAGE, SURVIVOR, THE STORM and all the MTM Releases. This song is not only a winner for the AOR Fans, but should be enough to get the band signed to any of the AOR Labels over here in Europe.
Happily the band continues in this AOR style on the following tracks. "Take me back" is a nice AOR Ballad in the old SURVIVOR style. Track 6 "Same old star" puts you right back into 'AOR Heaven'. This song is fantastic pure AOR like SURVIVOR, SAFIRE, ARTICA, and STUN LEER… Listening to this song, you realize what an incredibly great AOR sound this band has.
The last four tracks are not as good as the mentioned AOR killers, but still very much in the AOR/Melodic Rockstyle. "Fear of falling" is a nice AOR Ballad. "Heart and soul" is again in the early WINGER style. "I need a lover" is a good calmer AOR ballad that sounds like a mixture between DAVID ROBERTS and JOURNEY. Closing track "One night" is similar in style as the opening track, a nice uptempo melodic rocker. I can only add that this is a great CD and very much recommended to all the fans of cheerful AOR/Melodic Rock. Though it would not surprise me if this band gets signed to MTM Music or Escape Music later this year, because their professional AOR sound should take them into Europe and reach all the fans of our genre.
The CD-frontcover is also very impressive and reminds me of the old 80s LP-frontcovers. Visit the WebSite of the band at: http://members.aol.com/MAllenBand/main.html and e-mail them at: MAllenBand@aol.com or write to their Postal Address at: Mark Allen Band, PO Box 61, Montrose, California 91021-0061, USA. Expect an interview on this WebSite soon.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
LIFE-NELSON (STONE CANYON RECORDS)
The Nelson Brothers are back with 2 new albums. This one is called 'Life' and after listening to the CD a couple of times, I can admit that this maybe is the best CD they have released so far. Their debut 'After the rain' still is a classic Melodic Rock album that contained beautiful songs such as "After the rain", "Love and affection" and "Only time will tell". 'Life' is their 5th album. I haven't got much info on the disc, but there are 10 tracks on the album that musically goes back to the style of their debut. I would describe this CD as a mixture of AOR and early 80s Poprock. It sounds like a mixture between RICK SPRINGFIELD (his albums 'Success hasn't spoiled me yet' and 'Working class dog'), MICHAEL MORALES and some NIGHT RANGER thrown in for good measure.
Opener "A girl like that" has the beautiful NELSON Harmonyvocals and is an uptempo early 80s poprocker with a refreshing sound. It sounds like a cross between the 'After the rain' album and the Westcoast album 'Because they can'. The following track "I would if you want me to" is even better, this is a lovely uptempo AOR/Poprocker that is very radio-friendly. The titletrack "Life" is the only song that doesn't belong on this album, it sounds like a cross between QUEEN and THE BEATLES. Things are getting rockier on the song "She Sheila" that is a great uptempo aor/poprocker which sounds like a mixture between TOMMY SHAW and 80s NIGHT RANGER.
The following song "Someone like you" take things in a calmer AOR/Westcoast direction and sounds a bit like KEVIN CHALFANT. The second part of the CD features the best tracks on this wonderful CD. 5 fantastic AOR orientated Poprockers that sound very cheerful.
"Let's talk about me" is the best track of the whole CD and sounds so cheerful that you can't ignore to sing-a-long. The rhythm of this song is really great. This is a song where you can forget all your problems and you just wanna have a good time! There are references to the early 80s Poprock of RICK SPRINGFIELD in this song, only a heavier guitarsound. The choruses in the 4 remaining midtempo AOR/Poprockers "Everybody cries sometimes", "She said she'd be mine" (80s NIGHT RANGER Harmonyvocals), "The hunger" and "Is that how it is" (like MICHAEL MORALES) are really fantastic.
I never thought NELSON would make such a great AOR orientated album. This album is very much recommended to those of you who want to hear some cheerful AOR/Poprock with plenty of quality harmonyvocals and classy hookladen choruses to sing-a-long with. Visit the WebSite of NELSON at http://www.theNelsonBrothers.com and e-mail for an update at: Update@theNelsonBrothers.com or write to the postal address at: NELSON, PO Box 6015, Burbank, CA 91510, USA. Very soon an interview with the Nelson Brothers on this WebSite.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
MY RECORDINGS '90-'95-CANTERRO (DEMO TAPE)
Pure AOR from AUSTRIA!!!! . During 1990-1995 CANTERRO recorded several Demo Songs that are now available on 1 Demo Tape which he simply called 'My recordings '90-'95. He is now taking a musical break, but the songs on this Demo Tape prove that CANTERRO can make some very impressive music. Let's hope he will soon starts recording new material, because what I heard on this Demo Tape is good enough to give him a record deal with MTM Music. There are 9 songs on this Demo Tape and right from the start it grab my attention. "Power" is the opener and is a great midtempo AOR song that sounds very much like ROBERT TEPPER. This song also has a very good pre-chorus and features some wonderful AOR keys. Next track "Divine lady (of my moon) is a great AOR Ballad.
What follows is the first uptempo track that shows CANTERRO at his best. "Free" is fantastic uptempo AOR that sounds a bit like DAYTONA. Side-A of the Tape closes with the two (semi) AOR Ballads "The key" (later featured in an unplugged version) and "When love hurts". Side-B starts with the fantastic uptempo AOR rocker "River of love" that belongs to the better tracks of this Tape. Then we are surprised by an acoustic AOR ballad called "I want you now". Another fantastic uptempo AOR rocker titled "Hungry eyes" follows this moody song. "Hungry eyes" is the best song of CANTERRO, it has a beautiful AOR Hookline and a really great catchy chorus. Concluded we can say that this Demo Tape is very much recommended to all AOR Fans. Visit the WebSite of CANTERRO at: http://www.canterro.com and e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write him at the following Postal Address: CANTERRO, c/o Kanduth Bernhard, Postfach 155, A-9560 Feldkirchen, Germany.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
ACCOMPLICE is another Californian band that is unsigned, but has created a CD that should be released by the major labels. This band has created a unique sound that captures influences of AOR, Melodic Rock, Progressive Hard Rock and even a touch of Pomprock.
They sound a bit like MYSTERY from Canada, only less AOR/Pomprock orientated. I think you can compare the band easily to TILES, they both soundalike each other, but both create an own sound. There are 10 tracks on their self-produced CD. Opener "Courageous" has some great Pomp-keyboards and can be described as a good Progressive melodic AOR song with some TRIUMPH influences. Same goes for the song "For all the world". The songs "Reactor" and "State of the nation" are a bit weaker 90s Progressive rock. "Welcome" slow things down and is a calmer Progressive AOR Ballad. "Fallin" is a nice Pomprock ballad.
The best tracks though are "Let the show begin" (the most AOR orientated song, a great track with lovely keys and a sound somewhere between Q5, TRIUMPH and JOURNEY) and "Fight on" (Progressive Melodic Hardrock with lovely Pomp-keys, again like TRIUMPH. A good release. A must for the fans of Progressive Rock (also DREAM THEATER fans can taste this).
On the other hand I think that there is enough melody for the AOR fans to enjoy this record. So far nobody has heard of ACCOMPLICE, but I think that will change soon, because the professional sound of the band must take them to higher places.
Contact the band at the following addressses; Postal Address: ACCOMPLICE, c/o Brad Hanley, 1907 W. Houston Ave. Fullerton, CA 92833, U.S.A. or e-mail them at: email@example.com or visit their WebSite at the following address: http://www.accomplice.com
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
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