Friday, December 31, 2010

SILENT CALL - Greed (2010)

SILENT CALL Greed 2010

Friends since 1990, swedish guitarist Daniel Ekholm and keyboardist Patrik Tornblom started SILENT CALL in 2006 along with drummer Mikael Kvist and bassist Tobbe Moen.
Former Seventh Wonder vocalist Andi Kravljaca completes the lineup in the fall of 2006 and a subsequent demo in early 2007 leads them to a record deal.
The band's debut 'Creations From A Chosen Path' in 2008 was a very promising collection of songs and now, their new album "Greed" shows tremendous growth which will undoubtedly give SILENT CALL the recognition they deserve.

SILENT CALL's style might be classified as european hard rock / melodic metal with progressive undertones, very melodic and not in an over the top technical way but in a more developed sense with great dynamics and subtle, yet noticable time changes.
The band is able to shred with the best of them and demonstrate it when the song calls for it but really focus on the song structures and extreme melody that gives SILENT CALL their unique approach to this genre.

On "Greed" they have moved forward both musically and quality wise. The songs are strong, with great melodies, plenty of keyboards and therefore the sound is very pompish.
Guitar work is impressive, both on riff / soloing, and charismatic singer Andi Kravljaca has a great set of pipes that reminds of Goran Edman.

"Every Day" opens with a slow keyboard intro, before staccato guitar riffs and heavy bass drumming takes lead. The keyboards remain high in the mix and while the guitars bring a great deal of heaviness, those keys add a layer of atmosphere.
"I Am My Nation" cements Silent Call's power and melody, by offering another top notch guitar riff along with Patrik Törnblom’s keys creating a slab of sound, giving the track extra power.
'Through The Endless Night' is easily one the best tracks on the album and a true stunner by any measure. It moves toward something more in the classic rock mould. Begins with a soft piano intro and vocal; once the guitars kick in, it becomes a very strong power ballad. Again, Andi K’s vocals are incredibly strong, but also of note is Mikael Kvist’s slow, stomping drum rhythm.

"All That Might Be" has a potent, groovy underlying riff. This track is some kind of a confident blues driven hard rock swagger as the harmonies go up and down, together with Kravljaca’s smooth register along with Patrik’s affinity for Jon Lord/ Whitesnake-like ivory expressions. Here is clear the band's respect and admiration for all eras Rainbow and Whitesnake.
The cd continues with track 5 "Dream Tomorrow" which has a killer 80's like yet powerful guitar riff then brings one of the best choruses on the album. A very pompish track.
"Turn The Tide" shows the more hard rocker / AOR side of this release with some awesome muti-layered vocals, once again this song shows off all sides of the writing skills by the band.

"When The Angels Call Your Name" is my favorite song here. This is a stunning pompish song with fantastic piano/keyboard sound and strings. The chorus is catchy, the progressions are memorable, cleverly orchestrated and extremely melodic. It features Andi’s deepest, diverse vocal delivery on "Greed", proving how important a great singer can take normal power ballad fare and turn it into the upper stratospheres of believability.
"Clavain's Tale" is a beautifully haunting and almost bluesy semi-acoustic number that again boasts a stunning vocal performance.

"Greed" is an intense, varied, fabulously played & produced album, and features no filler material.
One aspect that strikes instantly is the equal lead riff efforts coming from the keyboards just as often as the guitars - along with the rich, multi-part vocal harmonies that drive home the hooks.
Produced, mixed and mastered by the skilled Martin Kronlund.

01 - Every Day
02 - I Am My Nation
03 - Through The Endless Night
04 - All That Might Be
05 - Dream Tomorrow
06 - Turn The Tide
07 - Unbreakable
08 - Falling From Grace
09 - When The Angels Call Your Name
10 - The Wages Of Greed
11 - Clavain's Tale

Andi Kravljaca : vocals
Daniel Ekholm : guitars
Patrik Törnblom : keyboards
Tobbe Moen : bass
Mikael Kvist : drums



Monday, December 27, 2010

PETRA - Back To The Rock (2010)

Classic PETRA Back To The Rock 2010

If a rock band retires but keeps playing music, does it still make a sound?
If the band in question is PETRA, the legendary trailblazers of Christian hard music, then the answer is undoubtedly yes.

Despite formally retiring and stepping off the stage for what was intended to be the final time in the opening hours of 2006, the four-time Grammy-winning Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee has reunited to perform shows a half-dozen times since.
Now, in 2010, Petra reunion is afoot, complete with brand new album.

The album, "Back To The Rock", was the idea of Greg X. Volz, Petra’s first true lead vocalist who fronted the band during its initial wave of success in the early 1980s, when the concept of Christian rock was brand new and not-so-well received by the mainstream.
Volz envisioned reuniting this older version of Petra – himself, guitarist Bob Hartman, drummer Louie Weaver, bassist Mark Kelly and keyboardist John Lawry, to re-record some of the early hits, add a couple new songs and tour in support of the album under the name "Classic Petra".

Self-financed and self-produced, "Back To The Rock" is something of a time capsule, containing songs initially sold primarily on vinyl in an era when the records competed with the likes of Sandi Patti and Amy Grant for the top of the Billboard and CCM Magazine charts.
The four albums from which "Back To The Rock" takes its songs – Never Say Die (1981), More Power To Ya (1982), Not Of This World (1983) and Beat The System (1985) – represented the biggest rock records ever produced by Christians to that point, culminating in the latter’s reign as one of Christian music’s top two LPs for six straight months.

All that prelude to say: The old guys have still got it.

It’s a difficult tightrope to walk, this tension between modernizing the sound and correcting the production flaws in 25-year-old classics with staying true to the songs so loved by a band’s fans, but it’s one Classic Petra walks exceedingly well.
From rockers like “Bema Seat” and “Angel Of Light” to ballads like “More Power To Ya” and “Grave Robber,” the album sounds both modern and classic, bridging two worlds that are difficult to reconcile.
The harder songs see the most improvement: guitars are crunchier and set further ahead in the mix, and the rhythm is more driving than in the originals. They highlight more strongly than the originals that Hartman has been writing killer guitar riffs for a very long time.

However, the key to making the album work, could be in the ballads, where the introduction of strings and other elements give the melodies much more depth than the originals.
Volz' vocals, which in the past became the fifth instrument in the band, sound a bit tired in some songs, particularly "Clean" and "Godpleaser."
But on other Petra standards like "Angel Of Light" and "Adonai", Volz has never sounded better.
While the powerful original version of "Let Everything That Hath Breath" will never be topped, it's great to hear Volz belt out this song once again.
Finally, the album closes with two new songs: the title track, written by Volz and adapted from one of his solo albums, and the Hartman-penned "Too Big To Fail".
Both are worthy additions to the Petra anthology, with catchy hooks and choruses that keep the listener humming well after the song is over.

"Back To The Rock" is distinctly Petra and distinctly the sound of a classic rock band: It features guitar and keyboard solos, good choruses and nice melodies, surely will please old-school fans of the band but also with plenty to offer those for whom Petra is merely a city in Jordan.

01 - Bema Seat
02 - Clean
03 - Angel of Light
04 - Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows
05 - Godpleaser
06 - Second Wind
07 - More Power to Ya
08 - Let Everything That Hath Breath
09 - Grave Robber
10 - Adonai
11 - Back To The Rock
12 - Too Big To Fail

Greg X. Volz : Vocals, Keyboards
Bob Hartman : Guitars
Mark Kelly : Bass
John Lawry . Keyboards
Louie Weaver : Drums



Thursday, December 23, 2010


Japan release

Swedish/German AOR/Rock band LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM is back with YES, a new album just issued in Japan, due to Europe and the rest of the world on January 21.
These guys can't have any sparetime because it's not long ago (earlier this year) their previous album 'A Touch Of Heaven' was released and now they already have a brand new album out.
Since LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM (like a lot of bands of this genre) don't tour, or tour very little, and many have own recording studios, they focus all their energy in the songwriting department and recording.

But a few get such good results as LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM.
This band surpasses themselves with each album, and this isn't the exception.
This time they have provided a selection of extremely melodic (more than ever), dreamy tunes that definitely reinforce their reputations.
Yes, "YES" is that good.

This japanese version opens with "I've Fallen Into You", a guitar driven rocker, with a lot of feel and a good chorus, but they have done better before.
The only piano start of "The Sound Of A Heartbreak" provide a false start, because the song develops into a mysterious uptempo rock with a persistent sound effect which gives the track a unique sensation. Perhaps the most 'elaborated' track of the album. Very Good.
But the 'real' GREAT stuff of this album begins with "Another Night". This is just a perfect tune, just... perfect.
From the smooth, sweet, toneful performance by Erlandsson to the warm, colorful arrangements and clever production (just check the drum mix, subtle in the background but carrying the pace of the song) this mid-tempo ballad is a gem. A future classic? Surely YES!
Next, "Fool's Game". Yes, it's a cover of the classic song appeared in Michael Bolton's '83 debut. Originally a rocker, LAD has painted the song with a poppy-AOR palette, and the result is just marvelous.

"If I Could Change The World" is the first real ballad with awesome vocal harmonies and a bluesy heart (specially the guitars), but with the classic LAD style. Inspired by Queen? YES. Fantastic!
"To Be With You" ups the tempo into a classy european melodic rock with a catchy chorus, this kind of songs that LAD do so well. Excellent guitar solo on this one.
I love "Michelle Don't Live Here No More". Just love this style of songs. Acoustically filled, simple and generic, but lovely.
"In This Thing Too Deep" remembers me the earlier work by this band, a rocker with a strong rhythm and a powerful pre-chorus/main chorus. Melodic and effective.
"Still Standin' Where Ya Left Me" has a fat guitar and a very nice structure, maybe lacks the presence of a more strong chorus, but it's so melodic (like the whole album) that you'll love it.

And now... the best track of all: "Kissin' Goodbye My Tears". YES, the Jeff Paris/Moon Calhoun song from the 'Moon Over Paris' demos. This tune is a cracker, a pure AOR gem very very well performed by Last Autumn's Dream. Damn, I love those keyboards!
"Survivor" has the spirit of the mid-eighties european metal bands, but obviously over-washed to fit LAD standards. This one might sound weak but just give it a couple of listens and the track grabs you.
I am not completely convinced with the japanese bonus track "I Forgive You", not bad, but to my ears sounds like a second hand TNT track.
Last song, the ballad "Alive", has a deep bass line (Nally Pahlsson has done a remarkable job on this recording) and a moody, sad feel. Discover yourself why. Beautiful song.

"YES" is the best disc by LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM. Period.
This album will rank higher between next year's best.
Dedicated to the memory of Marcel Jacob.


01 - I've Fallen Into You
02 - The Sound Of A Heartbreak
03 - Another Night
04 - Fool's Game
05 - If I Could Change The World
06 - To Be With You
07 - Michelle Don't Live Here No More
08 - In This Thing Too Deep
09 - Still Standin' Where Ya Left Me
10 - Kissin' Goodbye My Tears
11 - Survivor
12 - I Forgive You (Japan bonus track)
13 - Alive




STRYPER - The Covering (2011)

STRYPER - The Covering 2011

Heavy Metal has been associated with Beelzebub ever since its inception, but a few acts took the opposite route and put their Christian beliefs in hard rocking songs, such as STRYPER.

Formed in Orange County, CA, in 1983, the group was originally known as Roxx Regime, and consisted of singer/guitarist/main songwriter Michael Sweet, his brother drummer Robert Sweet, lead guitarist Oz Fox, and bassist Timothy Gaines.

It wasn't until the group changed its name to Stryper (which stood for "Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement, and Righteousness") that things really began taking off for the quartet.

Specializing in the melodic Van Halen / Kiss style (with heart-wrenching power ballads tossed in), dressed in all black-and-yellow outfits, and spreading their religious message even further by tossing bibles out into the crowd at their shows, Stryper were signed by a label with major distribution in 1984.

The same year, the group's debut recording, a six-track mini-LP titled 'The Yellow & Black Attack', was issued.

The album created a buzz for the group among metalheads, which was only heightened with the release of the band's first full-length album, 1985's 'Soldiers Under Command'.

The album ranked well on the Billboard charts, its success led to the re-release of 'The Yellow & Black Attack' (which included an extra two tracks and new artwork) in 1986.

Later the same year, Stryper issued their sophomore full-length, 'To Hell with the Devil', which many consider to be the group's finest hour.

Turning out to be the highest-charting album of their career (barely missing the Top 30), the platinum-certified album benefited by MTVs repeated airings of the videos for 'Calling on You' and the syrupy ballad "Honestly" (the latter of which peaked at number 23 on the U.S. singles charts).

Despite possessing a different message than their peers, by this point Stryper fit in perfectly with the other popular hair metal bands of the day (Bon Jovi, White Lion, Dokken, etc.).

Yet just as it appeared that Stryper could possibly break through on a massive scale, such new metal styles as thrash (Metallica) and more stripped-down rock (Guns 'N' Roses) began to usurp Stryper's pop-metal audience.

As a result, Stryper's next release, 1988's 'In God We Trust', failed to expand their following, nor did it live up to promise of its predecessor (although it did manage to earn gold certification).

Sensing this, the group adopted a harder-edged sound and look for 1990's 'Against The Law', and even covered the Earth, Wind & Fire classic "Shining Star."

Neither managed to cross over to the top of the charts.

A greatest-hits set, 'Can't Stop the Rock', followed in 1991, but with Nirvana just about to ring the death knell for pop-metal bands, Michael Sweet decided to leave the group for a solo career.

Surprisingly, the remaining members of Stryper opted to carry on as a three-piece (with Fox handling lead vocal duties), and continued to tour for a spell.

The Michael Sweet-less version didn't last long however, as Stryper officially called it quits in 1992.

In the wake of their split, its members remained busy.

Michael Sweet's solo career never scaled the same heights as Stryper's, although solo releases appeared on a somewhat regular basis, with 1994's 'Michael Sweet', 1995's 'Real', and 2001's 'Truth'.

Robert Sweet issued a solo recording, 'Love Trash', in addition to studio work, while Fox and Gaines formed a new group, Sin Dizzy, who issued a rock opera (concerning the crucifixion of Jesus Christ), titled 'He's Not Dead'.

During the intervening years, a large core of devoted fans remained intact, resulting in all of Stryper's albums being reissued.

In 1999, Sin Dizzy played a show with Michael Sweet, which ended in an off-the-cuff jam session of old Stryper tunes -- resulting in reunion rumors.

And with a heightened nostalgic interest regarding '80s-era metal bands during the early 21st century, Stryper agreed to sporadically reunite for a "Stryper Expo," which has since turned into an annual event.

Stryper's second greatest-hits collection, '7: The Best of Stryper', was released in 2003, and included a pair of new tunes recorded especially for the collection, "Something" and "For You."

Fueled by a renewed interest in the Christian rock scene, the band returned to the studio for 2005's 'Reborn' and again in 2009 for 'Murder by Pride', the latter released in celebration of the band's 25th anniversary.

STRYPER have set "The Covering" as the title of their new album, consisting of classic hard rock covers, to be released in February, 2011.

The CD features the band's original lineup of Michael Sweet on vocals, Robert Sweet on drums, Oz Fox on guitar and Timothy Gaines on bass, including STRYPER's rendition of the classics: "Breaking The Law" (JUDAS PRIEST), "Shout It Out Loud" (KISS), "Heaven And Hell" (BLACK SABBATH), "Highway Star" (DEEP PURPLE), among others.

The band never denied their admiration for secular bands, and although they have changed some lyrics, the versions of these classics remain faithful to the originals.

The production on "Heaven And Hell" is the best Stryper have done to date. Clean separation of instruments.

Robert's Drums sound like you're sitting on the drummer's throne with him. Cymbals, snare, kick and toms sounds big and "live".

Tim's Bass guitar is tight and punchy. The guitars are crisp and biting, and the solos perfectly crafted.

And the best of all, Michael Sweet's voice is in top form.

This isn't another cash-in covers/tribute album, as these songs really get new life in Stryper's hands.


1. Set Me Free (Sweet)

2. Blackout (Scorpions)

3. Heaven And Hell (Black Sabbath)

4. Lights Out (UFO)

5. Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas)

6. Highway Star (Deep Purple)

7. Shout It Out Loud (Kiss)

8. Over The Mountain (Ozzy Osbourne)

9. The Trooper (Iron Maiden)

10. Breaking The Law (Judas Priest)

11. On Fire (Van Halen)

12. Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)

13. God (Stryper New Track 2010)

Michael Sweet - Vocals

Robert Sweet - Drums

Oz Fox - Guitars

Timothy Gaines - Bass



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NAKED - Double Down (2010)

NAKED Double Down

Few years ago, we might have thought that the era of rumbling, stumbling and screaming loud rock bands was over.
Well, we were wrong. Real rock is growing in the airwaves again and music fans are tired of trash can sounds.

Finland, Helsinki based rockers NAKED are here to take the flag.
With three albums under their belt (This One Goes To Eleven 2004, Let’s Get Naked… And Start A Revolution 2006 and Superstate 2007) NAKED is releasing their new album "Double Down" through their own label.

"Double Down" is pure confetti bursting sweat dripping rock that will make your knickers drop before you remember to blink. Just old fashioned '80s Rock 'N Roll.
Naked’s style is riff based R'N'R like Mötley Crüe, Guns ‘N Roses, Quireboys, a little bit of the very earlier Def Leppard and a dash of Hanoi Rocks.
But they also have a great sense of melody, and apart from the hot riffing, on various tracks they sound like typical european melodic rock bands.
NAKED premise is simple: short songs, hooky choruses and accessible melodic tunes.

This a real indie group, as they took care of the whole artistic production (a really good one), visual artwork, distribution and have their own label.
Production and mix are first class and the musicians know their game perfectly.
"Double Down" is a very good retro-style album, catchy and fun.
If you loved the eighties melodic glam scene, then you'll love this to death.
Only released in Finland and distributed in east Europe at the moment.

01 - Got A Feeling
02 - Back To Haunt You
03 - Shit Out Of Luck
04 - One More Time
05 - I Know
06 - Powerblind
07 - Sonic High
08 - Lost Along The Way
09 - Reset
10 - Ridin'
11 - Shine A Light
12 - Break Me
13 - Giving You Up

The Muff: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Zack Shleidecker: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ilari: Bass, Backing Vocals
Mr Tikka: Drums


Monday, December 20, 2010

SHYLOCK - Rock Buster (2010)

SHYLOCK Rock Buster 2010

German melodic hard rockers SHYLOCK have been around for quite sometime, with their debut emerging in 2000 - now a decade later they deliver their fifth album "Rock Buster".

Opening cut "Damn Good" is a fantastic way to start, and has a really bittersweet feel to it. Whilst the lyrics are positive the music and melodies have a very sombre tone, which I’m sure most would think wouldn’t work, but here it does immensely well. There's some really catchy guitar work present as well, especially during the pre-chorus - and that big chorus has a really memorable melody.
Things crank up a rock notch with "Dawn", and later on with "Just For U", both solid tracks.
Next, the band covers Timex Social Club’s pop-plastic "Rumours". The original song is horrible, but the band actually do a good job on it, obviously they rock it the fook up. Strange pick anyway.
"Sunshine vs. Rain" brings a sensitive side with this great ballad by the band, with an interesting guitar work and a great performance by Matthias Schenk that puts him in the elite status with fellow countrymen like Germany’s Claus Lessmann (BONFIRE) and Michael Voss (MAD MAX, CASANOVA).

"Rose Of Cairo" has an unbelievable catchy chorus, a serpent snake-charmer melody with some oriental twist.
I love the next track called "Strong", maybe my favorite here, a classy european mid-tempo in the best FRONTLINE / BONFIRE tradition.
"The Moment" is another highlight, a very commercial sing-along tune sounding a lot like CASANOVA. This should be their rock-radio single, it would be playing on every rock station in the U.S. if it got the right support.
"Wrong Planet" is a little different song, specially the arrangements, and is worthy of mention just for the awesome guitar work. Just listen the solo. This is a serious contender for the best of the year.

“Rock Buster” is not as instant as its predecessor ('Devotion'), although after a couple of spins the album started to grab me, especially after I played it while I was pre-occupied with something else and caught myself singing along to "Rose Of Cairo".
Shylock have managed to deliver a classy melodic hard rock album, well produced, full of pounding drums and bass, and coupled with some big ass riffs / solos and very good melodies.
I hope the Melodic Rock world will take notice of "RockBuster", one of the best european releases of the year in this genre.

01 - Damn Good
02 - Dawn
03 - Rumours
04 - Sunshine vs. Rain
05 - Just For U
06 - Much
07 - Rose Of Cairo
08 - Strong
09 - Somebody Else
10 - The Moment
11 - We Are
12 - Wrong Planet

Matthias Schenk - vocals and acoustic guitar
Johannes Amrhein - lead/rhythm guitars and bass
Michael 'Nudge' Bayer - lead/rhythm guitars
Achim Thiergartner - drums

Additional Musicians:
Ondrej Hurbanic - keyboards and guitar
Bernhard Schwingenstein - bass


Saturday, December 18, 2010

DORIS BRENDEL - The Last Adventure (2010)

TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

Twenty years after being the vocal driving force on the iconic 'The Fire Sermon' album from the UK dream-lite-prog band THE VIOLET HOUR, Doris is now shining brightly as a solo artist with her just released 12 track album “The Last Adventure”.
The first thing that grabs you by the scruff of the neck when hearing DORIS BRENDEL is her husky, sultry and let's be honest, god damn sexy voice.
She has that power, that great demand to be listened to just by that alone.

"The Last Adventure" it's pretty difficult to categorize but I would say the mix of music is along the lines of easy listening rock, classic melodies and unusual retro vibe. Eclectic... definitely eclectic, diverse, and darn superb.
Hey, what about those huge vocal harmonies ala Queen and ELO on the title track 'The Last Adventure' and 'Work In Progress' or the utter f-a-t Prog keys on 'Why Are You Still Here' ?
It's basically a perfect display of diversity as you can find everything from classic Prog-Rock to Classic Rock, Opera/Pomp, Beatle-esque pop, Art-Rock, Rockin' Funk, and mere hints of more modern influences and bits of the old celtic / medieval too.
Yes, it's a full platter in other words and the arrangements will constantly keep you up on your toes.

The disc was recorded in the old-fashioned way — no sequencers or click tracks — giving the album a great retro feel in today's digital age.
It's been produced by Dave Beeson (mastered at Abbey Road studios), who also did Brendel's previous CD, and you'll get a full and rich sound with Doris' excellent and strong bluesy vocals at the centre of attention, and her vocals are simply outstanding throughout the record.
On the making of this record she has surrounded herself with tried and trusted musicians. She appears both comfortable and confident with all around her.

Starting out with 'What Are You Saying', this is quite a rocky opener, and sounds like it's well steeped from the 90's era.
The title track 'The Last Adventure' is a piano led, rousing track which has an essence of Queen circa '76/'77, with very deep harmony vocals.
'I'm Not Old I'm Experienced' combines modern textures with tongue-in-cheek lyrics in the funky rock style of the modern Glenn Hughes.
'Latest Fantasy' is a superb tune, lilting, with the rare flageolet (a medieval woodwind instrument) being used by Doris throughout to add to the ambience, coupled with some sweeping synth work and Doris' dreamy vocal.
'What Have I Done' is absolutely retro british with a Beatlesque-early Queen vibe but with updated sound.

'Work In Progress' features a regimented mid-section, some near harpsichord sounding keys, and Dave Beeson gets to let loose with a display of power chords which gives the impression of a fully laden rocker. You won't find a song like this recorded in 2010 for sure.
I liked the modern sounding 'Get A Life', with dare I say it, a touch of power pop which acts as a little booster rocket.
Track number eight is titled 'You’re Almost Perfect' with an intro that will encapture you within the song from the very first beat. The song is mesmerising with captivating vocals from Brendel and graceful guitars relaxing you into a state of trance.

'Be My Guitar' starts with a strong guitar solo to introduce the song. The track as a whole is a very busy tune with a lot of querky guitar twangs and hammond keys which lead you on a near three minute journey of pure music.
Dave Beeson gets to perform some guitar magic at the start of 'Why Are You Still Here', coupled with the modern synth flash from Mike Wesson, though this track is all over the place in terms of time changes and a stop/start arrangement. It's quite a bit different to the rest of the album.
'My Town' maintains an uptempo presence, and is sung in a defensive (as in proud) manner.
The album finishes with the track 'Memory' and is an good sign-off. It has the feeling of a set closer, such as if you were at a musical and the last track was coming on before going home. It winds down the album with good vocals and harmonies.

"The Last Adventure" it's the thinking woman/man's music and not the latest melodic rock sensation.
Though keeping within a rock framework, the genres are oh-so varied and interesting that I decided to post this album here because it's well suited to the 0dayrock audience as it straddles the fence between the past influential eras of the '70s, 80's and 90's with the trends and styles of today.
Any music lover would appreciate the musicianship involved throughout the album and Doris' husky vocals, she's a marvelous vocalist and artist, a blend of Chrissie Hynde and Janis Joplin in the 21st century.
There's a lot of 'outside the box' material to be found here.
As Doris points out; "No one is really doing my type of music nowadays... "

01 - What Are You Saying
02 - The Last Adventure
03 - I'm Not Old I'm Experienced
04 - Latest Fantasy
05 - What Have I Done
06 - Work In Progress
07 - Get A Life
08 - You're Almost Perfect
09 - Be My Guitar
10 - Why Are You Still Here
11 - My Town
12 - Memory

Doris Brendel - Lead and backing vocals, fiddle, flagolet
Dave Beeson - Guitars, backing vocals
Mike Wesson - Keyboards
Andre Harewood - Bass, backing vocals
Steve Clark - Drums, Percussion
Aitch McRobbie, Julie Harrington, Julie Winchester, Lynne Butler, Jo Maloney, Mark Dalton - backing vocals


Thursday, December 16, 2010

KENNI DeNILE - Dreamer (2010)

KENNI DeNILE Dreamer 2010
Download only release

"Dreamer" is the debut album / EP by guitarist, vocalist & songwriter Kenni DeNile from Nashville, Tennessee.
When he was 17, joined his first band as a singer and have been in the music business since then.

"Dreamer" is his first own release, self-produced, where he has played most the instruments and co-produced.
Having only checked out Kenni's website after listened the album I was not surprised to see how he looked.
Some people may feel he has missed the Melodic Rock / AOR boat by a long time, although maybe the tide has turned and he will be first in line of something special...

Kicking off this seven track -download only- album by Kenni, 'We Are The Young' tells you straight away what kind of musical journey (pun intended) we will being undertaking......yes, good time Melodic Rock is the order of the day and I'll have a side order of 'social conscience' lyrics.
The seven songs straddle the '80s style akin to Tyketto, Cinderella and alikes with hearty rockers like the aforementioned "We Are The Young" or "Snake Bite" and heart-felt ballads; "Indigo", "Hey You".

Kenni DeNile: "Dreamer took me about 2 and a half years to be finished. As far as the timing, it just felt right. And it came together, musically, exactly the way I pictured it would.
This wasn’t a project that was forced or contrived, it has always been inside of me and the time for it to come out is now. I also feel that my kind of music is making a return in popularity.
Being a dreamer, or someone who goes out on their own, is not an easy task, but if you feel like you are being pulled in a certain direction, go ahead and dream!
I would hope that my music reaches people and inspires them to go out and kick some ass at whatever it is that they do."

The overall sound of "Dreamer" is very similar to that of Tyketto, and Kenni's vocals have a very Danny Vaughn quality to them.
He is also a skilled guitarist with a well rounded 'stage sound', playing some very good licks and solid rhythm lines.
Production is a little too clinical although for an independent release the production is crisp and clear.
If Kenni worked with someone like Beau Hill/Desmond Child/Ritchie Zito... the songs need only a little bit of tweaking and they would be great, as for now they are very good.

This is pure '80s Melodic Rock with crafty melodies, catchy hooks and clever fret work, all wrapped up in an arena rock atmosphere.
KENNI DeNILE will be a name that I shall keep an eye out for in the future.
Remember where you read the name, because in a few years, maybe you will be checking out reviews like this to try and understand why you passed up on Kenni the first time around...

01 - We Are The Young
02 - My Life
03 - Snake Bite
04 - Indigo
05 - Hey You
06 - Can't Stop
07 - Dreamer

Kenni DeNile : Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums
Mike P. : Guitars
Steve Lacross : Drums


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GOWAN - Return Of The Strange Animal (2010)

GOWAN Return Of The Strange Animal 2010


Lawrence Gowan is a canadian musician, but few people know that he is a Glasgow, Scotland born.
His second, 1985's album 'Strange Animal' was recorded in England, at the studio where John Lennon made his 'Imagine' album.
Produced by british producer David Tickle (Prince, Split Enz, Sting, U2) and featuring a more 'theatrical' Gowan, this album was his commercial breakthrough in Canada.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary, "Return Of The Strange Animal" is a remastered version of the original '85s 'Strange Animal' plus a bonus footage DVD.
Backed by Peter Gabriel's rhythm section players Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta, all these songs sound fresh still today, with that kind of eighties 'atmosphere' which is impossible to recreate again.
The album spawned the hit singles "A Criminal Mind", "(You're a) Strange Animal", "Guerilla Soldier" and "Cosmetics".

Basically a keyboard player, Gowan wrote this stuff on piano, and all tracks are focused to the massive use of synthesizers, electric piano and (then 'the' new toy) fairlight.
Remarkable is the job of Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) on bass and particularly the 'stick', that strange and rare instrument.

"Return Of The Strange Animal" is catchy and pretty straightforward Rock&Pop in its essence, but has uncommon arrangements and creative twists, sounding very different compared to the other music that other 80's bands were releasing.
Smartly written and flawlessly produced, Gowan seems to effortlessly take the listener on a ride that he or she will want to take again and again.
A must have for any '80s music fan.

01 - Cosmetics
02 - Desperate
03 - City Of The Angels
04 - Walking On Air
05 - Burning Torches Of Hope
06 - Keep The Tension On
07 - Guerilla Soldier
08 - (You're A) Strange Animal
09 - A Criminal Mind

Larry Gowan : vocals, piano, Fairlight CMI, synths
Chris Jarret : guitar
David Rhodes : guitar
Tony Levin : bass, stick
Jerry Marotta : drums & percussion
David Tickle : production, programming



Monday, December 13, 2010

FATE - 25 Years, The Best Of Fate 1985-2010 (2010)

FATE 25 Years The Best Of Fate 1985-2010

During their career spanning 25 years, danish band FATE released 5 albums.
Their label has compiled a 19 track disc celebration of FATE titled "25 Years, The Best Of Fate". The album covers all line ups of the band including 2 brand new songs introducing Fate's third singer Dagfinn Joensen.

Especially the 3 first albums made a huge impact on me and most fans of this genre.
Playing this "Best Of" disc from start till finish shows the progression of a band and almost comes full circle since the 2 new songs are back to Fate's starting point.
The new tracks once again welcome keyboards and pick up the thread where the original FATE line-up left.

The first two albums "Fate" (1985) and "A Matter Of Attitude" (1986) included former Mercyful Fate guitarist & drummer Hank Sherman and Bjarne Holm (Bob Lance).
The music of FATE was typical for the time era; polished Hard Rock with hooks, but still Fate had edge perfectly executed on the high class melodic rockers "Fallen Angel" and "(She Got The) Devil Inside" from the debut.
While Hank Sherman co-wrote most songs of the first, it was bassist Pete Steiner and singer Jeff Lox Limbo who where kingpins behind "A Matter Of Attitude".

"A Matter Of Attitude" is considered a scandi-AOR classic, a top-notch stuff, plenty of keyboards, harmonies and catchy melodies.
The album was the commercial peak of FATE pushed by the hit single "Won't Stop". Producer Svein Dag Hauge was brought in to provide a commercial sound that would catapult an international breakthrough.
Playing this 'Best Of' CD I found newfound respect in singer Jeff "Lox" Limbo. His tone is great and he sounds great on all tracks.
Limbo also had charisma like David Lee Roth and was always in-your-face when the band was in the spotlight. His strong vocals are missed and it was a waste that he quit the business after the third album "Crusin' For A Brusin'".

Hank Sherman also left the band before the recordings, being replaced by The Mysterious Mr. Moth (aka Jacob Moth) on guitars and a full-time keyboard player Floyd Lafayette.
The album marked a slight change in direction, with a bit more of a "party metal" vibe on some of the songs.
The selected tracks from it feature my all-time favourite FATE song "Lovers" along with a "Love On The Rox" remake and "Babe You've Got A Friend", all AOR gems.

After 3 albums FATE was reduced to only drummer Bjarne Holm and bassist Pete Steiner.
The band rose loud n' proud with the amazing disc "Scratch N' Sniff" dominated by fantastic virtuoso guitar playing from Matthias Eklundh, who only was 18 years old when the album was recorded.
FATE took on a harder and crunchier sound with new singer Per Henriksen up-front along with Eklundh's guitars.
This line-up toured heavily in Denmark and even thought the disc is the most timeless and strongest record in Fate's career, "Scratch N' Sniff" went nowhere but becoming a cult Melodic Hard Rock album among collectors.

In 1993 FATE broke-up and reunited in 2006 (without Eklundh) but sadly they changed their style.
The album "V" was a huge disappointment. The only song that brings associations back to the old FATE is "Everything About You" and luckily that is the only inclusion on this "Best Of".

In my wildest expectations I never thought that reliving FATE made such an impact on me.
This is first class commercial Melodic Hard Rock / Scandi-AOR, which has sentimental value because the first 8 years of FATE's 25 year career is a big part of the soundtrack to my youth. It's like reliving your old cassettes and records.
The 2 new songs sound quite promising and certainly gained an appetite on an up-coming FATE album (now in the making).
"25 Years, The Best Of Fate" is marketed 'midprice', so no excuse to not purchase this piece of history or replacing your vinyls with re-mastered CD versions of these hits.
Do your duty and buy this album!

01 - Love On The Rox '88
02 - Downtown Toy
03 - Fallen Angel
04 - (She's Got) The Devil Inside
05 - Won't Stop
06 - Summerlove
07 - (I Can't Stand) Losing You
08 - Limbo a Go Go
09 - Hard As A Rock
10 - Lovers
11 - Babe, You've Got A Friend
12 - Knock On Wood
13 - Freedom
14 - One By One
15 - You're The Best (Money Can Buy)
16 - Gotta Have It All
17 - Everything About You
18 - All I Wanna Do [New track 2010]
19 - Rock 'N' Roll Angel [New track 2010]


Friday, December 10, 2010

ERIC JOHNSON - Up Close (2010)


Praised as one of the “very few musical artists to achieve a true signature style which makes comparisons to other musicians impossible, an extraordinary guitar player accessible to ordinary music fans”, Eric Johnson is back with a new album; "Up Close".

Johnson is a notorious perfectionist in the studio, so his subsequent releases have been infrequent, and he has been known to scrap whole parts of an album and start over.
It was 1990 when he released the album that really cemented his reputation, the fantastic 'Ah Via Musicom', which won Johnson a Grammy Award for best rock instrumental.
Subsequent studio albums came in 1996 and 2005, with some live recordings and collections of previously recorded material released in the meantime.

"Up Close" is a triumphant return to the glorious sound of 'Ah Via Musicom' encompassing style draws from classic rock, blues, pop and his unique, beautiful harmonies.
The Texas fret-man gives us more of his impressive fiery but tasteful playing, and his trademark layers of often shimmering guitar sounds.
The title reflects the revelatory and spontaneous performances on the album as well as its sonic immediacy thanks to a mix by legendary veteran engineer Andy Johns.
“I decided to let go a bit and allow things to happen and just go with the flow”, explains Johnson of his approach to the album. “I like my work to have a high proficiency, but I also wanted to go for the energy and magic of the performances.”
Although Johnson is an appealing vocalist with a high airy tenor, he is joined by a trio of guest singers, with the best known being veteran rocker Steve Miller.
"Up Close" also features a trio of guest guitarists, including Jimmy Vaughan and Sonny Landreth.

The spacey "Awaken" serves as an introduction to a rocking instrumental called "Fat Daddy", which kicks in with the trademark Eric Johnson sound, marked by his colorful palette of guitar sounds, and clean, tight playing
The first of the vocals tracks is called "Brilliant Room", sung by Malford Milligan. It's a strong energy rocker with all the melody we expect from Eric.
A definite highlight of the album is a track named "Texas", a vintage blues tune by Buddy Miles and Mike Bloomfield. A slow blues seems almost the opposite of what one expects from the fast and fiery Eric Johnson. But he proves he can play the blues with the best, and throw in lots of interesting musical ideas, in the context of his impressive guitar work.

A piece that might be considered a follow-up to Johnson's Grammy-winning tune 'Cliffs of Dover' is the next track called "Gem". There's a lot of those instantly recognizable Eric Johnsonisms, the layered guitars and the kind of athletic jumps in pitch in his melodic lines.
Another guest vocalist on the album is Jonny Lang, who was something of a prodigy himself on guitar, though he only sings here. The tune is called "Austin" and it seems autobiographical.

"Soul Surprise" is another great Eric's tour-the-force guitar fest.
Johnson throws in a little country-style guitar on the next track titled "On the Way", which features Steve Henning as guest guitarist.
We finally get to hear Johnson sing on "Arithmetic", it combines a kind of sentimental mood with Johnson's cornucopia of guitars.
"Vortexan" is one of these classic Eric's boogie-rockin' tunes with a lot of fun and rhythm.
I love "A Change Has Come To Me", a lovely, sweet song that reminds me 'Ah Via Musicom'.
The CD ends with an easy-listening style pop song ballad called "Your Book", emotional and deep.

"Up Close" came five years after his last studio recording, and for the notoriously perfectionist Johnson, that's a relatively short time.
But among the many fans of his guitar work (including me), it was a long wait.
But worth it. His guitar work is as impressive as ever, both in terms of his playing and his guitar sounds. The added guests are a nice touch too.
"Up Close" strongly resemble his early work, and that's what the fans were waiting for.

01 - Awaken
02 - Fatdaddy
03 - Brilliant Room [vocals: Malford Milligan]
04 - Texas [vocals: Steve Miller, guitar: Jimmie Vaughan]
05 - Gem
06 - Traverse
07 - Austin [vocals: Jonny Lang]
08 - Soul Surprise
09 - On The Way [guitar: Steve Henning]
10 - Arithmetic
11 - The Sea And The Mountain
12 - Vortexan
13 - A Change Has Come To Me
14 - Change (revisited)
15 - Your Book [guitar: Sonny Landreth]

Eric Johnson : Guitars, Vocals
Roscoe Beck : Bass
Kyle Brock : Bass
Tommy Taylor : Drums
and many more...



Thursday, December 9, 2010


TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

SKILL IN VEINS is the brainchild of young italian guitarist Andrea Lanza "Andream". He first got into music being a kid when he was flipping through the record collection of his brother.
There he discovered his passion for Hard Rock, with bands like Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, Skid Row, Megadeth and Metallica being among his favorites.
After gaining first experiences in Rock cover bands Andrea soon decided to go his own musical way and to start writing original songs for a new band.
At the beginning of 2009 "Andream" contacted worldwide known producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice, Edge Of Forever, Eden's Curse, Axe, Moonstone Project) with a bunch of songs to produce.

Through Alessandro’s contacts the right musicians were found quickly. Joining in first were drummer extraordinaire Francesco Jovino, a member of U.D.O. for several years, and his musical accomplice in Edge Of Forever and Moonstone Project, Nik Mazzucconi on bass. Considering the consummate quality of this musical venture, Gabriele Gozzi (Markonee, Killer Klown), one of Italy’s uprising vocalists, also didn’t hesitate to lend his vocal chords.

Lanza have studied hard the epitome of hard rock sounds in America from the late 80s and early 90s.
SKILL IN VEINS breathes new life to the vintage sounds of Skid Row, Badlands, Lynch Mob, Guns N' Roses and why not, the polished Megadeth of the 'Youthanasia' era without the 'thrashy'.

Andream definitely plays his part as the guitarist/leader of the band and is just as technically accomplished as the other members while his guitar leads move from abrasive hard blues licks to speed arpeggios and occasional shedding. His guitar tone is rough and ready, taking his cue from guys like George Lynch, Slash, Jake E Lee, Richie Kotzen, and alikes.
But the star of this recording are the vocals of the italian Gabriele Gozzi. This man seems born and raised in L.A. scene and that’s quite a surprise since you usually have to be an American to spit out such an accent.
His style is convincing, powerful, reaching sky notes only where needed while basically using a glossy palette to color each number’s needs. A mix of Sebastian Bach (SKID ROW), Mark Slaughter, Michael Sweet (STRYPER) and C. J. Snare (FIREHOUSE), Gabriele pushes the tracklist up one level.
In addition, Jovino's drumming stand out, bringing to front a huge beat complemented by devastating tom sound in combination with Mazzucconi's muscular bass.

Opening duo 'Can't Ride My Soul' and 'Skulls On The Way' are hard rockers chock full of Les Paul riffing with pure adrenaline at its top.
'Youth Times' is probably the most Guns 'N roses influenced song of the whole record. Gabriele shouts out his soul and heart in this rageous melody.
Lanza and Gozzi dabble in cowpoke rock/metal a la Aerosmith on the very commercial midtempo 'I'm Living My Life'. On of the best tracks of the album.
Even more variety is given by the neck breaking rocker "Sick Mind", a head banging track with a heavy and dark riff.
"You're Doing It Again" is a heavy-funk melodic rocker featuring a monster bass line, very WINGER-ish with a big groove.

"Just One Drink" is a slow groove stomping blues rock CINDERELLA-influenced with a sleazy slide guitar work and harmonica. Cool.
The real power ballad of the record arrives with "Don’t Need You To Cry", definitively a contender for the best melodic rock song of the year. A highlight.
The accelerator pedal is floored once more for the busy 'The Way Out' and the prowling groove of 'We Don't Cry', sounding like a song off SKID ROW's 'Slave To The Grind'.
Musically "We Don't Believe In Fables" is the most complex song of the entire record, with various sections and different atmospheres all long the track clocking more than 7 minutes.

The debut album from Italy’s SKILL IN VEINS surely worth your money and time.
My video-sample pick was "Don't Need You To Cry" because this is one of the best melodic songs of the year, but SKILL IN VEINS is much, much more than that.
I’d never expect such a great release by a non-American band, - an unknown group that comes out of nowhere to be one of the year's bests - with melting guitars direct to amp cranked to 10 and a phenomenal vocalist.
Robust production (although I'm not convinced by the cymbals sound), and an awesome mix, just listen with headphones "You're Doing It Again" in example.
This band is setting a benchmark regarding its phenomenal sound and revitalising the Hard Rock subgenre that adds bluesy undertones to thundering guitar riffs and smashing melodies.
One of the debuts of the year without a doubt.

01 - Can't Ride My Soul
02 - Skulls On The Way
03 - Youth Times
04 - I'm Living My Life
05 - Sick Mind
06 - You're Doing It Again
07 - Just One Drink
08 - Don't Need You To Cry
09 - The Way Out
10 - We Don't Cry
11 - We Don't Believe In Fables

Gabriele Gozzi: Vocals
Andrea “Andream” Lanza: Guitars
Nik Mazzucconi: Bass
Francesco Jovino: Drums
Special Guest:
Marco Simoncelli: Blues Harp on "Just One Drink"

Produced, engineered and mastered by Alessandro Del Vecchio



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HEART - WTF + 4 (2010)


This is a great EP with a tasty morsel from every decade of Heart's catalog.
The 3 live songs from the March 5th 2010 EMP show are proof positive Heart still has the pure energy and sound that they've always had.

"WTF" is the best track from their new album 'Red Velvet Car'. Blazing, agressive and raw.
Heart's new studio version of "Sand" somehow is even more beautiful than their Lovemongers original, showcasing the Wilson sisters' lovely harmonies.

01. WTF
02. Sand
03. Barracuda (Live) *
04. Alone (Live) *
05. Silver Wheels - Crazy On You (Live) *

* recorded Live, March 5th, 2010 at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington



VANGOUW - Passion Rules (2010)

VANGOUW Passion Rules 2010
includes video

After dutch vocalist Gerard Vangouw at the age of 17, recorded two albums with metal band Martyr, which were very successful in the Netherlands and German metal scene in 1987, Gerard choose to enter the world of AOR / Hard Rock music.
However, he still didn’t have a band. First one to approach was virtuous guitarist GG.
Soon, drummer Han Neijenhuis, keyboardist player Gertie Veldkamp and young bass player Pascal Groenen joined in.

The band toured extensively the Netherlands during the next year, and recorded 2 songs: 'Simonai' and 'New Horizon', trying to get an entry with a record company.
After some line-up changes, new songs like 'Not The One I Love' and 'Come My Way' found their way into a new demo, and the same local label booking Golden Earring, Sleeze Beez and many dutch bands invited VANGOUW to sign a contract.

The group recorded several tracks to an upcoming debut album. However, the label wasn't satisfied with the two ballads they had.
Vangouw went into their rehearsal studio and wrote around twelve ballads and none of them caught the record company approval. Finally, the band and the label split up.
For 2 years VANGOUW tried to release all their recorded music with no luck, and by 1992, called it a day as a band.

After 20 years, Gerard's dream come true.
All the original VANGOUW recordings tracked down between 1988 and 1990 are now available for the first time on CD.
Produced by names such as John Sonneveld (Golden Earring, Sleeze Beez, Anouk, Valentine, etc) and Alfred Lagarde (Highway Chile, TOTO, etc), finally these songs were remastered to get the best audio quality possible.

"Passion Rules" reflects one of the best Holland's AOR groups from the eighties. It contains 10 very diverse and original tracks (plus one live); the best of Vangouw from '88 till '92.
Great harmony vocals was one of the secrets of this great band of youngsters.
"And Your Love' is a bombastic AOR with a memorable chorus and some wonderful keyboard and guitar lines.
'Leave The Night Behind' is another great tune with some scandi-AOR influence and a great solo.
They have re-worked Fleetwood Mac's 'Go Your Own Way' into a pounding rocker with big guitars and strong keyboards.
More acoustic guitar and layered synths precede the big power ballad 'When You Think Of Me', a classy number guaranteed to weaken any AORster at the knees.

Pascal Groenen provides the funky bass lines on 'New Horizon', and along with the gated drum sound, this one lives in the 80's for sure.
'Simonai' is another true 80's contender, an evergreen semi-ballad with a bombastic pomp approach.
With a title like 'Make Up In The Morning', you'd be forgiven for thinking this might be a teary-eyed ballad, but no... there is 1st Avenue and Javan styled pomp of the first order. Again, big keyboards and slice/dice guitarwork.
One of my favorite tracks is the rather racy workout that is 'In The Night'. Again, the reference point for me would be outfits such as the aforementioned Javan, possibly also Rescue. The song gallops at a frantic pace.
'Not The One I Love' is a harder rockin' effort, more in keeping with the styles of Zinatra or Glory. So too 'Come My Way', with its heavier guitar sound.
The last track on the album is a live cut.. 'Lasting Love' recorded live in Amsterdam back in the day, is a mid-paced affair bordering on the point of being a singalong ballad. The echoey sound of this song doesn't help in terms of the audio quality, but you get an idea as to how good these guys were, the vocal harmonies are top notch.

It's fantastic to be able to enjoy this album after so many years.
And unlike some other re-released albums from backthen, this one could have been yesterday's release, that's how timeless some of the songs sound.
'Passion Rules' (self-released) will have a short shelf life, as only 500 copies are being made available for sale.
If you like it, get yours soon!

01 - And Your Love
02 - Leave The Night Behind
03 - Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac cover)
04 - When You Think Of Me
05 - New Horizon
06 - Simonai
07 - Make-up In The Morning
08 - In The Night
09 - Not The One I Love
10 - Come My Way
11 - Lasting Love [Live in Amsterdam] (bonus track)
Simonai video

Gerard Vangouw - vocals
GG - guitars
Pascal Groenen - bass
Han Nijenhuis - drums
Gertie Veldkamp - keyboards (1988-1989) on 'Simonai' & 'Lasting Love'
Robbert-jan Wolzak - keyboards (1989) on 'New Horizon'
Ruud Schoof - keyboards (1989-1992)



Sunday, December 5, 2010

SANTANA - Guitar Heaven [Deluxe Edition] (2010)

The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time

SANTANA - Guitar Heaven

For most of the past four decades, producer/record company executive Clive Davis has helped keep Santana on commercial track whenever he’s wanted to veer. And it was Davis who, more than a decade ago, started putting Santana together with young, hot singers to help keep his name alive.
Albums such as 'Supernatural', 'Shaman' and 'All That I Am' featured vocalists Rob Thomas, Seal, Dido and others in a calculated move to sell CDs, which is fine, given that the music business is, after all, a business.

I have enjoyed these albums, but when read that Carlos was working on a 'Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time' covering classic rock tunes we love, it really piqued my interest.
Then I surfed the net and specialized magazines to see what critics and / or people were saying, and found out really mixed opinions.
Been spinning this CD for a couple of months now, to get my own impression and answer myself these questions:
Is this album a good rendition to these stainless classics?
It deserves to be listened and posted here?
Definitely Yes.
And for various reasons.

First of all, on many of the songs Santana did a good job respecting and keeping them true to their original concepts, adding his own style of course.
But maybe the most important reason is the fact that the inclusion of modern rock contemporary vocalists encourages the new generations to discover these classic, superb songs.

Some tracks didn't hit the mark, but for the most part, the result is enjoyable.
I never been a big fan of Chris Cornell's voice, but he was the perfect choice for "Whole Lotta Love". A very robust vocal delivery and a great guitar tone by Carlos.
I don't think "Can’t You Hear Me Knocking" it's a 'classic', but Santana personally had picked every tune to cover here. Nice guitar licks and Scott Weiland is OK.
"Sunshine Of Your Love", the classic Cream song is arranged with more upbeat tempo than the original thanks to the Santana percussion ensemble playing. This updated and latin-rhythm version works great in my opinion.

The first single from the CD is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with a vocal by India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma on cello. This song is an absolute classic, almost sacred, and a high risk too.
Carlos re-worked the song with an acoustic spanish guitar, a subtle orchestration, his classic guitar sound and... a slow-pace R&B style. A sacrilege? Not at all. I think this is the best, innovative cover version here.
India.Arie vocals are warm, and the whole tune is beautifully arranged.
The second single, Def Leppard's "Photograph" is great. Chris Daughtry is the most talented vocalist of the modern rock arena, and does a very good performance.
Then "Back In Black"... this song is un-coverable by no-one in my book. Wrong pick. To turn it worse, the rap-metal treatment is totally out of place.

Carlos' work on "Riders On The Storm" may be his best playing on the album, with the song’s atypical structure forcing him to go outside a little. Bonus points for including Ray Manzarek here.
Also his playing on "Smoke On The Water" is all over the track to good effect, and to my ears, is not as identifiable in some spots as is usually the case. He is playing with abandon and having fun at the same time.
That is another feeling that this album leaves me with, that everyone involved was enjoying themselves and having fun with these old classics.

"Dance The Night Away" is another wrong choice here. The version is cool but this song isn't a classic at all.
"Little Wing" is well done, and I love Joe Cocker, however, this tune is an icon, and I am not completely satisfied with the result.
Santana turn in a great performance on the old Willie Dixon/Jeff Beck nugget "I Ain’t Superstitious", showing guest vocalist Jonny Lang how the old guys do it. Really good version.
The Deluxe Edition includes a tight, punchy version of Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" (cool and fun) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ "Under The Bridge" cover that works fine, specially for Andy Vargas (almost an Anthony Kiedis clone!) and the wah-wah flourishes by Carlos.

Haters of this album are taking it way too seriously.
I found it to be a fun listen, enjoying the variation on the songs I've listened to for +25 years.
Most of them well covered, some not, but it's fun, perfectly recorded and with a polished production.

1. Whole Lotta Love (featuring Chris Cornell)
2. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (featuring Scott Weiland)
3. Sunshine Of Your Love (featuring Rob Thomas)
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (featuring India.Arie & Yo-Yo Ma)
5. Photograph (featuring Chris Daughtry)
6. Back In Black (feat. Nas & Robyn Troup)
7. Riders On The Storm (featuring C. Bennington & Ray Manzarek)
8. Smoke On The Water (featuring Jacoby Shaddix)
9. Dance The Night Away (featuring Pat Monahan)
10.Bang A Gong (featuring Gavin Rossdale)
11.Little Wing (featuring Joe Cocker)
12.I Ain’t Superstitious (featuring Jonny Lang)

Deluxe Edition bonus :
13.Fortunate Son (featuring Scott Stapp)
14.Under The Bridge (featuring Andy Vargas)

Carlos Santana - Lead guitar
Tommy Anthony - Rhythm guitar
Freddie Ravel - Keyboards
Benny Rietveld - Bass
Dennis Chambers - Drums
Karl Perrazo - Timbales, percussion
Raul Rekow - Congas
Bill Ortiz, Jeff Cressman - Horns
Andy Vargas - Backing vocals



Saturday, December 4, 2010

LINEHOUSE - Take One (2010)

LINEHOUSE - Take One 2010

Hailing from Sundsvall, Sweden, the duo LINEHOUSE got together in 2005 when Niklas Dernebo (Vocals) and Jonas Öhlund (Guitars/Bass/Keys/Programming/Vocals) found out that they had a common desire to write music inspired by the 80’s AOR / melodic rock.
Jonas was once a member of the legendary swedish Melodic Rock band PRIDE, whom released a single and several demos at the end of the '80s before splitting up in 1992.
In 2008 however an indie british label released a CD filled with material PRIDE recorded in the past.

In the spring of 2007, LINEHOUSE sent some demo tracks to Björn Lodin (BALTIMOORE) who took care of mixing and mastering.
The songs were released by the boys themselves as a 3 track EP. It was well recieved and it put fuel to the flame.
Recordings of a full-length album began soon, and at the very beginning of 2010, a full-length CD titled "Take One" was released to the public.
They have come up with a bunch of nice songs with good variation and arrangements, a light version of STAGE DOLLS, GREENHOUZE or ON THE RISE.

The album opens up with an up-tempo rocker named "Every Little Heartbeat" featuring a melodic riff and a cool chorus.
Next up is "First Love" one of the 3 songs from the EP that are included on "Take One". This is a strong song with nice hooklines.
The piano ballad "I Need You" should be huge because this is a stunning harmonic song and are made for radio for sure. Maybe lacks the presence of a more consistent chorus.

"What Makes It Feel So Right?" and "The Fear Of Losing You" are good light rockers employing spare, streamlined guitarwork, giving both a little more (and very welcome) bite.
One of the best songs on the album is "Here For You" that starts slow but turns out to a rocker sounding like they built it with a collection of split parts from old Martin Page, '80s Uriah Heep and Jim Steinman songs, this track is an absolute cracker.
The album ends with "Stormrider" on the scandi-rock 90's tradition.

LINEHOUSE has done a more than decent debut album.
They need to improve the songwriting, specially on the addition of more hooky choruses and 'fire'.
But musically they're on track following the pure '80-'90s scandi AOR/Melodic Rock style.
Good stuff.

01 - Every Little Heartbeat
02 - First Love
03 - Get Off That Train
04 - I Need You
05 - Breathe Through You
06 - What Makes It Feel So Right?
07 - The Fear Of Losing You
08 - Two Hearts
09 - Here For You
10 - Stormrider

Niklas Dernebo : Vocals
Jonas Öhlund : Guitars, Bass, Keys, Programming



TNT - A Farewell To Arms (2010)

TNT A Farewell To Arms

Norwegian/British hard rockers TNT are back with a new album, "A Farewell To Arms", released in Japan only.
The recording will be titled "Engine" in the US and Scandinavia, due to be published on the new year's eve.
This is their third album with the current lineup, and the band are trying to return to their roots. The music is more hard edged than on the last few albums, and the truth is you'll have to go all the way back to 1984's "Knights Of The New Thunder" to find the band so hard rockin'.

TNT was formed in Norway back in 1982, and the band released its eponymous debut album the following year.
After some changes in the line up the classic "Knights Of The New Thunder" were released in the fall of 1984, by a band now consisting of extremely talented guitar player Ronni Le Tekrø, drummer Diesel Dahl, american singer Tony Harnell, and bass player Morty Black.

Throughout the eighties the band released the melodic hard rock gems "Tell No Tales" and "Intuition", while building a fan base in Europe, America, and especially in Japan where "Intuition" became a hit.
In the early nineties the band broke up, but TNT returned with a couple of more alternative hard rock albums later in the decade, before disappearing again.
At the turn of the millennium TNT slowly began to rise once more, and came back with full force when "My Religion" was released to rave reviews in 2004.
The band then started to fall apart, and as bass players changed at a rapid pace, singer Harnell left the band in 2006 to be replaced by Tony Mills.

Diesel Dahl and Ronni Le Tekrø were by now the core of TNT, and in Victor Borge (ex Jack In The Box, Autopulver) they found a permanent bass player.
When Tony Mills entered the scene TNT was finally a complete unit again, and released 'The New Territory' in 2007. TNT have been touring extensively in Norway ever since, and at the same time been working on new music. This resulted in 'Atlantis'.
Both albums were very disappointing to the fans: erratic, muddy and unfun music.

But on "A Farewell To Arms" TNT tries to deliver a much harder rocking sound with energetic, guitar-shred filled tunes.
They don't completely abandon the eccentricity that can be TNT, but they are much closer to the band's trademark sound.
It still hasn't been an easy road for the group: just as the new album was finished, Mills suffered a heart attack at Oslo's main airport, but quick response from the paramedics saved the singer's life.

"A Farewell To Arms" was produced by Ronni Le Tekrø at his studio, and the songs are mainly written by him and Mills.
I'm still not convinced with the material dropped here, although this recording is 10 thousand times better than the previous releases.
There's a hard 'n' heavy intention on many tracks, which is not a bad thing, with razor riffs and tight arrangements.

But this band has always shined when they combine melody with Ronni's pyrotechnics.
And that's evident on the excellent "Don't Misunderstand Me", with a catchy chorus, harmonies and crazy guitar work.
"Someone Else" and "Ship In The Night" both are good retro TNT-style melodic rockers, while "God Natt, Marie" is a very nice tune, not your typical ballad.
Some of the "hard" tracks work fine as well, like the melting "Take It Like A Man - Woman!" or the title track.

Ronni has followed a clever premise on this new album: short tracks, direct and in-you-face. And that's works.
For the most part, "A Farewell To Arms" is a good return to the best TNT, specially if you're a fan of their very earlier albums.

01 - Engine
02 - Refugee
03 - Ship In The Night
04 - Take It Like A Man - Woman!
05 - Come
06 - Barracuda
07 - A Signature On A Demon's Self Portrait
08 - Don't Misunderstand Me
09 - A Farewell To Arms
10 - Someone Else
11 - God Natt, Marie
12 - Not Only Lonely (Japan Bonus Track)

Tony Mills : Vocals
Ronni Le Tekro : Guitar
Victor Borge : Bass
Morten "Diesel" Dahl : Drums
Dag Stokke : Keyboards
Baard Svensen : Backing Vocals


Friday, December 3, 2010

RICHARD PAGE - Peculiar Life (2010)

RICHARD PAGE Peculiar Life 2010

“The album title pretty much sums it up for me” Richard Page says with a wry smile.
The veteran writer/artist is referring to both his second solo album, "Peculiar Life" and his bifurcated career, which belies F. Scott Fitzgerald’s contention that there are no second acts in American life.
Page spent the 1980s fronting the bands PAGES and the chart-topping Mr. MISTER before becoming the provider of material for others, in part via his longstanding relationships with producer David Foster.

But functioning purely as a writer for hire “doesn’t scratch the itch of wanting to do your own thing, especially when you have to make compromises”, Page explains of the motivation behind the writing and recording of Peculiar Life, his first album since 1995’s 'Shelter Me'.
“So I really started missing this again, though it amps my life up tremendously and is hard on the family. But there’s something special about doing your own record and making your own music that I really missed, and I didn’t know how much I missed it until I went through this experience.”

Gathering the all-star core band of drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Jeff Beck, Sting, Herbie Hancock), percussionist Luis Conte (Pat Metheny, James Taylor, Jackson Browne), bassist Kevin McCormick (a mainstay of Browne’s longtime band) and guitarist James Harrah (Chris Botti, Elton John, John Prine), the Malibu-based artist brought a special set of songs to the nearby studio of his surfer buddy Richard Gibbs (an Oingo Boingo member turned film scorer), who’d readily agreed to co-produce after hearing the material.

“Richard Gibbs, who’s a great musician and helped me a lot, insisted that we have live musicians playing everything,” says Page.
“To me, if music sounds and feels good, I don’t really care if it was played by a machine or human beings. But I admit, I’d gotten swept up in programming because it’s so easy to write when you program, with so many tools at your fingertips.
But having done this record, I can now see that I’d forgotten how nuanced real musicianship can be. I had most of the songs somewhat arranged already, and many of the vocals were done here at my studio.
I took over the mockups—essentially song demos with programmed sounds, vocals and some guitar—to Gibbs’s studio, and we replaced nearly all the instruments.
The guys appreciated being able to play to songs that already had lead and background vocals and ideas that were already finished thoughts. So it worked out pretty cool that way.”

The resulting album—mixed by the brilliant Elliot Scheiner (Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles)—sounds as taut and vibrant as you’d expect from the collective chops and experience of this crew; the revelation here has to do with the depth of Page’s writing.
The dozen songs range from the brightness of “Brand New Day” (“When I wrote that one, I was thinking that things are gonna be OK, and it’s OK to say so”) to the dark night of the soul evoked in “Shadow On My Life”; from the life-embracing pop of “No Tomorrow” (co-written with his old friend Richard Marx) and “You Are Mine” (a collaboration with Nashville-based songsmiths Melissa Pierce and Mike Busbee) and to the album’s three-pronged spiritual center, comprising the provocative title song, the contemplative “Worldly Things” and the widescreen epic “When You Come Around,” each of them at once intensely personal and universally relatable.

Accumulated over a number of years, these songs spoke to Page in a different way from the rest of his output.
“When I write a song”, he explains, “I automatically think, ‘Who could I pitch that to?’ And with some of these songs I would think, ‘Nobody.’
Not because they’re so great but because I just can’t imagine anyone else doing them; they’re so personal and have so much of my own stamp on them.
Frankly, some songs can work for many different singers, but with these, I felt I needed to do my own thing with them.”

After waiting almost 15 years for a second solo effort, this is quite a feast from Richard Page.
This album offers lots of great songs with variety of styles and tempo.
Richard's voice is better than ever and needless to say; he has one of the most beautiful male voices in the business.
Self-released but perfectly produced, "Peculiar Life" is a clear example of the talent and sensibility by this incredible musician.

Most of you come here looking for bombastic tunes, sing-along choruses or electrifying guitars.
"Peculiar Life" is a different thing, on another level too. This is TOP CLASS music, pure, clever, charming and haunting.
Do yourself a favor, get right now one of the albums of the year, one of these that, sadly, never will be exposed to mainstream audience.

01 - A Kiss On The Wind (Richard Page)
02 - You Are Mine (Richard Page, Busbee & Melissa Peirce)
03 - Worldly Things (Richard Page & Steve George)
04 - Peculiar Life (Richard Page)
05 - No Tomorrow (Richard Page & Richard Marx)
06 - The Truth Is Beautiful (R. Page, Per Magnusson & D. Kreiger)
07 - Brand New Day (Richard Page)
08 - When You Come Around (Richard Page & J. Van Der Saag)
09 - Peace Of Mind (Lee Miracle, Tai Miracle & Richard Page)
10 - Shadow On My Life (Richard Page & John Lang)
11 - Give It Away (Richard Page)
12 - Waiting (Richard Page & John Lang)

Produced by Richard Gibbs & Richard Page
Mixed by Elliot Scheiner at The Eyeball

Richard Page : Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar & Piano
Richard Gibbs : Hammond B3, Synths, Piano
Vinnie Colaiuta : Drums
Luis Conte : Percussion
James Harrah : Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Kevin McCormick : Bass
Greg Leisz : Pedal Steel & Acoustic Guitar
Francesca Richards : Vocals on "No Tomorrow"
Aja Page (Richard's daughter) : Vocals on "Peace Of Mind"
Jochem Van Der Saag : Programming & Additional Engineering


Wednesday, December 1, 2010



OSUKARU was founded in late 2009 by the former EYE and KATANA guitarist Oz Osukaru and the awarded American drummer Ryan Coyle, this band quickly found its place in the reborn AOR scene.
The idea was to deliver high class harmonic Scandi AOR for the true dreamers out there.

Along the way Oz was reunited with his former Katana band mates; Johan Bernspång with an A-class vocal register aswell as guitarist Tobias Karlsson with more of a metal edge to his sound.
As the last piece of the puzzle, a very young, beautiful and new talent named Emma Lee joined the band on bass.

This Swedish / American AOR outfit delivers pure '80s music with strong melodies and catchy hooklines.
After a short intro, "Driven By Love" opens the album up with great keys and a catchy chorus.
"Change Of Heart" is a nice mid-tempo rocker with strong melodies, and reminds of ALIEN.

"Tell Me You'll Stay" is a fantastic AOR song where TYKETTO meets ALIEN with riffantastic guitars, wonderful keyboards and a damn catchy chorus. Best song of the album and is AOR by numbers for sure.
On "Out Of Touch" the vocals sound a bit stranger and I don’t know if they had recorded them that way, anyway, the chorus is fantastic with great hooklines.
The last song "It Was Meant To Be" is a duet with a female singer and Johan, this is a great soundtrack AOR-ballad with classy background vocals in the chorus.

OSUKARU's debut album is good, classic rockin' AOR.
Oz Osukaru delivers nice riffs and Bernspång vocals are cool.
Sadly, the disc it's way to short (almost an EP) with a running time just under 30 minutes and includes one intro and one instrumental song.
Of Course, they aren't in the same league as H.e.a.t, Bad Habit or Alien yet, but there's definitely potential and hopefully the next album will take them even higher.

Limited Edition to 1000 copies
(also available as digital download)

01 - GBG2LA
02 - Driven By Love
03 - Change Of Heart
04 - Believe
05 - Tell Me You'll Stay
06 - Out Of Touch
07 - Dedicacion
08 - It Was Meant To Be

Oz Osukaru: Guitars, Keyboards, Bkg Vocals
Johan Bernspång: Lead Vocals
Tobias Karlsson: Guitars
Emma Lee: Bass, Bkg Vocals
Ryan Coyle: Drums


RICHARD MARX - Stories To Tell, Expanded Edition (2010)

RICHARD MARX - Stories To Tell Expanded Edition

Richard’s new CD, “Stories To Tell” will be released in Germany and the UK.
The 'Expanded Edition' contains new acoustic versions of many of Richard’s hits including “Endless Summer Nights” and “Right Here Waiting” as well 7 new studio recordings of songs Richard has written with or for other artists.

These bonus tracks were recorded by Marx for the first time with a full band: “To Where You Are” (originally recorded by Josh Groban), “Had Enough” (originally recorded by Lifehouse) and a new recording of “Never Take Me Dancing,” (recently a hit for Travis Tritt).
Also included is Richard’s version of the top 5 Keith Urban hit, “Everybody,” which will be the first single (in Europe only) from “Stories To Tell.”

A musician, his acoustic guitar or his piano.
Two things to showcase what an authentic artist is. Music, in its purest form, without artifice.
Richard's playing singing and playing reminds us what music and talent are supposed to be. It comes from heart and soul.

If you are not yet familiar with Richard Marx music, I highly recommend to begin with this album. These sublime acoustic versions will leave you speechless.
It is sweet, delicate, a must-have. Beautiful love songs that are eternal for everybody, bring back us memories.
Who has forgotten "Angelia" or "Right Here Waiting" ? Nobody!
Marx has this ability to create legendary songs.

The new recordings (written or co-written for another artists since a long time) sung by him, are something else. The songs become magical.
The quality of his timber brings them an extra thing.
All these bonuses were recorded with a full electric band, balancing this 'Expanded Edition'.

01 - Endless Summer Nights
02 - One Thing Left
03 - Hazard
04 - Over My Head
05 - Angelia
06 - Now And Forever
07 - Keep Coming Back
08 - This I Promise You
09 - Loved
10 - Should've Known Better
11 - Right Here Waiting

Bonus Tracks:
12 - This I Promise You
13 - To Where You Are
14 - Had Enough
15 - On The Inside
16 - Never Take Me Dancing
17 - Everybody
18 - The Best Of Me


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