Τρίτη, 30 Ιουνίου 2009

Kitaro - Mandala


On Mandala, his first record for Domo, Kitaro attempts to craft a new age-influenced rock opera with classical underpinnings. Familiar elements such as the spacy synthesizers are present, but an overpowering electric guitar grips the record and brings his music into a new realm. It's not always successful, but it's one of the most intriguing records Kitaro has released in years.

Clover - Unavailable


In 1976, Clover relocated from Mill Valley, California, to London, England, where the group hooked up with managers/record company executives Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson and signed to PolyGram Records, which, in early 1977, released this, their third album. In the UK, the LP appeared on PolyGram's Vertigo label and was called Unavailable; in the US, PolyGram's Mercury label felt that title was a bit uncommercial and opted instead for the generic Clover, which as it happened had already been used for their Fantasy Records debut album in 1970. In any case, it was apparent that Riviera and Robinson felt that they'd hit upon a more authentic, American version of Brinsley Schwartz — country-rock with an edge. In fact, the band was all over the map stylistically. There were two lead singers, the smooth-voiced Alex Call and the gruffer Huey Lewis, and they sounded too different to be in the same band much less on the same song. Multi-instrumentalist John McFee kept introducing touches of steel guitar and violin into what otherwise were rock tracks, while Lewis's harmonica was full of blues. It might have made for an interesting mixture if the result was a distinct musical identity, but either because of the songwriting or the arranging, it wasn't. And while the move across the Atlantic had earned the group a Dew recording contract, it also landed them in an emerging punk-rock scene with which they had nothing in common. "I come so far from San Francisco to walk these streets alone," sang Call, and despite the group's talent, it was easy to see why.

Charlie - Fight Dirty


Having signed with Arista in the States, the band appeared poised for massive commercial success. Unfortunately things rapidly went downhill. Having completed work for their Arista debut tentatively entitled "Here Comes Trouble" the company refused to released the set without additional new material. The band's British label Polydor refused to finance more recording sessions. Caught in the middle without any financial support the band effectively fell apart with keyboardist Julian Colbeck and guitarist Eugene Organ tendering their notices. The business logjam eventually came to an end with the release of 1979's "Fight Dirty". For an album recorded in the midst of so many problems the results weren't half bad. Most bands would have probably just thrown in the towel ... The album certainly wasn't a major change in direction, but if anything Terry Thomas and company seem to have redoubled their efforts to come up with a blend of their trademarked sound and a commercial edge. At the same time band seemed to haphazardly bounce from their more rock oriented roots to a disconcerting lightweight pop orientation. - Perhaps their creative highpoint, 'Killer Cut' had it all - this one should have been a massive radio hit. Yeah the cheesy synthesizers sound a little dated today but with a fantastic hook, cynical insider lyrics, chunky guitars and instantly recognizable vocals this one was irresistible. To my ears it sounds as good today as the first time I heard it. - Released as the first of two singles the title track found the band showcasing a bluesy side. A mid tempo rocker with a mild jazzy feel (shades of early Steely Dan), the glorious harmony lyrics were still there as was Thomas knack for crating a wonderful hook. Probably my favorite song on the album and I can remember trying to copy John Anderson's pounding bass line. If only they hadn't added the hideous cocktail jazz sax solo to the end. - After two great songs, 'Don't Count Me Out' came off as a lame, disco-flavored pop song. The chorus provided a nice vocal hook, but even that couldn't save the song from being forgettable. - 'Heartless' sported another nice vocal hook, but again couldn't make up for a song that was overly commercial. Worth nothing that Thomas shared the lead vocals with bassist John Anderson and lead guitarist Organ. - Time for a big ballad - 'Too Late'. Showcasing Colbeck's piano, the song was pretty, but instantly forgettable. The extensive orchestration didn't exactly improve the track. - Side two started out with 'So Alone' - another pure pop effort that included some surprisingly enjoyable horn charts. Another track that could have been a nice single ... - 'Just One More Smiling Face' was the ultimate groupie song. - Other than the fact it started out sounding like a Survivor song, 'California' wasn't a bad rocker. Not the most original lyrics, but the multi-part harmonies were glorious. - Lots of reviews slap a jazz label on Charlie and I seldom get the description, but here's one of the isolated cases where that would be an appropriate tag - 'The End Of It All' was simply too mellow for my tastes. - 'Runaway' was another rocker that came close to being excellent, but ultimately fell short of the mark based on dumb life-on-the-streets lyrics. And of course there was the added bonus of another attractive cheesecake cover.

Automatic Man - Visitors


This album lacks some of the musical creativity of the first Automatic Man album. The departure of bassist Doni Harvey (who now records innovative blues songs on his DoniMusic label) seemed to remove the funky bottom from the layered, spacey rock groove that the first album pioneered. Drummer Mike Shrieve's exit was also awkward, as it seemed that the band was originally formed to provide a showcase for his talents.I felt that vocalist/keyboardist Bayete outshined the other musical geniuses in the band on its debut, and then continued to shepherd on with guitarist Pat Thrall (Pat Travers Band, Asia, Hughes/Thrall, Sly & Robbie) for this second effort. It's a continuation of its predecessor, but more synthesizer-driven and danceable ("Give It to Me", "Live Wire"). There were quicker breaks, unexpected bursts of loud guitar and change in tempo ("Here I Am Now"), and the trademark space-rock sound of their classic first album.Great to find music with great catchy melodies, outstanding musicianship, and little or no gimmicks.

Τετάρτη, 24 Ιουνίου 2009

Livin' Blues - Blue Breeze


Popular rock band from Holland with it's 7th official release from 1976 ,with the great one-hit-wonder Shylina included here...(plus bonus demo tracks in the present download).Enjoy !

Babe Ruth - Amar Caballero


Alan Shacklock's guitar is impressive here in a variety of styles (classical, Spanish, straight-ahead rock, funk). Strange album though. Never seems to decide what it wants to be. "Dr. Love" is an interesting song with a couple great, economical solos (guitar, sax). "Broken Cloud", given the epic, cinematic treatment, might have been better without the vocal. Speaking of which, Jenny Haan's vocals on this album... do they really fit? At times, yes. At other times, no. Still, an interesting curiosity that may be of interest to guitar fans looking for an under-appreciated talent.

Porcupine Tree - Staircase Infinities


Once again, Porcupine Tree's B-sides outshine their main material. This EP was released only a few months before The Sky Moves Sideways, and it's blatantly obvious in which way they were heading. And I honestly wish they'd never strayed from that direction. It's beautiful. Tranquil. Psychedelic. Serene. Relaxing. Chilling. Emotional. Trippy. It takes me into outer space. It lets me face my inner self. It blends reality and fantasy in an uncomparable aural experience. I have nothing but praise for this album. It does magical things, letting me feel things I never imagined possible.

April Wine - The whole world's goin' crazy


A year after the release of Stand Back, one of April Wine's greatest achievements, they returned with the similar-sounding Whole World's Goin' Crazy. Although the album didn't yield any solid rockers such as "Tonite Is a Wonderful Time" or "Oowatanite" (both from Stand Back ), it does contain one of the band's best ballads in "Like a Lover Like a Song," which also reveals Goodwyn's talent for singing the slow stuff. Most of the other tracks have April Wine sounding sturdy enough, especially on "Gimme Love," "We Can Be More Than We Are," and on the title track, which actually cracked the Top 20 in their homeland. With Jimmy Clench gone and bass man Steve Lang joining the band, April Wine continued on with their prospective arena/radio brand of rock; the only problem was that too many comparisons were being made to the album that came before it, with not enough time left in between for Stand Back's impact to wear off, especially within the group's growing fan base. But Whole World has enough likeable guitar-led rock to make it one of their better releases from the '70s, with Goodwyn and Moffet garnering serious relationships with both the all-important hard rock hook and the syrupy soft pop ballad. Within the same year they released Forever for Now, which has April Wine sounding less enthusiastic and drifting somewhat into stadium rock banality.

Concrete Blonde - Mexican Moon


Concrete Blonde's 5th and last album until they re-united and released the 2002's Group Therapy album. I have not listened to their latest stuff but if the 6 year hiatus re-focussed their energy and made them produce an album of the calibre of Mexican Moon, then I will be looking for it. I picked up Mexican Moon as it was the only cd I could find from the band after hearing the song "Joey" (off their '90 album Bloodletting) and I was happy I did. I was quite impressed by Napolitano's voice and this album let that talent loose. The music has a Spanish influence as the title would indicate. James Mankey plays Spanish guitar which gives a Mexican flavour the album. Thompson adds to the sound by playing the timbales (a Cuban salsa double drum). But it's Napolitano's voice which will decide whether you like the band or not. The album opens with "Jenny I Read" probably the most known song off the album. It describes the cool hand of fame with a woman who was once a famous star and now is just a ghost of her former self being viewed by the younger generation as generic. "Mexican Moon", the title track that follows is about a woman who wants to forget a lost love by bar hopping in the Pink Zone (Zona Rosa) section of Mexico City and staring at the stars and moon. It's slow and moody with Napolitano's voice simmering. "Heal It Up" shows off Napolitano's vocal range and this song is the one I would recommend as a test on whether you would like her voice and therefore search out one of the band's albums. "Jonestown" is quite a spooky song. It starts of with a speech by the Reverend Jim Jones. He states: "If, if by any chance you would make a mistake to try to come in take anyone of us, we will not let you, you will die, you will have to take anybody over all of our dead bodies. Love is the only weapon. Martin Luther King died with love. Kennedy died talking about something he couldn't even understand, some kind of generalized love and he never even backed it up. He's shot down. Course love is the only weapon which I got to fight. I got a hell of a lot of weapons which to fight. I got my clothes, I got compasses, I got guns, I got dynamite, I got a hell of a lot to fight. I'll fight! I'll fight! I'll fight!" What's funny is the song isn't about the massive suicide of Jonestown at all. It's about the band's warning that the deification and idolization of rock stars results in Jonestown-like followings and it should not happen. "Rain", my favourite song off the album, shows off Napilotano's soul. The song is simple, discribing the longing of a woman for a love that is absent because the woman couldn't speak up and tell him how she feels. It also features Mankey's best guitar solo. "I Call It Love" describes that feeling you get when you are walking with a lover surrounded by the ocean, sky etc. and you get that feeling outside yourself, like pure joy. People state it's the touch of God, but Napolitano calls it love. "Jesus Forgive Me" is a song about faith. A woman gives up on faith and realizes her mistake and asks for Jesus' forgiveness for killing him in her heart. "When You Smile" is Concrete Blond's take on a Steve Wynn song written for his band Dream Syndicate off The Days Of Wine & Roses album. It tells of the feelings you get when a lover smiles at you. "Close To Home" and "One Of My Kind", the next two tracks are mostly forgettable. The first tells of returning to home after being on the road travelling around the world. The last is about a misfit who is waiting for a group to arrive that she can fit into. The album continues and then ends with "Bajo La Lune Mexicana". The first part of the album (up to and including "Rain") is stellar, but it begins to slacken afterwards. The ups and downs in the songs after "Rain" make this effort good but not great.

Πέμπτη, 18 Ιουνίου 2009

Stretch - Elastique


This album contains some really popular-sound, well worked-out songs, like "Miss Jones" and "Why did you do it". The whole thing is a strage mix of several music types and elements. The two songs mentioned are the lead, but do not stop your player after the second track. Keep on listening and you'll find some other interesting stuff in their music. The best way is to listen the whole album through and get a global view on it.

Kansas - Drastic Measures


The album rocks hard, with the guitar work being more raw and heavy than ever. “Fight Fire With Fire” and “Mainstream”, in particular, offer some great riffs. The overall sound, however, is far off balance compared to the bands’ earlier work. Being heavily synthesized, the album shimmers and sparkles with too much of that ‘80s pop, and in the case of the song “Andi”, exemplifies the cheese-balladry of the decade. At least Vinyl Confessions generally retained Dave Hope’s pulsating bass lines, as well as some progressive rock keyboard playing. Here, the keyboards are usually synthesized and the bass far less prominent. This makes the songs sometimes sound empty and hollow. Also absent is the band’s tendency to perform complex, extended instrumental passages. Being a more consciously-pop effort, there is less room for instrumental breaks. When they do occur, as in “Mainstream”, they sound somewhat incomplete; especially with a shimmering synthesizer where there would have otherwise been a violin and Steve Walsh’s keyboards to fill the void. That said, it still makes the song seem grand and eloquent, making it somewhat reminiscent of the old Kansas sound. All this taken into consideration, the album delivers the goods on a very non-progressive level. Its pop consciousness is noteworthy, and few can deny the quality of the songs when taken in terms of melodies, lyrics, pop hooks, and guitar riffs. Since this brand of 80’s rock is an acquired taste, Drastic Measures is not for everyone. I think it is still a great album, even if it doesn’t sound too much like Kansas.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Chance


Manfred Mann's 1980 album is a strange mix of topical songwriting, progressive rock, and power pop — from its opening seconds, the Earth Band is pressing serious messages and social commentary on their listenership amid swirling prog rock keyboards and catchy guitar hooks and choruses. The whole package is challenging in ways that should have put them on the cutting edge of rock music at the outset of that decade, but one suspects that Mann and company were too musically adept and sophisticated for their own good — a little dumbing down and maybe a little less musicianship on display would have made them more accessible to the coming MTV generation. As it is, the album has held up remarkably well across a quarter century, however, even if it now seems an uncomfortably accurate warning of the way the world would go, in terms of politics and society, in the decades to come. It would also be three years before another Earth Band album was forthcoming, and that one would be steeped in world music sounds.

Πέμπτη, 4 Ιουνίου 2009

John Sykes - Please Don't Leave Me


Please Don't Leave Me is an album released by John Sykes on 1982, that edition contains only two versions of the song, later in 1992 (presented here in a rare Japan production !!) it was re-released with extra tracks from Tygers Of Pan Tang era.

Survivor - Caught in the Game


Caught in the Game had Survivor focusing on a harder rock & roll sound, with greater emphasis stemming from the guitar and percussion, but this new formula didn't fare well commercially and the band failed to put any of the album's songs onto the charts. With Frankie Sullivan finally expressing himself with his guitar playing, the album does manage to establish a vibrant and dominant punch through most of the cuts, but because of this, there's a shortage of musical flow and melodic consistency that becomes apparent after the first few tracks. Efforts such as "What Do You Really Think" and "I Never Stopped Loving You" are Survivor's best examples of their straight-ahead rock fair, but they're canceled out by non-abrasive fillers like "Slander" and "Santa Ana Winds," which have the band playing well below their capacity.

Kiss - Music From The Elder


Arriving to the "hidden epoch" of Kiss, it lays there like a dark diamond their album "Music from the elder", that is actually soundtrack for an inexistent movie. The shifts that the band's musical direction was experimenting, from the old straightforward hard rock, to the semi-disco years, and finally "The elder", was huge, and fruit of a flickering yearning to stay popular, or at least alive among the world's top rock bands, more than due to real artistic evolution, I assume: with this Lp they tried to make a move towards the "important" music, showing themselves "conceptual", if in Kiss' terms is possible this word. The sales were very poor for the Kiss standards, and they even avoided start a promotional tour, so explained in words of Gene Simmons: "As a Kiss record I'd give it a zero. As a bad Genesis record, I'd give it a two." Well, Simmons is wrong; the album is excellent, there is not a single filler in here, maybe it could be quoted "I" and "Mr. Blackwell" as the weak songs, but the rest is pure gold. Of course, Gene thinks with his pocket; and doesn't even realize when makes something really good, trying to bury it asap, like a dog buries the faecal substance after take a shit; and why? Because it was too good to sell. Edgar Allan Poe said once something like that there is not worst torture for a sensitive soul, than being taken for weak due to its misunderstood excess of strength or excellence; well, something like it happened with this creature "The elder", a son that the big-blind guys of Kiss and their huge materialistic ego, never wanted to recognize. The album was produced by the guy who produced the best Kiss albums: this one and "Destroyer"; yes, that old Bob Ezrin; individual who produced Pink Floyd's "The wall", nothing less, and worked in the best albums of Alice Cooper, Lou Reed's "Berlin", the first Peter Gabriel solo album, among many many others. Here Ezrin is co-author with some members of the band, of several tracks as well; and some others were penned in collaboration with the very Lou Reed, such "A world without heroes", "Mr. Blackwell" or "Dark light". This album is quite varied, and besides the logical hard rock, features strange epic songs, like "Under the rose" or "Odyssey"; and even some medieval air in "Just a boy". I think that if this album wouldn't exist, I would like Kiss much, much lesser than I do; and at some point, I'd even risk that this Lp justifies their whole career.

Δευτέρα, 1 Ιουνίου 2009

Rik Emmett - Absolutely


Richard Gordon (Rik) Emmett (born July 10, 1953 in Toronto, Ontario) is a vocalist, guitarist, and founding member of the Canadian rock band Triumph. Emmett left Triumph in 1988 to pursue a solo career. His first solo album, Absolutely, was released in 1990 and became a massive hit across North America thanks to the smash hits "When a Heart Breaks" and "Saved by Love".

Rob Grill - Uprooted


Rob Grill, former lead singer of The Grass Roots, with his only solo offering. I bought this LP blindly when it came out almost thirty years ago, not knowing what to expect, and I was instantly fascinated with its raw sound. Grill croaks and sighs, the backing band adds a good shot of rhythm'n blues. On "Rock Sugar" Fleetwood Mac members John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham were the accompanying band. Truly Great! Other stand out cuts are "God Help the Man", a true walking rock'n roller, and the up-tempo "Open Up Your Heart". "Stranger" is a song penned by the successful composer team Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, and was already known from the Smokie album Midnight Café. At last we hear a re-recording of the Grass Roots success "Where Were You When I Needed You".

Grand Prix - There For None To See


Grand Prix surfaced in the wake of the emerging New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene in the late 70's. Not for them, however, the meat and two veg. approach of the likes of Saxon, Dedringer or Jaguar to their sound. From the outset, Grand Prix offered something distinctly more melodic and polished. This album is pivotal in Grand Prix's short but enjoyable career. The link between their early attempts at melodic metal and the polished sound of Samurai (the band's follow-up),There For None To See offered up their finest hour in 'Keep On Believing'. British melodic rock may have never managed to scale the grand heights of its American counterparts, but albums such as this prove it certainly had much to offer.