You know how much I love digging up late ‘80s/early ‘90s hard rock bands that unfortunately didn’t last that long for one reason or another (mostly because of the grunge fever spreading all over the place.) I am the kind of person who just listens to these forgotten AOR/hard rock bands because judging by experience, some of them are worthier than many of the big names of the industry. Unearthing buried music is a very rewarding experience, believe me. Swimming through the YouTube videos of AOR music with fewer than 1,000 views is something I recommend to everyone! That’s how I found this band I will talk about today – Zinatra. Don’t stick to the usual suspects, let yourself explore the bands that couldn’t hit it that big; thankfully, we have the Internet so use it!
A few things about the band before we jump into the music;
What you need to know about Zinatra (what a cool name, I wonder how did they come up with it) is that they are a hard rock band from the Netherlands, consisting of five members.
The band was formed in 1986 and disbanded in 1991 after the release of just two albums. Some of the highlights of their career include opening up for David Lee Roth on his “Skyscraper” tour and a top20 hit – “Love or Loneliness” from their debut album. Moreover, the band achieved success in Asian and South-American territories where they embarked on tours, filled venues and topped charts with songs like “Hero”.
The sophomore release featured a new keyboardist (Robby Valentine) and a solid determination to make an even bigger splash this time. The album was very well-received, especially in Japan (I love how much Japanese people were into ’80s hard rock music); Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough. Vocalist Joss Mennen kicked off his solo activities and Robby Valentine got a signing deal with Polydor so this was basically it for Zinatra. Just wasn’t meant to be I guess. The changing musical climate were in my opinion the biggest factor that drove the guys away.
1988 Self-titled debut
I have included three songs which I believe best represent this album. Hopefully you will check the rest of it all, after you hear it. “Love or Loneliness” is undoubtedly their most famous track. The other two are equally appealing. I am very fond of “Hero” and that’s not just because I’m a softie. The ballad is absolutely gorgeous! To me, it’s always been all about the melody and this album right here is full of beautiful melodies that can satisfy any fan out there, like myself. This album is nothing phenomenal or unheard of but it’s something you just gotta experience. Vocalist Joss Mennen is just a bliss for my ears.
“The Great Escape” 1990
This album and the catchy “There She Was” introduced me to the band back in the day. I actually saw this album in its original Japanese packaging which led me to the music and to writing this now. I like the debut but this album I like a little bit more and I think that’s because Robby Valentine was added to the line-up; he was not just a keyboardist, he also contributed as a songwriter which clearly hit the spot for me. The album is melodic/pop rock at its finest. In addition to the entertaining bright track, “There She Was”, I included two more songs for you to check out – the rocker “Only Your Heart” and the power ballad “Too Blind to See”.