[Playlist] 10 Forgotten but Deserving Hard Rock Gems [Part 2]

New media technologies allowed users to upload, share and promote content of any kind, including music. Thanks to platforms, like YouTube, I was able to discover a lot of outstanding, lesser known bands and albums from the ’80s/’90s and enrich my library with rock music that doesn’t just come out of the big acts of the industry. Actually, unearthing these hidden gems which for one reason or another didn’t achieve that big of a commercial success and these days are not particularly on everyone’s minds, is one of my favorite things to do…you just never know what will come out!
I previously wrote a similar publication, which you can check out in case you haven’t : 10 Forgotten but Deserving AOR Classics and now I wanted to once again prepare a little playlist with songs from albums (and entire albums) that might had been in time but still managed to captivate me and found a way into my library. In case you know some of these AOR treasures, now it might be a good time to remember. Let’s go…


Hanover Fist – Hungry Eyes (1985)

hanover

This beauty right here I found while watching videos on YouTube. I was attracted by the album artwork but never expected to become such a fan of this album. The pleasantly obscure, rather heavy release, titled “Hungry Eyes” is actually a re-release of Canadian rockers’ 1983 debut album, with with a slightly different tracklist. I wish I had a long and interesting story but I don’t – the band lasted for about 3 years and that was it…

“Fits Ya Good”, “Hungry Eyes”, “Metal of the Night” – all songs I recommend and truly believe will fit into the playlist of every rock fan out there. Give it a chance:


Fury – Fury (1993)

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I honestly don’t know much about these guys or this album, because it’s just impossible to unearth any background information. What I do know, however, is that this self-titled 1993 release contains every ingredient I like and enjoy in a melodic rock record. I often go back to this video I accidentally found on YouTube just so I can play this album from start to finish. My favorite songs include “Trouble” and “Higher Ground” – brilliant hooks and selection of sing-alongs.


Persian Risk – Rise Up (1986)

persian risk rise up

I think that many people probably know or have heard about the NWOBHM band Persian Risk but I also think that it’s high time I refreshed your memories of them. The British band formed in the late ’70s and actually have a long story so if you’re into that genre, go ahead and dig deeper. I have Carl Sentance – their vocalist (who is now fronting Nazareth) to thank for giving me a heads up on their stunning albums. “Rise Up” – their debut 1986 release is one of the gems you simply must hear. “Jane” has to be one of their most memorable songs. Check it out:


Stage Dolls – Stage Dolls (1988)

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This album I found as I was casually browsing through YouTube (thankfully). I knew that they had to be from somewhere other than the UK or the USA and I was right. Stage Dolls is actually a Norwegian band, formed in the early ’80s. Their self-titled 1989 album is actually their junior one, released in Norway first and becoming a total hit over there. Not so sure about becoming a hit everywhere else, but with songs like “Still in Love” and “Waitin’ For You”, they are true winners in my book. Another proof that Norwegians just know how to make rock music!!


Von Groove – Von Groove (1992)

von groove

A great example of early ’90s hard rock – it was excellent (but overlooked) albums like this one that kept the spirit of the genre alive, against the upcoming grunge invasion. The Canadian band Von Groove’s debut album is everything you can ever ask for if you are a fan of this type of music. Terrific songs like “Once Is Not Enough” or “Better than Ever” will give you a clearer picture of what I’m saying.


Silent Rage – Don’t Touch Me There (1989)

silent rage

LA might at its finest! Oh, boy – this album is pure fire!! “Don’t Touch Me There” is the band’s sophomore release and in my opinion their finest hour. Led by the talented Jesse Damon, Silent Rage is definitely one of those bands who grab you by the throat and don’t let go. I simply love this album! “I Wanna Feel It Again”, “Rebel With a Cause” and the power ballad, “Tonight You’re Mine” – all stunning examples of late ’80s hard rock.


Saints & Sinners – Saints & Sinners (1992)

saints&sinners1992

Saints & Sinners – another Canadian band with tons of unrealized potential. Their 1992 release remained the band’s first and final effort. The timing wasn’t right and the album just couldn’t stand against the alternative scene, occupying everyone’s attention.

Simply put, you love glam metal, if you love catchy riffs and solid rocking melodies, colored by magnificent vocals, you will LOVE this album. I would definitely point “Wheels of Fire” and “Walk the Walk” as my two favorite tracks from it so go ahead and check them out:


Jagged Edge – Fuel for Your Soul (1990)

Jagged Edge U.K.

Lesser-known English band with an outstanding Swedish vocalist – Matti Alfonzetti. I found “Fuel for Your Soul” as I was browsing through YouTube and the opening track immediately caught my attention. Jagged Edge, unfortunately, split up after the release of this album and we couldn’t really observe how and what will they develop into but hey – we have this album which is full of memorable rockers that can stand against the bigger hits of the era. I highly recommend those guys and not just because of the killer vocals…


Helix – Wild in the Streets (1987)

helix wild in the streets

Canadian band Helix achieved great success in the beginning of their career and still are adored by fans from all over the world (including me). However, this album right here – “Wild in the Streets” somehow always remains forgotten when we talk about them. “Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge”, “No Rest for the Wicked” and “Long Way to Heaven” always take the spotlight.

“Wild in the Streets” couldn’t really bring a lot of attention and commercial success to the band which led to them losing their U.S. deal with Capitol Records. I never understood why this album wasn’t appreciated! I mean, we have a brilliant cover of Nazareth’s “Dream On” and of course “She’s too Tough”, written by Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. The album offers so much more, though…I hope you all agree with me.


Lionsheart – Lionsheart (1992)

Lionsheart_-_Lionsheart

Lionsheart formed in the early 90s in the UK. Overall, they released four albums and one live one before calling it quits in the early 2000s. They weren’t that big in the continent, however achieved success in Japan.

This time, I would like to focus on their 1992 coming out party with their self-titled album “Lionsheart” which is ready to satisfy every hard-rock thirsty soul out there. The sound is very aggressive and hard-edged; the album offers an experience that will knock your socks off. “Had Enough” and “World of Pain” are the songs to watch out for (along with the others of course). 


References:
Photos fetched from: amazon.com / Wikipedia / discogs.com
Videos retrieved from YouTube
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[Playlist] 10 Rock Songs With Iconic & Instantly Recognizable Intros (Part 1)

Every entertainment product follows a well-established formula that aims at grabbing the attention of the audience right from the very beginning. By doing so, the consumers easily get hooked and are more likely to view or listen to the entire piece. Such is the case with movies, TV shows, advertisements and of course, musical products. It’s a popular practice and I can totally understand why; humans are exposed to hundreds of songs per day and of course, time is valuable which often results in consumers quickly moving on to the next song in case they are not impressed during the first 30 seconds of a song. Such is the case with albums; why else do you think artists put their strongest, most powerful songs in the first positions?

Since we were talking about making an impact on the listener right from the very beginning, I decided to craft this little playlist, full of classic rock songs which can not only capture the listeners’ attention from the very first second but also gained acknowledgment with their instantly recognizable, catchy and memorable intros. Of course, there are plenty of tracks with immensely appealing, throat-grabbing intros, decorated with mesmerizing riffs or mind-blowing screams; the list is endless, as a matter of fact. Still, I had to draw the line somewhere and consider a couple of factors. Finally, the first part of my playlist of classic rock tunes with iconic intros is done. I hope you enjoy it and stay tuned for part 2!

Don’t forget to comment and follow my Twitter Page and blog!


The following two songs have something in common and that’s Eric Clapton. I don’t think I need to prove a point with those two.

“Layla” has the most iconic and memorable song intro of all time (in my book, that is). You hear those epic opening riffs and you just know that something magical will follow. You can’t but be hooked and expect the best…

Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love” is a similar case but this time, the intro is more psychedelic and may have a different effect on you. Rather than excitement, you may feel like you need to just light a cigarette and chill for a while while you listen to the entire song…

Derek & The Dominos – Layla

Cream – Sunshine of Your Love


The Kinks – You Really Got Me

I’m gonna say just one thing; you try to read it without singing or immediately recalling the melody; that’s gonna be enough to prove my case!

Ta ra ra ra ram…ta ra ra ra ram…Giiirl, you really got me now….
You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’ now!!


Van Halen – Jump

Synthesizers and Van Halen = one of the most beloved rock songs of all time, Van Halen‘s biggest hit and of course, the intro that makes us “jump” to the dance floor right from the very first key. People say that the synthesizer was one of the reasons why David left the band; I don’t mind them, though. Objectively speaking, if we have to talk about the ’80s and “most instantly recognizable & iconic song intros” this gotta top the playlist.


Chuck Berry – Johny B. Goode

Nothing much to say about this track because no words are worthy enough to describe the great Chuck Berry and his art. The uplifting “Johnt B. Goode” is one of the highlights of his career and definitely one of the greatest rock&roll songs of all time. Most importantly, no force is strong enough to remove the memory of that opening riff once heard; it’s just that powerful.


Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

I bet there’s not a single person on this universe who doesn’t recognize “the riff”. The four-note blues scale melody, composed by Ritchie Blackmore will forever remain in the history of rock music as one of the simplest, yet so captivating intros and central themes. Not to mention that every youngster learns how to play the guitar with this riff.


Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

This right here is a good example of how important it is to have a huge, powerful impact on the listeners right from the start. One of the reasons why this song is the ultimate staple of ’80s hard rock music is because people can feel the strength and get energized right from the start…by the end of the song you are ready to go and climb a mountain and fight with tigers (literally).


Metallica – Enter Sandman

Love them or hate them, you gotta admit that this intro is known by everyone…Once played, you immediately go “BAM! I know this, it’s Metallica” regardless of whether you are a metalhead or you listen to classical music.


The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a glorious rock track, one of the greatest as a matter of fact. A song, sending such strong message needs a proper intro and The Who (Pete Townshend to be precise) knew how to draw the audience with a thrilling, organ-driven intro, progressing into a mass appealing, timeless classic.


Dire Straits – Money for Nothing

“I want my MTV”, says Sting at the beginning of “Money for Nothing”! (I want it too, dear…I want it back too, believe me). The colossal impact of the song and its immortality are unquestionable. That thrilling intro is just the beginning…What follows next is equally intriguing and has tons of story! Make sure you check it out…


+Honorable Mentions

The Ronettes – Be My Baby

(It may not fall under the “rock” genre category but Phil Spector and his wall of sound did play a huge role in the history of modern music. Moreover, that famous intro has been sampled and used (and abused) so many times since the ’60s which absolutely proves how influential and memorable it is! The Ronettes are rockstars and whoever disagrees is more than welcomed to listen to a rock&roll history lesson by me.)

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

&…many more


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

The Story of HOUSE OF LORDS’ 1988 Debut

Who are House of Lords?

giuffria
Giuffria

Before we get to House of Lords and their 1988 debut, we have to go back further in time and talk about another glam rock band that rose to stardom in 1984 with the famous single, “Call to Your Heart”. Named after keyboardist Gregg Giuffria, previously a member of the hard rock act Angel, Guiffria quickly turned into way more than a side matter. Right from the very beginning, the band made a solid presence on the charts and on the major AOR radio stations. Their first two albums were quite promising but unfortunately the third album brought the end of Giuffria.

Luckily, another beautiful project rose from the ashes of a band with so much potential, gone so soon. Mr. Everything, a.k.a. Gregg Giuffria, quickly gathered what was left of the recorded demos, assembled his next winning team and formed House of Lords in 1987.

Original Giuffria vocalist David Glen Eisley (who by the way vocally reminds me so much of Steve Perry) was replaced with James Christian. I’m not sure whether that was the right move (not that James isn’t talented but David was truly remarkable in my opinion) but ultimately, it was James who became the face of the new band that even got a brand new name – House of Lords. The deal with Simmons records (the record label of Gene Simmons of KISS) was loud and clear – “you come to us, but you have to change your name and you gotta fire David Glen Eisley!” Ex-Guiffria and Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright, guitarist Lanny Cordola and drummer Ken Mary were the final pieces of the puzzle. In the fall of 1988, House of Lords’ debut eponymous release finally became a reality.

house of lords members
House of Lords

The Debut Album

house of lords 1988

The late ‘80s were the heydays of glam metal and every band out there was trying to make it big on that highly profitable music market. The hardest thing to do wasn’t to gather a couple of musicians and record a glam rock album but rather to achieve some sort of recognition and stand out from the thousands of bands who came to fight with all they got, just like you. (To be perfectly honest, the hardest thing was to find stability and consistent fan-base but realistically, young bands couldn’t ask for that much now could they?)

Overall the debut album, “House of Lords” was a moderate success – the type of success that many bands enjoyed, despite longing for that durable recognition I was talking about. A Top 80 chart position (on Billboard 200), a couple of good singles and music videos to support the promotion of the album – what more could you ask for? The true uniqueness of the album, however, lies in the number of great musicians that were behind many of the songs on the album. Stan Bush, Giuffria’s previous vocalist David Glen Eisley, Armand “Mandy” Meyer (Asia, Cobra) and songwriter Johnny Warman deserve a mention for their songwriting input. Rick Nielsen of the famous rock band Cheap Trick co-wrote the song “Slip of the Tongue” and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen) helped with the backing vocals on the entire “House of Lords” album. The presence of so much brilliant musicians should’ve turned the album into a huge sensation! Instead, it was forgotten as quickly as it was assembled.

The Songs

The catchy “I Wanna Be Loved” and the power ballad “Love Don’t Lie” are the two most famous tracks, coming out of “House of Lords” (a lot of love on that album!). Since I’m a power ballad person, I would most certainly vote for “Love Don’t Lie” if we have to choose the finest moment of the album. A superb cover of Stan Bush’s softer, way gentler version of this song, “Love Don’t Lie” might as well be referred to as one of the best rock ballads of the year and as a whole. The vocal performance is absolutely stunning and don’t you even get me started on those mesmerizing guitars. “Slip of the Tongue” – now that’s a song you must check out – it’s a highly energizing hard rock tune and the point where you realize that this album has little to do with Giuffria’s original, way friendlier sound. “Call My Name” and “Hearts of the World” are just a couple of the other impressive songs, which I’m sure sounded even better played live.  

Overall, as I said, “House of Lords” is just one of all the great hard rock albums that came out during that time.  There are no bad songs on this album – only good, heavy-rocking ones that surely deserve your attention. Gregg Giuffria is truly a legend! If you liked what you heard on “House of Lords”, make sure you go ahead with their 1990 sophomore release, “Sahara”!

“I Wanna Be Loved”

“Love Don’t Lie”

“Slip of the Tongue”

“Call My Name”


References:
“House of Lords” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords_(band)
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Album Recommendations: Sleeze Beez’ “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” (1990)

You are casually browsing through the suggested section on YouTube, looking for your next favorite old-school rock band – one of the millions you have yet to discover and then BAM, you see the name “Sleeze Beeze”. From here on, you can go two ways; way number one – you just ignore them, thinking it’s just another one of those sparkly spandex-wearing youngsters that don’t want to be taken seriously and named themselves so foolishly just to attract attention to their average heartbreak tunes… or way number two – you decide to check them out anyways, with the hopes that there might be something there. Guess which way I went?

The name did throw me off a little, but I was too curious to just let it go. Also, once I saw the name of their sophomore album, “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” I couldn’t just walk away. One thing I give them, ridiculous or not, it does catch your eye.


Who are Sleeze Beeze?

The most important thing to know about Sleeze Beeze is that they a hard rock band from the Netherlands and lasted for about 9 years (from 1987 to 1996) before they called it quits (reunited in 2010, though). Overall, the band released four studio albums, out of which the debut with Atlantic records (and second release), “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” (1990) turned out to be their most successful one, introducing the band to the American market and audience. MTV once again participated in the initial success of the band by giving tons of airtime to “Stranger Than Paradise” – one of the singles from the sophomore album.

sb


“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed”

Now let’s talk about this album with the bizarre name – a name which definitely didn’t help their case, in my opinion. But hey, it was the ’80s  and it was all about fun, nihilism and doing whatever the hell you want! So let’s not fall into despair and just focus on the music, instead.

sleeze beez“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” is one of those albums which I say are “worth discovering” and definitely one of the exciting releases of the early 90s. From the opening powerful slap – “Rock in the Western World” to the playful wrap up song “Girls Girls, Nasty Nasty”, the album is one hell of an entertaining piece of hard rock music! Don’t get me wrong, the album is far from perfect or groundbreaking but with lively and highly amusing tracks like “House is on Fire”, “Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t” and of course the title song, I feel like I can totally forgive and forget. “Stranger Than Paradise” is unquestionably the finest moment on the album and definitely a song that had the potential to stand against any Bon Jovi, Winger, Great White or Poison song. After a couple of tracks, we finally get to the power ballad – “This Time”. It’s as good as any power ballad of the era, that’s all I have to say. If you are a power ballad enthusiast like me, then you will love it for sure! Check out the rest of the songs – “Heroes Die Young” and “Don’t Talk About Roses” are striking highly deserving rockers as well!

Ultimately, Sleeze Beeze didn’t really predict the strong invasion of the alternative rock scene and their album was quickly forgotten. I can understand why, believe me – in addition to the bad timing, the album (was)is a total cliché. However, I am still recommending it because sometimes those partying non stop/sex/living the life clichés are the ones that help us go through the day. Listen to some tunes and the album below!

Cheers!

“Stranger Than Paradise”

“House Is On Fire”

“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed”

…or you can just check out the whole album:


References:
Sleeze Beez on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeze_Beez
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

MY TOP 15 Rock Albums, Released in 1989

1989 – What an awesome year for rock music! Where do I even begin?

1989 collage2After being a rock music enthusiast for so long, I can with an absolute clear conscious declare 1989 as one of the best years of rock music! It was the end of a strong, rock&roll decade, grunge music was already becoming a formidable force on the scene, so it was basically do or die for many returning or debuting bands. Out of this turbulent, trend-shifting period, however, tons of great releases managed to come out and leave a memorable trace behind them. From one of Eric Clapton’s strongest albums, featuring a Grammy winning song, to powerful, multi-platinum debuts, such as Skid Row’s eponymous album, 1989 was overflowing with excitement and monumental rock music!  

With time, I also came to the conclusion that many of my personal favorite hard rock albums were released around that time as well. Plenty of those records came out in 1989. For the fun of it, I decided to prepare this little list, consisting of 15 albums that to me had (and still have) the best, most appealing and intriguing musical presence during 1989. It’s a personal selection, based on my liking and preferences but I would love to know more about your favorite 1989 albums! Enjoy my list and feel free to comment and share your thoughts and selections! Cheers!


Eric Clapton – Journeyman

Eric_Clapton_JourneymanEric Clapton always comes first when it comes to my personal selections, especially if we talk about his 80s’ releases. “Journeyman” was the absolute peak of Eric Clapton’s career, featuring a Grammy winning song, “Bad Love” and tons of other beautiful blues tunes, such as “Before You Accuse Me” and “Hard Times”. What really impressed me was Clapton’s obvious confidence on “Journeyman”. He overcame his alcohol abuse and all the other ghosts of the past and released one of the most phenomenal blues/rock albums of all time. The album definitely sounds modern, more pop-influenced, rather than strictly focusing on that heavy blues mood, Clapton adores so much. Some of the other highlights and personal favorite songs from “Journeyman” include “Pretending”, Anything for Your Love”, “Old Love” and “Breaking Point”. It’s definitely an album worthy of your time and appreciation!


TNT – Intuition

tntNorwegian rockers TNT completely blew me away with their 1989 release, “Intuition”. It quickly became a personal favorite and an album I simply cannot live without. I often say that it’s extremely underrated – I mean, just listen to the catchy, outstanding rockers, including the title song, “Caught Between the Tigers”, “Forever Shine On” and of course, one of my FAVORITE songs of all time, the power ballad “Tonight I’m Falling”. “Intuition” didn’t really make a huge splash on the charts or sold that well, compared to other similar glam rock releases of the era; however it did manage to conquer my heart with just one listen. Tony Harnell is a brilliant vocalist and I will forever be thankful to him and guitarist Ronni Le Tekrø for crafting such an enjoyable piece of art.  


Giant – Last of the Runaways

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s “Last of the Runaways” is one of the most underappreciated rock releases of all time which I think is unforgivable! In addition to the famous power ballad, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, “Last of the Runaways” has so much more to offer. The whole debut album is just simply a beautiful, well-balanced selection of arena rock tunes, perfectly demonstrating the artistic skills and qualities of Giant. “Innocent Days”, “Can’t Get Close Enough” and “No Way Out” are just a few of the dangerously obsessive rock gems that could be heard on this album. “Love Welcome Home” and “It Takes Two” are also some of the highlights! Once again, the timing wasn’t right for those talented guys. Let’s not forget Dann Huff who brought so much character to “Last of the Runaways” with his emotional and unforgettable vocal delivery.


Strangeways – Walk in The Fire

strangeways-walk-in-the-fire-1988The Scottish AOR/Melodic rock band, Strangewaysthird album, titled “Walk in the Fire” was the reason why I got to know them in the first place. I played the first track – “Where are they Now” and I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous melody and the superb killer-vocals of Terry Brock. Their Americanized sound can be characterized as mixture between Journey, Boston and Bad Company, but with a little something extra. In addition to “Where are they now”, some other highlights include the charming power ballad “Love Lies Dying” and the uplifting “Every Time You Cry”.
“Walk in the Fire” didn’t really achieve commercial success, despite its first class AOR qualities. The album, along with the band should’ve been so much bigger back in the day. Nevertheless, they are worth discovering. I can’t recommend this album enough.


Danger Danger – Danger Danger

danger-danger-albumDanger Danger debuted in the summer of 1989 with a self-titled album, strictly following the well-established glam rock formula for success. Fueled with catchy, rhythmic and easy to absorb tunes, the record could easily be described as an “enjoyable Friday night experience”. To be fair, the record does sound a bit too generic and can’t really stand out with an exceptional musicianship, outstanding vocal delivery or profound lyrics. Nevertheless, this melodic hard rock jewel can almost guarantee you a perfect mood which is the reason why is on this list! “Naughty Naughty” and “Bang Bang” were released as singles and turned into Danger Danger’s best-known classics. (Those guys really enjoyed double titles.) Both tracks are fun and highly entertaining, despite their obvious commercial-driven goals. “Saturday Nite”, “Rock America”, “Feels Like Love” and “One Step from Paradise” are just a few of the other satisfying rockers who made this album so appealing to me. Danger Danger got all the pieces of the puzzle with this project; however they were 5-10 years later for the party. This album would’ve got so much attention on AOR radio!


Treat – Organized Crime

Treat - Organized CrimeSwedish rockers Treat grabbed my attention with their third album, “Dreamhunter” (1987), however their 1989 release, titled “Organized Crime” turned me into a die-hard fan. I always felt so sad because despite being so talented, they couldn’t become a household name in the 1980s melodic rock scene. Anyhow, back to “Organized Crime” – their fourth release is home to mind-blowing rockers, such as the unbelievably catchy “Get You On The Run”, “Party All Over”, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and the beautiful ballad, “Stay Away”. Attractive melodies, smooth vocals and hard-rocking sound are just some of the reasons why I think that there’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.


Bonham – The Disregard of Timekeeping

bonham-disregardAnother debut and another perfect rock album! “The Disregard of Timekeeping”, the first actual attempt of Jason Bonham to hit it big commercially, became a reality in 1989. The project caused quite the stir among the rock fan communities but it was only natural – the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer was about to unleash a new force to the competitive hair metal musical market and fans just had to see through it all! “The Disregard of Timekeeping” spawned exceptional songs, including “Guilty”- a song that won me over with its mesmerizing intro, unparalleled vocal delivery by Daniel MacMaster and that soul-demolishing violin solo by bassist John Smithson. “Wait for You”, “Playing to Win” and “Room for Us All” are other worthy and highly memorable moments on Bonham‘s 1989 debut.


Skid Row – Skid Row

skid-row-1989Now we’re talking!!!

Fronted by one of the most charismatic and talented vocalists of all time, Sebastian Bach, Skid Row‘s self-titled debut became one of the best-selling and most influential albums of the year. “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life”, “I Remember You”, “Piece of Me” – do I have to say more? There are plenty of reasons why this album got certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and you can easily discover them if you listen to it from start to finish. “Skid Row” brought that much-needed sass and danger into the music scene, incorporated among serious melodic riffs. MTV loved them as well, which further more boosted their image as the new hot kids on the block! What else is there to say – it’s an amazing and highly entertaining album and no wonder it’s on my favorite 1989 albums list!


Blue Murder – Blue Murder

blue-murder3John Sykes proved that he is a worthy monster guitarist as a member of household names such as Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy. Then, he and David Coverdale crafted what is often considered as one of the most enormous hard rock records of all time. Yes, of course I’m talking about that influential 1987 album that spawned timeless hit singles like “Here I go again”, “Still of the Night” and “Is This Love”, known by every single soul on this universe. After they went their separate ways, John Sykes formed Blue Murder and in 1989, they released their self-titled, debut album, which is yet again a highly underrated album, despite its out-of-this world qualities and songs that are able to conquer every part of your soul! I’m not exaggerating, believe me – if the timing and situation was different, this album would’ve been so huge! Some of the earth-shattering songs on “Blue Murder” include “Riot”, “Black-Hearted Woman” and the title track. Of course, the sweetest moments come in the face of “Valley of the Kings” which is one of those tunes you can play for days and naturally (at least for me) the mesmerizing ballad “Out of Love”.


Mr. Big – Mr. Big

Mr. Big - Mr. BigIn the summer of 1989, Mr. Big became one of the many bands to release a debut album. The eponymous record did manage to leave an impression on the charts and it did sell over 300,000 copies in just a year, so we can conclude that it was somewhat successful. It did, however, deserve way more than that. I still remember the first time I heard the opening track, “Addicted to That Rush” – it was like a powerful shot of adrenaline and it made me feel so good! The entire album is one energizing piece of music that was made to give you that much needed kick! “Wind me Up”, “Had Enough” and “Blame it On My Youth” are just a few of my favorite tracks that could be heard on “Mr. Big”. Paul Gilbert and Eric Martin are an exceptional team and I have nothing but respect and adoration for this album!


Tesla – The Great Radio Controversy

teslaTesla!!! Where do I even begin? I love this band and this album so much!!

In 1989, Tesla released their sophomore album, titled “The Great Radio Controversy” – an album I first got to know through the groundbreaking ballad, “Love Song” which is so unique and different from all the other power ballads released at that same time. That’s not all of it though. The entire album is one splendid mixture of blues, hard rock, pop rock and metal. On top of it all, the distinctive vocals of Jeff Keith made sure that I will forever remember and hold this album dear. In addition to that well-known ballad, “The Great Radio Controversy” is home to one of the most empowering tunes – “Hang Tough”. “Lady Luck”, “Paradise”, “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights”, “Be a Man” and basically each and every other song on this album are highly spirited and so easy to fall in love with. “The Great Radio Controversy” was certified double platinum for a reason!


Great White – …Twice Shy

great-white-twice-shyThe unquestionable commercial highlight of Great White’s career has to be “…Twice Shy”. I’m not saying it’s their best album but it most certainly is an amazing release, worthy of acknowledgment. Great White’s cover of Ian Hunter‘s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and of course “The Angel Song” are the most popular tunes that came out of the album, conquering charts and leaving a timeless trace. Moreover, “House of Broken Love” is yet another highlight, dedicated to the love struggles vocalist Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall were going through at that time. “Baby’s On Fire” and “Heart Hunter” are a couple of my other favorites on the record! “…Twice Shy” got certified double platinum and is still considered as one of the staples of ‘80s glam rock!


XYZ – XYZ

xyzProduced by none-other than Don Dokken himself, XYZ’s self-titled debut turned into another one of the underrated highlights of 1989. All in all, “XYZ” is an album that could have easily blown out any other hard rock album of that era, even the multi-platinum ones. Fantastic stand-out tracks such as “Inside Out”, “What Keeps Me Loving You”, “Take What You Can” and “Come On N’ Love Me” deserve nothing but to be enjoyed and played as loud as possible. Frontman Terry Ilous is contributing significantly to the overall satisfying experience that is this debut release. Tons of talent and full of character – I can’t recommend this release enough!


Kingdom Come – In Your Face

kingdome comeI am a huge Kingdom Come fan so no surprises here. Their sophomore album, titled “In Your Face” is a worthy follow-up to their well-deserving debut album and the second of the trilogy of good releases by Kingdom Come, at least in my opinion. “In Your Face” impressed me with uplifting songs like “Who Do You Love”, “The Wind” and laid-back tunes such as “Just Like a Wild Rose”. All in all, “In Your Face” is an enjoyable album and despite the obvious influences, drawn by Led Zeppelin, I do enjoy listening to this record from time to time. I agree that it’s a bit inconsistent and it does have its flaws but if you like AOR, you’re gonna love this, just like I do!


Whitesnake – Slip of the Tongue

Whitesnake - Slip of the TongueLast but not least, I just had to include Whitesnake’s eight studio album, “Slip of the Tongue”. Many people, including David Coverdale himself think of this album as one of Whitesnake’s weakest releases; however that’s definitely not what I think. As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite Whitesnake album and a couple of songs are the reason why. “The Deeper the Love”, “Judgement Day” and “Now You are Gone” have been an inseparable part of my daily playlist for so many years. Let’s also not forget about that impressive re-recording of “Fool for Your Loving”. Sound shift or not, Whitesnake did wonders with this glorious hard rock album and I will forever defend its greatness.


 

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 15 albums, picked based on my personal preferences and ideas, fitting the purpose of this article. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

BONFIRE – “Byte The Bullet” Album Review

German rockers BONFIRE are back with what can easily be referred to as one of the most electrifying, mind-blowing and hair-raising rock releases so far. Guitarist, original founder and basically Mr. Everything, Hans Zilller is back with his strong team of musicians, including bass player Ronnie Parkes, guitarist Frank Pane, drummer Tim Breideband and a brand new vocalist Alexx Stahl, replacing David Reece. Bonfire’s previous album “Glorious” (2015) was a phenomenal hard rock tornado and David was surely a great fit for the band; however things once again turned upside down for Bonfire as they were left with no lead singer. Frequent lineup changes and turbulent periods are part of any rock band’s history, so no surprises there. What’s in the past, however, stays in the past. It was time to look forward to the future and there’s no better way to do it than hire a fantastic new singer and focus on creating something as impressive as “Byte the Bullet”.

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The 7-minute opening track, “Power Train” is setting up the mood with its long, quite mysterious intro. Alexx’ staggering vocals, which by the way can’t be a better match for the band’s sound, are captivating us right from the beginning. You thought the first tune was mind-blowing? Wait till you hear what comes next! “Stand Up 4 Rock” is one of the most empowering rockers I’ve heard this year so far. “Praying 4 A Miracle”, “Byte the Bullet”, “Reach for the Sky” – just a few of the other crunchy, melodic metal forces that just beg to be played live. Jethro Tull’s classic “Locomotive Breath” is a lengthy, immensely spirited rock statement, featuring an intriguing piano intro and out-of-this-world guitar work. They surely did justice to it, though nothing can beat the original, at least in my humble opinion. “Sweet Surrender” grabbed my attention right from the very first listen and quickly turned into a personal favorite. To me this tune represents the best of both worlds – it has a sensual, romantic side, perfectly incorporated in those mind-blowing heavy metal rhythms. “Lonely Nights” is the ballad of the year – it breaks my heart every time I play it but I always allow it; when a song affects your emotions that much, you understand that there’s indeed something real right here and the music is worth it.

You may guess what my final verdict might be – “Byte The Bullet” is a strong release, worthy of every second of your time you’ll spend on it! Those 14 tracks (excluding that crazy 50-second German recording “Friedensreich”) are bringing so much to the table. I still can’t get over how amazingly well-done this album is. Most importantly, if you are one of the people (like me) who is always seeking their self-empowerment in music, this album might be the best pick for you! Enjoy it!

Released: March 24, 2017
Genre: Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Melodic Metal
Label: UDR Music

Tracklist:

Power Train
Stand UP 4 Rock
Praying 4 a Miracle
Some Kinda Evil
Lonely Nights
Byte the Bullet
Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull Cover)
Reach for the Sky
Sweet Surrender
Friedensreich
InstruMetal
Too Far From Heaven
Without You
Sweet Obsession

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“Power Train”

“Praying 4 A Miracle”

“Locomotive Breath”

“Sweet Obsession”

“Lonely Nights”


References:
Bonfire Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonfire_(band)
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

The Joys of Record Shopping in Seoul, South Korea

I was fortunate enough to be born in 1992 – a year in which LP/CD/Audiocasette stores were everywhere and people were still enthusiastically buying music. On top of it all, I come from a family of musicians, so you can imagine the kind of musical collections I grew up with. By 1992, the CD had already established itself as a major music format and its importance in people’s lives was unquestionable. I remember asking my parents for CDs every time there was an occasion – birthdays, name days, Christmas, I would always get tons of CDs or audiocassettes of my favorite ‘90s artists as gifts from my parents. I was (and still do it by the way) giving CDs to my friends too.

I guess the CD mania didn’t really allow me to appreciate or look for any other music format when I was a kid. I remember my parents’ vinyl collections but it never really made much sense to get into the whole thing myself. Most of the LPs we had were Russian pressings and it just looked so weird to me. Like, what do I do with that black round thing? How do I play it? I better just go back to the cool stereo and play my CDs. I should’ve known better…

I’ve never really thought about the true value of a vinyl mostly because I was too young and basically moving along with the trend. The technological advancements in sound quality and proliferation and affordability of HiFi stereos made it even easier for people to enjoy music and purchase CDs (and audio-cassettes till early 2000s actually).

As I was getting into music more and more with each second, it was only natural for me to discover the magic of a vinyl record. I guess it all fell into place when I became a die-hard fan of old-school rock music. When this whole new world opened up in front of me, all of a sudden I had tons of exceptional ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s rock bands settling in my heart and they brought so much more than mind-blowing rock&roll in my life. These great artists brought with them the old ways of music which eventually became a staple for me. Of course, growing up with artists like Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Chicago, Toto, Tina Turner, Foreigner and similar, had a lot to do with my natural progression towards becoming the ultimate classic rock enthusiast. When you reach the next level of fandom, listening to Led Zeppelin or The Beatles on a CD might not be satisfying enough. I’m not sure I can fully explain it but as I was growing up and my level of music expertise and knowledge of rock music history expanded, my preference for musical formats changed too. I still buy CDs all the time but it’s the LP records that excite me and make my heart jump the moment I come across a LP store.

Some of you may know this but I live in Seoul at the moment, though I come from Bulgaria. Just like in my other countries around the world, in Korea too record stores keep on disappearing as we speak. Korean pop is still a massive force and the market for idol merchandise, including CDs, is still going strong. For a moment, if we forget about Kpop and focus on the international music market, there aren’t actually that many places that offer a wide selection of past and current releases. Moreover, my adoration for second-hand LP record shopping had to be satisfied sooner or later. After my favorite little local record store closed (because of course it had to) I felt quite lost for a little while. I had this routine and the owners knew me not just because I was the only foreigner who would come every week but because I would spend a long time there, browsing and listening to music and trying to find comfort. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be brought to this underground shopping area, located in Myeong-dong (명동), Seoul. I’ve been to Myeong-dong area plenty of times but never knew that there was this second-hand vinyl heaven right beneath my feet. First time I went it was quite late and I couldn’t really make the best of it. I promised myself to devote at least one day and go through each and every LP that was there! I kept my promise….multiple times Ha!

I wanted to share this meaningful experience with you, guys and emphasize once again on how magical it can be to dive into this world of old-school music, put into a vinyl record so many years ago. I am well aware of the fact that most of my readers are probably from previous generations and grew up with LP records so they keep on buying and collecting them. However, it’s not just the older rock fans that know a thing or two about records. Believe it or not, there are many younger people, like myself, out there who are devoted LP collectors and appreciate this format. With this publication, I wanted to not only share what it is like to go record shopping in Seoul, Korea, but also to emphasize and remind everyone that records are the real deal and no other format can ever replace the value and the spirit, this vinyl carries within itself. I truly hope you enjoy the photos!


…This is Myeong-dong – a shopping district, located in the heart and soul of SEOUL, South Korea. There are thousands of tourists who can enjoy all kinds of stores, restaurants, malls and tourist attractions. It is always extremely crowded and it looks something like this:

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…But this is where we are heading for! Myeong-dong underground shopping center – that’s where the real music is!

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After a couple of minutes this breathtaking view welcomes you to paradise! There are plenty of music stores in that underground area but this one is the biggest and offers the widest selection of records. On top of it all, it’s not just this one wall – the owner has little record displays everywhere. I love going there because they have the best ’80s hard rock LPs and in the greatest condition (I am convinced he is a huge classic rock fan)! Don’t even get me started on how awesome the prices are! 

Of course, there are plenty of other genres offered – you can spot classic music, jazz music, pop music, ’90s music and many other subsections!

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…In addition to vinyl records, they also offer CDs (second hand, of course). Here, it says that you can get 4 CDs for 10.000Won, which is around 10$.

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Sometimes you can come across real treasures! That wasn’t what I came for, though…

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My favorite section – the place where all the great things happen is this one – this little shelf that contains mostly Korean (or Japanese) pressings of LPs from the good old days of hard rock (a.k.a the ’80s). The prices vary from 5.000Won (5$) to 15.000Won (15$), depending on the condition or popularity of the LP. I’ve been going there for quite some time now and what truly impresses me is that there are new (old) ones every time! Some even quite rare, actually! There is a little chair provided for the people (like me) who just have to go through every single record and make sure nothing is left unseen. Time flies so fast when you are looking for your next big discovery!

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These are just some of the treasures I found…

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Some of them I do have, some of them I don’t! I am still working on my rock collection and have a lifetime to do it! I wasn’t really sure what to get till I saw those two albums…

It’s amazing how the things we want so much, always find a way to come to us! I have been record shopping for ages and this is the first time I see those two albums in any music format. Bonham’s “The Disregard of Timekeeping” has been on my “list” for so long! It was almost unbelievable that it was there, just waiting for me…

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Fortune’s self-titled debut album is one rare-gem! I have never came across it and knowing how rare it is, I just had to buy it!

The prices of both were 7.000Won (7$ each). It’s crazy, right? Excellent condition, still with their lyric and promo sheets inside! This is what I’m talking about – I don’t know about you, guys but the thrill of browsing through records and all of a sudden finding one that you wanted so much can be such an emotional moment. Moreover, the most amazing thing is that these kinds of experiences can make you feel so much closer to the music. I didn’t have the chance to be born during the time these albums were released. I never attended their concert or passionately discussed such records with my friends. For someone like me, this is the most genuine way to feel that ’80s rock vibe. For a second there I feel like I was part of it all and it feels so good! Just like that, by holding an old-school second-hand record, I was brought back to the late ’80s and time didn’t matter anymore, it was all about my favorite music and me.

Bonham – The Disregard of Timekeeping (1989)

Fortune – Fortune (1985)

Moving on to the big wall of records… I just had to browse through them all.

Def Leppard

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Other interesting records I thought I’d never see in Korea!

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I wasn’t the only one on a hunt…

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The kings!

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Another separate CD section for the enthusiastic collectors.

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There were a couple of more stores which I had to visit before I leave. Though this one was the biggest and definitely the best, sometimes you never know what will jump out of the old vinyl boxes. Interestingly, there were plenty of people who were browsing and looking around. Korean people haven’t fully given up on LPs and that’s great!

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One of the other little stores always offers the best deals! In front of it, you can spot a couple of boxes, full of records, all for 5.000Won each (5$). I always find pretty interesting things there! Last time I went, I purchased Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and TNT’s “Tell No Tales” so with the hopes of finding new treasures, I went back…

& let the browsing begin…

I don’t have Guns N’ Roses’ “Use Your Illusion I” and it was such an amazing deal that I just had to buy it!

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Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion (1991)

There are plenty of LP stores all over the underground shopping center but some of them were closed as it was too early when I went there.

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Of course, there are stores that offer the suitable sound equipment for listening to those LPs you just bought.

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…and there’s me at the end of my record shopping journey all happy and full of smiles, holding my three new LPs.

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I hope by my words and photos you can tell how exciting and joyful this whole experience was for me. I do that quite often but this time I decided to photograph it all step by step with the hopes of triggering pleasant emotions to my readers and create a sweet memory. I am leaving Korea for good pretty soon but this habit of mine will keep on existing wherever I go. I hope that people out there don’t forget the many benefits of purchasing a record and don’t stop doing it. As I said, that’s one of the most beautiful ways of going back in time. Imagine – this LP was made 30+ years ago and somehow it found its way to your arms. To me that’s just so extraordinary.

When I went back home I had the chance to take a closer look at my new LPs. Ain’t they amazing?

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P.S. All the photos are taken by me. Please make sure that you don’t just save and use them without my permission! Rock on!

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~