Album Review: Go Louder, Harder and Faster with WARRANT’s New Album

It has been six years since one of our favorite ’80s/’90s hard rock bands, Warrant, released an album. “Rockaholc”, featuring vocalist Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, Cry of Love) for the very first time, hit the market in the spring of 2011 – just a few months before the tragic death of Warrant’s original frontman, Jani Lane. No one can take away the precious memories the immensely talented Jani brought to us with his music, but it’s also okay to make new memories with new music, styles and voices. With that being said, I encourage you to listen to “Louder Harder Faster” with an open mind, expect something both familiar and new and most importantly, enjoy music the same way you did 20 or so years ago.

I may as well write a three-word review about Warrant’s new album and call it a day. Guess which words I will use… That’s right – Loud, Hard and Fast! The title says it all – you are in for a real wild, fiery and pleasantly devastating rock&roll experience right from the very first second! Frontiers Records keep on releasing one smashing album after another and I can barely keep it up with all that awesomeness. Have some mercy, please…

jeff pilsonBefore I dig a little deeper into individual album songs, I want to applaud the superb production of “Louder Harder Faster”, courtesy of the legendary Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Dio, Foreigner) who I believe did an outstanding job, capturing the mood of the album. I’ve been a fan of Jeff, his music and production work for so many years now and he still keeps on impressing me with every new project! Remember how well he did with Last in Line’s debut album, “Heavy Crown”? Expect something in similar, if not in higher production level – he truly did great!

Warrant - Louder Harder Faster (2017)Back to “Louder Harder and Faster” which is a reason enough why 2017 could be considered a strong hard rock year! Original Warrant members, Erik Turner, Jerry Dixon, Joey Allen, and Steven Sweet, together with the returning for the second time vocalist Robert Mason have cooked a real knock-out album, stirred with the band’s trademark melodic rock hooks and tons of modern-day surprises! This killer direction is what makes “Louder Harder and Faster” suitable for any rock fan out there. You don’t need to know songs like “Heaven” or “I Saw Red” (tactically avoiding that one song we all know by Warrant) to be able to enjoy and rock on to Warrant’s 2017 release! I think what they did with this album is truly universal and “generationless” and they will most certainly grab the attention of the younger audiences.

“‘Louder Harder Faster’ is truly one of our best records to date. It has all the classic Warrant ingredients that people have come to know, plus a lot of extras that keep it in the modern realm of todays music. It’s a perfect mix between Balls and Ballads. When we started this project over two years ago, we wanted to bring the listener back to the days of sitting in the living room and cranking up a record from start to finish. Making full records seems to be a lost art, we hope in some small way that this album helps people find that art again,” said bass player Jerry Dixon.
(quote retrieved from http://www.antimusic.com)

The 12-song rock&roll gem, featuring a cover of the classic Merle Haggard song, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”, is your ultimate party album! With blazing melodic rock anthems, including the title track, “Louder Harder Faster”, “Devil Dancer” and “Only Broken Heart”, you will definitely be juiced up for days to come. The opening track is your perfect modern-day rock&roll tune, which grabs you by the throat from the first second! Vocalist Robert Mason is truly impressive on this one; not that he has to prove anything to anyone but if he had to, this song right here will shut everyone up! “Devil Dancer” is a personal favorite – those riffs just penetrated my skin and there’s no way I’ll recover. The sing-along tune “Perfect” is another highly memorable point! Pay attention to those harmonies sweet sweet lyrics; that song just won me over after one listen! There’s another side to the Warrant and this album, though. The piano-driven “U in My Life” is a beautifully-done ballad I can listen for days. I wish it had a bit stronger punch into it, though. “Music Man” is a very intriguing track; it starts slowly with just a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment but it nicely progresses into a cowboy blues tune, telling a story worth hearing. “Big Sandy” is another jumpy rocker, meant to lift your spirits. The rest of “Louder Harder Faster” is just as good. Gladly, the physical copy of the album includes the stimulating cover of “I Think I’ll Sit Here and Drink” which triggered a physical reaction in me upon listening. You know a song is good and the vocalist plays with you once your body starts moving and you feel the groove. I think it might be one of my favorite moments from the album.

Final verdict: I will be brief: Play it LOUD, party with it HARD and buy it FAST. (haha)

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Louder, Harder & Faster

“I Think I’ll Sit Here and Drink”

Perfect

Devil Dancer

Only Broken Heart


References:
“Warrant Announces New Album”: http://www.antimusic.com/news/17/March/10Warrant_Announce_New_Album_Louder_Harder_Faster.shtml
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~

Concert Review: EUROPE Rocked The Night in Sofia, Bulgaria (16/05/2017)

I don’t even know how to begin writing this…I am just feeling so overly-emotional and hyped and I think I will be feeling like this for the next few days till I completely calm down. The amount of 100% pure rock energy I soaked in was the exact thing I needed in my life right now. The feelings, the emotions, the indescribable happiness I felt when one of my most beloved bands of all time – Europe stood in front of me and performed songs to which I cried and laughed – that’s something I will never forget!

You know that I am the ultimate ‘80s rock music enthusiast and on top of it all I am European! Europe and I were simply a match made in heaven! I’ve always identified with their sound, image and style and I guess part of the reason why was because I could sense that cultural and subsequently musical proximity. Many successful rock acts came out of European countries but those Swedish rockers justifiably made the biggest fuss in my little rock life!

After being a fan for so many years and listening to their songs on a daily basis it was about time I saw them live! Nothing or noone was gonna prevent me from attending that concert, despite uncertainties whether I was going to be in Bulgaria. Legendary albums such as “Prisoners in Paradise”, “Wings of Tomorrow”, “The Final Countdown” and “Out of This World” were essential in laying the foundations of enormous passion for rock&roll music so I just had to be a part of that magical show at any cost.

Europe released their phenomenal multi-platinum album, “The Final Countdown” in 1986. To celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary, in late 2016 Europe went on a tour. This January, it was announced that they are adding more countries to their special anniversary show and one of them was Bulgaria! How cool is that…

I was part of it all and would love to share my experience with you. Hope you enjoy reading about it!


The promo poster for Europe’s concert in Bulgaria:

europe promo bulgaria

This is how the concert venue looks from the outside (Arena Armeec). The weather was a bit rainy and gloomy but that didn’t matter!

concert 6

Before the concert, I bought a headband and took a couple of selfies with it. I absolutely adore these headbands and have a little collection  of them from concerts I attended. You can see how happy and thrilled I was by the look on my face! The fact that I was at work all day and was very tired wasn’t gonna prevent me from being in my best shape for one of my favorite bands of all time.

To get to my seat, I had to use the elevator which was the perfect moment to snap a little mirror selfie of my concert outfit. I was wearing shorts and a BOSTON T-Shirt as you can see.

europe concert 3

This is how it looked from the inside. I swear this arena is like my second home these days…haha. I got a nice, more expensive seat this time because it was EUROPE, after all – one of my most favorite bands of all time. The view was simply stunning! The crowd was smaller than the Deep Purple one from two days ago mostly because not all seating parts of the arena were available for the concert. Honestly, I am glad that the arena wasn’t that full l because usually that means more fan engagement and a better show, actually. The band can interact more easily with the fans and the whole atmosphere feels less “heavy” (at least that’s how I think).

europe concert venue inside

The opening act was Sevi – a Bulgarian hard rock/goth band, led by a female vocalist. I’ve never heard of them before but I think they have a strong Bulgarian fanbase and people were obviously really happy to see them. It turns out that they actually opened for Europe a couple of years ago during Kavarna Rock Fest (a famous Bulgarian rock festival) when the Swedish rockers last came to Bulgaria. I really enjoyed their enthusiasm and it was pretty good to witness some solid female rockstar power. They seemed quite confident, started their gig on time and looked like they really enjoyed themselves. I was too excited for Europe and probably didn’t give them the attention they deserved but I will definitely check them out! 

europe concert opening act

Europe are coming out any second now…

Europe concert logo

aaaand…there they are… the band that changed my life with their music; the band that gifted me with songs I cannot imagine my days without; the Scandinavian guys who I’ve always identified with. EUROPE

They kicked things off with the title track from their 2015 album, “War of Kings”. No words can describe the way I felt the moment Joey Tempest came on the stage… I thought I was flying; my heart and soul were free and nothing or no one else was there – it was just me, my favorite music and my favorite band playing for me. Since it was my first time seeing Europe you can only imagine how life-changing this experience was for me. I had a seat in the nearest to the stage sitting area but I couldn’t just sit down and clap so statically. I got up and went to the little terrace near my seats and for the rest of the concert I, along with other fans, stood up and danced, clapped, waved and screamed all night long!

Joey was fantastic! The kind of rockstar you don’t really see anymore these days. He was funny, confident, acrobatic, artistic and so passionate! What a sight he was! He said a couple of words in Bulgarian language, including “hello” and “we love you” which made everyone go crazy – this is the kind of gesture that speaks volumes and I always respected bands who try to say at least “hello” using the language of the country they are performing in. The second song was “Hole in My Pocket”, again from “War of Kings”. Their timeless rock anthem, “Rock the Night” was next and I just lost my mind!! Every inch of my body was electrified by Joey’s vocals and John’s thunderous guitars. “Rock the Night” has always been one of the most empowering songs I’ve ever heard and seeing how those rock Gods perform it live is something no one can ever take away from me.

A lot of hits (from his newer and classic albums) followed but the highlight was definitely their performance of “Carrie”. You know how much I adore power ballads and this one is definitely one of the most touching and heartbreaking ballads of all time. I was live-streaming on Twitter actually but I got so emotional during that ballad that I stopped the broadcasting and just decided to sing along with Joey, enjoy the song and embrace the upcoming little tears in my eyes. I will be forever grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime experience…

After the power ballad, Joey and the rest of the guys went full on straightforward hard rock with songs like “Firebox” and “Sign of the Times”…& then the best thing happened. I haven’t mentioned it yet but my favorite Europe album is “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991); maybe because I was born one year after its release or because of other personal reasons and songs that bring so many memories, but ultimately, this is one of the albums I will pick if I’m send on a deserted island with only 20 records. “Girl from Lebanon” is one of the strongest tracks from that album and one of my favorite Europe songs in general. The moment I hear those enchanting first riffs by Norum, I was about to faint, literally!!!! They didn’t play my favorite song, “I’ll Cry for You” but “Girl from Lebanon” was just as good.

We got the chance to listen to “Ready or Not”, “Nothin’ to Ya” and of course “Cherokee”, “Days of Rock & Roll” and the ultimate fan-favorite – “Superstitious”. There was also a little moment when he went “I don’t know where I’m going…but I sure know where I’ve been…” and I was like “wait wait…is this the right concert?” haha – but it was a wonderful, quite entertaining touch!

No one actually believe that the concert will end without the song that defined their career and became one of the biggest rock hits of the ’80s. After all, we are celebrating the anniversary of that worldly-beloved album. When I heard those keyboards at the beginning of “The Final Countdown” I was both ecstatic because this tune is 100% pure energy…but at the same time sorrowful because this meant that the night was over and I had to say goodbye to those outstanding musicians that mean so much to me…and who knows when will I see them again.

Soon enough the song, along with the concert itself was over but my heart was still left there, thrown on their stage… I can just shoot some fancy words to describe Europe’s showmanship and greatness but it wouldn’t mean anything… After their concert coming back to reality and working on the next day seemed unreasonable and even painful to do. The guys just transferred me to another dimension… Joey was jumping, laughing, singing his soul out, waving at everyone (including me) and he even gave the guitar to the bodyguard to try and play a little riff (which was so funny). John Norum’s presence on that stage was quite memorable too, mostly because of his mysterious, enchanting and alluring aura. He looked like a handsome magician who can compel you to do anything he wants with his guitar playing.

I would like to finish by saying that this was one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever attended and it meant the world to me to be part of Europe’s “The Final Countdown 30th Anniversary Tour”. I am sure that the day will come when I will see you again, my dear Europe!

(Here are some photos from the concerts. Apologies for the bad quality but most of the time I was enjoying the band and wasn’t really taking that many photos or videos.)

concert collage europe

europe collage 2

The happy audience:

audience europe concert


Setlist:

War of Kings
Hole in My Pocket
Rock the Night
Scream of Anger
Last Look at Eden
Carrie
The Second Day
Firebox
Sign of the Times
Girl From Lebanon
Ready or Not
Nothin’ to Ya
Superstitious
(the first couplet of… “Here I Go Again” /Whitesnake/ )
Cherokee
Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Encore:

The Final Countdown

 


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

Concert Overview: DEEP PURPLE’s “The Long Goodbye Tour” Concert in Sofia, Bulgaria (14/05/2017)

Some things in life you gotta do while there’s still a chance. One of those must-do things for me was to attend a concert of at least one of “the three big” rock bands – Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, of course. I couldn’t say goodbye to Black Sabbath and any hopes of a Led Zeppelin reunion went down the drain years ago, so I was left with just Deep Purple. I knew that those guys still have it in them and will pull out something special from their sleeve. In 2017 we got it – a new phenomenal album and a tour! There is a reason why those guys are one of the most influential rock bands of all time – they just keep on going, never stopping, never disappointing.  

Well, finally, after SO MANY years, I can proudly tell the story of how I attended Deep Purple’s “Long Farewell Tour” and crossed it off my bucket list. I can now say that I witnessed how classic rock songs that defined generations of musicians and completely changed the history of rock music materialized on a stage in front of me. This is just so big!! (at least to me) …

The moment I found out that Deep Purple will include Bulgaria in their “Long Farewell Tour” and most importantly, I will also be in my home country at that exact time, I didn’t even blink! The tickets were bought in that exact same second (even managed to score a sweet discount because I got them very very early). To be honest, one of the reasons why I was so excited to visit Bulgaria (I was living in South Korea) was to see Deep Purple and say goodbye to them. My wish came true and with excitement, happiness and smiles I am ready to share my experience with you and show you some photos.

The promo poster for the Bulgarian concert from Deep Purple’s official website:

deep purple 4

The tickets:

IMG_20170511_010408_032

It was Sunday, May 14th; the weather, along with the mood, was GREAT!

deep purple concert 1 - edit

Concert selfies (from outside and inside the venue)
(I bought a T-shirt of my favorite Deep Purple album, “Stormbringer” before the concert)

concert selfie

That’s how the venue (Arena Armeec) looked from the outside [it was still quite early & the fans were just starting to come]

deep purple concert - arena 3

deep purple concert venue outside

To get to my seat, I had to take the elevator (man, I’m such a diva, never missing a chance to take a photo….)

deep purple concert selfies14

and this is how it looked from the inside (the crowd started filling in the arena…)

arena armeec inside deep purple concert

Part 1: Monster Truck

monster truck

In addition to seeing Deep Purple for the very first time in my life, I also got the chance to witness the incredible performance of the opening act, Monster Truck – Canadian rockers who actually played in front of a Bulgarian audience for the very first time! I didn’t know much about them but heard only nice things so naturally, I was equally excited to check them out. I was never disappointed by a Canadian rock band and this wasn’t gonna be the first time! Those guys totally blew me away and restored my faith in modern-day rock music. Monster Truck delivered one hell of an act. I was so impressed with them that the moment I got home, I immediately researched and listened to anything I could find on Spotify. The song that attracted me the most was “She’s a Witch” – that riff electrified the entire arena and don’t get me started on the vocal delivery! I have a new favorite band and I’m so happy!

What truly made Monster Truck’s performance so memorable was the guys’ sense of humor and enthusiasm. With that right attitude and refreshing positivism, they made a lot of new fans that night, I’m sure!

monster truck collage

monster truck 2-wordpress

Part 2: DEEP PURPLE

deep purple 1

After the explosive rock spectacle, delivered by Monster Truck, the stage was already hot enough and every single member of the audience was ready to welcome the giants! We took a little break after the opening act but we didn’t wait that long to welcome Ian Gillan and the rest of the legends. The crowd went wild the moment the lights went off and we heard the opening robotic monologue from their new song, “Time for Bedlam”. Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Steve Morse and Don Airey settled comfortably on the stage and the party started! It was unbelievable…the great Deep Purple were in front of my eyes, performing a song from their latest album I just reviewed, “Infinite” and other eternal classics! I was lucky enough to witness how one of the most influential voices of heavy metal, Ian Gillan (who by the way is 71 years old) sang “Fireball”, “Bloodsucker”, “Strange Kind of Woman”, “Space Truckin’”, “Hush” and of course, my dearly beloved “Perfect Strangers” which I patiently waited for. Of course, they couldn’t just miss the song that defined the history of heavy metal and encouraged millions of people to grab a guitar and learn how to play it; Yes, I’m talking about that “little” track, “Smoke on The Water”, containing the simplest, most instantly-recognizable riff that was and ever will be created. Needless to say, we sang along, clapped, jumped and everything you do when such a BIG song starts playing.

A couple of memorable and highly impressive moments (at least for me) included the phenomenal keyboard solo of Don Airey who definitely stole the night! I have a soft spot for keyboard players, ever since I became a huge fan of Keith Emerson so naturally, I was all eyes in ears, diving into the breath-taking playing of Don.

Another moment I was waiting for was Roger Glover’s thrilling bass solo. One of my many dreams in life is to learn how to play the bass and seeing him crafting magic on that bass guitar so effortlessly really made me think that it’s high time I did something about that dream of mine. I always respected that guy – there’s just something so charming about him and he definitely has a good aura which spread through every corner of the arena.

The concert ended suitably, with “Black Night” (1970).

It was a delightful, unforgettable evening, full of extraordinary rock music – the kind of rock we don’t really get anymore these days. A couple of things I wanted to share, though: Ian Gillan obviously had no idea which country he was playing in (he never said “Good Evening, Bulgaria” or something like that), he only said that he was feeling “positive vibes”; also, the Bulgarian audience standing in front of the stage was a little bit too stiff (or maybe I was too wild)… I bought tickets for the sitting area which wasn’t that close BUT I was still having so much more fun than some of the people down there who were literally centimeters apart from the legends. I think it was because the audience in front of the stage was mostly composed of old-school fans who didn’t know the songs from the latest album and probably didn’t  have the energy to physically participate in the show (like they used to). One more thing, I was disappointed to see that not many young people actually attended the concert. The majority of the attendees were 40+ year old people – it is understandable, of course, but still raises questions related with the musical attitude of today’s youth. Last but not least, as much as those guys looked like (& were dressed like) our friendly grandpa neighbor who always says hi and smiles, they are still relevant and deserve all the respect they can get from every generation out there. They still have it, believe me! Long gone are their days of prime but that doesn’t mean anything when you have it inside you…

I was there, I loved it and I had the time of my life! Thank you, Deep Purple for the memories and for everything you did and will keep on doing! Till next time…

deep purple collage

bye bye deep purple wordpress

Setlist:

  1. Time for Bedlam
  2. Fireball
  3. Bloodsucker
  4. Strange Kind of Woman
  5. Johnny’s Band
  6. Uncommon Man
  7. The Surprising
  8. Lazy
  9. Birds of Prey
  10. Hell to Pay
  11. Keyboard Solo
  12. Perfect Strangers
  13. Space Truckin’
  14. Smoke on the Water

Encore:

  1. Hush
  2. Bass Solo
  3. Black Night

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

Album Review: Canadian Rockers HAREM SCAREM are BACK with “UNITED”

One of my most anticipated releases of the year is here and I’m thrilled to finally have it! The expectations were high but let me tell you something – Harem Scarem met 100% of them and went way beyond that with “United”. This is definitely going to be a very strong year for Frontiers Records and this album right here is one of the reasons why!

Harem Scarem surely went a long way since their solid (but highly underrated, often forgotten) self-titled debut. The 1991 release spawned fantastic rockers, including “Slowly Slipping Away” and of course one of the saddest rock ballads in history (and the reason why I became a fan of HS), “Honestly”.

harem scarem united 2017 big.jpgAfter an impressive stream of good albums, compilations, live releases and a lengthy rockstar career, the band called it quits in 2008. That wasn’t the end of it, though. Thankfully, vocalist Harry Hess and guitarist Pete Lesperance pulled their acts together and went back in the studio. To mark their near-30th anniversary and of course, for the love of rock music, Harem Scarem put out their 14th studio album, suitably named “United”.

I’m already referring to Harem Scarem as melodic rock Gods and “United” just solidified their position as such. The album is stunning! The first time I played it, I felt like I was taking a walk in a melodic rock paradise and every song was a breath of fresh, highly energizing air.

The masterful production qualities of “United” (courtesy of Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance, of course) are just one small part of why this album turned out so great. “United” is certainly not in shortage of brilliant hooks, powerful choruses and don’t even get me started on the magnificent guitar riffs.  

The upbeat opening track has all the right elements to knock your socks off. This sing-along treasure is just the beginning of the fiery punch this album is! The second track, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” is my personal favorite… and how can it not be! The entire song is one world-spinning experience, flavoured by the smashing backing vocals of Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen). The intriguing journey doesn’t end there, though. The album doesn’t lose momentum – the mid and ending parts are as fascinating as the first tracks. “Gravity” and “Sinking Ship” are pure energy, synthesized in 4-minute songs. Where is my ballad? There it is, finally – track number 5 is the unbelievable “One of Life’s Mysteries”. Just when I thought it’s been a while since I heard a decent rock ballad, these guys pull out a song like this one…how can I not love them? “Bite The Bullet” is also a song to check out – it’s a very appealing modern-style rock tune. “The Sky is Falling” and “Things I Know” are a couple of the other creative, harmony-teemed sensations on “United”.

Final verdict: “United” might as well be one of the greatest melodic rock releases so far this year. I am recommending it to everyone who thinks that the genre went down years ago. It didn’t! As long as we have Harem Scarem and long partnerships like Hess-Lesperance, things will be alright!


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

One of Life’s Mysteries

United


Reference:

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~

Inside Lou Gramm’s 1987 Solo Debut Album, “Ready or Not”

Late ‘80s was a very unsettling time for Foreigner. After e series of smashingly successful albums, including “4” (1981) and “Agent Provocateur” (1984), things needed to cool down for a second before moving on to the next step. Lou Gramm and Mick Jones took some time off to explore their individual artistic strengths. That’s when Lou released the album I will be talking about – “Ready or Not”.

I cannot understand the pressures of the business; I can only imagine how turbulent and stressful it was for Foreigner to constantly be under the radar and asked when the band’s next big hit will be played on the radio. On top of it all, there always comes a time when egos, ideas and opinions clash, especially if you worked with someone for so many years. That’s why taking time apart and going on an adventure (in our case, releasing your first solo album) is totally justifiable.

inside information foreignerNevertheless, after Lou Gramm finished with his debut and the promotional activities and concerts he did come back (along with Mick Jones) to record Foreigner’s sixth studio album, “Inside Information” (1987). Unfortunately, that great album, featuring classics like “Say You Will”, also became the last album to feature the ’80s winner line-up, making it the end of an iconic, historically relevant era of rock music. Gramm did come back in the early ’90s (“Mr. Moonlight”, 1994) but then departed again. Foreigner moved on without Lou, naturally. It’s a whole different topic whether there can be a Foreigner without Lou Gramm, though, but will save it for some other time.

The Album

lou1“Ready or Not” was released at the very beginning of 1987 and it definitely signaled the arrival of a strong (if not the strongest) year for rock music. Overall, the album did make quite the fuss – a top30 chart position in the USA, a #1 hit single (“Midnight Blue”), dozens of concerts and happy faces, etc. etc… No surprises there – “Ready or Not” is as good as you might expect it to be (we are talking about Lou Gramm after all).  Numerous rock band vocalists of the era, including Peter Cetera (Chicago) and Steve Perry (Journey), for example, released solo albums so what Lou did wasn’t really that surprising. What also didn’t surprise fans was the commercial and critical triumph of the album. Lou Gramm and producer Pat Moran crafted some serious melodic rock magic and proved to be a winning team. The Foreigner vibe is still there – I mean come on, what did you expect? Lou was after all a huge part of Foreigner’s sound. Interestingly, though, there’s something unique and distinctive about “Ready or Not” which cannot be found on his previous work with the band. To me, it sounds a little bit more soulful and sincere, less sweet and even a bit edgier.  One more thing that impressed me was the guitar work courtesy of Nils Lofgren who was like a breath of fresh air for the fans.

My final verdict is that “Ready or Not” is a beautiful gift to anyone who loves and appreciates God-given talent and melodic rock, of course. Top notch production quality, superb guitar work and catchy, highly entertaining, full of life songs are some of the characteristics that make this album worthy of your time. In time, people forgot about it but I am here to remind you!

The Songs

One thing that truly frustrates me is that every time I have a conversation about the greatest hits of the ‘80s, songs like “Midnight Blue” or “Ready or Not” never get a mention. “Midnight Blue” is a fantastic pop/rock single which absolutely proved that Lou Gramm is more than fine on his own. The title track, “Ready or Not” is my personal favorite – those drum rhythms, vocal and melodic hooks took my breath away. Lou knows how to craft a beautiful ballad and he perfectly uses that gift of his on “Ready or Not As Well”; The stunning ballad “If I Don’t Have You” might as well be one of the most overlooked ballads of the era, despite its qualities. The excellent rockers “Heartache” and “Until I Make You Mine” are just a couple of the other tracks that back up my statement – “Ready or Not” is Lou Gramm’s purest manifestation of at his creative and artistic power and most certainly a turning point for his career. Don’t forget to play the songs!

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Ready or Not

If Don’t Have You

Midnight Blue

Listen to the entire album on YouTube:


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~

Album Recommendations: McAuley Schenker Group – “M.S.G” (1992)

Time to travel back to the early ’90s were hard rock was still relevant before grunge literally wiped it out like a little dirt spot on a shiny window. The following album came into my life months ago after I heard the power ballad “When I’m Gone” on a Spotify playlist. I had no idea who was the band/artist but I knew I had to immediately check them out! The rest is history… It occurred to me that many people forgot about this brilliant glam metal masterpiece, titled “M.S.G” so I decided to include it in my “Album Recommendations” series I have on my blog! Enjoy the read and don’t forget to play the awesome tracks!

McAuley Schenker Group

mcshWhere do I even begin? So many outstanding, well-established in the industry artist were part of this project… One thing you need to know is that it all started with Michael Schenker who already made a name for himself as a one-of-a-kind guitarist in Scorpions and UFO. In 1979, he formed the melodic rock band, Michael Schenker Group, which eventually, in 1986 to be precise, evolved into the McAuleySchenker Group – named after guitarist Michael Schenker and vocalist Robin McAuley (the picture on the right). The group, lead by the fearless guitarist and the brilliant vocalist lasted for just a few years before they called it quits. Michael Schenker reformed the Michael Schenker Group and that’s pretty much it (at least the ultra short version of the story I’m telling you; there have also been many reunions, including a recent one in 2012). 

McAuleySchenker Group was also home to legendary bass guitarist Jeff Pilson (Dokken, DIO, Foreigner, etc.), drummer James Kottak (Scorpions, Kingdome Come, Warrant, etc.) and keyboardist Jesse Harms (Sammy Hagar, REO Speedwagon, David Lee Roth, etc.). We can with absolute no doubt call it a SUPERGROUP – one of the premium examples if you ask me. Not only that but the band was multi-cultural. We have Irish, British, American and German members. What a team!

The album

mcauleyMcAuleySchenker Group released a total of three studio albums, one acoustic (Japan only) and one live, unplugged album. Today I will focus specifically on their third and final studio album, simply titled “M.S.G.”. Since the band had a huge following in Japan, they first hit the Japanese market in 1991 and a year later, released it in Europe (that magical year of 1992!).

A couple of words about the album itself (based on personal experience, of course). First of all, I tried to detach it from any Scorpions or UFO associations but sometimes it’s hard cause it does have that little familiar vibe. That’s totally cool, though! The album is a perfect piece of hard(er) melodic rock and would recommend it to anyone in a blink of an eye. My most favorite thing about the band (and this album, naturally) is the vocals. I was grabbed by Robin’s distinctive, instantly-captivating vocal delivery right from the very first track (“Eve”). Then as I proceed to track 3 – that breathtaking power ballad, “When I’m Gone”, I became an ultimate fan of his (I always fall for the criminally underrated singers). “We Believe in Love” is another personal favorite moment; the drums-dominated track might as well be one of the best rock tracks of the year (big words, I know!). “Crazy” and “Lonely Nights” are just a couple of other songs I recommend you guys check out. Overall, the album is full of kick-ass rockers, beautiful ballads and needless to say, it’s a must-have for any glam metal fan out there. Generic or not, it makes me want to crank it up and dance my ass off (which is the most important thing!)

Oh and before I forget…it’s a SERIOUSLY UNDERRATED ALBUM!!!

Give it a try.


When I’m Gone

Paradise

We Believe in Love

I think it’s better listen to the entire album from start to finish …


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~

10 Rock Ballad Compilation Albums for All Ballad Lovers Out There

balladscollage

I love rock ballads…please don’t tell me you were actually surprised to read that….!?

I’ve told the story before but it all started with Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” and it developed into one huge obsession with power ballads and we got to the point where I can actually list rock ballad compilation albums without even blinking… It’s just my thing, I guess. I have accumulated a number of ballad compilation albums (digitally and physically) and I decided to share some of those releases which I find the most appealing and worthy of possessing. Some of the following I don’t actually own because they are merely impossible to find BUT it’s easy to re-create them if you already own the band’s discography. Ultimately, my list can also give you some ideas or make you check out some of those bands’ beautiful ballad songs (I recommend all).

I would like to finish by saying that it’s high time Def Leppard released a ballad album! (please please please)

Don’t forget to follow my blog and Twitter account! Cheers!


Gary Moore – Ballads & Blues 1982–1994

gary

I just had to kick things off with this absolute masterpiece and the album that introduced me to and made me a fan of Gary Moore. Where do I even begin? “Still Got the Blues (For You)”, “Always Gonna Love You”, “Story of the Blues”, “Midnight Blues” and so on – those are just some of the precious soul-crushing and world-spinning soulful romantic pieces you can find on that album. Every time I talk about compilation albums, I start the discussion with this one. On top of it all, Ballads & Blues 1982-1994 contains three unreleased ballads which are definitely a worthy addition to Gary’s classics.


Harem Scarem – Ballads

harem scarem

Maybe you didn’t expect to see this totally underrated band on my list but you know that I’m always rooting for the less-known but highly deserving rock bands out there. The Canadian hard rockers Harem Scarem won me with the astonishing ballad “Honestly” which of course is on this compilation album and of course became the reason why I put this album here…This Japanese release was out in 1999 and it also contained a couple of unreleased before surprises in it, in addition to the well-known classics.


Thunder – Ballads

thunder

This rock jewel is one of my favorite ballad compilations of all time and that’s mainly because it’s by Thunder – one of those hard rock bands which have a very very special place in my hard. The ballad compilation album was released in 2003 and nowadays it seems like it’s impossible to find it but I haven’t given up just yet. “Love Walked In”, “Until My Dying Day”, “A Better Man” and many more gems from Thunder’s classic and not-so-classic days of rock can be heard on that CD.


Whitesnake – Best Ballads…

The masters of hard rock, Whitesnake, lead by none other than the man whose voice can send you to heaven, David Coverdale released a couple of (unofficial) ballad compilation albums from Russia, Ukraine, UK and other European countries. Ultimately, timeless rock classics like “Don’t Fade Away”, “Is This Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and of course my favorite Whitesnake song, “Looking for Love” are on all of them. Don’t hesitate to get it if you come across it. So far, I’ve seen those releases only on Ebay, unfortunately.


Scorpions – Gold Ballads

gold ballads

“Gold Ballads” by Scorpions was released in 1984 in Europe only. The 5-song compilation features Scorpions’ best romantic tunes, including the timeless “Still Loving You” and “Holiday”. I should mention that in 2003, they released a new ballad CD, simply titled “Ballads” (only in Singapore, though as they have a massive fanbase there) which is another worthy piece.


Eric Clapton – Ballads

eric ballads

This compilation was released in 2003 in Japan only but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands on it (especially if you are a die-hard fan like me). The breathtaking compilation features some of Clapton’s most outstanding, tear-jerking ballads, including “Tears in Heaven”, “Miss You”, “Old Love” and “Layla” ( of course ). It’s one of my favorite ballad albums of all time and it’s such a pity that I don’t have it in my CD collection (yet).


Toto – Best Ballads

toto best balads

Toto are the kings of ballads and I’m thankful that we had this awesome release, where all of their beautiful, soul-touching masterpieces gathered together. The compilation features some of my favorite melodic rock ballads of all time, including “I’ll Be Over You”, “Mama”, “Rosanna” and the saddest song in history, “I Won’t Hold You Back”. “Best Ballads” was originally released in 1995 and it contains 17 songs. In 2003, they released “Love Songs” – yet another worthy record full of love and heartbreak.


Nazareth – the Ballad Album

nazareth

The 10 song CD titled “The Ballad Album” by Nazareth was released in 1985 only in Germany. This golden piece of music features some of Nazareth (and some of the greatest of all time) rock ballads, including “Love Hurts”, “Dream On”, “Where Are You Now”, “Games” and more. I love playing this compilation, it’s so atmospheric.


REO Speedwagon – The Ballads

reo

In 1999, REO Speedwagon released a ballad compilation album with a long list of their previous, well-known classics and a couple of surprises which unfortunately couldn’t make that big of a fuss back then. It was a ballad that got me into REO Speedwagon. Yes, of course I’m talking about that special song, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” which is undoubtedly one of the most instantly recognizable melodic rock song out there and of course, the favorite ballad of all the softies out there. In addition to their beloved hit, “The Ballads” features “Keep On Loving You”, “Take It on The Run” and “Here with Me”.


Various – The Very Best of Power Rock Ballads [3CD Box Set]

ballads1

I’m finishing my list with a compilation treasure I found years ago, titled “The Very Best of Power Ballads”. There are hundreds of similar compilations, featuring identical, evergreen hits but If I have to recommend a worthy assortment of rock ballads, it has to be this one. “The Very Best of Power Ballads” was released in 2005 as a 3CD box set with a total of 50 mind-blowing songs.  You have all the classics – Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Queen’s “We are the Champions”, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, etc. Not only that but you also get to enjoy Jefferson Airplane, Whitesnake, John Waite, Cher, REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones and 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~

[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~

Album Recommendations: ROADHOUSE’s 1991 Self-Titled Album

Who are Roadhouse?

roadhouse bandWe all know Pete Willis as the original guitarist of Def Leppard. He was there when the Leppards released their triumphant debut “On Through The Night” (1980) and their even bigger sophomore hit, “High ‘N’ Dry” (1981). In fact, that hungry, raw, much heavier early sound of the band is often contributed to his guitar skills. In the summer of 1982, right in the middle of the “Pyromania” recording sessions, however, Pete Willis was let go due to his drinking problem. We know what happened with Def Leppard – they hired Phil Collen and went on to become on the most successful names in the industry. What happened with Pete, though? Not many people know exactly how his career moved on, actually. I can only imagine how tough the years to come and that whole transition must’ve been for him. However, he did manage to pull himself together and participate in another, less known but quite interesting rock project, titled Roadhouse. Guess who else was in the band? Drummer Frank Noon, who also was once part of the Def Leppard family, playing drums on The Def Leppard E.P. joined Pete Willis but for a short period of time; he left Roadhouse before the recording of the album. Finally, it was Wayne Grant on bass, Trevor Brewis on drums, Pete Willis and Richard Day with the guitar and Paul Jackson was recruited as the lead vocalist.

The album:

ROADHOUSE albumThe year was 1991 – definitely not the most suitable time to release a melodic rock album. Still, people were pretty excited to see what the first post-Def Leppard record of Pete Willis will sound like. Well, it sounds highly satisfying if you ask me!

The band filmed a few music videos with the hopes of getting some decent exposure on MTV. One of the singles, “Hell Can Wait” even got a top10 position on the UK charts. Well, that’s pretty much what happened in the popularity department back in the day. All in all, the outcomes were quite humble, excluding the brief chart presence. That doesn’t mean the album is unworthy of discovering. On the contrary, is one of the most appealing pieces of melodic rock that came out in the early ‘90s. A little bit of that Def Leppard sound might be spotted here and there but try to keep an open mind and don’t constantly compare “Roadhouse” with the Leppard albums.

Some of the delights on the album include the opening track, “All Join Hands” – a stunning radio rocker and the excellent ballad, “Time” which might be the most well-known song from “Roadhouse”. What happens after those two tracks is quite exciting – we have the catchy Firehouse-sounding “Tower of Love”, followed by a long playlist of shockingly well-done AOR gems. Make sure you play “Loving You” (a personal favorite) and “New Horizon”!

“Roadhouse” is 100% certified “worthy of checking out” *by me. Paul Jackson is exactly the kind of vocalist I love and he is perfect for the genre. If you adore melodic rock from the early ‘90s, this is the album for you!
(P.S. Too bad the band broke up soon after the release of the album)

Enjoy and feel free to share your opinion about it!

“Time”

“All Join Hands”

…or better check out the entire album on YouTube:


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~

5 Songs I Wish I Could Listen Again For The First Time

Recently, I asked my buddies on Twitter a very intriguing question:

question music

Plenty of my followers and dear rock friends from all over the world responded with various, personally relevant and undoubtedly breathtaking tracks, such as Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway to Heaven”, Pink Floyd‘s “Comfortably Numb”, AC/DC‘s “Highway to Hell” and more. I was so happy to see that many people sharing their stories, feelings and reasons why they would give anything to experience hearing their favorite song for the first time again.

Of course, way before asking my followers, I thought about my personal choices. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, actually. A song you wish to hear for the very first time and experience that “love at first listen” all over again is not necessarily the same as a “favorite” track, though. We all have hundreds and thousands of songs we LOVE but do you actually remember how you felt or what kind of emotions were flying around the air the first team you heard each and one of them? I don’t think so. Just like me, probably most of you guys can remember the first encounters of only a few songs – those special, world-shattering songs that challenged your entire existence and brought so many mind and body reactions, even…The following five masterpieces are such songs for me – song so captivating that make me wish I could go back in time and recall those beautiful first moments with them…the moments that took my breath away and made me think, “oh, that’s a song I will love and listen till the day I die”. I hope you enjoy my list! Feel free to share your thoughts here or on Twitter!


Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)

layla-claptonI have never felt a connection so instant and so strong as the one I had when I first heard those opening riffs. I didn’t know about the long and painful story behind the song and of course, that famous love triangle but I could feel that there’s just so much going on…”Layla” is not just your regular romantic tune; it’s a 7-minute long epic ballad that features two highly impressive parts – a speedy blues-oriented assemble, followed by a gentler piano and side guitar instrumental.  I was young but I could truly understand why “Layla” is referred to as one of the most important songs rock songs of the ‘70s and Eric Clapton’s most outstanding work. For me, it all started with “Layla”; I needed to hear it just once to know that Eric Clapton will become a huge part of my life…Years later, I cannot even imagine my life without his music.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Still…You Turn Me On (1973)

emerson-lake-palmer-brain-salad-surgery-1973My progressive rock journey started with ELP and in particular the song “Still…You Turn Me On”. I will always remember how immensely captivated I was by the bizarre, but gorgeous instrumentation, stunning lyrics and of course, Greg Lake’s vocals that just sent me to another dimension. I felt so attracted to this song; my body, my mind instantly reacted and by the time I knew it, I was already listening to their entire discography. ELP opened a new chapter of my life and for that I will always love them.


Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)

Boston-1“More Than a Feeling” is probably the main reason why Boston and their debut record became one of the most popular rock acts of the late 70s. Each and every second of this song was designed to instantaneously crawl under your skin, inject its blessing and leave you in a state of trance. I wasn’t an exception. This song was never just an opening track to a classic rock record from many many years ago. “More Than A Feeling” turned into my ultimate relaxation outlet and a way for me to experience sweet comfort right from the very second I heard those guitars. I guess Brad Delp’s killer vocals, relentlessly playing with your senses were another reason why this song grabbed me right form the beginning.


Def Leppard – Love Bites (1987)

Def_Leppard_-_Hysteria_(vinyl_version)One of my biggest musical obsessions is hard rock power ballads from the ’80s. Everyone who follows my blog and Twitter knows how passionate I am about the gentler, mellower side of rock music. It all had to start from somewhere, right? Well, for me it started with Def Leppard‘s only one #1 hit single, the most stunning rock ballad of all time – “Love Bites”. The moment I heard that passionate, thrilling, so sensual song I knew two things: 1) I will become a huge Def Leppard fan and I need to listen to every piece of music they released; 2) Power ballads would become my favorite kind of rock songs and I gotta find out more. The fact that I knew these things right after the first listen speaks volumes. Joe Elliott‘s vocals crawled under my skin and the rest is history. Interestingly, every time I play “Love Bites”, it feels like the first time…


Scorpions – Send Me an Angel (1990)

Scorpions - Send me an Angel2There are rock ballads and then there’s Scorpions’ “Send Me an Angel” – a song that brings tears to my eyes every time I play it. I remember my first moments with this track back in the day very distinctively because the sincere, so powerful and expressive vocal delivery of Klaus Meine left me speechless. I played that song over and over till I finally learned the lyrics by heart. I couldn’t interpret the words but I just knew how honest they were. I had the chance to witness the song materialize on stage during their 50th anniversary tour and I will never forget that magical experience…


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~