10 Forgotten but Deserving AOR Classics

Bands like Journey, Foreigner, Boston, ASIA, Survivor and many of similar nature were among the big names of the contemporary ‘80s rock music scene. Their radio-friendly, synthesizer-driven, rich in pop/rock hooks sound, guaranteed them a solid presence on the airwaves. By the late ‘70s things had already changed for the radio stations as their Album Oriented type of programming was drifting away from its original progressive roots. Program directors and music experts were carefully choosing a couple of songs from a particular rock album (not necessarily the released singles), possessing that “universal” and “commercial” appeal and consequently what we know as Album Oriented Rock format turned into a predominant new direction on the radio stations.

The above mentioned bands received a lot of airplay on AOR stations, mainly because of their well-established catchy hard rock formula for songwriting and music production. I personally don’t think people will ever forget ultimate classics like Foreigner’s “4” or Journey’s “Escape” which even nowadays can be heard all the time on rock radios from all over the world. However, the following albums and ultimately, bands, can’t really brag about that. For one reason or another, they couldn’t establish a solid name in the industry, despite their enormous talent and beautiful rock music. Most of them got lost in translation due to the rising popularity of grunge in the late ‘80s and the beginning of the ‘90s. Others were “one hit wonders” which people don’t think of that often, nowadays. Nevertheless, I really enjoy listening to the following albums and all of them, despite being somewhat forgotten and lost in time, will always be a part of my playlist. I hope I remind you of some or introduce you to an album or an artist you are not so familiar with! Cheers and let’s listen!

 To find out more about what exactly AOR is, read my full publication here:

What is AOR?


Strangeways – Walk In The Fire (1988)

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The Scottish AOR/Melodic rock band, Strangeways debuted in 1984 with an impressive self-titled album, followed by an outstanding sophomore effort – “Native Sons”. Their third album, however, 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. Strageways’ third album which I am presenting to you right now showcases their musical growth and tons of variety, suitable for any rock fan out there (like me) who expects their rock albums to be served with a large dose of great melodies and blasting rock rhythms. 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.


Giant – Time to Burn (1992)

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Giant were another one of those immensely talented bands for which the timing just wasn’t right. During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, all the records companies and music media outlets were shifting their attention and re-adjusting their air time in favor of the newly emerging grunge craze. Giant simply couldn’t compete. Their debut album, “Last of the Runaways” (1989), was somewhat successful, probably due to the ultimate hit ballad, “I’ll See You In My Dreams” and the guitar-driven “I’m a Believer”. However, their sophomore effort – “Time to Burn” didn’t enjoy the same amount of attention and recognition, despite being (in my opinion) better than the debut one in many ways.

“Time to Burn” was released in 1992, which I consider as the last good year of rock music. The album consists of 12 AOR jewels, each better than the one before. It’s a killer collection of rockers, showcasing talent, passion and distinctive style. Giant were not an ordinary AOR band and this album can prove it. From the fiery opening track “Thunder and Lightning” to one of the most emotional power ballads of all time – “Lost in Paradise”, the whole album is one pure melodic heaven. Dann Huff is one of the most expressive vocalists of all time and I can listen to him sing songs like “I’ll be There (When it’s Over)”. Nothing more to say, except get a copy and dive into this AOR treasure!


Fair Warning – Fair Warning (1992)

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The German hard rock band Fair Warning debuted in 1992 (that magical year once again) with a beautiful self-titled AOR album. Despite achieving a moderate commercial success in Japan and some European countries, Fair Warning and the album itself didn’t really make a huge splash in the States, unfortunately.

I listened to the album a couple of months ago for the first time and it was love at first listen. So many intriguing things are happening on this album, I can’t believe people didn’t really pay much attention to it. Every song on “Fair Warning” is a glorious melodic rock anthem. My favorite one has to be the power ballad “Long Gone” which completely re-defined the concept of ballads for me. “Longing for Love”, “One Step Closer”, “Hang On” – all breathtaking AOR classics. If you are a fan of the genre, this is the right album for you. Listen from start to finish and there’s no way you’d be disappointed. Such passion, fuelling “Fair Warning” can rarely be observed.


Mark Free – Long Way from Home (1993)

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Mark Free fronted a couple of glam/hard rock bands such as King Cobra and Single but in 1993, he took off on a journey of his own with an AOR solo debut, titled “Long Way from Home”. The album is the ultimate catch for any melodic rock fan out there. It’s filled with gorgeous vocal performances, impressive hooks and superb keyboard details. “Long Way from Home” offers a great selection of rockers, among which striking tunes like “Someday You’ll Come Running to Me”, “Stranger Among Us”, “State of Love” and “The Last Time” are standing out with breathtaking melodies and lyrics.

Overall, “Long Way from Home” is a bit softer and sweeter but definitely his best work as a performer and as a songwriter, that is in my opinion of course. By 1993, melodic rock was already dead and Mark Free couldn’t revive it with this AOR effort. However, the album is a true masterpiece and nothing can change that. It’s almost impossible to get your hands on a copy but if you do, don’t hesitate to get it!  


Autograph – Sign In Please (1984)

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We all remember Autograph’s signature hit single, the irresistible “Turn up the Radio” which is in my opinion one of the most representative ‘80s rockers. However, there are a couple of other equally enjoyable melodic classics on “Sign in Please” which I believe are worthy of our attention. Night Teen & Non-Stop”, “Deep End”, “Thrill of Love”, “Girlfriends Boyfriend” – all fantastic melodic treasures. The lead singer Steve Plunkett is absolutely killing it on this record! If you are into AOR/melodic rock, you need to have some Autograph in your collection and in particular “Sign in Please” – there’s a lot of passion going on in that album and I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s such a pity that these hardworking LA guys couldn’t enjoy the success they deserved, despite working hard and possessing enormous talent.  I have always been somewhat drawn to Autograph due to their energetic appeal, passionate musicianship and that special “rawness”, which many ‘80s bands couldn’t keep.


Fortune – Fortune (1985)

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Another essential album to listen if you are into ‘80s AOR music. It took me a while to discover Fortune and their 1985 self-titled debut album, but at the end they found their way to my music library. “Fortune” is filled with melodic hooks and catchy lyrics, strictly following the ‘80s AOR formula. “Thrill of It All”, “Lonely Hunter” and the gorgeous ballad “Stacy” are just some of the well-polished and highly appealing rockers from the album.

“Fortune” is very Journey-reminiscent album but that’s not surprising at all. What’s surprising is that radio stations didn’t do much justice for this glorious melodic paradise. This ended up being their only release, unfortunately.


Giuffria – Giuffria (1984)

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American rock band Giuffria (named after the keyboardist Gregg Giuffria) debuted in 1984 with a self-titled album, peaking at #26 on the Billboard charts. The album remained their most successful release but that’s not something to be surprised at – the great Andy Johns, who worked with Free, Quiet Riot, Rod Stewart, Van Halen, Cinderella and many more co-produced “Giuffria”.
The highlight and the most commercially successful single from album is “Call to the Heart”. “Do Me Right”, “Dance” and “Lonely in Love” are some of the other appealing rockers on “Guifrria”. What I love about this album is that it’s very keyboard-driven and I am enjoying that forcefulness track after track. There are no surprises on the record because it once again follows the AOR formula that is designed to appeal to the mainstream audience. However, it’s still a charismatic, perfectly crafted melodic wonderland.

“Giuffria” is one of the most underrated AOR albums of the ‘80s and it makes me so mad because the radio stations should’ve made them kings! Nevertheless, the album will forever remain a must-have by fans who are crazy about everything that is AOR!


Signal – Loud & Clear (1989)

Mark Free once again makes a statement on my AOR list, but this time as the vocalist of Signal. Their 1989 debut album “Loud & Clear” should’ve gotten so much more than it actually did. Every time I think about this album I get so mad, I just want to go back in time and do everything I can to give it all it deserved! For one reason or another (I once again blame it on grunge, though), “Loud & Clear” couldn’t make a name for itself but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked! The album is filled with impressive AOR hooks, powerful riffs and outstanding vocal performances, guaranteeing a great mood. Where do I begin – “Arms of a Stranger”, “My Mistake”, “This Love This Time” – only a few of the deserving classics from “Loud & Clear”. You can find tons of quality rock music on this album.

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Treat – Dreamhunter (1987)

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There’s just something special about Swedish rock bands and Treat are one of the bands that tells us why. Unfortunately, despite being so talented, they couldn’t become a household name in the 1980s melodic rock scene. There was another Swedish rock band that took all the glory but I won’t be talking about them right now.

Their third studio album, titled “Dreamhunter” is another example of how a perfect AOR album should sound like. However, there was also something quite different about Treat and this release in particular, I believe. It’s a bit heavier and definitely more intense but still capturing that AOR spirit with its smooth melodies and attractive vocals. “Sole Survivor”, “Take Me on Your Wings” and You’re The One I Want” are some of the stand outs from “Dreamhunter”, all impressing with great production value and brilliant melodies.There’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.
“Dreamhunter” is very difficult to find but in case you come across it, don’t hesitate to buy it!


Harem Scarem – Harem Scarem (1991)

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I almost forgot about the Canadian rockers Harem Scarem and their 1991 self-titled debut album, which according to many fans is one of the best AOR debuts of all time, despite its moderate success and little to no attention from the US music scene. Harem Scarem never actually broke into the mainstream audience, despite releasing some pretty decent AOR classics, including this album, of course.

“Harem Scarem” has no weak or filler song – each one is a potential radio hit. “Hard to Love”, “With a Little Love” and the gentle ballad “Honestly” are some of my favorite ones from the album. There’s just so much more than beautiful melodies and catchy rhythms. The album has depth and I believe it could easily be felt after just one listen. Don’t even get me started on how great Harry Hess sounds on this record. Overall, the pace is a bit faster and there’s more intensity, a bit metal-like even, but still, Harem Scarem are absolutely killing it with this AOR jewel.

 

 


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~

A Dose of Power Ballads from CINDERELLA

cinderella-collage

Among the endless river of glam rock bands, flooding the music scene in the late ‘80s, one band managed to stand out with their enormous talent and exceptional songwriting skills. That’s right, I’m talking about Cinderella, led by the exceptional Tom Keifer. I fell in love with their music and with his instantly recognizable, out-of-this-world, husky voice the moment I heard “Don’t Know What You Go (Till It’s Gone)”. That was a very pivotal moment for me because that’s how I was introduced to one of my favorite bands, Cinderella. Not only that but that song became a very important part of my life and one of the reasons why I fell in love with ‘80s power ballads in general. As a matter of fact, when I talk about power ballads and their dominance during that period, a couple of songs instantly come to my mind, including Cinderella’s “Nobody’s Fool” and “Don’t Know What You Go (Till It’s Gone)”. Why? Well, because those two are the absolute staples of ‘80s power ballads and the ultimate examples of how it’s okay to follow a trend, as long as you have a talent and do things with elegance and style. Those two tunes defined the relatively short-lived (unfortunately) career of Cinderella and honestly if you are going to be remembered by a couple of songs, they better be that good. In our case they are THAT GOOD! On top of it all, those two power ballads are their best-selling songs of all time! That should say something, right?

Cinderella’s catalog, include four studio albums – “Night Songs” (1986), “Long Cold Winter” (1988), “Heartbreak Station” (1990) and “Still Climbing” (1994). Those records spawned some pretty awesome rockers, including “Shake Me”, “Night Songs”, “Somebody Save Me”, “Shelter Me” and many more. Moreover, they housed a couple of groundbreaking tender rock ballads, which I would like to talk about now. The two previously mentioned blockbuster ballads are not the only slow-paced rockers Cinderella can brag with. There are a couple of more gentle tunes, which I believe are worthy of appreciation. If you are a rock ballad freak like me, you would probably enjoy the following playlist quite a lot. Let’s go!


Nobody’s Fool

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“Nobody’s Fool” was released as the second single from their debut album “Night Songs” (1986) and quickly conquered the charts in the States. In addition, it became their second best-selling single, coming after “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. Written by Tom Keifer himself, the song talks about a protagonist, being used, mistreated and lied to in a relationship. Tom sings about being sick and tired of being someone’s fool. He finally got the strength to cut things off and keep his self-respect.

I personally think the lyrics are the most appealing part of the song because the topic of being abused, taken for granted or toyed around with by someone else is something we have all experienced in our lives. Of course, Tom’s scratchy voice makes things much deeper. I especially love the part where he sings I scream my heart out, just to make a dime, and with that dime i bought your love, But now i’ve changed my mind…” – this is such a powerful moment.

“That song, that’s something I think everyone can relate to. In life there is the falling in love, and then there’s the falling out of love. There are songs for both experiences, and ‘Nobody’s Fool’ is certainly the song for the falling out of love experience. And I would say that was not written for any one particular person. I’d been through that several times prior to writing that song. A lot of times, the emotions of songs are cumulative. That’s not one particular experience, but the culmination of many, “ Tom Keifer explained.


Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)

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“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” was once again written by singer-songwriter and co-founder of Cinderella, Tom Keifer. The track was released as a single from their second album “Long Cold Winter” (1988). Up to date, it’s their highest charting single and most successful track! It was also pretty popular on MTV as it received heavy rotation in the late 80s.
“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” can easily become a soundtrack to the end of a love story – a painful reminder of how we have to cherish and appreciate what we have because one day, it might be long gone. I am absolutely in love with the lyrics, though I must say they make me feel so sad and lonely. Tom just knows how to craft something so beautiful and lasting. Don’t even get me started on his vocal delivery – absolutely mind-blowing.

Read the Story of Cinderella’s “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”


Long Cold Winter

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“Long Cold Winter” may not fit perfectly into the description of a “power ballad”, however the tender blues tune is still one of Cinderella’s greatest ballads of all time, at least to me. The title track from their 1988 album is once again reminding us that they are not your ordinary glam rock band. Tom Keifer draws his influences from the blues and he is mixing it with the typical elements of ‘80s glam rock with such ease and excellence. His soulful voice was made for such kind of songs.


Coming Home

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A country-style grandiose ballad which is another highlight from “Long Cold Winter”. The guitar work is simply superb. I don’t even have to talk about Tom – he makes the whole experience so atmospheric. That album is splendid, there’s just no weak no song or performance! It’s a must for everyone!

 


Heartbreak Station

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In 1990, Cinderella came back with another incredible record, titled “Heartbreak Station”, which Tom Keifer himself often point as his favorite Cinderella album. Once again fans weren’t disappointed with the new material. The title song, a power ballad yet again, is moving a bit further from the successful formula they used for the previous tender rockers. “Heartbreak Station” can’t exactly fall under the category of glam rock, I believe. The song, as well as the entire album as a matter of fact, is more blues, hard rock-influenced which I believe was the natural way to go. Tom Keifer wanted to fully embrace the spirit of The Rolling Stones and he did it quite eloquently.

 “Heartbreak Station” is one of my most beloved songs of all time. The lyrics are too sentimental and Tom’s vocal delivery is playing with my emotions with such an ease. He is simply singing about being heartbroken, after his love left him. A simple concept, but delivered in a stunning way.


Winds of Change

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The delicate “Winds of Change” is the last song on “Heartbreak Station” and one of their underrated songs. I recently re-discovered it and quickly turned into one of my soothing safe places. The gentle acoustic guitars and Tom’s shape-shifting voice are just sending me to another realm. It’s a very beautiful song and in case you missed it, now is your chance to take a listen.


Hard to Find the Words

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Many people overlooked Cinderella’s last album – “Still Climbing” (1994) merely because the timing wasn’t right for this kind of release. The audience was obsessed with grunge and alternative rock bands, which were dominating all musical mediums, including the biggest one – MTV. Tom had to deal with vocal issues, the company also didn’t do much justice with the promotion of the record and adding the grunge boom, we can conclude that “Still Climbing” had a very little chance to make a difference on the music scene. It’s quite sad, actually – the album is so beautiful and soul-soothing.

The two ballads from “Still Climbing”“Hard to Find the Words” and “Through the Rain” are the highlights of the album, in my opinion of course. Especially the latter, I believe holds one of the keys to my heart. I wish more people would appreciate it the way I do.

Through the Rain

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A gorgeous race between gentle piano sounds, mellow guitars and Tom’s alien-like voice! This song is sending me to heaven.


References:
“Nobody’s Fool” on SongFacts: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=2022
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~

In 1992, Eric Clapton Made History With an Iconic “Unplugged” Album

eric-clapton-unpluggedA lot of exciting things were happening on the music scene in 1992. Some people, including myself, consider it to be one of the last years of fine rock music. Among the pile of fascinating 1992 releases was an album, which not only became one of the most important live records but went on to sell 26 million copies worldwide. It even won three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. When such a tremendous success is at present, we can’t but think about the significance of Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album.

In January 1992, armed with an acoustic Martin, backed by just a couple of musicians, in front of a small audience, legendary guitar hero Eric Clapton performed acoustic versions of original compositions, along with a few blues classics for the infamous MTV Unplugged TV series. The concert album became one of the first-ever MTV albums and consequently, a turning point in Eric Clapton’s career.After a series of ’80s AOR jewels, including “August” and “Journeyman”, Clapton successfully went on to complete a once in a lifetime project, which critics often consider his best, most sincere release of all time.The classy, yet charming and immensely soul-soothing “Unplugged” record was as important to Clapton as it was to MTV – it enhanced the reputation of the music medium, proving that it’s a place where icons, such as the great Eric Clapton himself, can freely express and re-define the boundaries of their musicianship.

It takes a great deal of courage and inner strength to overcome the endless trials of life and Eric Clapton surely had to face so many of them. On top of being a drug and alcohol recovering addict and burying good friends, Eric had to experience the tragic loss of his 4-year old son, Conor in 1991. Out of his grief and indescribable pain, one of the most tearing and emotional ballads was born. “Tears in Heaven” debuted as a soundtrack to the movie “Rush”; however Eric Clapton recorded a new version of the song for the “Unplugged” album. The tender and absolutely heartbreaking hit single went on to become one of Clapton’s highest career achievements and ultimately the highlight of the concert record.

Tears in Heaven

Eric Clapton’s most famous work during his time with Derek & The Dominos“Layla” is re-invented into a cozy acoustic bliss on “Unplugged”. Comparing it with the original 7-minute epic ballad would be unreasonable, though many fans found more comfort in this slower, less-aggressive and more easily-digested version of the legendary song. The gentle guitars, along with Clapton’s heart melting vocal delivery, turns “Layla” into the perfect lullaby.

Layla (Unplugged)

One of Journeyman’s (1989) most successful singles – “Old Love” was also chosen as one of the 14 performances on “Unplugged”. The equally deserving revised version of the bluesy tune guarantees an experience of a lifetime.

Old Love

“Unplugged” is filled with fine moments, capturing Eric Clapton’s honesty and pure effortless talent. One thing he never forgets to do on his projects is to pay his respects to the legendary bluesmen he grew up listening to, by immortalizing their songs and introducing them to newer generations. Among the blues classics he chose to cover on “Unplugged” are “Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me”, Leadbelly’s “Alberta” and of course, Robert Johnson‘s “Walkin’ Blues” and “Malted Milk”.

On the deluxe edition of “Unplugged” we also get to listen to early versions of “My Father’s Eyes” and “Circus”, which would eventually be featured in “Pilgrim”, six years later.

Alberta

“Unplugged” was Eric Clapton’s 90s coming out party. The ‘80s were gone and with them his radio-friendly, AOR, highly produced approach to music. Don’t get me wrong, his ‘80s releases are actually among my favorite records of all time; however we have to keep in mind that musically they did reflect the time period. As much as he kept his authenticity as a bluesman, those ‘80s records still fall under the category of contemporary ‘80s soft rock. Then, when the ‘90s came, Clapton took off on a new journey – a journey of self-discovery and absolute frankness. That’s exactly why “Unplugged” became so enormously successful – it was the perfect “what you see is what you get” record. Eric Clapton just rose from the ashes with ease and comfort. You could feel his confidence and sincerity coming out of every note.

No wonder “Unplugged” won three Grammy Awards and sold millions of copies all over the world. The audience already knew and loved Clapton but this stripped down album, featuring new interpretations of his classics gave them a new perspective. This album revitalized his career and I think it helped him move on with his life, after the tragic loss of his son. On top of it all, the biggest musical force – MTV, was backing him up. After the enormous popularity of “Unplugged”, the show turned into a much bigger force, hosting some of the most talented musicians of all time – Roxette, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles and so on.

Familiar, relaxing, cozy…what else can I say? “Unplugged” celebrates a career of an outstanding musician and because of its unique format you can feel like you are a part of the audience and the whole experience. It has been over 20 years since its release, but this concert album will forever remain one of the highest moments of Eric Clapton’s career and as a matter of fact, one of the biggest legacies of MTV.


…You can listen and watch the entire show here:


References:
“Unplugged” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unplugged_(Eric_Clapton_album)
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~

In 1990, FIREHOUSE Released a Debut Album of a Lifetime

The Importance of a Debut Album

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and that applies in every sphere of life, including music. A debut album can make or break a musician’s career. That first release is like an immensely important first date with the biggest, most relevant judge in the world – the audience. Therefore, the artists need to strike with their strongest, most exceptional creative weapons right from the very beginning if they want to make a name for themselves in this competitive music market. A successful debut album is essential in the sense that it’s a key to establish a fanbase, not to mention that it sets some sort of standards and expectations for the following projects. Having a powerful debut album doesn’t always walk hand in hand with a powerful, everlasting career; however, it’s indeed a significant aspect to think about when building a reputation. Some great rock acts, like Guns N’ Roses, Boston, Bad Company, even The Beatles, of course, spawned enormously impactful debut albums that stood the test of time. Unfortunately you can’t build a career on just one debut album – you need to develop artistically and be consistent with your releases. Some other rock acts like Elton John, Thin Lizzy and even the great Journey had a rather weak debut but managed to rise from the ashes and come back stronger than ever.

firehouse-debut-2So many rock albums are on my list of “favorite rock debuts of all time”, I don’t even know where to begin with – from Def Leppard’s “On through the Night” to Bad Company’s self-titled debut, from ASIA to Rainbow, the list goes on and on. One of those albums is the album I will be focusing on throughout this publication – the 1990 coming out party of the American glam rocker, FireHouse. Intrigued by the gorgeous power-ballad, “Love of a Lifetime”, I followed its footsteps back to this record where I found out that there was indeed a reason why it was certified double platinum. The album showcases so much talent, effort and what’s so fascinating is that it somehow managed to make a statement during a transitional, rather shaky period in the music world. The time for a debut wasn’t that suitable because grunge basically took over and media, along with fans, just stopped caring about glam rock. Still, what’s good is good and I am sure many people, just like me, appreciate FireHouse and this marvelous album, full of explosive melodic-rockers.

FireHouse

firehouse3Vocalist C. J. Snare, guitarist Bill Leverty, drummer Michael Foster, and bassist Perry Richardson caught the last wave of the glam rock era with a firm grab. What they did with that first release not only got them prestigious awards, including Best Newcomer in the States, but also launched their international success in many countries, including Canada and Japan. FireHouse is yet another band to brag with its supportive fandom and strong presence in the Japanese market and this first album has a lot to do with it.

The band, along with that debut album turned into a much needed breath of fresh air. People were losing interest in melodic AOR records and were waiting for the next big thing. The strong force, known as hair metal, was losing its powers. Suddenly, however, those talented guys came along and spawned a double platinum album in 1990. No one saw that coming but everyone loved it. The quartet, along with producer David Prater, who worked with Dream Theatre, obviously knew how to craft some good old, enduring American hard rock.

Songs and Style

FireHouse was an absolute glam rock revolution, in the sense that they brought so much more than glitter and gold to the table. The critical and audience appreciation was on point – those four guys weren’t joking around – armed with great talent, for FireHouse the sky was the limit. On the surface, to many people it may seem like a regular hair metal album, stuffed with ordinary party rockers with little substance, however once you get to know the songs a little bit better; you will understand why exactly this debut album conquered the world.

“FireHouse” offers a selection of twelve, well-polished pop/metal jewels, which respectfully clogged he radio stations and mesmerized (and still do) the fans with gorgeous riffs and superb vocals. “All She Wrote” – a catchy, humorous rocker which just begs you to find your inner (in my case non-existing) vocal strength and sing your heart out – it’s that captivating! This was the first FireHouse song I heard years ago and it grabbed my attention instantaneously. “All She Wrote” deserved so much more than it got, but then again, chart positions aren’t all that matter, right? “Shake & Tumble” gets its hands on you right from the beginning – those mindblowing riffs are like an energy drink; I can almost taste the power coming out of that tune. The opening track – “Rock on the Radio” is your typical party hard rocker, generating tons of excitement. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” is a sweet mid-tempo radio favorite, showcasing appealing acoustic elements. Another highly compelling tune has to be “Home is Where the Heart is” – I am beyond fascinated with Snare’s vocal delivery on this one, he absolutely kills it.

All She Wrote

Shake & Tumble

Don’t Treat Me Bad

I’m saving the best for last! In case you wonder which band released the greatest power ballad of all time, here’s your answer – it’s FireHouse and you can find it on this album! “Love of a Lifetime” is a simply a ballad of a lifetime. Written by vocalist C.J. Snare, it quickly became a worldwide sensation and their most well known song up to date. Not only that, but it turned into an absolute necessity for every wedding ceremony – the impact and fan love for that song just goes beyond any limits. There’s no surprise, though – just listen to the tune and let it reach every little part of your rock n’ roll heart. Dreamy lyrics, full of hope and encouragement, beautiful solo and heartmelting melody – “Love of a Lifetime” has the whole package.

Love of a Lifetime


What followed?

firehouse-hold-your-fireWhat followed was indeed pure fire! “Hold Your Fire” was released in 1992 and though it couldn’t compete with the debut one in terms of sales, it still left a mark of its own. “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, “Hold Your Fire”, “Reach for the Sky” – all immensely successful hit singles and fan favorites. This right here is a perfect example of a worthy sophomore effort – an album that delivered what the fans expected after the first one. Unfortunately, those were the last good albums we got before grunge hit the music scene and kicked hard rock out of the picture. Nevertheless, I am still here, along with many other fans, who love and haven’t forgotten about bands such as FireHouse! Cheers!


References:
“FireHouse” Album Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FireHouse_(album)
FireHouse Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FireHouse_(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~

[MIXTAPE] EUROPE In 10 Outstanding Rockers

europe-band-collageAs a proud European, it’s only natural for me to be a huge fan of Europe; as a matter of fact they are among my most beloved hard rock acts of all time. I feel pretty excited to be writing this because the connection I share with those guys is too strong and I do have to say a thing or two about their fantastic career, spawning some of my favorite songs of all time.

Originally named Force, the Swedish band of vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bass guitarist Peter Olsson, and drummer Tony Reno is a solid example of how dreams do come true as long as you are not afraid to try and give it your all. From innocent beginnings to becoming an international sensation in the mid-1980s, Europe definitely proved that you don’t have to be British or American to know how to produce quality rock n’ roll and  conquer the world with it. After a moderately successful self-titled debut album (1983) and a strong evolution with “Wings of Tomorrow (1984), Europe caught the attention of the right people who knew exactly what to make out of those outstanding musicians. In May 1986, the world welcomed “The Final Countdown” – a record and a title track known by each and every person on this planet, I believe. Kevin Elson, a mastermind producer, who worked with Journey stepped in and shaped what is known as one of the most era-defining records of all time. Europe kept on delivering impressive rock in the following “Out of This World” (1988) and “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991). Unfortunately, just like many other hard rock bands on the market, Europe also stumbled and fell over the sudden grunge outburst in the early 1990s. Despite releasing a phenomenal record in that magical 1991, they received little appreciation, making it one of the most underrated albums in my book. After a little break, they got their act together and released some decent albums, including the most recent one “War of Kings” (2015). What comes next for Europe? A worldwide tour, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of that groundbreaking record that redefined the 80s! They surely still got it!

In honor of “The Final Countdown” and because I am a huge fan of Europe, I prepared this little playlist of 10 songs, which I believe best represent the band and their exciting sound. The playlist is suitable for people who are meeting the band for the first time, as well as to those who want to experience good music all over again! I am not discriminating against their newer releases (they are very good, actually) but for me personally, the first five albums are the greatest pieces of work they have done so far and whatever I do, I always go back to those classic rock jewels.

Cheers to Europe!


All or Nothing

The opening track of “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991) has to be my most beloved Europe tune of all time. Captivating guitar intro that progresses in catchy hard rock rhythms, accompanied by Joey’s mesmerizing vocals – this song is everything. If you are the type of person who likes solid hard rock, characterized by hooky melodies to sing over to, this is the tune for you. The lyrics are not as impressive as the melodies, but still pleasing and easy to sing:  All or nothing at all, There’s nothing I won’t do, And the one thing I want, All of is you…”


I’ll Cry for You

“I’ll Cry for You” became the reason why I fell inlove with “Prisoners in Paradise”. The instant attention-grabbing keyboard intro is transforming into a guitar-paradise and bittersweet lyrics that really get under your skin “…I wanna give you my heart, Give you my soul; I wanna lay in your arms, Never let go…”


Girl from Lebanon

Very unique and intriguing concept right here. “Girl from Lebanon” yet again came out from “Prisoners in Paradise” and in my opinion is one of their greatest works. Those thunder riffs are unforgettable, John Norum is simply killing it on this one…


Wings of Tomorrow

The title track of their sophomore album, “Wings of Tomorrow” (1984), clearly showcased a progress towards the right direction. Raw, straightforward, hitting you hard with no preparation whatsoever, this is definitely my favorite tune from the album. Of course, it’s a bit far from that polished sound we get to experience on the junior record, but equally interesting and worthy of appreciation.


“Out of This World” (1988) spawned four internationally successful singles, among which “Superstitious” and “More Than Meets the Eye” stood out the most to me and to the majority of Europe fans, actually. Following the well-established “The Final Countdown” formula for success, Europe defended the title of the kings of European melodic rock with that album. Both songs impress with catchy riffs and simple, yet charming lyrics.

Superstitious

More Than Meets the Eye


Seven Doors Hotel

“Seven Doors Hotel” was Europe’s first single, released from their debut album back in 1983. This song signalled the arrival of a great songwriting force. That’s right, I am talking about Joey Tempest who at such young age, with no experience whatsoever demonstrated such talent. “Seven Doors Hotel” was actually one of the first songs he had ever written. It became an enormously successful hit single in Japan. Interestingly, Europe are actually one of the few Western bands that became a strong force on the Japanese market back in the day. Even nowadays, Japanese fans love them to death!


coverI will wrap up my playlist with three hit singles from “The Final Countdown” (1986) – the spirited party-anthem, “Rock the Night”; the gentle power ballad, “Carrie”; and of course the monstrous hard rocker, “The Final Countdown”. Each of these tunes have its own uniqueness and became an absolute staple of ‘80s rock scene. You don’t have a party without “Rock the Night”, you don’t create a power-ballad playlist without “Carrie” and you don’t associate with people who don’t like “The Final Countdown” – simple as that!

Rock the Night

Carrie

The Final Countdown


+Bonus Track

Little Bit of Lovin’

There is just something very special about “Prisoners in Paradise” and I want you guys to really feel it. I may have included a lot of tunes from that album, but I stand by what I said – it’s their most deserving work.


 

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 Queensrÿche’s Silent Lucidity

It’s fascinating how some songs can trigger an emotional response so strong that it can easily shatter down all the walls we keep on building around our hearts. I’ve always said that one important strength of a song comes from its ability to let people feel vulnerable for a few minutes. We live in a world where the constant hardships of life turned many people into emotionally-constrained beings, rarely letting go and allowing sincere feelings, even sadness, to pass by their existence. I didn’t want to get too philosophical but that’s how I see it – a song can be the perfect outlet through which we can experience emotions and feelings we keep on stuffing deep down inside our souls. For me personally, Queensrÿche’s Silent Lucidity is one such song. Every time I listen to the haunting acoustic intro and Geoff Tale’s thrilling vocal performance, I feel this immense doze of sadness and pain that is actually freeing me from my apathetic prison, called daily life. To me, it’s a song that lets me get out of my comfort zone and for that I will always appreciate it. Honestly, before it became such a huge part of my life, I had no idea how commercially successful it was. With this in mind I thought that maybe this gorgeous tune touched the hearts of many people like me who would love to read a few selected pieces of interesting information about it, along with my interpretations!


– The American progressive metal band Queensrÿche has had a long and immensely prolific career. However, to the general audience “Silent Lucidity” remains their most famous and instantly recognizable tune. Written by the band’s lead guitarist Chris DeGarmo, this rock symphony was the second single from their highly successful 1990 record, titled “Empire”.

– The power ballad was accepted with open arms from both fans and critics. Grammy nominations, MTV awards, top chart positions in the USA and the UK – just a few of its notable achievements. There was no way this song could have failed; you don’t get to listen to such euphonious rock creation every day.

– “Silent Lucidity” was placed at number 21 on VH1’s list of “Greatest Power Ballads”! Personally, I think this is a well-deserving spot and definitely in my top 30 as well!

“I love that song. I think it’s a beautiful, beautiful piece. And although I didn’t write it, I had a lot to do with shaping the destiny of that track through my melodic contributions and the way I sang it, and also in the mixing of the song and that kind of thing.
It had a strange beginning. It started out as simply just acoustic guitar and voice. And it wasn’t until we were almost finished with the record, just in the last week of working on the record, that we added all the other instrumentation to it,” said Queensrÿche‘s lead singer Geoff Tate in an interview for Songfacts.

– In terms of instrumentation, “Silent Lucidity” impresses with its humble but shivering acoustic intro that skilfully builds up tension before it finally reaches the point of absolute tranquillity. The instantly recognizable opening riffs, along with the lines “Hush now, don’t you cry, wipe away the teardrop from your eye…” is in my opinion the best part of the song. I have always said that a song needs to have a strong intro and this right here is the perfect example of how it should be done! Brahm‘s “Lullaby”, played be a cello at the end of the song is another pleasant moment of the tune. Soothing rhythm, mesmerizing melody and quiet, but truly powerful symphonic composition – “Silent Lucidity” is the perfect song for your trip to serenity.

– It would be very difficult to come up with just one interpretation of the lyrics of Queensrÿche’s Silent Lucidity. So many things are happening within those words; not to mention that some of the lines carry a subjective meaning to different people. Obviously, one thing we can all agree on is that the song is about lucid dreaming  – a state in which dreamers are fully aware that they are dreaming and are able to exercise some control over their actions in the dream. Such an intriguing concept for a song!

‘Silent Lucidity’ is probably one of the most genuinely out there things we’ve ever done. It’s about what they call ‘lucid dreaming’. Or ‘dream-control’. Basically, just opening up the doors to your subconscious mind, and learning how to master your dreams. Actually be able to steer and control them,” said guitarist Chris DeGarmo for Kerrang! Magazine in 1990.

– If you are lucid dreaming, you are capable of taking the wheel and basically do what you feel like doing – you are free to explore this new world and be yourself. I know that the song is addressing this specific phenomenon, but metaphorically, to me the lyrics represent people’s personal growth as they break down the strong walls, built around their souls – “The walls you built within come tumbling down and a new world will begin.” Furthermore, another interpretation I have for the lyrics is that they are a message to people who must embrace death and cross-over to a new magical dimension – a new world where you can feel safe, free to fly, learn how to control your life and where all of your dreams are alive, waiting for you – “…You’re safe from pain in the dream domain, A soul set free to fly…”

Live at 1991 MTV Awards


“Silent Lucidity” Lyrics

Hush now, don’t you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You’re lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over… or has it just begun?

There’s a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn’t realize and you were scared
It’s a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
This magic new dimension

I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help you see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity

[spoken during solo]
(Visualize your dream)
(Record it in the present tense)
(Put it into a permanent form)
(If you persist in your efforts)
(You can achieve dream control)
(Dream control)
(How are we feeling today, better??)
(Dream control, dream control)
(Help me)

If you open your mind for me
You won’t rely on open eyes to see
The walls you built within
Come tumbling down, and a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You’re safe from pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
Your dream’s alive, you can be the guide but…

I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help to see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you….


References:
Lyrics retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/
“Silent Lucidity” by Queensrÿche on SongFacts: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5856
“Silent Lucidity” Official Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Lucidity
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] 5 PINK FLOYD Instrumentals That Will Blow You Away

instrumentals-pinkfloyd

In addition to monumental songs, filled with poetic gorgeousness that leaves you breathless, Pink Floyd can definitely brag about their haunting, but equally exciting progressive rock instrumentals. Sometimes, people definitely need to take a little break from the heavy, quite absurd even lyrics, which despite being an essential part of their music, can leave a very dismal and gloomy aftertaste. Not that it’s bad thing – on the contrary, I’d pick complex, well-thought of lyrics that deal with philosophical or other profound topics (such as isolation, greed, time, human nature, the universe) over lyrics about love and sex any day! Usually, I first connect with the words and then I connect with the melody or the different elements that make up the composition. I was never a person who listens to instrumentals – I need lyrics and that’s that. Till, of course, Pink Floyd came into my life and completely changed the way I think about rock instrumentals. The band was never deeply acknowledged for such types of songs, because when you have brilliant lyricists like David Gilmour and Roger Waters, you always expect to hear words that can make you shiver. However, they do deserve to be praised for their instrumentals and I am here to remind you of some of their most groundbreaking wordless creations that can and for sure will blow you away. These five beautiful pieces of art have always been an inseparable part of my playlist – all of them somehow manage to give me comfort, a much needed isolation and a long array of emotions that leave me questioning my entire existence.  Do you have favorite ones?


Obscured By Clouds (1972)

The title track of Pink Floyd’s 1972 soundtrack album “Obscured by Clouds” has always been one of their greatest instrumentals in my book. Highly experimental, adopting new analog synthesizers and recording techniques, the track can easily haunt you for days.

Any Color You Like (1973)

“The Dark Side of the Moon” is one of the wonders of our world and nothing can change that. Among the timeless classics such as “Time” and “Money”, this groundbreaking instrumental, titled “Any Color You Like” somehow manages to stand out on its own ground. A sensational keyboard solo, accompanied by state of the art studio technologies, all mixed up to create the perfect trance experience. A genius instrumental!

Terminal Frost (1987)

With Roger Waters gone, it was up to David Gilmour to keep the spirit of the band and produce groundbreaking music. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is a glorious album and probably one of my favorite Pink Floyd records of all time. “Terminal Frost” is the thrilling instrumental, featuring a complex combination of mind-blowing guitars, piano and saxophone. This tune was crafted by an alien, I swear…

Marooned (1992)

“The Division Bell” has to be my favorite Pink Floyd album of all time and nothing or no one can take that away from me. “Marooned” is the most creative, imaginative and rousing instrumental on this list, at least for me that is. It gets me every time…What a genius David is!

It’s What We Do (2014)

Pink Floyd’s farewell album offered a lot of pleasing compositions and this is one of them. It was somehow difficult for me to decide which instrumental to pick, since almost the entire album is instrumental-centered, but I settled on “It’s What We Do” because of the mesmerizing intro! This instrumental brought me back to their glory days, despite being released in 2014.


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~