ALBUM REVIEW: VEGA – “Only Human” (2018)

It’s never too late to discover a great band, don’t you think? Initially I thought the guys from VEGA are beginners but it turned out they’ve been making quality melodic rock for years! The 5th studio album of VEGA , yet again released under the capable wings of Frontiers Records, is what opened my eyes for this band and I’m here to tell you all about it!

If you are looking for easy-going, “little-guitar-little-grooves” kind of melodic rock, referred to as “background music” which you play while chilling with the TV on or getting dinner ready, this is not the melodic rock album for you. The enormous revival wave of the genre is offering plenty of such releases but VEGA‘s “Only Human” is not here to play gentle and occupy exactly 10-15 minutes of your “second-hand attention” – the album is here to deliver something so much more to your life. VEGA and this release are here to bring the excitement back to your life and tell you that there’s good, high-spirited music out there, capable of encouragement and establishing solid musical commitment. 

“We wear our love of 80’s rock music on our sleeve, but we also have injected our love of modern rock music to it. We aren’t trying to rehash anything: the sound we have achieved is 100% VEGA. We didn’t want to try and guess what people expect and get it wrong,” says singer Nick Workman.

Many essential components contribute to the final great result which “Only Human” is. One of them most certainly is the capable work of legendary Canadian musician and producer, Harry Hess of Harem Scarem who mixed and mastered this melodic rock gem of a record. The rest was in the hands of the talented guys from the VEGA.

Let’s talk music!

“Worth Dying For” is one of the finest moments from the album; love the grooves, the catchy riffs, those ultimate sing-along lyrics and of course, the “who-a-o-oh” moments! It’s your perfect summer anthem, bringing all the positive energy out of everyone…”if it’s forbidden for, then it’s worth dying for”. “All Over Now” is another gem – very ’80s-like, perfectly balancing those sweet nostalgic keyboards and fie vocal arrangements, ending up in a fine ear-candy piece of music. “Mess You Made” is your hidden gem and probably my favorite track from the record. The lyrics are what attracted me – trust me, the album’s lyrical value cannot be questioned! The powerful vocals of Nick Workman further cement my adoration for this song. The title song, “Only Human”, coming under #7 is the moment your AOR cravings become completely satisfied.

Entertaining, highly-pleasurable, fine vocal arrangement, relatable lyrics and sweet summer rhythms. I highly recommend VEGA and “Only Human” to anyone who is looking for a refreshing lemonade during a hot early-summer day!

PRODUCED BY:VEGA
MIXED BY:Harry Hess
MASTERED BY: Harry Hess

VEGA

BAND MEMBERS:
Nick Workman: Lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar and wall hitter
Tom Martin: Bass guitar
Marcus Thurston: Lead Guitar
James Martin: Keyboards
Mikey Kew: Guitar, backing vocals
Martin “Hutch” Hutchinson: Drums

“All Over Now”

“Last Man Standing”


References:
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 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~

NIGHT RANGER – “Don’t Let Up” Album Review

One of the most anticipated releases of 2017 is finally here. The house of old-school rock, a.k.a Frontiers Music, is once again behind the comeback of yet another household name with a long and prolific 35-year-old career, spawning some of rock’s biggest classics, including “Sister Christian”, “Goodbye”, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “When You Close Your Eyes”. Yes, I’m talking about Night Ranger, of course – the renowned San Franciscan arena rockers, who sold over 17 million albums worldwide and held over 3,000 concerts! Needless to say, those numbers speak for themselves!

Night Ranger reached for the stars in the ‘80s and the results were both solid and lasting. The guys called it quits in 1989, however American and especially Japanese audiences wanted their rangers back! Here we are now, 12 albums later, still going as strong as ever, introducing the genre to whole new generations and adding more and more fans to the ever-growing worldwide fanbase! Night Ranger are back with a refreshing 12th album, featuring original members Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis, together with keyboardist Eric Levy and guitarist Keri Kelli. “Don’t Let Up” is exciting, positive and all in all, the perfect album to welcome the new spring season of 2017! Night Ranger are way beyond that “nostalgia act” label they are often given. To me, “Don’t Let Up” is an unquestionable proof that the guys are still relevant and they have yet many songs to write and many musical mountains to conquer before the world decides to forget them.

dont let up night ranger 1

The best thing about “Don’t Let Up” is the natural flow of the tracklist – songs seem to be pleasantly connected and each is building up the mood and adding more to that stimulating, thirst-quenching melodic rock aura of the album. At first listen it might be difficult to point out a stand-out song because they all seem quite similar. Still, the opening tune, “Somehow Someway”, along with “Truth” and the title track, “Don’t Let Up” clearly seem to be getting all the thumbs up. The responses on YouTube are clear – fans (me as well) love these encouraging rockers and are ready to hear the rest of it! “Nothing Left of Yesterday” is Night Ranger’s fine attempt at a modern-style power-ballad. “Running Out of Time” is a personal favorite – those catchy, captivating riffs and thunderous drums are making all the difference. Cheers to Jack Blades whose cheerful but powerful vocals made me want to sing and dance in the middle of my living room!

The rest of the album is as good as the songs I chose to mention and definitely worth your time and money! The artwork of “Don’t Let Up” sums it up quite well – every song, featured on the playlist is an exciting race between each musician’s distinctive talents! I was thrilled and had a great time while listening to “Don’t Let Up”. I guarantee you will have a similar experience! Enjoy!

Released: March 24, 2017
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Frontiers Music

Duration: 50:25

Tracklist:

Somehow Someday
Running Out of Time
Truth
Day and Night
Don’t Let Up
(Won’t Be Your) Fool Again
Say What You Want
We Can Work it Out
Comfort Me
Jamie
Nothing Left of Yesterday
We Can Work It Out (Acoustic Version)

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“Truth”

“Comfort Me”

“Somehow Someday”

“Don’t Let Up”

“Day and Night”


References:
“Night Ranger’s Don’t Let Up”: http://www.frontiers.it/album/5359
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~

ATLANTIC’s 1994 “POWER” – A Rare Hard Rock Gem Released Way Too Late

The strong ‘80s hard rock influence could still be felt during the first couple of years of the ‘90s. I often say that 1992 might be the last good year of hard rock music, before grunge stole the time and affection of every little or big media outlet out there. Surprisingly, however, despite the grunge wave that flooded the early ‘90s, good AOR/hard rock releases kept on appearing here and there. If you were a big name in the ‘80s and had a loyal fanbase, you still had the chance to survive the grunge apocalypse; however, throwing a coming out party after 1992 was an absolute suicidal mission. Nevertheless, a few months back I discovered this rare melodic hard rock gem which totally knocked my socks off! At first I thought it was released sometime in the ‘80s – probably the second half of the decade. Then, I saw the year – 1994 and I was both shocked and angry; shocked, because it sounded from another time and angry because it was too good to be out at a time when no one could appreciate its true value! Nevertheless, I am happy that Atlantic’s “Power” found its way to me and introduced me to the instant-favorites, like “Power Over Me”, “Can’t Hold On” and “When The War is Over”.

atlantic1

atlantic power coverIgnoring the provocative and rather unappealing (at least to me) album cover, “Power” has a lot to offer to any fan out there, looking to quench his melodic rock thirst. The British rockers crafted something not so unusual but highly satisfying and definitely worth your time. Led by vocalist and songwriter Phil Bates, who has a long and quite versatile music career, Atlantic hit the AOR market in 1994 with “Power” which unfortunately (though quite predictably) turned out to be their first and last album. Phil went on to do bigger things, including recording songs for famous TV shows and becoming the lead singer of ELO Part II – a spin-off band, formed by Electric Light Orchestra drummer and co-founder Bev Bevan.

Let’s talk a little bit about the highlights of “Power”. Where do I even begin? “It’s Only Love”, “Power Over Me”, “When The War is Over”, “Every Beat of My Heart”, “Can’t Hold On”, “Bad Blood” (and I may as well just write down the entire tracklist) – all showcasing solid AOR power and nothing but talent. I’m a sucker for a good hard rock hook; to me it’s all about the melody and this album right here was made for people like me. “Nothing to Lose” has to be one of my favorite moments from “Power”. Songs like this one put the “power” in a “power ballad”. If only this tune was released as a single during a more suitable time period, I bet it was going to be an absolute radio-sensation. The most famous track to come out of Atlantic‘s debut record has to be “Can’t Hold On” and we shouldn’t be surprised cause it’s the epitome of AOR – synthesizer hooks, melodic riffs, solid-rock sound and of course, a splendid vocal delivery to complete the entire picture!

Final verdict: Enjoy it as much as you can because they don’t make them like this anymore. “Power” is the PERFECT example of a well-made melodic rock record and it’s such a pity that people don’t really remember or listen to it nowadays. It’s not full of timeless classics but it’s full of great mood and impeccable talent! Take a moment of your time to listen to this unfortunate and underrated rock album from start to finish – it might find your next favorite old-school tune somewhere in there, just like I did.


“Power Over Me”

“When The War is Over”

“Can’t Hold On”

I highly recommend you guys listen to the entire album from start to finish:

Release Date: 1994
Genre: AOR / Pop Rock / Hard Rock
Label: Escape Music
Producer(s): Simon Jewel-Harrison & Paul Hoare

Tracklist:

01. Can’t Hold On
02. Every Beat of my Heart
03. Power Over Me
04. When the War is Over
05. Nothing To Lose
06. It’s Only Love
07. Bad Blood
08. Hands of Fate
09. Dangerous Games
10. Hard To Believe
11. Heart’s on Fire (Bonus Track)

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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~

THUNDER – “Rip It Up” Album Review

rip-it-up-thunder

Released: February 10, 2017
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: EARMUSIC
Duration: 51:13
Producer(s): Luke Morley

Tracklist:

  1. No One Gets Out Alive – 4:21
  2. Rip It Up – 4:43
  3. She Likes The Cocaine – 4:34
  4. Right From The Start – 5:23
  5. Shakedown – 4:08
  6. Heartbreak Hurricane – 4:46
  7. In Another Life – 4:57
  8. The Chosen One – 5:09
  9. The Enemy Inside – 3:10
  10. Tumbling Down – 5:25
  11. There’s Always A Loser – 4:38

OVERVIEW

Thunder are back with a brand new studio album, titled “Rip It Up”. The follow-up to their highly successful, Top 10 2015 release, “Wonder days” has finally arrived and is loaded with a serious collection of mindblowing rock tunes, destined to become future classics. The title says it all – “Rip It Up” tears down all musical and creative barriers. That “now or never” attitude of Thunder is winning them the big points! The album showcases their new-found creative strength and obvious self-rediscovery, all packed together with their thunderous, indestructible spirit that made them a household name back in old-school days. Guitarist Luke Morley and vocalist Danny Bowes formed Thunder in 1989 and the rest is…well, what a history! 27 years after a groundbreaking debut album, “Backstreet Symphony”, fuelled with hard rock staples like “Dirty Love” and “Love Walked In”, Thunder are still going as strong as ever and their eleventh studio album, “Rip It Up” is simply another important stop on their long way to go.

“After the positive reaction to ‘Wonder Days’, we were very happy, and it justified the approach we took in the writing and recording. We decided to push it further on all fronts this time, to see what happened, and I think it shows in the writing and the individual performances. We couldn’t have made this album 10 or even 5 years ago, we weren’t good enough! We’re really looking forward to playing the new tunes live alongside the more established ones.”

Quote retrieved from: http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/thunder-to-release-rip-it-up-album-in-february/#UhDxQEZhpkxtss80.99

“No One Gets Out Alive” is a promising opening track that welcomes you to one truly fascinating world where hard rock is a religion and Thunder are one of the Gods. It’s a fearless composition that impresses with its striking lyrics that tell us that we might not live forever, but that’s totally fine! Danny Bowes is sending a strong message – don’t waste your time away and enjoy the ride! The title track is as fierce as its name. “Rip It Up” became an instant favorite of mine with its atmospheric bluesy/old-school party vibes that just make you forget about everything. “She Likes the Cocaine” was inspired by a woman who guitarist Luke Morley used to know back in his days of youth. The lady in question used to be the heart and soul of the party and so many years later, she still is (at least that’s what Luke says). The song takes on a lighter perspective of drugs, looking at things through the fun way of it. Lynne Jackaman is making a memorable appearance on the track with her outstanding backing vocals. “Right from the Start” slows things down to remind us why ballads are so important for any release. Thunder have always been famous for their slower-paced tunes and there’s a reason why. Their trademark ballad sound is immensely captivating. “Shakedown”, “In Another Life” and “The Enemy Inside” are just a few of the heavier, upbeat rockers that bring that much-need intensity caused by the satisfying clash between deafening guitars and bold vocals. “Rip It Up” wraps things up with another soft rocker, titled “Everyone’s A Loser”. Nothing much to say about this pleasing end to a splendid album, except that indeed everyone who doesn’t listen to this album is a loser.

“Rip It Up” is Thunder’s gutsy confession, incorporating elements of their well-established formula for success into a solid modern-day hard rock sound. I didn’t expect the album to contain any unprecedented, far-out tracks so I wasn’t really disappointed when I got this well-known enjoyable piece of good old rock&roll music. Bottom line is, Danny Bowes still has the pipes and Luke Morley can still write extraordinary songs. So get ready for an album that will easily compete for the greatest rock release of 2017, I’m sure of it.


“Rip It Up” Official Song Stream

No One Gets Out Alive

Playlist:


References:
THUNDER To Release ‘Rip It Up’ Album In February, retrieved from http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/thunder-to-release-rip-it-up-album-in-february/#UhDxQEZhpkxtss80.99
“Rip it Up” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rip_It_Up_(Thunder_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~

[’80s Rock Album Focus] DARE – Out Of The Silence (1988)

dare-out-of-the-silence-1988

Out Of The Silence (1988)

Genre: AOR / Pop Rock / Hard Rock
Duration: 49:44
Label: A&M Records Ltd.
Producer(s): Larry Klein

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

Rising from the ashes of Thin Lizzy, hard rock band Dare debuted in 1988 with a phenomenal collection of melodic rock gems, titled “Out of the Silence”. Led by keyboard player and vocalist Darren Wharton, Dare quickly established a solid fanbase with their powerful AOR statement. Don’t look for any traces of Thin Lizzy because you won’t find them. Dare’s “Out of the Silence” is an elegant melodic rock treasure, combining all elements, necessary to make it unforgettable. From the enhanced but highly pleasant keyboards to the intriguing lyrics; from the monumental hooks to the brilliant haunting voice of Darren Wharton “Out of the Silence” was destined to conquer and please our ears.

Well-polished rockers like “Abandon” and “Into the Fire” are a couple of the stand-outs and reasons why this is an absolute classic AOR album that should be owned by everyone. “Into the Fire” impresses with its mysterious intro that progresses into a magical, captivating sonic experience I wish everyone could experience on a daily basis. “Abandon” has to be one of the greatest opening tracks in the history of AOR records – indescribably satisfying hooks and persuasive chorus that could win the heart of anyone.  Let’s talk ballads – “King of Spades” is a supreme mellow rocker, granting you a first-row seat to the beautiful but touching confession of Darren Wharton. “Nothing Is Stronger Than Love” is a personal favorite and one of my most beloved guilty pleasures. Regardless of the high level of sugar, it’s still a sensual, quite cushy love song that is suitable for all the softies out there. “Runaway”, “Under the Sun”, “Return the Heart” – all unbelievably well-done songs that go straight to your heart and never leave.

All in all, “Out of the Silence” is a masterful testimony of how great the ‘80s were. Albums like this one possess those enchanting rock vibes that just make you play it over and over again. I am a sucker for melodic rock and this is one of my favorite AOR albums. I do hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do!
Cheers to Dare!

Tracklist:

  1. “Abandon” – 4:35
  2. “Into The Fire” – 4:53
  3. “Nothing Is Stronger Than Love” – 4:42
  4. “Runaway” – 4:29
  5. “Under The Sun” – 6:12
  6. “The Raindance” – 5:23
  7. “King Of Spades” – 4:44
  8. “Heartbreaker” – 3:38
  9. “Return The Heart” – 5:09
  10. “Don’t Let Go” – 5:37

Into The Fire

Abandon

Under The Sun

Nothing Is Stronger Than Love


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~

[’80s Rock Album Focus] STRANGEWAYS – Native Sons (1987)

strangeways-native-sons

NATIVE SONS

Released: 1987
Genre: AOR / Pop Rock / Hard Rock
Duration: 44:52
Label: Hangdog Records / Majestic Rock Records (2006)
Producer(s): John Punter

native-sons-back-and-front

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OVERVIEW

In 1987, the British-American AOR/Melodic rock band Strangeways released arguably their finest work, titled “Native Sons”. The follow-up to their respectable 1984 eponymous debut also proved that the right singer can make all the difference in the world. Original vocalist Tony Liddell was replaced with Terry Brock – a renowned back-up singer for some of the biggest names of the era, including Foreigner and Journey. What followed after he stepped in as the new frontman, could easily be described as pure musical magic. “Native Sons” is a brilliant melodic rock record that guarantees you nothing but delight and feelings of great pleasure.  The album carries all the best genre elements of the era, including colourful keyboards, splendid guitar playing and glittering hooks. Add Terry’s powerful vocals, the edgy hard-rock vibe and the A-level songwriting and you end up with a melodic treasure that could effortlessly stand on its own two feet against the big AOR titles of the late ‘80s.

If AOR/melodic rock runs through your blood, this might be the right album for you. Kicking things off with the playful but classy tune “Dance With Somebody”, “Native Sons” properly sets the mood for the remarkable things that are about to come. The mellow rocker “Only a Fool” is another track that stands out with its gorgeous melody and touching lyrics. Terry Brock’s spirited vocal delivery could easily turn this song into your next favorite ballad. “Empty Streets” is unquestionably the hidden pearl of “Native Sons” and one of the finest AOR gems I have ever heard in my life. The high-powered guitars, heated up by Terry’s fiery vocals give me thrills every time I play it. “Where Do We Go From Here”, “Stand Up and Shout” and “Never Gonna Lose it” are just a couple of the other warm and powerful 100% AOR-authentic masterpieces you can find on “Native Sons”.

“Native Sons” remains one of the forgotten and highly underrated representatives of the large AOR scene of the late ‘80s, despite the admirable qualities and superb songwriting it showcases. Thankfully, there are still people like me (and you) who know that picking up an apple from the top of the basket doesn’t mean that it’s the best apple of the bunch. “Native Sons” is a melodic bliss from start to finish – play any song from the tracklist and you get a melodic rock classic and a couple of minutes in rock paradise. I can’t recommend this album enough. Strangeways’ junior album “Walk In The Fire” (1989) is what you should get next, after “Native Sons”!
Cheers to great music!

 

Tracklist:

“Dance With Somebody” – 4:26
“Only a Fool” – 4:42
“So Far Away” – 4:57
“Where Do We Go From Here” – 3:58
“Goodnight L.A.” – 5:02
“Empty Streets” – 4:20
“Stand Up and Shout” – 3:28
“Shake the Seven” – 4:33
“Never Going to Lose It” – 4:47
“Face to Face” – 4:39


Dance With Somebody

Only a Fool

Where Do We Go From Here

Empty Streets

Stand Up and Shout

…or listen to the entire album here:


 

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~

The Story of Electric Light Orchestra’s “EVIL WOMAN” (1975)

elo-evil-womanSymphonic/progressive rock is my guilty pleasure and to people who know me it would come as no surprise that I am a HUGE fan of Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra. Records such as “Out of the Blue”, “Face the Music” and “Eldorado” have always been an inseparable part of my life. There is just something so magical about the music of ELO – immensely uplifting, spirited, incorporating elements of modern rock, classical music, friendlier pop-sounds, piano, string instruments, keyboards…It’s all mixed up in a perfect (at least to me)  symphonic rock extravaganza.

“Evil Woman” is one of the songs that stood out to me the most throughout the years. The playful tune features one of the most striking and instantly recognizable intros of all time. From start to finish, this song is just begging you to get on the dance-floor and loosen up for a while. The funky beat, emphasized by ELO’s signature piano, strings and drums formula, turned this song into one of their most glorious works.

“Evil Woman” was released in 1975 as a single from their album “Face the Music”. The song became the band’s ticket to worldwide stardom as it conquered the charts in Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and other countries.

It takes time and a lot of thought to craft a timeless piece of art but that was definitely not the case with Jeff Lynne and “Evil Woman”. The recordings for “Face the Music” were already completed but Jeff wasn’t ready to wrap things up just yet. In about 30-minutes, “Evil Woman” was ready, becoming one of the quickest he had ever written. Despite initial intentions to have it as a mere filler track for the album, the song was apparently too good to be overlooked by fans. Writing a career-defining song in just 30 minutes is an accomplishment not many artists could achieve. But then again, Jeff Lynne is not your ordinary musician and he will never be.

“You made a fool of me, but them broken dreams have got to end…” turned into one of the most exciting opening lines in the history of music.  The lyrics aren’t hard to read and are perfectly summarized in the title – “Evil Woman”. She manipulated him, played with his body and heart, destroyed the virtues the Lord gave her and made a complete full of himself. He will always come to her when she cries because he loves her that much but at the end of the day, she is just using him. Many people have been in a similar situation, regardless of the gender or type of relationship. It’s a pity how cruel someone can be only to achieve his/her selfish desires. Interestingly, the lines “There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in” were written as a tribute to The Beatles‘ song “Fixing a Hole”.

In 2012, Jeff Lynne released a compilation of his own re-recordings of ELO hits, titled Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra”. It was only natural for “Evil Woman” to get its deserving place on that release. The new version of the song received praises from fans for its stripped-down, back-to-the-roots sound and excelled production quality.

“Evil Woman” Live

Jeff Lynne’s ELO Performed Evil Woman & Mr. Blue Sky at 2015 Grammys Award ft. Ed Sheeran

“Evil Woman” Lyrics

You made a fool of me, but them broken dreams have got to end.

Hey woman, you got the blues, cos’ you ain’t got no one else to use.
There’s an open road that leads nowhere, so just make some miles
between here and there.
There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in,
You took my body and played to win,
Ha Ha woman it’s a crying shame,
But you ain’t got no one else to blame.

[CHORUS]
E-evil Woman, E-evil Woman, E-evil Woman, Evil Woman

Rolled in from another town,
Hit some gold too hot to settle down,
But a fool and his money soon go separate ways,
And you found a fool lyin’ in a daze,
Ha Ha woman what you gonna do,
You destroyed all the virtues that the Lord gave you,
It’s so good that you’re feeling pain,
But you better get yourself on board the very next train.

[CHORUS:REPEAT]

Evil woman how you done me wrong,
But now you’re tryin’ to wail a different song,
Ha Ha funny how you broke me up, you made the wine now you
drink the cup,
I came runnin’ every time you cried,
Thought I saw love smilin’ in your eyes,
Ha Ha very nice to know, that you ain’t got no place left to go.

[CHORUS:REPEAT]


References:
Lyrics retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/electriclightorchestraelo/evilwoman.html
“Evil Woman” SongFacts page: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=6714
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 Rolling Stones – “Blue & Lonesome” Album Review

rolling-stones-blue-and-lonesome

Blue & Lonesome

Released: December 2, 2016
Genre: Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Blues Rock
Producer(s): Don Was, The Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger & Keith Richards)
Label: Polydor
Length: 42:36

buy-from-amazon

“Blue & Lonesome” In the Studio


OVERVIEW

Rolling Stones are surely wrapping 2016 up with a style! The rock&roll Gods are back with a phenomenal collection of spirited covers, bringing us back to the golden days of blues. “Blue & Lonesome” is Rolling Stones’ first album to feature exclusively cover songs. Among the twelve blues jewels, we get to listen to interpretations of forgotten but classic tracks by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Johnson, Memphis Slim and other legendary bluesmen. Long-time friend and a fellow blues musician Eric Clapton is another intriguing highlight of “Blue & Lonesome”. Clapton’s God-like guitar skills can be heard on “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”.

Recorded within just a few days, with no preparation whatsoever, “Blue & Lonesome” is the perfect example of how The Rolling Stones can effortlessly craft some serious magic out of nowhere and still sound as confident as ever. It took them a decade (their previous album -“A Bigger Bang” was released in 2005) but the Stones are back! Don’t get fooled – the all-covers track selection is certainly not a cheesy sentimental yearning for the past. It’s goes way beyond that! “Blue & Lonesome” is Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts having fun, sounding unbelievably fresh, and skilfully introducing blues to the younger generations. A fearless journey back to the roots, resulting in a rediscovery of self, this new album might be their best work since the classic years of the Stones.

The Glimmer Twins, along with producer Don Was are intentionally preserving the rawness and authenticity of the recording sessions, in perfect alignment with the spirit of the 50s and the 60s. Similarly to the attitude of Eric Clapton on his 2016 album “I Still Do”, the Rolling Stones are doing music their own way without a single care in the world. Not that the Stones were ever much bothered with things like keeping up the with trends or working days and nights on perfect multi-platinum singles BUT if their ultimate freedom had a name, it would be “Blue & Lonesome”.  (I am mentioning Eric Clapton because those two albums are the highlights of 2016 blues releases.)

“Just Your Fool” (Buddy Johnson) opens the door to the world of “Blue & Lonesome”. Mick Jagger is absolutely killing it on this tune – raw, brave and soulful, his vocal delivery is obviously reflecting his high level of satisfaction with this album. The slow-paced blues symphonies – “Little Rain” (Ewart G. Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed), “All of Your Love” (Magic Sam) and the atmospheric title track “Blue & Lonesome” (Memphis Slim) are among the most memorable tunes of the album. Jagger’s harmonica is making a statement throughout the entire album, bringing us back to the early days of the Stones. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s guitars are excitably racing on the blues highway, each showcasing easeful determination and laid-back energy. The terrific drum beats of Charlie Watts are breathing new life into the old blues. “Hate to See You Go” (Little Walter) – the first song to get a MV makeover is one charming and immensely uplifting trip to the 50s. “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” is a personal favorite, mostly due to Mick Jagger’s rough, genuine vocals.

“Blue & Lonesome” offers a galvanizing experience to the roots of the Stones, yet capturing their personalities and strengths in a modern, refreshing way. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the rock&roll legends’ confidence shine so brightly on a record. They came back home!

Tracklist:

“Just Your Fool”
“Commit a Crime”
“Blue and Lonesome”
“All of Your Love”
“I Gotta Go”
“Everybody Knows About My Good Thing”
“Ride ‘Em On Down”
“Hate To See You Go”
“Hoo Doo Blues”
“Little Rain”
“Just Like I Treat You”
“I Can’t Quit You Baby”

 Hate To See You Go

Ride ‘Em On Down

Just Your Fool

Ride ‘Em On Down – Blue & Lonesome (60” clip)


References:
“Blue and Lonesome” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_%26_Lonesome_(The_Rolling_Stones_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~