The Story of Bonham’s 1989 Debut,”The Disregard of Timekeeping “

When you are the son of one of the members of probably the biggest rock act out there and carry that colossal family name “Bonham” you don’t really have much of a choice, except to fully embrace that musical spirituality you were born with. As a person who grew up in a family of musicians, I can’t but relate to that – that passion for music and the burning desire to be part of that world are running through your veins and absolutely nothing or no one can change that.

jason-bonham-32Jason Bonham, being born into the big Led Zeppelin family, has been drumming ever since he was a little kid, naturally. At the age of four, he appeared alongside his father on that “little” film, “The Song Remains The Same” and the rest is …one hell of a rock&roll ride! By the age of 17, he was already opening up for AC/DC and Queen with his band Air Force. That should tell you something! Throughout his long and productive career, he has collaborated with major names, such as Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers, Foreigner, Sammy Hagar, UFO and many more. He has done a great job and his father would’ve been so proud of him! Excellent drummer, a brilliant songwriter and a dedicated artist who always gave and keeps on giving his all – Jason Bonham is the perfect example of how nothing in life should be taken for granted, even a royal family name. You gotta work twice as hard and make your own path of success!

One of the many outstanding things he did was forming the hard rock band Bonham in 1989. Together with the one-of-a-kind singer Daniel MacMaster, bassist/keyboardist John Smithson and guitarist Ian Hatton, they truly had all the right characteristics to be the next big name in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s rock music scene. For one reason or another, however, the band lasted for about two albums only. Nevertheless, Bonham still enjoyed a certain amount of commercial and chart success, as well as one lengthy tour and of course, tons of radio airplay. Arguably, “The Disregard of Timekeeping” has to be the better album out of the two they released. I thought it’s high time I featured this glorious hard rock typhoon on my blog!

jason-bonham-band1


 

bonham-disregard

Released: 1989
Genre:
Hard Rock / Hair Metal
Duration:
57:00
Label:
Sony Music Entertainment (CBS Records)
Producer(s):
Bob Ezrin

buy-from-amazon


The Album:

  • “The Disregard of Timekeeping”, the first actual attempt of Jason Bonham to hit it big commercially, became a reality in 1989. The project caused quite the stir among the rock fan communities but it was only natural – the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer was about to unleash a new force to the competitive hair metal musical market and fans just had to see through it all!

    The powerful, instantly recognizable drumming techniques of Jason weren’t going to be enough to carry the weight of the band. Daniel MacMaster – a Canadian-born vocalist (ex-Scorcher) was recruited to complete the picture, along with influential bassist John Smithson and lead guitarist Ian Hatton. The final touches were added by producer Bob Erzin who significantly helped in shaping the band’s distinguishable contemporary sound.

    The Led Zeppelin comparisons were inevitable and immediate. No one expected it to be otherwise. Was it more because of people’s already fixed perceptions of what to expect from the band or because it was actually true, Bonham’s debut album “The Disregard of Timekeeping” does have a part of that Led Zeppelin vibe. Also, is it just me, or Daniel MscMaster does sound a little bit like Robert Plant?

    Daniel’s tenor, in combination with Jason’s drum domination perfected a superb AOR sound, which unfortunately wasn’t good enough for the English audiences. Then again, let’s not forget that that’s exactly what happened with Led Zeppelin back in the day! Bonham’s debut album didn’t even find a spot on the English charts. Canadian and American fans, however, were as always more welcoming and gave the band the chance they deserved. A top 40 position on the Billboard 200 Chart and a top 70 position on the Canadian charts, in addition to hitting the gold RIAA status were just a couple of the outcomes. Successful, never-ending tours with major bands, like Bad Company and The Cult granted them an even more favorable position in the hearts of American audiences.

The Songs:

  • “The Disregard of Timekeeping” spawned two singles, both becoming absolute classics of the genre. The Top-10 song, “Wait for You”, credited to all four members of Bonham, turned into an absolute sensation and probably the biggest hit of their career. To fully experience the magic of “Wait for You”, you have to listen it right after the opening instrumental, which bears the same name as the album. The tune itself was of course, a perfected product of the era, but why would we be mad about it? It’s a catchy, sensual, haunting even rock composition, which despite often forgotten, could easily match any other big title from the era. I am a sucker for rock songs that feature a string section. “Wait for You” does hint a little bit of that epic string feeling but it’s their second single – “Guilty” that truly made me fall in love with that album. It just has it all – a mesmerizing intro, unparalleled vocal delivery by Daniel MacMaster and that soul-demolishing violin solo by bassist John Smithson that is sending me to another dimension.

    “Bringing Me Down” is another highly memorable moment on “The Disregard of Timekeeping”. Perhaps that Led Zeppelin influence is way too obvious on that one, but I can totally forgive and forget about it. “Holding On Forever” and “Don’t Walk Away” are the songs I love to crank up because that’s the only way you can do justice to their captivating, thrilling sound. “Playing to Win” is winning me with its lyrics. “Cross Me and See” is another mid-tempo doze of instant satisfaction. “Just Another Day” is a personal favorite, yet again thanks to that exciting string section which just dances with my soul in a beautiful, shattering rhythm. Symbolically, the album wraps things up with a song, titled “Room for Us All”. We live in a forever-changing world but yes, there’s always a room for talented and spirited artists who do things for the right reasons.

What followed next?

  • The perks of that newfound glory, included a busy rockstar lifestyle, lengthy tours and tons of pressure, coming from all directions and people. New management, along with drug and alcohol problems were just a couple of the obstacles, Bonham had to deal with. Vocalist Daniel MacMaster even said that he never wanted to sing again – he was that mortified by the music industry.

    mad-hatter-bDespite all, in 1992, however, Bonham did come back with a sophomore album, titled “Mad Hatter”. Unfortunately, the album wasn’t even half as successful as the debut one was. On top of it all, it was 1992 –people were shifting their preferences towards the big grunge movement which eventually wiped out hard rock acts, including Bonham. Nevertheless, I still consider the sophomore album as a solid effort; definitely not as good as the first one and obviously the band was trying hard to distance themselves from that Led Zeppelin-influenced sound, but still, I give it full points.
    Jason Bonham is still as active as ever, mostly occupied with his Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience project, touring all over North America.

 

RIP Daniel MacMaster (July 11, 1968 – March 16, 2008)

daniel


Guilty

Wait for You

Bringing Me Down

Don’t Walk Away


References:
“Bonham” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonham_(band)
“The Disregard of Timekeeping” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disregard_of_Timekeeping
+ Information about the album, referenced from the CD Booklet I own

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~

Jack Russell’s GREAT WHITE – “He Saw it Coming” Album Review

jack-russel-great-white

Released: January 27, 2017
Genre: AOR, Melodic Rock, Pop Rock
Label: Frontiers Music s.r.l

buy-from-amazon

Tracklist:

01. Sign Of The Times
02. She Moves Me
03. Crazy
04. Love Don’t Live Here
05. My Addiction
06. Anything For You
07. He Saw It Comin’
08. Don’t Let Me Go
09. Spy Vs Spy
10. Blame It On The Night
11. Godspeed

OVERVIEW

Coming out of the streets of LA, hard rock band Great White rose to stardom in the late 1980s with a series of hits and MTV staples, such as the infamous Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Rock Me”. The band kept on going strong during the ‘90s as well, releasing five studio albums and touring the US several times, headlining shows and teaming up with other big industry names, such as Ratt and Poison. After the disbandment of Great White, Jack Russell – the lead singer and an original member of the band took matters into his own hands. Armed with new-found emotional and physical strength, gained after a series of tragedies, it was time for Jack to gaze into the future and do what he does best which is of course, performing and writing music. Jack Russell’s Great White rose from the ashes of a long-forgotten past and progressed into a modern hard rock tornado, worthy of appreciation.

On the 27th of January, singer Jack Russell, together with former bandmate and friend Tony Montana on guitar and keyboards, Robby Lochner (Fight) on guitar, Dan McNay (Montrose) on bass  and Dicki Fliszar (Bruce Dickinson) on drums released their official full-length debut album, titled “He Saw it Comin'” (originally titled “The Gauntlet”) via Frontiers Music Srl. It was a busy month for the label but they did manage to kick 2017 off with some outstanding releases, one of which most certainly is “He Saw it Comin’”.

“It’s a powerful band,” Russell proclaims. “The music comes across very dynamically. It’s what I always wanted it to be. Tony was a catalyst for moving forward. I was never as close to him as I am now. We never had the opportunity to write music together before. I also never knew he played guitar. When I first heard him, I nearly fell of my chair. He’s my copilot. He’s one of my best friends. I wish we would’ve been this close back in the day.”

“It’s natural for all of us,” adds Montana. “There’s a solid chemistry, and we’re having a lot of fun.”

(Quote, retrieved from http://www.frontiers.it/album/5348)

“He Saw It Comin’” features 11 tracks, all capturing a satisfying blend between authentic hard rock sound and edgier, more opportunistic musical elements. The new album represents Jack Russell’s vision of a beloved old-school hard rock band, still blowing people’s minds away in 2017! “He Saw It Comin’” is suitable for the devoted fans and a great way for the younger audiences to experience that genuine rock&roll vibe. Jack Russell’s vocal delivery is at his finest. Just listen to the bluesy, laid-back rocker “Love Don’t Live Here” and you will see for yourself. “Sign of the Times” and “Blame it on the Night” are just a few of the future live staples and radio-hits we can find on the album.  “Anything for You” is a worthy, well-written ballad, bringing us back to the classic Great White days. “She Moves Me” is a total surprise – the guys are stepping out of their comfort zone and delivering an exciting, very sexy if I may say tune, suitable for any midnight affair. ”Crazy” is my personal favorite and I gotta thank the spellbinding guitar riffs for that.

Jack Russell did a splendid job with this one. He sounds confident and purposeful. “He Saw It Comin’” combines the best of both worlds – a little bit of that well-liked Great White spirit and a new, more intriguing approach to musicianship. Moreover, he still sounds as good as ever which in itself is an accomplishment enough. Guitars, melodies, lyrics – they all reflect the great chemistry between the members. When your heart is in the right place, the results can’t but lead to a massive success.
Now go listen and enjoy “He Saw It Comin’”!

Love Don’t Live Here

Blame It On The Night

Sign Of The Times


References:
Gack Russell’s Great White – “He Saw it Coming” on Frontiers Music Official Website: http://www.frontiers.it/album/5348
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~

’90S ROCK BLAST: HEAVEN’S EDGE – HEAVEN’S EDGE

heavens-edge-1990-debut

HEAVEN’S EDGE

Released: May 2, 1990
Genre: Hard Rock / AOR / Pop Rock
Duration: 54:46
Label: Rock Candy
Producer(s): Neil Kernon

buy-from-amazon


OVERVIEW

Philadelphia glam rockers, Heaven’s Edge, had all the right skills, attitude and qualities to hit it big in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Unfortunately, the train they took turned out to be a very late one. Releasing a hard rock album right before the grunge wave flooded the music scene, didn’t help them at all. Well-polished AOR, catchy hooks, leather pants and long hair were no longer the characteristics major record companies were looking for in a band. Heaven’s Edge were quickly dropped from their label, without getting the stage they were truly made for. Despite all, their self-titled debut still remains a solid effort, filled with exciting rockers, seductive live recordings and a top-notch ballad that deserve nothing but to be cranked up all night long!

“Heaven’s Edge” is packed up with sexy, fun and highly captivating tunes, such as “Play Dirty”, “Can’t Catch Me” and the MTV favorite “Skin to Skin”. Vocalist Mark Evans and lead guitarist Reggie Wu are turning every tune into a heavenly kingdom where melodic rock is the only religion. “Find Another Way” can effortlessly make you fall in love with it at the very first listen. This first-class AOR gem should’ve gotten all the radio attention back in the day. I rarely find such a good balance between simplicity, thrill, atmospheric vocals and kick-ass guitars. “Bad Reputation” is yet another remarkably entertaining moment from the record. The hidden treasure is the power ballad “Hold On To Tonight”. If it was given the chance it deserved, it could’ve easily wiped out any ballad that stood on its way the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (even the biggest hits).

“Heaven’s Edge” is an album full of hits that should’ve made history. What’s in the past is in the past, though – it’s a band and an album that are truly worth discovering! If you lift your spirits by playing melodic rock as loud as possible (like me), this is your thing!


Find Another Way

Skin to Skin

Hold On To Tonight

…or listen to the entire album here:

Tracklist:

Intro
Play Dirty
Skin to Skin
Find Another Way
Up Against the Wall
Hold on Tonight
Can’t Catch Me
Bad Reputation
Daddys Little Girl
Is That All You Want?
Come Play the Game
Don’t Stop, Don’t Go


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

buy-from-amazon


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~

16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard!

A lot of interesting things were happening on the rock music scene in the year of 1992. To many it’s even the last year of true hard rock before the grunge movement completely took over the industry. It was an expected change, to be honest; after all, hard rock/glam rock was dominating for far too long and people were intrigued by the new alternative scene, making its way during the late ‘80s. Still, rock music enjoyed a couple of more successful years, before it was completely overshadowed by grunge and modern rock music, styles and directions, especially from the mid-90s onwards. Of course, well-established rock acts, like Def Leppard, Van Halen, Bad Company, Bon Jovi, Asia and heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica were still going strong and producing great albums during the ‘90s.  

1992 is a colossal year for rock music and not just because I was born in 1992 (😋). That magical year gave birth to some of the most outstanding rock releases and presented long-awaited comebacks of major names, such as Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Dream Theater, Def Leppard, Asia and others. Moreover, bands that debuted in the late ‘80s, such as Giant and Slaughter jumped into 1992 with strong sophomore albums. 1992 marked a couple of splendid debut releases as well, including the German hard rock band Fair Warning’s first self-titled album. Some not so pleasant things also happened in 1992, including the disbandment of White Lion, Europe and Ratt. Nevertheless, my final verdict is that 1992 distinguished itself as a smashing rock&roll year. To prove my statement, [My Rock Mixtapes] presents to you 15 admirable rock releases that made 1992 one of the good years of rock!


Bad Company – Here Comes Trouble

bad-company-here-comes-troubleThe last Bad Company album to feature the fantastic voice of Brian Howe, titled “Here Comes Trouble” was released in September, 1992. The title track, along with memorable AOR classics like “How About That” and “This Could Be the One”, enjoyed a significant amount of airplay on radio stations, making quite the splash in 1992. The album was an absolute fan-favorite, though it most certainly couldn’t compete with the commercial success of their previous releases.
It took Bad Company three years to release the follow-up to “Here Comes Trouble”. “Company of Strangers” showcased a brand-new sound, courtesy of lead vocalist Robert Hart.


Giant – Time to Burn

giant-time-to-burn-1992giant-time-to-burn-1992Giant’s sophomore album, “Time to Burn” became reality in the early spring of 1992. The follow-up to their successful 1989 debut, “Last of the Runaways” didn’t get the attention it deserved, despite the band’s obvious musical growth. 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 showcased Giant as everything but your ordinary AOR band. With his beautiful voice, Dann Huff brought so much color to the spring of 1992. “Thunder and Lighting” and “Stay” are some of the other gems from “Time to Burn” which received some considerable time on the classic rock radio stations. Overall, this album remains highly underrated, despite being one of the best releases of 1992, in my opinion. It took Giant 9 years to come back with “III”, which is also worthy of checking out.


Def Leppard – Adrenalize

Def_Leppard_-_AdrenalizeAfter releasing one of the most important and definitive ‘80s albums – the blockbuster “Hysteria”, things were looking pretty good for Def Leppard. Unfortunately, another tragedy struck the guys from Sheffield just went they barely recovered from Rick Allen’s life-changing accident. Guitarist Steve Clark died from alcohol poisoning in 1991. One thing we can say about Def Leppard is that they know how to rise from the ashes with great dignity and strength, despite the constant hardships. In the spring of 1992, after a couple of years of recording, they released “Adrenalize” – an album that gave the fans a chance to one last time listen to the killer riffs of Steve Clark. Splendid rockers like “Heaven Is”, “Let’s Get Rocked”, “Tonight” and “I Wanna Touch You” stood the test of time and till today remain some of Leppard’s most beloved songs. “Adrenalize” achieved immense commercial success, topping the charts in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand and selling over three million copies. The strong grunge movement wasn’t able to stop the great Def Leppard!


Asia – Aqua

asia-aquaAsia’s first album with new singer John Payne was released in the early summer of 1992. Moreover, Asia’s original guitarist Steve Howe once again reunited with his old buddies after his departure, following the release of “Alpha” in 1983. The new and exciting line-up, armed with glorious, dangerous even, hard rock sound and top quality production are what made the album so good. John Payne’s hard-edged vocals brought tons of appeal; not only that, he was like a breath of fresh air for Asia and their fans with his approach to songwriting. The album didn’t achieve much recognition, nor it caused a stir among the public; however, with songs like “Who Will Stop The Rain”, “Someday” and “Lay Down Your Arms”, “Aqua” is most certainly one of the great gems of 1992.


Eric Clapton – Unplugged

eric-clapton-unpluggedIn 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. In August, the concert album was out, becoming 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. With so much class, splendid guitar work and emotions, no wonder “Unplugged” stole so many Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. The tender and absolutely heartbreaking hit single “Tears in Heaven” went on to become one of Clapton’s highest career achievements and ultimately the highlight of the concert record.


Fair Warning – Fair Warning

fair-warning-1992March was certainly the rock month of 1992! 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. Every song on “Fair Warning” is a glorious melodic rock anthem. From the power ballad “Long Gone” to the dangerous rockers “Longing for Love”, “One Step Closer” and “Hang On” – the albums presents a great selection of breath taking AOR classics. Such passion, fuelling “Fair Warning” can rarely be observed. I often consider this album as one of the most underrated debuts of all time! Fair Warning came back three years later with an equally appealing release, titled “Rainmaker”.


INXS – Welcome to Wherever You Are

inxs-welcomeINXS’ eight studio album, Welcome to Wherever You Are”, marked a new musical direction for the Australian rockers. Amidst the war between grunge and rock, they just said “screw it” and grabbed the sitar, called a 60-piece orchestra and did something they haven’t done before. On top of it all, the sound was more intriguing, different and much more raw than their previous releases. The album topped the UK charts; though things went downhill after that for INXS. Nevertheless, songs like “Baby Don’t Cry” and “Not Enough Time” did achieve a certain amount of recognition and remained some of INXS’ most beloved tracks.  Fans were impressed with the band’s new approach and some even call it “the most welcoming INXS album ever”. There is a reason for that, believe me!


Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith

bon-jovi-keep-the-faith“Keep The Faith” was a very important album for Bon Jovi because it marked a significant shift for the guys – they turned from glam rockers with the perfect ’80s sound and image to becoming a true rock&roll band of the 90s. Released in the end of 1992, the album did manage to create quite the fuss and excitement among fans. Romantic piano ballads and straightforward rockers, decorated with longer guitar solos and more meaningful lyrics, showcased Bon Jovi’s growth as a band. No wonder “Keep The Faith” sold over 2 million copies! The new and improved Bon Jovi was all fans could talk about and listen to. Impressive gems like “Bed of Roses”, “In These Arms”, “I Believe” and the title track, of course, are pretty solid easons to fall in love with this album.


Great White – Psycho City

great-white-psycho-cityGreat White warmed up the autumn of 1992 pretty well with their sixth studio album, titled “Psycho City”. The fact that the industry personnel preferred to give more attention to grunge music and screamed at the faces of bands like Great White that hard rock was dead, couldn’t change the fact that “Psycho City” was and still is a brilliant hard rocker, full of great music. Great White were not the ordinary “poodle rock” band from the ‘80s – they had something special in them and I think that this album showcases this exact spark I am talking about. Exceptional songs, like the gentle “Love is a Lie”, “Big Goodbye”, “I Want You” and the bluesy “Maybe Someday” prove that their sound was unique and definitely going in a more sophisticated direction. 2 years later, they released their acoustic album, named “Sail Away”.


Slaughter – The Wild Life

slaughter-the-wild-lifeIn April, 1992, Slaughter came back with an enthusiastic sophomore album that solidified their position as one of the talented, early ‘90s rock bands that could actually produce something meaningful and impactful. Considered as one of their best effort, “The Wild Life” presents variety, good old rock&roll and pretty much something for everyone. “Days Gone By”, “Real Love”, “The Wild Life” and “Out for Love” are just some of the tracks, displaying Slaughter’s great potential and well-deserved fan adoration. It was indeed blown away by all those grunge bands who were dictating the music scene at that time, but still, it’s an album that definitely made the spring of 1992 much more interesting.


Yngwie Malmsteen – Fire and Ice

yngwie-j-malmsteen-fire-and-iceThe sixth studio album of guitar God Yngwie Malmsteen, titled “Fire & Ice” was released in early 1992 and marks a return to more classical, baroque-influenced heavy metal music. As a matter of fact it could easily be considered as one of the best examples of how well classical and heavy metal music can co-exist, if approached with talent and creative mind. Every track on “Fire & Ice” is a loud expression of virtuosity, brightened by relevant lyrics and enjoyable melodies. Malmsteen and Edman’s “Cry No More”, “Forever is a Long Time” and the magnificent title track, of course, are just some of the mind-blowing guitar tornadoes which made quite the statement in 1992. Nothing much to add or say as a matter of fact – the entire album is epic and able to please any fan of Yngwie.


Warrant – Dog Eat Dog

warrant-dog-eat-dogFans and critics consider Warrant’s “Dog Eat Dog” as the band’s most solid effort, despite its weak chart and commercial performance, compared to their previous two releases. The LA-based hard rock band got overlooked, in favour of the solid grunge movement that occupied pretty much every corner of the music scene during that time; however, “Dog Eat Dog” is still one of the strongest, most appealing releases of 1992 and nothing can change that. The album is harder, way more dangerous and sincere, but still managed to keep that fun and exciting glam-spirit that made them so famous in the late ‘80s. “The Hole in My Wall”, “Bonfire”, “Quicksand” and “Let it Rain” are just ome of the tracks that stood out, proving that Warrant could easily compete and even rise above the big names, like Bon Jovi or Motley Crue. “Dog Eat Dog” is a genuine heavy metal album and one of my personal 1992 favorite releases! There’s just something so special going on there!


Skid Row – B-Side Ourselves

skid-row-b-side-ourselves“B-Side Ourselves” is Skid Row’s tribute to the bands that left the biggest imprint on their career. Thrilling cover versions of songs by The Ramones, Kiss, Judas Priest, Rush and The Jimi Hendrix Experience are what make the project so interesting and appealing to the public – there’s just so much diversity, dressed up in obvious respect and passion towards their idols. “Delivering the Goods” is one of the most impressive points on “B-Side Ourselves” because it’s actually a live recording, featuring Judas Priest’s Rob Halford sharing the mic with Sebastian Bach. Skid Row’s interpretation of Rush’s “What You’re Doing” is a personal favorite of mine – Sebastian is absolutely killing it!


Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark

iron-maiden-fear-of-the-dark1992 was a great year of heavy metal and Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” is one of the reasons why. The band’s ninth studio album also became the last one to feature lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson before his departure (thank God he came back later on). There seems to be an obvious division among fans’ opinions when it comes to this album – some find it weak, showcasing Iron Maiden’s creative decline in the ‘90s; while others think it’s a solid masterpiece. Nevertheless, it did conquer the charts and it does have a huge amount of charm which pleases me and many other people, so that’s what’s important. As a matter of fact, the title track is one of my favorite Iron Maiden songs of all time! From Here to Eternity”, “Chains of Misery” and “Wasting Love” are great rockers and perfect for fans who prefer lighter and catchier heavy metal hooks.


Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power

pantera-vulgar-display-of-powerOne of the most definitive ‘90s heavy metal albums is Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power”, featuring a couple of the band’s most instantly recognizable tunes, such as “This Love”, “Mouth for War” and “Walk”. Moreover, the album went on to become the band’s best-selling album, achieving a double-platinum status in the USA. When it comes to this release, the title says it all – “Vulgar Display of Power” is intense, forceful and full of rage and hostility. That’s exactly why the metalheads love it so much! Heavier, darker and presenting more polished heavy metal sound, as compared to Pantera’s 1990 “Cowboys from Hell”, their 1992 release definitely stood the test of time and is still one of the mandatory records for any metal fan! Not to mention that it’s also the perfect representative of the groove-metal genre.


Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction

megadeth-countdown-to-extinctionIn the hot summer of 1992, Megadeth released “Countdown to Extinction” – an album full of classic heavy metal gems, such as “Symphony of Destruction”, “Skin O’ My Teeth” and the title track, which even won an award for raising awareness for animal rights issues. The album was welcomed with open arms from both fans and critics, celebrating its melodic thrash qualities. As a matter of fact, “Countdown to Extinction” was responsible for the band’s commercial breakthrough in the ‘90s. No surprises there – the album unveils confidence, pure thrash fury, killer riffs and some great hooks. It might had been quite difficult to top the success of “Rust in Peace” but Megadeth still produced a classic rock gem, which is equally intriguing and fascinating, at least to me that is.



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

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

Song Of The Day: STRANGEWAYS – Dance With Somebody

strangeways-native-sons

Listen to “Dance With Somebody” Here:

The Scottish AOR force – Strangeways, reached their commercial peak with “Native Sons” in 1987. With the arrival of new vocalist, Terry Brock, the band made a statement on the AOR scene but unfortunately that statement didn’t last for that long. Despite producing a top-quality radio-ready album, full of great rockers, “Native Sons” still remains one of the long-lost AOR treasures. Thankfully, there are still people like me who haven’t forgotten about the album and the band.

The opening track from “Native Sons”, “Dance with Somebody” is an instant attention grabber; it’s also my favorite tune from the album. Catchy, uplifting, empowering and immensely stylish – “Dance With Somebody” is the perfect example of what a melodic rock tune should sound like. I truly wish it received more recognition than it got!

It’s a simple song, carrying a simple message – if you want to experience something different and are ready to be taken by the heat, don’t be scared and live for the moment; there’s no need to feel lonely and be afraid, grab her hand and dance to the rhythm of your heartbeat. Who knows, maybe you will forget about everything you are going through and can even fall in love again?


 

“Dance with Somebody” Lyrics

I want to go where it feels right
The look in her eyes when I see her tonight
Will she know what’s on my mind
Love, is it love that I’m looking for
Or just an emotion, it’s so hard to say
Could it be that I’m wasting my time
So lonely, here I go again
You know I’m only looking for a friend

Chorus:
Dance to the rhythm of your heartbeat
Feel the heat as she’s holding you tight
Dance to the rhythm of the back beat
Will you dance with somebody tonight

Does she know what I’m going through
I need her love to save me tonight
Why can’t I say what I feel
She looks away as I’m trying to be the only one she can see
Just can’t seem to make it real

So lonely, here I go again
You know I’m only looking for a friend
Dance to the rhythm of your heartbeat
Feel the heat as she’s holding you tight
Dance to the rhythm of the back beat
Will you dance with somebody tonight

Dance to the rhythm of your heartbeat
Feel the heat as she’s holding you tight
Dance to the rhythm of the back beat
Will you dance with somebody tonight


 

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

10 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)

strangeways-walk-in-the-fire-1988

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)

giant-time-to-burn-1992giant-time-to-burn-1992

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)

fair-warning-1992

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)

mark-free-long-way-from-home-1993

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)

autograph-sign-in-please-1984

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)

fortune-fortune-1985

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)

giuffria-giuffria-1984

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.

signal-loud-clear-1989


Treat – Dreamhunter (1987)

treat-dreamhunter-1987

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)

harem-scarem-debut

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~

What is AOR?

beatles sAlbum Oriented Rock emerged as a phenomenon in the 70s, but it wasn’t until the ‘80s, when it became a global trend. Originally, the term was used to describe the works of bands like Pink Floyd, YES, King Crimson, The Beatles even in the late ‘60s which were meant to be listened as a whole, rather than just one single. Simply put, each song from the album was connected to the following, either thematically or musically. Therefore in order to get the ultimate experience from the record, one must listen from start to finish. For instance, let’s take The Beatles“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, which many believe is one of the first good examples of AOR; it would be illogical and unadvisable to just listen to one or two songs and stop right there. Same goes with “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Of course, songs have individual strengths and characteristics, but ultimately the album should be considered as one whole unit. Progressive rock bands were in general following the concept of AOR in the ‘70s. Those bands were usually played on Album Oriented Radio stations where song duration was not an issue and DJs could exercise their freedom and play longer songs and entire albums, even. In fact, before bands, like The Beatles established the album format with albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, for instance, it was the early FM radios and their DJs who would use the term to describe their approach to programming – it was all about focusing on album tracks or whole albums, rather than just playing one hit single for 2 minutes.

boston-bostonThings changed a little bit by the end of the ‘70s, when the term AOR became associated with popular American rock bands, such as the Eagles and Boston.Those bands still followed the album format, according to which an album is much more important and valuable than just one single. However, their music was very different – it was more melodic, inoffensive, pop-influenced, radio-friendly and easily-absorbed by listeners (compared to progressive rock). Due to such characteristics, the music of bands, like Boston and Kansas, for instance, received a lot of radio air play which consequently sky-rocketed their careers. Those bands and their music are referred to as Adult Oriented Rock which is different than Album Oriented Rock. Album Oriented Rock is after all a radio-centered idea, a programming direction; white Adult Oriented Rock refers to bands, like Boston and Asia, whose sound was, as I said friendlier, layered, synthesizer-driven.

Journey_EscapeEventually, the term AOR evolved and people started calling those immensely popular “safe”, melodic rock bands AOR bands, mainly because their music received a heavy rotation on the radio stations. Whether we refer to it as a broadcasting term or more like a general style or approach to music production, ultimately AOR is associated with the mainstream appeal of rock music. In the ‘80s, bands like Journey, Toto, Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Survivor and many more, became synonymous with AOR. Their melodic, rather familiar approach to songwriting, granted them tons of radio recognition and ultimately, fame.  Some albums we must mention are Journey’s “Escape”, Asia’s “Asia”, Toto’s “4”, Kansas’ “Leftoverture”, Foreigner’s “Agent Provocateur”, Survivor’s “Vital Signs”, REO Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity” and many more similar blockbusters. This phenomenon was observed in all genres and styles of music, not just rock. In the late ‘80s that trend continued with hair metal bands, such as Europe, Cinderella, Poison, Slaughter, Bad English, Giant, Winger, Firehouse, White Lion and more.

kansas-the-prelude-implicitThis particular tendency is still present and adopted by many rock acts even nowadays. Bands like Pride of Lions, Treat, (Jack Russell’s )Great White, Pretty Maids, Last in Line, Sixx:AM., Def Leppard,  Kansas, Scorpions, Metallica even, are still going for that contemporary sound, wrapped under a strong consistent album, played on AOR FM stations. It’s all related, spreading across diverse genres and bands. Ultimately, it applies to rock bands with strong albums, full of songs, all suitable to be aired on radio stations and listened by everyone.


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 “ALPHA” – A Second Date with ASIA

asia-alphaASIA debuted in 1982 with a monstrous self-titled album which not only celebrated the perfect music partnership of legends Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes and John Wetton but also became one of the essential AOR albums that ruled the 80s. With radio-friendly classics like “Heat of the Moment”, “Sole Survivor” and “Time Again”, the album was destined for commercial success. Coming up with an equally deserving follow-up album was always going to be quite the formidable task. One year later, however, ASIA released a worthy sophomore album, titled “Alpha”, which in its own way became a valuable ‘80s classic. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the last album with the band’s original line up as guitarist Steve Howe left one year after its release. There have been some reunions here and there, but the momentum was long lost.

The second date with ASIA was definitely less tense and more familiar, more sensitive even. Producer Mike Stone was once again on board with the rest of the team, crafting a quality collection of charming pop/rock tunes. All of the songs are credited to the songwriting collaboration of John Wetton and Geoff Downes, exceptThe Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, written by Wetton alone. Juxtaposing “Alpha” to its predecessor is inevitable. In terms of sound, ASIA’s second album is less progressive and more mellow, pop oriented, fuelled up with excellent hooks and delightfully attractive choruses. Melodically-empowered and well-seasoned with pleasing keyboard work and sleek multi-layered harmonies, “Alpha” definitely captures a type of progressive rock, that could almost effortlessly be digested by the audience of the ‘80s.  

Many experts claim that the debut album is the most important album of a musician’s career – after all, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. We have so many examples of ground-breaking debut album which sky-rocketed the careers of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Bad Company, King Crimson, Boston, Rainbow, etc. Because of its novelty, huge impact and quality of production, ASIA’s debut album certainly falls under the category of “the greatest rock debuts of all time. “Alpha”, however, didn’t have that novelty factor anymore, nor could it compete in terms of quality of production. “Alpha” also couldn’t meet the industry’s expectation and despite its platinum status, critics often refer to it as somewhat a failure. Sadly, this album turned into one of the most underrated ‘80s rock records of all time, despite the wonderful playlist it offers. If one should chose to ignore all that was said and written about this album and for a second forgets about the enormous sonic force of their debut album, “Alpha” could become a truly pleasant experience. Someone once said that “Asia‘s first album is like Saturday night while the sophomore is more like a Sunday afternoon” which entirely supports my claim – “Alpha” may not be as strong or as important as “Asia” but it still holds a place in our heart.

Cracks were slowly starting to appear, but once you hear songs such as “Don’t Cry”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” or The Beach Boys sounding “Open Your Eyes”, it will all be forgiven. There are great and good songs on this record, but the level doesn’t go below that. The album is a festival of romance, under a sky of gorgeous lyrics and touching music. I often referred to “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” as one of the most beautifully written ballads of all time, despite its weak production. This stunning song deserved so much more. A Phil Spector/Wall of Sound treatment, including horn sections and enhanced piano sounds would’ve done some justice to it. “Don’t Cry” is a personal favorite, mainly due to the dreamy lyrics which every girl secretly wants to hear from a guy: So leave it all behind you, It took so long to find you, I know that we can last forever, ever and more…”. “The Heat Goes On” is another fine moment which should’ve been awarded with more attention; an atmospheric classic rock tune with so much energy, it surely deserves a listen or two.

I’m not gonna go into detail about each and every tune of “Alpha” – you can listen to the whole album below the publication. What I would like to emphasize on is that even though is not as strong as their debut album, it still carries valuable characteristics that makes it a great ‘80s rock record. Symphonic sound, sensitive lyrics and stirring harmonies are just a few of its valuable qualities. ASIA would disappear for two years before they released “Astra” in 1985. The first three albums, in my opinion, perfectly represent their glory days. Whichever one of those albums you pick, you won’t make a mistake. I am somewhat biased and “Alpha” will forever remain my favorite ASIA album mostly because of a few tracks I hold very close to my heart and of course, that marvellous Roger Dean cover. That’s the beauty of music, isn’t it – it has to offer something to everyone. Listen to those outstanding tracks and let’s appreciate such long gone musicianship!

 

Listen to ASIA’s “Alpha” here:

Don’t Cry

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

 


 

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~