My Top 10 Sophomore (Rock) Releases

sophomore fav

I have previously talked about debut albums on my TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums (make sure you check it out). This time, however, we will talk about the sophomore releases because I truly believe that in the majority of the cases, a sophomore album may turn out to be way more important for a band than their debut.

A second album can serve different purposes and can be designed to achieve specific goals. For some bands it’s a second chance to make a better first impression; for others, though, it’s another way to strengthen their position on a certain scene and in a certain genre. In addition, a sophomore album can also be recorded to illustrate a band’s artistic growth and creative strength since the majority of debut releases focus more on the commercial, universally-likable characteristics of the genre. There are, of course, cases in which we observe the so-called “sophomore slump” – a band with a great first release and an unworthy, highly disappointing follow-up. We, however, won’t be talking about those. Today, I will specifically focus on the exceptional ones; the sophomore releases which left such a lasting impression on me for one reason or another. One more thing – interestingly, with each band out there, my personal favorite releases always turn out to be either the debut or the follow-up. I guess you can say that I prefer the early, more passionate and “hungry” stages of a band.

Hope you enjoy reading my list and make sure you comment with your personal favorite sophomore release! Cheers~


Def Leppard – High ‘N’ Dry (1981)

Please don’t tell me you were surprised to see Def Leppard’s phenomenal second release “High ‘N’ Dry” on top of my list…

Def Leppard - High n DryDef Leppard’s “High ‘n’ Dry” has always been somehow ignored or even forgotten due to the ultimate smashing hit records “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” that follow it. Yes, those two albums are the ultimate masterpieces of the ’80s rock scene and definitely two of the greatest and most well-polished rock records of all time.  However, the NWOBHM gem, “High ‘n’ Dry” offers something different and its beauty definitely lies in its raw hard rock energy, rough heavy metal sound and straight-up clean production. “High ‘n’ Dry” was definitely a step up in song-crafting in comparison with their debut album – “On through the Night” – the riffs were more tasteful and Joe Elliott definitely improved his vocal performance. What’s quite impressive about it is that the record was released at the very beginning of the ‘80s – at that time the hard rock/metal/pop recipe hadn’t been fully mastered; however, those guys somehow managed to come up with a very definitive sound. “High ‘n’ Dry” is a simple album with catchy rockers and mild, even innocent lyrics. The instant pop standout and the album’s finest moment has to be “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”. With this song, Def Leppard set the standard for power ballads. “On Through the Night” and “Another Hit and Run” are heavier tracks with catchy hard riffs and loud climaxes. “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)” is the obligatory song about letting loose and having fun. “Switch 625” pleases with its fine melody and vocal intensity. It has to be their greatest instrumental so far. “High ‘n’ Dry” shows a young, maturing band, hungry for success and ready to take over the world. It is definitely one of those “feeling good” old rock ’n’ roll records that you can always enjoy and rock on to!


Dokken – Tooth & Nail (1984)

dokken-tooth-and-nailIt was basically do or die for Dokken after the minimal success of their 1983 NWOBHM debut, “Breaking the Chains”. The label barely agreed to give them a second chance but thank God they did, otherwise this brilliant smoking-hot second release, titled “Tooth and Nail” would’ve never happened. The band’s crave for success and recognition are quite obvious on this record, hence the title.

Despite the ongoing creative clashes between Don Dokken and George Lynch, along with the slow, IMG_20170309_130623_045rather unfulfilling start of the album, “Tooth and Nail” still impressed fans and critics with unique qualities, such as mean guitar solos (courtesy of George Lynch, of course), memorable vocals (thanks to Don Dokken) and a fantastic hard rock (but not too hard) atmosphere. The most important song on “Tooth and Nail” has to be the power ballad “Alone Again” which actually became the reason why Dokken’s name finally reached the surface. The playful “Just got Lucky”, the intense “Into the Fire” and of course that rough and dangerous Judas Priest sounding title song “Tooth and Nail” are some of the others worthy rockers you can find on this album. Overall, “Tooth and Nail” turned out to be а perfect mixture of heavy/speed metal and pop rock (getting more towards the heavy metal). I cannot put Dokken or this album in a category with other “hair metal” bands like Winger or Motley Crue despite popular opinion. If you are looking for something that goes beyond the lighter pop (hair) ‘80s metal, make sure you check out “Tooth and Nail”.


Firehouse – Hold Your Fire (1992)

firehouse-hold-your-fire1992 was a marvelous year for rock music, if the last one to be perfectly honest. Grunge was knocking on the door and fans were letting it at the expense of hard rock. Firehouse was one of those bands that got the boot way too early. Imagine if they released their strong self-titled debut album and their even stronger sophomore album in the early ‘80s…!?

“Hold Your Fire” was an absolute sensation, despite the horrible timing. Where do I even begin? Timeless melodic rock classics like “Reach for the Sky”, “Sleeping With You” and of course, the obligatory power ballad, “When I Look Into Your Eyes” left quite the impression and are still part of any AOR fan’s playlist. My personal favorites include the empowering rock anthem “Rock You Tonight” and the exciting title track (more or less thanks to that thrilling intro). I don’t think Firehouse illustrated that much of an artistic growth with their second release; it was more of a continuation to their debut, polishing and solidifying their position as the hottest new AOR treasures. Mainstream or not, I strongly recommend this album to everyone who is looking for energy, capable of blowing up your entire universe. I would like to say huge thanks to vocalist C.J. Snare who makes this experience so memorable and ear-pleasing every time I listen to the album.


Cinderella – Long Cold Winter (1988)

cinderellaMany people refer to Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” as their finest release and they are probably right. I couldn’t let go of my adoration for “Night Songs” but “Long Cold Winter” is a more than a worthy successor in my book. Cinderella made a little shift from a signature glam metal to more blues-oriented rock, reflecting Tom Keifer’s influences and childhood adoration for the blues.

The triple platinum “Long Cold Winter” is an absolute masterpiece of the genre and I’m not just saying it because I’m a die-hard fan of Cinderella. When we talk about this album, all discussions must naturally start with the most breathtaking power ballads of all time, THE power ballad of power ballads, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. Once you come across this song, every perception for a ballad you had so far will be completely shattered to pieces; not to mention your expectations which will fly up to the sky. I would love to go back in time and listen to the song again for the very first time; it’s definitely a once in a lifetime kind of song. “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” is not the only song on “Long Cold Winter” that can take your breath away, though. “The Last Mile”, “Gypsy Road”, “Coming Home” and of course that heart-stirring bluesy title song are all valuable assets to the album. There’s a reason why it reached a platinum status and more or less, that reason is called Tom Keifer. You just gotta respect him for his superb songwriting and singing skills!


Giant – Time to Burn (1992)

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 sophomore releases and one of the finest releases of 1992, in my opinion. It took Giant 9 years to come back with “III”, which is also worthy of checking out by the way.


Asia – Alpha (1983)

Asia - Alpha Album CoverThis right here has to be one of the most special sophomore releases in my book of rock. ASIA 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. One year later, however, ASIA released a worthy sophomore album, titled “Alpha”, which in its own way became a valuable ‘80s classic. The second date with ASIA was definitely less tense and more familiar, more sensitive even. Unfortunately, “Alpha” 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. “Alpha” may not be as strong or as important as “Asia” but it still holds a place in our heart and once you hear songs such as “Don’t Cry”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” or The Beach Boys sounding “Open Your Eyes”, you will most certainly fall under the magic of the album. 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, for instance.

All in all, “Alpha” is not as strong as their debut album but it still carries valuable characteristics that makes it a great ‘80s rock record


Boston – Don’t Look Back (1978)

boston dont look backIt’s a mission impossible to try and top Boston’s 1976 self-titled debut album. That groundbreaking release, featuring the classics “Peace of Mind” and “More Than a Feeling” is the ultimate classic rock staple and the greatest milestone in Boston’s career. Nevertheless, the 1978 follow-up, “Don’t Look Back“ is definitely not an album to ignore. I will skip the comparisons with that enormous first release, though they seem to be inevitable when we talk about Boston. Instead, I will jump right into the music talks to remind people that Boston DO have other great albums other than their debut.

The title track is one of Boston’s highest-charting singles and the album itself is certified 7x platinum – that should tell you something. The gentle “A Man I’ll Never Be” is my personal favorite though sometimes it gets hard to pick just one track once you play the entire album. “The Journey”, “It’s Easy”, “Feelin’ Satisfied” …each song is a peaceful, soul-soothing and highly admirable piece of a great rock puzzle. Mr. Everything, a.k.a Tom Scholz once again crafted something truly magical.


Strangeways – Native Sons (1987)

strangeways-native-sonsIn 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.

“Dance With Somebody”, “Only a Fool”, “Empty Streets” and “Never Gonna Lose it” are just a few of the warm and powerful 100% AOR-authentic masterpieces you can find on “Native Sons”.


Foreigner – Double Vision (1978)

doublevision]I will be very brief with this one because when we talk about Foreigner and this album in particular, no words are needed. After their highly influential 1977 debut, arena rockers Foreigner came back with what is often referred to as one of the finest albums of the genre and one of Foreigner’s best, most critically-acclaimed works. We can undoubtedly conclude that they did wrap up the ‘70s with quite the style, setting up the mood for the changes that were about to come in the ‘80s.

“Double Vision” got certified Platinum just a week after its release; imagine the impact and universal acceptance and love it got. It’s all justified though but I mean how can it not be? With astonishing tracks like “Hot Blooded”, “Blue Morning, Blue Day”, “You’re All I Am” and “Spellbinder” no wonder people are still enthusiastically talking about and listening to this album. Not only that, but no self-respecting radio station can afford to avoid some of these classics; they are on a high demand, that’s for sure. One more reason why I consider this album as both an upgrade and a total success, has to be the presence of “Tramontane” which is the only instrumental tune Foreigner have released up to date on a studio album. All in all, this right here is a pure example of how a well-done, going-one-step-further album can became a milestone for a band’s career.


Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967)

creamLast but not least, I just had to include Cream’s finest, most precious work of art, titled “Disraeli Gears”. Not only did this album introduced the holy trio of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce to the American audiences but it also showcased how a band can achieve success if only they dare to dig deeper and fearlessly experiment with their music. “Disraeli Gears” showcased the band’s shifting interest from blues, to psychedelic rock. Moreover, it was on this album that Eric Clapton perfected his guitar skills and cemented his position as one of the finest guitarists of his time.

Let’s talk songs. “Sunshine of Your Love” – do I have to say more? That’s the song that changed the rules of the game, set new standards and became an inspiration for many upcoming artists. That mesmerizing intro and those lyrics can never disappear from your mind and soul, once you have listened to the song. It’s not only the massive hit “Sunshine of Your Love” that makes the album so intriguing. My personal favorites include “We’re Going Down”, “Strange Brew”, “Take it Back” and “World of Pain”. I only wish Clapton was leading vocalist on more songs.


Honorable mentions:

Bad Company – Straight Shooter (1975)

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Led Zeppelin II (1969)

lz2


The Beatles – With the Beatles (1963)

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Van Halen II (1979)

van halen 2


TNT – Knights of the New Thunder (1984)

knights_of_the_new_thunder-by-tnt

Yngwie Malmsteen – “Marching Out” (1985)

yngwie marching out

Europe – Wings of Tomorrow (1984)

europe wings of tomorrow

Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)

ratt invasion of your privacy album cover


Tesla – The Great Radio Controversy (1989)

tesla


Dream Theater – Images and Words (1992)

dream theater image


The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. The publication presents a selection of 10 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.

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~

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~

TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums

favorite-debut-albums

Debut albums – they can make or break your career. First impressions are always important and that is valid in pretty much every sphere of life, including in the tough and highly competitive music industry sector. During the “golden age of rock”, as I like to call the ‘70s and ‘80s, tons of outstanding bands made their first statement with strong and memorable albums, some of which are still relevant and widely-appreciated on a worldwide level.  Of course, it takes time to properly assemble a band, create a distinctive sound and style, and choose the perfect way to point your efforts and influences at the right direction, resulting in a powerful, slamming rock wave!

Just like any other classic rock fan out there, I also have my top 10 favorite rock debuts. For one reason or another, these ten albums left quite the impression on me and were the reason why I got into those bands in the first place. These “eye-opening” debuts are as a matter of fact among some of my most beloved albums of all time. From punk rock to progressive rock; from AOR treasures, to supergroup debuts, I am presenting you, [My Rock Mixtape]’s Top 10 Classic Rock Debuts!


1. Def Leppard – On Through the Night (1980)

debut-def-leppard-on-through-the-night

Hello Def Leppard! It’s absolutely impossible not to fall in love with the rawness, energy and straightforward hard rock spirit that surrounds “On Through the Night”. With that organic rock&roll sound and influences, drawn by bands like The Rolling Stones and Thin Lizzy, it was no surprise that this album became a leading force in the new wave of British heavy metal movement. Def Leppard were a couple of British guys with a big dream – to conquer the States and eventually the world. They did manage to fulfill their dream, despite receiving a lot of criticism from local fans and press, for “selling-out” to the American audience. Nevertheless, the dark, unprocessed and rather fresh approach to hard rock, Def Leppard presented in 1980, was exactly what the music scene needed.“Hello America”, “Rock Brigade”, “Wasted”, “Sorrow is a Woman” – all splendid heavy metal rockers that defined the early ’80s. Def Leppard drifted a little from their initial “hard solid” sound and musical direction; however, it was the right thing to do, believe me.


2. Boston – Boston (1976)

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The tremendous strength with which Boston’s self-titled debut album smashed into the music world in the mid-70s could easily be justified with the 25 million copies sold worldwide. Not only that, but “Boston” was actually the best-selling debut album of all time before Guns N’ Roses released “Appetite for Destruction” in 1987. There should be a reason for such enormous recognition, right? Well, the album is just that good! The record found the perfect balance between pop and rock by crafting a splendid mixture of gorgeous vocal harmonies, gentle, yet rough guitar riffs, spellbinding melodic hooks and dreamy lyrics, all wrapped up under the influence of the classical music, Tom Scholz – the man behind Boston, grew up listening to. “More Than a Feeling”, “Piece of Mind” and “Rock & Roll Band” are some of the classics appearing on the album, which I don’t see disappearing from the radio stations anytime soon.

Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time


3. ASIA – ASIA (1982)

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This monstrous debut record by the supergroup Asia was released back in 1982 and proved that there was indeed a reason why those immensely talented and versatile musicians from YES, ELP, King Crimson and The Buggles got together in the first place. “Asia” spawned one of the most distinctive rock tunes of the 80s – “Heat of the Moment” which became their ultimate signature song. That was not the end of it, though – the record is full of catchy hooks and fine melodies, perfectly designed to fit the demands of the commercial radio stations.“Sole Survivor”, “Time Again”, “Only Time Will Tell” – some of the finest moments on “ASIA”, showcasing a marvelous fusion between progressive rock, pop and hard rock.

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] ASIA – ASIA


4. Bad Company  – Bad Company (1974)

bad-company-debutBad Company’s glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success.  I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople) – Paul Rodgersvocals absolutely did it for me. If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll.

The Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)


5. Cinderella – Night Songs (1986)

cinderella-night-songs-2I don’t think Cinderella could’ve made a better debut album! Cinderella were everything BUT your ordinary glam rock band. Unfortunately, their image was what often confused people, though their talent goes above and beyond the big hair, tight leather pants and leopard shirts. We also have to consider their secret weapon – Tom Keifer who is one of the most unique voices of rock music and one of my favorite vocalists of all time. “Night Songs” offers an excellent selection of blues-oriented explosive metal riffs of guitarist Jeff LaBar, flavored by the scratchy fierce voice of Tom Keifer, all cloaked under dark, mysterious and quite intriguing character of the record. “Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool”, “Night Songs”, “Somebody Save Me” – there’s just no weak song on this debut album; all are among the greatest glam rock tunes ever released!

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] CINDERELLA – Night Songs


6. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

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One of the most essential rock acts of all time, Van Halen, debuted in 1978 with an enormous self-titled album that is often regarded as the greatest rock&roll debut albums of all time by fans. Despite being heavily criticized by critics back in the day, it didn’t take that long for the album to become an absolute worldwide sensation and set new standards for rock&roll. Eddie Van Halen’s God-like guitar skills erupted on this album and we are more than thankful for that. Revolutionary rockers like “Runnin’ With the Devil”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love” and the splendid cover of The Kink’s “You Really Got Me” (which with all due respect is better than the original, in my opinion) defined the rock scene in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s like no other tunes. Not to mention the electrifying solo “Eruption” which put all the guitarists to shame. There’s no surprise this brilliant rock debut found its way to my heart and became one of my favorite debuts of all time.


7. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

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I still remember the first time I heard King Crimson’s “Epitaph” it was one of the most sensual experiences of my life. I just knew a special relationship between me and the band is about to develop and wasn’t wrong. The fathers of progressive rock – King Crimson, debuted with “In the Court of the Crimson King” in 1969, which many fans and critics consider as the birthplace of progressive rock. Not only that, but the highly experimental, out-of-this-world sound of the album inspired generations of progressive rock acts. Greg Lake’s soul-touching vocals, accompanied by surreal music, mixing all genres, styles and forms you can imagine, conquered me right from the very beginning. In addition to “Epitaph”, “Moonchild” andThe Court of the Crimson King” are among my favorite progressive rock pieces. This, in my book, is probably the most influential debut albums of all time!


8. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

ramones-debut

Hey ho, let’s go! The fathers of punk rock, The Ramones debuted in 1976 with one of the most uplifting, enjoyable and spirited rock albums of all time. I always had a soft spot for punk rock and this album was the reason why; there’s just something so charming about The Ramones and their carefree, breezy and laid-back style and approach to music. Coming out of the CBGB stage, The Ramones were the main catalysts for the punk rock, underground movement of the late ‘70s in the USA. Moreover, Ramones went on to become the most important punk rock act, inspiring generations of musicians, such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
Classics like “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Judy is a Punk” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” are synonymous with punk rock! “Ramones” is also one good example of how an album which couldn’t achieve big commercial success, achieved something that goes way beyond that.


9. Giant – Last of the Runaways (1989)

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s outstanding debut album, “Last of the Runaways” deserved so much more than it actually got. Unfortunately, the time wasn’t right for it – by 1989, the heydays of album-oriented rock were long gone. Despite its high production value, melodic quality and outstanding vocals and riffs by Dann Huff, “Last of the Runaways” somehow got lost in the transition period from the ‘80s to the ‘90s.“I’m a Believer”“Innocent Days”, “Can’t Get Close Enough” and “No Way Out” are just a few of the dangerously obsessive rock tornadoes that could be heard on this album. “Last of the Runaways” gives us three of the greatest power ballads ever written – “Love Welcome Home”, “It Takes Two” and of course their most commercially successful song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”. How Dann and the rest of the guys wrote such powerful and emotionally-charged pieces of art is beyond my understanding. This is a gorgeous rock piece and I can’t recommend it enough!

[’80s Rock Album Focus] GIANT – Last Of The Runaways


10. Firehouse – Firehouse (1990)

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FireHouse was an absolute glam rock revolution, in the sense that they brought so much more than glitter and gold to the table. The critical and audience appreciation was on point – those four guys weren’t joking around – armed with great talent, for FireHouse the sky was the limit. Their 1989 debut album, “FireHouse” offers a selection of twelve, well-polished pop/metal jewels, which respectfully clogged he radio stations and mesmerized (and still do) the fans with gorgeous riffs and superb vocals. “All She Wrote” “Shake & Tumble”, Rock on the Radio“ and Don’t Treat Me Bad” are just a few of the catchy rockers that turned this debut album into one of my favorite albums of all time! Don’t even get me started on “Love of a Lifetime”, which in my book is one of the greatest power ballads ever written!

In 1990, FIREHOUSE Released a Debut Album of a Lifetime


+ Honorable Mentions

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

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Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm gonna Leave You

Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

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Winger – Winger (1988)

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Foreigner – Foreigner (1977)

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Thunder – Backstreet Symphony

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Bad English – Bad English

bad-english-bad-english

DIO – Holy Diver

Dio - Holy Diver


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~

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 Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)

Mark Sullivan 70's Rock Archive
Bad Company, 1974

When we talk about triumphant rock debuts, the conversation should start with a few artists, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Van Halen, even Guns N’ Roses. Another band that most certainly deserves to be mentioned along with the big names is Bad Company. Their glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound.

In 1973 vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free), guitarist Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople), bassist Boz Burrelll (King Crimson) and drummer Simon Kirke (Free) teamed up to form one of the most gifted (at least in my opinion) British hard rock supergroups – Bad Company. One year later, their debut album became the first ever album to come out of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. The record was an instant success, showcasing excellent musicianship and a brilliant formula, which they followed through the rest of the ‘70s.

bad-company-debutThe debut album topped the US Billboard chart, spent 25 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and spawned three timeless hit singles. Fans, critics – everyone was giving it their stamp of approval. The music scene in the early 70s was drowning in flamboyancy and experimentalism – nothing wrong with that of course. Among the dazzling theatrics and extravagant musical innovations, “Bad Company” was the much needed “back to the roots” record. Unpretentious, quite simple even, the debut album creates the perfect bluesy, soulful, working class rock&roll atmosphere.

paul-rogers-and-mickBad Company’s secret weapon was the strong songwriting collaboration between vocalist Paul Rodgers and blues-based guitarist Mick Ralphs, both shining as bright as the Sun on the self-titled effort. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success. Interestingly, even the more dynamic songs on “Bad Company” are fueled with a sense of danger, under an umbrella of gloom. That’s definitely the ultimate charm of the band and ultimately the record itself – moody but instantly captivating. I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople). Paul Rodgers’ vocals absolutely did it for me – with his sensual, quite erotic even performance, he simply immortalized it. The title track is another high point from the record – I have never witnessed such a brilliant synergy between piano and rock&roll. Not to mention the intriguing theme of the song – a band of fugitives and “rebel souls” that carry nothing but trouble with them! Sounds like a good soundtrack, doesn’t it?

If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll. This album (along with a couple of more, of course) defined the mid-70s and for that it truly deserves to be appreciated. “Bad Company” is a historically relevant debut and nothing can take that away from it. Hope you guys got reminded of this classic and will go play it now!

Listen to the whole album here:


References:
“Bad Company” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Company_(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 Sexiest Rock Mixtape You Will Ever Listen To

collage-sexy-rock-songs

Things are about to get pretty hot in here!

Nothing wrong with being a little suggestive and naughty from time to time! Rock&Roll has always been fun and sexy, after all! Many rock tunes are regarded as too provocative, getting out of hand and even a little bit sexist, but we have to understand that making love has always been and will always be an inseparable part of music.

I’ve always been somehow drawn to this direct, quite voluptuous side of rock&roll because let’s face it – it’s what makes things so much more interesting. I have created this playlist of 20 classic rock songs that are pretty spicy but definitely worth listening to. Whether its rhythm, lyrics or the overall atmosphere, each of these songs is about to make you sweat, I guarantee it! Also, if you and your significant other are in a good mood, this playlist can be a suitable companion for your special night.

I would also like to thank my Twitter friends who also participated in the creation of this playlist! You guys are awesome (you know who you are)!

 

Feel like making love?

 


The Doors – Light My Fire (1966)

Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (1971)

Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love (1969)

AC/DC – The Jack (1976)

Bad Company – Feel Like Making Love (1975)

Montrose – Rock Candy (1973)

Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me (1987)

Scorpions – Rock You Like a Hurricane (1984)

Thunder – Dirty Love (1990)

Danger Danger – Naughty Naughty (1989)

Guns ‘N’ Roses – Rocket Queen (1987)

Winger – Seventeen (1988)

Kix – Midnight Dynamite (1985)

Great White – Baby’s on Fire (1989)

Firehouse – Hold Your Fire (1992)

38 Special – Rockin’ Into the Night (1980)

Aerosmith – Love in an Elevator (1994)

Def Leppard – All Night (1999)

Kiss – Uh! All Night (1985)

Van Halen – Hot For Teacher (1984)

Lynch Mob – Tangled in the Web (1992)


 

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] BAD COMPANY – DANGEROUS AGE

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DANGEROUS AGE

Released: August 23, 1988
Genre: Rock/Hard Rock
Duration: 44:31
Label: Atlantic Records
Producer(s): Terry Thomas

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buy-from-amazon


 

OVERVIEW

I would like to go over Bad Company’s “Dangerous Age” album because I feel like it should be heard or remembered and despite the fact that I’m probably in the minority here, I do believe that their 80s and 90s releases with Brian Howe on vocals are better and definitely among my favorites. He just has that perfect 80s hard/pop rock voice and that’s exactly what does it for me.

“Dangerous Age” is a hard rock solid comeback album which followed the AOR trends of the era – polished, melodic and radio-ready sound, sleek production, catchy and fun style. All that fit quite well with the arena rocking voice of Brian. Nevertheless, the record features some pretty sweet rockers, including the strong opening “One Night”; and the instant stand-out track that got tons of airplay, “No Smoke Without a Fire” – a winter song that immediately creates a path to your brain and just sticks there. I absolutely adore it, it’s too empowering, and definitely one of those tracks that should be listened with the volume up there to the max. The title track is also among one of the fines and most enjoyable moments of the album. “Bad Man” and “Shake it Up” are the hidden treasures which definitely deserve a listen (or preferably a two). “The Way That It Goes” has quite appealing melody to sing along with so check it out as well!

Give it a go, that’s all I can say! Bad Company is a great band and a bit underrated so I’m using this moment to spread the word and remind you guys of them. “Dangerous Age” is a powerful but often forgotten AOR album so if you are into that kind of music, this is the record for you. Beautiful vocals, empowering rock tunes, smokin’ riffs and tons of good mood!

Tracklist:

“One Night”
“Shake it Up”
“No Smoke Without a Fire”
“Bad Man”
“Dangerous Age”
“Dirty Boy”
“Rock of America”
“Something About You”
“The Way That It Goes”
“Love Attack”
“Excited”


“No Smoke Without a Fire”

“One Night”

“Dangerous Age”

“Love Attack”

 


References:
“Dangerous Age” Official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dangerous_Age
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~

Song Of The Day : BAD COMPANY – NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE

bad-company-no-smoke-without-fire

My song of the day is “No Smoke Without Fire” by Bad Company!! Another energizing, uplifting and very empowering rock tune from the late 80s! I’m not going to talk about how underrated Bad Company are, instead I would like to spread the word and remind you (or make you listen for the first time) of this awesome track! The tune comes from their 1988 album “Dangerous” which is filled up with hard solid rockers like “Shake it Up”, “One Night” and “Dangerous Age” and I dearly recommend it to you, guys! Will make a publication, especially for the album any time soon!

Listen to the tune!

 

“No Smoke Without Fire” Lyrics

Ooh, you’re like a book with a page torn out
You can turn from a whisper to a shout, ooh yeah
You come running just as fast as you can, into the arms of another man, yeah

But you can do what you wanna do now, tell me what you wanna say
You can take what you wanna take, babe, take it all away

[Chorus:]
Oh, there’s no smoke without a fire, and there’s no heat without a flame
Oh, there’s no love without desire, but I won’t play your games

Ooh, you’ve got the looks that can turn a head
You’ve got a turn that can leave a man dead, ooh yeah
You keep tellin’ me our love is alright
You disappear, you don’t come home all night

Just tell me what you wanna do now, tell me where you wanna go
It’s your life, you can do what you want, baby let me know

[Chorus]

Please don’t ask me why
‘Cos I can’t quite explain, I’m like a moth to your flame

[Solo]

Yeah, just tell me what you wanna do now, tell me where you wanna go
It’s your life, you can do what you want, baby let me know, yeah

[Chorus] – let’s talk about it


 

References:
“No Smoke Without Fire” Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/badcompany/nosmokewithoutafire.html
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~