ZINATRA – a Dutch Rock Band, Worthy of Discovering

You know how much I love digging up late ‘80s/early ‘90s hard rock bands that unfortunately didn’t last that long for one reason or another (mostly because of the grunge fever spreading all over the place.) I am the kind of person who just listens to these forgotten AOR/hard rock bands because judging by experience, some of them are worthier than many of the big names of the industry.  Unearthing buried music is a very rewarding experience, believe me. Swimming through the YouTube videos of AOR music with fewer than 1,000 views is something I recommend to everyone! That’s how I found this band I will talk about today – Zinatra. Don’t stick to the usual suspects, let yourself explore the bands that couldn’t hit it that big; thankfully, we have the Internet so use it!

A few things about the band before we jump into the music;

What you need to know about Zinatra (what a cool name, I wonder how did they come up with it) is that they are a hard rock band from the Netherlands, consisting of five members.

The band was formed in 1986 and disbanded in 1991 after the release of just two albums. Some of the highlights of their career include opening up for David Lee Roth on his “Skyscraper” tour and a top20 hit – “Love or Loneliness” from their debut album. Moreover, the band achieved success in Asian and South-American territories where they embarked on tours, filled venues and topped charts with songs like “Hero”.

The sophomore release featured a new keyboardist (Robby Valentine) and a solid determination to make an even bigger splash this time. The album was very well-received, especially in Japan (I love how much Japanese people were into ’80s hard rock music); Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough. Vocalist Joss Mennen kicked off his solo activities and Robby Valentine got a signing deal with Polydor so this was basically it for Zinatra. Just wasn’t meant to be I guess. The changing musical climate were in my opinion the biggest factor that drove the guys away.

zinatra band
ZINATRA

1988 Self-titled debut

Zinatra debut album

I have included three songs which I believe best represent this album. Hopefully you will check the rest of it all, after you hear it. “Love or Loneliness” is undoubtedly their most famous track. The other two are equally appealing. I am very fond of “Hero” and that’s not just because I’m a softie. The ballad is absolutely gorgeous! To me, it’s always been all about the melody and this album right here is full of beautiful melodies that can satisfy any fan out there, like myself. This album is nothing phenomenal or unheard of but it’s something you just gotta experience. Vocalist Joss Mennen is just a bliss for my ears. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“The Great Escape” 1990

Zinatra Album artwork

This album and the catchy “There She Was” introduced me to the band back in the day. I actually saw this album in its original Japanese packaging which led me to the music and to writing this now. I like the debut but this album I like a little bit more and I think that’s because Robby Valentine was added to the line-up; he was not just a keyboardist, he also contributed as a songwriter which clearly hit the spot for me. The album is melodic/pop rock at its finest. In addition to the entertaining bright track, “There She Was”, I included two more songs for you to check out – the rocker “Only Your Heart” and the power ballad “Too Blind to See”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


References:
Album artwork, retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.co.kr/pin/377246906263230272/
Album artwork #2 retrieved from http://ohrenbalsam.blogspot.bg/
Band photo, retrieved from https://heavyharmonies.com/cgi-bin/glamcd.cgi?BandNum=896&CDName=Zinatra
“Zinatra” on http://melodic-hardrock.com/bios/zinatra/
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The Story of Tyketto’s 1991 Debut “Don’t Come Easy”

Commercially speaking, the early ‘90s was definitely not a best time for a hard rock band to release a debut and try to hit it big. Labels started investing all their time and money on alternative/grunge rock acts and kicked the door in front of the faces of many glam rock bands with big dreams. Still, regardless of the little promotion and attention those rock bands got from the labels (and fans as a matter of fact), the quality of music was still good and there were tons of great releases in those initial years of the new decade. Where do I even begin? Survivor, Giant, Fair Warning, Europe, MSG, Hardline, Thunder, Harem Scarem, Bad Company, Firehouse, Slaughter, etc.; all of these bands and many more released phenomenal rock albums in the early ‘90s, despite the grunge scene’s vicious attacks. One more band that deserves to be respectfully mentioned is Tyketto, of course. Since I’m a big fan and their debut album is actually one of the best rock debuts in my book, I decided to dedicate a little something to them. Contrary to what I expected, there are many people out there who know so little of that album (and the band, ultimately), so I hope to introduce your next favorite songs in this publication! Enjoy the read and don’t forget to play those mind-blowing tunes!

 

Tyketto & “Don’t Come Easy”

The important thing to know about those guys is that they come from the streets of New York and were assembled by the former vocalist of Waysted, Danny Vaughn. The band was formed in the late ‘80s but scoring a record deal with Geffen and preparing a killer debut takes years, naturally.

“Don’t Come Easy” was released at the very beginning of 1991 and needless to say, despite its edgy hard melodic rock sound and killer vocals, it didn’t get what it deserved. Till today, many die-hard rock fans see this album as one of the most refreshing and promising ‘90s debuts; it was apparently a much-needed breath of fresh air and tons of music enthusiasts found its true value. Unfortunately, for the majority of rock lovers, this album doesn’t even exist. Sad, isn’t it?

tyketto dont come easy“Don’t Come Easy” features 10 stunning hard rock gems, that deserve nothing but high praises. I must begin out discussion with the opening track and the biggest hit of Tyketto’s career, “Forever Young”. How do you describe a song that outstanding? From the powerful, clean vocals of Danny, to the terrific monster riffs this entire song could easily be referred to as the song of the year. Don’t you even get me started on those haunting lyrics: “Forever young, time on our side, we’ve got tomorrow, we’ve got tonight…”! What a mind-blowing experience this track is; the kind of song you can’t just skip, regardless of how many times you’ve listened to it!

We move on to “Wings” which is the point where you actually realize how incredible this album is and that you will play it from start to finish for the next few weeks. “Wings” is a superb mid-tempo rocker with solid hooks and…man, those vocals are killing me! I never got the chance to witness a live performance of Tyketto but with a talent like Danny’s, it must be an experience of a lifetime!  “Burning Down Inside” starts slowly, quite mysteriously…and then BAM – Danny opens a door to an exciting melodic rock world, you just can’t escape from (& you don’t want to). The energizing “Lay Your Body Down” is a personal favorite and how can it not be!? The atmospheric “Standing Alone” is a gorgeous ballad, often forgotten or misunderstood, despite the enormous amount of emotions it holds within itself.

And it goes on and on…

If this album doesn’t send butterflies through your stomach, then you clearly need to listen again and listen better! I highly recommend it to any rock fan out there who appreciates great music and doesn’t necessarily judge it by the number of sales.

Many turbulent situations came after this album, including the departure of bass player Jimi Kennedy and eventually vocalist Danny Vaughn; However, in 2016 the band came back with a new album, titled “REACH“, once again fronted by Danny. They are still alive and kicking, celebrating a career of over 25 years! If that doesn’t convince you to check them out, then I don’t know what will…

Enjoy the tracks and let me know what you think!

tyketto

“Forever Young”

“Wings”

“Burning Down Inside”


 

I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the images on this blog are copyright to their respectful owners. Please note that the digital brand, “My Rock Mixtapes” is for rock music educational purposes only and is in no way participating in any commercial activities.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Album Review: Mark Slaughter – Halfway There (2017)

slaughter-stick-it-to-yaI remember the first time I heard Slaughter – it was on one of those ballad compilation albums and the song was, of course, “Fly to the Angels”. The progress was natural because let’s face it, there’s no way you can listen to that gorgeous song and don’t ask for more! I got their debut album, “Stick it To Ya” and instantly fell for the distinctive, rough, high-pitched voice of Mark and the band’s dangerous, thrilling rock sound. Till today, that first release remains one of my most beloved glam metal releases and I still think that it deserved so much more than it actually did.

mark slaughter1990 is long gone but thankfully, Mark Slaughter is still making music, as good as he did over 25 years ago. The band is also currently active, participating in concerts and touring around the States. The ‘90s were, however, Slaughter’s busiest and with that, most successful period of their career. Once the new decade kicked in, vocalist and songwriter Mark Slaughter started exploring other musical directions, including DJ-ing, voice-acting, music composing for TV shows and others. It took Mark Slaughter some time before he officially embarked on a solo musical journey. First, he released a single track, then a digital-only album and now, we can finally purchase and enjoy a full-length solo record, titled “Halfway There”. The special 10-track album (11 in Japan) hit the music market on the 26th of May via EMP Label Group (a US-based label owned by David Ellefson, Megadeth bassist) and let me tell you something – it hit it hard! I really missed that classic, Slaughter sound and Mark is just bringing it all back on this album – that and way way way more! “Halfway There” is a worthy progression and obvious artistic evolution for him but with a little bit of old-school hint. It was a pleasure for me to listen to it from start to finish and I hope after reading this article, you will grab the album if you haven’t done it yet.

“Halfway There”

“…a return to form of the classic Slaughter sound, but with some modern upgrades,” says the EMP Label Group.

One of the most brilliant aspects of this album is that Mark was actually in charge of not only the vocals but he’s also the one playing the guitar, bass, keyboards and behind the orchestration as well. That should tell you something! This is clearly a very dear album to him and he put his soul, heart and every talent he has to make it sound as sincere as possible. Mark is a superb artist and taking full control over this entire record was definitely the right direction.

Let’s talk songs!

halfwaythere slaughterThe album kick things off with the mighty rock anthem “Hey You” which just begs to be played live. I can imagine it – the crowd screaming together with Mark this captivating chant, “Hey You, All Hands up, Rock & Roll Forever!” What an opener! We move on to “Devoted” which is even more powerful and aggressive than the first one; I swear, this entire album is one punch in the stomach after another! “Supernatural” brings us back to Mark Slaughter‘s more melodic, radio-friendly appeal with its funky rhythms and cheerful vocal delivery.  The fourth track is the monumental title song which in my humble opinion has to be the highlight on “Halfway There” and that’s not just because I love ballads. Flawless vocals, striking personal lyrics and don’t you even get me started on the composition; this song left me speechless! “Conspiracy” and “Reckless” are two other tracks to watch out for. The dangerous guitar-driven “Conspiracy” is one of the heaviest, most destructive tracks on “Halfway There”; “Reckless” on the other hand is a straight-up classic rock tune, fueled with mind-blowing riffs that just make your head spin! What an experience! The album wraps things up in a gentle manner with the bluesy, modern-style “Not Here” which impresses with quality solos and of course, Mark‘s soul-soothing, lullaby-like vocal delivery.

I’ve been a huge fan of Slaughter so needless to say Mark‘s solo release was highly anticipated. We still have half a year to go, but this might actually turn out to be one of the top solo rock releases of 2017. It’s a brilliant album, showcasing Mark‘s artistic greatness and growth as a musician. He gets an A++ from me!


“Hey You”

“Devoted”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Louder, Harder & Faster

“I Think I’ll Sit Here and Drink”

Perfect

Devil Dancer

Only Broken Heart


References:
“Warrant Announces New Album”: http://www.antimusic.com/news/17/March/10Warrant_Announce_New_Album_Louder_Harder_Faster.shtml
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

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

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

McAuley Schenker Group

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

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

The album

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

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

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

Give it a try.


When I’m Gone

Paradise

We Believe in Love

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


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

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)

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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~

Album Recommendations: Sleeze Beez’ “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” (1990)

You are casually browsing through the suggested section on YouTube, looking for your next favorite old-school rock band – one of the millions you have yet to discover and then BAM, you see the name “Sleeze Beeze”. From here on, you can go two ways; way number one – you just ignore them, thinking it’s just another one of those sparkly spandex-wearing youngsters that don’t want to be taken seriously and named themselves so foolishly just to attract attention to their average heartbreak tunes… or way number two – you decide to check them out anyways, with the hopes that there might be something there. Guess which way I went?

The name did throw me off a little, but I was too curious to just let it go. Also, once I saw the name of their sophomore album, “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” I couldn’t just walk away. One thing I give them, ridiculous or not, it does catch your eye.


Who are Sleeze Beeze?

The most important thing to know about Sleeze Beeze is that they a hard rock band from the Netherlands and lasted for about 9 years (from 1987 to 1996) before they called it quits (reunited in 2010, though). Overall, the band released four studio albums, out of which the debut with Atlantic records (and second release), “Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” (1990) turned out to be their most successful one, introducing the band to the American market and audience. MTV once again participated in the initial success of the band by giving tons of airtime to “Stranger Than Paradise” – one of the singles from the sophomore album.

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“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed”

Now let’s talk about this album with the bizarre name – a name which definitely didn’t help their case, in my opinion. But hey, it was the ’80s  and it was all about fun, nihilism and doing whatever the hell you want! So let’s not fall into despair and just focus on the music, instead.

sleeze beez“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed” is one of those albums which I say are “worth discovering” and definitely one of the exciting releases of the early 90s. From the opening powerful slap – “Rock in the Western World” to the playful wrap up song “Girls Girls, Nasty Nasty”, the album is one hell of an entertaining piece of hard rock music! Don’t get me wrong, the album is far from perfect or groundbreaking but with lively and highly amusing tracks like “House is on Fire”, “Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t” and of course the title song, I feel like I can totally forgive and forget. “Stranger Than Paradise” is unquestionably the finest moment on the album and definitely a song that had the potential to stand against any Bon Jovi, Winger, Great White or Poison song. After a couple of tracks, we finally get to the power ballad – “This Time”. It’s as good as any power ballad of the era, that’s all I have to say. If you are a power ballad enthusiast like me, then you will love it for sure! Check out the rest of the songs – “Heroes Die Young” and “Don’t Talk About Roses” are striking highly deserving rockers as well!

Ultimately, Sleeze Beeze didn’t really predict the strong invasion of the alternative rock scene and their album was quickly forgotten. I can understand why, believe me – in addition to the bad timing, the album (was)is a total cliché. However, I am still recommending it because sometimes those partying non stop/sex/living the life clichés are the ones that help us go through the day. Listen to some tunes and the album below!

Cheers!

“Stranger Than Paradise”

“House Is On Fire”

“Screwed, Blued & Tattooed”

…or you can just check out the whole album:


References:
Sleeze Beez on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeze_Beez
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~