For My Love for Sophomore Albums: MR.BIG’s Lean Into It (1991)

Me, Mr. Big and Lean Into It

mr big lean into itThere we go again with the well-established trend I observe in me with most of the rock bands out there. The thing is that somehow I always fall for the sophomore releases; Not entirely sure why but I guess that’s when a band showcases growth and it is so appealing to witness and experience how musicians evolve into a better version of themselves. By the way, since we are talking about sophomore releases, I wrote an entire blog publication about it which you can check at My Top 10 Sophomore (Rock) Releases

Obviously, what I’m trying to get to is that once again, this time with Mr.Big, I fell for the sophomore release. You see the thing is that I didn’t even know. First two songs I heard from them back in the day were “To Be With You” and “Just Take My Heart” and I was hooked immediately. Got the album and the rest is history. Don’t get me wrong, their self-titled debut is pretty solid but I just love this one a little bit more. Let’s talk more about it and play some tunes!

mr big 1

What you need to know about this release is that basically it was Mr.Big‘s golden ticket to stardom. Things changed drastically for them after one of the songs, that “little” tune called “To Be With You” topped the charts. Single #2, “Just Take My Heart” left its mark as well. 

If I have to introduce Mr.Big to someone who has never heard of them, this is where I will start it. Why? Well, I will be brief. First of all, the most thrilling thing about “Lean Into It” is that it offers a mixture of pop rock, blues & hard rock (but not that hard), all wrapped up under a cozy, charming and familiar atmosphere. Second of all, this album is overflowing with talent. Vocalist Eric Martin was at his top game; oh, how much i love his soothing vocals! Paul Gilbert is an excellent shredder guitarist who maybe couldn’t spread his wings in entirely on this album, but still – tons of mind-spinning riffs. Ultimately, there’s no way in hell you wouldn’t appreciate this album’s artistry after just one listen.

The Songs

mr big to be with youWe gotta start our discussion with the ultimate sing-along anthem, “To Be With You”. One listen, that’s it! That’s all it takes for you to get hooked and sing it for the rest of your day. What truly impressed me were the lyrics – “Hold on, little girl
Show me what he’s done to you. Stand up, little girl. A broken heart can’t be that bad.” I’m sure you know what follows…

“Just Take My Heart” is the moment you realize that there’s a lot going on on this album and purchasing it was most certainly the smartest decision of your life! I included a few more songs on the playlist below, including “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” and my personal favorite, “Never Say Never”

Comment below and tell me what’s your favorite song from “Lean Into It” and what do you think about it? Before you do that, crank up some Mr.Big!

“To Be With You”

“Just Take My Heart”

“Green-Tinted Sixties Mind”

“Never Say Never”

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References:
Album Artwork, retrieved from: https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Into-MR-BIG/dp/B000002IQS
Band Photo, retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/adidjohari/what-i-ve-been-listen-since-elementary-till-now/
“To Be With You” Cover Photo, retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Be_with_You
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10 Rock Ballad Compilation Albums for All Ballad Lovers Out There

balladscollage

I love rock ballads…please don’t tell me you were actually surprised to read that….!?

I’ve told the story before but it all started with Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” and it developed into one huge obsession with power ballads and we got to the point where I can actually list rock ballad compilation albums without even blinking… It’s just my thing, I guess. I have accumulated a number of ballad compilation albums (digitally and physically) and I decided to share some of those releases which I find the most appealing and worthy of possessing. Some of the following I don’t actually own because they are merely impossible to find BUT it’s easy to re-create them if you already own the band’s discography. Ultimately, my list can also give you some ideas or make you check out some of those bands’ beautiful ballad songs (I recommend all).

I would like to finish by saying that it’s high time Def Leppard released a ballad album! (please please please)

Don’t forget to follow my blog and Twitter account! Cheers!


Gary Moore – Ballads & Blues 1982–1994

gary

I just had to kick things off with this absolute masterpiece and the album that introduced me to and made me a fan of Gary Moore. Where do I even begin? “Still Got the Blues (For You)”, “Always Gonna Love You”, “Story of the Blues”, “Midnight Blues” and so on – those are just some of the precious soul-crushing and world-spinning soulful romantic pieces you can find on that album. Every time I talk about compilation albums, I start the discussion with this one. On top of it all, Ballads & Blues 1982-1994 contains three unreleased ballads which are definitely a worthy addition to Gary’s classics.


Harem Scarem – Ballads

harem scarem

Maybe you didn’t expect to see this totally underrated band on my list but you know that I’m always rooting for the less-known but highly deserving rock bands out there. The Canadian hard rockers Harem Scarem won me with the astonishing ballad “Honestly” which of course is on this compilation album and of course became the reason why I put this album here…This Japanese release was out in 1999 and it also contained a couple of unreleased before surprises in it, in addition to the well-known classics.


Thunder – Ballads

thunder

This rock jewel is one of my favorite ballad compilations of all time and that’s mainly because it’s by Thunder – one of those hard rock bands which have a very very special place in my hard. The ballad compilation album was released in 2003 and nowadays it seems like it’s impossible to find it but I haven’t given up just yet. “Love Walked In”, “Until My Dying Day”, “A Better Man” and many more gems from Thunder’s classic and not-so-classic days of rock can be heard on that CD.


Whitesnake – Best Ballads…

The masters of hard rock, Whitesnake, lead by none other than the man whose voice can send you to heaven, David Coverdale released a couple of (unofficial) ballad compilation albums from Russia, Ukraine, UK and other European countries. Ultimately, timeless rock classics like “Don’t Fade Away”, “Is This Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and of course my favorite Whitesnake song, “Looking for Love” are on all of them. Don’t hesitate to get it if you come across it. So far, I’ve seen those releases only on Ebay, unfortunately.


Scorpions – Gold Ballads

gold ballads

“Gold Ballads” by Scorpions was released in 1984 in Europe only. The 5-song compilation features Scorpions’ best romantic tunes, including the timeless “Still Loving You” and “Holiday”. I should mention that in 2003, they released a new ballad CD, simply titled “Ballads” (only in Singapore, though as they have a massive fanbase there) which is another worthy piece.


Eric Clapton – Ballads

eric ballads

This compilation was released in 2003 in Japan only but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands on it (especially if you are a die-hard fan like me). The breathtaking compilation features some of Clapton’s most outstanding, tear-jerking ballads, including “Tears in Heaven”, “Miss You”, “Old Love” and “Layla” ( of course ). It’s one of my favorite ballad albums of all time and it’s such a pity that I don’t have it in my CD collection (yet).


Toto – Best Ballads

toto best balads

Toto are the kings of ballads and I’m thankful that we had this awesome release, where all of their beautiful, soul-touching masterpieces gathered together. The compilation features some of my favorite melodic rock ballads of all time, including “I’ll Be Over You”, “Mama”, “Rosanna” and the saddest song in history, “I Won’t Hold You Back”. “Best Ballads” was originally released in 1995 and it contains 17 songs. In 2003, they released “Love Songs” – yet another worthy record full of love and heartbreak.


Nazareth – the Ballad Album

nazareth

The 10 song CD titled “The Ballad Album” by Nazareth was released in 1985 only in Germany. This golden piece of music features some of Nazareth (and some of the greatest of all time) rock ballads, including “Love Hurts”, “Dream On”, “Where Are You Now”, “Games” and more. I love playing this compilation, it’s so atmospheric.


REO Speedwagon – The Ballads

reo

In 1999, REO Speedwagon released a ballad compilation album with a long list of their previous, well-known classics and a couple of surprises which unfortunately couldn’t make that big of a fuss back then. It was a ballad that got me into REO Speedwagon. Yes, of course I’m talking about that special song, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” which is undoubtedly one of the most instantly recognizable melodic rock song out there and of course, the favorite ballad of all the softies out there. In addition to their beloved hit, “The Ballads” features “Keep On Loving You”, “Take It on The Run” and “Here with Me”.


Various – The Very Best of Power Rock Ballads [3CD Box Set]

ballads1

I’m finishing my list with a compilation treasure I found years ago, titled “The Very Best of Power Ballads”. There are hundreds of similar compilations, featuring identical, evergreen hits but If I have to recommend a worthy assortment of rock ballads, it has to be this one. “The Very Best of Power Ballads” was released in 2005 as a 3CD box set with a total of 50 mind-blowing songs.  You have all the classics – Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Queen’s “We are the Champions”, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, etc. Not only that but you also get to enjoy Jefferson Airplane, Whitesnake, John Waite, Cher, REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones and many more.


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~

HARDLINE’s “DOUBLE ECLIPSE” – An Album Worth Discovering

I’ve talked about that magical year of 1992 before in my “16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard!” article and it’s time to talk about it yet again!

The times, they were changing; the ‘80s were long gone and with them the good old ways of rock&roll. Grunge was occupying all the attention of major music media outlets and labels and people were shifting their musical preferences from heavier hard rock to softer alternative rock. Nevertheless, the strong heavy metal thunder could still be heard during the first couple of years of the new decade. From solid comebacks to refreshing debuts, the early ‘90s offered a wide range of intriguing rock music events before it all died out by mid-decade.

This time I would like to focus on a band that formed in 1991 and debuted in 1992 with what I consider as one of the most exciting albums of that year. I’m talking about Hardline and their coming out party, titled “Double Eclipse”.

Brothers Johnny Gioeli and Joey Gioeli joined forces with none other than Bad English and Journey’s Neil Schon, along with bass guitarist Todd Jensen and drummer Deen Castronovo. All together, they attacked the music scene with a highly satisfying, though overlooked, glam rock record, possessing every little detail needed to captivate the hearts of any heavy metal fan out there.  

From a fan’s point of view I can only say two things about this album. First of all, the inclusion of Neil Schon in the picture shouldn’t scare you at all – there’s no trace of that sweet, tender, quite melodic Journey or Bad English vibe on “Double Eclipse”. It’s a ferocious rock release, with a lot more edge and tons of character. Needless to say if you are a fan of ‘80s hard rock, you most certainly can’t go wrong with “Double Eclipse” – it’s the exact thing you need to complete your collection! Second of all, once in your life you might come across an album which is worthy of occupying almost an hour of your life. “Double Eclipse” is one of those rare gems with no fillers and no boredom – every song is a potential favorite and guarantees a good time!

Speaking of songs, let’s talk a little bit about the playlist. We have our radio staples – the catchy, energetic “Takin’ Me Down”, the lovely ballad “Can’t Find My Way” and of course Hardline’s version of Danny Spanos“Hot Cherrie” which actually scored a top 30 chart position in 1992. The solid opener and a personal favorite, “Life’s a Bitch” turned into one of my theme songs. The lyrics are on point and don’t even get me started on those mind-blowing guitars. “Rhythm From A Red Car” is yet another hair-raising surprise that guarantees a splendid time! The mid-tempo, “Love Leads The Way” and the guitar-driven ballad “Change of Heart” are just a couple of the other valuable assets, characterizing “Double Eclipse”.

Final verdict: “Double Eclipse” by Hardline is an album worth discovering and adding to your AOR/Hard Rock collection. Too bad Neil Schon didn’t stick around much with those talented guys and went on to pursue other projects. Don’t think twice – crank it up and enjoy it!

Takin’ Me Down

Life’s a Bitch

Can’t Find My Way

Hot Cherie


Release Date: April 28, 1992
Genre: AOR / Hard Rock

Duration: 56:53
Label: MCA
Producer(s): Neal Schon

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 References:
“Double Eclipse” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Eclipse
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 Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] BLUE ÖYSTER CULT- Fire of Unknown Origin

fire-of-unknown-origin-blue-oyster

Fire of Unknown Origin

Released: July, 1981
Genre: Hard Rock
Duration: 39:06
Label: Columbia
Producer(s): Martin Birch
Certified: Gold (RIAA)

cd-blue-oyser

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OVERVIEW:

After a couple of rather commercially weak releases, Blue Öyster Cult rose from the ashes with new born confidence and an album that re-defined their career and introduced them to the audience of the ‘80s. The band’s mid-70s authenticity remained intact; however this time they did manage to put in a little something extra, crafting an immensely enjoyable and much friendlier sound. Many fans, including myself, consider “Fire of Unknown Origin” as Blue Öyster Cult’s finest effort for that exact reason – it’s a perfect hybrid between their dark, old-school rock&roll outlook and newly adopted musical direction. Patti Smith, rock critic Richard Meltzer and fantasy writer Michael Moorcock are some of the cameos, appearing on BÖC’s intriguingly catchy 1981 release. Their enigmatic lyrical approach is bringing so much life into the album!

“Burnin’ for You” is one of those rockers that actually deserved the attention it got. The infectious riffs, accompanied by Buck Dharma’s great vocal performance (which I personally prefer over Bloom‘s) and Allen Lanier’s worthy keyboard work, drew quite the picturesque melodic wonderland; no wonder the track conquered the charts and turned into one of their most famous songs.  The title song, “Fire of Unknown Origin” is as bizarre as ever but once those fiery guitars hit you, there’s no coming back. The synthesizer-driven “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” is one of BÖC’s best works. The ominous melody, along with Bloom’s threatening vocals is definitely something to look forward to on the album. Moreover, it was also featured on the soundtrack of the animated sci-fi film, “Heavy Metal”. “Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver” is a personal favorite – how can you not be captivated by that mighty guitar intro? “Vengeance: The Pact” is as close as we can get to BÖC’s old days. “Fire of Unknown Origin” doesn’t lose its appeal as we jump from one song to the next. The closing song, “Don’t Turn Your Back” keeps things interesting till the very end.

“Fire of Unknown Origin” is a solid piece, compiled of rather eccentric, yet highly appealing tunes. It’s safe to say that it’s one of BÖC’s most valuable releases and still deserves to be played and enjoyed!
Cheers to the timeless classics!


Fire of Unknown Origin

Veteran of the Psychic Wars

Burnin’ For You

Sole Survivor

Don’t Turn Your Back


 

References:
“Fire of Unknown Origin” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_of_Unknown_Origin
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~