Stepping Outside of My Music Comfort Zone + PLAYLIST

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I know it’s been a while since I last published anything on my blog. It’s such a pity, I know! There are a lot of reasons why I took some time off blogging and at some point, I will focus on the reasons why I stopped writing for a while but now it’s not the time to do that. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s still following me and my musical adventures on Instagram and Twitter. The accounts of @myrockmixtapes are still active and will remain active because I truly believe it’s important to spread love and joy through music. I will do everything I can to continue sharing and recommending great music to the fabulous rock music community out there.

Let’s go back to my post!

For my, let’s say, “comeback” publication, I decided to do a little summary of all the incredible music I’ve discovered throughout the past year (maybe?) that kind of drifts away from my (as I call it) music comfort zone. The bands, albums and songs I wanted to share with you today are definitely outside that musical safe heaven I created for myself which basically covers a couple of genres I am mostly fond of. I was and still am always excited to discover new music that brings that something extra to your daily life. The genre is certainly not a reason enough for me to discriminate music or completely ignore it. On the contrary, I am always up for a new musical adventure. What do I mean by all that?

My music comfort zone

For years and years, the type of music I was only interested in was hard rock and melodic rock music, mostly from the ‘80s. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to and collecting fantastic hard rock music from the decade which I adore with all my heart and soul (though I wasn’t born in the ‘80s). Bands like Def Leppard, Winger, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Dokken, Cinderella, Hardline, Warrant, Slaughter, Skid Row, Journey, Foreigner, Giant, Great White, WASP, Ratt, White Lion, Tesla, Kix and similar were the type of bands I lived for. To be honest, they still are. This is the type of music that gives me strength, empowerment and most importantly, can fix my mood on a daily basis. I dug up almost each and every hard rock/glam rock band from the ‘80s and turned it into an inseparable part of my physical and online collection of music. At this point, I don’t think there’s a hard rock/AOR band from that marvelous period I haven’t heard of, regardless of whether they released one album and disappeared or are still around. Finding obscure, one-album hard rock bands, as a matter of fact, became a hobby of mine. There are plenty of publications on this website that cover such forgotten but incredible albums and the music they left behind. Thanks to Spotify and YouTube (mostly), I got introduced to bands that were once named “the next big thing”, yet no one remembers them now. Such may include XYZ, Heaven’s Edge, Nelson, Jagged Edge, Giant, Giuffria and way more.

You see, this particular musical niche quickly turned into “MY THING”! The ocean of hard rock music from the ‘80s seemed bottomless. Each day, new album to fall inlove with! It’s still like this, you know! I love love love hard rock and glam rock from the ‘80s and each time someone asks me what type of music I listen to; I always answer the same – “’80s hard and glam rock”.

There’s magic in that music; a certain raw, unpolished, natural magic to it that can’t be recreated. On top of it all, my personality matched perfectly with that type of music. I am a nostalgic individual who lives in the past. It’s always been like this and it’s not just with music, certainly! All that, added to the fact that many of the above-mentioned bands are still making music and releasing great new albums (hugely thanks to record labels like Frontiers Music), presented an enormous ground to cover. Musically, it just all feels right to me. I managed to create a meaningful connection with my music and I am so happy I am not one of those people who just listen to what’s popular these days and what’s on the radio.

What happened, though?

What happened is that I started using Spotify, met a lot of new people and started going to concerts that were not hard rock or heavy metal. See, sometimes doing your own research and covering all the bands and music genres that are out there is immensely difficult. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like doing it that much. I was perfectly fine with my music and anything different that ended up on my library was just a great bonus I discovered on YouTube.

With concerts it’s the same. If I have to decide, by myself, whether to go to a concert of a band I’ve never heard of and that plays music, entirely different from my favorite type of music, the answer will be a no. However, when friends and loved ones started inviting me to underground concerts, it all kind of changed.   

With the rise of my newly-emerging social life, my music life changed a little bit as well. It’s inevitable, I guess. I’ve always said that people who introduce you to new music are important and this was the case with me, for sure!

This is probably the time to thank my boyfriend (who is a drummer and had several bands in the past) for his contributions. His taste in music is quite different from mine and that was a blessing in disguise. The endless evenings that he spent sending me some of his favorite music surely changed everything. I am picky, though. Not everything was for me. But what I hear and love, I love, regardless of the genre or the circumstances under which I came across it.

Spotify became another reason why I started paying attention to more and more bands that were not falling under the hard/melodic rock genre category. For that I praise it! It sucks that artist are not paid enough from streaming but the one great thing about the application is that it gives you a perfect opportunity to meet new bands through various playlists it generates for you. I listen to Spotify on a daily basis. With all that travelling to work I do, it’s only natural. I love checking up my Daily Mixes, New Releases, Discover Weekly and other playlists that the application recommends.

Some bands that challenged me and turned into favorites:

Tesseract
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Daniel Tompkins
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Katatonia
[Genre: Doom/Death Metal (early), Depressive Rock/Metal (later) ]

The Contortionist
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Seven
[Genre: Progressive/Alt Metal]

Gemini Syndrome
[Genre: Alternative Metal]

Like a Storm
[Genre: Post-grunge/ Alt-metal/ Hard Rock]

Monuments
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Beartooth
[Genre: Hardcore Punk]

Art of Dying
[Genre: Alternative Rock/ Alternative Metal]

Palisades
[Genre: Post Hardcore]

Bad Wolves
[Genre: Heavy Metal, Groove Metal]

Lower than Atlantis
[Genre: Alternative Rock/ Punk Rock]

Skyharbor
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

pg.lost
[Genre: Experimental Instrumentalism]

Corelia
[Genre: Progressive Metal]

Final Words

To sum it up, I currently feel more open-minded towards discovering new bands and genres that don’t fall under what I like to call “musical safe heaven”. I was open-minded before but rather consumed by that magical and highly-appealing vibe of the ‘80s! I am starting to spread my wings a little bit over several other genres, as shown in this publication. Most of the artists I included here are progressive metal/alternative and I can’t wait to see what else is there for me.

I should point out that I am still a glam rock girl and I will always be. Sometimes, however, it’s good to be challenged musically; it’s great to learn how to appreciate other genres and most importantly, to feel proud of it and admit it. Don’t be bothered by the fact that you liked a band that’s out of your musical horizons. Be honest with yourself and never embarrassed to admit that you find a certain artist/band’s music appealing to you. I’ve witnessed that a lot of people who enjoy listening to a band that plays music that’s a little bit softer than what they usually listen to, often don’t disclose it out there, don’t share their music and keep things privately because of their public image. Don’t do that. Spread the word if a band caught your ear. Each band deserves it!

Hope you enjoyed my little selection! Rock on and share the love!

Concert Experience: HARDLINE’s First Concert in Bulgaria (13/10/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

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I remember years ago when I heard Hardline’s “Double Eclipse” for the very first time and how I kept thinking that this is certainly a band I would love to see live but most probably missed my chance. Then, I became a fan and started following up on their career and current activities and realized that these amazing musicians are still touring and releasing beautiful rock music. The only thing left for me to do was sit and wait for an opportunity to present itself one way or another.

Little did I know that in 2018, my wishes would be granted! This past March, I saw Johnny Gioeli’s solo concert, alongside the Bulgarian rock band Eridan. It was a mind-blowing experience for sure and I couldn’t believe one of my favorite male rock vocalists was performing right in front of me in my home country! You can check out my concert experience publication over here – Concert Experience: Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (24/03/2018)

Now, 7 months later, I once again witnessed magic in front of me, on that same stage I saw Johnny perform earlier this year. This time, though, he brought the rest of Hardline with him and they had their first ever concert in Bulgaria! It’s been a long time coming but I can finally add one of my favorite hard rock bands on the list of my concert experiences.

It all started with an invitation from my dear friend and one of the most prolific and notable producers of the genre, Alessandro Del Vecchio. As we all know, he is Hardline’s master of the keyboards and one of the reasons why Hardline’s sound is so widely-beloved and appreciated by fans from all over the world. I had the chance to take a quick selfie with him and wish him good luck before the concert! He’s such a great person and a professional. I did an interview with him last year which you can check out here: Memories, Becoming Friends and Learning more About the Music Industry in an Interview With Producer and Songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio

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The concert started at around 10PM and everyone went crazy as soon as they heard the opening riffs and the guys coming out one by one. Alessandro, Mario, Anna and Marco…and then of course, the one-of-a-kind frontman of Hardline, Johnny who seemed as if he had brought all the energy of the sun itself with him. The reaction of the audience spoke enough. People love him and came to see why the whole rock community of the world speaks so highly of his talent and entertainment skills. There’s a reason trust me and you can only understand what I’m saying if you ever saw one of his concert. The guy is a showman of his own kind. I’ve never seen someone so energetic, so passionate, so playful and so artistic when it comes to entertaining the audience and making sure the public is left with nothing but great memories. It’s because of that attitude I will keep on going to his concerts – it’s nothing but smiles as soon as you enter the club!

That night, another wish of mine came true. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite songs from “Double Eclipse” is “Rhythm from a Red Car”. Last time when he came to Bulgaria he didn’t perform it but this time my prayers were heard. They did play it and it was a fantastic experience I will forever cherish. Here’s a rather shaky video of the performance:

Hardline – Rhythm from a Red Car @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (13/10/2018)

Here are some more photos for you to check out:

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A few more highlights I wanted to share with you!

First of all, I was highly impressed by the drum solo of Marco Di Salvia, who seemingly was into heavier stuff and that was not just because he was wearing a Gorgoroth t-shirt. It was great to see him live because he’s also part of Kee of Hearts – another melodic rock band which I love with all my heart and soul.

Mario Percudani, the lead guitarist and another dear friend of mine was also fantastic! I knew he was a great guitar player but after I saw his delivery, I can firmly say that he’s way more than that! I was so impressed by his stage presence and he’s certainly a guitarist worthy of admiration. Immense talent and great charisma! It was such a delight to watch.

Mid-concert, Johnny called a guy from the audience to come to the stage with his girlfriend. I’m guessing you already know why…There was a proposal on the stage and she said yes! It was a little bit cheesy for my taste but everyone seemed happy so congratulations to the engaged couple. Johnny seemed delighted too because he helped with the proposal arrangements.

In terms of the setlist, it was yet again another successful shot. From classics, like “Hot Cherie”, “Life’s a Bitch, “Dr. Love”, “In The Hands of Time”, ”Takin’ Me Down” and “Everything” to “Fever Dreams” – one of the band’s most beloved songs of all time, released in 2012, it was all one goal after another. The setlist mostly included songs from “Double Eclipse” but that was totally fine with me! After all, they did celebrate the 25th anniversary of the album last year. Johnny, singing “Love is Gonna Take You Home” from their “Human Nature” album, together with Alessandro was another beautiful moment that took my breath away.

Overall, the concert was an absolute delight! The venue was lovely, one of my favorite ones in Sofia, actually and with a band as classy as Hardline, the whole experience was complete! We all know that those guys are immensely talented but it’s not just that – they gave their all and delivered a world-class act. I am proud I was part of Hardline’s first-ever concert in Bulgaria and promise to be there next time as well!

& the goodbye…it all ended too soon! They mentioned that a new album is on the way for 2019 and that they will come again! Till next time, Hardline!

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P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Me and My Life in 3 Rock Songs

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I had a very interesting discussion on twitter the other day with all my friends and followers. I asked everyone to describe themselves in three rock songs. I got some pretty interesting answers and got reminded of some great songs too thanks to the conversation that went on. I have to admit, before asking everyone about it I haven’t really thought about the three songs that maybe represent my personality and my life the best. I tried my best to come up with three choices and I think I did quite well. From now on, when I meet someone for the very first time I might as well send them this publication! I promised to write about it on my blog so here we are. Keep in mind that three is a small number and of course, there are plenty more, but for sure, the following playlist pretty much sums it up all!

Here’s the tweet, you can go ahead and check it out and even reply if you feel like it! Make sure you comment below this publication and share your personal choices. I cannot wait to read them.


Foreigner – Woman in Black

Probably the song the lyrics to which represent me in a perfect way! I can’t think of a better track to kick things off. Of course, it’s all about those lyrics which I am absolutely convinced were written about me. Excluding the fact that I love black and my hair is black and my nails are usually pained black, everything else Lou Gramm sings about is basically about me or the type of woman I’m inclined to believe is close to my behavior or overall image. Of course, the song itself is a masterpiece and that contributes to my love for it as well.

I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation…
Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


Eric Clapton – I’ve Got A Rock N’roll Heart

This is a very important song for me because it kind of sums up how much I love rock music and how much it means to me. It also tells a story of a person who explains to their loved one that before they get truly serious, it’s of extreme importance to understand the role music plays in the life of this person. If this ain’t me, I don’t know who else is… Each time I meet someone for the very first time, somehow right from the second sentence, I somehow always end up talking about music and how essential it is to my existence. I want people, especially the right ones, to know that I cannot live without rock&roll and that my heart will always belong to music first.

P.S. Eric Clapton’s “Spiral” is another song that sends a similar message and might as well be on this list, next to this one as well.

I get off on ’57 Chevys
I get off on screaming guitar
Like the way it hits me every time it hits me
I’ve got a rock and roll, I’ve got a rock and roll heart


Cinderella – Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)

This song is here because not only it sends a message I’ve been trying to follow my entire life but because somehow I always end up in situations in which people don’t quite appreciate me and then feel regretful once I decide to leave. I’m not just talking about relationships but also friendships, work-relations and many other situations I’ve been in my entire life. I think it’s very important to know that life is hard and when you meet someone with good qualities and values, you have to keep it close to you and cherish it while you can…because let’s face it – one day this person might not be here and you will be the one, thinking how stupid you were to treat him/her the way you did. It’s sad that we live in a world where people appreciate you only after you are gone…

I can’t feel the things that cause you pain
I can’t clear my heart of your love
It falls like rain, ain’t the same
I hear you calling far away
Tearing through my soul I just can’t
Take another day, Who’s to blame
If we take some time to think it over baby
Take some time let me know
If you really wanna go

Don’t know what you got till it’s gone
Don’t know what it is I did so wrong
Now I know what I got
It’s just this song
And it ain’t easy to get back
Takes so long


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~

TOP 5 MAY 2018 RELEASES

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

 

It’s hard to imagine that we are half-way through 2018. Another month has passed and with it tons of great spring memories, moments to cherish and most importantly – a great list of music releases that made our lives even more colorful! I know I’m pretty much saying this for every month that passes by but damn – May of 2018 was one hell of a month to rock and roll! Plenty of outstanding releases found their way to my playlists and I am eager to share the ones who stood out the most and turned into something more than “new music I checked this past month”.

If you are stuck and need to hear something fresh and exciting, the following 5 albums might be just for you. My May 2018 favorites range from melodic rock to alternative and heavy metal but they share one thing in common – each one of them is capable of and has the right musical qualities to bring you comfort and new emotions. I strongly recommend those five albums and just in case you haven’t had the chance to go through them – now might be it!

Sevendust are topping my list with their comeback, titled “All I See is War”. I’ve been a fan of Sevendust since I was in high school so I hold them quite close to my heart. The aura of that release is hard to describe with words but let’s just say that when it comes to empowering and transferring your inner strength into sound, those guys are one of the best! The album blew me away, especially that beautiful song “Medicated”. Lords of Black, Doomsday Outlaw and Vega are also among my top May 2018 releases, all coming from Frontiers Records. Those guys never disappoint my melodic rock heart and this month they yet again delivered quality music, making my every day boring life significantly more bearable. Shinedown are another blast from my past. I gotta admit it’s been years since I last played something from them but with this album they sure as hell made a triumphant comeback into my life.

Check them out and let me know what you think in the comment section below:


1. Sevendust – All I see is War

sevendust all i see is war


2. Lords of Black – Icons of the New Day

lords of black 2018


3. Vega – Only Human

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4. Doomsday Outlaw – Hard Times

Doomsday Outlaw - Hard Times


5. Shinedown – Attention Attention

Shinedown - Attention Attention


References:
Featured image, retrieved from: https://www.hardwiredmagazine.com/sevendust-all-i-see-is-war-2018/?lang=en
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/or 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~

Memories, Becoming Friends and Learning more About the Music Industry in an Interview With Producer and Songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Revolution Saints Cover - FrontiersAs we all know, the month of October brought us Revolution Saints’ sophomore album “Light in the Dark” which according to many fans, including myself, is indeed one of the highlights of this year’s melodic rock scene. I already expressed my honest feelings in my review publication which you can go ahead and check over here: Album Review: Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark (2017). The album is the brainchild of a group of exceptional musical geniuses who were brought together by the same end goal – to craft a meaningful record that symbolizes and stands for something; a record that will bring strength and courage to people and will turn into their saving grace in times of need. The best thing is that they did all that and way more and you don’t need to be an expert in music to feel it – the vibe, the emotions, the message…it’s all there for you to take it.

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Alessandro Del Vecchio

The dream team behind “Light in the Dark” is Deen Castronovo (Lead vocals, drums), Jack Blades (Bass, vocals), Doug Aldrich (Guitar) and the cherry on top – producer/songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio who’s the main star of today’s show. Not only did he oversee the production of this album but he also contributed with his appraised songwriting skills and of course, his favorite keyboards that put that extra color to the album. Yes, the reason why I got to meet and talk to him in the first place was because of his immense contribution to this album but you should be well aware of the fact that he is one of the most prominent, versatile and networked musicians in contemporary rock music scene. He produced, wrote for and worked with so many of the big names out there, including Deen Castronovo, Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda from Journey,  Fergie Frederiksen, Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather from Toto,  Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes and Roger Glover from Deep Purple, James LaBrie and Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater, Jack Blades from Night Ranger and Damn Yankees, Doug Aldrich and Bernie Marsden from Whitesnake, Joe Lynn Tuner, Craig Goldy, Carmine and Vinny Appice, Russell Allen from Symphony X, Tony Franklin, Michael Kiske of Helloween , Bruce Gaitsch and Bill Champlin from Chicago and many more. He’s also working with his bands Edge Of Forever, Hardline and Voodoo Circle as keyboardist and singer. That’s not all! Alessandro is the in-house producer for one of the most prolific and hardworking rock&roll labels out there – Frontiers Records; that should tell you enough! He participated in the making of countless exceptional melodic rock gems and not just those that are under the Frontiers tagline. To sum it up, Alessandro is most certainly an artist worth knowing and appreciating for everything he did and keeps on doing for this industry.

The circumstances under which I got the chance to talk to him couldn’t have aligned better. He was touring with the new supergroup Sainted Sinners and fortunately, the guys were just about to have a little tour in Bulgaria, including gigs in Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Yambol where Sainted Sinners partnered up with the legend himself – Mr. Ian Paice from Deep Purple. I got invited to the concert which was believe me, most certainly a life-changing event. I wrote all about my experiences on one of my previous publications so you can go ahead and check it out here: Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017)

 

The concert brought me and Alessandro together for a quick chat about so many things related with music and his long long list of activities and projects that keep coming out as we speak. I had the honor of interviewing him and finding out more about Revolution Saints, the new album, what it takes to fulfill your dreams and the past and current state of the industry. He’s certainly an artist you can learn so much from. I do hope you enjoy the following interview:


Q: I’m very interested in your work and how in the first place you got into the entertainment industry? Tell me your story from the very beginning?

A: The very beginning was that in my house there was always music. My father was a teenager during the ‘70s and the ‘60s so what we normally used to listen to in the house was Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles and Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep so what happened every day is that you know, back then you used to have Stereo Hi-Fis in the house and my father was blasting music the whole day. My first memory is listening to the Greatest Hits from the Beatles so I think that shaped up my taste and I think around 6 or 7 my father gave me as a present a Walkman which back then was a cassette player and he gave me some cassettes and my favorite one was “Selling England by the Pound” by Genesis. I was a little kid listening to adult, mature music and that shaped up my taste so I ended up…I think I was 12 that I found out a cassette by the Queen and I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time and I was struck by lightning! I was like, “I  wanna do that” and I remember my father came for dinner after work and I said “Pa, I wanna be a musician, I wanna be like Freddie Mercury, I wanna play the piano and I wanna sing!” I still remember his face. He was totally amazed and happy about it and that’s how I started. I wanted to be like Freddie Mercury and then I heard for the first time Malmsteen and I wanted to play that kind of music and then Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake…and it all fell into that thing.

Q: Right now, you do mostly production work or you are working on your solo career?

A:  I’m not a solo guy. I’m more like a band guy and I have my own band which is called Edge of Forever. We’re about to do our fourth record next year. Works for the others even if obviously bands like Hardline, you know I can say it’s my band cause I write and produce and been part of the band longer than any other member, apart from Johnny. I would say that Edge of Forever and Hardline are my main acts. I’ve always thought that if I had to do something as a solo artist, it has to be different than what I do with Edge of Forever, Hardline or Revolution Saints. It would make sense. I would love to do a blues record, actually cause I’m a blues guy more than anything else.

Q: The reason why we connect and we are here right now is Revolution Saints’ new album – “Light in the Dark”. I wanted to interview you because I know that you indeed have a huge contribution to this album. Can you please tell us more what exactly did you do for this album and how did it feel to work with Deen Castronovo? I would also like to know if you have a favorite song or a favorite moment from the process of making the album?

A: It’s kind of different than the first record because the firs record was more like, “Ok, let’s put songs together and let’s get a band for Deen; let’s make a band that’s made of friends!” – that’s how we ended up with the line-up. For the second record, I wanted to write with the whole band as much as I could. Even if I look like a control freak, I’m not. I’m a band guy so as soon as everything was put on paper for the deals and the schedule and everything, I said “Okay guys, everyone just throw ideas and we see what happens.” Basically, the record is I would say mostly me and Doug as the songwriting and Deen contributed to some of the vocals to “Freedom”, entirely for lyrics. I wrote most of the lyrics and Jack wrote the lyrics for “Light in the Dark”.

I think this record is special because we ended up working all together in the same environment for 3-4 weeks. We were in the studio, we recorded together, and we arranged parts together. It was a great feeling to have – three of my favorite musicians and idols in my studio and to do music together. This record I think it’s different because of that – it’s got more personality, it’s got more of everybody! It’s very deep because we tried to tell Deen’s story not in a romantic kind of way – kind of raw and real; it’s a record about resurrection and getting out of the dark.  It’s also a record about finding the way to express yourself out of the darkest moments. It was a vehicle for mostly all of us to prove that the first record wasn’t just a one record off; we wanted to make a stamp as a band. It’s tougher; it’s more rock & roll, rawer. 90% of the record was done together in the studio and I think you can hear the difference because of that.

Q: I’m generally a ballad person. I would die for a great rock ballad. I think that one of the greatest ballads that came out this year was “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” from “Light in the Dark”. People are also responding to it quite well. I would like to know who wrote the song and what was the inspiration for writing it? Was it you?

A: No, it was Richard Page from Mr. Mister.  He wrote the lyrics and the music. Richard wrote the song years and years ago. Nobody picked it. It was just available as a demo on an Indie record that he did. Serafino from Frontiers sent me this acoustic track with just an acoustic guitar and vocals and said “Can you turn this into an epic ballad?” I pushed play on the song and I was totally struck because the lyrics kind of resonated and I think they resonate with everyone because everyone can come out of a relationship, out of friendship, out of everything with a person and know that even if whatever happens, still what you experience – it’s still worth living it so…

If you hear the original, it’s a little bit different. It took me days to get to that version. I had to change the melody in order to fit Deen’s voice and range. We wanted to make it as Journey as we could. I think it’s probably my best production and arrangement ever because everytime I’m very critical with my work but if I play that song it feels like I almost didn’t do it. It’s like I’m listening from the outside and it’s kind of cool. It’s the first time that it happened to me that I’m listening to a song and I’m listening as a listener, like a regular rock lover, not as an insider.

Q: Do you have a favorite song you wrote on the record that really means a lot to you?

A: Probably “Falling Apart”. That is the real resurrection song. Everybody can fall apart. Everybody can make mistakes and see everything destroyed as a reaction to what you do and then raise from the dust and get over it, learn and live. Everybody lives and learns from mistakes and experiences. “Falling Apart” is my special song on the record. Also I really like “Ride On” because it’s a double kick and it’s kind of different. I’m a meaningful, slow songs guy, so “Falling Apart” is my favorite from the record.

Q: It has a beautiful message. This whole album is one beautiful striking message.

A: It’s kind of strange because I’m Italian and I never wrote songs in Italian. I always wrote in English since I’m a teenager; it’s kind of ironic that I’m writing for American people and the songs are perceived the way I wanted them to be perceived. The fact that I can write about life and not just the love, sex, whatever, rock & roll kind of thing; I really care about the lyrics even if I don’t feel like I’m the greatest lyricist but if I can tell a story and the story and the story is clear and I think the combination of having Deen through something and having a voice that knew what was happening made the songs even more real. It’s not just singing my lyrics; it’s got the experience to express something that’s so deep. We were calling each other during rehab and all the stuff that he was going through and I said “Well, Deen, if we do a record, it’s going to be a record about you; you are the singer and I don’t want you to sing something that’s not personal.” That’s how I started to write all about resurrection, getting up and making it right.

Q: You mentioned that you are from Italy. You are also the in-house producer of Frontiers records that are based in Italy. But you also mentioned that you write for American bands. How the American audience does differ from the European audience, especially in terms of experience music?

A: The big difference between America and Europe is that America had great American bands and we had Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and all the bands that came out of the British Rock Invasion; We had the Beatles, Free, Bad Company. I think that European bands weren’t driven by a dream; they were just expressing themselves because that’s what we have done for centuries. I think that Americans, their cultural expression was driven differently. When they were doing things, they were doing them 200%. If you think of the success of bands like Chicago or Journey or Van Halen, the soundtrack of American rock, the energy is different. I think it’s because the starting point of the creative process is different. Basically, that’s the big difference. Nowadays, the reality is that in America there’s no rock scene anymore. There’s no rock ground. It’s still about the classics; it’s still about the soundtracks of the 70s and the 80s for rock. American musicians think that in Europe we get that and we think that Americans are getting that so. To me it’s just the cultural environment that’s different.

Some bands didn’t even tour in Europe. We never saw Journey in the ‘80s or the ‘90s. American audiences are a little bit spoiled because they saw everyone and we didn’t. The first Rush show in Italy 10 years ago, and they’ve been touring forever in the USA and Canada; I think that’s the big difference probably, we’re still starstruck because we’re not used to seeing those bands.

Q: You live in Italy. Most of your work is in Italy. I know that you are doing vocal couching, etc. I’m very interested to know about the rock music scene in Italy and how does it differ from other European countries?

A: The environment is totally against rock. A general average people going to a rock show is about 200 in Italy, if we talk about underground bands like Hardline or you know the Dead Daisies. Obviously if it’s Deep Purple or Toto, things are different. There’s no middle ground. You go from 200 to 2000. Right now it’s tough because we don’t have the venues anymore. We have 300 people capacities and 2,000 people capacities and the big arenas. A lot of the tours don’t even come to Italy because it’s not worth for the crowd; it’s not worth for the laws and illegal merchandise outside of the shows. It’s all against the rock touring thing. There are a lot of bands; there are a lot of okay bands, there are very few great bands but you know we’re Italians, we go against ourselves. For example, Lacuna Coil has been mocked and discouraged by everyone. Still today, Lacuna Coil is the most well-known band from Italy. We’re not a rock country. We never had it. We are still struggling.

Q: I want to know more about your production work because this is very interesting to me. You are putting your magic touch into so many records that are coming out these days. I would like to know which record you crafted this year meant the most to you and what comes next for you in terms of production?

A: Apart from Revolution Saints, for the records that are already out, I really loved working with Kryptonite – a Swedish band. I loved working with Jakob. To me, he is one of the best lyricists in Europe and if you read through the lyrics of the record, it’s just stunning the way he puts down the stories. I also really enjoyed working with Kee of Hearts.

As far as the next records, I’m working on Johnny Gioeli’s  solo record which is going to be very challenging because it’s not an AOR record, it’s more of a modern new breed kind of record; very melodic but very modern, I would say an AOR version of Foo Fighters. I like to challenge myself with grounds that are not what I normally do. That record I think is gonna be really something.

Q: What gives you the most pleasure when you produce a record?

A: Probably when I’m mixing because it’s already done. It’s like giving birth to a baby – it becomes evident. When I write a song or when I arrange a song, I already picture in my head how it’s gonna sound and how it’s gonna be at the end. So, it’s not a surprise emotion; it’s more like a good relief and a sense of accomplishment. I feel like “Ah, you made it again!”. It’s a good sensation.

Q: Do you always get that feeling of satisfaction when you hear a band in the studio and then you hear them live? Have you ever been disappointed to hear a band that sounds different in the studio than the way they sound live?

A: It’s a tough question. For the experience that I have, I can feel when a record is fake and it’s not representing the band. I’m not very surprised when a band is not exactly on the record when they play shows. You can feel when a record has been done more by the production than the band itself.

For example, if you listen to the new Europe record, you know listening to the record that the band is gonna sound like that live. To me, it’s more because new bands are spoiled in the studio. They know that they can fix it. Back then, you couldn’t. You had to be extremely good. You know, what I miss of those days is that a lot of bands don’t rehearse the records anymore. They just go into the studio and they create the records in the studio. So what happens? You don’t know how it feels to play that thing. You just add spices all over the songs and maybe you cannot play them live. They rely more than the technology than the music itself. That’s why bands like Rival Sons are special. Even if they didn’t re-write the history of rock & roll or didn’t break any new ground, they are real, compared to all the other bands that are cheese and stuff in the studio and trying to sound so good that’s unrealistic.

It’s not good and it’s not bad, it’s just a different way of crafting entertainment. It’s not right or wrong, it’s the way you do things.

A: You’ve created a perfect bridge for my last question. We are now here, talking to each other because of the Internet and the new technologies.  You have been in the industry and worked with so many people for a long time. What do you think has been the biggest change in the music industry and how did it change? Is it the Internet, social media, etc? Did it affect it positively or negatively?

Q: I’m very realistic. I don’t wanna see the negative sides of things. It’s poisoning, especially if you are an artist. I think that the Internet is one of the biggest things that happened to the music world because it glued the whole world in one place. When I was a young musician and trying to get work and get known, I literally sent CDs to every address that I found. Nowadays, if you wanna get in touch with someone, you just write an e-mail and maybe you get an answer. Everything became very easy with the Internet. Finally, the bands are more real. It’s not like in the past – you didn’t even know the way an artist was. But nowadays, you can picture the person behind the artist because of the Internet.

I have a strange, divided opinion on social media but I’m every day on Facebook. It’s more like a promotional tool but it’s also a way to stay close to my friends and people who are supporting my art. I take it as it is. I take the good sides and elevate them. It’s fun to me that a person from Australia can write to me and say “I loved your record, thank you very much for doing it”; it’s amazing.

Obviously, the downside is the trolls and the negative people. They are everywhere; it’s not just the Internet. If you go to a bar, you hear the same opinions. The Internet opened the cages so everyone can shout their opinion. Years ago, you could say it; nowadays you can shout it and hide behind the screens. You just don’t care about them and go on.

Q: Is there an artist you haven’t worked with yet, but really want to someday? Whether we are talking about producing or songwriting?

A: It’s tough because I honestly work with so many of my idols. I think Malmsteen and Coverdale are left out of my dream list. I would really like to work with Steve Perry – that would be a dream. One thing I would like to do is to get to work with Chicago – one of these real groups, big bands. It’s a tough question because I didn’t even dream of doing everything that I’ve done. I always tell the story of when I saw “California Jam” from Deep Purple for the first time. Then I dreamed of being playing with Ian. I ended up playing with Ian for years.

Q: How does it feel? To play with him on stage?

A: I’m a professional. I’m used to that. I’m not starstruck. Honestly, every time that I sing Glenn’s part from “Burn” with Ian, it always feels like “Oh, man – I cannot believe that!”

When I was a kid and somebody came to me and told me – “One day you are going to be singing that part a hundred times with Ian and members of Deep Purple” I would’ve laughed my ass off. That’s the fulfillment of my dream and living my dream.

I’m not the best musician around. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best songwriter. I just try to be competent and put my soul every time. I always try to give my best and I always try to be as good as I can. I still think that the attitude and the way you work with the people, makes a difference. Ringo wasn’t the best drummer but he was making the songs special and he never gave up.  

Still, when I play a Deep Purple record or a Black Sabbath record or a Journey record, I’m still like “Oh  man, I played with him!” A lot of friends of mine are making fun of me because if they name a band, somehow I worked with them. It’s a great feeling. I enjoy it. Every morning I wake up and I’m so grateful. I don’t know what I could’ve been. I only know how to make music. I put everything there. I’m grateful, I work hard and I take all the joys from doing it.

Thank you, Alessandro so much for the amazing interview and I wish you all the luck and success!

me and alessandro


This interview was conducted by Velina (me), founder and owner of “My Rock Mixtapes”. If you would like to use quotations or reference it on your website and/or blog, please make sure you first contact me at velina.rockmixtapes@gmail.com

Cheers.

 

Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

backstage pass - ian paice yambolI think about this rock&roll weekend I had with Sainted Sinners and Ian Paice and I still cannot fully process what happened to me and how lucky I was to be there and have this life-changing experience. I’ve been to so many rock concerts, of all shapes, styles and sizes, but this was the first time I got the chance to have the “insider’s look” and closely witness how hard but immensely rewarding it is for artists, crew and everyone involved in an event to put everything together and deliver it to the beloved fans who came to support them.

me and alessandroIt was an honor to be invited backstage by the versatile musical genius Alessandro Del Vecchio and sit down and talk to him about the current situation of the music industry (stay tuned for the full interview on my blog, coming up pretty soon). Getting this opportunity was certainly the highlight of my career as a music blogger and will forever cherish the memories and insights I gained; Not just that, but I cannot wait to share everything with my devoted readers.

The concert was held at Sports Diana Hall in Yambol, Bulgaria. Despite Yambol being one of the small cities in Bulgaria, the 2,000+ people that ended up showing was no surprise. Legendary drummer Ian Paice, along with the supergroup Sainted Sinners who are composed of top-notch musicians, including lead guitarist Frank Pané, vocalist David Reece, drummer Berci Hirleman, bass guitarist Malte Frederik Burkert and guest keyboardist/vocalist Alessandro Del Vecchio are certainly a solid reason for fans to gather up for a night of pure rock&roll!

I’ve been to many sound-checks but as I said, this was the first time I’ve witnessed something of this calibre. The preparations and the level of precision and dedication from the band and crew were admirable and equally pleasing to watch as the show that came later on. I expected nothing but professionalism and great attitude from all the rockstars on that stage and believe me, that’s the only way they handled everything.

soundcheck sainted sinners and ian

backstage 2

Backstage photos with David AndNadia Reece & Malte Frederik Burkert. Both were incredibly kind and sweet. I especially enjoyed talking to Malte who by the way puts to shame any lady out there with his gorgeous hair. 

Me and Frank Pané . Had the chance to tell him that Bonfire‘s “Byte the Bullet” is in my Top3 albums of 2017 so far! He was so happy to hear it!

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The Before…

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& the after…

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Right before the show; Proud of everyone who contributed to this concert and the lovely audience!

Everyone was thrilled to see Ian Paice rock the hell out of those drums, just like he’s been doing for the past 50 years or so. The first time I saw him, he immediately said hi to me and moved on to the stage for soundcheck; I will never forget how natural the encounter was. I met him after the concert as well, took a photo with him and got his autograph! What a memory. I mean, we are talking about a founding member of one of the most legendary and history-defining bands of all time – Deep Purple. Seeing him at this shape, despite being 70 years old is inspiring and I was blessed to once again this year be in his presence (I went to Deep Purple’s concert in Sofia, Bulgaria this past May too). He did a splendid job and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves in the company of this legend.

me and ian
Me and the legend! It was an honor to meet him!

Don’t you even get me started on Sainted Sinners. This was the first time I watched them live and I had the time of my life. I knew that David Reece was going to tear down the place with his vocals and he did it, believe me. The stage dynamics were a beautiful thing to experience. I loved the energy and interaction between the members, as well as the way they portrayed their style in front of the Bulgarian audience. The concert was divided into two parts – first part was with Sainted Sinners, mixing golden oldies and newly released music. The second part was with Ian Paice and it exclusively featured Deep Purple’s strongest hits, like “Stormbringer”, “Burn”, “Highway Star”, etc. The concert was quite long and at one point I could feel that I’m no longer 20 as my back started hurting from so much dancing and jumping around.  

Some of my favorite moments include Alessandro Del Vecchio taking over the mic for a beautiful cover of Rainbow’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”. Just listen to his powerful vocals, I was entirely mindblown by how good of a live performer he is.

The setlist included timeless classics like this and more, even AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, performed by Frank Pané‘s wife Lydia was on the table. Another memorable moment for me was Sainted Sinners performing the highly energizing “We Are All Sainted Sinners” which was the point where I realized I won’t be having my voice on the next day (and yes, it was gone). You know how much I love Bonfire so seeing Frank Pané live in action was a dream becoming true. The guy is effortlessly stunning as a guitarist – he just barely touches that signature polka dots guitar as if it’s a feather and the ground starts shaking. Malte Burkert was something else – his youthful, playful but passionate presence on that stage make me drop my jaw a few times.

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on stage

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For the second part of the concert, as I’ve already mentioned, drummer Ian Paice joined Sainted Sinners and put us all into his back pocket. What a musician! I especially loved when the band played “Burn” – a pivotal moment for the evening. There’s a video but you can hear me sing my guts out so I think I will keep it to myself for now. 

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Check this out! He is unbelievable – drumming as if he was a 20-year old…

The grand finale!

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Happiness…my face says it all! I was part of a historical concert and thank everyone who made it happen! Cheers to more!


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Experience: Marillion Live at Ancient Theater, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (24/09/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

With so many unique rock bands out there, each bearing their own distinctive style of sound, appearance and approach to music, no wonder people can never get tired of live music and crave for more and more. I’ve always been a fan of live musical events, not just because I’m a fan of a certain band but because that’s the most genuine way to touch the heart and soul of the artists and turn it into a distinctive piece of memory you can always carry with you. There are bands out there that devoted their entire career to making spirit-lifting music, full of encouragement, excitement and confidence. Their concerts are usually filled with tons of action and fire, leaving the fans tired but satisfied to the bone.

There are also of course, the bands that make music with deeper, more complex meanings, complemented by more sophisticated sound and instrumentation. We refer to this type of rock as progressive, so I will just stick to this term for now. I’ve been a fan of progressive rock for a long long time but honestly, I’ve never attended a concert by a progressive rock band. I’ve had my ideas and expectations but once you actually witness it in front of you, you see how little you know and how much more you have yet to understand and experience. In that sense, I am quite proud and privileged to have the legendary British neo-progressive rock band Marillion come to not just my country, but to my hometown and reward me and their fans over here with not just a concert but an impossible manifestation of audio and visual techniques, creating one of the most spine-tingling and arousing musical journeys of my life so far. I must say, I’m not the most devoted fan of the band but I was never in a million years going to miss the chance to see their life-changing show. I hope to inspire you with my story and do justice to Marillion because believe me, those guys know how to deliver a striking not just musical but theatrical performance and you just gotta go see it while you still have the chance.

I should start by saying that Marillion challenged every norm and standard I had in my mind about rock concerts. The entire evening was one endless stream of sensual audio and visual provocations, topped with a magical artistic performance by vocalist Steve Hogarth. To many it was probably just a different kind of concert but to me it was way more than that – it was a beautiful theatrical presentation, incorporating compelling singing, melodramatic gestures and body movements and irresistible audience interaction, all decorated with stunning visual effects and videos that perfectly complement every song and the lyrics. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Marillion certainly put a lot of effort to make a “heavy” show; I say heavy but I don’t necessarily refer to the music. The show itself required a lot of attention and sweat from the viewer. We were assaulted with many different show pieces, all challenging each and every one of our senses; The concert put me to a test – it’s been a while since I last felt so uptight but definitely in a good way.

I’ve been talking so much about the excellent visuals and now it’s time to actually show you. The venue here also played a huge rule in the atmospheric progressive experience. My readers might be familiar with it from my Nazareth concert experience article a few months ago as it’s the same one – The Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Marillion Plovdiv Venue

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You could clearly see how much time and effort were put into the making of those videos that were accompanying each performance. The lyrics perfectly matched the scenes and it provided the audience with another treat to watch out for. To me, the most appealing aspect of the show was when they performed “King” and the video behind them showed famous artists and musicians who have passed away, including Bon Scott, Elvis Presley and of course, my Steve Clark who I miss so much. It was unbelievable!

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Steve Hogarth was undoubtedly the star of the evening. The man doesn’t know any limitations and once in character, nothing or no one can stop him. His performance was a work of art. I cannot specifically talk about his singing or acting or stage presence, because it’s just one whole and you don’t know where Steve the actor and Steve the singer merge. It was a pleasure to observe how he becomes one with the music, the stage and the audience. He delivered many unique performances but I gotta say the way he did “The Invisible Man” stood out the most to me. Maybe because it was the first encore and the audience sensed that we are about to wrap things up, the air around us became thicker. That’s something I will never forget. One more thing I have to acknowledge is his keyboard skills – the man is an alien!

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As a young fan, who saw Marillion for the very first time, all I can say is that those guys changed a lot of perceptions I had for artists’ stage presence and musical delivery. I met new songs and learned new lyrics, which I guarantee will become an inseparable part of my life (“You’re Gone” and “Power” for example, both impeccable rock pleasures). I am delighted that I had the chance to witness this other type of concerts – the ones that make you think and observe carefully. I was so used to the crazy rock&roll vibes that make you jump around and party hard so I really needed this refreshing art experience. Thank you, Marillion


Band Members:

Steve Rothery – Guitars
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass Guitar
Ian Mosley – Drums
Steve Hogarth – Vocals

Setlist:

1.El Dorado
2.You’re Gone
3.The Leavers
4.Fantastic Place
5.Mad 
6.Afraid of Sunlight
7.Sugar Mice
8.Real Tears for Sale
9.Sounds That Can’t Be Made
10.Power
11.Man of a Thousand Faces
12.King
13.Neverland

1st Encore

14.Invisible Man

2st Encore

15.Three Minute Boy

Event management: Radio Tangra Mega Rock


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

References:
Cover photo and concert poster, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/en/news/read/29005.html
Setlist, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/guide/read/30293.html

15 Favorite Rock Albums that Celebrate a 30th Anniversary This Year

I get excited just by thinking of this year – the marvelous year of 1987!!! So many people on social media asked me which I think was the best year for rock music. I always say 1987 with no hesitation. Why? Check my list and you will certainly find out why!

All those outstanding releases are celebrating a 30th anniversary this year (2017) and I really wanted to list all my favorites together, in one place. Of course, I might have missed some of your favorites and yes, Appetite for Destruction is not in my top15 (surprise surprise!) but it is what it is. From Great White to Treat and Def Leppard, I honestly and straightforwardly am telling why exactly I love these albums with the idea to celebrate them and remember that it might have been 30 years since they were released, but the love and excitement over them hasn’t gone anywhere.

Don’t forget to tell me what do you think and which one is your favorite album released in 1987!?

 


Great White – Once Bitten

great white save your loveOnce you hear the mesmerizing ballad “Save Your Love” or the hard-rocking opener “All Over Now”, you will understand why Great White’s junior album deserves a place in your collection. The album came out in the hot summer of 1987 and quickly made a fuss around the band, eventually reaching a platinum status just a year after its release. The highlight and the most-instantly recognizable song from the album has to be “Rock Me” – I bet you know it. “Once Bitten” is actually my favorite Great White album and this song is a pretty solid reason behind my choice.


TNT – Tell No Tales

tnt-tell-no-tales“Everyone’s a Star”, “10 000 Lovers (In One)”, “As Far as the Eye Can See”…and on and on. TNT’s junior album is one of the best releases of 1987 and no one can take that away from it. As biased as I am (obviously), you can’t actually deny the power of vocalist Tony Harnell or the brilliance of guitar player Ronni Le Tekrø who make the perfect dream team. I got “Tell no Tales” in a record store as a “blind purchase” and this turned out to be the best decision of my life!! There are still so many people out there who haven’t discovered the greatness of this band so I urge them to do it now!


Dokken – Back for the Attack

Dokken back for the attackDokken’s fourth studio release also happens to be their best-selling album of all time and certainly one of the most interesting and captivating hard rock gems of 1987. “Prisoner”, “Night by Night” and of course the legendary “Dream Warrior” – the theme song for the horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” are just a few of the stunning rockers on “Back for the Attack”. Some critics and fans don’t consider this album as Dokken’s finest hour but then again I never actually cared about that. The album is full of jaw-dropping rockers and it deserves its place in my list.


White Lion – Pride

white-lion-prideWhite Lion’s sophomore album is an absolute classic and a musical piece that cannot really be described with words. Though my favorite White Lion album is “Mane Attraction”, “Pride” gets the honorable second place! “Wait” and “When the Children Cry” are the hits that came out of it, though I gotta go with “Hungry” as my favorite song from the album. Mike Tramp and Vito Bratta can craft some serious magic and this is one of their strongest products, for sure.


Strangeways – Native Sons

strangeways-native-sons“Native Sons” remains one of the forgotten and highly underrated representatives of the large AOR scene of the late ‘80s, despite the admirable qualities and superb songwriting it showcases. Thankfully, there are still people like me (and you) who know that picking up an apple from the top of the basket doesn’t mean that it’s the best apple of the bunch. “Native Sons” is a melodic bliss from start to finish. “Dance with Somebody”, “Only a Fool”, “So Far Away”…go check for yourself if you have never listened to these songs. Vocalist Terry Brock is one of the strongest voices of melodic rock and this is his finest hour.


McAuleySchenker Group – Perfect Timing

msg perfect timingA predictable choice, don’t you think? I mean of course I will include the debut album of the Michael Schenker and Robin McAuley, released in the fall of 1987. This project and this album represent one of my favorite collaborations in rock music. Those two were a match made in heaven and once you play songs like “Gimme More” or my personal favorite “Follow the Night” you will get what I’m saying. “Perfect Timing” deserves all the love and attention you have and I’m not “just saying it”. 


Treat – Dreamhunter

treat-dreamhunter-1987I’ve been introducing those amazing guys to fans who have a very little idea how much more there is to the world of AOR. “Dreamhunter” is the third studio album of Swedish rockers TREAT and it’s one of those underrated gems that should’ve been way bigger. It didn’t leave a big impact on the world of music but it left a tremendous impact on me and my little rocknroll heart. “Sole Survivor”, “Take Me on Your Wings” and “You’re The One I Want” are some of the stand outs from “Dreamhunter”, all impressing with great production value and brilliant melodies.There’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.


Foreigner – Inside Information

inside information foreignerSometimes when we talk about the great Foreigner, this album gets left out of the conversation and I’m not quite sure why. I mean, yes – when you have enormous era-defining albums like “4” and “Agent Provocateur”, the follow-ups might get forgotten sometimes. In fact, though, (honesty hour) the sixth studio album of Foreigner – “Inside Information” might be my favorite release by Foreigner. “Say You Will”, “Can’t Wait” and the title songs are some of their greatest works, indeed. One more thing – it’s the last album to feature the 80’s core lineup of Gramm, Jones, Wills and Elliott, making it quite relevant.


REO Speedwagon – Life as we Know It

reo life as we know itHuge REO fan right here so no surprises that their 1987 album “Life as we Know It” is in my list of favorites. The twelfth studio album of the beloved band features some outstanding music, including “That Ain’t Love”, “New Way to Love” and “In My Dreams” – all beautifully written and highly pleasing tunes, solidifying REO Speedwagon’s position as melodic rock giants. Things after this release were never quite the same in terms of commercial performance and popularity and that could be traced back to the growing tensions between the members of the band; however we do have this fine piece of music and I’m so glad it saw the light.


Helix – Wild in the Streets

helix wild in the streetsHelix might as well be my favorite Canadian band so I just had to include their highly underrated sixth studio album “Wild in the Streets”. The beginning of their career was pretty strong but by the time this album was released, the fire was already fading out. The release is filled with memorable, close-to-my-heart rockers, including “She’s too Tough”, “Never Gonna Stop the Rock” and the gorgeous cover of Nazareth’s ballad “Dream On”. Never understood why this release wasn’t that big but that never prevented me from falling in love with it. 


Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Pink Floyd - A momentary lapse of reason front“A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is often misunderstood and extremely underrated record, despite magnificent songs such as “Learning to Fly”, “Sorrow” and “On The Turning Away”. I often clash with lack of objectivity when it comes to this album but then again, everyone has their own opinion and views. For me, the magic started when David Gilmour took over and released “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” and “The Division Bell” which instantly became my favorite PF albums. I love the classics and Roger Water is indeed a genius but this album right here is the PF release I connected with on a very personal level.


Tommy Shaw – Ambition

tommy shaw ambitionI wish more people would know of this album, because Tommy Shaw truly deserves it. His third solo release, “Ambition” is like a gentle autumn leaf touching your skin. Honestly, it was this beautiful piece of music right here that fully opened my eyes to his musical abilities. Not that I wasn’t appreciating him in Styx but I was always drawn to his melodic rock releases and especially this one. “No Such Thing”, “Dangerous Game” and of course – that magical cover of Survivor’s “Ever Since the World Begin” are offering a memorable experience that can make you a fan of Tommy in an instant.


Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night

fleetwood macFleetwood Mac forever blurred the lines between pop and rock in the ’70s with relevant releases like “Rumors”. Their style didn’t change that much in the ’80s as well. “Tango in the Night” is probably my favorite release by the legendary band and “Big Love”, “Seven Wonders” and “Little Lies” might make you agree with me. “Tango in the Night” is their 14th studio album (wow, you read right, don’t worry) and the last studio album from the band’s most successful line-up of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. This release certainly is more pop than rock but …it’s the late ’80s we are talking about after all! 


Whitesnake – 1987

Whitesnake WhitesnakeDo I actually have to introduce or talk about this album? I don’t think so, but here we go…

Whitesnake’s most essential and internationally recognized record till today remains their seventh self-titled studio album. Released back in 1987, “Whitesnake” turned into a major successful hit, producing timeless rock tunes like “Is This Love”, “Looking for Love” and “Still of the Night”. What made this album such an impressive masterpiece is the unique combination of classic solid rock and melodic rhythms. This all became true due to the great songwriting collaboration between singer David Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes. Melody, energy, passion and outstanding production are just some of the characteristics of the album that contributed to its phenomenal success.


Def Leppard – Hysteria

hysteria coverI saved the best (and my all time favorite album) for last. No need for me to tell you why this album is here and what it means to me because you probably know all about it. The monstrous game-changing and history-defining record turned into one of the highlights of the era, not only because of its production values, 7 hit singles and multi-platinum status, but also because it symbolized the strength of the human spirit and how with a little bit of faith and tons and tons of hard work, you can achieve anything. “Love Bites” is certainly my favorite song from “Hysteria”, though every second of it is like a heaven on Earth.


References:
Photos, retrieved from Wikipedia and Amazon
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

[Playlist] 10 Forgotten but Deserving Hard Rock Gems [Part 2]

New media technologies allowed users to upload, share and promote content of any kind, including music. Thanks to platforms, like YouTube, I was able to discover a lot of outstanding, lesser known bands and albums from the ’80s/’90s and enrich my library with rock music that doesn’t just come out of the big acts of the industry. Actually, unearthing these hidden gems which for one reason or another didn’t achieve that big of a commercial success and these days are not particularly on everyone’s minds, is one of my favorite things to do…you just never know what will come out!
I previously wrote a similar publication, which you can check out in case you haven’t : 10 Forgotten but Deserving AOR Classics and now I wanted to once again prepare a little playlist with songs from albums (and entire albums) that might had been in time but still managed to captivate me and found a way into my library. In case you know some of these AOR treasures, now it might be a good time to remember. Let’s go…


Hanover Fist – Hungry Eyes (1985)

hanover

This beauty right here I found while watching videos on YouTube. I was attracted by the album artwork but never expected to become such a fan of this album. The pleasantly obscure, rather heavy release, titled “Hungry Eyes” is actually a re-release of Canadian rockers’ 1983 debut album, with with a slightly different tracklist. I wish I had a long and interesting story but I don’t – the band lasted for about 3 years and that was it…

“Fits Ya Good”, “Hungry Eyes”, “Metal of the Night” – all songs I recommend and truly believe will fit into the playlist of every rock fan out there. Give it a chance:


Fury – Fury (1993)

12

I honestly don’t know much about these guys or this album, because it’s just impossible to unearth any background information. What I do know, however, is that this self-titled 1993 release contains every ingredient I like and enjoy in a melodic rock record. I often go back to this video I accidentally found on YouTube just so I can play this album from start to finish. My favorite songs include “Trouble” and “Higher Ground” – brilliant hooks and selection of sing-alongs.


Persian Risk – Rise Up (1986)

persian risk rise up

I think that many people probably know or have heard about the NWOBHM band Persian Risk but I also think that it’s high time I refreshed your memories of them. The British band formed in the late ’70s and actually have a long story so if you’re into that genre, go ahead and dig deeper. I have Carl Sentance – their vocalist (who is now fronting Nazareth) to thank for giving me a heads up on their stunning albums. “Rise Up” – their debut 1986 release is one of the gems you simply must hear. “Jane” has to be one of their most memorable songs. Check it out:


Stage Dolls – Stage Dolls (1988)

10

This album I found as I was casually browsing through YouTube (thankfully). I knew that they had to be from somewhere other than the UK or the USA and I was right. Stage Dolls is actually a Norwegian band, formed in the early ’80s. Their self-titled 1989 album is actually their junior one, released in Norway first and becoming a total hit over there. Not so sure about becoming a hit everywhere else, but with songs like “Still in Love” and “Waitin’ For You”, they are true winners in my book. Another proof that Norwegians just know how to make rock music!!


Von Groove – Von Groove (1992)

von groove

A great example of early ’90s hard rock – it was excellent (but overlooked) albums like this one that kept the spirit of the genre alive, against the upcoming grunge invasion. The Canadian band Von Groove’s debut album is everything you can ever ask for if you are a fan of this type of music. Terrific songs like “Once Is Not Enough” or “Better than Ever” will give you a clearer picture of what I’m saying.


Silent Rage – Don’t Touch Me There (1989)

silent rage

LA might at its finest! Oh, boy – this album is pure fire!! “Don’t Touch Me There” is the band’s sophomore release and in my opinion their finest hour. Led by the talented Jesse Damon, Silent Rage is definitely one of those bands who grab you by the throat and don’t let go. I simply love this album! “I Wanna Feel It Again”, “Rebel With a Cause” and the power ballad, “Tonight You’re Mine” – all stunning examples of late ’80s hard rock.


Saints & Sinners – Saints & Sinners (1992)

saints&sinners1992

Saints & Sinners – another Canadian band with tons of unrealized potential. Their 1992 release remained the band’s first and final effort. The timing wasn’t right and the album just couldn’t stand against the alternative scene, occupying everyone’s attention.

Simply put, you love glam metal, if you love catchy riffs and solid rocking melodies, colored by magnificent vocals, you will LOVE this album. I would definitely point “Wheels of Fire” and “Walk the Walk” as my two favorite tracks from it so go ahead and check them out:


Jagged Edge – Fuel for Your Soul (1990)

Jagged Edge U.K.

Lesser-known English band with an outstanding Swedish vocalist – Matti Alfonzetti. I found “Fuel for Your Soul” as I was browsing through YouTube and the opening track immediately caught my attention. Jagged Edge, unfortunately, split up after the release of this album and we couldn’t really observe how and what will they develop into but hey – we have this album which is full of memorable rockers that can stand against the bigger hits of the era. I highly recommend those guys and not just because of the killer vocals…


Helix – Wild in the Streets (1987)

helix wild in the streets

Canadian band Helix achieved great success in the beginning of their career and still are adored by fans from all over the world (including me). However, this album right here – “Wild in the Streets” somehow always remains forgotten when we talk about them. “Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge”, “No Rest for the Wicked” and “Long Way to Heaven” always take the spotlight.

“Wild in the Streets” couldn’t really bring a lot of attention and commercial success to the band which led to them losing their U.S. deal with Capitol Records. I never understood why this album wasn’t appreciated! I mean, we have a brilliant cover of Nazareth’s “Dream On” and of course “She’s too Tough”, written by Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. The album offers so much more, though…I hope you all agree with me.


Lionsheart – Lionsheart (1992)

Lionsheart_-_Lionsheart

Lionsheart formed in the early 90s in the UK. Overall, they released four albums and one live one before calling it quits in the early 2000s. They weren’t that big in the continent, however achieved success in Japan.

This time, I would like to focus on their 1992 coming out party with their self-titled album “Lionsheart” which is ready to satisfy every hard-rock thirsty soul out there. The sound is very aggressive and hard-edged; the album offers an experience that will knock your socks off. “Had Enough” and “World of Pain” are the songs to watch out for (along with the others of course). 


References:
Photos fetched from: amazon.com / Wikipedia / discogs.com
Videos retrieved from YouTube
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Open Invitation for My HYSTERIA 30th Anniversary PROJECT

Greetings, everyone!

Def-Leppard-HysteriaAs we all know, Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” will celebrate its 30th anniversary this August 3rd. Yes, that’s right – one of the most breathtaking and era-defining albums of the ’80s was released in 1987 and it completely changed the rules of the game. To commemorate the anniversary and because this is my favorite album of all times, I decided to prepare a little project, featuring YOU – the other beautiful members of the rock brigade from all over the world. Let’s all gather together as a community and show the world how much we LOVE Def Leppard and this album!

The project will consist of :

  • a photo collage, featuring pictures of DEF LEPPARD fans, holding Hysteria Vinyl Records, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes, wearing Hysteria T-shirts, etc.
  • a video that will include audio and visual materials, including the photos you guys sent me, along with any other video materials I receive from you. It will also include me talking about the album.

What I need from you?

  • mehyst
    EXAMPLE

    A picture of you, holding a HYSTERIA Vinyl record, CD, DVD, etc…(Size doesn’t matter)

  • Your name and country
  • (Optional): A video of you sharing memories related with Hysteria, your favorite songs, why you like it, etc. (Please keep it up to 2-3 minutes)
  • (Optional): A photo of your HYSTERIA collection (CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, etc.)
  • Any other interesting thing, related with HYSTERIA you have a photo of (your dog, wearing a HYSTERIA T-shirt, a HYSTERIA tattoo photo – it is all welcomed!)

How can you send me the materials?

 

DEADLINE IS JULY 28TH (FRIDAY)

 

Here’s an example of a previous project I did with the DEF LEPPARD community on TWITTER

rock brigaders