Wednesday, July 27, 2016

50SHR #8: Crystal Roxx (Delaware)



Band: Crystal Roxx
Release: Pass the Buck
Year: 1992
Line-up: Richie Angelucci (vocals), Vinnie Martello (guitars), Jimmy Kaye (bass), Anthony Baker (drums), Brian Delaney (keyboards)

Track Listing:
1.  Big City  4:27
2.  Hollywood  4:50
3.  Does it Matter  6:06
4.  Get Up Get Out  4:18
5.  Violet Eyes  5:38
6.  On My Way  4:33
7.  Be Mine to Satisfy  4:17
8.  For You  4:50
9.  Runaway  3:42
10.  Stay With Me  3:26

Fletchanator's comment: What hair metal series would be complete without at least one band featuring that over-used word Roxx? From Delaware come Crystal Roxx, a band who are still together to this day as a covers band in the tri-state area. In the early 90s they released a series of albums - this being their first on an actual record label.
Like a lot of 80s/early 90s bands from the New Jersey area, Crystal Roxx have a definite Bon Jovi vibe to them. Singer Richie Angelucci sounds a lot like JBJ at times, especially on the ballads (Does It Matter, Violet Eyes, For You, Stay With Me). Musically they play a style of hard rock reminiscent of bands like Kick Axe, Dokken and the aforementioned Bon Jovi. Solid stuff, definitely worth a listen.


Monday, July 25, 2016

50SHR #7: Grady Cain (Connecticut)



Band: Grady Cain
Release: Faces of Cain
Year: 1995
Line-up: Bootsy Ryan (vocals), John MacBeth (guitars), Chuck Palmer (bass), Mark Ahles (drums).

Track Listing:
1.  Goodbye to the Stranger  
2.  Rain  
3.  Sacrifice  
4.  The Manic  
5.  Get Out  
6.  Ride The Wave  
7.  Why?  
8.  Everyday  
9.  Gypsy Woman  
10.  Bones in the Kitchen  

Fletchanator's comment: From my former home state (I lived in CT between 2000 and 2002, before returning to my native New Zealand) comes bluesy hard rock four-piece Grady Cain.
This is another obscure release, the only one by this band, which is hardly surprising - a hair metal debut in 1995 when this type of music was virtually dead was a recipe for disaster. I don't know where exactly in CT Grady Cain were from, but the album was released through Backstreet Records in Terryville, just outside of the state capitol Hartford, so I would guess somewhere in that area.
Grady Cain's sound is very bluesy and Led Zeppelin-influenced, while singer Bootsy Ryan sounds like a cross between Axl Rose and Kingdom Come's Lenny Wolf. It's a great mixture, because the end result is kickass and the production values are top notch for a regional release.

50SHR #6: L.A. Ray and the Shades (Colorado)



Band: L.A. Ray and the Shades
Release: Wild Weekend
Year: 1985
Line-up: Unknown

Track Listing:
1.  Do It All Night 
2.  City Lights 
3.  So Glad 
4.  Lady Ice
5.  Why Don't You 
6.  Victim of Love
7.  Rockin' in Time 
8.  Don't Want to Be Lonely   
9.  It Only Takes a Minute
10.  No Goodbyes

Fletchanator's comment: This is a very rare, obscure recording - so obscure in fact that I couldn't find a listing of band members anywhere. All I know is they're apparently from Colorado and released this album on small private label Wet Records.
L.A. Ray and the Shades is a very 80s name for a band, and their sound suits the name. They play AOR that varies between late-70s pomp to more rocking tunes. The singer is very good, sounding a bit like James Young from Styx, while the guitaring reminds me of Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick.
If you like 80s AOR like Journey, Loverboy and the like, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

50SHR #5: Asphalt Ballet (California)


Band: Asphalt Ballet
Release: Asphalt Ballet
Year: 1991
Line-up: Gary Jeffries (vocals), Julius Ulrich (guitars), Danny Clarke (guitars), Terry Phillips (bass), Mikki Kiner (drums).

Track Listing:
1.  Hell's Kitchen  2:55
2.  Soul Survive  4:22
3.  Tuesday's Rain  4:18
4.  Unlucky Mr. Lucky  3:47
5.  End of My Rope  4:03
6.  Heaven Winds Blow  3:55
7.  Blood on the Highway  4:00
8.  Goodbye Yesterday  4:33
9.  Wasted Time  3:40
10.  Taking a Walk  4:03
11.  Hangman Swing  3:42
12.  Blue Movie  3:52
13.  Do it All Over Again  2:19

Fletchanator's comment: Let's face it, I could have chosen from dozens (if not hundreds) of glam metal/hard rock bands that were formed in Los Angeles for this pick. San Francisco also had a good number of hair metal bands back in the day. But I decided to go for a Californian city that doesn't get as much love - San Diego.
From that southern Cali locale came Asphalt Ballet in 1991 with their self-titled debut, which actually sounds like crawled out of the backwoods of Georgia or another state in the old south. Their sound is less Sunset Strip and more southern hard rock, in the style of Dangerous Toys and Sister Whiskey. So expect a bluesy edge and the odd harmonica solo.
The highlight of this album is undoubtedly Gary Jeffries' voice. He has a slight rasp, but rather than going full-rasp like a Tom Keifer he sings more cleanly and keeps the rasp for the edges of his singing. Asphalt Ballet did manage a follow-up album - Pigs - in 1993, but replaced Jeffries with Axl Rose soundalike Tommy Dean. Jeffries went on to front the band Alligator Stew and today tours with his own southern rock band, The Gary Lee Jeffries Band.

Friday, July 22, 2016

50SHR #4: Black Oak Arkansas (Arkansas)


Band: Black Oak Arkansas
Release: The Black Attack is Back
Year: 1986
Line-up: Jim Dandy (vocals), Michael Martin (guitars), Biff Bingham (guitars), Mike Farriss (bass), Jerry A Williams (drums).

Track Listing:

1. Long Distance Runner     4:01
2.  I'm on Your Side 5:21
3.  The Black Attack is Back    3:17
4.  Body Slam 3:13
5.  You Can't Keep a Good Band Down     2:10
6.  The Wanderer3:35
7.  I Don't Want Much out of Life3:35
8.  Angel 4:11
9.  I Need More Love  3:13
10.  (I want a woman with) Big Titties3:22

Fletchanator's comment: Black Oak Arkansas aren't a band that you'd normally associate with glam metal or hard rock. Named after their hometown, BOA were firmly a southern rock band through most of their existence, but in the mid-80s they released two albums that shifted into hard rock/melodic metal territory - 1985's Ready as Hell and this one a year later.
Interestingly lead singer Jim Dandy's name takes top billing on both albums, making it appear almost as if they are solo albums. The name Black Oak Arkansas is still attached, but completely different musicians are used, so it's quite appropriate to think of them as Jim Dandy albums rather than BOA.
Despite BOA's southern rock pedigree, they were influential on glam metal, in particular the band Van Halen. Take a look at any of the old BOA videos on YouTube and you'll see Jim Dandy being David Lee Roth before Diamond Dave was doing it.
There are a few southern rock touches on The Black Attack is Back (like the song I Don't Want Much out of Life), but for the most part it varies between bluesy hard rock and glam metal. Jim Dandy's weird vocals don't mesh overly well with the sound at times, but other than that it's a decent listen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

50SHR #3: Icon (Arizona)


Band: Icon
Release: Night of the Crime
Year: 1985
Line-up: Stephen Clifford (vocals), Dan Wexler (guitars, synth), John Aquilino (guitars), Tracy Wallach (bass), Pat Dixon (drums)

Track Listing:
1. Naked Eyes  4:04
2.  Missing  4:30
3.  Danger Callin'  3:40
4.  Shot at my Heart  3:21
5.  Out for Blood  5:41
6.  Raise the Hammer  3:32
7.  Frozen Tears  3:58
8.  Hungry for Love  4:17
9.  Whites of their Eyes  3:46
10.  Rock my Radio  4:14

Fletchanator's comment: Icon were formed in 1979 under the name The Schoolboys by literally that - a group of schoolboys from Phoenix, Arizona.
Clifford, Wexler and Wallach remained the core of the band as they changed their name to Icon and signed with Capitol Records, Aquilino and Dixon joining in time for their self-titled debut album in 1984. That release was melodic metal, but the following year they changed tack with the AOR-sounding Night of the Crime. Clifford soon left and a new singer joined for another couple of albums, but Clifford has since rejoined in recent years.
As already noted, this album has a more AOR-ish sound than their debut album, with Clifford's vocals having a more smooth sound to them and the incorporation of keyboards and more harmonies. The guitars still rock though, putting this in a melodic hard rock/hard AOR category. It's great stuff, especially on the rockier tunes like Raise the Hammer.
As a bonus I've included the original Schoolboys EP - 1980's Singin' and Shoutin' - in the zip file, so you can hear how this awesome band got started.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Physical media collection update #4

It's been a while since I did one of these updates, so here's some of the physical media I've picked up in the past couple of months, all on vinyl.

Photo #1:

Great White - Recovery: Live (1987)
- Canadian pressing of this strange album from Great White. Pressing is of note because the US/Canada version is different than the European and Japanese versions. Side 1 is five covers (of songs by Led Zep, Beatles, Hendrix and Humble Pie) and Side 2 is live tracks from a show in 1983.
Great White - Great White (1984)
- Their debut album, a lot heavier than their later stuff like Once Bitten. UK pressing (of note because the original US pressing has a different cover - no band picture, plain black with band logo.

M.A.R.S. - Project Driver (1986)
- The only album by this heavy metal supergroup. The band name is from the first letters of the surnames of the members - guitarist Tony McAlpine, drummer Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake), singer Rob Rock (Impelliterri) and bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot). Hard rock with an epic, almost Power Metal-ish edge.

Junkyard - Junkyard (1989)
- Debut album from these LA rockers, good bluesy hard rock. I see this one around a lot for cheap, but finally picked it up for $1 in mint condition from a thrift store.

Photo #2:

Rough Cutt - Wants You (1986)
- Second album by this excellent LA hard rock band. I love Paul Shortino's voice (I even really like the album he recorded with Quiet Riot). Great stuff.
Vixen - Love is a Killer 12" Picture Disc (1990)
-  The second single off Vixen's second album, Rev It Up. Backed with live versions of The Jam and I Want You to Rock Me.

April Wine - The Nature of the Beast (1981)
- Ninth studio album by the Canadian hard rock legends, highlighted by the stellar ballad Just Between You and Me.

The Outfield - Bangin' (1987)
- Second album by English rockers, who are best known for their big hit Your Love (off the first album). Nothing on here is as catchy as that song, but it's still solid AOR in the style of Loverboy.