Saturday, January 30, 2016

Schoolboy Crush - Electric Playground (1989)

Country: USA
Year: 1989
Line-up: Rance Crane (vocals), Mark Lieberman (guitars), Mikki Champlin (bass), Rusty Scott (drums)

Track Listing:

1.  Get Back Home  
2.  Only in Dreams  
3.  Dream Deceiver  
4.  Hold Your Horses  
5.  Lethal Weapon  
6.  Good As It Gets  
7.  Say You Will, Say You Might  
8.  Tossin' and Turnin'  
9.  Wild and Free  
10.  Spunky  

Fletchanator's comment: This is the debut album by obscure Indiana-based rockers Schoolboy Crush, and the only one to feature singer Rance Crane. Their only other album, a self-titled 1992 follow-up (remastered and re-released by Sun City Records in 2005), had a change of singer and bassist. Good luck getting hold of a physical copy of this album, it's harder to find on CD than the proverbial female chicken's incisors and goes for stupid money when it shows up on eBay.
In terms of sound, Schoolboy Crush play a straight-forward glam hard rock, like a mash-up of Poison, Dokken and Motley Crue. The production values aren't great (on indy label Criminal Records) but if you can look past that there's a lot to like here. Definitely one for the fans of obscure, hard-to-find hard rock.


Davy Vain - In From Out of Nowhere (2000)

 Country: USA
Year: 2000
Line-up: Davy Vain (vocals, guitar), James Scott (guitars), Craig Behrhorst (guitars), Ashley Mitchell (bass), Louie Senor (drums)

Track Listing:

1.  Push Me Over  
2.  Fly Again  
3.  Yellow  
4.  Electric  
5.  Come On Now  
6.  New York  
7.  Sugar Shack  
8.  Trinity  
9.  In From Out Of Nowhere  
10.  Not Your Space Man  
11.  Capsule  

Fletchanator's comment: Following on from my recent posting of Vain's 1991/2009 album All Those Strangers, here is frontman Davy Vain's first solo album. It's virtually a Vain album, pairing Davy with regular bandmates James Scott and Ashley Mitchell - as a result this will appeal to fans of early Vain stuff, although the sound has definitely evolved from No Respect and All Those Strangers. It's less sleazy and more polished - but better than Vain's 1995 release Fade - and is a worthy addition for Vain fans.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Harlequin - Love Crimes (1980)

Country: Canada
Year: 1980
Line-up: George Belanger (vocals), Glen Willows (guitars), Ralph James (bass), David Budzak (drums), Gary Golden (keyboards)

Track Listing:
1.  Innocence  4:19
2.  Love on the Rocks  3:16
3.  Thinking of You  4:21
4.  It's All Over Now  4:03
5.  Heaven (Dial 999)  3:18
6.  Sayin' Goodbye to the Boys  3:30
7.  Wait for the Night  4:14
8.  Crime of Passion  4:31
9.  Can't Hold Back  2:51
10.  Midnight Magic  3:10

Fletchanator's comment: Here's one for the fans of keyboard-orientated AOR. Canadians Harlequin released this, their second album, a year after their debut. They would release a few more in the 80s before disbanding, then coming back briefly as Harlequin II, and finally back to Harlequin (Belanger with new backing musicians) a few years back.
In terms of sound, on the best songs Harlequin sound like Helix or Night Ranger, with Steven Tyler singing (without the high-pitched screeching). Some of the blander AOR songs (like Heaven) don't click but the opener, Innocence, is fantastic. Sayin' Goodbye to the Boys is a great rocker.
As a side note, this album was re-released on CD by England's Rock Candy Records in 2011, but this rip is from the original Japan-only CD release, by SME in 1999.


Sweet Lips - XOXO (1990)

Country: France
Year: 1990
Line-up: Andy Chase (vocals), Lee St Amour (guitars), Ed Sinclair (bass), Chris Bumper (drums).

Track listing:
1.  Born to Rock  
2.  Party Bus  
3.  Back to You  
4.  Lady Killer  
5.  One More Man  
6.  I Wish I Was  
7.  Love Me  
8.  The 14th  
9.  Bette Davis Eyes  
10.  Sex Line  
11.  Wings on Fire  
12.  Stranger  
13.  Pretty Smile  

Fletchanator's comment: While France has spawned a good amount of hard rock/AOR bands in recent times, the likes of AOR and Shannon, that country wasn't exactly synonymous with the genre back in the 80s and early 90s. One band that came along during that period was Sweet Lips, who released just this one album before taking their place in obscurity.
Despite being from France, Sweet Lips' sound is definitely LA glam rock, mixing Pretty Boy Floyd-esque rockers with acoustic ballads. Their cover of Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes is pretty good.
The main selling point of this album is its rarity. Getting hold of a copy of the CD is near-on impossible and when a copy does show up on eBay it goes for $100+. Save your money and enjoy it courtesy of House of Hairspray!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Vain - All Those Strangers (1991)

Country: USA
Year: 1991/2009
Line-up: Davy Vain (vocals), Danny West (guitars), James Scott (guitars), Ashley Mitchell (bass), Tom Rickard (drums)

Track listing:
1.  Love Drug  
2.  Planet's Turning  
3.  Shooting Star  
4.  Too Bad  
5.  Far Away  
6.  Wake Up  
7.  Freak Flag  
8.  Here Comes Lonely  
9.  Shouldn't Cry  
10.  Do You Sleep With Strangers?  
11.  Looking Glass  

Fletchanator's comment: The follow-up to Vain's stellar 1989 debut No Respect (currently the most-downloaded album on this blog) was recorded in 1991. However, the band's label, Island Records, was bought out by Polygram before the album could be released. Vain were dropped by the new label bosses and the recordings never saw the light of day - that is until Davy Vain self-released the album in 2009.
If you're a fan of No Respect (and why wouldn't you be?) you will love All Those Strangers, as it continues with the same vibe and sound as the debut album, full of sleazy guitar licks and Davy Vain's uniquely-distinctive voice. You need this!


Friday, January 22, 2016

Slam St Joan - Saved by Grace (1994)

Country: USA
Year: 1994
Line-up: Rob Creek (vocals), George Karl (guitars), Ray Rodriguez (guitars), Rich Dane (bass), Rich Rodriguez (drums)

Track listing:

1.  Saved by Grace  
2.  Blinded by Fire  
3.  Shine On  
4.  Emotional Suicide  
5.  Just Like the Blues  
6.  Slam St. Joan  
7.  Roll the Boys Over  
8.  Eyes  
9.  Your Light  
10.  Take Your Money  
11.  Best of Me  

Fletchanator's comment: This Chicago-based five-piece was originally known as Valentino, having released an EP in 1989 under that name. They later became the colourfully-named Slam St Joan and released their only full-length album in 1994 before fading into obscurity. Singer Creek and guitarist Karl still play together to this day, in Chicago covers band Gooroos.
In terms of sound, Slam St Joan have definite similarities to LA Guns, playing the same style of sleazy, blues-edged Sunset Strip rock, while Creek sounds eerily like Phil Lewis in places. Overall this is a solid album and will appeal to fans of bands like LA Guns, Kix, Cinderella and Bulletboys.


Shark Island - Law of the Order (1989)

Country: USA
Year: 1989
Line-up: Richard Black (vocals), Spencer Sercombe (guitars), Chris Heilmann (bass), Greg Ellis (drums)

Track listing:
1.  Paris Calling  
2.  Shake for Me  
3.  Somebody's Falling  
4.  Bad for Each Other  
5.  Passion to Ashes  
6.  Spellbound  
7.  Get Some Strange  
8.  Why Should I Believe  
9.  Ready or Not  
10.  The Chain  

Fletchanator's comment: Shark Island were an LA scene band that were predicted for big things but for whatever reason it never panned out. Probably their biggest moment in the spotlight was having two songs included on the soundtrack of the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Singer Richard Black went on to front the supergroup Contraband (you can find that band's only album on this blog), but otherwise Shark Island (originally Sharks) have faded into obscurity.
Black gets mentioned in hard rock circles for his supposed influence on the on-stage style of Axl Rose (check out this live video from 1990:, but in terms of voice he sounds like a cross between Ian Astbury and Tom Keifer.
This is Shark Island's second studio album and easily their best. Highlights are Spellbound, Shake for Me, Paris Calling and the cover of Fleetwood Mac's The Chain. If you're a fan of bands like Cinderella, Ratt and (of course) Contraband you'll dig this.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Rose - Winter Rose (1989)

Country: Canada
Year: 1989
Line-up: James Labrie (vocals), Richard Chycki (guitars, bass), Randy Cooke (drums)

Track listing:

1.  Asylum City  
2.  I'll Never Fall In Love Again  
3.  Rough Boys  
4.  Dianna  
5.  One Last Time  
6.  Never Let Me Go  
7.  My Time  
8.  Nothing But The Best  
9.  Saved By Love  
10.  Thrill Of The Night   

Fletchanator's comment: If you're like me, the majority of "prog" music just doesn't click with you. It comes off as too self-indulgent for my liking. I own the greatest hits CD of Dream Theater and while I can recognise that they're talented musicians, none of the songs stand out beyond the hit single Pull Me Under. If you can relate, and have ever thought to yourself "man, this band would be great if they just played straight-forward hard rock instead of this weird crap", you're in luck!
Winter Rose is a Canadian glam hard rock band featuring singer James Labrie a couple of years before he took up the job singing for Dream Theater. Labrie (pictured on the left) has an awesome voice, and here - on Winter Rose's only album - we get to hear it backed with killer guitar riffs, gang vocals and all the things that make for great melodic hard rock. It's a shame Labrie had to join Dream Theater (sorry prog metal fans) because Winter Rose are great!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Velocity - Impact (1997)

Country: USA
Year: 1997
Line-up: David Victor (vocals, guitar, bass), Chris Dodge (guitar), Pat Torpey (drums)

Track listing:
1.  You Don't Amaze Me Anymore  
2.  Riot Goin' On  
3.  Supernatural Lover  
4.  Julia Ann  
5.  Janine  
6.  She's Been Around  
7.  More Than Tonight  
8.  Love Is Dangerous  
9.  One Minute to Midnight  
10.  Open Road  

Fletchanator's comment: Usually I post albums from the mid-to-late 80s, up to about 93 or 94, but every now and then I will throw in a later album if I think it's good enough. That's definitely the case with this, the debut of American outfit Velocity. They're essentially a one-man band with David Victor handling most of the instruments. Add in Mr Big drummer Pat Torpey on skins and you've got a kickass slice of melodic hard rock/AOR in a time when this kind of music was "out of fashion".
This album rocks from the opening track, You Don't Amaze Me Anymore, with its killer riff, and doesn't let up until the last track finishes. The ballad Janine is another highlight. In terms of sound, I can hear bits and pieces of Whitesnake, Mr Big, Night Ranger and Boston (ironically Victor would end up singing with that band from 2012 to 2014). I really can't emphasize enough how great Victor's voice is! You need this!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Victory - Culture Killed the Native (1989)

Country: Germany
Year: 1989
Line-up: Fernando Garcia (vocals), Herman Frank (guitars), Fargo Peter Knorn (bass), Tommy Newton (guitars), Fritz Randow (drums)

Track listing:
1.  More and More  
2.  Never Satisfied  
3.  Don't Tell No Lies  
4.  Always the Same  
5.  Power Strikes the Earth  
6.  Lost in the Night  
7.  On the Loose  
8.  Let it Rock On  
9.  So They Run  
10.  Standing on the Edge of Time  
11.  The Warning  
12.  Into the Darkness  

Fletchanator's comment: German band Victory were formed in 1984 and for their first three albums featured ex-Ted Nugent singer Charlie Huhn on vocals, with ex-Accept guitarist Herman Frank joining after the debut album. That line-up isn't bad, but Victory didn't reach their full potential until this, their fourth album, and the arrival of new singer Fernando Garcia. He sounds a lot like Tesla's Jeff Keith, while the band's overall sound is along the lines of American bands like Dokken, Y&T, Ratt and Firehouse, with Frank pulling off some killer riffs.
In short, this album rocks from start to finish - all killer, no filler. In my opinion it's one of the best examples of the American glam metal sound of the late 80s, ironically supplied by a German band. I can't recommend this one highly enough!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Steeler - Steeler (1983)

Country: USA
Year: 1983
Line-up: Ron Keel (vocals, guitar), Yngwie Malmsteen (lead guitar), Rik Fox (bass), Mark Edwards (drums).

Track listing:
1.  Cold Day in Hell  
2.  Backseat Driver  
3.  No Way Out  
4.  Hot on Your Heels  
5.  Abduction  
6.  On the Rox  
7.  Down to the Wire  
8.  Born to Rock  
9.  Serenade  

Requested by Geno

Fletchanator's comment: Steeler is one of those "lightning in a bottle" bands that came and went in the blink of an eye. For a moment in time singer Ron Keel (who later formed the band Keel) and guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen were in a band together and the result is kick ass early 80s hard rock/melodic metal. Malmsteen was just 19, freshly arrived in the US from his native Sweden, when he joined Steeler for their only studio album. Add in a solid rhythm section (bassist Fox had briefly been in WASP and would go on to play with everyone from Sin to Johnny Crash, while drummer Edwards went on to the band Lion).
While there's some characteristic Malmsteen noodling (like on Hot on Your Heels), for the most part this album is free of the over-indulgence that would mark his later career. The overall sound is close to Keel's first two albums, Lay Down the Law and The Right to Rock - raw-edged melodic metal. If you don't have this in your collection you need to change that right now!


EZ Livin - After the Fire (1991)

Country: Germany
Year: 1991
Line-up: Peter Henrics (vocals), Hans Ziller (guitars), Hermann Brauer (bass), Jurgen Wiehler (drums)

Track listing:

1.  Die 4 Rock  4:06
2.  Body Talk  3:40
3.  Too Late for Paradise  4:57
4.  Ez Livin'  3:39
5.  See the Tears  4:43
6.  After the Fire  4:35
7.  Rockin' Into the Night  3:31
8.  Taste My Sweet Love  3:26
9.  Too Hot to Handle  3:33
10.  Take Me   4:00
11.  Hold On  4:02

Fletchanator's comment: After he was fired from Bonfire in 1989, lead guitarist Hans Ziller created EZ Livin. Ironically Bonfire vocalist Claus Lessmann was originally planned to be the singer for EZ Livin (while remaining in Bonfire) but record company inteference stopped that. Lessmann and Ziller would reunite in the band EX in 1995, then in Bonfire in 1995. This was the only EZ Livin album until 2014's Firestorm.
Due to Ziller's stellar guitaring, this EZ Livin album ("After the Fire", get it?) naturally sounds a lot like Fireworks/Point Blank-era Bonfire, but with a harder, melodic metal edge. Henrics' voice is also higher-pitched and more raw than Lessman, but good in its own right. This is much better than the Ziller-less Bonfire album that came out the same year, Knock Out!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Boss - Step On It (1984)

Country: Australia
Year: 1984
Line-up: Craig Csongrady (vocals), Kevin Pratt (guitars), Peter Sutcliffe (guitars), Scott Ginn (bass), Joe Tatts (drums).

Track listing:
1.  Kick Ass (Rock 'N Roll)  
2.  That Woman  
3.  Dancin' Queen  
4.  Strange Games  
5.  Hard N' Fast  
6.  Escapee  
7.  Take It or Leave It  
8.  Free Wheelin'  
9.  Cry Cry  
10.  Shake It  

Fletchanator's comment: This is my first ever vinyl rip (so expect some minor problems, like long lead-ins to some songs) and for it I chose Australian hard rockers Boss. Step On It was their only album and had moderate success in Europe, but in their homeland it didn't do so well, so Boss split up not long afterwards. Csongrady and Pratt went on to form the band BB Steal.
In terms of sound, Boss are heavily influenced by Def Leppard (an influence that became even more noticeable with BB Steal). Their sound is a lot like the three Def Lep albums up to that point, with perhaps some ACDC thrown in. Singer Csongrady has an unconventional voice, a mix between Steeler-era Ron Keel and Heavy Pettin's Steve Hayman. It's good stuff, check it out!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

London - Don't Cry Wolf (1986)

Country: USA
Year: 1986
Line-up: Nadir D'Priest (vocals), Lizzie Grey (guitars), Brian West (bass), Wallin' J Morgan (drums), David Carr (keyboards).

Track listing:

1.  Drop The Bomb  
2.  Set Me Free  
3.  Hit And Run Lover  
4.  Under The Gun  
5.  Oh Darling  (Beatles cover)
6.  Fast As Light  
7.  Put Out The Fire  
8.  Killing Time  
9.  We Want Everything  
10.  For Whom The Bell Tolls  

Requested by: Geno

Fletchanator's comment: London were one of the pioneer acts of the Hollywood glam metal scene, having started in 1978, but are perhaps best known for the revolving door of band members who went on to bigger and better things with other bands. Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) was one of the founding members and others to play with London in the early days included Blackie Lawless (WASP), Fred Coury (Cinderella) and Izzy Stradlin (GNR). The line-up had become more settled by the time of their 1985 debut, Non-Stop Rock, and a year later they released this album (with Coury having left to join Cinderella and Morgan taking over on the skins).
In terms of sound, some of those aforementioned bands are a good reference. They mix the Sunset Strip sleaze rock sound of early Crue, Ratt, LA Guns, GNR etc, with the heavier guitar sound of WASP. The result is a kickass album in its own right - if you've never heard London before, you need to!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Harlow - Harlow (1990)

Country: USA
Year: 1990
Line-up: Teresa Straley (vocals), Tommy Thayer (guitars), Todd Jensen (bass), Steven Klong (drums), Pat Regan (keyboards)

Track listing:
1.  Chain Reaction  
2.  Silence  
3.  Don't Say We're Over  
4.  Empty  
5.  When You Love Someone  
6.  Cry Murder  
7.  No Escape  
8.  Beyond Control  
9.  Pictures  
10.  Edge of Love  

Fletchanator's comment: This one-and-done band offer some good female-fronted hard rock/AOR. Singer Teresa Straley sounds a lot like Ann Wilson from Heart, and behind her is a band made up of some pretty kickass session musicians. Guitarist Tommy Thayer was in Black n Blue and is of course now the man behind the Spaceman make-up in KISS. Keyboardist Pat Regan has played with everyone from Doro to KISS and Graham Bonnet. Bassist Todd Jensen played with Regan in a few of those bands and was also in the awesome Hardline (see their album that I posted on here recently). In terms of sound, it's hard not to hear a Led Zeppelin influence on Harlow, only less bluesy and more AORish. Check it out!


Treat - Scratch and Bite (1985)

Country: Sweden
Year: 1985
Line-up: Robert Ernlund (vocals), Anders Wikstrom (guitars), Joe Larson (bass), Jamie Borger (drums), Patrick Appelgren (keyboards)

Track listing:
1.  Changes  
2.  Scratch and Bite  
3.  Get You on the Run  
4.  Hidin'  
5.  Too Wild  
6.  We Are One  
7.  No Room for Strangers  
8.  You Got Me  
9.  Run With the Fire  

Fletchanator's comment: Along with their more famous compatriots, Europe, Treat were among the best of Sweden's late 80s hard rock/AOR acts, releasing six albums between 1985 and 1992. This is their debut and while it's not their best album it's a pretty good mix of keyboard-laced AOR and rockier tunes. It's easy to compare them with Europe, but there's also elements of early Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. The songwriting isn't the strongest but if you like keyboards and gang vocals this will be right up your alley.