Friday, June 24, 2011

TIM KARR - Everybody Bleeds (1998)

TIM KARR - Everybody Bleeds (1998)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Canadian rocker Tim Karr released back in 1989 a really cool Rock FM album entitled 'Rubbin' Me The Right Way' on a major label.

He toured with Richard Marx and Vixen, but after a couple of years he (and the mentioned acts) was dropped by the record company.
Besides, a conflicting relationship with his manager took years to dissolve, and Karr basically started over.
But Tim keep writing and recording songs for a new album, which was released independently as "Everybody Bleeds".
His style is a rockier mix of FM oriented Classic Rock with some bluesy edge.
Think Bon Jovi circa 'These Days' blended with Nelson '90s material, Johnny Lima, and a bit of Quireboys here and there.

"Jaded" opens the album in a big, bluesy rockin' mood, with a catchy chorus and nice guitars.
"Out Of The Blue" is a cover of the old Roxy Music tune, that shows his influences. A very good version featuring John Taylor (Duran Duran, Solo) on guitar.
The ballad "Price Of Love" has an awesome and vibrant feel, emotional and deep, complete with an orchestra. A brilliant lost gem ignored on many playlists.
"Aquarius" has a nice spirit, a very simple rocker but the chorus is infectious to death.
"Everybody Bleeds" is a crying blues with passionate vocals, a Bon Jovi-like chorus and a vintage organ throughout. A rocking, compelling ballad.

This is a catchy, genuine Rock 'N Roll album, mature, with a polished songwriting and powerful vibe.
The great vocals remain, with that snarl and a ton of attitude. Production is first class for an indie.
"Everybody Bleeds" is a grower, but after a repeated listens you'll love it.
Mega-Rare and Out Of Print.

01 - Jaded
02 - Out Of The Blue
03 - Price Of Love
04 - Aquarius Now
05 - The Drifter
06 - Comin' 2 U
07 - Everybody Bleeds
08 - Shape Of Things 2 Come
09 - Simple Pleasures
10 - Here, Loving You

Tim Karr: Vocals, Guitar
John Taylor: Guitar on 'Out Of The Blue'
Rest of Personnel: Unknown

TIM KARR - Everybody Bleeds

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

JEFF COSCO & DON MANCUSO - Stuff From Years Beers Ago (2005)

JEFF COSCO & DON MANCUSO - Stuff From Years Beers Ago (2005)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Vocalist Jeff Cosco and guitar player Don Mancuso (Lou Gramm Band) assembled the band
Cheater at the beginning of the '80s, selling over 10,000 copies of their self released EP and touring extensively the NY & Pennsylvania area. A full length album was recorded in 1983, but shelved (later resurrected in 2005).
In between and during the eighties, both musicians keep writing and recording demos on tape... and yes, drinking a few beers along the way.

Some of these '80s demo songs were put on CDr by Cosco itself as "Stuff From Years Beers Ago" in 2005.
"Gypsy" is a very good AOR-rock with a powerful refrain and harmony vocals, while "Princess Of Darkness", "I'll Keep Rollin" and "Rattle The Bones" are really cool and fun melodic hard rockers typical of the era, similar to Cheater material, with some Journey and 707 influences, pretty well recorded.
"Mary, Merry-Go-Round" and "Winds Of Love" are live recordings, both melodic rockers as well, and "J D Philosophy" is studio demo from later sessions.

But the real gem here is "Call Of The Eagle", a sublime pure AOR diamond, featuring excellent guitars, in-the-air keyboards and a perfect sing-along melodious chorus. One of my favorite AOR tunes of all time. A shame that never was properly recorded with full production.
This album, although officially published, it's a CDr with no post-production or remastering job.
Well, I did mine, restoring, de-hissing and enhancing the sound. All songs sound much better right now.
Rare & Good stuff.

1 - Call Of The Eagle
2 - Gypsy
3 - Princess Of Darkness
4 - I'll Keep Rollin'
5 - Rattle The Bones
6 - Mary, Merry-Go-Round (Live)
7 - Winds Of Love (Live)
8 - J D Philosophy

Jeff Cosco: Vocals
Don Mancuso: Guitars
Rest of Personnel: Unlisted

COSCO & MANCUSO - Stuff From Years Beers Ago

Friday, June 17, 2011

GARY SPANEOLA - Project One (1986)

GARY SPANEOLA - Project One (1986)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Gary Spaneola was the vocalist of the mythical Detroit band Bitter Sweet Alley, which released a full length LP and a couple of EP's in the mid-eighties through a small label.

All these recordings were produced by Gary, who later became a renowned local producer mounting his own studio recording facility.

By 1986 Spaneola published his own solo mini-LP "Project One". He is listed playing all instruments, but I suspect that many of his old bandmates were part of the recording sessions.
In fact, "Project One" sounds quite similar to Bitter Sweet Alley in style and songwriting: very melodic commercial Rock&Pop / Lite AOR tunes.
"Trying To Find" is an uptempo rocker with good guitars and feelin' good vibe in the Rick Springfield vein. Fine guitar solo here.
The compressed drums and keyboards in "The Window" are typically '80s, a song with pop-rock sensibility that reminds you Gary 'O.

"Time For Change" is a rocking AORish ready for radio play, same with the quirky "Can't Stop Me Now", very much in the Eddie Money league.

The ballad "There's Only You" has a nice tempo emphasized by orchestrated keyboards and melodic guitars. Strong performance by Gary and sweet guitar solo, on a song with a sound ala The Synch or earlier REO Speedwagon.
Last track is a midtempo with nice instrumentation but I don't dig the lyrics too much.

Seems Gary Spaneola was (and is) an accomplished producer as "Project One" has a very good, crisp sound and mix. Good singer as well, typically eighties.
For the few who already have the digital copy of this album circulating some obscure AOR circles, grab mine, because this rip sounds million times better (de-clicked, cleaned and 'remastered' by myself).
The original artwork is the one posted here, there's another homemade (nice, by the way, with a chick and an old car) included into the file.
This is a mega-rare miniLP, cool and easy listening.

1 - Trying To Find
2 - The Window
3 - Time For Change
4 - There's Only You
5 - Can't Stop Me Now
6 - Feed The Hungry

Gary Spaneola: Vocals, All Instruments, Producer
Liz Larin: Backing Vocals


Thursday, June 16, 2011

THE KOO - ST (1988)

THE KOO - ST (1988)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

The self titled album by THE KOO has become a sought after rarity, particularly on cd.

Released independently in 1988, all these songs were recorded three years before, and in fact the overall sound is a catchy mid-eighties AOR mixed with some Hi-Tech elements.

First track "Got To Get Together" is a contagious and elegant semi-midtempo with clean guitars and dry drums.
Song #2 "Runaway" has all that vibe we love from the '80s: a catchy rhythm and a cool chorus. This song has strong Canadian sound impregnated over it.
"Standin' In The Rain" is another winner. Fantastic AOR in the best Bryan Hughes Group tradition. Awesome keyboard line that reminds me first Bystander album.

"Strike" is the highligh for me. Just a sensational mid-eighties killer AOR tune with all the feeling of the 'action movie' soundtracks of the era. It was included into 'Friday The 13th Part VIII' OST. Awesome.
They change to a more Hi-Tech with "The Edge", a song with a deep bass and pop-rock sensibility. The guitar solo is quite meaty though.
Another favorite of mine is the '80s poignant "1,000 Radios", a commercial, up-beat techie tune with super-compressed drums and slap bass.
The rest of the tracks are goodies as well, as the wimpy "Work It Out", the Eddie Money-like "Killin' Time" and the synth-rocker "Maybe Right".

THE KOO is an ultra catchy AOR album, very well produced considering its indie origin, including terrific tunes.
I saw this album auctioned for more than $400 on Ebay... crazy people.
Ripped from CD @ maximum quality including artwork.
Very Rare and Very Good. Highly Recommended.

01 - Got To Get Together
02 - Runaway
03 - Standin' In The Rain
04 - On My Way
05 - Strike
06 - The Edge
07 - 1,000 Radios
08 - Work It Out
09 - Killin' Time
10 - Shame Shame
11 - Maybe Right
12 - Diamond In The Rough

Bob Hayman - Guitars, Vocals
John Powell - Vocals, Drums
Tony Mgrdichian - Keyboards

THE KOO - The Koo 1988

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LUBA: EP (1982) + FRONTIERS: Front Page (1986)

Another two-pack rare vinyl miniLP's into one file, with restored audio as requested.

LUBA - Luba EP (1982)

LUBA - Luba EP (1982)
With an Ukrainian origin, Luba Kowalchyk born in Montreal, Canada in 1958.
After the recording of a new-wave/pop oriented indie disc in the beginning of the eighties, legendary manager and producer Paul Levesque signed her personally to a new deal with a major label.

A four-track miniLP under his moniker was released in 1982. This is a superb AOR / Melodic Rock female fronted EP.
Opener "Scarlet Letter" sets the style of this recording from the first note: killer up-tempo rocker with a lot of bite, sharp guitars and wonderful keyboards. Luba's vocals are deep and energetic, with a distinctive tone.
"Everytime I See Your Picture" is a monster AOR power ballad, tons of emotion with a tempo and vocals to die for. This was the radio single which become a hit across the Montreal area. The song was re-recorded later for Luba's next album, but this original version is far superior.
The classic AOR-rock pattern of "Paramour" makes this tune another winner. Luba sings like a cat in heat and the awesome keyboard line gives you chills.
Last track "Raven's Eyes" is a marching melodic rocker with a great guitar work right up in quality with the best of Tane Cain, earlier Fiona or Martee LeBow.

Luba became a star during the eighties, releasing interesting albums more rock&pop / lite AOR oriented, but this miniLP is her MR/AOR gem.
One of these 'essential female fronted' albums that you can not miss in your collection.
Vinyl audio restored by me.

1 - Scarlet Letter
2 - Eveytime I See Your Picture
3 - Paramour
4 - Raven's Eyes

Luba - Lead & background vocals
Mark Lyman - Guitars
Michael Bell - Bass
Pierre Marchand - Keyboards, background vocals
Pete Marunzak - Drums

FRONTIERS - Front Page (1986)

FRONTIERS - Front Page (1986)
Frontiers was a 6-piece band from Avesta, Sweden, founded by guitarist Peter Söderström and drummer Johan Kullberg halfway the '80s.
As many of local bands at that time, their music is heavily influenced by american AOR acts, being in this case Journey (also noticeable by the group's name) but with the addition of the characteristic Scandi sound.

Their one and only album, the miniLP "Front Page" is a very nice slice of melodic rock / AOR, sometimes naif and wimp, although precisely in that point resides their charm.
"Time Will Tell" has a 'spacy' AOR style with ethereal keyboards, remiscent of primal Journey, with a vintage guitar sound. This is a real cool track with a pompous middle section.
On "Help Me Now" is where their indie origin is more evident, I really like the vocal arrangement on this one. This track has a New England vibe.
The ballad "This Feeling" has that scandi stamp only possible to find in swedish bands and last track "Separate Worlds" takes its inspiration in Giuffria and again, Journey.

Some people argue this young band was unoriginal and generic, to me, this mini-album has some kind of fascination not always present into indie recordings.
Years after, Kullberg went on to join Talk Of The Town and later Lion's Share, and together with Söderström formed in 2003 a new project called Ignition.
Cool miniLP. Vinyl audio restored by me.

1 - Time Will Tell
2 - Help Me Now
3 - This Feeling
4 - Separate Worlds

Tony Brorsson - Lead Vocals
Peter Söderström - Guitar, Piano, Bkg Vocals
Hans Asp - Guitar, Bkg Vocals
Patrik Söderström - Bass, Bkg Vocals
Peo Gaasvik - Keyboards, Bkg Vocals
Johan Kullberg - Drums

LUBA '82 + FRONTIERS: Front Page '86 Restored

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

GRZEGORZ SKAWINSKI - Skawinski (1989)

Requested by my friend VigiAOR ...

Grzegorz SKAWINSKI is a guitar virtuoso, famous in Eastern Europe as former member of Kombi, a Polish super group.
He also made a small name in the USA between six-string circles, in a time that shredders and instrumental recordings were in vogue (Satch, Vai).
Well, this is not an instrumental album (though it has 3).

Grzegorz 1st self titled album has a very strong occidental influence, ranging from classic (melodic) rock to AORish mainstream rock. Think Steve Lukather solo efforts. Also MacAlpine's 'Eyes Of The World' with a less bombastic production.
All tracks are good and easy to the ears, featuring a phenomenal guitar work but not overwhelming the spirit of the songs with unnecessary chops. Skawinski's sound is big and clean, and the man has a refined taste in the arrangements.
His vocals (supported by a couple back-up singers) are more than competent, with lyrics in Polish, but that do not bother at all, the music and the melodies are the motto here.

An interesting, hard to find rarity only released on vinyl in Poland.
Ripped at max. quality and cleaned by myself.
Good stuff.

01 - Moonlight I
02 - Z Toba Czy Bez Ciebie (With you or without you)
03 - Dzis Tracisz Mnie (You lose me today)
04 - Raz Na Cale Zycie (Once in a lifetime)
05 - Joyeux Noel
06 - Kim Jestes Co Rano (Who are you in the morning)
07 - Niemy Czas (Silent time)
08 - Lamie Sie Swiat (He breaks the world)
09 - Moonlight II

Grzegorz Skawiński - Guitars, Vocals
Rafal Paczkowski - Drums, Keyboards
Waldemar Tkaczyk - 5-String Bass
Anna Jurksztowicz - Vocals (8)
Kayah - Vocals (3, 7)


1994 - ST [remastered] (1978)

1994 - ST [remastered] (1978) Karen Lawrence
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Born and raised in Anaheim, California, Karen Lawrence grew up in a musical family.

Aged 19, she fronted L.A. Jets, recording a self-titled album in 1976. But soon their label dropped the band.
Then Karen and drummer John Desautels decided to go on under the name of 1994, adding guitarist Steve Schiff and bass player Bill Rhodes to the line-up.

Legendary producer Bob Ezrin was interested in the band, but at the time he was very busy, then recommends to his friend engineer Jack Douglas (Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith) get in touch with 1994.
Impressed by Lawrence vocals, Douglas started to write songs with her, and soon landed a recording contract with a major label.

Recorded y produced by Douglas at The Record Plant Studios in New York, 1994's debut still sounds fresh today.
The album is a first rate collection of songs in the american melodic hard rock tradition, similar to Heart but more rockier and smokin'.
All songs are good, being my favorites the haunting "Heleana" and the hot-rockin´ "Radio Zone". On many tracks the band sounds blusier ala Aerosmith-with-female-vocals, as on the great "Anastasia" (Brad Whitford of Aerosmith guest on guitars), another favorite.

Recently remastered (with the addition of 4 poor sounding live tracks), 1994's self titled debut is one of the best late '70s female fronted albums ever, which has stood the test of time thanks to the excellent production.

01 - Once Again
02 - Shoot To Kill
03 - Sing To Me
04 - Heleana
05 - Bring It Home
06 - Radio Zone
07 - Hit The Hard Way
08 - Read Up
09 - Anastasia
Bonus Live Material:
10 - Shoot To Kill (live)
11 - Find It In The City (live)
12 - Hit The Hard Way (live)
13 - Bring It Home (live)

Karen Lawrence - Vocals
Steve Schiff - Lead Guitar
Bill Rhodes - Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Desautels - Drums
Brad Whitford - Guitar (Heleana)
Eric Troyer - Backing Vocals (Sing To Me)

1994 - ST [remastered]

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

AVALON: Everyman A King '82 + EQUUS: ST '85

Two rare vinyl miniLP's into one file, with restored audio as requested.

AVALON - Everyman A King (1982)

AVALON - Everyman A King (1982)aor remastered
Many of the classic albums in the AOR genre are long out of print, deliciously rare, and reached even greater status among the fans for it.
One of the rarest of the rare releases is a four-track mini-LP by the USA band Avalon (not to be confused with the Canadian pompsters).
Entitled "Everyman A King", the record is produced by Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer and Pages and Jaco Pastorius producer Bobby Colomby, and features the talents of session players Vinnie Colaiuta, Mike Porcaro and Jai Winding, in addition to band members Rick Neigher, Chris Cote and Mike Mirage.

According to leader Rick Neigher, the band recorded a demo that got the attention of Bobby Colomby, who at the time was doing A&R for Capitol Records . Bobby saw them as a Pop/Rock/AOR version of his westcoast - jazzy flavored band Pages, which featured Richard Page, and went on to have hits as Mr. Mister.
Bobby, being a drummer, did not like the band's drummer Scott Norman playing, so he asked to meet a new discovery, Vinnie Colaiuta.
"Vinnie was the most amazing phenomenon we had ever seen, and we used him on drums" says
Bobby also didn’t care for Avalon's bass player Simon Teolis so he brought in Mike Porcaro – later of Toto. Needless to say, these replacements didn’t go over too big with Scott and Simon, so they quit.

Additionally, expertise musician and producer Jai Winding was part of the recording sessions, who helped with keyboards and arrangements.
The label was not a big fan of Bobby Colomby’s abrasive and arrogant attitude, and they didn’t promote Avalon too much.
The disc got only scattered airplay, and sold very few copies. However, the record was a bit of a cult project in town and it won the band's members some respect from the music community.

"Everyman A King" is a perfect mini-LP, no more description needed.
One of the best AOR albums of all time.
Vinyl rip restored by me, sounds Great.
A Must Have.

1 - Can't Find A Way To Say Goodbye
2 - Deeper Than The Heart
3 - Crossfire
4 - Writing On The Wall

Rick Neigher: Guitar, Lead Vocals
Mike Mirage: Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Chris Coté: Keyboards, Vocals
Mike Porcaro: Bass
Jai Winding: Keyboards
Vinnie Colaiuta: Drums

EQUUS - ST (1985)

EQUUS - ST (1985)aor
On your search for the less famous but equally brilliant AOR heroes, you'll discover some outstanding bands that never got a second chance and remains into obscurity.
Pretty unknown band from Ontario, Canada, EQUUS released this miniLP back in 1985. Their style is definitely pomp but influenced by the AOR played on the radio in those years.

However, first track "Metal Man", although including very pompy keyboards and a melodious spirit, is a guitar driven song with many six-string channels in the mix. The lead vocals are constantly backed-up by a second voice and the guitars solo is quite hard. A very 'live' and interesting track.
"I'll Be Waiting" is much more commercial with fluffy pomp keys and electronic drums. This one sounds like american bands Roadmaster or Bootcamp.
"When You Gonna Find The Time" starts balladesquely slow but then increases the pace into a melodic mid-tempo with a big reverb.
On "Power Life" the band adds some mysterious keys and interesting arrangements to a song that in its essence is a simple poppy AOR melody.
"Think Of You" is the most radio-oriented track on this album, based on the rhythm of the persistent bass line. The high pitched sax included in the middle perfectly fits the melody and enriches the song.

EQUUS is a more than interesting unknown band which plays an original blend of styles, but certainly into the AOR territory.
This disc is a rarity not even listed on many CanCon Rock memorabilia.
Not my rip (could be better), cleaned in my own workstation for your listening pleasure.
Rare & Good.

1 - Metal Man
2 - I'll Be Waiting
3 - When You Gonna Find The Time
4 - Power Life
5 - Think Of You

Cameron Grant: Vocals, Guitars
Danny Allen: Vocals, Drums
Ken Lucier: Bass
Peter Schaefer: Guitars, Vocals
Duncan Grant: Keyboards

AVALON - Everyman A King '82 + EQUUS '85