Website Spotlight: Melodicrock.com

Melodicrock.com

I have been visiting Melodicrock.com since early 1999, ever since it has been the first site I go to when I start online. Site owner and operator, Andrew McNeice, covers everything from Hard Rock to Heavy Metal to AOR to Mainstream Rock. The website is one of the premier places to go for up to date news and interviews, as well as, previews and album reviews.

That’s not all that the website provides. There are music samples, interactive reviews, worldwide release schedules, and an extensive array of message boards and the MR.com Noticeboard. You could easily spend hours each day soaking in the current news and conversations, the challenge is add in the archives and older reviews. It’s an interactive website, not only with the thousands of fans that visit each day but also with the artists/bands who have used Melodicrock.com as a primary vehicle to promote their latest wares.

After reading this website daily for the last eight years, I have found it to be one of the most comprehensive, and accurate, Music websites on the web. I highly recommend it.

Blog Love – Hard Rock Hideout

One of my daily reads is the Hard Rock Hideout. This blog started back in November and it has gone from a very basic site to one full of reviews, videos, news, and links. There is always something new to read everyday, something I envy because Rob seems to have more time than I do! A great layout too. Very easy to navigate and I really like the WordPress theme he’s using…..black and red is very Metal!

Can anyone guess who’s guitar that is at the top of the Hard Rock Hideout page?

March Metal Madness is coming!

marchmetalmadness.jpg

March Metal Madness is coming you’re way starting March 5th.

Get ready for March Metal Madness. What is it? Well, join the four Knights of the Rock Table: Heavy Metal Time Machine, Hard Rock Hideout, Heavy Metal Addiction, and Pulses, Verses and other Flotsam for four huge 20th anniversary reviews. That’s right, each Monday in March each of these four bloggers will be reviewing the same 1987 release on their respective blogs. Only the album choices have been discussed so our opinions on these albums may be very different. So check in each week in March to see our take on some releases that are cornerstones of most good Hard Rock and Metal collections.

First week – Whitesnake-s/t on Monday, March 5th
Second week – Dio-Dream Evil on Monday, March  12th
Third week – Testament-The Legacy on Monday, March 19th
Fourth week – Kiss-Crazy Nights on Monday, March 26

Coming this week…..

I actually came though with following my previous week’s update! Maybe I can do the same this week, here’s what I have brewing:

  • Winger – IV (2006) album review
  • Black Stone Cherry – s/t (2006) album review
  • The weekly installment of the CD Scavenger Hunt, if I can get out to the stores.
  • Some thoughts on my music collection.
  • Some news bits if there is any noteworthy info aside from the Van Halen fiasco.
  • Details on March Metal Madness
  • A Website Spotlight or Blog Love feature on one of my daily reads.

I’d like to get in another album review this week on something older if I can fit it in. Hopefully time permits because I’m deep into the March Metal Madness preparations.

Just a heads up to everyone, the Album Review Index has been updated and I’ve added some Blogs to the sidebar.

Up the Irons!

Steve

Vixen – Live & Learn (2007)

Vixen - Live & Learn

Vixen – Live & Learn (2007, Demolition)

  1. Anyway
  2. Live & Learn
  3. I Try
  4. Little Voice
  5. Pacifist
  6. Don’t Want It Anymore
  7. Love Song
  8. Angry
  9. I’m Sorry
  10. You Wish
  11. Suffagette City
  12. Give Me Away

Band Lineup:
Jan Kuehnemund – Guitars
Jenna Sanz-Agero – Vocals
Kathrin Kraft – Drums
Lynn Louise Lowrey – Bass

Total Time – 43:46

Vixen official website

I had no idea that Vixen was releasing a new album in 2007. The last time I saw anything on the band was VH-1’s Bands Reunited show and even that wasn’t that good. Back in the day, I bought into the Vixen hype and I bought VIXEN (1988) and REV IT UP (1990). Both were fairly good ’80s Hard Rock albums, more oriented for the mainstream charts and MTV than diehard Metal fans. I figured I’d give this new Vixen offering a try and see what Vixen 2007 has to offer.

This isn’t the Vixen people remember from the ’80s glory days, this is something completely different in disguise as Vixen. Vixen’s sound was built upon good production, soaring vocals, lush background harmonies, a strong rhythm section, and Jan Kuehnemund’s guitar heroics. Unfortunately, most of these elements are missing in action on LIVE & LEARN:

  1. The vocals are not on par with what we’ve come to expect. Jenna Sanz-Agero has a completely different style and texture than former lead singer Janet Gardner. It’s a monotone, laid back delivery from Sanz-Agero rather than the soaring vocals Gardner employed. Not one song stands out vocally, almost like bad karaoke. Forget the lush backgrounds, they’ve disappeared.
  2. Where is the guitar? Kuehnemund is totally restrained and barely lets loose come solo time. I can barely hear her anyway because she’s lost in the mix.
  3. The production sucks. It’s a muddy mix, nothing sounds clear except the vocals which are pushed out front. This is probably done on purpose to enhance the performance in order to make it sound good. The guitars are lost and the background vocals sound like they were recorded in a cardboard box.
  4. The lyrics and arrangements are boring. I’ve heard it all done before from other female acts during the late ’90s. Bad material is bad material. I couldn’t get into any song and not one sounded memorable. Nothing catchy and a Bowie cover thrown in for good measure to make it worse.

I can’t really fault Lowrey and Kraft as they seemed to gel despite these shortcomings, they were the only highlight.

Bottom Line:
This is Vixen only in name. There is nothing in common between the Vixen of old and this current incarnation. The material is sub-par and is a far cry from the ’80s heyday. I’ve listened to this over and over trying to find something to spark my interest but I came away bored and annoyed. A big disappointment.

CD Scavenger Hunt (The “Let’s Try This Again” Edition) – 2/20/07

On the last trip out I really didn’t hit the mark. Normally, what I picked up would have been considered a great day but I already had all the CDs in my collection. Armed with last week’s treasures, I entered the local shop and returned them for a $36 credit. Oh, did I mention the coupon? “$2 off each used CD and used DVD (Limit 3 each)”…..I put it to good use.

Testament – The Legacy (1987) – $13: Not to be denied the album I originally intended to buy last week, I started the day with Testament’s debut. Brand new, still sealed, and now I can trade in my old cassette at another local establishment.

Motorhead – Overkill (Deluxe Expanded Edition)(2005) – $19: Couldn’t pass this up because I haven’t seen it in a few weeks. This leaves two Deluxe Editions left to buy (Bomber and the BBC Archives) and they are priority to beef up the Motorhead collection. This also replaces another old cassette.

Cinderella – Live At The Key Club (1999) – $8 used: This CD has been floating around in different incarnations, and on different labels, since it’s original release in 1999 on Deadline. I’ve seen plenty of these available but always at regular price of $12 to $15. This one was marked “used” but it was still sealed in the original shrinkwrap. I checked with a store clerk and he said it was tagged “used” and priced accordingly to finally get it off the racks.

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant – No Quarter (1994) – $6 used: I have almost all of the solo albums by Page & Plant but my Led Zeppelin collection is thin, I only have IV. Funny thing is I know most of the songs and I enjoy them. I was pricing the Zep box set ($99 brand new) to get this out of the way but I declined. Anyway, I never gave this “reunion” much time but I saw this and figured I’d get a Zep fix at a cheaper price. I also read a pretty good review on it by Metal Mark so I had it on my brain. $6 is a bargain.

Deep Purple – Slaves And Masters (1990) – $8 used: Joe Lynn Turner is one of my favorite Rock singers and he is at the front of the Purple machine on this record. Basically it’s the classic lineup minus Ian Gillan, who JLT replaces. I remember my friend having this on tape and ‘King Of Dreams’ was such a good tune, but I wasn’t sure if I had this one. I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes as on the previous hunt, so I did what anyone in my position would do: I called my wife! I had her go upstairs and find the box where the Deep Purple CDs are…..not there.

Artension – Sacred Pathways (2002) – $6 used: I have another Artension album somewhere and I remembered that it was good so I figured at six bucks it was a good gamble. John West (Royal Hunt) is a tremendous singer so that’s a plus.

Hollywood Rose – The Roots Of Guns’n Roses (2004) – $8 used: I have passed on this time and time again but I’ve always been interested in what’s inside. The fact that Axl tried to stop this release made it more alluring. It’s a novelty CD: five original GNR demos, the same five songs then remixed by Gilby Clarke, and then the same five songs a third time but remixed by Fred Coury (Cinderella). It usually goes for $16 so half off is just right.

Total (with tax) = $68

Minus Coupon ($6 off) = $62

Minus Store Credit ($36 off) = $26

$26 is a pretty good price but it’s really $62 from the efforts of last week. Still, not bad for 7 CDs, 3 of which were new/sealed. I feel like I’ve righted a wrong!

Stay tuned because I started hunting online again and I’ve got my eyes on a few things over at Ebay and a few online shops…..

Legs Diamond – Town Bad Girl (1990)

Legs Diamond - Town Bad Girl

Legs Diamond – Town Bad Girl (1990, Metal Blade)

  1. Town Bad Girl
  2. City Streets
  3. Stage Fright
  4. World On Fire
  5. Can’t Get You (Out Of My Mind)
  6. Never Enough Time
  7. Look In Her Eyes
  8. Pain Killer
  9. Cry No More
  10. I Am For You
  11. She Did It For Love
  12. Nervous
  13. Heaven Or Hell

Band Lineup:
Rick Sanford – Lead Vocals
Roger Romeo – Lead Guitar
Michael Prince – Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar
Dusty Watson – Drums
Mike Christie – Bass

Total Time – 57:40

Legs Diamond official website

The only things I knew about Legs Diamond before I picked up this album was that they were a Hard Rock band that started in the 1970s and that their albums were supposedly pretty good. Through some research, I noticed that TOWN BAD GIRL was out of print and going for decent dollars on Ebay. I was able to acquire this album for around $25 at auction.

This album is a fine slice of Hard Rock in 1990, probably one of the better albums released that no one really knows about. You’ve got good performances by all the musicians and the instruments compliment each other without taking over. For the most part, the keyboards compliment and work with the guitars and the rhythm section holds it tight. This is obviously an experienced band that has mastered their craft over the years.

What is most striking is singer Rick Sanford’s voice. There is a familiarity to it, you’ve heard it before and it’s good. Comparisons to Mark Slaughter (Vinnie Vincent Invasion/Slaughter), Tony Harnell (TNT), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Axl Rose (GnR) and Vince Neil (Motley Crue) can be made but I would roll them all into one as Sanford sounds like one or the other as the songs change. Sometimes he sounds like more than one: on ‘Stage Fright’ he sounds like a Slaughter/Harnell combo. Sanford has a great voice for ’80s Hard Rock.

The first four songs are excellent, very solid. ‘Town Bad Girl’ and ‘City Streets’ remind me of Def Leppard meets Ratt with the big gang vocals on the chorus. Both excellent uptempo rockers that grab the listener and immeadiately sucks them in. ‘Stage Fright’ is actually a cover of themselves, the original located on the first Legs offering in 1977. I’ve never heard the original but the updated version smokes. ‘World On Fire’ has a little more keyboard but it is another solid Rock song.

This album starts to lose steam as it progresses. The first four songs make such a good first impression and then some filler creeps in. ‘Can’t Get You (Out Of My Mind)’ is decent but I’ve heard it all before, more filler than meat. ‘Never Enough Time’ is the first ballad of the record, not sure how this missed radio in 1990 but it would have sat well alongside ballads of the time. My favorite song of the album is ‘Look In Her Eyes’, this should have been a big hit. Nice riff and complementing keys with Sanford’s vocal grit, and I really like the guitar solo. It’s the chorus that hooks you in and makes you want to sing along.

‘Pain Killer’ is a mid-tempo rocker that has some groove but it’s ruined by the keyboards. Sounds like a Ratt song. It has that dirty, gritty stomp but the power is deflated with frilly keys, take them away and it’s a great song. Good solo though. Another keyboard heavy song is ‘Cry No More’. More AOR/Pop Rock, something I could see John Waite singing in Bad English. All is forgiven when the opening guitar to ‘I Am For You’ kicks in. It’s similar to ‘Look In Her Eyes’ and sounds like something Tony Harnell would have had on a TNT record. It’s aimed directly at Rock Radio in 1990 and it was the first single and video.

The keyboard intro to ‘She Did It For Love’ just ruins the song for me. It’s a decent song but I can’t get by the synth. There is some good guitar and a decent Ratt-like groove but it sounds watered down. ‘Nervous’ kicks the album back into high gear with arguably the fastest, and hardest, song on the record. Sanford does a great Axl Rose/Mark Slaughter combo and the guitars are blistering. Should be located at the top of the tracklisting instead of being buried after the filler. ‘Heaven And Hell’ has a KISS vibe, sounds like a Gene Simmons penned tune from ASYLUM or CRAZY NIGHTS. The gang chorus is a little weak but the song holds up.

Bottom Line:
Overall, a solid Hard Rock album with some great songs and some top performances. There is some filler and there are some songs that have some overbearing keyboards but the overall feel and sound of the album is really solid. How this band didn’t do well is beyond me because they are very good. This album has me looking into the rest of the Legs Diamond catalogue. Favorite tracks: ‘ Look In Her eyes’, ‘Town Bad Girl’, ‘City Streets’, ‘I Am For You’, and ‘World On Fire’.

Van Halen 2007 Tour postponed indefinitely

From Andrew at Melodicrock.com:

VAN HALEN TOUR POSTPONED:
Yes, it is 100% true that the Van Halen 2007 tour has been indefinitely postponed. Details are a little thin on the ground and no one is talking on the record, but I did manage to talk to my contact who originally told me of the re-union plans in October last year.
Despite what little has been said publicly so far, it seems there are issues beyond paperwork and contracts that need to be ironed out. Van Halen has always been a volatile mix of personalities and 2007 is no different. Basically those involved in putting this tour together won’t commit further until all issues are dealt with, hence the postponement of current plans.
I am told though, that this postponement should be just that – a temporary situation that can be sorted so that the dates that had been arranged can be re-booked and announced down the track somewhat. The band is unlikely to comment beyond the fact the tour will (at this stage) start later than originally planned.
The line-up for this tour remains Eddie, Wofgang & Alex Van Halen and frontman David Lee Roth.
For the record – here is what Pollstar has posted regarding the news:
“It’s true. The Van Halen tour that was never officially announced is now officially postponed indefinitely, sources told Pollstar. The rumored tour took on an air of reality after a trade magazine announced that original singer David Lee Roth was about to sign on the dotted line, and that was soon followed by a press release via Eddie Van Halen’s spokeswoman-slash-girlfriend. Unfortunately, the worldwide frenzy of a VH reunion was too good to be true, at least for the present day.
However, there was a lot of paper getting inked and Pollstar understands that a tour announcement might not have been far off.”
And this forwarded to me from a regular contact:
“I work in radio and here’s exactly what came across our “prep” service this morning from Premier Radio Network
We learned last night from a source close to the band that Van Halen’s reunion tour with David Lee Roth has been “indefinitely postponed.” While Eddie, Alex, Dave and Eddie’s son Wolfgang (replacing bassist Michael Anthony) have been rehearsing, their plans are now up in the air. We were told that when Eddie’s girlfriend (and spokesperson) announced the reunion on February 2nd, there was no signed deal between the band, Roth and tour promoter Live Nation.
A Van Halen best-of highlighting the Roth years has also been scrapped by Rhino. A source at the label tells us they were unable to make a deal for the planned release.
Regardless of all this drama, Van Halen will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York on March 12th.
The last time Van Halen toured with David Lee Roth was in 1984. The last time Van Halen toured was in 2004 with Sammy Hagar.
We were unable to reach representatives for the Van Halen brothers last night. Roth’s spokeswoman declined to comment.”
—————————————————————-

Andrew at Melodicrock.com is pretty well connected and is usually correct most of the time when he prints a news flash like this. Very rarely is what he posts inaccurate.

Here we go again with the Van Halen saga. It’s a sad story now. The mighty Van Halen has now turned into a soap opera with Eddie Van Halen writing the script. I still say it’s a crime to keep Michael Anthony out of the band, I hope that Diamond Dave holds the reunion hostage until Anthony is back in the fold. Not likely to happen though. I would imagine that things will heat up again when the band is inducted into the RNR Hall Of Fame in March. Seems like deja vu all over again…..

New Van Halen picture from Rolling Stone

Van Halen 2007

(L-R: Wolfgang Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen.)

Wolfie looks like Eddie did way back in the day. Diamond Dave looks like he’s cleaned up his act, dig the jacket. Alex looks the same with a little less on top and Ed looks like a goof.

How about we put Mike Anthony back on bass and put Wolfie on guitar? It would make a better picture.

Seriously, I want to see this show just to see Diamond Dave perform and to check out Wolfgang’s chops.

CD Scavenger Hunt (The “I Already Have That” Edition) – 2/13/07

I’m notorious for going out on CD safari armed only with my bad memory and cash. Years ago, I had a database of my CDs and I always took a copy with me to the shops. I also always carried my ever-growing want list. Unfortunately, when my wife and I bought our new computer system over a year ago, I accidently erased the database and I didn’t have a back-up. I’m currently putting my CDs into a Collectorz.com database but I am not even close to putting a dent into my collection. So I went out to the local shop last Tuesday with nothing more than my wallet and a ripped envelope with some bands and albums scrawled on it.

Testament – The Ritual (1992) – $9.99: I had been talking with some friends and Testament came up. We were talking about their debut from 1987, THE LEGACY. By coincidence, Metal Mark and I are getting a March review schedule going and THE LEGACY is one of the albums, more on that later. So I check the CDs and I can’t find THE LEGACY but I do find my crusty old cassette. Score one for the list! I walk into the local shop, go straight to Testament, and grab THE RITUAL. When I get home, I realize I bought the wrong album and I already own it!

Queen – Jazz (1978) – $6 used: There are three Queen albums I need to complete my Queen catalogue: LIVE KILLERS (1979), THE GAME (1980), and HOT SPACE (1982). So the question is: Why do I keep buying JAZZ? This has to be the third or fourth time over the years that I have been psyched to find JAZZ only to realize that I already have it when I get home. It happened again…..

Manowar – Hail To England (1984) – $6 used: I own every Manowar album on CD except BATTLE HYMNS, the debut from 1982. Of course, I insist on buying HAIL TO ENGLAND everytime. I’ve done this twice already, make it three…..

W.A.S.P. – Unholy Terror (2000) – $9 used: A steal at $9 but I already have it. I need to pick up DYING FOR THE WORLD (2002)……

Barren Cross – Atomic Arena (1988) – $3 used: A little heavenly White Metal never hurt anybody, especially a mint CD for three bucks! Problem is I have it and I need STATE OF CONTROL (1989)…..the price got me.

Total (with tax) = $36

Not a bad haul for $36 but I have them all already. Ever have this happen to you or am I just a crazy person?

Coming soon…..update

So I’ve taken a little hiatus from the blog…..actually, I’ve taken most of February off. I’ve been doing some extra listening, playing some Madden 07 on my new 20″ LCD TV (Valentine’s gift from the wife), and de-programming myself from the Net.

I keep the computer on all day and I go back and forth researching albums and bands, reading news, posting on boards, etc. Once and a while, I get sick of it, it’s overkill. I usually play video games and listen to music as well but I haven’t had a chance to since we moved to the new house. The PS2 and stereo is on the 2nd floor. I couldn’t trust my 3 yr old and puppy to behave together so I’ve been pretty bored. There’s only so many tea parties and games of fetch one can handle, LOL! My wife took care of one problem with the LCD TV that now sits proudly in my living room. I took care of the music by bringing home my boombox from work. Now I can play a game of Madden 07 and listen to Winger IV in between throwing tennis balls and drinking from Little Mermaid tea cups!

We will be returning to regular posts this week. I have a few things in store:

  • There will be 2 CD Scavenger hunts, one from last week and this week’s edition.
  • Legs Diamond – Town Bad Girl (1990) album review
  • Vixen – Live & Learn (2006) album review
  • Some thoughts on the Van Halen reunion
  • A few news bits

There may be a couple more posts in there but it depends if I can tear myself away from the Playstation! Add my oldest being out on school vacation and I’ve got a little more chaos at the house than usual.

Good Metal to all! Cheers!

Steve