CD Scavenger Hunt (March update)

March was a slow month for CD hunting, I really didn’t get out to the record stores that much at all. A part of me wants to save a few bucks and another wants to buy every new release on the market! One rule I decided on was to skip over the new releases I already received from the record company…..I usually go out and buy the albums I like, and I still will, just not right away. I did tap Ebay for a few items along the way but it was still one of my slowest months ever for purchases!

Newbury Comics

Whitesnake – Forevermore (2011) – $13: If there’s one album I was looking forward to in 2011, it was the new Whitesnake! I may not have wanted to go out to the record store but you can sure bet I was outside the door to Newbury Comics 20 minutes before the store opened so I could buy my copy. I still have that old school mentality when it comes to new releases…..I have to be there early. Back 20, 25, even 30 years ago, a new album from a major band made the local record store the center of attention, especially on the day of release. I used to be in those lines to get in to the record store and it was always a good time, it was an event. Not so much in 2011 but there were a 3 or 4 other people waiting in their cars in the parking lot and I noticed a couple picked up this album. There were two different pressings: the regular CD and the special edition with 3 bonus tracks and a bonus DVD…..I splurged and paid the extra money for the limited edition. This was a mandatory purchase and $13 on sale made it that much easier. Saved $7.

Pushking – The World As We Love It (2011) – $10: I’m totally in the dark on this Russian hard Rock band but when I saw the commercial for the album on VH-1 Classic, I figured it was worth checking out. Then I checked online and saw that Paul Stanley (KISS) sang on a couple of tracks so it became a must have purchase! Pushking has been around since 1994 and they have an extensive discography, THE WORLD AS WE LOVE IT is a collection of re-recorded songs with guest stars doing the vocals and guitars. Stars like Paul Stanley, Billy Gibbons, Nuno Bettencourt, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Alice Cooper and a ton more all perform with Pushking and make this a great introduction to the band’s discography. I actually passed on this CD when it came out but I decided to snag it when I found the lone copy on the store the same day I bought the new Whitesnake album. It was still on sale so I saved $4.

Ebay

 Torch – Electrikiss (1984) – $16 used: Finally! After a long and hard search, I finally acquired a vinyl copy of ELECTRIKISS by Torch! It’s been a long struggle to find a decent copy on Ebay that was in a good price range, I had featured this album in my WANTED column back in August 2007 and it’s taken me over three years to buy it. I was watching this copy all week and went into the final minute before I placed a bid above the $9.99 starting price. All of sudden, I get outbid! I ended up winning this LP in the final seconds with some quick finger tapping and bidding. The jacket is near mint with some creasing due to age but the vinyl inside is flawless, not a scratch. There’s a few different styles floating around but the copy I bought was the original red vinyl album. I’m not sure how much I saved on this LP, sometimes is goes for under $20 and sometimes it can reach above $50. Either way, I finally added it to my collection.

Scheepers – s/t (2011) – $13: Here’s a case of an album that I received a promotional download from the record company but also an album that I would buy either way. I’m a huge Primal Fear fan so getting lead singer Ralf Scheepers new solo album is a no-brainer…..the only problem is where to buy it? The local record store didn’t get a copy and the online shops I like had this as an expensive import. I ended up on Ebay and found a lot of copies floating around the $20+ range (incl. shipping) but I found this CD by spelling Scheepers with one “E”. I ended up paying around the same price i would for a Frontiers Records’ release on sale at the record store the day it was released so I was happy to pay what I thought was a fair price. If I had bought this at regular price through regular retail channels, i might have paid around $16 so I estimate I saved $3 at auction.

Big Ball – Hotter Than Hell (2010) – $9: here’s another album that I received a digital promo for from the record company but I never got around to listening to or buying. I stumbled upon this CD when i was watching another CD and checked out the seller’s other items. Turns out the seller spelled the band name Big Ball as “Big Bail” so no one was bidding on it. Just like the Torch LP, I waited until the last minute to bid and then someone counter bid, I ended up snatching this CD up in the last few seconds. Big Ball is your basic AC/DC clone and even the sticker on the front reads “AC/DC style Hard Rock! If you like Krokus, Airbourne & AC/DC, you will love Big Ball!” I’ve only spun this a couple of times and the sticker is right, this is for AC/DC fans, even the album cover has that simple black & white AC/DC style to it! If I paid regular price it would probably be $15 so I saved $6 at auction.

Barracuda – Keep Me In Your Heart (2003) – $24: This is actually a re-release of the 1989 album OPEN FIRE by Barracuda but even this is a rarity. I’ve come across both OPEN FIRE and this reissue over the years and both usually command high dollars, especially the original album. I was watching this item and the seller was the same one who sold the Big Ball CD so I actually saved money right away because multiple items qualified for free shipping. Like all the other auctions this month, I ended up going for the CD in the last minute and someone else was watching as well. I ended up in a bidding war with someone and I ended up spending a few extra dollars than I wanted to. Like I mentioned, even this reissue is a rarity so I’m still psyched to get my hands on a copy. I read a lot of rave reviews on this and the original album so I’m looking forward to giving this a spin and now I’m out to find the original pressing of course!

Total = $85

Total (year) = $248

Average Price (per item) = $9.92

Total Savings (month) = $20

Total Savings (year) = $215

Total CDs (year) = 23

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

Red – My Uncensored Life In Rock by Sammy Hagar (2011)

Red – My Uncensored Life In Rock (2011, HarperCollins Publishing)

Author: Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin

Pages: 238

Style: Hardcover

Sammy Hagar

Now here’s a book I’ve been looking forward to! Red – My Uncensored Life In Rock by Sammy Hagar is definitely a must read for most Rock fans for only one reason: the inside story of what went on in Van Halen from Sammy himself! Red is a quick read at only 238 pages but I like to take my time with a book, especially an artist/band biography. My enjoyment isn’t from just reading the book, I like to dive into the music at the same time. Like most other rock biographies, stories about making the music, writing the songs and hitting the studio are crucial to the overall band history so I like to go back and re-listen to the records as I’m reading. This pattern lets me understand the creative process while enjoying the book. Anyway, I should have finished this book in a couple hours but I stretched it a full week around work, family and as many Montrose, Sammy solo and Van Halen albums I own. Red follows Sammy from his childhood days and family life growing up in Fontana, California, to his club days with local bands, Montrose, his solo career, HSAS, Van Halen, solo again and Chickenfoot. That’s a lot of information to pack into only 238 pages! The whole point of my buying this book is because I wanted to know, from Sammy’s perspective, what went down with the break-up of Van Halen in 1996 and the ill-fated reunion tour of 2004.

Now I’m not going to lie, I’m a David Lee Roth guy. Back when I was growing up and getting into Hard Rock, Van Halen had Diamond Dave on the mic. My first exposure to Van Halen was DIVER DOWN (1982) followed quickly by VAN HALEN (1978) and that was just before the band hit big on MTV with the 1984 album. Once 1984 hit, I was a huge Van Halen and David Lee Roth fan. To this day, I prefer the Roth era of Van Halen but, like AC/DC, the band has an equally good and successful era with a new singer (Sammy Hagar). My love of original Van Halen and DLR solo aside, I also grew up with the beginning of the Sammy era of Van Halen. I was watching MTV news for the official announcement of Sammy joining Van Halen, I bought 5150 the day it came out in 1986 and I saw the band play live on the 5150 tour in Providence, RI. Over the years, with every new Van Halen album, I have come to be a fan of both Van Halen lineups equally. Sammy’s addition to the Van Halen lineup also pushed me to discover his solo career and I found that there was more to the Red Rocker than ‘I Can’t Drive 55′ and ‘Only One Way To Rock’…..FM radio staples during the ’80s. Since the band parted ways in 1996, I have followed Sammy’s career closely by purchasing all his solo albums since, seeing him multiple times in concert and even enjoying some Cabo Wabo Tequila…..some of the finest tequila you can get! I have become a huge Sammy Hagar fan.

Back to the book…..

Like I said, the whole point of the book is to get the scoop from Sammy himself on what caused the Van Halen break-up in 1996 and the whole reunion tour fiasco of 2004. I’m not going to ruin the book by telling you all the dirt but let’s just put it this way: if you read David Lee Roth’s 1997 book, Crazy From The Heat, and read a lot of interviews from both Sam & Dave regarding their respective terminations from Van Halen, then you kind of find the same kind of scenarios and situations that point the break-ups in the direction of two very talented brothers. Now Red goes into a little more detail about Sammy’s time in the band, and he also chronciles the success and fun, but that gives you a taste. Aside from the Van Halen story, I liked reading about Sammy’s time as a solo artist before and after Van Halen and his non-musical businesses like the Cabo Wabo cantina in Mexico and the tequila company. Over the years, Sammy has had the benefit of good business sense and a good manager so he’s had a solid string of successful businesses and opportunities that have made him very rich and successful, making his music career more of a fun thing rather than an actual “career”. I also enjoyed reading about Sammy’s childhood and family life because I like finding out where a musician comes from, how the got there and what they are like off-stage.

The only drawback to Red is that it’s way too short. Sammy Hagar has a career that spans 40 years and 238 pages is just not enough to really dive deep into each part. The book is too brief chronicling Sammy’s time in Montrose and the supergroups of HSAS and Chickenfoot. I would have loved to get a little more detail into the creating of the albums and the touring war stories of those three bands. Don’t get me wrong, Sammy talks about each band (Montrose gets it’s own chapter) but I felt there was more to each band’s story. Maybe Sam doesn’t remember? Maybe Sam doesn’t want to get into it? At least Chickenfoot is an ongoing story! I also wanted to hear more about the ill-fated Sam & Dave tour in the Summer of 2002 because I saw the show in Mansfield, MA and Sammy blew Dave off the stage! Roth headlined that night and was in fine form as his set progressed but Sammy was the life of the party bringing on Michael Anthony for some songs and then Gary Cherone for ‘When It’s Love’. All three Van Halen singers at one show! Too bad there wasn’t some sort of song with the three of them. I think one of the reasons why the book is short, and some of the dirt is held back, is because Sammy seems like an all around nice guy. I think he wanted to get his thoughts and opinions out there and then move on and continue living life and making music. I can’t fault him for that.

Bottom Line:
If you’re a Sammy Hagar fan or a Van Halen fan, this is a must read. If you want all the dirt on Van Halen from Sam’s perspective, and get into the rest of his career before and after VH, read this book. Like I mentioned, it’s a little short and I would have liked some further details about certain bands, albums and tours but I really enjoyed Red. The book was a fun read that made me appreciate Sammy Hagar’s career that much more…..I recommend checking it out.

Gary John Barden – Rock ‘N Roll My Soul (2010)

Gary John Barden – Rock ‘N Roll My Soul (2010, Inakustik)

  1. Oh Well
  2. I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock ‘n Roll Band)
  3. Never Before
  4. When A Blind Man Cries
  5. Let’s Work Together
  6. Why Did You Do It
  7. I’m A Man
  8. Stay With Me
  9. Travellin’ Band
  10. The Long And Winding Road
  11. Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt
  12. Rock ‘n Roll My Soul

The Players:
Gary Barden – Vocals
Michael Voss – Guitars, Drums, Keyboards & Background Vocals
Don Airey – Piano & Orchestration (Track 10)
Ian Ward – Harp (Track 5)
Tommy Denander – Lead guitars (Track 6)
Axel Urban – Keyboards (Tracks 5, 8, 12)
Steffi Stephan – Bass (Tracks 5, 9)
Matthias Rethmann – Bass
Barend Courbois – Bass (Track 8)
Pearl – Backing Vocals (Tracks 3, 7, 8)
Andrea Beusker – Backing Vocals (Track 11)
Ferdy Doernbrg – Keyboards (Tracks 4, 7)
Wayne Findlay – Hammond Organ & Piano (Track 3)
Molly Duncan – Saxophone (Tracks 6, 9)

Produced by: Michael Voss & Gary Barden

Country: United Kingdom

Total Time = 42:32

(no official website)

Current Michael Schenker Group vocalist Gary Barden has a new solo album out, ROCK ‘N ROLL MY SOUL, and I was pretty psyched to hear it when I found about it last year. Actually, I believe that this CD was released everywhere except North America in late 2010 but it finally has proper distribution, my copy says “2010″ so I’m going with it! I saw MSG in concert last summer so I’ve been on an MSG kick, especially the first two records with Barden on vocals, so I was looking forward to getting my hands on Gary’s new solo album. Of course I acquire it and I find out it’s an album of cover songs with one original tacked on the end. Regular readers know (and I will write this everytime a cover is involved) that I’m not into covers where original songs should be, especially when the album is promoted as a “new album”. Granted that it’s new but let’s get to full disclosure! I read the press release when I it came through but it didn’t click somehow that this was a covers record.

Giving the album a few spins, I can honestly say that this is a well-produced and good sounding album. Musicianship is great and Gary sounds in fine voice, he can just sing these songs and not have to pack a Hard Rock punch to them as he does in MSG or when he was in Praying Mantis or Statetrooper. The songs here are all from the late ’60s to the mid ’70s, basically what Gary was listening to back in his formative days. If you’ve ever listened to your local Classic Rock radio station then you’ve definitely heard the original tunes and even know most of the words. I knew all the originals except for the German song ‘Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt’ by Barry Ryan.

Let me run down the original artists in order: Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, two in a row by Deep Purple, Canned Heat, Stretch, The Spencer Davis Group (featuring Steve Winwood), The Faces, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, Barry Ryan. Add the title song by Barden and you’ve got an album! A new album. Anyway, the songs are all done well (like I mentioned before) and the highlights for me are both Deep Purple songs, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Travellin’ Band’ and ‘The Long And Winding Road’. I always liked the originals of these songs and the covers are all dead on (all of the covers are), there’s nothing overly special to them, I just like the tunes. I like the fact that Gary covered a couple of Deep Purple songs from MACHINE HEAD (1972), especially ‘When A Blind Man Cries’. Gary sounds a bit like Ian Gillan at times on both songs but it’s not the performances that get me here, it’s the selections. Why cover ‘Never Before’ when you could do the more popular ‘Highway Star’ or the Rock anthem that is ‘Smoke On The Water’? Good for Gary going a little deeper and pulling out ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, a song that was originally the B-side to the ‘Never Before’ single and not originally released on MACHINE HEAD until the 25th Anniversary edition released in 1997. I like the original song, ‘Rock ‘N Roll My Soul’, it has that Aerosmith ‘Big Ten Inch Record’ sound to it…..upbeat, light, quick and fun.

Bottom Line:
This is a covers album so I’m not going to give this outstanding marks but there is some meat on the bone with the original title track, the choice of songs to cover, the arrangements and Gary’s vocals. I think I’m softening my hardline stance against covers because I enjoyed giving this album more than a few spins…..probably due to the fact that you don’t hear these songs covered that often. Usually the Hard Rock guys go with Hard Rock covers, the closest Hard Rock here is Deep Purple. Actually, Gary’s vocals on ‘When A Blind Man Cries’ are really good and that performance helps pull the album from my immeadiate personal disqualification. If you want to hear different versions of these classic songs, or you want to hear Barden’s singing, then pick this up. Of all the covers records I’ve heard in the past couple of years, I like ROCK ‘N ROLL MY SOUL as one of the best.

Favorite Songs:
Both Deep Purple tracks ‘Never Before’ & ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, ‘Trevellin’ Band’, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘The Long And Winding Road’ and the original title track.

Metal Mixtape – 3/13/11

Tale of the Tape
Ipod 120
8370 songs (725 albums)

I usually work a double shift Saturday night into Sunday morning so good Metal music is a must on the overnight. I usually listen to a lot of new albums but I have to start the overnight (the 2nd part of my long shift) with some familiar tracks to get the blood pumping. Here’s the first 20 songs (band-song-album-year):

  1. Dio – ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Children’ – Sacred Heart (1985)
  2. Dio – ‘I Could Have Been A Dreamer’ – Dream Evil (1987)
  3. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘I Just Want You’ – Ozzmosis (1995)
  4. Great White – ‘Rock Me’ – Once Bitten (1987)
  5. Guns ‘N Roses – ‘Anything Goes’ – Appetite For Destruction (1987)
  6. Van Halen – ‘I’ll Wait’ – 1984 (1984)
  7. Def Leppard – ‘Armageddon It’ – Hysteria (1987)
  8. Whitesnake – ‘Fool For Your Loving’ – Ready An’ Willing (1980)
  9. Scheepers – ‘Cyberfreak’ – Scheepers (2011)
  10. Quiet Riot – The Wild And The Young’ – QR III (1986)
  11. Scorpions – ‘The Zoo’ – Animal Magnetism (1980)
  12. Firewind – ‘The Ark Of Lies’ – Days Of Defiance (2010)
  13. Helix – ‘Best Mistake I Never Made’ – Vagabond Bones (2009)
  14. Accept – ‘Flash Rockin’ Man’ – Restless & Wild (1982)
  15. Metallica – ‘Holier Than Thou’ – The Black Album (1991)
  16. Cinderella – ‘Winds Of Change’ – Heartbreak Station (1990)
  17. Crazy Lixx – ‘Road To Babylon’ – New Religion (2010)
  18. Yngwie Malmsteen – ‘Death Dealer’ – Perpetual Flame (2008)
  19. Diamond Head – ‘It’s Electric’ – Lightning To The Nations (1980)
  20. Primal Fear – ‘Black Sun’ – Black Sun (2002)

Bonus Track: AC/DC – ‘War Machine’ – Black Ice (2008)

Hurtsmile – s/t (2011)

Hurtsmile – s/t (2011, Frontiers Records)

  1. Just War Theory
  2. Stillborn
  3. love Thy Neighbor
  4. Kaffur (Infidel)
  5. Painter Paint
  6. Tolerance Song (edit)
  7. Set Me Free
  8. Jesus Would You Meet Me
  9. Slave
  10. Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads
  11. Just War Reprise
  12. The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)

Band Lineup:
Gary Cherone – Vocals
Mark Cherone – Guitar
Joe Pessia – Bass, Mandolin
Dana Spellman – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Gary Cherone & Joe Pessia

Country: USA

Total Time = 49:50

Hurtsmile
Hurtsmile MySpace
Gary Cherone
Frontiers Records

I’m a big Extreme fan from way back in the beginning so when Gary Cherone’s new project, Hurtsmile, was announced, I knew that it would be something unique. The problem with a Gary solo project is that sometimes he gets way too experimental and deviates from the Rock sound that made him a success in Extreme and Van Halen. Take a listen to the Tribe Of Judah album from 2002…..if you can sit through it! That album was horrible (I can’t even explain how bad it was!) due to it’s highly experimental direction and lack of Rock. I’m all of artistic expression and exploring new music avenues but a Rock album should be a Rock album when it’s promoted as such. Now I was really into the last Extreme album, SAUDADES DE ROCK (2007), and their live CD & DVD, TAKE US ALIVE: BOSTON 2009 (2010), so I knew that I was going to buy the Hurtsmile CD but I was crossing my fingers that I would like it.

The album starts out well with the Hard Rock of ‘Just War Theory’ and ‘Stillborn’ and you can immeadiately hear that Gary’s voice is still top notch and his brother, Mark Cherone, has some serious guitar going. You could almost put these songs in either the last Van Halen or Extreme album because they have that modern, edgy flavor. Actually, the sound is almost Grunge, especially on ‘Stillborn’, and I can hear traces of Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots…..influences that will permeate all the harder and/or faster songs on the record.

‘Love Thy Neighbor’ starts out with a 1950s a capella intro but moves into more more familiar modern Rock territory as does ‘Kaffur (Infidel)’, sans intro. Four songs into the album and so far things are going along a modern Hard Rock path with some serious guitar work but the band throws us a curve with the Beatles-inspired acoustic ‘Painter Paint’. This is Gary’s showcase without a doubt, you can really hear his singing voice and how great it really is, kind of like you can do with the Extreme classic ‘More Than Words’. I don’t want to put Gary in a certain box but this guy can sing ballads with the best of them and have great success, I’m surprised that there aren’t more on albums he records.

One of the reasons Gary was hired to replace Sammy Hagar in Van Halen is because he has a very similar sounding voice at times and there is no better example of that with the beginning line of ‘Tolerance Song’…..you swear that’s Sammy! The song follows the same formula as the first four rockers but there’s a little more experimentation with different tones and effects on Gary’s vocals to make it sound more current. The vocal effects almost remind me of some of the ones Motley Crue used for Vince Neil on parts of GENERATION SWINE (1997). The songwriting here isn’t that great and I’m not really digging the song at all. ‘Set Me Free’ continues that thick guitar driven grungy sound mixed with more quiet parts where Gary’s voice carries the song, I like the solo break and Mark Cherone really shines, he plays well through the entire album. ‘Jesus Would You Meet Me’ sounds a bit like Extreme’s ‘Hole Hearted’ instrumentally but the song takes an acoustic/Bluegrass/church hymn direction. I wasn’t really sure about this track the first couple of times I heard it but, after multiple spins, I like it for it’s simplicity and it’s similarity to the Extreme hit. A quick bass intro with some vocal effects open ‘Slave’ and continue throughout the track except for the chorus. The song takes a few twists and turns stylistically and I think it’s really too varied. The band gets back to what I think is their strong suit: the ballad. I was really impressed with ‘Painter Paint’ and ‘Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads’ also leaves a lasting impression with it’s soothing arrangement and Gary’s smooth vocal.

Unfortuately, I have to kill ‘Just War Reprise’. I get that Hurtsmile is an experiment in sound but it stays mostly on the Rock side of things…..’Just War Reprise’ is a Reggae version and it just doesn’t fit. I’m not bagging it because it’s Reggae, I like some Reggae, but on a Rock record? I give the band credit for trying something new but it doesn’t work for me. The final track is ‘The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)’, a tribute to the Philadelphia police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1981, his badge number being #4699. The song reminds me of a Bob Dylan or a Tom Petty song (is there any sonic difference between the two anymore?) and it tells the tale of Officer Faulkner and the incidents involving Mumia Abu-Jamal resulting in his death on the night of 12/9/1981. The song is best described as a folk ballad, more of a musical story if you will, with excellent acoustic guitar and focused vocals. I guess you could maybe call this Ballad #3 of the album but there’s a little more to it than a straight up ballad, there’s a lot of emotion invovled as Gary recounts the story. Bagpipes mark the end of the song in tribute to a fallen officer.

Bottom Line:
I have to admit, this album didn’t really grab me after the first couple of spins, the songs were too grungy and a complete mix of different styles. I kept listening though because I’m a big fan of Gary Cherone and Hurtsmile grew on me. I was ready to lump this in with the industrial Tribe Of Judah (a huge mess!) as another experimental failure and send the message to Gary in this review to just stick with Rock but careful listening proved that there’s a lot more to hear. Extreme fans might not get into this album because it’s different than the traditional Hard Rock you expect but, if you’re looking for something different, Hurtsmile might do the trick. I’m not going to put this album at the top of the heap but I’m not going to cast it to the bottom of the 2011 pile either. This CD is a grower and there are a few songs that rise above the rest, particularly the ballads.

Favorite Songs:
‘Just War Theory’, ‘Painter Paint’, ‘Jesus Would You Meet Me’, ‘Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads’

Press Release: Black ‘N Blue new album, Hell Yeah!, to be released on Frontiers Records on 5/17/11 in North America. Album artwork, tracklisting revealed.

From Frontiers Records:

It’s BLACK ‘N BLUE time! Hell Yeah ! finally scheduled for release on Frontiers Records!

Frontiers Records is excited to announce the release of the new album from Portland-based Rockers BLACK ‘N BLUE on May 13th in Europe and May 17th in North America.

Hell Yeah! is a proud comeback statement for a band that wrote the pages of hard rock history in the 80s. Black ‘N Blue released four successful and critically-acclaimed albums through Geffen Records: their self-titled debut (1984), Without Love (1985), Nasty Nasty (1986), and In Heat (1987), with the latter two albums produced by the legendary GENE SIMMONS of KISS. Catalogue sales in the US were in excess of one million units and the band’s original guitar player Tommy Thayer went on to replace ACE FREHLEY in the current KISS lineup.

Black ‘N Blue reunited for the first time in 2003 under the initiative of singer Jaime St. James, when he began writing tracks for a new album along with original member, Jef “Woop” Warner. The process came to a halt when St. James joined WARRANT as their new lead vocalist in February of 2004. In recent years, Jaime has been releasing records and touring the world with Warrant.

In late 2008, plans to get back into the studio and finish the Hell Yeah! album were underway, as well as festival appearances and other touring.

The band’s line-up is all original except Shawn Sonnenschein“, tells Jaime St. James, “but he has been in the band now for about 8 years. Still the new guy…. Jeez!“.

Black ‘N Blue recently joined the ever-expanding roster of Frontiers Records.

Hell Yeah! goes back to the roots of the “classic” Black ‘N Blue sound, mixing tight and hard rocking songs with a sleazy attitude.

This new album is a real thrill for us and all of the BNB fans” says St. James. “Our last studio recording was in 1988 so it’s a big deal. This is a classic BNB-sounding CD and could be described as a cross between all our previous records. It is heavy for the most part, but I like to think it reminds me of our first album. That’s why we brought back the original logo. We just modernized it“.

Black ‘N Blue will make a special live appearance at the M3 Rock Festival at the Merryweather Post Pavilion in Columbus MD on May 14th. More shows and festivals to be announced.

The new album “Hell Yeah!” will include the following tracks: Monkey; Target; Hail Hail; Fool’s Bleed; C’mon; Jaime’s Got The Beer; Angry Drunk Son Of A Bitch; So Long; Trippin’; Falling Down; Candy; Hell Yeah!; World Goes Round.

Weblinks
www.frontiers.it
www.myspace.com/frontiersrecords   
www.myspace.com/blacknblueofficial

BLACK ‘N BLUE
Jaime St. James – vocals
Jef “Woop” Warner – guitar
Patrick Young – bass
Pete Holmes – drums
Shawn Sonnenschein – guitars

Produced by Jef “Woop” Warner

Press Release: Anvil to release new album, Juggernaut Of Justice, on The End Records on 5/10/11. Album artwork & tracklisting revealed.

From Bravewords:

ANVIL will release their new album, Juggernaut Of Justice, on May 10th via The End Records.

The album’s title track, ‘Juggernaut Of Justice’, is currently available for download as part of The End Records Spring 2011 sampler, at this location.

Juggernaut Of Justice features the following tracklisting:

‘Juggernaut Of Justice’
‘When Hell Breaks Loose’
‘New Orleans Voodoo’
‘On Fire’
‘Fuckin’ Eh’
‘Turn It Up’
‘The Ride’
‘Not Afraid’
‘Conspiracy’
‘Running’
‘Paranormal’
‘Swing Thing’

Frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow recently commented: “I must say that this is by far the best Anvil ever. There will be a few new surprises including Glenn 5′s first lead vocals in Anvil’s history. The production that Bob Marlette has done far surpasses anything we’ve done in the past. The excitement within the band is over the top and we can’t wait to unleash this amazing CD to the fans.”

Drummer Robb Reiner concurs: “The new album is pure Anvil with a new fresh kick, very exciting. Looking to rocking with The End, putting the music where it belongs – in everybody’s ears and face!”

Prior to the release of Juggernaut Of Justice, The End will be releasing the definitive Anvil anthology. The collection will be comprised of classics old and new, with some surprises, and will showcase the band’s entire career spanning back to 1978.

Anvil

Anvil Metal

Anvil Metal Pounders Union

The End Records

Mr. Big – What If… (2011)

Mr. Big – What If… (2011, Frontiers Records)

  1. Undertow
  2. American Beauty
  3. Stranger In My Life
  4. Nobody Left To Blame
  5. Still Ain’t Enough For Me
  6. Once Upon A Time
  7. As Far As I Can See
  8. All The Way Up
  9. I Won’t get In My Way
  10. Around The World
  11. I Get The Feeling
  12. Unforgiven (bonus track)

DVD Extra – Undertow videoclip, All The Way Up videoclip, Making of WHAT IF…

Band Lineup:
Eric Martin – Lead Vocals
Billy Sheehan – Bass & Vocals
Paul Gilbert – Guitars & Vocals
Pat Torpey – Drums & Vocals

Producer: Kevin Shirley

Country: USA

Total Time = 50:54

Mr. Big
Mr. Big Facebook page
Mr. Big MySpace page
Frontiers Records

Has it really been 10 years since Mr. Big released their last studio album? And has it been 15 years since the original lineup released a new album? The answer to both questions is “Yes” so the next logical question is: Why is Mr. Big reuniting again? If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 22 years then you should know that Mr. Big is one of the biggest bands to come out of the late ’80s/early ’90s. The band had instant success with their self-titled debut album in 1989 and then released their follow-up, LEAN INTO IT (1991), that included the smash hit ballad ‘To Be With You’. Once the musical climate changed in the U.S. in the early ’90s, Mr. Big went on to international fame and fortune, especially in Japan. Mr. Big are gods in Japan and that is the reason for the current reunion of Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and original guitarist Paul Gilbert…..the Japanese fans and promoters demand for Mr. Big is insatiable! The band reunited in 2009 for live dates and then hit the studio to create WHAT IF…

The album starts out with the hard rocking first single, ‘Undertow’, that immeadiately reminds the listener that the band is more than a bunch of balladeers, this band knows how to rock! The band sounds completely comfortable, all performances flawless, and the song is classic Mr. Big but with an updated edge. Eric Martin sounds in fine voice and the return of Paul Gilbert is solidified with his guitar solo…..I’d mention how great Sheehan and Torpey are but it’s a forgone conclusion that they are a solid rhythm team. The band hits hard again with ‘American Beauty’, a modern day version of ‘Addicted To That Rush’. This is how to rock! The band puts the foot to floor and heads back to the ’80s highway of fast melodic Hard Rock circa their debut album. The guitar and bass play right off each other and Gilbert turns in another brilliant solo while that funky bassline of Sheehan dances around it. So many fans hear the name Mr. Big and think of the ballads but if you listen to all their albums, especially the first two, these guys can rock with the best of them! That doesn’t mean the guys aren’t going to slow down and they do with ‘Stranger In My Life’, a ballad that showcases Eric Martin’s vocals…..this guy is just consistent, nailing down the vocals everytime on every album. All Mr. Big ballads will be compared to ‘To be With You’ but I’d say that ‘Stranger In My Life’ has more emotion and is more heartfelt, one of the best songs on the album. ‘Nobody Left To Blame’ keeps things on the slow side, more of a mid-tempo, but very heavy. There’s an edge here, a darker emotional feel, that really personalizes the song, Eric’s vocals sound very emotional like a sense of loss. The musicianship is top notch here, as is the case with every Mr. Big song, Sheehan and Torpey giving the song a groove that fits in well with Gilbert’s guitar heroics.

Time to kick it up a notch again with ‘Still Ain’t Enough For Me’, another fast-paced hard rocker that showcases the duelling Gilbert and Sheehan (especially at the solo break). This is another song that could easily be the modern day ‘Addicted To That Rush’ and that’s how I like Mr. Big to be: fast, heavy and straight forward. ‘Once Upon A Time’ continues the faster pace and is very heavy, Paul Gilbert really gets a thick sound on this track. I like the heavy modern edge to the song while maintaining the clean lines each musician follows…..on every song you can hear each player’s insturment clear as day. Obviously the band are excellent musicians but producer Kevin Shirley (producer for Journey, Iron Maiden, Queesryche and more) does another phenomenal job and makes the album sound flawless. I’ve read online that Shirley had the band play the songs live in the studio to capture the true feel of the band…..well, it worked because the band sounds better than they ever have. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since these four guys recorded together but it’s a testament to each member’s talent. The heaviness continues with ‘As Far As I Can See’ but you can hear the early Mr. Big in the melodic parts especially around the chorus…..I’m still wondering if Eric Martin has aged since 1989 because his vocals sound so good that he puts younger peers to shame. Ballad #2 arrives with the acoustic based ‘All The Way Up’, a cool change of pace from the heavier direction the album has taken so far. ‘All The Way Up’ is another perfect example of why Mr. Big gets lumped in with the “big hair” bands and the sweet love ballads, the band is just really good at making ballads! This song is heartfelt and very melodic with another vocal clinic from Eric Martin.

‘I Won’t Get In My Way’ continues the modern edgy Hard Rock and is another solid Rock song but there’s not much of the individual musical definition except come the solo break where Gilbert and Sheehan play off each other. The lack of musical individuality ends with the blazing melodic ‘Around The World’, as song that Billy Sheehan owns with his bass pyrotechnics! If you’re listening to WHAT IF… and you’re waiting for Billy to cut loose, this is the song! It’s not all bass though because the song is very melodic and the chorus is extremely catchy while Gilbert plays off Sheehan. The classic Mr. Big sound of the MTV era is alive and well on ‘I Get The Feeling’, a track that could easily have been a hit back in the day. It’s another melodic rocker with great guitar but I swear Eric Martin sounds a little like Tesla’s Jeff Keith on a couple of lines. The bonus track for the European/North American release is ‘Unforgiven’, another modern hard rocking song that’s very heavy and has that darker edge to it. If you’re like me, you needed to buy the limited edition version of WHAT IF… so there’s a bonus DVD included that has videos for both ‘Undertow’ and ‘All The Way Up’ and footage of the band making the album.

Bottom Line:
So what does Mr. Big have to offer in 2011? Obviously a lot because WHAT IF… is one of the best Melodic Rock records of the year! Seriously, I am already installing this album as 2011′s best and it’s going to be hard for someone to come along and beat it. There isn’t a weak song on the album, all are well written and well played. The production is flawless and Eric Martin proves that he is one of the best singers in Rock. Even the album artwork is great…..no one, including the band, ever thought they would reunite. Maybe “when pigs fly”? A perfect statement that shows the humor and fun Mr. Big is about. I was looking forward to getting this album and I am definitely happy with the results. Fans of Mr. Big will love this album as will fans of Melodic Hard Rock. Best album of 2011 so far!

Favorite Songs:
This is going to be tough because there isn’t a weak song on the album, each one is really great. If I had to pick four songs: ‘Undertow’, ‘American Beauty’, ‘All the Way Up’, ‘Still Ain’t Enough For Me’

Press Release: Journey to release new album, Eclipse, on May 24, 2011 in the U.S. & Canada. 30 second preview of ‘City Of Hope’ and tour dates also announced.

From Melodicrock.com:

Journey, one of the most popular American rock bands of all time, is gearing up to unleash their latest album of brand new material, Eclipse. The album will be released in the U.S. and Canada on May 24 exclusively at Walmart and beginning June 3 in Europe on Frontiers Records.

Thanks to Frontiers Records and Journey management, MelodicRock.com can present this world exclusive first taste of the new studio album!

The 30 second preview clip of the lead track City Of Hope can be Downloaded Here.
 
 
To follow the release of Eclipse, Journey will launch the “Eclipse Tour” with Foreigner, and special guest Night Ranger, beginning July 21 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. Fans can expect to hear new songs from Eclipse as well as classics such as Don’t Stop Believin’, Any Way You Want It, Faithfully, Lights, Separate Ways, Wheel In The Sky, and many more. The “Eclipse Tour” dates are listed below.

“I’m in love with this record, which I haven’t said about one of our albums for a long time,” says founding member and lead guitarist, Neal Schon. “It’s a rock record and it sounds amazing.” Commenting on the upcoming tour, Schon continued, “We’ve got a lot of hits to play and there’s plenty of time to do some new stuff too, so we’re gonna mix it up. We haven’t toured with Foreigner for over 10 years, so we’re really looking forward to this run.” Tickets for “The Eclipse Tour” go on sale beginning Friday March 11, at all the usual online, phone and physical retail outlets, including select Walmart Ticketmaster locations across the country. Check www.journeymusic.com for complete ticket onsale information. Journey has once again teamed up with iloveallaccess.com to offer their fans a variety of VIP ticket packages. For more details go to www.journeymusic.com.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, keyboardist Jonathan Cain recently described Eclipse as “a concept record with some spiritual themes to it…pretty tough, hard-hitting stuff.” Jonathan continued, “We just felt like it was time to send a message to the world about how we feel about life in general.” Journey toured the world for two years in support of their 2008 release, Revelation. More than a million fans attended the shows, and welcomed new lead singer Arnel Pineda. Completing the Journey lineup is Schon (guitars, backing vocals), Cain (keyboards, backing vocals), Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals) and Deen Castronovo (drums, percussion, backing vocals). Revelation marked the band’s biggest first week’s sales in more than a decade, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200 in June 2008 and taking the top spot on the Independent Albums chart. Revelation earned the band their 11th Platinum album certification to date, leading The New York Times to declare that “the band…feels alive.” Since its formation in 1973, Journey has earned 19 Top 40 singles and 25 gold and platinum albums. The band’s Greatest Hits album is certified 15 times platinum, bringing Journey into the elite club of Diamond-certified album holders. The group also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

For more information, visit www.journeymusic.com.

Initial Eclipse Tour dates:
Thursday, July 21, 2011 Salt Lake City, UT Rio Tinto Stadium
Saturday, July 23, 2011 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Sunday, July 24, 2011 Phoenix, AZ Desert Sky Pavilion
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Maryland Heights, MO Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Saturday, July 30, 2011 Tinley Park, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Sunday, July 31, 2011 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 Cuyahoga Falls, OH Blossom Music Center
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
Friday, August 05, 2011 Columbus, OH Crew Stadium, Ohio State Fair
Saturday, August 06, 2011 Noblesville, IN Verizon Wireless Music Center
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Darien Center, NY Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Saturday, August 13, 2011 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Hartford, CT Comcast Theatre
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Friday, August 19, 2011 Virginia Beach, VA Virginia Beach Amphitheater
Saturday, August 20, 2011 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek
Sunday, August 21, 2011 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlotte
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
Saturday, August 27, 2011 Burgettstown, PA First Niagara Pavilion
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Syracuse, NY New York State Fair
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Allentown, PA The Great Allentown Fair
Friday, September 02, 2011 Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center*
Saturday, September 10, 2011 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Arena
Friday, September 16, 2011 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Saturday, September 17, 2011 Tampa, FL 1-800 Ask-Gary Amphitheatre
Sunday, September 18, 2011 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
Saturday, September 24, 2011 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
Sunday, September 25, 2011 The Woodlands, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 Kansas City, MO Starlight Theatre
Saturday, October 01, 2011 Englewood, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
Friday, October 07, 2011 Chula Vista, CA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
Friday, October 14, 2011 Wheatland, CA Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Saturday, October 15, 2011 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Portland, OR Rose Garden Arena
Friday, October 21, 2011 Seattle, WA KeyArena

New video from Helix – ‘When The Bitter’s Got The Better Of You’ from Vagabond Bones (2009)

From Helix mainman Brian Vollmer:

Check out our new video for “When the Bitter’s Got the Better of You” from the Vagabond Bones CD. Brent put this together over the past month. We’re shooting for 20,000 hits on Youtube. Help us reach our goal! Please pass the link along to all your friends if you are a Helix fan.

We’re in Woostock, Ontario this week and now have bookings into September.  Be there or be square!

Cheers!
Brian V

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For more information on Helix, go to their official website PlanetHelix

Read my review for Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009)

Press Release: Stampede to release new album, A Sudden Impulse, on 5/9/2011 on Rock Candy Records

STAMPEDE set to release new studio album: A Sudden Impulse on 5/9/2011

Newly reformed NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) heroes STAMPEDE have announced details of the release of their new album, A Sudden Impulse – the long awaited follow up to their classic 1983 debut studio album Hurricane Town.

Finding a happy and welcoming new home with Rock Candy Record’s spin-off front line label Grind That Axe Records, the band are finally excited to be able to reveal full track listing and artwork for the new album, which is due for release on April 18. Lead singer Reuben Archer comments “Personally I am really excited about the new album and our association with Rock Candy. It’s great to feel part of something that’s happening and more than anything we can’t wait to get out there and play live!”

One of the most respected hard rock acts during the early eighties, the band signed to Polydor Records and released two albums of impressive melodic rock to both critical and commercial acclaim, being compared to earthy British bands such as UFO and Humble Pie.

Following regenerated interest brought about by Rock Candy Records’ reissue of ‘Hurricane Town’ in 2006, song writing partnership Reuben and Laurence Archer decided to reform the band in 2009. Together with original bassist Colin Bond, new drummer Steve Graystone and the addition of a second guitarist in the form of Chris Clowsley, the band have crafted a worthy, if not superlative, long lost follow-up to their studio debut in the opinion of label manager Derek Oliver, who describes the new material as “lean, mean tough-guy hard rock with all the soulful delivery of classic British steel led by Reuben’s instantly identifiable vocal and Laurence’s blistering plank spanking burn outs.”

Reuben strongly believes that welcoming additional elements to Stampede have only served to strengthen the band, making the new material on A Sudden Impulse their most enjoyable studio experience yet. For example, twenty-year-old guitarist Rob Wolverson was invited to add his unique flair to the recordings as a result of Laurence being indisposed for a period because of personal commitments. Explains Reuben: “We could have had several existing name players fill in during this time, but I’d known Rob for years and watched him grow into a real guitar whizz-kid. He’s also a great writer and brought a lot of vibrancy to the project. I just knew he was right for the job.”

Commenting on the end result, Reuben adds: “We have a harder sound now, the melodic hooks are there and I think we have a lot more edge than the first time around – especially due to our new powerhouse drummer Stevie G, and also Chris, whose strong rhythm guitar, vocal and guitar harmonies contribute enormously to the new sound. It has all resulted in making the reincarnation of Stampede an even more exciting project for us.“

A Sudden Impulse is released on Rock Candy Records on May 9, 2011

Live dates scheduled for Spring 2011 TBA.

Full track listing of the album is as follows:

A Sudden Impulse (2011)

1) Send Me Down An Angel
2) Jessie
3) Having Fun
4) Make A Change
5) Hard Rock Hell
6) This Road
7) Homeward Bound
8) Shame On You
9) Natural Disaster
10) Humble Pie
11) Flaming Gold

Bonus Tracks:
12) Recharged
13) Flaming Gold (Acoustic)

Find out more about the newly reformed Stampede and get a sneak preview of track samples at:

http://www.myspace.com/stampedeofficial
http://www.facebook.com/stampederock

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STAMPEDE announce new single release  & video taster

Newly reformed British melodic rockers STAMPEDE are set to unveil their new single “Having Fun” on April 11th.

The track comes from the forthcoming studio album ‘A Sudden Impulse’, which consequently has a revised release date of May 9th 2011.

“Having Fun”, which will be available in digital format only, will be the band’s first single in twenty-eight years.  It follows previous singles “The Other Side” (1983) from the studio album Hurricane Town, and “Days of Wine And Roses” (1982), which were released by Polydor Records and received considerable airplay on BBC Radio, Capital Radio and across Europe and Japan.

Stampede are also pleased to announce the first of three promo videos to give fans a taster of their new material.  The videos feature guitarist Rob Wolverson, and were recorded during part of the schedule when Laurence Archer became unavailable due to personal commitments.

Watch the first video, “Shame On You” here…..

“Having Fun” will be available to download from iTunes and other digital outlets from April 11th.

A Sudden Impulse is released on May 9th on Grind That Axe / Rock Candy Records.

 For more information and to hear a preview of the single, visit:

http://www.stampederock.com

http://www.facebook.com/stampederock