Twenty something years ago, I slavishly bought and read the English magazine Metal Hammer, cover to cover. I remember that they quite often featured a band called Romeo’s Daughter, a band that puzzles me to this day. Maybe not the band themselves, but the way I viewed them. First, I always thought that the name Romeo’s Daughter was really cool. They also had a gorgeous chick (pardon my slightly sexist expression here, but I’m being 22 again…) as their singer, a girl named Leigh Matty whose picture I couldn’t stop looking at. Then they managed to get producer Mutt Lange (Def Leppard, AC/DC, Foreigner, Nickelback, Bryan Adams) to produce their self titled debut album that arrived in 1988. Now, I love Def Leppard, always has, and if you consider all the reasons I just wrote, why in bloody hell, didn’t I bother to check the band out back then?
Back in the days of the 80’s, when yours truly was more or less obsessed with melodic rock and AOR – for a while there, I was totally convinced that EVERY hard rock and metal band should have a keyboard player and big, catchy choruses… – a band like FM should have been right up my alley. I mean, just look at the name. FM! It doesn’t get more AOR than that. So, in the age of 1986, when my whole world did orbit around bands like Def Leppard, Europe, Bon Jovi and the likes, FM released their, now classic debut album Indiscreet. I became aware of that band when another AOR loving friend of my brother’s brought that album to our house and, of course, I threw myself over that album. But, the fact is, I wasn’t all that impressed. My brother was. And his friend. But not me. It was a good album, sure, but it wasn’t great. And that is something I still feel today about that album. Good, but not great. Fast forward three years and we were writing 1989 in our calendars and at work, a friend of mine, also heavily into melodic rock and AOR at the time, asked me if I had heard of a band named FM. He had just bought their new album Tough It Out and told me it was awesome. Having heard that before and remembering that I wasn’t as impressed with Indiscreet, I was sceptical, but I decided to give it chance.
I didn’t like Halestorm when I first heard them. Yes, I heard that front woman Lzzy Hale had one helluva voice and that she had attitude, passion and hunger enough to sell. But the singles that were all over the radio, “Love Bites (So Do I)” and “I Miss The Misery” from their second album The Strange Case Of… (2012) weren’t all that much to write home about for me. Not bad, but nothing that made me wanna check the band out further. Besides, I thought they had too much of a modern radio-rock vibe over them, a style that doesn’t tickle my musical interest at all. The ballad “Here’s To Us”, was ok, I thought, but it was two against one here, so I didn’t have the urge to surrender at all. It would take my fiance, who told me too many times just how good that record was, to finally break my stubbornness.
Isn’t it strange how some artists just suddenly disappears, just like they have vanished into thin air, just to reappear after years on hiatus, popping up like the man in the box and all of a sudden they’re everywhere all the time? Dan Reed is such an artist. Dan Reed was heading for stardom with his band Dan Reed Network in the late eighties and we were many who thought that they were the next big thing. Their funk ridden melodic hard rock had a broad aim, they were pop and funk enough for the mainstream audience that didn’t have hard rock as their favourite music and they were rough enough with big guitars and heavy drumming for the rock audience. But despite releasing three killer albums and getting the support slot on tours with huge names such as Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones, the Network never took off at all – it’s one of music’s biggest mysteries, in my opinion. Dan Reed Network SHOULD have been huge – it’s crazy that more people didn’t get them.
Since ole Mikey Schenker sobered up and realised that he still have a career in music, the old gunslinger has shown a very creative side of himself. After his years under the McAuley-Schenker moniker, he did release a lot of music and toured, but in all honesty, most of his records were unfocused and even schizophrenic and much too often of poor quality. Sure, he did try to reform with UFO for some years and records, but the result and interest from fans was underwhelming and his solo stuff didn’t make anyone happy. For a guy who has released classic rock music with bands such as Scorpions and UFO – and not to mention his work with his own band MSG – the Michael Schenker Group, many years of late has looked like a complete waste and the guitarist – often in a haze of drugs and alcohol – has made some really bad decisions, decisions that with some bad luck, could have ended his career totally.
About a year ago, I wrote a review on a four track CD called North Bound by a duo called The Northern Cowboys. Despite not being the world’s biggest country fan (I do have a soft spot for Steve Earle and stuff like Kid Rock and Blackberry Smoke, though), what made me interested in this project was of course because of the involvement from one Andy Zata, lead guitarist and song writer in Swedish melodic hard rockers Crazy Lixx. Knowing that the guy is a killer guitar player and a great song writer, I was very curious of what he might cook up in a country environment.
I remember when The Poodles broke through in Sweden. The band had a big hit with their Eurovision Song Contest song “Night Of Passion” (co-written by Matti Alfonzetti of Impera and Skintrade fame). Because of that hit, their debut album Metal Will Stand Tall (2006), an uneven effort that didn’t contain much metal at all – we’re talking melodic hard rock here – became a pretty big success. Still, I know that I wasn’t the only one that gave the band two or three albums tops before they had to, what we thought, split up due to fading interest from the fans. There was also a whole lot of people in the hard rock community that laughed at the band, much to the fact that they had chosen one hell of a stupid name. Now, The Poodles has released album number six, they still have hits and they tour regularly and the band is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with and is now more or less a Swedish institution, so man, were we wrong.
So here’s an interesting – and unusual – idea. Why don’t someone just go out on a melodic hard rock trek and collect every unsigned demo band that has ever played the Sunset Strip, Hollywood, CA? Said and done, American record label Eönian Records did just that and to make things just a bit smoother, here’s a quick press release, copied and pasted right as it said on their home page:
Eonian Records is very excited to present the single largest collection of West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip bands ever assembled entitled Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebels & the Sunset Strip. Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebels & the Sunset Strip were the third and final wave of Sunset Strip bands, the most competitive market for rock ‘n’ roll that had ever existed. During this era, the Sunset Strip had become a living, breathing entity of extreme depth and breadth of musicality, self-indulgence, and living in the intrepidly fast and dangerous lane. Band members were judging T-shirt contests at Gazzarri’s, hanging out upstairs in the loft at the Rainbow doing blow, downing tequila shots before a show upstairs in the Red Room at the Whisky, chilling with friends at the front bar of the Troubadour, and dropping by the Roxy to see who was playing and what was going to be shaking that evening. This was West Hollywood’s one and only, the Sunset Strip. Taz, Rattlesnake Shake, Blackboard Jungle, Imagine World Peace, The Wild, Dallas Dollz, Shake City, Hans Naughty, Paradise were just a small handful of bands that played part of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll scene that ever was. They are the last generation of rock bands that ruled the Los Angeles music scene! Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebels & the Sunset Strip – Volume I features 36 bands from the 1980s and early 1990s Los Angeles rock scene and is a four-disc collection with 72 digitally re-mastered, original studio recordings. Only a small handful of these recordings were ever made available, as most were meant primarily for the ears of recording industry giants in an effort to be signed. Volume I also features a 60-page color booklet with a close up look at each band, over 100 original archived photos, and the 13-page “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebels: Sunset Strip Certified” narrated by JohnnyX of The Wild and Adam Gifford of Paradise, both well-known bands on the Sunset Strip.
Much has happened in the Gun camp since they released their masterpiece Taking On The World in 1989 and were hailed as the next big (Scottish) thing. That album spawned no less than five big hit singles and the future looked very bright for the band. But when the very underrated Gallus saw the light of day back in 1992, the band didn’t manage to ride on the success of the predecessor. Not that the album was a big failure, but it didn’t put the band on the next level and when they released their third album, the amazing Swagger, we wrote 1994 in our calendars and grunge and alternative rock had taken over and even though Gun never was a glam, sleaze or AOR band, they were looked upon as a melodic hard rock band and the winds just didn’t blow that way back then. They gave it a try one final time, changing the name to G.U.N. and made some kind of dance record called 041 632 6326 in 1997, but the album bombed completely. Which wasn’t a surprise as the album sucked and the Gun fans that were still behind them didn’t dig their new style.
Somebody once called Thin Lizzy the band that eats guitar players. Somebody also added Kiss to that list. Rainbow and Whitesnake ate members period. In Sweden there’s a dark sleaze / glam band called Crashdiet that has had three different singers on four records. I guess you know what I’m getting at here. Finnish opera-metalists Nightwish has had vocalist problems for a while now. When the band broke through in 2000 with their third album Wishmaster – they released their debut Angels Fall First back in 1997 – many people, including me, equaled Nightwish with their singer Tarja Turunen, even though it was band leader and keyboards player Toumas Holopainen who was the band’s main song writer. She has a big operatic soprano voice and an outlook that many people identified with Nightwish. Nothing strange in that, she was the voice and the face of the band. Add to the fact that she was a real good-looking woman and Nightwish had the formula to conquer the world. When Nightwish released Once in 2004, they were really, really big and on the verge of becoming a huge act world-wide.