Friday, September 28, 2012

TUESDAY BLUE - Shibumi (1988)

Part of the new romantic movement when it was formed in their native Limerick, Ireland, TUESDAY BLUE were changing their musical style through the years between some line-up changes.
Around 1987 the group got signed by a major American label subsidiary, and their debut "Shibumi" was released at the end of 1988 in the USA and in March 1989 in Europe.

The music developed by Tuesday Blue here is a mixture of elegant lite AOR with some melodic new wave scent in its structures.
The sound in "Shibumi" is glossy and clean, courtesy of David Richards' production (Magnum's Vigilante, Virginia Wolf), recorded at the Mountain Studios in Montreux owned by the rock band Queen.

We have thumping drums, synths, round basslines and that kind of lovable over-processed (clean) guitars conforming a thick musical background for Michael Ryan's tenor vocals.
Opener "Tunnel Vision" is a good example of Tuesday's vigor (sporting a very good guitar solo) which is interspersed through the disc with calmer moments. "Love Me Simple" is another strong tune with lush synths, blistering riffs and a fine chorus.

Overall, in "Shibumi" Tuesday Blue reminds me Canadians Boulevard and Frozen Ghost, early It Bites, some Real Life. There's few tracks reminscent of The Outfield too. I would have wished more hooky choruses but these songs are sonically a pleasure to listen, with delicate arrangements.
Ripped at maximum quality including artwork. Out of print and hard to find.

01 - Tunnel Vision
02 - Tell The Boys
03 - Love Me Simple
04 - Between Smiles And Tears
05 - Open Your Eyes
06 - Cut And Dry
07 - I Believe In You
08 - Escape The Escape
09 - Something Wrong With Your World

Lead & Backing Vocals – Michael Ryan
Guitars – Dave Keary
Keyboards, Piano – Tom Jones
Bass – Ralf Lindheim
Drums, Percussion – Ray Fean

TUESDAY BLUE - Shibumi (1988)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

TATSURO - Songs From L.A. 2 (1991)

Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Second and final installment of TATSURO - Songs From L.A.
This Vol.2 is a bit more dynamic, again featuring Joseph Williams on two tracks and beautiful female vocals by Gail Lopata Lennon.
As on the previous volume, top L.A. session musicians providing finesse; Michael Thompson, Tim Pierce, John Robinson, Neil Stubenhaus...

Get Back In Love (Joseph Williams)
Ride On Time (Gene Miller)
Merry Go Round (Philip Bailey)
Kokiatsu Girl (Gene Miller)
Saturday Is For Lovers (Maxine & Julia Waters, Carmen Twillie)
The Two Of Us -Futari- (Joseph Williams)
Wonderful Afternoon (Gene Miller)
Meditation (Gail Lopata Lennon)

Guitars: Tim Pierce, Michael Thompson, James Harrah
Bass: Neil Stubenhaus
Keyboards : Steve Goldstein, Kohtaro Horiuchi, H. Koizumi
Drums: John "JR" Robinson
Percussion: Rafael Padilla
Sax: Dan Higgins, Dave Koz, Marc Russo
Horns: Gary Grant, Jerry Hey, Bill Reichenbach
Background vocals: Carmen Twillie, Julia & Maxine Waters
Produced by Kaz Masumoto

TATSURO - Songs From L.A. 2

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TATSURO - Songs From L.A. 1 (1990)

Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

At the very beginning of the nineties the musical climate started to change in the States, more even for West Coast artists and L.A. session musicians.
Many of them found place of refuge in the Japanese market, a country always devoted to delicate sounds.

So there's a great amount of albums from those years including artists like Joseph Williams, Jason Scheff, Bill Champlin, etc, performing songs - generally from Japanese artists - in the American style.
Ironically, all these tunes were recorded as well in L.A. and with local musicians & arrangers, but only released in Japan.
I have posted some of these albums some time ago such as 'ANGELES Fade In Love', 'E35 Let's Sing J-Pop In English' and others.

Now, requested by a reader, it's time for "TATSURO - Songs From L.A", two volumes comprising songs from Japanese AOR singer Tatsuro Yamashita, performed by the likes of Joseph Williams, Tom Keane, Michael Thompson, Tim Pierce, Neil Stubenhaus and more.
Sweet, soft West Coast to enjoy with a glass of good red wine (Californian, why not).

Christmas Eve (Lead Vocal: Joseph Williams)
Sparkle (Lead Vocal: Elizabeth Wolfgram)
Touch Me Lightly (Lead Vocal: Dianne Reeves)
Windy Lady (Lead Vocal: Philip Bailey)
Your Eyes (Lead Vocal: Dianne Reeves)
The Whispering Sea (Lead Vocal: Elizabeth Wolfgram)
The Girl In White (Lead Vocal: Tom Keane)
Lady Blue (Lead Vocal: Tom Keane)

Guitars: Michael Thompson, James Harrah, Tim Pierce
Keyboards: Tom Keane, Steve Goldstein
Bass: Neil Stubenhaus
Drums: John Robinson
Horns: Gary Grant, Lew McCreary, Bill Reichenbach
Sax: Marc Russo, David Koz
Background Vocals: Yvonne Williams, E. Wolfgram

TATSURO - Songs From L.A. 1

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PHOENIX (UK) - In Full View (1979-80)

English guitarist & vocalist John Verity was featured in this blog as solo artist some years ago with two of his best eighties recordings.
Member of legends Argent from 1974 until '76 when the band split up, he formed PHOENIX with bassist & keyboard player Jim Rodford and drummer Bob Henrit.
While their self titled debut was a proggy and seventies-rock affair, the follow up album "In Full View" took its influence from the incipient American radio-rock / commercial AOR market.
Future well known names in the genre did backing vocals here, such as Russ Ballard, Michael Des Barres and Bruce Turgon.

In some countries "In Full View" was released in 1979, in others the next year with a slightly different cover (check the logo and photo tint).

The only track in "In Full View" still retaining some lite prog touches - as the use of Mellotron - is opener "Just Another Day", but genetically the song is an aorish tune full of magic.
The rest of the disc features ripping guitar leads from Verity, cool stabbing synth layers and nice choruses, as heard in "Just Another Day" and "Don't Fool Me".
"I'm In Love" and "I Don't Mind" are more rock&pop oriented, while they add some acoustics to the decent ballad "Angel".
Perhaps the best example of just how close Phoenix might have come to having a breakthrough single is the catchy "Strong Love", which spreads a memorable hook, smart guitar riffs and uptempo synth arrangements.

The band successfully toured Europe and a third album was recorded but never released. After Phoenix Rodford went to The Kinks, while Verity and Henrit joined Charlie to record the band's 'American' album 'Good Morning America'.
In fact "In Full View" sounds pretty close to Charlie, so seems this is the sound John Verity was looking for.
A cool disc rarely seen, nicely ripped from vinyl and cleaned by myself.

1 - Just Another Day
2 - Fooling Myself
3 - Into Your Blood
4 - Don't Fool Me
5 - I Don't Mind
6 - Strong Love
7 - I'm In Love
8 - Angel

John Verity - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Robert Henrit - Drums
Jim Rodford - Bass, Keyboards
Add. Musicians;
Ronnie Lee Cunningham - Keyboards
Rod Argent - Keyboards (3)
Ray Minhinnett - Guitar
Michael Des Barres, Russ Ballard, Bruce Turgon - Backing Vocals

PHOENIX (UK) In Full View

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

VERA CRUZ - Hot Games [Bootleg CD] (1989) + demos

Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Germans VERA CRUZ debuted in 1989 with "Hot Games" released through a small indie label, pressed on CD but in limited quantities. Much sought after by collectors, original copies were sold at eBay for $400!

Despite of being released in '89, the style in "Hot Games" is mid-eighties Melodic Rock / AOR with the typical German + Scandinavian sound; lots of keyboards & synths, melodic guitars and hooky choruses.
Actually, Vera Cruz sounds here quite Swedish, like early Skagarak (not so tight), early Treat, Quolio, Maeday and alikes.
All tracks are catchy with good musicianship, and although production isn't stellar, if you dig '80s Scandi-AOR you'll love it.

This is a rip (not mine) at maximum quality from the bootleg CD released in 2003, decently transferred from an unknown source.
Vera Cruz reformed around 2001 only with original member Tobi Janouschek, featuring new female vocalist Kirsten Janschke.
I have included as bonus several demos (very good sound), some of them included in Vera Cruz's indie CDR 2005 mini album "Careful". Keep in mind that this new millenium material is much more 'modern' oriented.

01 - One Way Or Another
02 - Don't Smash The Mirror
03 - Hot Game
04 - Lonely Times
05 - Slave Of Your Heart
06 - Burn Me
07 - Head Over Heels
08 - Another Year
09 - Weenah
10 - Another Beat of The Heart (Don't Cry)
11 - Frontiers
12 - Angel (2003)
13 - Hello (2005)
14 - Special Person (2005)
15 - God Damned Shame (2005)
16 - Take Care Of Yourself (2005)
17 - Fate (2008)

Andy Layer: Vocals
Tobi Janouschek: Guitars
Till Janouschek: Keyboards
Armin Wagner: Bass
Dieter Trabert: Drums


Monday, September 10, 2012

AMY SKY - A Breath Of Fresh Air (1989)

Canadian singer AMY SKY is well known for her gold certified poppy country mid-nineties albums, but she has a background career in the US during the '80s.
She became a staff writer and back up singer for MCA, working in many successful recordings with stars like Jennifer Rush, Diana Ross or Heart.

In one of her L.A. sessions, Amy met AOR singer-songwriter Marc Jordan and soon get married.
Together started to negotiate Sky's own recording as solo artist, and major labels as MCA or Capitol were attracted to Amy's talent, but couldn't figure out how to market her, and after Jordan's denial to 'sex up her image', both companies dropped the deal.
The recordings were shelved and Sky, frustrated, returned to Canada with her husband. Some years later she finally got the deserved recognition.

What we have here is Amy Sky's 'lost' L.A. '80s album; "A Breath Of Fresh Air", and as you correctly supposed, it's a poppy female AOR album featuring some truly outstanding musicians.
No other than the amazing Tim Pierce and Steve Farris (Mr. Mister) handle guitars, Bob Glaub on bass, drummers Reggie Jackson & Steve Ferrone (Eric Clapton), and of course husband Marc Jordan who not only contributes keyboards, also duets in "A Better Place".
Olivia Newton-John (Amy contributed in many of her albums) perfoms backing vocals together with other unlisted artists.
But all this crew is more than justified by Amy Sky's talent as singer and songwriter, she is really good.

"A Breath Of Fresh Air" is a typically '80s album both in production and sound, but more consistent than the average product of this era. Think Robin's Beck debut with better songwriting.
A real rarity, as far I know never released on any physical format.

01 - A Breath Of Fresh Air
02 - Paint Another Picture
03 - That Is What Faith Is For
04 - For All The Right Reasons
05 - One Day
06 - Joined At The Heart
07 - Until You Are Mine Again
08 - This Is The Love
09 - All Over The World
10 - A Better Place

Amy Sky - Vocals
Tim Pierce - Guitars
Steve Farris - Guitars
Bob Glaub - Bass
Reggie Jackson - Drums
Steve Ferrone - Drums
Marc Jordan - Keyboards, Vocals
Olivia Newton-John - Backing Vocals
and some other unlisted musicians...

AMY SKY - A Breath Of Fresh Air

Thursday, September 06, 2012

LIFE ON MARS - Landing Soon (2003)

This is a revamped post from years ago, per request.
Get it while it's hot...

This is another great discovery by my friend troynew.
First tip: The 21st century equivalent to HEART. But this band is much more varied than the Wilson sisters.
Founder Linda Marso (piano, electric keyboards) is a classically trained pianist (Juilliard School graduate) , you can appreciate that background through the entire album.
And lead vocalist Tracey Blue, WOW... the woman has the vocal cords of a goddess, high range, passionate performances.

The sort of rock they made is truly innovative, with strings, flute and synthesizers, but don't be scared, all perfectly mixed in the background, texturizing the songs, this is rock music.
The songs... another high point here. Mostly ballads (not cheesy at all), but strong and meaty. Think Jim Steinman's music without dramatics.
The rhythm section and guitars are really good, rounding this 'organic' album.

I can't recommend this bunch of songs enough, can't stop playing them.
Wondering why this band is not more well-known, and Tracey Blue a star in the melodic rock & pop scene.
Don't miss this album.

1 Anyway
2 Mirror Mirror
3 Why
4 Nothing In The End
5 In Over My Head
6 Heart of Rain
7 Toll of the Bell
8 Things Were Fine
9 Nancy Dear
10 I Still Love You
11 What Can I Do

Tracey Blue: lead & backing vocals
Linda Marso: piano, synthesizer programming
Ray DeTone: guitars
Yanko Valdes: bass, guitars
JP Patterson: drums

LIFE ON MARS - Landing Soon