Archived Reviews: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Reviews Index

SNAKES IN PARADISE: "Snakes In Paradise"

Underground 1994
Review by

This is a tricky one. There is nothing drastically wrong with this album, but somehow it just leaves me cold. The opener "Fly Away" is an OK song sounding like a curious mixture of Alien and Bad Habit, but the next four songs are more or less bluesy rockers and pretty average ones too. Thankfully "Deep In You Heart" is again much better, a cool melodic rocker, best descibed as Whitesnake meets Craaft. "Book Of My Life" is a bright and breezy AOR song in the Brett Walker vein, who incidentally produced this album. "When The Dream Is Gone" is a good ballad, as are the short interlude "Sweet Sixteen" and the grand finale "Rewrite The Story". Between these ballads there are two rockers, the heavier and bluesier "Can't Come Home" and the melodic "No Easy Way Out".

SNAKES IN PARADISE: "Garden Of Eden" 8

Z Records 1998
Review by

This is a bit of an older release, but I felt like reviewing it, so here we go...

I didn't like the first SIP album that much, but I am glad to report that they have matured and improved with age. The average bluesy tracks that there were too many on the first album are nowehere in sight, instead the band has chosen to take a more melodic route.

"Seventh Wonder" does remind me of the first album a bit, but it's the kind of slightly bluesy hard rock I like, with a very strong chorus. "Don't Let Your Love Turn To Hate" is a perfect example of their new style, which I would say is somewhere between the traditional scandi-AOR sound and 80'ies/90'ies Whitesnake. Vocalist Stefan Berggren really shines on it, like he does on the rest of the album actually, coming across like a mix of Jim Jidhead (of Alien fame) and David Coverdale. "Voice Of Inside" and "Child Of Yesterday" follow the same path, both being very good, melodic midtempo tunes. "Gypsy In Your Blood" is closer to the "thunder-isms" of their first album, while "Key To Your Heart" is a nice ballad.

"Hard Day Long" had me reaching for the booklet, because I just had to check whether it was written by Mark Spiro. I Didn't find the writer credits for that song, but the song is so full of Spiro-like melodies that I'd be surprised if he wasn't involved. A good song anyway!

"Vagabond" is another good melodic song, with a cool spoken intro. "I Want It All" is more of the same, strong chorus and good harmony vocals. "Without Love" is a bit heavier, a catchy stomper that reminds me of Whitesnake again. The melodic charm of "Can't Let Go" is hard to resist, with its' great bridge and a fine chorus - my favourite song of the album, I think. The title song is just OK, but as it is one of the very few weaker numbers here, you can calculate that here we have a very good album.

SNAKES IN PARADISE: "Dangerous Love" 8

MTM Music 2002

Review by 26 June 2002

Yet another snake in the grass appears once again with its venomus bite! Indeed, the Melodic Hardrock band Snakes In Paradise is back with their best release since the debut album in 1994. Pay attention fans of smooth, Scandinavian rock as everything on this CD is very professionally done.

These Swedes have been playing together since the early 90's with the (almost) same line-up. You may also recognize their frontman Stefan Berggren as the singer with Company Of Snakes (the Moody/Marsden band, both ex. Whitesnake). Man, there's an awful lotta' snakes in rock biz!!! Not to mention that Berggren is a excellent singer in the David Coverdale (Whitesnake) tradition.

The material is overall full of hooks, lovely harmony vocals and good old melodic hardrock. I must admit that opener "Come On Join The Party" almost scared me away though. It's a very lame atempt of a rock song without any memorable items or fresh ideas. It actually reminded me of "Let Me Entertain You" with that Robbie 'Queen' Williams dude, only ten times worse and with a 70's vibe. Skip track #1 and check out "Dangerous Love" as this is where the fun begins, a darn right catchy songs with a big chorus. "Fire And Rain" is perfect bliss with extra dressing on the side, imagine if Whitesnake came from Sweden and decided to play out and out AOR. A future classic of its genre I'd say! "Calm before The Storm" is unfortunately a bit of a dissapointment before "There's Something You're Hiding" gets you right back on track again. The chorus shows some similarities to Boston's old classic "More Than A Feeling", even if they are only just similarities. Other highlights are the Paul Rodgers sounding tracks "Give And Take", "House Of Fire" and "Devils Fire". The pure AOR of "Let The New World Surround Us" and the big sound of "Move On". If you're looking for the perfect mixture of UK and Swedish rock, you can't go wrong here. A couple of fillers but yet a very solid performance by the lads, add to this a nice production and you're in for a treat.


Dee SNIDER: "Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down" 8

Koch Records 2000
Review by 22-02-01

This is supposed to be the last record from the Twisted Sister main man, Dee "fuckin'" Snider. The record is set of songs that Snider has written over the years, not leftovers but songs that did not make the final cut. This is still Twisted Sister record to me. There is no way Snider could be replaced in TS, and even though he has made some great records with bands like Widowmaker and Desperado, he still is the big SMF that made great music to all the SMF's around the world. [Ed: for the uninitiated SMF stands for "sensible music fan"...or not.]

Ok to the songs. The record starts with a song dedicated to Lemmy and it sure sounds like Mot”rhead. Lemmy has even recorded this song. The rest of the songs could be from any TS record. Dee and the guys make a great version of the old hit "The Wanderer", it beats the Status Quo version in my mind. The songs sound great and specially the song called "Our Voice Will Be Heard" is as TS as a song can be.

I have always liked TS so I might be too close to do this review, but if you liked TS in your youth then this is a great ride down the Memory Lane. This takes me back to the videos the guys made and to all the fond memories I have concerning my so called rebellious youth. I was a SMF and proud of it. If this is the last chapter in the music of Dee Snider it is a nice farewell to all of us. I hope it isn't.

NOTE: Dee Snider's radio show "House Of Hair" can be heard over the internet.

SOILWORK: "Figure Number Five" 9

Nuclear Blast 2003
Review by 24 May 2003

If you really like fast, melodic heavy metal, then this album will be the best choice for you to buy, because Soilwork is THE band for the heavy metal future. All 11 songs on their sixth album clock under 4 minutes!!, but they are so intense, dynamic and powerful that you can’t stop listening to this cd over and over again; it becomes an addiction.

Opener “Rejection Role” says it all; heavy nerveracking guitarriffs, screaming vocals a la Soulfly or Pantera, lots of rhythm changes and catchy/groovy refrains, which tend to make this song, just like the rest, a bit “commercial”. Just as you think that it can’t get any heavier Soilwork comes up with the title track; mainly because the “hysterical” vocals this one is extremely heavyyyyyyyy.

In songs like “Departure Plan” Soilwork even works with electronic beats and loops, which makes this album very diverse. Also check out “Light The Torch”, a track where Machinehead meets Suicidal Tendencies. Man, these guys really kick great ass and I am sure we will hear a lot from the Swedish superband.

SOLDIER: "Infantrycide"

Indie 2003
Review by 12 June 2003

What can you expect from a band with an url like this: www.soldier- Who said 'party glam'?? Leave the hall, please!! Well, the guys of Soldier are stuck so much in the early 80s that sometimes it's hard to believe this 4-track EP was recorded 2003. Unfortunately these four tracks all carry the 'childhood diseases' of the early heavy metal movement: the band is not tight enough, except for a few solo fills the guitars play chunked down riffs that Judas Priest was playing 20 years ago, and the sound of the CD lives up to the quality of a garage recorded tape from 1986. You need more than that in 2003!

It's all quite a shame because the guys obviously have given their total commitment to the music they play and there's nothing wrong with that. They do what they like best and it's audible but the quality needs to be improved. It's 2003, you can't come up with a CD(!) to be sold where the drum breaks are not synchronized to the guitars (at some parts the song "Paradox" sounds as if the different tracks slipped some milliseconds compared to each other). These four tracks would be okay to be offered as free download but asking for money from potential fans would be a rip-off.

The downloads could serve as appetizer for live shows as this kind of music is at its best played live in some small club anyway. So my advice for the band would be not to try to sell this cuz they would only wind up with disappointed costumers but try to play live as much as possible, develop a more precise playing and re-record the material in a REAL studio, or in a home studio with an engineer who knows what recording is all about. Because they guys working on this record obviously didn't…

SOLEMNITY: "King Of Dreams" 6

Remedy Records/Rock Inc 2003
Review by 8 June 2003

This is the second album of Southern German heavy metal rockers Solemnity and again their record is very much influenced by the metalscene of the eighties. They even cover a song of good old Manilla Road, namely “Spirits Of The Dead”.

You have to get used to the typical voice of Sven The Axe; for my part I regret to say that these dramatic, nasal vocals tend to get on my nerves…… Musically speaking it is power metal like I have heard a zillion times, so you know what you can expect from these guys. “Ninth Gate” is the obligatory ballad and “King Of Dreams” is the fastest track on the album.

Furthermore there is a guestperformance of Steve Sylvester in “Vampire’s Dance” and please do not listen to the bonustrack “Sunday Again”, a “song” which lasts 19 minutes but only the last three of them are actually filled with lots of crap...Funny, how a certain sentence comes to my mind: death to false metal!!!

SOLUTION 13: "Solution 13" 8

Low Frequency Records 2002
Review by 4 January 2003

Hailing from Oulu, Finland roars “Solution 13” with their self titled debut album. This metal band consists of four Finnish head bangers Ilkka Järvenpää (vox), Petri Sääskö (guitar), Sami Kukkohovi (bass) Tape Kanerva (drums). The album is filled with hard hitting metal and for a debut album this is a pretty mature effort. That is not surprising really as these guys have already made a name for themselves in other bands.

This album opens with a killer track. “Never Let You Go” reveals the full potential of this band with its’ rough guitar riff and melodic yet raw chorus. “Sink to My Level” is a bit darker song and “Isolation” is a mid-tempo song with a pounding feel to it. The next song “Demi-God” is followed by heavy “Regression”. Up next is one of my favorites of this album. The chorus in “Breathe” is catchy and the band as a whole does really well here. Another highlight for me was melodic “Hollow Void”, again with a strong chorus.

Overall Solution 13 is a fine example of the state of metal scene in Finland. There are many talented bands letting out their anger in a way only they know how and I think also this album will please metal fans. For more info and sounds you can go to:

SOMETIMES X: "Zero 2 Hero" 4

Chavis Records 2003
Review by 30 January 2003

I actually find 'Sometimes X' to be "Sometimes L" on their debut album "Zero 2 Hero". Where L sometimes stands for Lame with a capital L. Not all of the time, just sometimes... I do believe this review is getting weirder for each sentence, somehow.

Credit to Chavis Records for not only bringing us music in the same genre all of the time though. However, this will not go down in history as one of their better releases, I'm afraid. Sometimes X from Atlanta, USA is playing rock music the complex way, with lots of different influences and sounds.

The main ingredience is 'Nu-Breed', with groove rock a'la Lenny Kravitz or why not STP into the mix. I don't have any problem with their "sound" and it's neither too modern or too complex. I do have a problem with their material though as I find it to be average and darn right boring. With only seven (7) tracks and a playlenght of less than 30 minutes. You really need to be good from start to finish too, since there's no time (heh?) left for mistakes or hickups. I guess I could go on complaining about this and that, but there's no point really. They have a couple of really good tunes included here though. "Touched" is an instant "hit" and "Shoebox" is a grower, which I really enjoyed in the end. Great groove and guitarwork makes this a winner. I started out absolutely hating this disc, it became a bit better for each spin, even though it never really lifted off.

Jo Dog & Paul Black’s SONIC BOOM: "Sundown Yellow Moon" 6

Black City Records 2000

Review by 25 November 2001

What the heck, what is this! Or at least that’s what I thought as I was listening to the opener, the title track of the album. Even thou I have never been to States I could imagine myself in to a barn in some Southern part of the county where local farmers are having a party. Jeehaa! Fortunately it got better but I got scared there for a while...

Jo Dog and ex-L.A. Guns Paul Black deliver an album full of bluesy moods, slide guitar and easy going rock. In my view an album full of ups and downs, some great moments and some songs that should not have been recorded at all. The ups include a lot of catchy songs such as “”Sippin’ Away”, “Wine and Roses”, “Lazy Mornings”. The best song in the album in my books is “Broken Wings”, a slow song that has great guitar, harmonica and keyboards and is just an all round feel good song. The downs on the album would be “Blind Love” that is like a lullaby to grown ups, I had trouble listening to it from the first note, the title track “Sundown Yellow Moon” and “Candy Store” which is a filler with a big “F”.

All in all, a safe choice for the fans of southern rock and bluesy rock in general. Jo Dog handles his instrument well and slide guitar fans will be happy with this one. The boys could’ve left out a few songs to make this a bit more solid album, but it’s quite ok as it is now.

SONS OF ANGELS: "Slumber With The Lion" 9

Z Records 2001
Review by Vesa Nuorala 5 December 2001

Thank You Sons Of Angels. This is just the album I've been waiting for. This album made my holidays. Great tunes and I just love Sollis' vocals.

The album starts with a really nice rocker "Burning Childhood" and when listening to the words this really reminds of my crazy youth and all the shit that I had put up with. A really cool starter. This album has some serious moments too but altogether this is a fun album. Listen to songs like "Lazy Stacy", "Talk About Girls" and "Baby Wanna Ride". Why these guys were gone so long just don't seem right. They remind me of Stage Dolls and that is always a good thing. How come Norway can come up with bands like these two and we in Finland have none. [Bandi: you have Urban Tale at least, so quit whining! :)]

One really does oneself a favor when getting this album. There are 12 songs here and I really can't find a weak link here. I'm in love with this album. There might have been more rockers but can't complain too much. The title track slows down the beat here but again I don't mind. Really nice lyrics in all songs and it is really hard to pick a favorite but "Burning Childhood" might be the one here. This one goes right there top to my playlist and joins my favorite albums "club". One of the best releases this year in my opinion. Don't want to write too much about this album so you just have to take my word on this and get it.

SORB: "Follow The Path"

Indie 2003
Review by 14 April 2003

SORB, a Canadian band who've been around since 1999 seem to be a vey genre-conscious band, with a biography going into detail about their change of style from Nu-Metal to "Hard-Alternative". Whatever you call their music, it's quite interesting and I think they've got major potential. Don't know about them being "alternative" though, because I think their sound is actually closer to what passes as "mainstream rock" these days. Imagine a rap-free nu-metal band with an Eddie Vedder-influenced melancholic vocalist and moody, melodic songs, and you have a good idea of what SORB is like, something that lies somewhere between The Calling and Linkin Park.

SORB manages to avoid some of the pitfalls of modern rock bands, by having maybe a little more energy than the countless "post-grunge" hopefuls and by not having such a big chip on their shoulders as most of the angry young nu-metal bands seem to have. What's more, they have pretty imaginative arrangements and some fine melodies in their songs, take the catchy "Single Day" and the emotionally charged and oddly named "Dewdrop Circles Of Yours" as examples.

The band is apparently doing pretty well in their local area, and I would think that sooner than later they'll end up signed and repeat that on a bigger scale. I may not be a big fan of Nu-Metal or Alternative Rock, but I cannot deny that this group's got serious commercial potential.

Jeff Scott SOTO: "Prism" 8

Frontiers/Now And Then 2002
Review by 19 October 2002

The one and only Jeff Scott Soto, one of the most productive melodic rock vocalists of all time, has decided to go for it alone this time. All songs (except one cover) have been written and produced by Mr. Soto himself, and what's more, he has also played keys and bass on this album. And you know what? This album just as good or actually better than most of the albums JSS has been involved with!

I guess "Prism" doesn't have much to do with the first JSS solo album "Love Parade", which I've been told was more of a funky affair. Only the duet with Glenn Hughes, "I Want To Take You Higher" is a more groove-oriented track, the rest of the album is very much in the AOR vein, with plenty of balladic tracks.

"Eyes Of Love" is a fine introduction to "Prism", kicked off with a classic accapella chorus (see "The Book Of Melodic Rock Songwriting", page 13). The song itself is a great catchy sing-along track and probably the most hard rocking track here. "Heaven Knows" is the first of the many ballads, and a good one, even though the chorus goes a bit too high for my taste and doesn't sound entirely natural. Touching lyrics though.

"Don't Come Easy" is an excellent "starts-as-a-ballad-then-boom!" kinda melodic rocker, while "Don't Wanna Say Goodbye" takes us back to the ballad city again. It's another excellent track. Then it's time for the aforementioned cover, which really doesn't do much for me, as I'm not really into Hughes' high-pitched screams on it. A ballad follows; "Holding On" which was on the EP that was released a taster, and sure enough, it's a good example of the song material here.

As you might have figured out by now, every other track seems to be a ballad, so track number 7 has to be a more of an uptempo one, and that's what "2 Late 4 Goodbyes" is. It's one of my favourites, with great pulsating keyboards on the verses and Journey-like harmonies on the chorus. "Till The End Of Time" is a ballad, naturally, and another highlight. It's probably my favourite of ballads, great melody and faultless performance.

"How Long" stays safely on the rocker/ballad/rocker path, it being a pompous, keyboard driven rocker. The majestic keyboard fanfares do not save it from being one of the weaker tracks here though. The acoustic ballad "By Your Side" follows, a nice track a bit in the vein of "More Than Words" and "To Be With You" if nothing else. "Don't Walk Away" messes up the tracklisting by being a ballad again (shock! horror! I've lost the plot!), and unfortunately it's just "nice"'s these three good, but ultimately somewhat average tracks (and the soul/funk-tinger cover) that bring the rating down a bit. And I must admit that the choice of song titles doesn't bring Mr. Soto any extra points either: "How Long", "Heaven Knows", "Holding On", "Don't Walk Away"...hasn't he - not to mention everyone else - used these titles already a few times?! No, I'm not that serious here, it's still a very good album from one of the finest singers around, who's proved to be a good songwriter and a producer as well.
Now & Then Productions

Jeff Scott SOTO: "Live At The Gods 2002" 8

Frontiers 2003
Review by 8 June 2003

Long time readers of the site that I am not a huge fan of live albums, but rarely I have heard such an entertaining one as Mr. Soto's. Recorded at Gods 2002, his set covers his career quite well, from the early days with Malmsteen to the latest solo album, with stuff like Eyes, Talisman and the "Rock Star" movie in between. Maybe an extra track from the Takara albums would've been a worthy addition, but I guess one can't please everyone. Still, despite the fact not all of the songs in the set are among my fave JSS tunes, it's really a case of "wish I had been there"...

The performance from the band (Howie Simon, Alex Papa and Gary Schutt) and JSS is excellent, so good in fact that the opening accapella piece "Your Heart" makes me suspicious whether it has been tweaked in the studio. Everyone in the band gets the opportunity to shine with short solo parts, while JSS shines throughout the album. Once again he proves that he's one of the best vocalists in the business. He really should be a much bigger star than he is.

Highlights for me include the aforementioned "Your Heart" (nah, no tweaking, they're just that good!), Talisman classics "Break Your Chains", "I'll Be Waiting" and the medleys, acoustic and Malmsteen ones. I didn't much care for "Let Me Entertain You" (a Queen cover if I'm not mistaken - why?), "How Long" (an average track from "Prism") or Love Parade (title track of the first JSS solo album), but otherwise it was all very good. The additional bonus track "Good Love" is okay, a ballad in the vein of early eighties' Journey.

SOUL DOCTOR: "Soul Doctor" 8


Review by Andreas Hoehn 01-06-05

What can you expect when two well known musicians like Tommy Heart (ex Fair Warning, V2) and Joerg Deisinger (ex Bonfire, Sabu) form a new band with two young "musical grenhorns"? No second class copy of their previous works but an album with "soul". Recorded in Berlin with Skew Siskin main man Jim Voxx, "Soul Doctor" has nothing in common with the rather over-produced last Fair Warning efforts. Especially Tommy Heart sounds like losing a heavy burden singing better than ever before.

The band who have their name taken from a Foreigner track (covered on this CD) hasn't invented Rock N'Roll anew but convinces with a fresh attitude of playing. Soul Doctor easily combines the best moments of AC/DC, Bad Company and Aerosmith with great melodic tunes. Sadly enough I missed the boys as a special guest of the Kingdom Come German tour. But Soul Doctor definetely were an equal contender to the "Wolf Gang", as Joerg Deisinger reports. Everybody who doesn't buy this record misses more than sixty minutes of fine rock music and killer cuts like "Shake Em On Down", "Unspoken Words" and the seven minute ballad "Before The Night Is Over".

SOUL DOCTOR: "Systems Go Wild" 9

Point 2002
Review by 29 November 2002

I don't need no doctor!!! No wonder that all your friends think you're a ufo! Good music is exactly what every soul needs now and then. And what's better than sitting down in your favorite chair and have a good listen to the Soul Doctor? OK, enough with the funny business and let's get down to the serious stuff here.

I wasn't all that impressed by last year's debut album really. Vocalist Tommy Heart (Fair Warning, V2) decided to move away from the bombastic sound of Fair Warning, to a more 'back to the basics' hardrock sound. Not a bad idea at all but some of the material didn't really match the description and ended up sounding a bit dull somehow. However, with "Systems Go Wild", the band takes the next and crucial step to total rock and strong melodies. This is a little bit more melodic, better and most of all catchier than their debut.

The opener "Livin' The Life" is also featured on the "Rock Star" soundtrack. Jeff Scott Soto did it then and Heart does this Steve Plunkett written tune justice too. Plunkett also helps out with the songwriting on a couple of other tracks. First up is the great "Good Time's Slippin' Away", which is one helluva rockin' tune with a catchy chorus. Check out the groovy guitarwork by Chris Lyne here. "Wrong Or Right" is back to the big rock of Bad Company/Thunder while "Get It On" simply rawks. Gone are also some of the awful boring Aerosmith similarities and say hello to some Europe instead? This may not be the whole truth though. Do not, I repeat... do not expect to find any lame keyboard fanfare a'la 'The Final Countdown' here. Still, a couple of the tracks reminds me a bit of the groovier sound of the Swede's. In fact, the superb ballad "See You In Heaven" could have been a Europe tune on the 'Prisoners In Paradise' album. Same goes with "Just Can't Get Over You" that rocks in the same tradition as "Bad Blood" or "Girl From Lebanon" from above mentioned album. Tommy Heart even sounds a bit like Joey Tempest on both tracks. This "See You In Heaven" song is really something out of the ordinary too. One of the better ballads in latter years with lyrics that go straight to the heart. Add that "Waitin" is another superb ballad and you're in for a treat. To sum it all up, way better than their first release and another CD that will end up in the top of my list, at the end of the year.

SOUL KITCHEN: "Soul Kitchen"

Giant 1992
Review by

Now this one is really not too well known and I really hope you can get it somewhere cuz it's a great album. If you like southern rock with lots of melodies - something like the Black Crowes played when they managed to get more melodic or if you can imagine Lynyrd Skynyrd without piano (I know it's hard) - then you'll love this album.

Taking a look at the artwork you won't have any doubts what music you'll find here. Four longhaired, ragged rocker types on a porch of a southern styled house with a big oldtimer car probably from the 50s or so. Sounds promising, doesn't it?! Two rockers open the album, both of them feature tasty guitar licks, a great southern throat and catchy hooks in the refrain but the first highlight of the album is the third track "Rosie Jones". This one is one of the best and catchiest, southern flavored ballads I've ever heard. I could compare it to the - last month's 444U featured - Tattoo Rodeo ballads. The lyrics are awesome, really enjoyable, lacking any of those usual ballad clichés. The whole song could be a soundtrack for a movie but you don't even need the screen, it's enough if you let the music take your imagination with.

Good lyrics go on with "One Way Ticket Man" a great up-tempo rocker with cool guitar licks (with a bit of funky flavor) and great Hammond organ tunes in it. There's a female choir thickening the refrain that hits big this way! This tune is almost danceable. play it on a party! "Carry Me" is the second ballad and it manages to reach the quality of "Rosie Jones". The arrangement is classic: acoustic guitars, piano, harmonica and AWESOME vocals and harmonies. The lyrics are very heartfelt again, the kind of lyrics that are able to bring the tears in your eyes if you are in that mood. With a little publicity this song could have made it as big as for example Cinderella's "Heartbreak Station" did in those MTV times and this one is much better than that!

Then three uptempo tunes again just to fresh you up a little bit. "Mother Lode" reminds me of the Black Crowes, it's a typical rock n' roll based rocker tune with sometimes funny lyrics. "Dancing On The Highway" is more withdrawn, rather midtempo with awesome lyrics again. The arrangement is also great, acoustic guitar intro turns into a very tasty guitar lick with wonderfully rhythmic verse vocals. The refrain has big hooks, big chorus. big song!

It's so nice to hear so many good lyrics on an album, especially because people tend to believe that melodic rock is all about cheesy lyrics. Well, this one is definitely a contra example. "Can't Get Too Close" is the last one of the three rockers. This is as good as the other two. Then comes the last ballad of the album "Backdoor To Heaven". Though it's the typical D-C-G chord progression acoustic guitar based ballad but it has awesome lyrics again and the vocals are so catchy that one mumbles it days after listening to the album. The refrain features female vocals again that make it even smoother. This song should have been big too!! "Zero At The Bone" closes the album and it rocks again to have your blood pressure back again. The album is an awesome piece of southern tingled melodic guitar rock. If you like this kind of music you should find it somewhere, you won't be disappointed!


SOUL RELIC: "Hollow Craving"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 4 June 2003

Finnish newcomers SoulRelic hand us critics the ammunition right from the start - they call their music "Love Metal"...Hmmmm...or should that be HIMMMMM...hardly necessary to underline that you're clearly following on the footsteps of another group. It would be so easy to label the band as a bunch of copycats or wannabes, but I refuse to do that because they are simply quite good at what they do!

The band is lead by ex-Snakegod keyboard player Jay Hölli, he's the main songwriter and producer here. He clearly has a vision where he wants to take this band, and I think he is selling himself short by accepting that "Love Metal" label for his songs. Okay, the songs are all about love with the usual slightly gothic lyrical references to angels, saints and heartache every moment, and the keyboards do whistle and hum very much in the HIM vein...but basically these songs are melodic rock songs, and good ones, flavoured with those above-mentioned elements. Jay has found a good singer for his band, who's thankfully not a "deep-sounding, falsetto loving" Ville Valo-clone, but something a bit more orginal. Okay again, he does look a lot like Jonne Aaron of Negative...

All three songs are good ones, without being really great though. All of them have their moments, with the title song being my favourite at the moment. The balladic "Dying Angels" is good too, and I especially liked the use of female backing vocals on this one. Still, it remains to be seen how big an impact this band will have...the Finnish scene is getting crowded with quite a few bands who have a similar image, and they will have to fight for their place in the sun.

SOUNDBITE: Tearing Away 4½

Raingod Records 1998
Review by

I am taking a step away from the usual AOR/hard rock stuff with this review...Soundbite are a new british band that sounds like a mixture of REM, Oasis and Soul Asylum to these un-britpoptrained ears. "Tearing Away" is their first CD, a 6-track "mini-album", and considering the fact that I am not a fan of britpop or alternative rock, it sounds surprisingly good. The vocalist Geoff Cawood sounds like a cross between Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and Michael Stipe of REM, and the songs are pretty likeable, especially the balladic "Sometime Now" and "Let It Go". Not my kind of music exactly, but good in it's own genre, and I believe we will hear more of this band in the future.


Record Heaven 2001

Review by 01-04-19

Wow! This must be the music version of the American basket ball "Dream Team" as: Dave Hlubek - Vocals/Guitar (ex.Molly Hatchet) Jay Johnson - Guitar (ex.Rossington Band) Charles Hart - Bass (ex.Radio Tokyo) & Jakson Spires (ex.Blackfoot) are all "old" southern rock heroes from the past that have now joined forces.

Southern rock is for me a mixture of boogie, blues and country rock (kinda like Lynyrd Skynyrd) but you will find as much AOR/Melodic Hardrock if not more on this album as the above mentioned styles.

I can´t say that I´m pleased with the production or maybe I should say the mixing of the record as the quality changes from track to track. You think they would at least all be at the same volume don´t you? Still as far as the songwriting almost all of them are prime quality. The highlights would be opener "Train of Sorrow", the superb AOR rocker "Dreaming" that sounds like a mix of Axe & Asia, the lovely "Ghost of You", the ballad "Knight in Shining arms", and the catchy "Ship of Tears". Add that you´ll get two good covers "Don´t believe a word" (Thin Lizzy) and "Wishing Well" (Free) and you still have a pretty cool album. My advice would be to leave the mixing to someone else next time, check them out at and the record label at &


Charlie SOUZA: "Live Your Dream" + "9 Ball in the Corner Pocket" 6 / 7

Souzaphone 2000 / 2001

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner,
15 February 2004

The reason we deal with a 3 and a 4 years old album from ex-Tom Petty bassist is that Charlie Souza realized a European distribution deal last year, so these albums are available for local price around here. Not sure how many would rush out to buy them though...
The music on the albums is quite diverse, some of the rocking tracks are rather appealing to fans of soft rock or easy-to-digest progressive rock but others are just totally boring Beatles influenced ballads or soulful-wannabe music for 40-some housewives, definitely not something for RockUnited readers.

Let's see the positive sides of "Live Your Dream". Charlie rejoined his old-time songwriting and performing partners, a collaboration that goes back more than 30 years, so as you'd expect they are tight as a three-piece trio is supposed to be with top-notch musicianship and great production work. The album sounds as a rock album should sound. Songs like the opening title track, "State of My Heart" with Eric Turner's [No, not the Warrant guitarist :)] great guitar-work, or "Don't Cry Wolf" spiced up with cool saxophone fills and solos or the latino-flavored "Flyin' Away" are something to look for and the rest of the songs also showcase some really good musical ideas performed quite well. However I can't get past the horrendous lyrics of songs like "The Queen of My Dreams" or "The Rose" where Charlie tried to be wimpier than Michael Bolton and the whole thing reminded me of Paul Anka trying to appeal to housewives listening to their radios while ironing at home. Anyway, songs like "Hold On" with its cool groove and gospel-like backing choir or the bluesy "Dark Night" can wash almost all the bad taste away.

With "9 Ball in the Corner Pocket" the band headed towards a more up-to-date sound and for even more diversity as far as songwriting goes. The production and the musicianship is as great as with "Live Your Dream" but the songs are a lot more edgy and it does good to the album. It opens with probably the best track "New York City Dreams" a heavy, funky track with a pumping bass-drum groove, cool sax-guitar arrangement, a rapping verse that turns into a melodic refrain with thick female backing vocals and gospel- like fills. The female vocal-section gets a lot more room to shine this time and it helps to counterpoint Charlie's rather limited range. "Goin' For Broke" is as cool as the opener and the female backing vocals are really something to keep your ears open to. "I'm Flyin'" slows things down but it's definitely moody, while "Lightnin' Bolt" is an uptempo rocker but except for its guitar solo by Eric Turner it fails to impress. Then the downhill slide begins again. "Chamber of Your Heart" is a typical seventies-flavored ballad, dragging a foot all along, "Bring It Back" aims to win the housewife-audience again, and a cover of the Beatles' "Drive My Car" hammers the last nail in the coffin of the album for me. [Yet I have to admit the cover is rather well-performed, I just can't help asking: what for?!] The edgy "Angel on the Mountain" and "24 Hours a Day" with its classic guitar-rock approach restore some of my faith but not enough to give the album a higher rating than 7.


SPACED OUT: "Spaced Out"

Unicorn 2000
Review by 8-12-00

When writing this review I think I have to remind you of what I wrote last month: we seem to get an "indigestible" instrumental album every month. Being the "instrumental referent" of Loud & Clear it's always my task to review them. So every month I "have to" put somebody down who had put tremendous effort into writing, recording, releasing, promoting an album. Every time I do my best to chew myself through these albums several times, trying to find at least memorable, worth mentioning moments hoping that this month I can finally give better reviews. But with all honesty when listening to Spaced Out I was seriously considering that I try to get in touch with Bayer Aspirin hoping for some endorsement contract with them.

The Canadian guys recorded an album that according to their info material "offers a style of music in which structure is often disciplined. However, the players are still free to express their personality". Does it sound like free jazz? Well, it does. A little bit. At times. At other times it resembles to some abstract approach of rock reminding me of the darkest Frank Zappa days. To be honest I was REALLY looking for the above-mentioned disciplined structures (you know, those good-old verse-refrain-solo melodic rock cliches I am used to.) but I couldn't find too much of them. To my ears the songs were very chaotic, several instruments playing along, sometimes sounding as if they weren't even playing the same song, and lots of times it all seemed very spontaneous, improvising to these ears.

I think the problem lies there that the album was sent to the wrong media. I seriously doubt any of the melodic rock fans (including me) could enjoy an album like this one. The label should try to promote it more in jazz and alternative circles where this type of music can be judged by professionals. Since I am not one of them I wouldn't even dare to give any rating to the album.

SPACED OUT: "Spaced Out" 1

Unicorn Records 2000

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-03-16

SPACED OUT is another Canadian band on the Unicorn Records that have done an instrumental album which can best be described as a fusion between JAZZ and PROGRESSIVE rock. With influences from musicians such as ELP, FRANK ZAPPA UZEB, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH and a style that is often disciplined, however the players are still free to express their personality.

They were formed in Montreal back in 1998 when Antonie Fafard, bass player, composer and investigator of the project recruited three musicians with varied music backgrounds and talents. Martin Maheux (drums), Louis Cote (guitar) and Eric St-Jean (keyboards). There´s no doubt about the fact that they are all great musicians, but this is just too much JAZZ for me.

I have promised myself to never write a review that say "Boring - Next" and believe me...I have tried really hard to find something good to write about this CD. But I gave up... maybe I´m a bad reviewer and maybe Unicorn Records will hate me for this (and not to mention the band). But all I can say is... if you like instrumental jazz/prog check ´em out and buy the CD at: You can also listen to them and find out for yourself if you like ´em.

SPACED OUT: "Eponymus II" not rated

Unicorn 2001
Review by 21 July 2001

I feel bad for Spaced Out and Unicorn Records. Last year Bandi had the joy of reviewing the first Spaced Out CD, and gave it the thumbs down. This year I am going to do the same thing, as their style hasn't changed that much, it's still progressive jazzy music that I really doubt would please 99% of our readers. The one percent that might be interested in expanding their musical taste into progressive jazz instrumentals should check them out... what you will get is highly professional sounding, well-produced aural experience created by a group of virtuoso musicians. If you're looking for memorable melodies, catchy hooks, hard rockin' or even good progressive rock, look elsewhere.

SPARKS OF SEVEN: "Album No.1" 2

Burning Heart 2003
Review by 2 November 2003

Psychedelic to the extreme and with their roots buried way down into the 60's flower-power generation!!!??? There's an introduction as good as any... especially since Swedens Sparks Of Seven, walks in the shadows of the acid dropping hippies whom thought of Velvet Underground as nothing lesser than Gods.

Anders Danielsson (vocals), Don Alstherberg (guitar), Tuomas Siirila (guitar/keys), Anderas Strid (bass), Danile Aberg (keys), Oskar Johansson (percussion), and Markku Mulari (drums), would like to name early 90's Brit-Pop and electronic music of today as their main sound and influences. Fair enough I guess, since there's both Primal Screams (the band, not actual screams), Teenage Fanclub, and a touch of German electro pop included here.

Everything is very "mainstream" (acid dropping hippies?) without any major hickups or sudden changes. It's midtempo tracks throughout the whole album and not even once, do they stray from their printed pathway. "Album No.1" was actually recorded in a studio located in an old mental hospital here in Sweden. And a couple of tracks were produced by the old hippie Anders Lind, whom started out with cult prog/hippies Hansson & Karlsson (Loffe) in the 60's. The instrumental songs "Sparx 7", "Heroines Of Rejectec Souls", and "Lost", adds very little to the overall picture, and most of the time do SOS sound like rejected wannabes to above mentioned acts. "Stay Free" actually reminded me a bit of The Vines, only ten times worse and without any hooks. There's absolutely no enegry, attitude, nor hits to be found on this CD.

SPARZANZA: "Into The Sewers" 8

Water Dragon Records 2003
Review by 19 November 2003

Another great Swedish rock album hits the stores; Sparzanza started in 1996 and their first album "Angels Of Vengeance" was released in November 2001. "Into The Sewers" is the rather catchy title of their second album and it really rocks.

Here are a few remarks about the 10 new songs: it's more metal than their previous album, the music is emotional, relaxing heavy rock and roll with hypnotic riffs. Do you want to know more? It's innovative music with a fat guitar sound, melodic vocals, high energy and it reminds me of the famous bands Kyuss and Fu Manchu.

Sparzanza is without any doubt one of Swedish best rock bands, if you are still not convinced then check out the opener "Children Should Not Play With Dead Things" (great title by the way) or the ballad like "Little Red Riding Hood", a track with a catchy chorus a la King's X. Do not forget to take a look at the multi media section!! I was really surprised by this great album.

SPEARFISH: "Affected By Time" 7

SwedenRock Records 2002
Review by 21 January 2003

Quick! Somebody name the most famous power-trio in the hardrock history? Does it help if I say they are from Canada? And they always seems to be in a "Rush" somehow? Gee.. ddy Lee is another fine clue and I better just stop the madness right here. If you still don't get it... well, don't bother reading this review then.

Spearfish is another power-trio, from Sweden this time, and with a simular sound to above mentioned band (in the 70's mostly). The line-up consisting of Thomas Tulin (vocals/bass), Peter Lundin (guitars) and drummer Mick Nordstrom (ex-Narnia, Modest Attraction). Rocks out with power-riffs, big drums, and strange-pitched vocals on their debut album "Affected By Time".

Thulin do have this singing voice in the same kind of range as Lee. Not quite as "hysterical" though (from time to time) and not, what I would call a deadringer. Still, you'll notice some simlarities for sure. To make it all even more complicated, they do cover Rush and their "Making Memories", tune here. The whole CD is very much in the spirit of 70's rock and the drumming by Nordstrom is very powerful. Not that far off from a certain 'Bonham' and this gives an extra Led Zep feeling, over the material. Take one big dose Rush, one dose Led Zep, and mix it all together with some Swedish melodies. Voila'!!! What you end up with is Spearfish and some excellent performed rock. Not always great though and you can find a couple of fillers here. I find the later part of this CD, with songs like "Two To Tango", "Joystick (Losing Control", "I'm Yours" or "Point Of No Return". To be way superier and better than the opening tracks. Not bad at all, if you're into the classic sound of the 70's. By the way, John Nitzinger play some guitar on two of the tracks here.

SPEARFISH: "Sanity" 6

SwedenRock Records 2003
Review by 7 December 2003

God bless Spearfish for donating all proceeds of this 2-CD set, to the childrens cancer foundation here in Sweden. It's not everyday you can take pride in buying music, knowing that your well earned money will be used for something good. The Swedes have put together a double CD, where the first disc is filled with covers of old rock "classics", and the 2:nd disc is mostly live stuff from their performances at Sweden Rock Festival (earlier this year).

They've also managed to come up with a pretty impressive guest list with "old" rock musicians here. Paul Di'Anno (Iron Maiden), Nicky Moore (Samson, More'n'Moore), Mick Box (Uriah Heep), Manny Charlton (Nazareth), Stefan Elmgren (Hammerfall), Dave Hill (Demon) and even Svenne Hedlund (Hep Stars), are all involved into this project.

I'm not really sure you can or should? rate something like this (when it's all for charity), but some of these covers simply doesn't work in the end. "Stayin' Alive" (yep, it's Bee Gees) and "In The Ghetto" (Elvis), with Nicky Moore on vocals are two of the worst examples. They may sound cool on paper, but the result is however a different and rather sad story. "What You're Doing" (Rush) is on the other hand really good and fits the voice of Thomas Thulin (vocals/bass), like a glove. The Joe English!? cover (The Shining), with Dave Hill on vocals, "The Stealer" (Free), with Mick Box on guitar, and "Justice In Ontario" (Steve Earle), with Paul Di'Anno on vocals, are all winners in my book. The 2nd disc holds a real suprise as Svenne Hedlund (frontman of the 60's act, Hep Stars), sings both "Cadillac" and "I Natt Jag Drömde" (ballad for hope of world peace), and his performance is of course taken from this years' SRF (Sweden Rock Festival). However, let's not forget about what this double CD is all about (the battle against cancer). My heart thinks it's a perfect 10 rating!!! while my head says: the music is only worthy a 6 rating. You simply can't lose when buying this though.

SPIDERS & SNAKES: "London Daze" 6

Deadline-Cleopatra 2000

Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom 01-03-16

WHAM GLAM THANK YA´ MA´M! The GLAMorous boys from L.A. "SPIDERS & SNAKES" are back with a new opus. LONDON DAZE is an album that will make GLAM fans from all around the world happy, happy, happy. Cuz after all this is what GLAM´s all about: Fun, fun, fun but it sometimes it does get a bit silly, silly, silly. But I must admit that mainman LIZZIE GREY does write some catchy stuff.

LIZZIE played in the legendary but never successful band "LONDON" in the early 80´s. A band most known for all the members that moved on to bigger and better bands SLASH, STEVEN ADLER, IZZY STRADLIN (all later in GUNS N' ROSES) BLACKIE LAWLESS(WASP) are just some of them. The last 3 tracks are all from the very first LONDON demo back in 1980 with NIKKI SIXX (Mötley Crue) & NIGEL BENJAMIN (Mott The Hoople). Not a great sound quality but it´s great fun to have ´em.

LIZZIE later started S&S in the early 90´s. "PARTY IN HOLLYWOOD" is a really cool 80´s GLAM-Rocker with a chorus that you either luv or hate and ya just gotta´ luv the krazy "RADIO STARS" it roxx 4 sure & early MÖTLEY CRUE fanz will luv it 2. LIZZIE still c-mz 2 B a kool dude cuz "DON´T KNOW WHEN TO STOP" is 1 of the bezt party rokkerz I´ve heard 4 a very long time! The chorus is katchy az hell & the back-ground vox rulez!!! It roxx yer soxx off!!! Then U get a kool uptempo verzion of "PUBLIC ENEMY # 1" that LIZZIE co-wrote with NIKKI SIXX (ehh... I better stop with this "GLAM" spelling now) and that CRUE did on their debut album TOO FAST FOR LOVE. There´s also a couple of songs that are just too much GLAM for me and they are maybe just too boring (tracks # 7-10) "2000 Rock´n´Roll" does sound a lot like GUNS ´N´ ROSES, but I´ve never been a big fan of the GUNNERS. Check out their sites or get in contact with DAVE TEDDER at email him at: for more info and GLAM - SLANG lessons :-)

SPIN GALLERY: "Standing Tall" 8

Atenzia 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 February 2004

Atenzia's latest discovery is a trio of vocalists (Christian, Magnus and Kristoffer - who needs last names anyway:)) under the monicker of Spin Gallery. Who said "Boyband", this trio doesn't have much in common with the westworlds and backstreet boys. They don't have choreographies (I hope!) and their music isn't necessarily aimed at young girls, although they could very well find it appealing, such is the nature of these songs.

The album has been co-produced by Tommy Denander, who has clearly become one of the leading scandinavian producers. The album sound fresh, smooth and up-to-date. The emphasis is on the vocals, and indeed the harmonies are quite perfectly crafted. There's no denying that the likes of Toto and Chicago have been a great influence to Tommy and the band, but the sound is not "retro", this is very much a modern day AOR album. In fact, some of the songs wouldn't sound out of place on a BB Mak album.

Let's go through the best songs doesn't get any better than the opener "Standing Tall", which is simply a stunning track with all the ingredients of a great melodic rock song mixed perfectly. The single "Am I Wrong" is a pleasant uptempo AOR song, and one could place "No Turning Back", "Satisfied" and "To Hell And Back" to the same category - all very good songs. "I Still Recall", "My Heart" (penned by Clif Magness) and "Need To Be Free" are the best balladic tracks, all blessed with huge amount of melody.

Unfortunately the guys have come up with a few songs that take my rating down a bit: "Heartache" starts intrestingly enough with a pulsating synth line, but the chorus has to be one of the most annoying ones I've heard lately...if it wasn't for "Living Without Lovin'" which has a chorus that doesn't win any prizes either. Westcoast fluffola! "Waiting In My Dreams" is another song from an outside source (from "Mr. Misters" R. Page and S. George) and it pales in comparison to most of the self-penned material, but I guess might attract a few die-hard AOR fans to check out the album. I was quite surprised to find "Grace" on this album as well, as it has already been on a few albums before...not a bad track though, and far superior to the aforementioned three.

This album will surely be cherished by the AOR/Westcoast fans, but I think it has crossover potential as well. It remains to be seen if any crossing over will happen...I hope so.

The SPIRIT LIVES ON: "The Music of Jimi Hendrix Revisited" 8

Lion Music 2004
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
6 June 2004

As much as I used to love playing and listening to cover versions of songs, I started to hate "tribute" albums with at least that big enthusiasm, mainly because of their endless flow and low quality lately. When I saw this one, I was really negative because there were about a zillion artists before who tried to cover Jimi's music and the majority of them failed miserably. The "spirit" was usually missing. Despite my negative attitude this tribute album managed to convince me of its values, mostly because besides professional musicianship, the free and innovative spirit that was so characteristic for Hendrix can be sensed in almost all the tracks of the album and innovative approach and own versions of the well-known songs make a tribute album credible.

Sadly the album opens with two of its worst tracks. First Sun Caged doing a musically okay but nothing special version of "Freedom" with vocalist Andree Vuurboom failing miserably. Then Mistheria and Andrea Rivera (Italian keyboardist and guitarist) putting on the greatest performance (and arrangement!) of the whole album on "Gypsy Eyes" but the whole thing gets totally ruined by Max Romano's bloody awful vocals. I never thought anyone could sing a Hendrix song any worse that Jimi did - well, I was wrong. Too bad cuz both the acoustic guitar intro and the organ solo parts smoke on this one and the arrangement is really unique.
It may sound strange but when doing a Hendrix tribute the vocals play a crucial part, Jimi -not being a real singer- only "sketched" the vocal parts of his songs letting the music and the spirit sell the whole thing and it worked well. The singer is free to build his own versions from these sketches using his own musicality catching the spirit of the song. Some can do it, some cannot.
The first "compact" track is "Highway Chile" by Cyril Achard, a heavy, tight version with everything at its place but the first real winner is Arabesque's "Crosstown Traffic" with a funky arrangement, a great, tight drum- bass groove, cool backing vocals, and really good female lead vocals by Katia Salemi. This one track alone was worth putting the whole album together. Eric Sands does justice to "Stone Free", really good guitar sound here, especially at the wah-solo part (that is most of the times the part where cover versions of the song fail).

"Little Wing" follows, a risky business: too many people have covered it and the song is "too obvious" leaving little to alter to make it fit to you. Yet Michael Harris pulls it really well, filling the arrangement with the obvious keyboard and guitar-synth backing, topping it with a really good, soulful vocal performance. The mid-tempo jazzy outro is another good idea, breaking the flow of the "usual" Little Wing cover approach a bit. Lars Eric Mattson (is he really on every tribute album released lately?) is featured in two songs here, both versions performed very well, first "Spanish Castle Magic" with Chris Poland (great to hear Chris playing digestible music again!) and "Little Miss Lover" with Richie Kotzen. Both versions are as good as you'd expect from these guys, great sound, really tight rhythm section with Eddie Sledgehammer on drums and Lars Eric on bass. The vocals are handled by Alf Wemmenlind and probably he's the one who has the most of the Spirit of all the vocalists featured on the album. Both tracks are highlights of the album. "Bold As Love" features Regi Hendrix, a guy somewhat related to Jimi along with Greg Howe and Jason Richardson on guitars. Now these guys also got an idea about the spirit, their version sparks! Neither Bumblefoot's "Fire" nor Edward Box's "Foxy Lady" can get any close to theirs. Man, I wish I could forget about the vocals on these two! The two instrumentals Carl Roa's "3rd Stone from the Sun" and Randy Coven's "Star Spangled Banner" both impress, the first one with its compact nature, great sound and soulful playing; the latter may sound strange here and I'm generally not a big fan of "bassists acting like bored lead guitarists" but I have to admit I have never heard such great effects before, Randy's solo bass sounds thicker than a symphonic orchestra.
All in all the album is rather enjoyable, a more thought-after track-order and a few better vocalists would have benefited it a little but I would recommend it to anyone who's into paying attention to details, arrangements, and stunning musicianship in general and definitely to all instrumental guitar fans because even though the majority of the tracks are with vocals, there are definitely a lot of guitar talents to listen to here!

Mark SPIRO: "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" 8

MTM Music 1999
Review by

Mark Spiro has co-written more classic AOR songs than just about anyone else, so it doesn't come as a big surprise that most of the songs on this album are very good too. I admit that these are not the best 13 songs he has ever written, but some of them are pretty close. Anyway, I like these songs much more than the ones on his last album "Devotion". Actually, I like some of them so much that I might give "Devotion" another chance...

The first track on this album - "I'll Be There" - is indeed "the stuff that dreams are made of": an outstanding melodic rock song with huge amounts of melody, great lyrics and a great performance from Mr. Spiro. I especially like the originality of the lyrics: how many times have you heard of a boy-meets-girl story that takes place in a "Preacher's Tent"?

The other highlights aren't that easy to pick out though. It seems that every time I listen to this album, I find something really cool about those songs that I was earlier ready to write off as being just "okay"! "Love In The Western World", "Halflight", "Back To The Promised Land" (co-written by Dann Huff and very Giant-like) I have liked from the beginning, but damn it, I seem to start warming up to the other tracks as well! Not that there's anything bad about that...

I will reserve the right to change my rating - this is one of those growers! Now, does anyone have a spare copy of "Devotion"?

Mark SPIRO: "King Of The Crows" 8

Atenzia 2003
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 10 July 2003

One of the most respected AOR songwriters is back with a new solo album, his sixth to date. If you are familiar with his previous three albums, you know what to expect - and that's what you'll get. Athmospheric songs, strong melodies and lyrics that are a cut above the rest. Spiro has a very distinct style of writing and you'll find a lot of his "trademark" melodies here. They are the kind of melodies that take a few spins to get under your skin, in fact the first time I briefly went through these tracks I was somewhat disappointed, because the hooks seemed to be hiding...indeed they were.

Apart from a couple of songs that I really can't get into (The Beatles-influenced "Everybody Bleeds" and "When Winter Comes"), "King Of The Crows" is quality Spiro-material. The production is probably a bit more "organic" than on the other recent albums of his, with a lot of acustic guitars in the mix. This suits the overall mood of the songs just fine, as there really are no uptempo rockers here, instead virtually all of the songs are midtempo tracks, with the odd full-on ballad thrown in there.

The top pick of the album for me was easy to find: "Saving Grace" is Spiro at his best, and I'll be damned if this one isn't one of the finest AOR songs of the recent months. It starts out typically moody and balladic, even the first chorus is very understated, but when you get to the second one, guitarist Christopher Bogan adds a nu-breed like crunch to the song. Great hook, great arrangement, great song.

The other songs are a bit less immediate but very enjoyable too: "Julia", "Always" and "It's All About You" are all good tracks, just to name a few. I must also mention the beautiful "Why Wait For Love 'Til You Die", which is a bit of a departure from the other tracks with its' sparse production.

All in all, "King Of The Crows" is another proof of the talents of Mark Spiro. Classy stuff.

RICK SPRINGFIELD: "Greatest Hits Alive" 9

Hip-o Records 2001
Review by Vesa Nuorala 23 July 2001

Here I have the latest from Rick, and this is just pure entertainment throughout the record. We have all the hits here and then some more. I often get disappointed with live recordings and this is not purely live. There are a lot of corrections but it even says that in the sleeve so it's not bullshitting. Rick seems to want to be the perfect entertainer and there is nothing wrong with that.

To hear these songs "live" for me is a dream come true. I've been a fan of Rick's music as long as I can remember but I have only seen a couple of live videos, I have not witnessed the real live experience. So you see why all excited here. [Kimmo: "I Get Excited...dumm dumm"... doesn't someone have a song like that...Spring...steen? or was it Springfield? Yeah!]

What can one say about songs like "Don't Talk To Strangers", "Jessie's Girl", "Kristina", "Living in Oz"... the list is endless. My favorite part of this cd is the medley where there are 6 songs played. That includes "What Kind of Fool Am I ?", "Don't Walk Away", "Carry Me Away", "Everybody's Girl", "Calling All Girls" and "Stand Up!". I've been playing this nonstop for a week now and don't seem to get tired of this at all. If that is not a sign of a great record then nothing is.

I could go on and say how every song touches me and so on but that's just me, who needs to read all that. All I can say that this one takes me back to a really nice time of my youth. Few people will always stay in my heart and this one reminds me of all of you. Thanks for all the great times we had together. To all the rest go and buy this because "you better Love Somebody before it's too late..."

Rick SPRINGFIELD: "Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance" 9

Gomer Records 2004
Review by Vesa Nuorala,
31 March 2004

Rick is back! What a record he made. This surely is one of his best ever. Hard to top the recebt live CD on which all the old songs were given a modern sound to them, but this comes pretty close. Some old timers might not like this as mush as his previous work but this is what Rick Springfield sounds like in 2004 and he rocks!

The record starts out with a shock, then there is denial, then anger and finally acceptance. No wonder the record is named the way it is because it surely is a perfect title to this record. The best songs are “Perfect", “I’ll Make You Happy" “Will I", “Idontwantanythingfromyou". They’re all of part of the shock treatment what Rick gives to his fans because there is no “Alyson" here. Plenty of good rockers and ballads on this one. All together the CD has 17 songs on it so not bad at all. Well balanced too and like I said earlier the title is perfect for this CD. No one ever thought that Rick would sing about “White Trash", well he does on this record in a song called “Jesus Saves".

I can’t seem to find anything bad about this record and it will be in my top 10 for this year for sure. I know some really don’t think that this is the way the latest from Rick should sound but I couldn’t care less because I like this CD and it is one of his best to date. The guy has been around for so many years that there is going to be some changes in his sound. You write what comes out of you and this is what came out of Rick this time. So don’t be fooled by the ones that say that this is not the way Rick should sound, judge yourself and we’re living in 2004 and not 1984 (Which actually was a pretty good year). And if you listen to this CD carefully you will hear that sound that we have got used to when listening to Rick. It is Rick Springfield 2004 nothing else.