Classic Live Releases (Part Two)

Well, finally got around to a part 2 of this…. So here’s a few favorite Live sets – old and a few newer.… to be continued….drop a note – leave some recommendations and thoughts!

Humble Pie – Rockin’ The Fillmore [1971]

One of those essential early ’70s double live releases, that captures the energy of the band in their heyday. Interesting that among the 7 tracks on this set – on 2 are band composed, with Humble Pie [like Three Dog Night & Vanilla Fudge] making more out of other artists’ material, done heavier, longer, and with their own sound. Humble Pie rocked the blues, with lengthy jams and so much feel. Recorded at the legendary Fillmore East, in New York [look up the list of acts that played here in it’s brief 3 year run]. Worth it alone for their version of “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, a huge radio favorite at the time and arguably their finest moment. But, there is a pile of great 70s blues and rock here, with covers of Doctor John’s slow paced “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” [clocking in at over 24 minutes, and featuring Marriott on harmonica], Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah”, and Willie Dixon’s “Rolling Stone”. Steve Marriott’s soulful vocals and Peter Frampton’s lead guitar making this Humble Pie’s greatest release [even more so than the hits]. A 4 CD set of all the Fillmore shows was released a few years ago, would be interested to check it out. Definitely an album for headphones or just sit back and take in beginning to end.

RIP – Steve Marriott, Greg Ridley.

Uriah Heep – Live In Armenia [2011]

Since the release of 2000’s classic live set Future Echoes Of The Past [why do band’s feel the need to add some witty title to live albums?], Heep has recorded and released a pile of live shows [albeit many during the early 2000s had different ideas – acoustic show, reunion shows, etc…. none of which are on vinyl!]. After the release of Wake The Sleeper in ’08 the band went on to release a pile of live “bootleg” shows and a series of shows featuring cover art from Ioannis [who did WTS as well as 2011’s Into The Wild]. Of the bunch I really love this 2011 release – on 2LP. First I must add these releases can tend to be a bit repetitive with songs included, especially since they come from the lengthy tour promoting the band’s latest album, and also the sound quality can differ from one live release to the next. But Live In Armenia is given the full treatment as a Heep live release — the sound is great and it comes in a fantastic looking gatefold cover [inside and out] courtesy of Ioannis. And I really like the set list here. Tho I wasn’t initially over the moon about Wake The Sleeper, this live performance [featuring 7 tracks from that album] really brought the songs to life for me in a whole new light. The performance is just outstanding and WTS songs are heavy and so enjoyable here, side 2 being my favorite with “Book Of Lies” followed by oldies “Gypsy” and “Look At Yourself” and ended with the classic standout track from WTS – “What Kind Of God”, in which Bernie Shaw’s vocals and [the late] Trevor Bolder’s bass playing really jump out. It’s also evident on this recording just how much of a shot of energy drummer Russell Gilbrook adds to the band – after blazing through the title track to the band’s latest album, and on to other WTS tracks “Overload”, and later “Shadow”, and “Angels Walk With You” [written by Bolder and highlighted by Phil Lanzon’s Hammond organ solo here]. This is a pretty cool set tho, besides adding 7 [then] new songs, the band includes classy renditions of “Sunrise” and John Lawton era classic “Sympathy” alongside the usual handful of fan favorites.

Anyway, great release, as is the band’s latest Live At Koko, recorded in 2014. Hopefully [and presumably] they’re still recording shows for more such releases in the future, preferably with Ioannis’ covers [makes for a nice set!].

RIP – Trevor Bolder

Black Sabbath – Live Evil / Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil [1982]

These 2 double live sets came out a month apart back in late ’82. I was already an Ozzy fan at the time and a Sabbath fan – with Ozzy. Live Evil was my intro to Dio and that era of Sabbath. At the time both bands would feud in the rock press, usually with some profane bold claims and statements made by Ozzy [during a heavy drinking era]. I loved Speak Of The Devil when it came out [or Talk Of The Devil as it’s called as well]. Sadly Randy Rhoads had been killed earlier that year, but Ozzy’s band carried on as quick as they could. These shows rehearsed and recorded specifically for this release of Sabbath classics, featuring Brad Gillis [of Night Ranger] on guitar, as well as the replacement rhythm section. Ozzy sounds good on this live set and i thought Gillis, far from Tony Iommi – added a fresh sound to the songs here. It’s a solid run through of something from almost all the Sabbath albums [something from Technical Ecstasy not included], and Ozzy back then could remember and belt out all the words, and didn’t fill between song crowd banter with “F**k this” and “F**k that!”. This was Ozzy at his peak after the original Blizzard of Ozz albums, because for me after a couple of decent studio albums with Jake E Lee it was all downhill, and I can frankly live without anything beyond The Ultimate Sin [save for the odd track here and there…and some of Ozzmosis!] . Though the lettering and design on the album jacket looked cool, pretty gross pic of Ozzy on front with a bat drawn over top of him; not much else to the packaging. Ozzy would eventually release a double live set featuring Randy Rhoads years later, but I also really liked the Live EP  that featured the original band with Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake performing “Mr Crowley” and “Suicide Solution” [as well as the non-LP track “You Said It All} – a shame there was no full set release from where those tracks were recorded.

Black Sabbath’s live set at the time featured a pretty cool cover featuring characters from various Sabbath songs and topics [presumably] coming ashore in the dark and plenty of band pics of Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice. I must confess early on that this album was a grower for me at the time, as i didn’t actually get a permanent copy til i borrowed it from a friend nearby – who had a pretty cool record collection at the time, and i eventually borrowed his copy and never returned it! The band’s set consisted of half old Ozzy era Sabbath [so we have half a dozen songs the same on both releases] and half stuff from the band’s 2 albums with Dio at the time. Not sure how comfortable Dio was singing the Ozzy era stuff, but i thought he added a heavier and darker feel to “NIB”, at least. It is the tracks from Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules that make this such a great release – “Neon Knights”, “Children Of The Sea”, “Sign Of The Southern Cross” and an extended “Heaven And Hell” – with Dio’s crowd boosting . These guys were brutally heavy at the time, and so more professional sounding than the Ozzy era of Sabbath [hear any late 70s live Sabbath w/ Ozzy and note the difference]. Sadly after this release the band had split, with feuding in the press — Dio and Appice leaving to form ‘Dio’ and Sabbath carrying on a downward spiral of albums and line-up changes [tho some great singers came through the band – Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin]; and despite some decent albums to come Live Evil marked the end of a magical period for the band. Was glad to see that this line-up reformed in the future, I liked  The Devil You Know and the last live recording  Neon Nights : Live In Europe,  from 2010. RIP RJ Dio.

April Wine – One For The Road [1985]

The first time I saw Canada’s own April Wine was in 1984, at The Kingswood Music Theater, at Canada’s Wonderland, just north of Toronto. Back then the Kingswood had regular big name band concerts. Didn’t realize it at the time, until we saw the concert shirts – but this was to be the band’s farewell tour, as they were breaking up. The 5 piece line up of Myles Goodwyn, Brian Greenway, Gary Moffet, Steve Lang, and Jerry Mercer had released a string of big selling albums since Greenway joined for First Glance.  The band peaked with 1981’s Nature Of The Beast, but subsequent albums Powerplay [a bit soft] and  Animal Grace lost some momentum. It was the end of one of the country’s biggest bands [for a few years], but they went out with a huge stage show, and a lengthy classic set. However, I recall being confused [and later annoyed] that when this Live album came out a year later, to commemorate that farewell tour – the release had been chopped down to 1 LP! Hmm. Anyway – One For The Road was a great live album, showing the band with 3 guitarists in full force. This release focused on the band’s material from late ’70s onward – with the classic intro song “Anything You Want” leading in to “I Like To Rock” and hits “All Over Town”, “Just Between You And Me” and “Enough Is Enough” [sounding better than the clean cut studio version] closing out side one. Oddly, only 1 song from the band’s then-latest album featured on the tour and on the LP – the hit “This Could Be The Right One” [and I liked Animal Grace – a shame a few more weren’t performed], before the band strikes with their 2 biggest live rockers – “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen”, followed by a medley of ballads [!] and their first US hit “Roller”.  A blistering live set, but sadly not the whole show. The album cover was colorful, but merely a live band pic on front and individual live shots on the back, and lyrics on the inner sleeve … really [lyrics accompanying a live album!?] The 1993 CD release added 4 rockers [and in order] – with “Before The Dawn” and “21st Century Schizoid Man” [both featuring Greenway on vocals], and “Oowatanite” [clocking in at over 12 minutes w/ Jerry Mercer drum solo!]. A bit confusing as I see the song titles are listed at different lengths of time on the LP to CD; tho [thankfully] the CD version of “Sign Of the Gypsy Queen” adds a couple of minutes. Would be cool if someone got ahold of the whole show and released a full unedited version of this show, and added some photos and words to the packaging! This LP marked the end the band’s ‘classic’ 3 guitar hard-rock line-up. The band returned in ’92 w/ Goodwyn, Greenway, Mercer, Jim Clench [RIP] and Steve Segal and released 2 albums, most notably Attitude in ’93. A  Live Greatest Hits release [including Carl Dixon adding guitar and keyboards] was released a decade later – a good set, but it does lack a good bit of the power and energy that the band had during the early ’80s, captured on One For The Road.

Europe – Live At Sweden Rock Fest [30th Anniversary Show] – (2013 EarMusic)

Often the live album is seen as a point in a band’s career to celebrate longevity, a big catalogue of hits, some sense of making it so far, and this is a perfect example of a band with something to celebrate and a big catalogue of latter day classic rock to put together. Might I add – there’s nothing more lame than a “best of live +1” or “hits live + new recordings!” – bad idea, (see Kiss Alive 2!) but for anyone who either wrote this band off for their poodle hair-metal days of the ’80s and who hasn’t given them a new listen since reconvening in the mid 2000s, this is about the best place to start! [Though I’d also highly recommend the band’s latest studio album War Of Kings, as well as 2011’s Live at Shepard’s Bush, London]. 3 LPs — 28 songs! This show was done while on their Bag Of Bones Tour, so it pulls the first 3 songs from it right off. Bummed that the epic title track is not included in the set, but oh well. It’s a vast amount of newer and old songs from the band’s catalogue, going back to include 3 tracks from each of the band’s first 3 albums and a few from every one since! [tho 2004 comeback album Start From The Dark only sees the title track here]. Regardless, this is a great live set — 6 sides of vinyl — the 80s stuff sounding heavier, less “80s” and more classic rock, and everything just comes off as one huge magical performance. These guys sound like they’re having a blast – all the original guys – John Norum, John Leven, Mic Michaeli, Ian Haugland and Joey Tempest. Gotta love their up to date delivery of old rockers like “Superstitious”, “Girl From Lebanon” – with a cool bluesy intro from Norum and “Wings Of Tomorrow”, as well as keyboardist Mic Michaeli’s intro that leads into the latter day classic anthem “No Stone Unturned”; a fave group of songs that also includes “Firebox”, “Always The Pretenders”, and “Last Look At Eden”. Cool lighter moments include “New Love In Town” and the Zep influenced “Drink And A Smile”.

Being a special occasion show, the band pulls off 2 covers by perhaps 2 of their biggest influences [and certainly bands their newer material sits comfortably alongside] – with Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” [Scott Gorham guests on guitar!] and UFO’s “Lights Out” [w/ Michael Schenker joining them on stage].

Great packaging – with full color sleeves, tho the LP set could use another fold….or some inserts 🙂

*Also have Live At Shepard’s Bush from 2011. A great [shorter] set well worth hearing. Only miffed that this release isn’t on vinyl and the DVD includes more songs than the CD.

KJJ , 02/16

ALDO NOVA – INTERVIEW, 1996: from the Archives

While searching for a few interviews I did way back in the ‘90s, which either aren’t on the www or the links no longer work, I re-discovered a box of old floppy discs! Took out the discs, connected my floppy drive via USB, and starting going through stuff. Sadly, there’s a few interviews on discs that are no longer useable, but I did find plenty that were included way back in a print fan-magazine I used to do. Many of these were before the internet, and I have a pile that only exist in type form – not even on floppy disc…not sure how I’ll get those together.

Anyway, this is an interview I did with Canada’s Aldo Nova in May of 1996. At the time I didn’t have the internet yet, and questions and answers were sent via fax!


From May , ’96 – “A few issues back I featured ALDO NOVA. Months later I got in touch with Aldo (thanks Yves Monast!), and he was kind enough (and quick enough) in answering my questions. AIdo was something of a phenomenon when he broke onto the scene in 1982, but by the mid-80s had virtually disappeared from the music scene. He since returned in ’92 with the album “Blood On The Bricks” (with the help of longtime friend – Jon Bon Jovi), and more recently has completed a new album titled “Nova’s Dream”. “

Q: What were your earliest musical influences? Any favorite musicians while growing up?

AN: Jimi Hendrix, Alvin Lee, Woodstock, and The Who.

Q: What lead you to take up music as a profession? What instruments do you play?

AN: I started playing guitar when my mother died to beat the blues. I never thought I was going to make a career out of it, but I sort of fell into it by accident. I play just about anything given a short time to assimilate the instrument – something which never ceases to amaze Jon Bon Jovi.

Q: What was your early association with Jon Bon Jovi?

AN: I was mixing my album “Fantasy” at The Power Station and Jon was an assistant there. We would meet in the halls, and we sort of connected right away. I would invite him into the sessions and we became friends. He would come to my place and hang out, and then when came the time to do a demo of “Runaway” (ed: Bon Jovi’s first hit single), he asked if I would play guitar, and I did. I ended up playing keys and singing backing vocals on the first album. We’ve been friends for 15 years now and get along better than ever.

Q: How did you come about to sign with Portrait (CBS)? Do you feel they did a good job in promoting your albums?

AN: I came to Portrait through a publishing firm called ATV Music. The album was already finished, but they suggested that I remix with Tony Bongiovi. I think that they did a great job on the first album. And the failure of the following albums was my fault. The writing wasn’t up to par. I was a complete asshole at the time – which didn’t help my relationship with the record company. Mea Culpe!!!

Q: What inspired the lyrics to “Fantasy”??

AN: My first trip to New York City. I basically described what I saw. Don’t forget that I had never left Montreal ’til I was 21 years old.

Q: Where did the concept idea for the “Subject” album come from?

AN: Too many B-Movies, and drugs, and booze, and…….what a maroon!!

Q: What lead you to cover Coney Hatch’s “Hey Operator”?

AN: I wanted to produce their album, so I did one of their songs to show them what I could do. It didn’t work to say the least.

Q: What inspired the ‘anti-drug’ lyrics to “Monkey On Your Back”? Are you an advocate against drugs?

AN: The lyrics to “Monkey…” were basically aimed at myself. It was a form of rejecting what I was doing to myself at the time. Everything I write comes from somewhere else, or very deep down inside. The lyrics were very factual, and ahead of their time. People got turned off because they sounded preachy. Luckily I managed to beat all my demons. Yes I believe in God, but it is something that I keep to myself. I wouldn’t have survived this long if not for the guiding hand of someone to lead me around.

Q: Why was “Twitch” so ‘pop’ oriented, and less rock’n’roll than your previous 2 albums?

AN: It was a decision of the record company to have a more adult sound. At this point I really was not into being an artist anymore, so I just wanted to get over it. My sights were on being a producer, which is what I do now and am very happy.

Q: How did you come about to play on Blue Oyster Cult’s “Take Me Away” (ed: from 1983’s “The Revolution By Night” album)”? Did you record anything else with them? Do you keep in touch with any members of BOC?

AN: I wrote the song and had already done a version of it myself. I thought Bruce Fairbairn’s production was good, but he forgot some key elements. I booked a studio in San Fransisco, and did a ton of overdubs on my own. I still talk to Buck Dharma, but not very often.

Q: What did you do following the Twitch album and before you returned with 1992’s “Blood On The Bricks”? Any recordings?

AN: I went home to Montreal and started to produce albums for Quebec artists. It gave me a lot of experience and started my relationship with Celine Dion since I produced her album “Incognito”. A relationship which blooms to this day, since I wrote 3 songs on her new album “Falling Into You”, and produced 2.

Q: What lead you back into rock’n’roll with Blood On The Bricks? What role/influence did Jon Bon Jovi play?

AN: I had done all the demos, and arranging on the “Young Guns” soundtrack (ed: Jon Bon Jovi solo album), and I had this plethora of songs that I played for Jon. He offered me a deal on his own label, and off we went.

Q: What have you been doing since Blood On The Bricks?

AN: Producing a ton of records in Quebec. Lately I have done Celine Dion, in English, a new artist called “Jetsam” on Sony – also in English, and am presently working on the Jon Bon Jovi solo album. I have a new album, “Nova’s Dream”, which is world music, and is on BMG.

Interview written by Kevin J, May 1996.

*here’s a link to a more recent interview with Aldo >


Some Favorite Canadian Rock Albums of Long Ago



From that period of the mid ‘70s to mid ‘80s there was a growing hard-rock scene and a ton of great albums in Canada. A handful of Canadian bands would make it big in the US and various parts of the world [see Rush, Loverboy, Triumph..], while others had hits, and breaks on major tours, but either fizzled out after a handful of albums, or they simply stayed active in Canada [and a few select regions], never really having a huge international impact, though few of these had their moments outside of our country, but for the most part remained largely ‘big’ at home. And I’m sure someone will debate or take exception to a few of my choices, there are a number of Great albums and bands not here, and that could lead to a much longer list, including such names as Helix, Kick Axe, Trooper, Prism, Toronto, and numerous others I’m sure. Feel free to leave me some feedback, corrections, general info, recommendations, etc….


CB - foot 2

A Foot In Coldwater – All Around Us (1974)

if you do not know this band – you are missing out. This 5-piece band should’ve been huge after a string of hit singles here, most notably the ballads “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” and “Isn’t Love Unkind (In My Life) in 1972. Band members had previously been in numerous Toronto area bands, and all members of the band Nucleus. Featured the vocals of Alex Machin, as well as wide ranging guitar talents of Paul Naumann, [keyboardist] Bob Horne, [bassist] Hughie Leggat, and [drummer] Danny Taylor. This, their 3rd album saw the band include 4 previously released tracks, including the 3 ballads that were all hit singles – the above 2 mentioned, as well as “Love Is Coming” (the lone track to feature Hughie Leggat’s vocals), and their best known and hardest rocker “Yalla Yae”. These guys could mix up heavy guitar rockers with Hammond organ and various other keyboards with songs like “It’s Only Love”, “He’s Always There”, “How Much Can You Take”, and cool instrumental “Para-Dice”. A shame these guys didn’t catch on and have more good fortune with record labels, could’ve been Canada’s answer to a number of the heavy British bands. After this album, the band’s label Daffodil went under, and Bob Horne left before the band’s final album in 1977 on Anthem. Reunion tour in ’88, and the odd reunion show over more recent years. Machin formed ‘Champion’ [w/ Brian Allen of Toronto and Mike Gingrich of Amish], and later fronted fellow Canuck rockers Moxy for a few years [no recordings], Hughie Leggat and his brother Gord would form Private Eye, then ‘Leggat’ [w/ Taylor] and pen the single “White Flags”, which became a hit for Blue Oyster Cult years later. Paul Naumann released a solo album “Feets Don’t Fail Me” in 2002.

RIP – Paul Naumann, Rick Lamb

Moxy – Moxy, 1975

Another of Canada’s greatest bands. Killer 2 guitar blues based rock, heavy, lots ofclassic songs,riffs, and the vocals of the late Buzz Shearman. Once dubbed as Canada’s answer to Led Zeppelin by a famous British rock journalist. The original line up also included Terry Juric [bass], Bill Wade [drums], Buddy Caine [guitar], and Earl Johnson [guitar]. “Can’t You See I’m A Star” was the band’s first single, even before the album was recorded and it’s heavy radio play in Toronto lead to a contract. It was during the making of this album that Caine was added as a second guitarist, and the legendary Tommy Bolin was brought in to play on a number of tracks, when [for whatever reason] the producer Mark Smith [see BTO] and Johnson had a falling out. Either way, this is a killer album and being a big Bolin fan – it’s an added bonus. Moxy, ‘the Black Album’ opens with the heavy ballad “Fantasy”; love the guitars as this one drifts off. “Sail On Sail Away” changes between acoustic verses and a powerful heavy build up and chorus, just classic late night rock stuff! This album caught on immediately in Texas where Sail On Sail Away, as well as Can’t You See I’m A Star, and another heavy rock track “Moon Rider”, would become FM radio favorites. This album contains 8 stellar cuts, with side 2 being the heavier side, with rockers “Time To Move On”, “Still I Wonder”, slower blues cut “Train” shows Buzz Shearman at his best, he just kills this one. Closing track “Out Of The Darkness” is another favorite here, love the heavy rhythm section, guitar exchanges, and frequent drum breaks. Nobody makes albums simply this strong any more. Jack Douglas and Ed Leonetti were hired to produce follow ups “Moxy 2” and “Ridin’ High”, and these are highly recommended though I’m less crazy about “2”. Shearman left after the 3rd album, and Mike Rynoski [aka Reno, pre Loverboy] was brought in for the more commercial approached “Under The Lights”. Personnel changes got silly for years, and tragically Shearman died in ’83 from a motorcycle accident. *a few members would appear on Lee Aaron’s debut album. Earl Johnson still carries on with Moxy today, with Nick Walsh of Slick Toxic singing, and released the 40th anniversary live show on CD & DVD last year.

RIP – Buzz Shearman, Bill Wade, Brian Maxim


Streetheart – Meanwhile Back In Paris, 1978

Formed in Winnipeg and based in Regina, Streetheart was one of Canada’s longest running and consistently successful hard working bands. Formed by [bassist] Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve, [keyboardist] Daryl Gutheil, and [singer] Kenny Shields, who were joined by [drummer] Matt Frenette and [guitarist] Paul Dean [ex Scrubbaloe Cane]. Co-produced by the band and producer George Semkiw, who’s credits would include everyone from Duke Ellington to Bachman Turner Overdrive to Funkadelic to Trooper, Triumph, Pagliaro and dozens of others. The band’s debut was preceded by a 3 track ep, and the album was a hit right off the bat with the single “Look At Me”, and other radio favorites and classics like “Pressure”, “Can You Feel it”, “Street Walker”, “People”, and perhaps the band’s finest track – “Action” [a line in this song taken for the album title]. Love the closing number “Just For You”! A good mix of bar room rock n roll, hard rockin, a bit funky at times [Sinnaeve’s bass play a major part of the band’s sound and style], harmonies, . Streetheart’s debut being pretty different to anything else out that the time. Dean would leave after this album to form Loverboy and Frenette would join him after the 2nd Streetheart album “Under Heaven Over Hell”, which was a strong follow up. That album was produced by Manny Charlton of Nazareth and engineered by the legendary Nick Blagona. In 1993 the original line-up reunited to play most of the debut again, along with a few other classics. This was released in 2014.


Teaze – One Night Stands, 1979

From Windsor, Ontario – Teaze formed in 1975 and released 2 no-nonsense hard rocking albums to minimal success, but a tour of Japan made the band’s stars their immediately, and the resulting album “Tour Of Japan” is a great intro to this band – with guitarists Mark Bradac and Chuck Price, drummer Mike Kozak, and bassist/singer Brian Danter. Tour of Japan was issued on Aquarius, with outstanding packaging. Big things were expected, as Aquarius called in Myles Goodwyn of April Wine to produce the band’s 3rd studio album – “One Night Stands”. The album, in retrospect is their finest, with improved writing and well produced, not to lose the band’s direct hard rock approach on tracks like “Back In Action”, “Young And Reckless”, and “Reach Out”, and including a number of absolute classic different tracks in the country feeling ballad of “Loose Change”, the closing epic “Touch The Wind” – a bit progressive, haunting, and with a guitar break sounding not unlike Ritchie Blackmore, and perhaps the band’s best loved classic “Heartless World”, which starts out acoustically and builds in to a powerful moving track, with Danter’s vocals being the highlight here. Loose Change was chosen as the single, instead of a rocker, and the album and subsequent tour did little to further the band’s status. There would be one more album in 1980, “Body Shots”, and despite featuring 2 singles, Canadian radio didn’t pick up on the band much and sadly Teaze folded in ’81. Despite still having a following of old fans, and a few CD releases, the band never returned. Bradac went on to become the Pawn shop guy on reality tv [tho releasing a solo single over a year ago] and Danter went on to become a minister and release Christian music. I did interview Chuck Price years ago, but it has since disappeared from the www, and I am hoping to find it somewhere in piles of old floppy discs!


Harlequin – Love Crimes, 1980

Winnipeg based aor rockers Harlequin, featuring the vocals of George Belanger (who still fronts a version of the band). These guys had a string of hit singles here, right from their debut in 1979. Much in that Canadian radio friendly guitar-keyboard rock style of fellow Canucks like Loverboy and (later) Honeymoon Suite, but heavier on the first few albums. “Love Crimes” was their 2nd album, produced by Jack Douglas (largely known for his work with Aerosmith, and Douglas produced Harlequin’s first 3), and featured the band’s biggest hit “Innocence”, as well “Thinking Of You”. The first 2 were the hardest rocking, and guitar heavy, as this album featured a number of classics in “Its All Over Now”, “Sayin Goodbye To The Boys” and personal fave “Love On The Rocks” – Glen Willows guitar making this the closest thing to metal these guys did, almost reminds me of early Def Leppard (both band’s may as well have packed it in by ’83!). Such a great album! A few more hits, and a lighter sound and then poof.


Aldo Nova – Aldo Nova, 1982

Montreal rocker Aldo Nova made a huge impact in Canada and charted in the US with his debut album, and the single “Fantasy”. And I know his inclusion here is borderline, due to his commercial success outside of Canada, but I’ve included him for the sad fact that he disappeared so quickly. Nova wrote, produced, and, as well as did all the vocals and instruments, aside from drums and bass on half the songs. “Foolin Yourself” was also a hit, but the album contained so many great pop driven rockers in “Heart to Heart”, “Under The Gun”, “It’s Too Late”, as well as the ballad (and 3rd single) “Ball And Chain”. His 2nd album [“Subject”] was less successful, tho it featured the anti drug storied “Monkey on Your Back”, as well as a cover of Coney Hatch’s hit “Hey Operator” (Nova had intentions of producing the band at one point, but that didn’t quite work out), and stand-out rocker “Hold Back The Night”. His 3rd album was a pop album, largely forgettable. Went on to have more success as a writer (Celine Dion among the many), and he co-wrote and played guitar on Blue Oyster Cult’s 1983 hit “Take Me Away”, and worked with Cyndi Lauper. Such a shame. I interviewed Aldo way back, pre internet. Gotta post that one soon too…


Santers – Racing Time, 1982

Toronto based trio Santers, were based around the songwriting, guitar work and vocals of Rick Santers. “Racing Time” was the band’s 2nd full album (there was an EP in there somewhere), and produced by Jack Richardson (The Guess Who, Alice Cooper) . Melodic hard-rock, guitar heavy, but not exactly metal, IMO. I loved the first 2 Santers albums! This one featured the hit “Mistreatin Heart”, as well as faves and heavy rockers “Road To Morocco”, “Winter Freeze”, “Two Against The World”, as well as semi-ballad “Still I Am”. The band opened shows for Ozzy Osbourne, but after a 3rd album split up. The first 2 are highly recommended, but Rick Emmett (Triumph) produced the band’s “Guitar Alley” album, which featured stand out hit “Can’t Shake You”, as well as a cover of Free’s “All Right Now”, and it’s a softened for radio play. Rick Santers apparently turned down the to audition for Kiss early on, and post-Santers went on to tour with Triumph and release an acoustic based solo album years later. The guy is one of Canada’s most overlooked players and writers, sad there seems to be little new from him over the years. A posthumous 4th album was released years later. *These guys also helped on Lee Aaron’s “Metal Queen” project. A few Santers reunion shows have occurred, most notably 2012’s Firefest in the UK. Brother (drummer) Mark Santers would go on to back Carl Dixon (post Coney Hatch), and (bassist) Rick Lazaroff went on to work in radio.


Coney Hatch – Coney Hatch, 1982

Well, this is an easy choice for me. Had this album on cassette, in like grade 5 or 6! It featured the 2 big hits (and band’s best known songs) – “Monkey Bars” and “Hey Operator”, as well as a pile of favorites like “Devil’s Deck”, “Stand Up”, “You Ain’t Got Me”, “We Got The Night”. I think pretty much all of these tracks have been in the band’s live show over the years. Produced by Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), a very in your face hard rock approach, 2 guitars, 2 singers… with bassist Andy Curran providing a more ‘punk-ish’ approach, while guitarist Carl Dixon would add a more melodic commercial appeal, but wrap it up with Dave Ketchum’s heavy drum approach and Steve Shelski’s lead guitar, and the Hatch was off to a great start! Unfortunately, by the 2nd album name produced Max Norman (Ozzy) was brought in for the follow up and proceeded to take back a bit of the band’s edge, searching for more commercial appeal. “Outa Hand” still featured just as many solid and stand-out tunes, but lacked the raw energy and multi-guitar parts of the debut. Ketchum left after Outa Hand, and Friction was a bit more ‘radio’ friendly, with the band going bust soon after. A reunion of the original line-up took place following Carl Dixon’s near fatal car accident in Australia. And in 2013 with the excellent “4” album, but not much happened to plug it or tour, oh well. Since then Dixon has released more solo stuff and wrote his autobiography [highly recommended!]. Here’s hoping this wasn’t the last of the Hatch!

Headpins – Line of Fire, 1983

Formed by Chilliwack member’s [guitarist] Brian ‘Too Loud’ McLeod and [bassist] Ab Bryant, and Matt Frenette [ex Streetheart] on drums. By the time the band recorded they were fronted by Darby Mills, with Frenette switching places with Loverboy drummer Bernie Aubin! The Headpins made an impact with their debut “Turn It Up”, with a couple of hits and plenty of radio play. Based around McLeod’s distinctive guitar sound and Darby Mills huge vocals, “Line of Fire” remains my favorite of the band’s trio of albums. No room for ballads or acoustics with this band – straight ahead big sounding rock! I got this album for Christmas, the year it came out, and still enjoy it. And tho the band’s debut may have a few heavy classics, particularly “Breakin Down” and the hit “Don’t It Make Ya Feel”, I prefer Line Of Fire for a solid listen through of great songs – “Mine All Mine”, “Feel It”, “Just One More Time”, “Celebration”, “I’ve Heard It All Before” and the heavy title track… Lots of cool rockers, outstanding vocals, and attitude! Both “Feel It” and “Just One More Time” being hits in Canada. The band released one more album, “Head Over Heals”, which featured a few standout tracks, but IMO seemed to suffer from a more radio friendly approach, still it sold well. The band would do tour dates with the likes of Whitesnake, Kiss, and ZZ Top [where they were thrown off tour for doing encores after great receptions].

Darby Mills left after the third album and released a solo album in 1991; McLeod tried to carry on with Chrissy Steel, before the band split up [the 4th album being issued as a Chrissy Steele solo album]. Sadly McLeod passed away in 1992. Mills resurrected the band in later years with Bryant and Aubin and still perform.

RIP – Brian McLeod


Orphan – Lonely at Night, 1983

Winnipeg based Orphan, fronted by Chris Burke-Gaffney released 2 albums in the ‘80s. After Orphan blended members with up and coming band The Pumps, the band would also include Steve McGovern [guitars], Brent Diamond [keys], and Ron Boisvenue. This album was more pop-rock, with keyboards playing a bigger part than most other albums on my list here, but it definitely included plenty of memorable melodic rock tunes, great hooks, synths, and harmonies throughout this. Featured the hit single “Miracle”, as well as cool rocker in “What Kind Of Love Is This”, and favorite pop driven tracks “Any Time At All”, “She Told Me” and the title track. A gem of an ‘80s aor-rock album. The band made one further album “Salute”, which was a bit too over-produced with keys, effects, and pop aimed, and less rock for my liking. Burke-Gaffney went on to work with new artists in writing, producing, and management.

RIP – Ron Boisvenue


Kim Mitchell – Akimbo Alogo, 1984

When guitarist / singer Kim Mitchell left ‘70s Canuck rockers Max Webster his first release was an EP, and a few of those songs like “Kids In Action” and “Miss Demeanor” got a good bit of radio play in Southern Ontario, and it looked promising. When “Akimbo Alogo” came out in ’82 – it was huge! A number of tracks being hits on the radio and heard regularly, with biggest hit “Go For Soda” being picked up by anti-drunk driving groups and further pushed. Lots of great guitar rockers here with “Diary For Rock n Roll Men”, “Lager & Ale”, “Feel It Burn”, and “That’s A Man”, as well as ballad “All We Are”. A killer album at the time, but I quickly lost interest with subsequent albums being less guitar heavy, and aiming for further commercial appeal. Mitchell would going on to become something of a Canadian icon, welcomed anywhere to huge crowds, and for years was afternoon DJ on Toronto’s Q107 FM radio. Recently he suffered a heart attack. Here’s hoping for a good recovery.


*for further info and references used here, check out >

*also, check out Sean Kelly’s book “Metal On Ice” and accompanying CD that revisited a handful of classic Canadian rock tunes!

ALICE COOPER –Muscle Of Love [revisited]

ac - mol band

The new SACD release of the last album from the one and only Alice Cooper group, in November of 1973, gives me a chance to revisit my favorite album from the greatest American rock n roll band! Part of what I see as the band’s ‘greatness’ was there originality, ground-breaking, rebellion, knack for memorable and timely anthems, grit, and a string of classic albums that remain unmatched by any other band.

Muscle of Love was a change in many areas from the 4 previous Platinum selling albums. First and foremost, it was where management and the press really separated Alice from the band of the same name [it was a band, with 5 equal members before there was a solo act]. Even the Circus magazine cover story from January of ’73 is all about Alice, himself, and very little mention of the band. Secondly, although this album came with a ‘theme’ [sex], it was definitely a bit tamer musically, lacking that lengthy macabre highlight [ala – Dwight Fry, Killer, Blue Turk, I Love The Dead…] – that theatrical centerpiece or ending to all, that shocking track that could upset certain anti-rock crusaders or that a stage show could be built around. Thirdly [is that a word?] – It lacked Glen Buxton! Though the guitarist with whatever personal demons he had, appears in some of the writing credits, he was ‘not invited’ to play on the album, and his grit and attitude are clearly absent, as producers Jack Richardson and Jack Douglas go for a cleaner sound. Mick Mashbir and Dick Wagner [RIP] did great work filling in the guitar work on this album, but really – once you take away such a figure as GB – the outcome changes.

Even before its release Muscle of Love caused controversy and issues in various countries and with retailers – due to the title and to the packaging. In South Africa the album was intercepted and had inserts of the ‘nude wrestling’ emporium removed before they’d be sent to record shops. In North America, management had to clear the title with a number of retailers first, and even then its cardboard box and ‘water stain’ packaging presented issues in places. This Audio Fidelity release does a good job of retaining the original art via CD, with a miniature of the nude wrestling insert included and sleeve pics with the booklet [where’s the lyrics?].

Muscle of Love featured a number of great tracks that would’ve made for fine singles, but IMO lacked that monster hit, ala “Schools Out” or “I’m Eighteen”. There’s a great flow to this, although as noted above – it lacks that twisted lengthy high point. “Big Apple Dreamin” opens this album, not with a bang, but it’s a great song, about moving to New York and the adventures that await. Love the use of the organ in this track [courtesy of Bob Dolin. Where the heck is that guy?], especially the break, almost giving this a Deep Purple feel. This album is largely straight ahead rockers, with “Never Been Sold Before” and “Muscle of Love” being the 2 stand-outs, both with cool riffs and the former being heavier and more aggressive than anything on this album – IMO the band’s most overlooked rocker. Elsewhere, I enjoy all the rockers here, from “Working Up A Sweat”, to the more laid back James Bond inspired “The Man With The Golden Gun” [purposely written with the then-forthcoming movie of the same name, but never accepted for use], the single “Teenage Lament ‘74”, which revisits “I’m Eighteen” – musically and lyrically, but slightly softer [especially with all the backing vocals from Liza Minnelli, Ronnie Spector, and the Pointer Sisters..Yeesh!]. Last track is another one of my favorite AC underrated songs in “Woman Machine”; a more mid-tempo guitar heavy track, lyrically based on a futuristic computerized female partner. [I kind of like the idea!] . Lots going on here between the guitars, and the added ‘computer’ sounds and effects. The 2 non-rock tunes here being the classic ballad “Hard Hearted Alice”, a sort of more serious lyric reflecting on being Alice Cooper, and the almost 1920 cabaret sounding “Crazy Little Child”. The latter, tho I like the song, IMO sort of lets the whole album down a bit, not so much lyrically, but musically with its piano and banjo [courtesy of Paul Prestopino], this would’ve been better off as a B-side [much in the same way “Mary-Ann” could’ve been left from the previous album!]

A few things that really stand out after listening to this is just how much this Was A band – Dennis Dunaway’s bass drives most of these songs, and Neal Smith adds so much more than a simple pace these songs; and Michael Bruce – well he took on a sort of musical-director role in the writing and via rhythm guitar. It is no wonder Alice as a solo artist, despite releasing some fantastic albums, never really matched the AC band output. On Muscle of Love, there’s a more serious musical approach, with even Alice singing better than before, but with less snarling and attitude [see Teenage Lament].

Despite what this album lacks, it is still my favorite AC album. Understandably it did not do nearly as well as the “Billion Dollar Babies” album, which featured a number of hit singles, and was the only AC album to hit #1, so it also had the impossible task of coming soon after [released in the same year] such a huge album and tour. Often overlooked as the band’s “Greatest Hits” package came soon after, and then members went on to solo projects, with Alice taking the name, and the original band [in whole] never to return again. Am still waiting for the Billion Dollar Babies “Battle Axe” album to be given a proper CD [or SACD] re-mastering and release, the last gasp of the real Alice Cooper band.

For more info check out

And to check out AC [and related] interviews I’ve done in the past >

Neal Smith: and:

Dennis Dunaway (w/ Ron Mann):

Mick Mashbir (studio & touring guitarist):

Mike Marconi (Billion $ Babies):

Dave Thompson (author):

*Drop me a note, let me know what you think of this album!

KJJ, jan ’16



Uriah Heep – Totally Driven in the 2000s

Way back in 1983, Uriah Heep released “Head First” – their 2nd album with Peter Goalby as frontman, Bob Daisley on bass, and John Sinclair on keyboards. Nearing the end of it’s recording, the band’s label – Mercury in North America, would be going through a restructure and would do a poor job promoting it and getting it out [after the initial success of “Abominog”], coupled with the band’s home label of Bronze going under, it all left the band looking for a new label. “Equator” was issued on Portrait in 1985, but it’s blatant commercial approach and uneven material wasn’t a success and the band moved on. Equator remains an album, that many life-long Heep fans care not to remember [I like a number of moments on this one though]. After extensive touring Goalby and Sinclair would leave [sadly, Goalby was never to return as a singer in any other band, effectively retiring from performing]. After a brief tour with American Stephen Fontaine on vocals and no label, the band by the end of 1986 would include Mick Box [founding member], Lee Kerslake, Trevor Bolder, Phil Lanzon [keys, ex Grand Prix], and Canadian born Bernie Shaw [ex Grand Prix, Stratus] on vocals. And thus began the band’s longest standing line-up. However, for all their 20 years together, recordings would become few and far between, and the band would become mainly a heavy touring act, playing everywhere possible [first band in Moscow in 1987]. 1989’s “Raging Silence” received great reviews, but it didn’t seem to put the band back to where they had been in ’82, and 1991’s “Different World” was almost non existent in many parts of the world. The band’s label Legacy being pretty ineffective at any promotion or getting it to the shops. From this point the band would carry on touring for years.

uh - 98

In 1995 the band released “Sea Of Light” [tho not originally released in North America], and it was so damn good – it drew back legions of old fans. The band taking inspiration from early Heep recordings, delivered an outstanding album of heavy rockers, progressive masterpieces, and a couple of memorable ballads. Heavier guitar, acoustic guitar, more Hammond organ, really bringing Heep’s trademark early sounds in to the 90s… and all covered with Roger Dean artwork! It really exceeded long time fans expectations at the time. 1998’s “Sonic Origami” though would take a lighter approach, with less rockers, more acoustics, more ballads… and as much as I like this album almost as much as it’s predecessor – it would split many fans, who thought it was too lightweight. And when the band’s single, a cover of the Survivor ballad “Across The Miles” didn’t generate the expected interest in the US, the label pulled the band’s North American tour just days before; ending the momentum they’d gained with the latest 2 albums!

Soon after the band signed on to Classic Rock productions, and although this period til 2005 saw no new studio releases, it was significant for the yearly live albums taken from special shows. And this brings us to this ‘new’ release, really a re-release, but the first on the band’s new and own label! But first … “Remasters : The Official Anthology” was originally released in December of 2001, featuring artwork by Roger Dean. It was the third release in a year and based on the band’s 2 previous live recordings “Acoustically Driven” and “Electrically Driven” [recorded just 3 months apart. Following on from the 30th Anniversary live release “Future Echoes Of The Past” [i never understood why the long title!?, Acoustically Driven was a stunning show, mixing up some rarely played classics and newer tracks, with string accompaniment, backing singers and a few guests, most notably Ian Anderson]. Both of these releases also featured Roger Dean artwork.

The original CD release [Remasters] states on the back cover – “..a stunning new set which features new re-mixes, alternate versions and re-recordings of classic Heep material from 1970 to 2001. Every single song has been recorded by this, the longest serving line-up of the band.” At the time, I admit – I passed on this release, seeing it as a sort of repackaging of the latest live sets, and rehashing of what we already had essentially. But apparently I was wrong, with these songs presented as a sorta studio release, taken from rehearsals and such from the previous 2 live albums. Now issued as “Totally Driven”, this is an outstanding set of classic Heep. The album features new cover art from Igor Morski, who did covers for ‘Outsider’ and ‘Live At Koko’, and the track running order has been altered.

Mick Box – “The ‘Totally Driven’ recordings were made while we were in preparation for the ‘Acoustically Driven’ and ‘Electrically Driven’ concerts. Previously these 2001 recordings were released under the confusing name ‘Remasters’, but that title went out of print very quickly. This re-release has had the band’s full input, including in its re-branding as ‘Totally Driven’ and will be the very first release on our own Uriah Heep Records. ‘Appy Days!”

With 27 tracks featured here, Totally Driven touches on plenty of different albums, though sadly omitting anything from 1980-85. It is however worth hearing for the band’s fresh takes and Bernie Shaw’s vocals on such classics as “Sweet Freedom”, “The Easy Road”, “Why Did You Go”, “Traveler In Time”, “Wonderworld”, and “Come Back To Me”. And songs from this line-up’s era [at the time] also come off outstanding with “Cross That Line” [a song never played before from ‘Different World’], “Only The Young” [from ‘Sonic Origami’], and the epic “Love In Silence” [from ‘Sea of Light’] – frankly, I prefer this version to the original.

Following Acoustically Driven and Electrically Driven, Uriah Heep would do what were named “The Magician’s Birthday Party” shows for a few years – these would feature guests and a few former band members [most notably a one-off reunion with Ken Hensley, and John Lawton more than once]. Hensley would join the band on stage in Russia a few months ago, once again [along with Lee Kerslake]. It would be great to see more such shows, featuring a few others, such as Peter Goalby perhaps [!?], John Wetton [?], Iain Clarke [?], Paul Newton [?], John Sloman [?] … why not!? [Goalby had mentioned that he’d been invited to a Magician’s Birthday Party, but had to decline. At the time he said he would be happy to do a Heep show that featured the band’s other singers, as well as Hensley].

The early 2000s may not have been a very productive one for Heep as far as anything really new went, but it sure was an interesting one for fans with a series of outstanding live albums, reunions, and product. Classic Rock Productions, who did such a nice job of putting on these events and promoting the band through their color magazine / catalogue would soon disappear after 2005’s “Between Two Worlds” [dvd only release]; Lee Kerslake would retire before the band’s next studio album, and thus marked the end of a long era for Uriah Heep. The newly branded “Totally Driven” is a nice celebration of that era.


To order Totally Driven –

Amazon CD Order Link: Amazon Digital Link: iTunes Link:



Led Zep get the led out cover

In 2012 album artist Ioannis was a big part of Denny Somach’s unique and outstanding Led Zeppelin book – “Get The Led Out”. The book – which is a fantastic and colorful biography of the band, which includes piles of interviews with those in, around, and famous connections to the 70s biggest rock band. Ioannis provided classic drawings of the band, bandmembers, symbols, and pieces related to the band’s history throughout the book, as well as covers and borders. His classic drawings can be seen and purchased in print Or originals at his own website. The man is also well know to Uriah Heep fans, and has a few items of interest coming up this year to tell about, among other projects and appearances.

Q: You knew Denny Somach well before starting “Get The Led Out”. How did the idea of you doing the artwork throughout the book come about? It makes for a very unique approach to a rock bio.

A: I have worked with Denny Somach for close to 30 years having designed logos for his national radio shows his label CINEMA RECORDS in the 80s, mostly electronic music and so on. We had recently reconnected and he told me of the LED ZEP book based on his successful radio show of the same name – GET THE LED OUT, that airs on over 300 stations with host DJ Carol Miller. I introduced him to my publisher as I was completing my book with Martin Popoff, and the rest is history as they say. I was approached to do the art – that started with the cover. The publisher wanted to have a painting representing each phase of Led Zeppelin through their career.  It worked well; the book quickly sold out of it’s hard cover edition and now is in it’s second printing as a soft cover.

Q: What was your own familiarity as a fan with Zeppelin? Any favorite albums and/or album covers?

A: I remember hearing Led Zep in 1972 (Misty Mountain Hop) while going to school in Athens and really liked them although at that time URIAH HEEP, T-REX and DEEP PURPLE reigned supreme in Europe.  Later on I grew up listening to them as any other 70’s teenager, remember doing to the movie theater to see THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, it was like going to a concert – the atmosphere in the theater at that time. They were at their peak by then. I really like Physical Graffiti – my favourite album from them. As for their covers I am a big fan of Storm and Hipgnosis, so HOUSES OF THE HOLY,  IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR, THE LIVE ALBUM, and of course – LED ZEPPELIN I. 

Q: What sort of inspired the drawings you did for Get The Led Out? Mainly imagination, either famous pics or scenes…?  And is there ever any copyright or concerns regarding reinterpreting ideas from perhaps an album cover or a photo?

A: It was a very conscious effort. Since they were the dominating 70’s band I felt that the look of the art and design should reflect album cover art of the 70’s as opposed to a photo-shop slick look or Shepard Fairey art they used for the recent live album.  So it was done artistically to reflect that old look where black and white photos or line art was used and then stuck on a board and was colored in inks with an airbrush – that’s how HOUSES OF THE HOLY was done, the way I used to work in the 80’s and occasionally still do. I was very pleased with the results, and it gave the book a unique feel.

Q: Can you give me a few words about some of the specific drawings [prints] – such as Knebworth 79, The Hermit from IV, the 1970 band in flowers, Kashmir… ?

A: Again it was based on imagery that they were associated with at that time in their career, so the LED ZEP III cover for instance was the inspiration for the band in flowers and the images that I copied were from that era – I tried to resemble that ‘collage’ feel, for example. On KNEBWORTH  – I remember the crop circles in the English countryside and thought that would be cool to do that and have the zeppelin overhead with it’s light beams on. The Hermit from ZEP IV was my take of the drawing from the inner sleeve of that album; it’s also the tarot card image from that and also inspired by Jimmy Page’s fantasy sequence in the movie.

Kashmir was inspired by the music – once again the mighty zeppelin flying overhead, I did not want every image a painting of the band, I wanted to get into the band mythos a bit; plus I was asked to do a piece of each member also.

Q: As you sell these drawings through your site [prints] – how has response been from the Zeppelin fans? And what have been the biggest sellers?

A: Actually amazing, as I have sold a large number of the prints although the supplies are dwindling as they are very limited edition and when they are gone – they are gone, also private collectors have bought a number of the originals, I will shortly be posting  the remaining originals for sale and give the public a shot at them.  One of the pieces sold for $15,000. – to give an idea.

Q: Have you had any contact or feedback from Plant, Page or Jones? Anyone in the Zep camp have any of your prints that you know of?  🙂

A: I haven’t but Denny has; he has a picture of Robert Plant holding up the book – So I know he liked it. Recently I gave one to Lenny Kravitz during a photo session and he was wowed by it. Also, recently here in the States – on the FXX channel, Denis Leary’s new show SEX AND DRUGS AND ROCK N ROLL aired and in one episode he had the book prominently featured behind him which was very cool.  I also get a ton of fain mail about it.

Q: You also recently did the cover for the new House of Lords album. I’m not a huge fan, but love the art. What can you tell me about your connection and this piece?

A: Thanks.  Yeah, I really liked it a lot, it was a labour of love really.  I have known James Christian since I was a teenager as he played in a number of bands in my town. We always talked about doing something. My Friend Jeff Canatta from Arcangel connected us again and i did the latest. He let me run with it so it turned out well.  I just put up the original for sale… Let me know if you wanted to purchase it lol.

Q: What other projects are you presently working on that you can divulge any details about? And any future projects you’re looking forward to?

A: In February of last year I accepted the position of Creative Director with Sweden Music Group, a hard-rock metal label. So I have my hands full with that.  Also I am working on a number of new HEEP projects this year, as they will continue the bootleg series and a few re-issues that I will do new art for.  I also finished the new JON ANDERSON & JEAN LUC PONTY album that came out in October and also I redesigned the 20th anniversary FATES WARNING A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY with new art, a very deluxe digi-pak, double sided vinyl and t-shirts. Very proud of that, one of the best packages I have done in recent years.  I also a very limited deluxe portfolio signed by me and the band that is available on my website. I am currently also talking to SUPERTRAMP, for their release and a few other things I can’t divulge yet.

Q: How have the Heep covers you’ve done been received via print sales? Any favorites amongst the buyers? And can Heep fans expect to see your work again in the future?

A: Extremely well! They have very loyal and fanatic fans. WAKE THE SLEEPER  and LIVE IN KAWASAKI  are real movers, and yes – I have been asked by management to do a number of upcoming HEEP projects in the new year.

Q: Do you ever get out on the road and do record fairs or comic exhibitions — anywhere fans can actually see you in person?

A: As matter of fact yes. In the past I had attended Heep concerts in the US , set up shop next to Roger Dean at the YES FEST  and sold well! 

I am planning to be selling my stuff at the two major dates FATES WARNING  is playing for the 30th anniversary of AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN, one of my most famous covers.  I will be signing books and prints this year at SXSW in Austin, Texas .   And I am currently in negotiations to have my work sold in the upcoming rock cruises and attend them.

*I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk to you, and would love if the fans would visit my website and Facebook page links below.

They may also contact me at  – I always like to hear from them and if they have any questions about my work or would like to purchase something unique.

KJJ, Jan ’16

Out There … Again! with Kirk Krein

Kirk Krein speaks on Out There and their new release featuring Steff Fontaine on vocals!


Out There is a Phoenix based band who’ve just issued their third album, and with a twist. Due to my past contact with singer Stephen “Steff” Fontaine, who was at one time (1986), singing for Uriah Heep, and who had sang on the classic AOR album by Joshua “The Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye” (1982) – Kirk Krein contacted me with news of this release. Kirk is the band’s bassist, keyboard player and backing vocals [on this release]. Out There Again also features Tom Vanderginst on guitars and Sean Medhi on drums.
Out There Again is a good mix of hard rock, mixed with acoustics moments, giving this album a nice blend of songs and styles. I must say that hearing Fontaine on this album really stood out, as [aside from the Joshua album] much of what Fontaine has done over the years has been pretty ‘heavy’ metal [2001’s Heartache City release included], but here there’s less ‘metal’ screams and just more good singing. Highlights include the acoustic opener “Apocalypse”, the ballad “Caught In A Dream” –  acoustic guitar, organ, and a great vocal [love the guitar break as well]. and “Cruizin Down The Highway” – which rocks, and features a cool guitar solo and backing vocals. Although there’s 3 covers on this album, I prefer the originals, these guys got some really cool songs; my only criticism is they don’t allow themselves to ‘stretch out’ with lengthier solos and keyboard passages, but this is definately a great intro to the band and hopefully there’ll be more and bigger productions to come!
In this interview with Kirk Krein gives some recall on the ‘old’ days on the Phoenix rock scene, as well as details of the band’s most recent project.
To check out the band Out There and their new album “Out There – Again” please visit >

(*all photos borrowed from the band’s website)

out there kirk

What was typical set list or genre of bands you guys would cover?

KK: Alien covered Ted Nugent, Montrose, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Foreigner, Heart, Styx, Rainbow, Kansas, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Boston, Eagles, Skynyrd, Stones, Bad Company, Thin Lizzy and so many more I can’t remember right now, that was 38 years ago.
Were you familiar much with Heep and Stephen’s association with them?

KK: Uriah Heep was one of my all time favorite bands but, I really didn’t find out Stephen even sang with them until about 10 years ago, guess I was out of touch for a while.
Can you give me a short list of some of your favorite musicians / bands / albums / influence from your early days?

KK: Pink Floyd, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Montrose, Kiss, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon, Fog Hat, BTO, Yes, Steely Dan, Alice Cooper, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kansas, ZZ Top, Foreigner, Bad Company, Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Ten Years After, James Gang, Joe Walsh, Boston, The Eagles, ELP, Zappa, The Beatles and most of the British invasion bands. I was into jazz as well.
Bass players that influenced me the most were Geddy Lee, Stanley Clarke and Chris Squire

out there 5
What’s your story of the bands you had in the 70s with Fontaine [Alien and Straight Shooter]? Did you guys play covers or originals back then [a mix]? And was there anything ever recorded to tape back then? 

KK: Wow, the 70’s, what a blur! From what I recall, myself, (Kirk Krein) along with guitar player Rick Dickerson had finished playing in a couple bands together when we acquired drummer Frank Micola. Frank and Stephen met in college here in AZ and Frank brought him over. Stephen auditioned for our band Straight Shooter, sounded awesome and instantly became the new lead singer. (none of us remember exactly how or when things came together) LOL. Straight Shooter lasted about a year when we regrouped, forming the band Alien – adding guitarist Craig Frost. We later became the number 1 cover band in Phoenix. Lot’s of member changes happened from 1977 through 1979, especially drummers. Alien was a true cover band, we did fool around with some originals, but not seriously, unfortunately.
I believe there were some audience type or rehearsal tapes made back then, but nothing has survived to date, to my knowledge anyway.
We didn’t have the money back then to record anything of quality, not even a demo tape, important people came to the clubs to hear you back then.

out there straight shooter(Straight Shooter featuring Fontaine and Krein)
You’ve always been based in Phoenix!? what was the rock scene like back in the day?

KK: I personally started playing bass in a band back in North Dakota, we were underage, in High School, restricted to the stage and played for about 3 years at bars, clubs, proms and parties around ND, Minnesota and South Dakota ’til I moved to Phoenix in December of 1975. Not sure about the other guys prior history but, for the most part we felt we were a true Phoenix band; all of us were around the age of 18 or 19 when things were heating up.
The Rock scene in Phoenix was killer back then. We were playing some of the largest Phoenix clubs six nights a week like the Store West and East with some pretty big crowds yes – there were some really small hole in the wall clubs such as Arnold’s 2×4, Lil Abners, The Zoo, TNT Express, I think one night at the Mason Jar in 78 or 79. They were the best, crazy, crazy fun Times!
When disco clubs started popping up (I try not to think about that) it kind of put a damper on things.
What level of success did you guys achieve [any highlights]?

KK: Alien had a fairly big following for a Phoenix band and we were trying to make a name for ourselves, but we were all kind of young and stupid. One of the bands we rotated club schedules with at the Store West was called BE with drummer Pat Torpe, who went on to play with Mr. Big and many other big endeavors. Our big success story stopped before it got started. Such a bummer.

out there kirk 3
When and why did these bands break up and you got out of music ?

KK: When Alien was about to get their big break with a Western US tour and I remember this well, we were playing at a one week gig in a Tucson club called Choo Choo’s Night Train or something like that (can’t remember for sure). Our agent had us staying in a large 10 bedroom house with a bunch of Ladies of the Evening, yeah, shock to me too, the bar patrons would come and party with us every night after closing, lot’s of stories there, but I was good, really I was. That week on a Friday night the Rolling Stones played in town. After they finished, we had a line of people trying to get in the club that went around the block. Anyway, there were some talent scouts in the audience that night, Chuck Wright with Satyr who went on to be the bass payer with Quiet Riot offered Stephen a sweet deal to move out to LA and that was the end of that version of the band Alien as I knew it, no tour, such a bummer. Different versions of the band went on for a while with lots of member changes til it fizzled. I left the band after Stephen did, as we couldn’t find a singer with an amazing voice like his.
When did you get back in to the music scene and how did Out There come about?

KK: I took a break to raise two boys, married twice, was a photographer and headhunter for many years. Once the kids left the nest and with me being single, I joined a cover band called RoadRage in 2007 where I met lead guitar player Tom Vanderginst. When things went south with that band, I asked Tom to join me at my home studio to start recording original material. After about a year we dubbed the band name ‘Out There’ with the studio being called DreamLand Studios, owned by Kirk Krein.

out there 3
What can you tell me about the band’s previous 2 albums – when were these done, how were they received [locally?], any press reviews, etc?

KK: Our first album was called “From the Beginning” and the second called “Out There”; both were released in November 2013 after several years in the making. We really didn’t know what to expect or how to market them, it was a total learning curve for us, just did it for the fun of it. I did the recording, engineering, producing, lead vocals, harmonies, bass and keyboards, Tom did all the guitar work and Sean Medhi did the drum work. There are some rockers on the Out There album such as Taken Away, No Place To Hide, Time Will Tell, Flight Through Time, Out There, Into The Night, Good Time Tonight, Got My Shades On and Hold On Tight. A lot of people say I sound like Ozzy. Maybe?

out there secondout there first
Had you heard much from Fontaine over the years and how did you end up reconnecting?

KK: I hadn’t heard from Fontaine until this past year. I reached out to him in 2013 and he finally responded around July or August of 2014 after he found our web site and heard some of our material.

out there steff
Most of the songs on your new album appeared on the band’s previous 2 recordings without Fontaine on vocals!? How was this song selection done, as opposed to coming up with new material?

KK: After Fontaine contacted me, we decided he should listen the tracks on our albums and he should pick the songs he wanted to sing on. He loves ballads and rockers so, hence the reason for the songs on the new album. He had two goals, number one, to prove he could still sing and two, just to enjoy doing it again. It was a cool experience for us too, especially me, having played with Fontaine before! The new Album is called “Out There Again” – kind of a remix of past songs we did mostly from the first album.
You’ve included 3 covers – Stealin, Space Truckin, and Love welcome Home [I wasn’t familiar with that one] — why these particular songs?

KK: Well, Stealin was my idea, to make a point out there that Stephen still had it together vocally and can still stand up with the big guys, Space Truckin was Steff’s idea, we all love that song and had a blast doing it, Love Welcome Home was Steff’s idea, thinking women out there would love it, plus, it never was a hit back in the day; it was one of the hardest songs to play musically that we’ve ever tried to do.
Would you be able to give me a line or 2 about the tracks [aside from above covers] on the new album?

KK: Well, as stated before, all the songs were written by Kirk Krein and Tom Vanderginst with a new spin put on them with Stephen Fontaine’s vocals. Apocalypse, Cruzin Down The Highway and RoadKill Cafe are some of my favorites on the Out There Again Album, they all are, really. Stephen just felt these were the songs he could shine on, and he did!.

out there 1
One thing I notice, is you guys include a cool mix of sounds – acoustics, hard rockers, some cool keyboards on occasion, but you don’t tend to stretch out the songs with lengthy instrumental features. Can you kinda explain how songs come about and get put to tape?

KK: I guess we could have gone crazy with extended instrumental parts, but we chose not to, in order to keep the overall song time down under 5 minutes.
Our recording process usually begins with an idea, phrase or chord progression to start with, maybe only a few seconds long, then I/we scrutinize to put some structure in the overall product, with choruses, lead parts, harmonies etc. things start to flow from there, one track at a time. Then we pick it apart, maybe to much sometimes, LOL!!.
Are you guys booking / planning any live shows? Is Fontaine living back in Phoenix?

KK: Right now we are trying to discover if people like what we’re doing, it’s been a studio recording endeavor for the most part. We would consider doing a live show or tour in the future should an opportunity come forth and the circumstances were right.
Stephen is currently residing in California, and the rest of us, Kirk, Tom and Sean are based here in Arizona, we’ve been sending tracks back and forth and I’ve been mixing them here in AZ.
Just an additional note: if you search the web for Out There, search for Out There Tunes or Out There Band, It’s kind of hard to find otherwise.
Kirk Krein

My Top Ten List of The Works of Mick Box : Favorite Songs and Performances from Uriah Heep’s Guitarist.

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With June 9 having been the Uriah Heep guitarist’s latest birthday, I thought I’d visit a bit of his story and selection of some of my favorite Heep tracks that feature some of his best work writing and/or playing.

[*Mick shared birthdays with longtime Heep member – Trevor Bolder – RIP]. This page is to celebrate Mick’s work and efforts in keeping Uriah Heep going strong for the fans throughout the years.

Mick is the lone founding member left in the British band, after he – along with David Byron [RIP], Alex Napier and Paul Newton were joined by Ken Hensley in late 1969 and changed the band’s name from Spice to Uriah Heep. Over the years he survived numerous band member changes, management and record company changes and hassles, and sadly a few passings. In 1981 he had become the only founding member and with the name and still a record deal – he rebooted the band with Lee Kerslake, Bob Daisley, Peter Goalby and John Sinclair [with longtime bassist Trevor Bolder returning not too long after]. Though the band had peaked in the ‘70s with David Byron on vocals and Ken Hensley writing the vast majority of the material, and both members being the focal point of the band – Box remained a steady contributor and the ‘80s saw him move to the front. By the end of the ‘80s he was the band’s major songwriter [along with Phil Lanzon] and by the mid ‘90s he was managing the band. I think it is safe to say Mick has done more of his best writing and studio recording over the past 20 years [since 1995’s Sea Of Light brought the band back to life for many old fans, new fans, and critics].

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“Mick has always been a great player, and he’s been what I call a “team player”. I used to run in to Mick a lot in England, and he always such a great guy. In fact we used to rehearse in the same studio a lot. I don’t know why he never got more acclaim than he did, because i think he was due a lot more.” – Stuart Smith [Heaven & Earth]

Here’s my list — I didn’t pick all the predictable ones either! Feel free to comment and drop your own list or recommendations in the comments….

I’ll Keep On Trying – from the first Heep album, credited to Mick and David Byron. Although this song really shows the immediate impact of Ken Hensley with the band – Mick’s heavy playing here is the highlight; that lengthy solo where he turns it up and lets loose. Classic stuff!

(17) Uriah Heep – I’ll Keep On Trying – 1970 – YouTube

The Magicians Birthday – with the song built around a story Ken Hensley had written, it is the guitar & drum interplay in this song that became what this song is known for. According to Lee Kerslake, the instrumental section was done in one take. The band has re-added this to the set list over the past year or so and it is a concert high point with Mick and Russell Gilbrook sparring it out on stage.

(17) Uriah Heep ‎– The Magician’s Birthday (1972) – YouTube

Devils Daughter – from 1975’s Return To Fantasy, and co-credited to the bandmembers [though newcomer John Wetton was left off the writing credits at the time]. So not sure who all contributed what, but one has to suspect Mick had a good hand in this with one of his more memorable riffs, and a cool lengthy solo exchange of guitar and keyboard interplay with Ken Hensley. A seldom mentioned gem, which the band resurrected in the early ‘90s and used as a live show opener for a few tours.

(17) Uriah Heep – Devil’s Daughter (Remastered 2020) – YouTube

Free N Easy – a song John Lawton brought in for Innocent Victim, but with the help of Mick it became the heaviest song the band had done in years, and much needed as the band was in the confused state of becoming a middle of the road pop band. Killer riff, worked great with Hensley playing slide as alongside Mick. The band brought this song back in to the live show a few years ago, providing a highlight of the evening when they’d invite ladies on stage to jump around to the song.

(17) Uriah Heep-Free ‘N’ Easy – YouTube

Too Scared To Run – though brought in to the band by [then] singer Peter Goalby, it is Mick’s riff and solo performance here that scream “Heep is back”. Fittingly the lead off track to 1982’s Abominog, and featured in the band’s live show [off and on] for years.

(17) Uriah Heep – Too Scared To Run – YouTube

Poor Little Rich Girl – another track from the Goalby era, and perhaps from one of the band’s lowest rated albums by longtime fans (Equator). I believe Goalby wrote most of this, but you gotta love Mick’s acoustic playing and that big dramatic solo.

(17) Uriah Heep:-‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ – YouTube

Against The Odds – after 1991’s less than stellar Different World and a few years of no new recording this lead off track from 1995’s Sea Of Light was so welcomed and so exciting and easily set aside any fears that Mick and the band couldn’t come up with great rockers anymore. A real blazer, co-written by Mick with Phil Lanzon, and featuring a killer riff and 2 [!] huge solos from Mick.

(17) Uriah Heep – Against The Odds – YouTube

Between Two Worlds – from 1998’s Sonic Origami. Another huge lead off rocker, and my favorite Heep classic from the past 30 years! Co-written by Mick with Phil, and lyrically about the chance of meeting those you lost in another world. A cool guitar break, and a huge lengthy solo that races to the finale on this one. The heaviest from a fairly lighter [but excellent] Heep album.

(17) Uriah Heep – Between Two Worlds – YouTube

Ghost Of The Ocean – from 2008’s Wake The Sleeper; written by Mick and Phil about female pirates(!) This song just blares out right from the start with Mick’s riff and sound [and Russell beating the hell out of it], add Mick’s hooks and solo – a classic modern Heep rocker.

(17) Uriah Heep:-‘Ghost Of The Ocean’ – YouTube

Jesse – from 2014 Heep studio album Outsider; this album was a bit of a grower for me, but this song (written by Mick & Phil) I liked upon first listen – a bit more of a commercial rock tune, with a great little intro from Mick and one very different and killer sounding solo from anything else here. My favorite song from this album; too bad it didn’t make it to the live show or as a single.

(17) Uriah Heep – Jessie – YouTube

mick box carparelli



A look at some classic live albums [part one]

Well, I started this out as a pile of reviews of some of my favorite Live albums, but find myself enjoying rifling throughout [and a few newer] live albums in my collection. There was a time when live albums were a bit more rarely released and held more meaning — such as they capped off a period for a band or captured a band on a special occasion… Now a-days live albums seem pretty regular for most bands, releasing them after almost every tour – or more than one per tour. Though there’s some great single live albums out there [and I’ve included a few here] – there is something special about those big double LP gatefold releases – and every great band of the ’70s has such a legendary album in their catalogue – Thin Lizzy, UFO, Uriah Heep, Humble Pie, Deep Purple …. well – except for Black Sabbath [with Ozzy] and Alice Cooper [the band!]. Anyway, more to come next time – as I have pulled a pile of these from the shelf to revisit, as well as I have a few new[er] great releases too.


Kiss – Alive
The first ‘used’ albums I ever bought were from a school friend’s older brother – he was kind enough to sell me his LP copies of a few early Sabbath albums and a couple of Kiss albums for a mere 50 cents  each! A great deal then [and still] for a grade 5’er, even if the guy had bothered to print his damn name on the front of each LP cover! For me tho, this was my first hearing of a band ‘live’, and it was an exciting experience! Kiss Alive was my first and easily still my fave Kiss live release [Alive 2 was ridiculous and I hardly played it even when i got it]. Something about the band’s material from the first 3 albums that makes that period their best for me, and the infusion of volume and a live crowd to a band that was young, energetic, eager to please and cool back then – was pretty spectacular! Alive was just a great set of guitar rock; sure Kiss lyrics were fairly lame even back then [they got worse after this period] – side one just packed with Kiss early classics like “Deuce”, “Strutter”, “Got To Choose”, “Hotter Than Hell”, and “Firehouse”. Elsewhere, faves include “C’mon and Love Me”, “Black Diamond” [w/ Peter Criss singing], “Rock Bottom” [w/ that cool light intro] and “Cold Gin” [w/ Paul Stanley’s goofy story beforehand]. This album was highlighted by the single “Rock And Roll All Nite” – which became the band’s first hit — and one of those songs I just can’t stand!
Classic packaging courtesy of Fin Costello, who used a similar concept he’d done on Uriah Heep’s “Live …January 1973” release – with memorable photos [front and back], and a gatefold cover that includes a program featuring a pile more live band and individual photos [note the bandmember close ups signed, just as the Heep ones were].  This was Kiss at their peak, before they tried being a pop-rock band of cartoon characters on the next several albums. I should add i enjoyed Alive 3 in the ’90s, as well as the live Unplugged [reunion] release, but for me Kiss – up until Alive was the most magical for this band – no dolls, lunch boxes, comic books and stupid solo albums – just a solid and exciting guitar heavy rock band!


BOC – Some Enchanted Evening
The first Blue Oyster Cult album I ever bought, and heck I’m not even sure why[!?] – likely the cover-art combined with it being on display and sale at the local Sam The Record Man [and I knew “The Reaper”!].  Taken from various shows around the globe in 1978, Some Enchanted Evening was a mere single LP release [the band’s previous and next live releases would be doubles, but not sure of the reasoning behind this release!?],  w/ color photo’d sleeve. Some Enchanted Evening would be my introduction to this seemingly scary band with songs about death – “The Reaper”, monsters – “Godzilla”, and unknown  / other worlds – “Astronomy” and “ETI [Extra Terrestrial Intelligence”], 4 of the best known BOC classics – all here! and for the longest time – my favorite BOC songs [til I much later completed buying the band’s catalogue].  Side one kicks off with “R U Ready 2 Rock” [from Spectres] – turn up loud because this IS BOC at their best! The song comes off heavier, and rocks harder – Albert Bouchard kicks the shit out of it on drums.  A prime example of why BOC was never remotely the same after he [and brother Joe] left. ETI follows with that classic riff, and a cool vocal delivery from Eric Bloom, but it’s the performance of “Astronomy” here that really got me early on and remains my favorite BOC tune; delivered as more of a heavy bass / guitar track; it wasn’t for a long time that i realized this was in fact a piano based song originally – and both are pretty different but classic recordings. Side 2 opens with a huge rocking rendition of “Kick Out The Jams” and closes with a smooth cover of The Animals “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, in between is “Godzilla” and the band’s biggest hit “[Don’t Fear] The Reaper” – all beefed up in guitar and sound, with strong backing vox. BOC :  Eric Bloom, Donald Roeser, Allen Lanier [RIP], Joe Bouchard, and Albert Bouchard – that was it for me! I enjoyed subsequent studio albums – Mirrors [despite it being a bit lightweight], Cultosaurus Erectus, and Fire Of Unknown Origin, but definitely things began to fade when Albert left, and aside from a few tracks ’80s releases The Revolution By Night and Club Ninja [minus Joe as well] i rarely got beyond a couple of tracks. 1989’s Imaginos was a great record, but too many guests and not a real reunion to follow. Oh well. Some Enchanted Evening captured BOC at their peak, and it’s fun to revisit and crank up loud still. I should add that tho I lost interest in the band throughout the ’90s, it was really Joe’s first solo album and Blue Coupe shows that I really got back in to the BOC catalogue, but this remains my favorite release from them [studio or live!] and their biggest seller. *Note: the remastered CD version of this album adds a pile of songs as well.


Saga – In Transit
One of the first albums I bought, In Transit covered material from the band’s first 4 albums – easily their strongest era, and (in my opinion!) – a period that ended with 1983’s Heads Or Tales.
Originally from Toronto, Saga would make a bigger name for themselves in Europe where their more progressive approach was far more appreciated, and with this album being recorded at shows in West Germany and Denmark. I can clearly remember first hearing this album at a friend’s when it came out and then buying it soon after at the Eaton’s in the Rexdale Mall [a time when department stores had decent sized music sections; sadly Eaton’s and that mall are long gone].  Though part of a great up and coming Toronto scene in the late 70s and early 80s, Saga’s more keyboard / prog approach and more thought provoking lyrical approach set them apart – a good bit of drama and melody in this band’s music. And frankly most of my fave Saga songs are still all found on this single LP, full of classics like “Careful Where You Step” [a cool intro for this young new fan at the time], followed by “Don’t Be Late” and Humble Stance”. Side one closes with “Wind Him Up” from the band’s [then] latest World’s Apart – which had a couple of big radio hits at the time [and 2 of the few Saga tunes that still get any radio play]. Side 2 boasts “How Long”, the ballad “No Regrets” (w/ Jim Gilmour singing lead), a short drum solo aptly titled “A Brief Case”, the dramatic “You’re Not Alone”, and the other big hit from World’s Apart “On The Loose”. After hearing the studio versions, In Transit showed what a great live band Saga were [are] – bringing a lot of energy and life to already great songs.  On this upswing in their career the band followed up with Heads or Tales, which featured classics like “The Flyer”, “Cat Walk” and “Social Orphan”, though to me – the studio stuff just lacks that energy. Of note – the band was to play the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena on February 29 [!] of 1984, which I’d planned to go, but this was cancelled when a blizzard at the time close schools for a few days and cancelled the show. The band’s last album with that classic line-up of Michael Sadler, Jim Gilmour, Jim Crichton, Steve Negus, and Ian Crichton was 1985’s Behaviour, but saw the band heading in a more commercial/ aor direction with the hit “What Do I Know”. 1987’s Wildest Dreams saw Negus & Gilmour gone from the band [both return later, tho Negus has since departed permanently] – a totally forgettable album for me [aside from the fact that Curt Cress, who’d played with Lucifers Friend was on drums!]. I never got back to being a big Saga fan, though In Transit remains my fave album by them, and one of my favorite Live albums. Sometime in the early ’90s Saga played a club in St.Catharines, and I was able to take and get all those early Saga LPs fully signed [i recall the drummer taking them for me and commenting “wow, someone has vinyl!”].  Interesting also that last years Saga-City album, though a decent sounding album [def sounds like Saga] – added a bonus disc of live material – much of which is still from the In Transit era.


Uriah Heep – Live in Europe ’79
My fellow Heep fans may disagree, but this is my favorite Heep live album. Granted Heep’s “Live – Janurary 1973” is legendary as it captures the classic line up at their peak as well as set a standard for live album packaging, courtesy of Fin Costello.  But this post-David Byron line up release of the band then fronted by John Lawton in 1979 – his last tour before being dropped, came out in 1986 [Raw Power / Castle]. A shame it didn’t come out at the time it was made, may have helped the band at a declining time. Though the band’s profile in North America had sank pretty far since the band’s heyday from 72-75, Heep still had a string of hits throughout various European countries during the Lawton era and still played to decent crowds there. Believe it or not, there are still those Heep fans that gave up after Byron was canned [sad for them] – and even sadder if someone didn’t give this line-up a listen here. Lawton’s debut with Heep was on Firefly – a classic album!, though i find the next 2 a bit inconsistent and softer, with songs seemingly more hurried in the studio and not given the full classic Heep production. Having said that – Lawton and bassist Trevor Bolder [RIP] really added some new life to the Heep classics here, while the band really beefs up and adds energy to tracks from [then current album] Fallen Angel. Actually wish they’d chosen more from the Lawton period here [btw the remastered CD release includes a couple of Lawton era tunes not on the original LP set]. While Lawton adds a powerful voice to classics like “Easy Livin”, “Stealin”, “Sweet Lorraine”, and mixes well with Ken Hensley’s vocals on “July Morning” – it is side 3 here that is my fave, with Fallen Angel tracks “Falling In Love” running into “Woman Of The Night”, followed by “I’m Alive” – heavier than the studio and sounding better IMO. That side ends with Lee Kerslake’s “Who Needs Me” – complete with drum solo, though i’d prefer less drum solo and another Firefly track! [*Drum solos not my thing, especially hearing more than once.] L:awton era lightweight hit “Free Me” even comes off a bit heavier on the opening side of this album [sitting comfortably after “Look At Yourself” and “Lady In Black”. Love the way Hensley’s keyboards would connect “The Wizard” into “July Morning”! Last side features Mick Box’s moment in the spotlight during “Sweet Lorraine”, before the it winds down with blaze-throughs of Innocent Victim’s lone rocker “Free N Easy” [w/ Hensley adding slide guitar] and old classic “Gypsy”.
Original packaging was lacking – a nice brief band overview on the back, the front featuring just photos of Box and Hensley, as well as photos of Box, Hensley [the same pic!] and Kerslake only featured in the gatefold [someone couldn’t make the effort to include Lawton or Bolder at the time!?]. Oh well, definitely a great listen to a classic band, capping a period that should’ve been bigger and more successful. Interesting that this came out at the end of Heep’s period with Peter Goalby fronting the band; makes me think we’re long overdue for a Goalby era Heep double-live release!?

My latest listening and ramblings! Harm’s Way Project, Europe, Trapper….


Well, here I am – writing lengthier reviews than I intended [again] and rambling on. Not sure why, but I’ll try to be inconsistant! After all, isn’t that what these forums are for?
Still got lots to cover from the latter part of 2014 and first half of this year. Currently still playing the hell out of the latest Europe album “War Of Kings”; in fact I had to go back and pick up all the studio albums since their 2004 comeback – quite an impressive string of releases, especially “Bag Of Bones” and love the live releases from Shepherd’s Bush [London] and Sweden Rock Fest.

europe war of kingseurope bag of bones europe sweden rock

Recently saw the band in Niagara Falls, NY to a small crowd – apparently their first trip over here in 10 years. Lots of ground to cover and it seems a heck of a hurdle to overcome with the ‘hair band’ tag from the ’80s. Telling people I saw Europe – the band that did “The Final Countdown” usually gets an odd look, which i follow with – ‘their new stuff ain’t like that!’ Was bummed that Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock show was cancelled in Toronto, but oh well – hopefully there’ll be a return with Doogie White. Here’s an interview I did with Doogie years ago [look under October 1999] –
Maybe it’s an age thing, but I’m finding as I get older, I am listening to and buying more stuff I never thought to or got in to in the past. Also revisiting those Lucifers Friend albums from the ’70s, since the new release.

Hmm, maybe I’ll get to revisiting catalogues of favorite bands here!? There is just not enough time in this life to get to it all tho! Here’s hoping the new someone will drop me a copy of the new Tommy Bolin “Teaser” box — 3 LPs! Amazing, how much this guy did in such a short life time, and we’re still gettting cool releases like the “Whirwind” set a couple of years ago, as well as reissues of his stuff with the James Gang and Zephyr, among others. You can never go wrong checking out Bolin’s music, if you’re not familiar! Also, looking forward to getting Dennis Dunaway’s new book about his Alice Cooper days; then we’ll just be awaiting for Neal Smith’s account of those days.

dennis dunaway book
Another new vinyl shop has opened in nearby Thorold [“Our Favorite Record Store”]. Mostly used LPs, but it’s a neat little store, clean and reasonably priced. Funny that when people were hurrying to ditch vinyl, shops and vendors were selling used stuff for $5 and less, now that it’s back – every crappy dime-o-dozen release is somehow a collectable worth $10 and up. Not everything is worth big $. If anyone could pick up big selling LPs like Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, the first 2 Boston albums, or late ’70s Foreigner records were worth $3 five to 10 years, why would anyone expect to pay over $10 a-piece now??
anyway, more to come….

The Harm’s Way Project – Everything Works If You Let It [CHA]
The 2nd Harm’s Way Project release, and quite a project it has become! The musicians being those that have found each other on the internet, largely though Uriah Heep forums and online groups, so you’ll understand if there’s a good bit of the Heep influence.  Tho I enjoyed the first album, this one is a major step up – in concept, sound, performance, production and flow.   This is a major production – and i dont mean that in a ridiculous Mutt Lange kinda way!
As I understand, lyrically based around the life journeys of lyric writers Ron Mann and Allie Segars, and tho this may be one or two peoples personal tales and outlooks – it is definately something many of us can relate to.  70s rock fans will easily dig this for the feel and sounds that come from classic rock influences of that era – a good bit of hard rock, progressive, folk….and it all flows so well musically and lyrically. Big praise to Jon Binder who handles most of the lead vocals here, as well as guitarists Keith Shaw, Dave White, Mac Steagall [who also doubles on bass and as major music writer], Micheal Fedysky [bass] and Staf Pypen [on drums], as well as the backing singers. The use of Hammond organ and Moog Synthesizer [courtesy of Jim Lynch] add to the whole feel of a time gone by when bands made these sort of albums. Frankly it is hard to pick favorites because i just throw this on, enjoy it in full as old Heep styled lead off track Time simply flows nicely in My Song, then on to the ballad Forever In The Night [the backing harmonies are a great touch throughout this].  A great mix of tunes with rockers like Cries In Winters Rain [this one musically reminds me Heep’s Time To Live], Battles, and Lost In A Fog, and outstanding ballads like It’s All My Fault [nicely done on piano with violin sounds adding a nice touch] and Searching For An Angel – [love the female lead vocals here, backing vocals, and keyboards adding the string sounds]. Again, this album is a FULL listen – not something you can simply jump through select tracks.  Lots to listen to musically and lyrically. Seems like a fine album to throw on for those outside summer evenings!
Well packaged too [tho i’d love to have it on vinyl!] A classic unknown 70s release, made in 2014!
*and look ’em up on Facebook Reverbnation

harms way cd IMAG2165 dd live-in-los-angeles

Trapper – Go For The Heart
Holy shit, it’s like early ’80s Canuck rock made a comeback here! Trapper’s the new band formed by Canadian guitarist Sean Kelly – who’s become a legend in the last couple of years here – with his book Metal On Ice, and having wrote andrecorded with Helix, played live with Coney Hatch, Lee Aaron…. Trapper tho, is his brand new band with singer Emm Gryner and they have a 5 track CD that is a cool throwback to that period in Canadian rock when the likes of Harlequin, Trooper, Loverboy, Toronto, etc…  were big on the radio airwaves, albeit a good bit heavier with no keyboards, more guitar… Lonely Nights, Technology Killed Our Love and Grand Bender are cool memorable rockers, catchy hooks and choruses, big solos, great production; and then there’s 2 covers in The Warrior and Your Love – neither of which i cared for way back, but they’ve got a bit more bite and fit so well on this disc.  Check Trapper out >

Dennis DeYoung – Plays The Music of Styx [Frontiers]
Styx was one of my first favorite bands, “Paradise Theater” being the first LP I ever bought (at a record outlet at the CNE In Toronto!).  The albums from 1975 (Equinox) up until “Pieces Of Eight” are classic albums, and tho they softened up and became more ‘aor’ for the last few albums before splitting in the mid 80s, I thought they were still good. Stxy – the band, carried on without one of it’s founding and IMO it’s key figure some 15+ years ago, and DeYoung went off and did some different stuff, but this Live revisit of the Styx classics is outstanding! DeYoung and his band give a very authentic Styx sounding production, full of energy and accuracy faithful to the original recordings. And it sounds like DeYoung really enjoys performing this stuff still. Interesting to note he managed to find a great guitar player in August Zadra – who not only looks like a younger Tommy Shaw, but also pulls off the vocals on the Shaw written and sang classics like “Crystal Ball” and “Blue Collar Man”, sounding remarkably like the Styx guitarist. Highlights for me include “Suite Madame Blue” (w/ prelude), “Lorelei” and lone solo hit here “Desert Moon”.

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Lucifers Friend – Awakening

The debut album from Lucifers Friend was a classic early metal album, coming around the time of Heep’s debut and Deep Purple’s “In Rock”, it featured the classic “Ride The Sky”; it is the starting point for anyone looking in to this Germanband that would gather a strong underground following around the globe, especially in North America where their LPs came out on smaller labels, labels folded, the band switching labels, lack of any promo,  – you get the idea!? Singer John Lawton was the lone Englishman in the band which also features guitarist Peter Hesslein (He and other founding LF members were experienced in studio and on the circuit in their homeland throughout the late 60s), as well as original bass player Dieter Horns. Lawton left the band in ’76 to join Uriah Heep (having missed an invite to audition for Deep Purple a few years earlier), but returned for 1 classic hard rock album in 1981 (again on a label that did nothing to promote it or distribute it!). The band also reconvened in 1994 as Lucifers Friend II for the “Sumo Grip” album. Disc one of Awakening pulls the best known classic tracks from the albums Lawton sang on up until 1981 (note – the band continued on for 2 albums in the late 70s with Mike Starrs at the mic, but nothing is included from that period here).  The band’s debut being their best known, so we get 4 heavy tracks from it, though nothing from “I’m Just A Rock n Roll Singer”, and just 1 from fan favorite “Banquet” – but oh well, this is a cool collection with classics like “Burning Ships” and “Fugitive” (the latter from the highly recommeded, more progressive album “Mind Exploding”, from ’76 ).
With Lucifers Friend albums, the band was constantly changing, adding in some pretty diverse sounds and approaches from album to album, rock, blues, jazz, fusion, pop… it’s all in their repertoire with big brass arrangements, strings, etc.. 1981’s “Mean Machine” was a return to a direct hard-rock sound, likely influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal happening at the time (note – Lawton had a solo album in 1980 with LF members as back-up, and Hesslein co-writing).
Disc 2 of Awakening (and really – 14 tracks total probably could’ve fit on 1 disc!) consists of 4 brand new tracks the band recently recorded to coincide with this release and some live shows (note – this band was not a live band for the most part throughout the 70s). The band’s writing being closer to their 1994 album, a bit more pop, but first track “Pray” is the hardest hitting and easily enjoyable, John Lawton’s vocals show no sign of ageing. “Riding High” is a steady rock number, but i dig “Did You Ever” for the changes, and Lawton’s performance. “This Road” is more of a pop track, reminiscent of the Sumo Grip stuff, but it’s catchy, and we finally get to hear Peter Hesslein a bit louder with a riff and then let loose and solo a bit . Actually my only beef is that I’d like to hear more from Hesslein; he’s a great player, but man – more big solos! Oh well, a great intro to the band for anyone not familiar, and 4 solid tunes for those that enjoyed Lucifers Friend in the past.

Dave Flett – Flying Blind
Pulled this one out again recently – The first album released by the real Dave Flett since his departure from the music scene in the UK in ’88. And i say the ‘real’ Dave Flett, as this whole project began with a track called “Stolen Identity”, which is based on a Canadian guy who’d been passing himself off as our Dave Flett for years, while the real deal was out of the music business! A pretty incredible tale, but hey – if it got Dave out of music retirement, so be it! Back to early days …. Dave Flett [for those not knowing], was the guitarist in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in the mid 70s, playing on a couple of albums, most notably The Roaring Silence, which featured the Springsteen penned “Blinded By The Light”, a #1 hit for the band. He went on to tour with Thin Lizzy, and then various lesser name acts before relocating to the US and getting in to a new profession. And although Flett’s solo on Blinded By The Light is most memorable, this album is more mainstream alternative modern rock than classic rock with the guitar hero approach, but plenty of cool hooks and fitting solos.  This is comprised of upbeat rockers here with the title track standing out, as well as “The Only Thing”, “Walking With The Angels”, “Kings” and “Drive”. Singer / producer Tony Manna deserves a good bit of credit here, as this album has a fairly sound and feel, sounding more like a young energetic band here than a 70s rocker attempting a lame comeback.
*Manfred Mann guests on the track Flying Blind, and former MMEB member John Lingwood takes care of the drums throughout this album.

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Joe Bouchard – New Solid Black
Originally a 6 track EP, Joe added a couple of tunes making this closer to a full album. Both ‘bonus’ tracks being written with Helen Wheels [RIP] – “Light Years Of Love”, a fine ballad that originally appeared on BOC’s The Revolution By Night [which is why I didnt remember it much], and there’s the upbeat “O Jim” – which had a brief life with BOC in ’79, but never made it to album. These sit well along NSB’s other gems like the upbeat “Forget About Love”, “Love Takes Heart”, and “Roller Girls”.

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