The first single from the upcoming studio album, “Buffalo Rock City-II” will be a cover of Peter Criss’s “Love for Sale” on May 3, 2023. The song will be released as a digital download, exclusively on Bandcamp athttps://buffalorockcity.bandcamp.com/track/love-for-sale. Buffalo Rock City II will be released this September on digital media, and as a physical CD, and via Bandcamp.
Buffalo Rock City II follows the critically acclaimed KISS tribute album, Buffalo Rock City – Western New York’s Tribute To KISS cited as “the Best KISS tribute album ever” by “Music and Food,” and the 2022 live album, Buffalo Rock City ALIVE!Buffalo Rock City II will also be a musical tribute to all things KISS. Buffalo Rock City II is spearheaded by Buffalo, New York native, John Jeffrey, who co-produced the first two releases.
John is the “Ace” member of KISS THIS!, and–along with bandmates Kevin Blakita as “The Starchild,” Taylor Stursa as “The Demon,” and Julius Giambelluca as “The Fox”– they join cream of the crop Western New York musicians including “Buffalo Rock City” contributors Gene Schmidt, Jody Velletta, Shawn Przybylak, Nat Peace, Joe Teresi, and Debbie Knight from Buffalo Rock City ALIVE! Newcomers to Buffalo Rock City-II are Buffalo’s Larry Kremer, Kylie Velletta, and Valentino Rockgod, plus international favorites; these are players who’ve toured and recorded with Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Accept, the Hollywood Vampires, Ozzy Osbourne, Journey, the Plasmatics, the Ramones, Lillian Axe, Stryper, Tesla, Winger, Yngwie Malmsteen, Sons of Apollo, Hardline, Alcatrazz, Warlock, Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, and David Lee Roth. The “Love for Sale” single was mixed by Rochester native, C. Wood (Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Wayne Shepherd….).
The release date of May 3 for “Love for Sale” is significant, as it marks the 2 year anniversary of the passing of singer Phil Naro. A Rochester native, Phil was best known as the lead singer of Buffalo’s TALAS (Version 2 aka “V2”), which toured with many top hard rock attractions, including Anthrax, White Lion, Quiet Riot, and Iron Maiden. Phil was also the lead singer for CRISS, the solo band of the original drummer from KISS. Naro wrote songs, performed, and recorded with CRISS in the early 1990s, but left the group prior to the release of their sole record in 1994.
One of the CRISS songs Phil contributed to was “Love for Sale.” He eventually recorded an unrefined version of the song in the late 1990s. This forgotten gem was finally remembered by Phil’s bandmates from Talas – bassist Billy Sheehan, drummer Mark Miller & guitarist Kire Najdovski; they recorded their new version of “Love for Sale” for Buffalo Rock City II as a dedication to the memory and legacy of Phil Naro. Though he doesn’t appear on this song, Journey’s drummer, Deen Castronovo suggested vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Sons of Apollo with Billy Sheehan) to sing for the song. (Deen plays on another song on Buffalo Rock City II!)
In advance of the release of the single, there is a teaser clip, with a foreword from surviving members of Talas (V2), which can be viewed here – https://youtu.be/COpm4mIA5Yk
All proceeds from the single and the forthcoming album will go to the Maria Love Convalescent Fund, a Buffalo-based charity, which provides interim financial assistance for the people in the community with convalescent care needs.
Released ahead of the Uriah Heep’s sixth album in September of 1973 (Sweet Freedom), “Stealin'” would become one of the band’s best known and most played classics. It is still one of the few Heep classics that gets fair play on classic rock radio and has been covered numerous times. But the single that started out strong would not become a huge hit single. The band had finally had a top 40 hit in the US with the single “Easy Livin” (from Demons & Wizards) in 1972, and a minor hit with “Sweet Lorraine”, later that same year, so another big single follow up was due and should’ve been with this track. The band signed a new record deal with Warner Brothers in North America (who had so many great acts), and “Stealin” was Heep’s first single for their new label.
However, the song’s lyrics based on the imagination of Ken Hensley included the line “I done the rancher’s daughter”. It was term ‘done’ that seemed to put a damper on the single, as many radio stations would choose to pull the song based on that line.
In an interview with Jeb Wright (ClassicRockRevisited.com), Hensley recalled: “I went to Gary´s flat in London…. We smoked a couple of joints and played a bit and I wrote ¨Stealin¨ from that moment. The story is purely imaginary as I didn´t know any ¨Rancher´s Daughters¨, or ¨Gypsy Queens.¨”
Hard to imagine such a line being remotely controversial nowadays, but in 1973 radio stations (perhaps more so in the US south) might’ve felt pressured in to passing on playing the song. That did not stop the song from becoming legendary though, as it is often regarded as one of the band’s most recognizable songs with it’s quiet bass start, joined by the Hammond organ, David Byron’s distinctive and clear vocal, convincingly delivering the tale of a man on the run, and then the band kicking in with Mick Box’s guitar, Lee Kerslake’s powerful drumming, the band’s harmonies…and it all builds up to a classic Mick Box solo, and the band coming back in with more energy to the end.
Though the band still plays a great rendition of this to this day (I love the John Lawton-fronted version from Live in Europe 1979) and there are plenty of excellent cover versions — nothing comes close to the original production. In Canada the single made it to #65 on the Cash Box chart, while in the US it merely cracked Billboard’s Top 100 at #91. In Norway, however, the song reached #9!
Below is a list of cover versions of the Heep classic. I’ve included those that have been released commercially, and not the numerous live versions found on youtube (OK, i did slip 1 in at the end!). Enjoy.
This must be the first cover of Stealin’, recorded and released in 1973 by Finnish band Karma. They translated the words to Finnish and released it on their debut album for CBS! The song was also issued a single, with a (translated) cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” on the B-side!
An interesting pop version by this Italian group. The 12″ single also came with an instrumental version (hmm).
Released by this LA band in ’88. It was the band’s only other release following their lone album in ’87, on Third Orbit Records. Interestingly, the band featured keyboardist Lou Segreti, who went on to record an album with the band Bloodline (1994) – which also included Joe Bonamassa. This is an interesting extended version of the song (with a lengthier mid section, minus guitar). The 12″ single included both a long and short version of the song. The band’s producer had been Matt Forger, who worked on a number of Michael Jackson albums.
EZ Access (1990)
Detroit hard who rock band who released this lone album 10 track album titled One Track Mind, on U.S.A. Records – and on cassette only, in 1990. “Stealin” was the only cover-version included. The band recorded a follow up album, but it was never released. Both albums can be found on youtube.
Swiss band who released this cover on their 2nd (of 2 albums) titled Energy. Pretty 80s ‘metal’ sounding. Interesting that there is a few Heep connections on this albums – Daniel Boone (David Byron) on backing vocals, Derek Holt (who recorded with Gary Moberly… see Heep’s Equator!) also on backing vocals, and produced by Mark Dearnley (who was an assist. engineer on at least 1 Heep album in the late 70s).
Night Crawler (1996)
Night Crawler, from Minneapolis, released their debut album World Of Make Believe in 1996, which included their version of “Stealin'”. It’s a good version (and hard-rock/aor album). The band’s follow up (and last) album was 2001’s Second Nature – which included a cover of “July Morning”! The band’s drummer Billy Thayer is the brother of Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer.
This band from Saskatchewan originally released this track on their debut 4-track CD, which also included covers of songs by Nazareth, April Wine, and Nick Gilder. The band released one album: Triple-Ply, from 1997, which was largely covers, along with a few originals.
Native Son (2000)
Originally included on the 2000 2Cd tribute album Heepsteria on Red Steel Music. (The band also did a cover of the unreleased John Lawton era track “That’s How I Am”). Native Son had previously released 3 albums… not sure after this.
This was recorded for the 2003 Heep tribute album A Return To Fantasy. Nightingale was a Swedish prog/metal act, featuring singer Dan Swano . Many years ago I’d corresponded with this guy, and he sent me a CD of a couple of Heep covers he did way back. He also did a cover of “Gypsy” as part of Odyssey for their 2010 album Reinventing The Past.
Included as part of Tesla’s 2007 ‘covers’ album Reel To Reel. An interesting collection. The band made it big in the ’80s with hits like “Little Suzi”, “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)”, and their 1990 cover of “Signs” (originally by Canada’s Five-Man Electrical Band).
Out There (2015)
A very interesting version, as it features Stephen (Steff) Fontaine – who briefly fronted Heep in 1986. As he never recorded anything with Heep, I’ve included it here. Out There is an Arizona band (where Fontaine was originally from), and this came from their 2015 album Out There Again, which Fontaine sang all the vocals on. Out There Again is a pretty decent album with a couple of other covers as well.
Jason Kane – Jason Kane (of JK & The Jive) recorded a version acoustically, on his own (not totally sure of the yearbut about 2014). This version is excellent, and can only be found on Youtube, as he made a video for it. A shame it’s not been included on any actual release as it’s the most interesting cover to be heard.
Grenzgang (1994) – Austrian band who released a few albums did this cover for a compilation titled Metal Freak Sampler – Cover Me, on CCP Records.
Talas (2001) – Buffalo based band that features Billy Sheehan, included “Stealin” as part of their encore many times. This can be found on Youtube, as it was included in the band’s set at the Buffalo Guitar Festival concert (also on dvd). I would love to hear an archival live release from the band with their version included.
Buffalo’s TALAS had gone through many changes over their years of activity from the early 70s to the mid 80s. The 3-man line up of Billy Sheehan, Paul Varga and Dave Cosentino had reunited a number of times, but in 2017 Billy Sheehan reassembled the last incarnation of the band he was in (pre David Lee Roth Band; MK 2) – with singer Phil Naro, drummer Mark Miller, and new guitarist Kire Najdovski (in place of Mitch Perry). The band played several shows over the few years prior to Covid shutting down shows, and then the passing of Phil Naro (RIP). But in there the band signed with Metal Blade and recorded a new album. In fact they recorded the album they really intended to in 1985! Almost all of these songs came from that period of the band, with a couple having been included on the band’s 1984 live release Live Speed On Ice. So, for fans one could say this was long overdue and a most welcome album.
1985 kicks off with “Inner Mounting Flame”, a hard driving fast rocker that sets the tone for what’s to come, you’d be hard pressed to find a better album opener IN 1985! The album was recorded in Mark Miller’s house, and it’s very energetic and has a very live feel to it all. Tracks like “Do You Feel Any Better” (originally on the live ’84 album), “On The Take”, “Come When You Call”, “I’ll Take The Night”, and “Close To The Killer” are all enjoyable Talas rockers. Also included is “Power To Break Away”, which pre-dates the Phil Naro years (see youtube), and debuted on Mk 1’s 1998 live album If We Only Knew Then What We Know Now, and “Crystal Clear” – which also was included on the live ’84 album, as well as covered by Jim Crean (on his Velvet Crush album, feat Naro on backing vocals). The one ‘new’ track is “Black & Blue”, which a bit slower paced, near ballad; Phil’s vocal on the verses reminds me a bit of Kiss’ “I Love It Loud”. A good addition to the mix.
A great return album from Talas, though saddened that Phil Naro is no longer here to see it and see the reaction. The guy did an amazing job leaving fans with 2 excellent albums – Talas 1985 and Lips Turn Blue LTB (released a few months ago). Rockers will dig this album, it sounds awesome, probably a bit heavier than Talas’ 2 early studio albums, with lots of cool intros, riffs, and guitar solos. Love the album cover, very 80s, very fitting!
TALAS are back with the release of their new album 1985, which will see a September 23, 2022 release via Metal Blade Records. Fans can preorder the album and check out the new single “Crystal Clear”.
Formed in the mid 70s and dissolved in 1985, TALAS may have never reached arena-headlining status but they were an integral part of the early 80s hard rock scene, and their long awaited return does not disappoint. “The time was right and we were all into it, no one needed any convincing, we were all instantly excited to do it,” explains bassist Billy Sheehan, who is rejoined by drummer Mark Miller and powerhouse vocalist Phil Naro, as well as new recruit Kire Najdovski on guitar. “It’s like we never stopped – everything fell together so easily. It was quite wonderful.” Now they return with 1985, 11 tracks of classic hard rock, picking up where they left off, and it is a release that will have old school fans salivating and new followers fired up with its big riffs, seductive choruses and killer soloing – basically everything that could be wanted from a TALAS record.
Najdovski may be relatively new to the band, but his playing is pure Talas. “He’s a great player with great ideas and a joy to work with. Phil had worked with him previously, so I trusted his judgement, and it worked out perfectly.” The band also welcomed former guitarist Mitch Perry to appear on the record, playing on the two songs that he wrote, “Crystal Clear” and “On The Take”, adding an extra dimension and bringing back more of that old school vibe.
Asked why people should be excited for this comeback, Sheehan answers enthusiastically. “Because so many of them were there, with us, and a million other great bands that made the 80s such a special musical experience. And also there are so many who might not have been there but have fallen in love with that spirit as well. We feel a very special bond with them all.”
With all but one song – “Black And Blue” – written in 1985, the album would have been their fourth full-length had they not split, and while they have worked hard to get the best out of them they have not tampered with the tracks or given them a modern twist, letting them live in the era in which they were created. “We wanted a snapshot of our musical life from 1985,” explains Sheehan. “It’s the same spirit, mostly the same people, and it’s bringing the 80s into 2022. The 80s were an amazing time for music and bands, and we were all excited to go back to that, and I would say the record is raw, real, honest, and exhilarating.”
The album was recorded in Miller’s living room, in the house he built, utilizing a mobile recording setup, and according to Sheehan the sessions were “an absolute joy.” Coordinating everything remotely during the pandemic – with Russ Mackay handling the engineering/mixing/mastering from Toronto – was the hardest aspect of recording, but they managed to pull it all together, making a record that sounds cohesive from start to finish, giving no suggestion that it was anything but a smooth process. As well as Mitch Perry’s guest appearance the band also invited Naro’s son, James, to appear on the record, who “sang some harmonies – like father, like son, he sounded really great.” There are hopes to tour the record, though sadly, after a years long battle with cancer, Naro passed in 2021, but thankfully he recorded all of his parts prior to his death, and 1985 stands as a great epitaph to a great vocalist.
1985 will be available in the following formats: – Digital – Digipak-CD – 180g Black Vinyl (EU exclusive) – Gold Vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 300 copies) – Clear/Pale Green Marbled Vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 300 copies) – White/Black Marbled Vinyl (US)
Rochester born singer Phil Naro had a very busy and successful career fronting a number of bands, notably Talas. Sadly Phil passed last May after battling cancer. Phil also was a part of a number of tribute acts, such as Ozone Baby (Led Zeppelin), as well as worked with Classic Albums Live and the Platinum Rock All-Stars. In 2009 Phil won a Daytime Emmy Award for his performance of the theme song to the animated TV show “6Teen”. Phil kept busy right til the end, finishing 2 albums. Phil was a great talent and a classy guy, who was always friendly and just seemed happy performing. Billy Sheehan once described Phil as “the best attitude singer” he knew.
Sheehan would reform Talas with Phil 5 years ago, and play a number of shows. They would also sign a record deal with Metal Blade Records and record a new Talas studio album just prior to Phil’s passing. It is the first Talas studio album since 1982. Phil joined Talas after that, singing on the band’s 1984 Live Speed On Ice, before eventually moving on to numerous short lived gigs like Coney Hatch, Naro, Blood Red Flower, 24K,…. The first single from the forthcoming Talas album is “Inner Mounting Flame”; a thundering hard rocker in classic Talas form which Sheehan describes as – “a bombastic, high-speed chaos of adrenaline that we would often use as our opening song at the live TALAS shows in 1985. We stayed close to the original arrangement – this was such a blast to record, and Phil sang his ass off on it. The song title came from a very famous fusion bands album title (The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Inner Mounting Flame), and was our take on what that flame might be about.” The song is produced by Billy Sheehan, Russ Mackay, Scott Bush and Talas – which also consists of drummer Mark Miller, and new addition Kire Najdovski on guitar. As a fan of Talas, this track simply an amazing surprise – not just getting to finally hear it, but the fact that it is so energetic, and so well performed and produced. Phil sounds better than ever on it, so I am really looking forward to the rest of the album. There should be more news soon. Check out the Talas V2 Facebook group for updates – https://www.facebook.com/talasv2
Within days of watching the new Talas clip repeatedly there came a press release and Another video release featuring Phil Naro for the first single from the forthcoming LIPS TURN BLUE album. Lips Turn Blue is the band formerly known as DDRIVE, along with former Black Sheep / Lou Gramm guitarist Don Mancuso, as well as keyboardist Eric Bieber, bassist Mike Mullane, and drummer Roy Stein. DDrive had released 2 full albums plus a mini-album over the years but changed the name for this newest recording (see Japanese metal band D_Drive).
The first single is “Just Push”, an easily likeable aor rock track, with a great chorus, a bit of funky guitar, and well placed keys. Phil sounds excellent on this one too. It’s a fun upbeat tune, and is the first of a few singles from LTB’s album, The band signed to MIG Records (Europe), who will release the album in May, a year after Phil Naro’s passing. as well as LTB’s next one that has already been started, and will feature new singer Iggy Marino. https://m.facebook.com/Lips-Turn-Blue
More on Lips Turn Blue in a future post…. But check out Mitch Lafon’s interview with Don Mancuso [below] for some insight and news. www.Lipsturnblue.com
Phil can also be heard on Cactus’ Tightrope album from 2021, as he co-wrote and sang on the track “Wear It Out”. One can spend hours going through Youtube checking out all the albums and projects Phil was a part of, some great stuff to be discovered there.