Thursday, November 25, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.3 'The Ballads Collection'


Vol.3 featuring a beautiful selection of Ballads, like the awesome midtempo "One Heartbeat" written by the mighty duo Judithe and Robin Randall, later recorded by VENUS & MARS for their 2nd album 'New Moon Rising' (already posted in this blog).
"The Night Has A Way" was penned by David Tyson and Christopher Ward, producers and songwriters for Alannah Miles. One of Mark Free favorites on his own words. This great tune was recorded later by NIGHT RANGER and GARY MOON for his solo album (posted here as well).
"If You Give Your Heart" is one of my personal favs, almost a lullaby song.
On "I Wish Was There With You", Mark sounds like John Waite, while "Hopelessly Lost" is a monster AOR tune.

Many tracks originally had a very low signal and lots of tape hiss noise, I've tried to enhance Mark's vocals to the maximum.
Artwork, tracklist and song selection by Plattenpapst.
Vol.4 : 'The Pop Collection', coming soon...





MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.3

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.2 "The Arkenstone demo + Live"


This 2nd volume includes the never released recordings with New Age musician David Arkenstone plus some live tracks.
By this time, Arkenstone was experimenting with new tech tools to make music.
For this material, Pomp AOR oriented and fantasy themed, David hired the then unknown jingle-session man Mark Free to do the vocalizations. To my knowledge, these are Free's first professional recordings.

Particularly interesting are the bootleg live tracks with King Kobra, to clearly appreciate how powerfully Mark Free used to perform onstage. Just check the second half of 'Piece Of The Rock'.
I've done a pretty good job 'remastering' these tapes considering the source quality. I am very satisfied with the result.
Artwork, tracklist and song selection by Plattenpapst.
Vol.3 : 'The Ballads Collection', coming soon...





MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.2

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.1 "The AOR Collection"

MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.1 demos
Needless to describe MARK / MARCIE FREE pedigree.
An AOR icon, ex - King Kobra, Signal and now with the revamped Unruly Child.
During his / her career has spent a lot of time singing demos for various songwriters and artists in the music industry.

An active reader and contributor to this site, Mr. Plattenpapst from Germany, had the idea to compile the most significant Free's recordings into various volumes to share them with you all.
There will be 5 Volumes separated by genre, spanning all '80s / '90s works by Mark Free as session vocalist.
Only unreleased material, not the officially released (like 'Unruly Child - Basement Demos', for example)

Vol.1 is about the AOR recordings.
Most of these tracks were recorded at the time between Mark left King Kobra and formed Signal: '87/ '88 / '89.
Free was working as a driver for a courier service in L.A. and in the meantime he met songwriters Judithe and Robin Randall.
Once they hired Mark to sing their demos, they started telling all their other writer friends in California about his vocal duties and the phone started ringing.
"I needed the money really bad so I started singing demos for people. It really helped me to develop further my ability to sing in the studio and I was being paid for it", says Mark.

All the songs in this volume demonstrates the diversity, ductility and amplitude of Mark Free as performer.
You can hear also on some tracks Robin Randall's (and even Diana DeWitt) backing vocals.
"Your Wild Ways" was the first song Mark Free ever sang for the canadian songwriting team David Tyson / Christopher Ward.

Plattenpapst did the artwork, tracklist and song selection.
I just cleaned, edited and de-noised the tracks.
Hope you enjoy this 'joint-venture'.
Vol.2 : 'The Arkenstone demos', coming soon...


MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures AOR



MARK FREE - Hidden Treasures Vol.1

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

ZEROp - From Zero, To Hero + Zeroplugged (1995)


Time for the harder side of this blog.
Italian guitar hero Angi Schiliro, established in Switzerland, is known as former member of KINGDOM COME, PAGANINI, STORMBRINGER, and as songwriter for KROKUS, CHINA and other Swiss bands as well.
Also for his solo albums 'White Lady I & II', excellent pieces of powerful and stylized instrumental rock.
But Angi's most ambitious act was ZEROp, a hard / melodic rock band with international projection.
With his brother Claudio Schiliro as vocalist, the band was ready to conquer the world, but unfortunately the dream was suddenly truncated by a terrible car accident, which put Claudio out of action for years.

Their Self-Titled one and only effort, also known as "From Zero, To Hero", is one of the best hard rock albums coming out of Europe during the '90s and years to come.
This CD SMOKES!
Sounding like a mix of FAIR WARNING, JADED HEART and American classic Hard Rock bands, with a flawless musicianship, big hooks and first class production, this disc has all to be a real winner.
The guitar work is just sensational, massive killer razor riffs & solos but clean & polished with tons of harmonies.
Claudio Schiliro vocals are powerful, yet sweet in the ballady, and the rhythm section blast the speakers with a monster sound.

And the songs... phenomenal if we talk about melodious hard rock.
'Zerock' is catchy and very americanized, 'Last Of The Teenage Idol' in a VAN HALEN style, 'Waiting For Your Love' like the first EXTREME but much much bigger.
'Cryin' Out for Mercy' (co-written with the great Mervyn Spence of O'RYAN / FACE FACE fame) is a terrific melodic rocker sounding like a WHITESNAKE 1987 tune. Just Great!
'The One And Only' seems a track off JADED HEART's debut, a melodic hard rock perfection from start to finish.
The beautiful mid-tempo 'Breathless' features fantastic arrangements, and 'Billy Boy' is a freight train ala Mr.BIG (guitars galore).
The ballads are awesome too, 'No Time For Lyin', 'Eternally Yours' (love this tune) and 'I Still Want You'.

"From Zero, To Hero" was reissued in 2005 but the mastering job is terrible.
This is a rip from the hard to find original release 'Limited Edition' (sounds great) which includes a bonus CD featuring acoustic versions and a non album track. Full artwork / lyrics (12 scans) in the file.
Do yourself a favor: don't miss this killer album, and crank it to 10.
Highly Recommended


01 - Zerock
02 - Last Of The Teenage Idol
03 - Waiting For Your Love
04 - Cryin' Out For Mercy
05 - No Time For Lyin'
06 - Space Shuffle
07 - The One And Only
08 - Breathless
09 - Billy Boy
10 - Eternally Yours
11 - I Still Want You
12 - Is This The End

Bonus CD:


1/3 - Cryin' Out For Mercy (acoustic)
2/3 - Johnny's On The Run (acoustic) *
3/3 - Eternally Yours (acoustic)

* non album track


Claudio Schiliro - Vocals
Angi Schiliro - Guitars, Backing Vocals
David Pisano - Keyboards
Enzo Butta - Bass
Diego Rapacchietti - Drums, Percussion



ZEROp - From Zero, To Hero + Zeroplugged
.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

CHRIS FARREN - Sign Of Life [unreleased] (1992)

CHRIS FARREN - Sign Of Life unreleased 1992
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer/publisher Chris Farren has scored twenty top 10 singles, 10 Grammy nomination (won 1), various ACM, CMA nominations, picked up American Songwriter's 1997 Country Producer of the Year Award, all as songwriter & producer, and have credits on over 20 million record sales.

But never achieved success as singer/performer.

From the piano lessons he began at four years old, to the guitar, trombone, and saxophone, to the club bands he played in during high school and college, his entire life was consumed by music: “Music just had a strangely powerful allure for me.”
He enrolled at East Carolina University, but when the course work began leading him toward classical music, he switched his major to English, and focused on creative writing as a way of advancing his interest in writing songs.
He graduated in 1981, moved to Los Angeles, and supported himself playing club gigs and as a session singer on demos, jingles, and backups.

Farren signed an artist/writer publishing deal with MCA in 1983 and created a niche writing for film and television during the mid-80s, appearing on soundtracks like 'Night Of The Comet', 'The Heavenly Kid', "Jake Speed", and on other artists albums as performer like the wonderful KAZU MATSUI PROJECT posted HERE.
Advised that he did not fit the techno/heavy metal/glam rock image then popular, and that Nashville was the only place then embracing the singer/songwriter, he made the move, despite not considering himself a country artist.

Between producing, playing guitar and singing backup on other people's records, co-writing with some of the city's best songwriters and the session work he continued to do for movies in Los Angeles, Farren was able to record and engineering demos of his own songs.
All these recordings are likely finished material, with excellent sound and production, but never were officially released.

"Sign Of Life" is a bootleg, but what a great collection of songs. And I insist, sounds mostly like a final production.
'Dreams' starts in a subtle manner but then explodes into a soundtrack / AOR style tune with great rhythm and awesome guitar playing.
The midtempo / ballad 'No Sign Of Life' is a gorgeous song in the best Steve Kipner style, while 'Together We Stand Alone' has hints of his Nashville residency, featuring excellent vocal harmonies.
'Dance Of Love' is just the man and his acoustic guitar, a breezy and charming tune, here you can take note of his ductility as composer.
'What Kind Of Man' is another soft track, remembers me David Foster, don't ask me why. Beautiful one.
'When The Lightning Strike' is a pure AOR song, but 'homemade' stripped and direct, I could imagine this one with big and lush production sounding great.
'Dirty Money' is in the Stan Meissner style, with nice guitar work.
The arrangements and production of 'Somebody Save Me' are in the pure L.A. smooth WestCoast style.
'I Will Be Waiting' wrap this compilation, a good soft AOR with a pulsing bass line and very nice chorus.

"Sign Of Life" remains unreleased, not because it is devoid of talent or opportunities to be published (Farren has very good contacts in the business), surely he decided to full turn over his career into the producing / publishing department.
Swedish bootleg ripped @ max quality including artwork.
Very Rare and Hard to Find.


01 - Dreams
02 - No Sign Of Life
03 - Together We Stand Alone
04 - Anything For Money
05 - Dance Of Love
06 - What Kind Of Man
07 - When The Lightning Strike
08 - Dirty Money
09 - Somebody Save Me
10 - I Will Be Waiting

Personnel: unlisted



CHRIS FARREN - Sign Of Life

Thursday, November 04, 2010

ERIC RUSSELL - Personal (1993)


Requested by my friend Nitderock...

Olivier Constantin is a talented french vocalist who has worked with all the major european pop stars as backing vocalist.
His debut album "Personal" was published only in Japan under the pseudonym of ERIC RUSSELL.
Apparently, his Japanese label preferred a more anglo-american name for this AOR release, as the performers from this origin were very popular in Asia at that time.
"Personal" is considered the best westcoast / AOR album sung in english ever recorded by a french artist.
Eric / Olivier's voice is warm and captivating, sounding absolutely american, with a perfect diction.

The album opens with the short beautiful piano ballad (strange things of the Asian market) 'Song To Chloe', followed by a sweet westcoast midtempo tune; 'Never Be Mine'.
'In The Middle Of The Day' it's a very calm tune that reminds me the best Michael McDonald. This song has refined arrangements and the songwriting is perfect.
'Shining' scatters a wonderful Lite AOR / pop with a charming pre-chorus and a sticky main chorus enriched by very nice female backing vocals.
The uptempo ballad 'Nobody Knows' has tons of class and again, superb songwriting.

'Someday Somehow' is the star of this recording, a killer classic uptempo AOR melody with a chorus to die for. This kind of songs is the reason why I love this genre...
'Don't Waste Your Time' is a lovely wimpy american ballad, 'Don't Slow Down' a catchy rhythmic poppy AOR and 'Mona Liza' it's wrapped with a very nice aura, a song much in the Paul Janz style.

Constantin managed to release this album in Germany (with european distribution) 2 years later under his real name Olivier Constantin, with a completely different tracklist.
Two songs were replaced (one of them, the best of all: 'Someday Somehow' !!!) with 2 new recordings.

"Personal" is a ridiculously good album on all aspects; great songwriting, excellent musicianship and first class production.
It's incredible that is not better known in the AOR world.
Tie & Jacket AOR / Westcoast, with lots of class and style in the best American - Canadian tradition.
Out Of Print.
Highly Recommended


01 - Song To Chloe
02 - Never Be Mine
03 - In The Middle Of The Day
04 - Shining
05 - Nobody Knows
06 - Someday Somehow
07 - Don't Waste Your Time
08 - Don't Slow Down
09 - Mona Liza
10 - Serenade


Eric Russell : Lead Vocals, Background Vocals
Jean Marc Alexandre, Franck Pilan, Kamil Rustam : Guitars
Thierry Durbet : Keyboards, Synths, Programming
Mario Santangeli : Hammond B3
Arnaud Aubaille : Piano
Dominique Grimaldi : Bass
Yves Sanna : Drums
Virginie Constantin, Mimi Felixine, Natacha Gerardin & Mario Santangeli : Background Vocals
Produced by Laurent Blancon






EXCELLENT AOR

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

REQUEST & FILL CORNER 6



From now, all request & fills goes in this post Comments.

If you need an album or a single track, request it here, if you have it, be kind with other readers, upload the file and post the link here as well.
Access to this page will be placed at the right column →
("CLICK HERE" neon sign, or clicking here in Comments)-
It will be opened in a new window.

Check this section regularly.
You'll find many links uploaded by readers, not present in the main blog...

Help each other people!



and don't forget to check out ARCHIVES:

ARCHIVES PART 1

ARCHIVES PART 2

ARCHIVES PART 3

ARCHIVES PART 4

ARCHIVES PART 5

take a deep look at the end of each part...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

MICHAEL FURY - Affairs In Babylon (1984)


Myles Hunter (ex Avalon Canada), bassist Martyn Jones and guitarist Rob Kennedy founded MICHAEL FURY (named after a character in James Joyce's short story, "The Dead") in 1979.
They did the predictable round of club gigs throughout Canada until split up in 1983.

Hunter met keyboard wiz Howard Helm (ex Zon) one year later and start to play with him the songs he has been written. Together decided to call Kennedy and Jones back, and with the addition of drummer Dave Mihal reform MICHAEL FURY.
An initial demo was picked up by a local small label and the result is "Affairs In Babylon", released in 1984.

MICHAEL FURY toured constantly throughout the country, but they began getting an identity crisis as people mistook the group name 'Michael Fury' for Myles Hunter himself.
To compound matters the label tried to push the band as a solo act. This didn't sit well to the group (Hunter included), then a major US label offers a deal to the band and they bought back the rights to the album and signed a new contract.
The disc was re-mixed and re-recorded for the most part, and modified with new songs, "Affairs In Babylon" was re-issued under the band name REFUGEE, with new drummer Brian Doerner (Helix).

As REFUGEE, Hunter & Co. released another album in 1987; "Burning From The Inside Out". Both REFUGEE releases are considered classic '80s AOR gems by the fans of the genre (totally agree).
But let's talk about the MICHAEL FURY album.
For the re-release of "Affairs In Babylon" under the Refugee moniker, 5 tracks were replaced by 5 new ones, and what a new songs!, the best they ever recorded in my opinion, the album is far superior, with an updated remix job and the new tracks getting big production. A classic indeed.

But the original 5 songs are very good too, and that's why I am posting here the original recording. Besides, the MICHAEL FURY album is really hard to find.
The sound is not so 'big' (self produced and mixed), and more direct than lush and polished. According to Hunter, he still prefer some of the original FURY's versions.
To cite an example; 'These Are The Good Times' (later popularized by Eric Martin, but written by Mr. Hunter) has completely different arrangements here.

Maybe not many readers will be interested in this post (Michael who?) because this album version is unknown and rarely mentioned on some specialized rock magazine / website.
You'd be committing a big mistake, since "MICHAEL FURY - Affairs In Babylon" it's a collector's item, and contains very good music.
Ripped from vinyl (never released on CD), de-crackled and de-clicked by myself, including artwork.


01 - Affairs In Babylon
02 - Through The Thunder Of Another Night
03 - Pictures And Prints *
04 - There's Gonna Be A Fire Tonight *
05 - These Are The Good Times
06 - (Janie) Here We Go Again +
07 - Hot Words
08 - ... And We All Go Down To The River *
09 - White Wine And Roses *
10 - Love Comes Down *

Tracks marked with * are exclusive to this LP


Myles Hunter : Lead Vocals, Mustang (¿?)
Martyn Jones : Bass Guitar, Vocals
Rob Kennedy : Guitars, Vocals
Howard Helm : Keyboards
Greg Bociek : Keyboards on +
Dave Mihal : Drums
Bear : add. Percussion, Noises & Effects



A COLLECTOR'S ITEM