Thursday, May 18, 2017

SAGA - Wildest Dreams (1987) USA edition

SAGA - Wildest Dreams (1987) USA edition
Canadians SAGA are one of the more long-lasting bands still active, with almost forty years in the business and the same amount of records to their credit. And better than that, Saga never has released a bad album.
Saga's foundation always has been progressive rock yet with a distinctive, melodic touch. They always cleverly
slightly tweaked their sound at different stages of their career to fit the times, without selling out the identity of the band.

During the '80s Saga infused to their polished sound a strong Melodic Rock feel complete with swirling keyboard lines and catchy choruses. For their seventh studio album, Saga signed with Atlantic Records with the aim to finally conquer the US market.
"Wildest Dreams" is the more commercial Saga album ever, with a huge, bombastic, big budget glossy production handled by guru Keith Olsen. 

With stylings reminiscent of Mr. Mister and a mature Starship, but also the typical Canadian sound of the era (Frozen Ghost, Glass Tiger Honeymoon Suite) the album is plenty of great poppy AOR tunes.
All songs are good with title track amongst my favorites including the elegant "Chase The Wind", "Don't Put Out The Fire", "Angel" and the breezy "Only Time Will Tell".

Despite its quality and the many potential singles "Wildest Dreams" went quite unnoticed in the US, but the album sold really well in Saga's more successful markets like Europe and their native Canada. The CD become a rarity for many years as Atlantic refused to give the rights to the band for a reissue.

SAGA - Wildest Dreams (1987) USA edition back cover

This is a rip from the USA edition (the hardest to find) which sounds million times better than the European press by BMG/Bonaire. I don't know why, but I have tested many copies of the latter and they weren't bright as this Made in USA by WEA Manufacturing Inc.
I added as bonus "Perfect Stranger", the song recorded by the band around the same time for the motion picture 'Johnny Be Good', a track never appeared into any Saga album (and a quite rare soundtrack).
Enjoy Saga's "Wildest Dreams" - one of the first albums recorded DDD - a true product from the second half of '80s.

01 - Don't Put Out The Fire
02 - Only Time Will Tell
03 - Wildest Dreams
04 - Chase The Wind
05 - We've Been Here Before
06 - The Way Of The World
07 - Angel
08 - Don't Look Down
09 - Perfect Stranger (Johnny Be Good OST)

Michael Sadler - vocals, keyboards
Jim Crichton - bass, keyboards & synthaxe
Ian Crichton - guitar, shadow midi guitar systems & synthaxe
Curt Cress - drums, percussion

SAGA Wildest Dreams (1987) USA edition

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Updated May 22, 2017


Thursday, May 11, 2017

JOHN WARREN - One Heart (1990) + bonus

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

As promised, here's JOHN WARREN's "One Heart", the follower of the recently posted 'Private Motion'.
Even more AOR oriented than its predecessor, "One Heart" delivers stupendous melodic tunes on "The Chosen Few" and "Rain Down On Me" in the vein of Steve Overland's FM, soft Westcoast tracks like "Another Side Of You" or "Show Me A Way" and his usual Hi-Tech numbers in "Don't Give Up" and "I Get This Feeling".

Title track "One Heart" is an elegant midtempo AOR, while "We Danced All Night" reminds you those mid-eighties soundtrack catchy songs.

Added as bonus, two unreleased tracks: another song recorded by Warren for the television medical drama 'General Hospital' entitled "Into The Fire", and the private demo "I'll Come Around", a ballad in the 'John Farnham' style.
Very Good stuff - Out Of Print.

01 - Rain Down On Me
02 - I Get This Feeling
03 - The Chosen Few
04 - Another Side Of You
05 - Hard World
06 - We Danced All Night
07 - The Rules Of Her Heart
08 - One Heart
09 - Show Me A Way
10 - Don't Give Up
11 - Into The Fire [GH OST unreleased]
12 - I'll Come Around [private demo]

John Warren - Lead and Backing Vocals
Andrew Gold: All Instruments, Backing Vocals
Joe Turano, Rosemary Butler - Backing Vocals

JOHN WARREN One Heart + bonus


Friday, May 05, 2017

PRiSM - Small Change [remastered + bonus] (1981)

PRiSM - Small Change [remastered + bonus] (1981)
Requested in "Request & Fill Corner" section...

PRiSM were one of Canada's AOR pioneers for sure. The band never found a stable line-up, but all their recordings are prime examples of quality melodic rock, with an accentuated AOR inclination with each record released.
In 1981, presumably by the band's new label (Capitol) wishes, original singer Ron Tabak was fired, replaced by Henry Small for the 6th album wisely entitled "Small Change".
It was not only a change at the mic, but also in the general musical approach, more commercial and radio friendly AOR.

For this matter, external songwriters and future super stars were brought in, like Jim Vallance & Bryan Adams contributing the lead single "Don't Let Him Know", a wonderful fluffy AOR tune with a killer chorus. Both Vallance & Adams also wrote the brilliant AOR ballad "Stay", very much in the REO Speedwagon style.
"Turn On Your Radar" is classic, lightweight CanCon mid-tempo AOR, the punchy "Hole In Paradise" is pure Melodic Rock Heaven, and "Rain" a dreamy ballad with great atmosphere.

The Bruce Turgon (later in Shadow King and Foreigner) penned AOR rocker "Heart And Soul" keeps you moving with style, in the intense "When Love Goes Wrong" Henry Small sounds like a young Mark Free, while Prism does a very cool rocking rendition on Jimmy Rodgers' "In The Jailhouse Now".
The album ends with the Foreigner / Sheriff sounding semi-ballad "Wings Of Your Love", adorned with pianos and nice bluesy guitars.

PRiSM - Small Change [remastered + bonus] (1981) back cover
Although it scored a couple of US Top40 singles and went platinum in Canada, "Small Change" incredibly wasn't properly released on CD by Capitol years after.
The now defunct -and great- German label ATM picked up the challenge and released this (and follower 'Beat Street') on CD for the first time in 1997 (there's also a Renaissance reissue) including 6 bonus tracks.

These are the prev. unreleased "Cadillac Club", the rocking "N-N-N-No!" from the previous recording and four alternate takes / mixes from the main album. Honestly, I hear few differences, the most noticeable are the louder guitars on "Heart And Soul".
All are included here in my file, but the main "Small Change" is ripped from the rare promotional only, special limited edition, remastered version. There's only few copies of this one on vinyl and CD.

Limited Edition remastered:
01 - Don't Let Him Know
02 - Turn On Your Radar
03 - Hole In Paradise
04 - Rain
05 - When Will I See You Again
06 - Heart And Soul
07 - Stay
08 - When Love Goes Wrong
09 - In The Jailhouse Now
10 - Wings Of Your Love
ATM label bonuses:
11 - Cadillac Club
12 - When Will I See You Again (Alt. Version)
13 - Heart Ans Soul (Alternate Version)
14 - Stay (Alternate Version)
15 - Rain (Alternate Version)
16 - N-N-N-No!

Henry Small: vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards
Lindsay Mitchell: guitar, vocals
Allen Harlow: bass
Rocket Norton: drums

PRISM Small Change remastered