In this entry, I’ll take a long overdue look at some of the recent releases, in no particular order.
DAVID FORBES is the vocalist of Canadian AOR band BOULEVARD, and ”Tales Of The Past” is his first solo album. With Steve Newman of the band NEWMAN heavily involved, this album is more in the vein of European AOR/Melodic hard rock, with a harder edge than BLVD. I had high hopes for this album, thanks to some pre-release hype from trusted sources, but in the end I was slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, this is a solid album and the songs are good, but I was hoping them to be great! RRRr
FIFTH ANGEL’s fourth album ”When Angels Kill” is their second after the band’s reformation a few years ago. The previous one didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but I loved their two eighties’ albums. ”When Angels Kill” is slightly better than its’ predecessor, but the hooks of their classic material are mostly missing. And to be honest, I don’t really care for the rough vocal style of their new vocalist Steve Carlson. RRR
When it comes to songs, ”STEEL BARS - A ROCK TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL BOLTON” is quite close to perfection - 11 songs from Michael Bolton’s classic 80’s AOR solo albums! This album was put together by Frontiers records, and naturally it features vocalists from their roster covering songs from Bolton’s rock years: there’s Ronnie Romero, Girish Pradhan, Robbie LeBlanc, Steve Overland and a few lesser known names too, like Dave Mikulskis and Santiago Ramonda. It’s an interesting concept and you can’t really go wrong with these songs, but then again, you can’t really improve them either. Every singer does a decent job and the arrangements are quite faithful, so there’s nothing to complain about, but… none of the artists really make these songs their own, they’re just good cover versions. The biggest deviation from the original is ”Wait On Love”, which features female vocals from the Big Thrill ladies Ana Nikolic and Nevena Brankovic. ”Desperate Heart” is given a heavier treatment than the original, which is something that I have been hoping for, and this version, sung by Robledo, is one of the highlights of this album. Others include Santiago Ramodna’s ”Save Our Love” and ”Fool’s Game” by Steve Overland. RRRR
In related news… MICHAEL BOLTON released a new album ”Spark Of Light” recently. There’s nothing that could be called ”rock” on it, but that doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? This is adult contemporary pop album with the emphasis on ballads. It’s sounds less over-produced that Bolton’s previous studio album of original material (”One World One Love” 2009), but that one had a few rather good songs. ”Spark Of Light” has a few nice tracks, but that’s about it. Still a great voice, but unremarkable songs. RRr