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M. F. DONNELLY (Sheffield, UK)

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Loveless Fascination
Loveless Fascination
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 11.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Starship Flying High Again, 10 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Loveless Fascination (Audio CD)
Mickey Thomas has always possessed one of the finest voices in rock and this album further cements that well deserved reputation. `Loveless Fascination' is a stellar collection of songs in a slightly heavier vein than the excellent `Love Among The Cannibals' opus, released twenty-four years ago.

Although Mickey Thomas will rightly take most of the plaudits for this album, a huge nod of appreciation must go to producer, musician and principle songwriter Jeff Pilsen (Foreigner, Dokken bass player). The sound of this album is big and full and adds to the whole enjoyment of the listening experience.

`It's Not The Same' kicks off the album in fine melodic rock style. `How Do You Sleep' is one of the catchiest tunes on the album.

`What Did I Ever Do?' is acoustic driven rock whilst `Technicolor Black & White' is a rocker and easily the heaviest song on the album.

`Where Did We Go Wrong?' and `How Will I Get By?' complete the question song titles; has an album ever contained as many?

`You Never Know' co-written by Richard Page, Niklas Jared and David Stenmark is another highlight. `You Deny Me' is a fine power ballad

Album closer, the Dianne Warren penned Nothin' Can Keep You From Me' starts Gospel-style before settling into a lovely duet with Stephanie Calvert.

The quality of these ten tracks means that the album starts on a high and does not dip until the final note. A definite one for the `less is more' school of thinking.

A sadly, often overlooked part of the album process these days is the artwork but on this occasion the cover design, by artist IOANNIS, is perfectly befitting of an excellent album.

3(With John Elefante)
3(With John Elefante)
Price: 16.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Killer AOR!, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: 3(With John Elefante) (Audio CD)
Mastedon are the brainchild of John and Dino Elefante of Kansas fame and the album also features the aforementioned band's guitarist Kevin Livergren as well as Reo Speedwagon's fret-man Dan Amato. With such a stellar line-up one would expect great things from this album and it does not disappoint.

Revolution Of Mind opens the album with powerful guitars and keyboards to accompany John Elefante's fantastic vocals. The latter are not to dissimilar to Joe Lynn Turner in Sunstorm.

Slay Your Demons like several tracks on offer here has that pomp-feel of a Kansas album.

Nowhere Without Your Love has a real Boston feel to it especially the great vocals on the chorus.

One Day Down By The Lake (See You Real Soon) clocks in at over 10 minutes, a time not out of place on a Rush, Dream Theater or Yes album but seldom found on an AOR album.

Water Into Wine (Fassa Rokka) is a real rock n roll track a la Styx.

Questions (It's About Time) shows how you can write a song with meaning without compromising the quality.

You Can't Take Anything is the softer side of AOR similar to REO Speedwagon.

Lying is a lot harder edged than the previous track especially the chorus.

The Western World has more Kansas pomp overtures.

That's What You Do with its killer chorus is my favourite track.

Like so many releases in 2009, this is another album that does not have any poor tracks.

The bonus track is a real treat being a haunting version of the Kansas' classic Dust In The Wind and a fitting way to close an absolutely superb album.

Production by John Elefante sounds a million dollars and is another plus point to the album.

AOR, album orientated rock or adult orientated rock? Mastedon certainly put both adult and album orientated into their rock! The quality of the songwriting, the musicianship and production are nothing short of perfection. Highly recommended especially for those who do not like their AOR too fluffy!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2013 10:00 PM GMT

Can't Slow Down + DVD
Can't Slow Down + DVD
Price: 8.45

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Smooth AOR - Foreigner Return!, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: Can't Slow Down + DVD (Audio CD)
I have been looking forward to this album for several years since Kelly Hansen joined Foreigner. Anyone who has heard him sing with Foreigner will know that he does real justice to their back catalogue of classic hits. The biggest compliment I can pay is that you can imagine Lou Gramm singing all these songs on this album. That is not to say that Kelly has simply mimicked Lou as he has his own brilliant style.

This album is superbly produced perfect AOR and a lot lighter than Lou Gramm's solo album but highlights the strength of Mick Jones' songwriting qualities.

Title track Can't Slow Down starts the album off in fine style and is the heaviest track on the album.

In Pieces is more atmospheric and is my personal favorite and really highlights Kelly Hansen's vocal qualities.

When It Comes To Love starts with signature Foreigner saxophone and is super-smooth AOR ballad. Another outstanding vocal performance from Kelly Hansen on this one.

Living In A Dream is one of those tracks you could really imagine Lou Gramm singing.

A great piano intro starts another great ballad I Can't Give Up.

Ready and Give Me A Sign return the album to a more rocking vibe.

I'll Be Home Tonight is yet another super smooth AOR track with a great chorus.

Too Late has a Maroon 5 feel to it and is yet another quality track.

As Long As I Live and Angel Tonight are typical classic Foreigner.

Fool For You Anyway has a Hall & Oates feel to it and is a great album track but perhaps not the best to close the album.

This is a quality AOR release with consistently great songs throughout and arguably the second best album release by Foreigner since the seminal 4 way back in 1981. The one minor flaw is the lack of any out and out rockers like Urgent, Juke-Box Hero or Dirty White Boy. Also surprisingly there are no power ballads like I Wanna Know What Love Is or Waiting For A Girl Like You. Credit must be given, however, for not simply trying to cash in on past glories. Kelly Hansen is the real star of this album, however, he owes a major debt of gratitude to Mick Jones for providing him with such excellent songs to sing. The bonus disc of Foreigner classics highlights how well Kelly Hansen covers these tunes.

If you like tour rock hard and heavy then I would steer clear of this album, however, if you have a penchant for classic AOR then I would highly recommend this album. One of the albums of the year.

God And Guns
God And Guns
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 17.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Rockers - Still Unbroken!, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: God And Guns (Audio CD)
Lynyrd Skynyrd return with one of the albums of the year and possibly the best produced, courtesy of Bob Martlette.

The album kicks off with the stonking Still Unbroken surely a contender for Song of the Year. Johnny Van Zant's vocals are simply awesome on this track and throughout the whole album. This was the pre-release track from the album and I was concerned that the rest of the album would not be as good.

Simple Life is a more laid back track than the opener and is one of several tracks with a real country feel to it.

Little Thing Called You swings the album back in a heavier vain similar to the opening track with a more southern feel to it.

Southern Ways is typical Southern Rock with that country feel to it similar To Bruce Hornsby & The Range.

Skynyrd Nation is great stadium rock feelgood track.

Unwrite That Song is very country & western and would not be out of place on an American Country Radio Station. Still a great track, yeah hah!

Floyd which features Rob Zombie on backing vocals is pure gator-rock and a million miles away from the previous track. Real cool track - it's a swamp thang!

One thing you have to ignore, embrace or simply smile to is the pro-American (Republican) feel running throughout the whole album. This is none more prevalent than in That Ain't My America with its Poison feel to it.

Comin' Back For More has a harder edge to it and features a stonking chorus.

The title track God & Guns is pure confederate bliss and makes the listener want to pick up a Bible and a Smith & Wesson in equal measures. The song begins acoustically and slowly builds to a frenetic climax with guitars blazing in all directions!

The Storm Will Pass is more a straight forward track but still maintaining that Southern feel courtesy of some great backing vocals.

Final track Gifted Hands is a great power ballad that pays homage to past members and features some superb guitar soloing.

The bonus disc features three live classic tracks: Red, White & Blue, Call Me The Breeze and Sweet Home Alabma and three new tracks: Bang Bang, Raining In My Heartland & Hobo Kinda Man. The latter are all what I would describe as album-fillers and not up to the high standard of the main album. Whoever made the decision to leave these tracks off was inspired as well as the running order of the twelve tracks - near perfection.

With the excepetion of Kiss this is one album I would not have expected to finish in my Top 10 of 2009. Every style of Southern Rock is covered on this album yet it seamlessly flows from track to track. Lynyrd Skynyrd might only have one original member, Gary Rossington, but with God & Guns they have kept the spirit of the original group and brought then very much into the 21st Century.

Price: 16.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melodic Hard Rock At It's Best!, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: Revolve (Audio CD)
With the return of Ted Poley to the fold expectations for this release were high and fortunately they do not disappoint. All songs were written by Steve West & Bruno Ravel who also handle production which is first-rate. The mix of the album is brilliant and Ted's vocals are the best that he's recorded to date.

That's What I'm Talkin' About kicks the album of in fine style and it's the hard rocking melodic style that D2 have become famous and loved for throughout the years.

Ghost Of Love with its great chorus is a smooth slice of melodic rock that highlights what a superb vocal performance Ted Poley puts in on this album.

Killin' Love is a darker song but like every track on offer here is a great slab of melodic rock.

If you ever needed just one song to play to someone who had never heard Danger, Danger then Hearts On The Highway would be ideal - soaring guitars, big chorus & superb backing vocals. The latter are another highlight of this album with contributions from Frank Vestry, Tony Harnell, Mitch Malloy & Jaret Reddick.

Fugitive is the first ballad on the album and nicely changes the pace of the album.

Keep On Keepin' On is another typical D2 album track and similar to offerings on their last brilliant studio album (released 10 years ago) Return Of The Great Gildersleeves.

The opening to Rocket To Your Heart is a bit smulchy and the only part of this album I do not like, however, by the time the chorus kicks in the song is right back on track and rockin'!

F.U.$ is the tongue-in-cheek track on the album and could easily have fitted on Steel Panther's Feel The Steel album. Initially, I did not warm to this track, however, with repeated plays the infectiousness of the song kicks in!.

Beautiful Regret is a little bit harder than the other tracks on offer and not quite as instant as others but is a real grower.
Never Give Up is the second and best ballad of the album; sheer class.

Dirty Mind is a fun way to finish off an almost perfect album. It is an up-tempo rocker.

My favourite Danger, Danger tracks still lie on their other albums, however, for consistency throughout Revolve is possibly the best ever Danger Danger album, however, only time will tell if it can match up to Cockroach, Four The Hard Way & The Return Of The Great Gildersleeves.

For those of you who like your AOR with a hard-edge then this is just what the doctor ordered - awesome!

Sonic Boom
Sonic Boom
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 15.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return To Form For The Hottest Band In The World!, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: Sonic Boom (Audio CD)
I will start this review by admitting that I am a Kiss fan but not a die-hard Kiss fan unlike many of my friends. When Kiss are good they are excellent, however, all too often they are very poor. Kiss can certainly lay claim to being one of the best live outfits and certainly the greatest marketable band but when it comes to recording albums they often leave a lot to desire.
Sonic Boom is definitely the most consistent Kiss album for many a year & is simply a great rock `n' roll album. Production by Paul Stanley is ideal for this of album and gives it that classic Kiss feel.

Most Kiss albums start with a great track and here is no exception with the Stanley lead-vocals of Modern Day Deliah.

From the heavy opening bass line it is obvious that Gene Simmons will take vocals on Russian Roulette & he is the usual tongue-in-cheek. This song definitely improves with repeated plays and always leaves me grinning. Sonic Boom sees Gene Simmons singing at his best, trouble is that is still not that good!

Never Enough is my favourite track with brilliant backing vocals from the entire band which is a main highlight throughout the whole album.

Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect) is again typical Simmons and if you take it for what it is then it is another great fun track.

Stand will no doubt be a great live favourite and features more great backing vocals.

The two fillers on this album, not surprisingly, feature Gene Simmons on lead vocals: Hot & Cold & I'm An Animal. The rest of the band have far superior vocals especially, Paul Stanley so why does Simmons get so much of the vocal duties?

All For The Glory features Eric Singer on lead vocals and is a brilliant combination of 1970's & 1980's Kiss.

Danger Us sees Paul Stanley in fine form and borrowing some pretty cheesy lyrics that his partner in crime would have been proud of!

When Lightning Strikes highlights Tommy Thayer's talents as a vocalist as well as excellent guitar player and is another very strong track. Though not plagiarising, Thayer plays great respect to original guitarist, and still many fans favourite, Ace Frehley. Tommy Thayer really covers himself in glory on this album.

The album closes with another highlight, Say Yeah with again brilliant backing-vocals from the whole band.

Individually, there are some good tracks on this album but where it scores highest is the overall feel of the whole album - fun straight ahead rock n roll from start to finish.

Replace a couple of the Simmons tracks on this album and Sonic Boom could have been a contender for Album of the Year...

Price: 6.06

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daft Name but Stunning Album!, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: Chickenfoot (Audio CD)
So often supergroups just don't deliver - not the case with Chickenfoot. This album simply oozes class from start to finish and improves with every listen, even six months later.

This is Sammy Hagar's greatest ever vocal performance and Joe Satriani is simply breathtaking from start to finish. The rhythm section of Chad Smith & Michael Anthony is just a powerhouse & keeps Sammy & Satch focused throughout. What's so great about this album is that you can have a different favourite track every time you play it. This album matches the song-writing & performances of Van Halen's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge but is not quite as obvious as the latter album but is well worth repeated plays. One of the reasons for the latter is that several of the songs on offer do not feature obvious standout choruses.

Album of the year? I predict amongst my Rock Friends that this will be the most popular album of 2009. Let's hope for more UK shows in 2010 and a follow-up album.

The musicianship on offer here is first-rate and nothing less than one would expect from the protagonists involved.

Avenida Revolution kicks the album straight into top gear from the off-set. It is obvious to the listener from the opening bars that this is in your face, classic hard rock. A great album to play at a party or drive to but maybe not the one you would put on for a romantic dinner with your wife or girlfriend (or both if your name's John Terry).

Soap On A Rope is sure to among many people's favourite songs of the year and is the first time you get to hear Joe Satriani start to shred if in a totally controlled manner especially at the end of the track. Superb ending with the refrain that always fools those sycophantic DJ's on Planet Rock.

Sexy Little Thing has a cool summer vibe to it and a track that does feature a more traditional chorus.

Oh Yeah features some excellent backing vocals and once again underlines the great vocal performance by Sammy Hagar. Another blistering solo from Satch.

Runnin' Out has a real Van Halen feel to it, though Satriani's playing is so different to Eddie Van Halen's there is never any chance of direct plagiarism.

Get It Up is a real heavy track and a dangerous one to drive to as the pedal to the metal is soon reached. Brilliant backing vocals and the guitars are all over this track not to mention the thumping rhythm section.

Down The Drain has a more darker moodier feel and builds to an absolute crescendo.

My personal favourite track is the glorious foot-tapping My Kinda Girl. This song still sends shivers down my spine and rocks like there's no tomorrow. I love the lyrics on this track especially
Yeah, she just a-bit roughed out, turbo classy
All dressed up, she looks so s-s-s-sassy
Hey bartender, come down here
Watch her blow the head off a tall, blonde beer

Pure class and one of my Songs of the Year.

Learning To Fall slows things right down and Sammy Hagar puts every bit of emotion and soul into this song. The solo on this track is awe-inspiring. Another highlight on the album.

Turnin' Left is very reminiscent of Sammy Hagar's Three-Lock Box.

Future In The Past builds from a slow start to an incredible shredding climax.

It would be easy to say that this album is all about Sammy Hagar & Joe Satriani, however, without the powerhouse rhythm section of Michael Anthony & Chad Smith this album could have easily fallen flat on its face. Despite the incredibly silly name Chickenfoot have certainly delivered an outstanding album that definitely does not feel like a side-project.

Production by Andy Johns is first class and as mentioned earlier is very much in your face - an album certainly not be played quietly or for the faint-hearted!

If Sammy Hagar has laid down the gauntlet to Eddie Van Halen & David Lee Roth then I can imagine them running for the hills or maybe we'll be lucky and it will inspire another classic Van Halen album.

Those of you don't own a copy of this album: shame on you, call yourself a rock fan!

Those of you that do own it but have not played it for a while, revisit it and trust me that you will not be disappointed.

Black Clouds & Silver Linings [Special Edition]
Black Clouds & Silver Linings [Special Edition]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 28.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, 6 Feb 2010
Black Clouds & Silver Linings is fast becoming my favourite Dream Theater of all time. This is easily the most accessible Dream Theater album and very old-school progressive in that it only features six tracks. Each is different and a classic in its own right. As with all Dream Theater albums this one features more time changes than a complete Dr. Who box-set!

Opening track A Nightmare To Remember is a real classic and very heavy but still features some superb melodies. The song is about a car accident and is awesome in its construction and clocks in at over 16 minutes in length. No three minute pop songs on offer here...

A Rite Of Passage is more typical of their recent albums and though good probably the weakest of the six tracks.

Wither has a classical feel to it and is very mellow and a welcome interlude from the intensity of the rest of the album.

The Shattered Fortress is the heaviest track on the album and is Mike Portnoy's final part to his 12-step programme against alcoholism.

The Best Of Times begins with a beautiful piano intro transcending into strings before unleashing into a flurry of melodies. The track is a tribute to Mike Portnoy's late father and another soon to be all-time classic Dream Theater track.

The Count Of Tuscany finishes the album on a high and is a 19 minute epic similar to Rush's Xanadu or Maiden's Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner. Starting with superb 3 minute intro the song then kicks into gear and goes on to tell the story of the meeting a strange count! Lyrically, this is not on a par with most of their back catalogue but nonetheless this is still a monster track!

Not only the best Dream Theater album but also just narrowly missing out on my Album Of the Year. There has never been any doubt about the quality of the musicianship in this band but some of their albums, especially the concept ones, have come across a little self-indulgent and lacking in songs. James La Brie puts in his finest performance since Images & Words with his vocal harmonies being exceptional. The quality of the songwriting is nothing short of perfection throughout especially on the opening and closing tracks.

The bonus version features an additional two discs: instrumental versions of the whole album and six cover versions including breathtaking adaptations of Rainbow's Stargazer and Iron Maiden's To Tame A Land.

I am not the biggest fan of Progressive Metal but when rock music is produced and performed this well the genre is only a small point. Dream Theater can sound like Metallica one minute and Journey the next and sometimes all in the same song; all of which is highlighted throughout Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

Arc Of The Dawn
Arc Of The Dawn
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Dare - Arc Of The Dawn, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: Arc Of The Dawn (MP3 Download)
Dublin opens the album and immediately indicates that the direction of the album is similar to the previous three: Belief, Beneath The Shining Water & Calm Before The Storm, i.e. super smooth AOR with a Celtic feel. The main difference with this album, however, is that there is more guitar and the latter is very prominent in the mix. Personally, due to the lack of a standout chorus I think Dublin is not the ideal opening track.

Shelter In The Storm is typical Dare and one cannot be too impressed with the silky smooth vocals of Darren Wharton.

Follow The River continues with the Celtic theme; acoustic based like lots of the songs but with lots of electric guitars on top - superb!

King Of Spades & I Will Return are re-recordings from their awesome debut Out Of the Silence and are not too different from the originals. The one thing that can be said is that they fit as well on this album as they did on the original. I wonder if Darren Wharton is trying to make a point?

Emerald is a breathtaking and haunting cover of the Thin Lizzy classic from The Boys Are Back In Town. Darren Wharton has made some outstanding covers of Lizzy tracks in the past and this is no exception.

When is more super smooth AOR with some great guitar.

The rendition of The Flame, originally recorded by Cheap Trick, is very similar though more suited to Dare's sound.

Still Waiting is a great ballad.

Kiss The Rain and Remember are further great laid-back AOR tracks.

Circles is a power ballad and absolute classic Dare and finishes the album off in fine style.

Like Foreigner's recent release, you are not going to find any hard rock anthems here, however, if you are looking for super smooth AOR, with a Celtic twist, this is just the deal. Guitarist Richie Dews puts in a stunning performance throughout the whole album, however, it's Darren Wharton's lush vocals that are once again the real highlight.

In my opinion, despite featuring four covers (though two are of their own material) Arc Of The Dawn is the best Dare album since their magnificent debut Out Of The Silence, arguably the greatest British AOR album of all time.

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