by Geoff Wilbur
Sponsored In Part By
Kansas • Somewhere to Elsewhere
Magna Carta Records
Of course I hung onto the Kansas CD to review myself. My goodness! The
plush, full, powerful, soft, progressive music, Steve Walsh's emotional
lead vocals, the occasional crashing guitars, the intricate, interwoven
songwriting -- Kansas proves once again they're still among the masters.
But that's no surprise, and perhaps that the greatest tribute to this band.
On every listen, I have a different favorite song, though I will mention
"Icarus II" as a great choice for an album opener, as it really draws the
listener into Kansas' world. This'll be a long-time favorite.
Velocity • Activator
Accelerator Records/Dreamscape Music Group
Melodic hard -- and I do mean hard -- rock with power, passion, tuneful
vocal screams, and shredding guitars. Yeah, it might take you back a decade
or more when you hear it, but what you'll wonder is why the powers that
be didn't they just weed out the pretenders and allow the best of this
powerful, guitar-laden ear candy to remain within our mainstream music
library... 'cause Velocity is among the best of the melodic hard rock genre.
"Stay," "Beautiful and Useless," "Alive," "You" (with some of the most
attention-grabbing guitar licks on the CD), and "Stranger" -- each with
a distinctive flavor within Velocity's overall sound. You'll be bouncing
in your chair and may even find yourself shaking your fist in the air before
you're through this CD. Oh, yeah!
Jim Wilson • Cape of Good Hope
Jim's classical piano touch provides a soothing respite from any worries
one might have. At the same time, it dances about lightly, providing an
entertaining backdrop to the day. "'Til I See You Again" is one of the
standout cuts, and Dan Fogelberg's vocalizing adds a soothing extra instrument
to "Picasso's Midnight Stroll." "Home in the Heartland" is another favorite,
while Stephen Bishop's smooth voice provides the only lyrical vocals on
the CD for "Donna Lynn."
Boardwalk Records/Popular Records
Fun, energetic, ear-bending vocals draw the listener to this disc of fun
pop dance music. "I'm Temperamental" has radio scorcher written all over
it. "2 Steps Forward (1 Step Back)" is the most captivating pop ballad
on this CD. "This Love Of Mine" has diva written all over it, while "Losing
a Race With the Moon" smells like a breakaway second or third hit. Britney,
Christina, Annick...? OK, maybe not yet, but it's not for lack of talent.
Robin Brock • Blame It On Rock & Roll
Combining growl, power, and crispness, Robin Brock's voice rocks, as the
does the music behind it. The pure joy apparent in the energetic rocker
"Burning Up" will really draw you in. "You Lost Your Heart," meanwhile,
is a guitar-filled ballad, showing a softer side of Robin's vocals without
sacrificing the disc's rock edge. There's even a mild country music flavor
(meaning you could picture Shania Twain performing them) to the rockers
"Lipstick and Lace" and "In My Heart." But mostly, Robin rocks medium-hard,
and she rocks well.
Mika Pohjola & Yusuke Yamamoto • Sound Of Village
Mostly smooth jazzy instrumental music, Sound Of Village isn't content
just to be pleasantly listenable. "Bulan Mei," for example, builds into
a harsh frenzy. The short "A Chant For the Procurator" is a real attention-getter.
(Flute?) Also, I had fun listening for the street noise in "Sound Of Village."
And, of course, I'm a sucker for a piano-dominated piece such as "Season's
Greetings," though Mika clearly has a way with the harpsichord on other
cuts. This disc is an almost experimental recording from a couple of truly
talented musicians -- a "jam" that's as much fun for the listeners as it
surely was for the performers.
Dan Fogelberg • Live
Morning Star Productions/Chicago Records
The songs on this CD were recorded live at various shows from 1992 through
1995. They're great live Fogelberg. Dan ranges from his trademark soft,
soft songs to some free range blues rock. Favorites on this CD include
"Songbird," "The Innocent Age," "Hard To Say," "Changing Horses," "Don't
Let That Sun Go Down," and "Statesboro Blues," plus a nice, smooth cover
of "Here Comes the Sun."
JP Jones • Back to Jerusalem
Vision Company Records
The title track opens the disc as a gravelly songwriter-style mid-tempo
rock number, sort of hinting at Bob Dylan, in fact. The disc is filled
with other such lyrical masterpieces, as JP is clearly a master of the
folky rockin' singer-songwriter style. There's a hip, peppy vibe worth
noting in "Aint That Love." "Works For Me" and "As If," meanwhile, show
a light, playful side to JP's music. Overall, there's a broad musical canvas
here, all painted by the strokes of a master folky rock singer-songwriter.
Poison • Power to the People
Five new tracks plus thirteen recorded live. The aggressive, distorted
opening of the title track might catch you off guard, but you'll soon be
moving your legs and bobbing your head to the rhythm. Also notable among
the new tunes are Poison's catchy ballad, "The Last Song" and the frantically
energetic "I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine." Favorites from among
the live songs include "Something to Believe In," "Fallen Angel," "Every
Rose Has Its Thorn," "Unskinny Bop," and, of course, "Talk Dirty to Me."
Drink up this good Poison.
BJ Thomas • You Call That a Mountain
BJ's deep, strong, soothing, soulful voice is a welcome presence on this
calming, pleasant CD journey. The uplifting "What's Forever For" shines
with BJ's famous vocal treatment. He gives a great vocal turn to "I'm So
Lonesome I Can Cry." And he checks in with the fun, light, happy (my favorite
on the disc) "Hey Won't You Play" -- you know, the "another somebody done
somebody wrong song." (You've also got "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head"
on this disc.) And if you're looking for a great ballad, my favorite here
is "Old Fashioned Love." Or is it "Home Where I Belong"? Whatever, it's
all good stuff -- classic BJ Thomas.
The Best of Rosebudd Records Volume 1
Rosebudd Records, P.O. Box 26044
Bill Toll & Cidy Zoo open the CD with "Angelina," a modestly haunting,
medium-heavy, mid-tempo, straight-up modern rockers. Randy Roberts' "Wrong
Number" is a swinging, danceable, mid-tempo country ditty. Robb Hudspeth
makes a convincing case amid the smooth rise and fall of his vocals on
"I'm the Messiah." Bruce Neault sings "Walk in the Light of the Lord" with
a steady, even tempo. Bill Toll & Cidy Zoo deliver a catchy little
instrumental ditty, "25 Strings." Renee Francine belts out the soft R&B,
adult contemporary torchy scorcher "Night Minds." Venus Ford & the
Illumination's "I Greet the Morning" is a soft, slightly eerie, subtly
attention-grabbing soft pop/rock number. Carl Caballero hollers out "Two
Hours till Midnight" in raucous, bluesy country barroom style. Susan Hatt's
sweet voice soars as its ebbs and flows fuel the soft power of "He is a
River." Pony's "Dandelion Day" is a bright, happy, energetic little child-oriented
ditty. Bruce Neault elicits a "yee-haw" from listeners with the fast-paced,
picker-'n-grinner "Molly and Me." In a modern-styled country ballad, Randy
Roberts suggests "Let's Play House" as part of the song's life-long story.
Bruce Neault bops along through the mid-tempo, old-fashioned country "Love
Me Once Again." And Bruce Neault closes the disc by grooving his way through
the modern, jazzy instrumental "Groovey Tube."
NSync • Celebrity
There's a little more noise and a rougher edge on this than has been on
previous NSync efforts. Catchiest tracks are "Pop" and "Girlfriend." "Celebrity"
is lyrically interesting, while "The Game Is Over" has an interesting texture
and adds to the feel of the album (even if I'd leave it as an album track).
The ballad "Gone" is full and strong with hooks galore. "Just Don't Tell
Me That" is a fast-paced number with NSync's typical, fun, chart-topping
flavor. And "Something Like You" is an ultra-soft, sweet ballad. Strong
disc from NSync with a lot of new musical flavor mixed in with the group's