"Publisher's Corner"

by Geoff Wilbur
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Night Ranger - Seven

CMC International Records
Night Ranger rocks again!  For those whose most recent experience with Night Ranger was the soft-touch Man in Motion (which, by the way, I really liked), Seven marks the return of the eightiesí premier non-metal guitar rock band. "Sign of the Times" opens the disc with a heavy growl, and guitar solos fittingly dot the rest of the CD. Pick hits for the appropriate rock charts: harmonious, almost Beatles-esque "Donít Ask Me Why" and "Soul Survivor." I still haven't dug up Night Rangerís interim CD, so this CD is welcome reintroduction to one of my two favorite bands of all time. (Yes, I must admit serious bias toward these guys; my other favorite is Honeymoon Suite.)

Train - Train

Aware Records
As usual, Aware has again uncovered a gem. A rough, Midwestern college rock melody is built on this San Francisco bandís strong, Southern alt-rock foundation.  Spanning geographic tendencies, this disc also features some bona fide potential hits -- namely, "Meet Virginia" and "Homesick," which both feature enough energy to keep impatient listeners from spinning radio dials. Grit, harmony, and a sense of urgency in the vocals show that Train has the talent to be in as good a position as anyone else to succeed a popular-but-crowded genre.

Alabama - The Essential Alabama

RCA Records
Sixteen tracks from the í80s. Songs include "Canít Keep a Good Man Down," "The Fans (Original Version)" and "Close Enough to Perfect." Great way to get some old Alabama music into your collection.

R. Kelly - "I Believe I Can Fly" (single)

Jive Records
OK, so this is the huge hit from Space Jam. You all either know the song or have been living in a cave. What a voice! Wow! This two-song disc contains the LP version and the radio edit of R. Kellyís signature single. I believe this proves heís got an amazing voice.

Pearl Jam - Yield

Epic Records
Thereís a different edge to this Pearl Jam album. Itís as if theyíve moved in the direction of the Chili Peppers. But itís more than that. Songs like "Wishlist" are practically folk songs, complete with extremely gravelly vocals. Could Pearl Jam be mellowing? If so, maybe we donít mind.

Bangkok Shock - Back on the Streets

Rock Vegas Records, 2413 S. Eastern #169, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Long hair, stage clothes, high vocals, and a brand of gritty, raw punk-based metal thatíd be at home in the Ramonesí time or during Londonís late í80s alongside D.A.D. and the Quireboys. Thereís even a little Thorogoodish, bluesy bump Ďn grind to "Problem Child." The disc closes especially impressively, with the rockiní "White Trash Girl," the Skid Row-reminiscent ballad "Dead and Gone Electric," and a Ramones cover, "R-N-R High."

Slaughter - Eternal Live

CMC International Records
With the passing of guitarist Tim Kelly, what began as the first-ever Slaughter live album tragically became a final, 12-song tribute to a dedicated four-man line-up of good-time rockers who kept touring and recording the same brand of rock through the nineties even as they saw their genreís audience dwindle. The CD, which showcases the bandís musicianship in a live setting, includes favorites like "Mad About You," "Fly to the Angels," and "Searchiní" and closes with the bandís first hit, 1990ís "Up All Night."

Lari White - Stepping Stone

Lyric Street Records
Lari takes her brand of rockiní country to Lyric Street. Her energy powers the faster stuff like "This Is Love" and "Take Me." And, course, Lari ends the disc with a powerful ballad, "Look Homeward Angel." Also worth noting is Lariís duet with Toby Keith, "Only God Could Stop Me Loving You."

Luxx - Luxx

Push Records
Sometimes Iíll play a disc for a while, set it aside, then give it one last listen a few weeks later to write a review. In this case, Luxxís edgy nineties hard rock fronted by Katrina Chesterís loud, rough-edged, emotional vocals ring familiar in such a way that I forgot my previous listens to some songs -- album opener/potential hit "Inside Your Head," for example -- were on my CD player rather than the radio. Luxx has all the tools. The other best bet for a hit single: "Flying Too Near the Sun."

Trinket - Trinket

RCA Records
This cassette has been in my car for almost five months, and I'm still not tired of it. Trinket delivers a catchy brand of rock mixing talented '80s pop rock musicianship with a raw, edgy late '90s pop rock feel. Pick hits range from "Unbehaved" (recently featured during a montage scene of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) and "All the Rave," to "To Be a Star" and the highly original-sounding "Haunt Pallenberg." Watch for these guys to joint the Matchbox 20 club of consistently charting, classic-rooted, modern rock performers.

Vixen - Tangerine

CMC International Records
There's still a melodic vein running through Vixen's music, but the additional aggressiveness on this disc shows that the band has, indeed, been influenced by the music of the '90s and fits with the current music as well as they did a decade ago.

Van Zant - 4 song CD sampler from Brother to Brother

CMC International Records
It's a disc of crisp, growlin', bluesy Southern rock -- a little grittier than .38 Special. Songs like "That Was Yesterday" would fit well on classic-oriented rock radio

Lowen & Navarro - Live Wire

Recorded live at Club Lingerie in L.A. on my 22nd birthday a few months before I wrote my first review (when Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter wasn't even a gleam in my eye), this disc shows why Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro are considered great singer/songwriters. It's a recording of a gig they believe helped propel their careers to the next level. With great harmonies and songs like "We Belong" (which was made famous by Pat Benatar), it's clear to the listener that, at the time, there was obviously a career ahead of these guys. It's nice to be able to look back at the beginning, as this disc allows us to do.

Emmet Swimming - Big Night Without You

Epic Records
"No Way to Say Goodbye," "Tom Collins," "Sarah When the Wind Blows"... any of these songs could be a breakthrough hit for this band, whose aggressive, power pop energy would fit them well on a stage alongside The Verve Pipe. Like our local Michigan favorites, extensive touring and maintenance of a massive mailing list have built a strong fan base that'll serve them well above and beyond the degree of label assistance. I've seen 'em live at showcases a couple of times, and their CDs do capture the group's live energy.

Eve 6 - Eve 6

RCA Records
OK, so "Inside Out" is already a mega-hit, and deservedly so. The rest of the disc carries a similar sound, though varied enough to be interesting. Eve 6 is a good band of young guys; watch out -- they'll just be getting better.

Cyberlin - Seasons: A Journey Through Vivaldi

I love classical music, but I can't say much about it in detail. I usually use mine as a backdrop to housework -- cleaning, paying bills, etc. -- reserving "active" listening time for rock and roll, but composer/conductor/pianist Lee Johnson's visions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons are a nice companion to the full orchestra version I've had in my collection for years. The disc also includes "The Colors of a Soul," Johnson's tribute to artist Lamar Dodd.

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