Reviews April/00

Hugo / Time on Earth / FR CD 020


Hugo - Time on Earth. Almost perfect, I guess! Tracklisting:Can't stop loving you; Tell it to my Heart; Last one more Time; Anyone in Love; F.I.N.E.; Blues for you; This love Song; I will be waiting; Our love will be there; Magic Power; Time on Earth.

If Frontiers Records can keep up the quality of this release - it will be the best year of melodic rock ever! Hugo did a very good job on his debut a couple of years ago, and his previous work in Valentine and Open Skyz are almost classic. But with this release he has put himself on the top of the AOR/melodic rock scene.
On the press-material it says that: ...the Steve Perry alter ego is back! but as far as I can see the former Journey-singer don't even get close to this musical level these years!! The album opens with two good up-tempo rockers "Can't stop loving you" and "Tell it to my Heart" but very soon we are presented to one of Hugo's trademarks a heart-wrenching ballad "Last one more time" and later on on track nr.9 he almost made me cry with the fragile but rather beautiful "Our Love will be there".
The album is recorded in New York and Hugo used a few local musicians during the sessions like Teddy Rondinelli and Joey Sykes on the guitars and Tom Nissen on bass - and he also co-produced the album. Keyboards, several drums and guitars are handled by Hugo himself while guitar-wizard Vinny Burns of Dare and Ten lay down some extra-ordinary guitar parts on the album - check out his solo on "I will be waiting" it's breathtaking!!
On the album Hugo even covers a Triumph-classic "Magic Power", as a tribute to this band, and because he used to play this in his younger years.
If you are in doubt of Hugo music and song writing abilities just go to track nr. 5 "FINE" - that's a song and a riff really AOR-rocker would give his right arm to come up with - This is absolutely the most recommendable CD of year 2000 so far - buy, buy, buy!!!

Dokken / Live from the Sun / SPV/Steamhammer 085-21742P


Dokken - Live from the Sun. Tracklisting:Erase the Slate; Kiss of Death; The Hunter; Into the Fire; Maddest Hatter; Too high to fly; Breaking the Chains; Alone Again; It's not love; Tooth and Nail; In my Dreams.

Years ago Dokken was THE band for me, the unique mix of Don's powerful vocals, the electrifying guitar-licks of George Lynch and the rock-solid rhythm-section of Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown. This quartet made classic albums like "Breaking the chains", "Under lock and key" and mighty "Back for the Attack". But after the split in 1989 the magic seems to vanish. Even a reunion didn't remake the classic stuff. In the good lo' days they had it all - good melodies, lots of power and two charismatic front-men.
So, here we are in 2000 and George Lynch has left again and new guitar-swinger is the very gifted Reb Beach. He and the rest of Dokken made the average album "Erase the Slate" last year, and this one is taken from their subsequent tour.
It's a blend of both classic material and a few newer songs - my favorite track is opener "Erase the slate" where Mr. Beach teaches several guitar players a solid lesson. But after that the newer tracks are'nt strong enough and the classic ones has lost their energy.
There is nothing much more to say really - I will rather put on their old vinyl "Beast from the East" double live from 1988 - that's what live-performance is all about anyway!!!

Norway / Arrival / Frontiers Records FR CD 030


Norway - Arrival, you're in AOR heaven! Tracklisting:Givin' it all; One night alone; Someday, someway; I don't wanna love you; Can't live without you; Sending a prayer; When you close your eyes; Cry baby; Find my way home; Hole in my heart; Heaven in your arms.

Norway's debut that where released a couple of years ago surprised me a lot because of its obvious potential, though it had a demo-feeling towards it. But this time the boys in the band are back with superb production, excellent songs and first and foremost great musicianship.
From the first stroke of the first track you know you're in AOR heaven - and especially the kind of heaven that where created in the glory days of the 80's! Big keyboards, powerful guitars, a solid and tight rhythm-section, nice chorus and highpitched vocals with lots of ba**s!
Guitarist Jim Santos and vocalist Glenn Pierson are also responsable for the production and they had made a remarkable job, and captures the essence of great bands like Journey, Night Ranger, Hugo and Dokken - but Mr. Piersons vocals reminds me in some strange way of some german vocals - i think it's Claus Lessmann's from Bonfire - I don't know if this comparison is true but.... And the bass and drums of Joe Slattery and Marty Brasington also works very fine.
"Arrival" has it all - from the hookladen "Cry Baby" and "Someday, someway" to big ballads like "Can't live without you" but other outstanding tracks are very hard to choose because each and everyone is listenable - but a couple of my favorites are "Hole in my heart" and the almost Europe-esque "One night alone" with a pretty keyboard-solo after the second chorus.
I guess it's not the last sound we heard from Norway - if they keep up the quality of this release they could be essential in the genre!

Steen Peitersen 2000