Reviews December/01

Trans-Siberian Orchestra / Christmas Eve & other Stories + The Christmas Attic / SPV 085-72892


A rock opera by Paul O'Neill! Tracklisting CD1:An Angel came down; O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night; A Star to follow; First Snow; The silent Nutcracker; A mad Russian's Christmas; The Prince of Peace; Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo 12.24; Good King Joy; Ornament; The first Noel; Old City Bar; Promises to keep; This Christmas Day; An Angel returned; O Holy Night; God rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
Tracklisting CD2:The Ghost of Christmas Eve; Boughs of Holly; The World that She sees; The World that He sees; Midnight Christmas Eve; The March of the Kings/Hark the Herald Angel; The three Kings and I; Christmas Canon; Joy/Angels we have heard on high; Find our Way home; Appalachian Snowfall; The Music Box; The Snow came down; Christmas in the Air; Dream Child; An Angels's share; Music Box Blues.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra was formed back in 1996 by Paul O'Neill who invited Robert Kinkel and Jon Oliva to be a part of the writing team, with clear intensions to make ROCK OPERAS!
And I must say that not since Queensrÿche's "Operation Mindcrime" there has been a concept within an album half that interesting - but this is great - two operas with one common subject - Christmas!
The first disc "Chrismas Eve & Other Stories" is about The Lord sending one of his youngest Angels down to Earth ".. to bring Him the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of Christmas!" - and along the way the little Angel find a father searching for his lost daughter and a barman who has lost his faith in mankind and can only think about money - but the Angel will change that, I can reveal without taking the fantastic musical experience away from the listener.
The music is delivered by Robert Kinkel on piano and keyboards, John Middleton on bass, Jon Oliva on piano, keyboard and bass, Paul O'Neill on rhythm guitar, Al Pitrelli on leadguitar, Jeff Plate on drums and Chris Caffery on guitars - magnificent, with different singers and child choirs gallore!!!
On the second disc "The Christmas Attic" the Lord has given the Angel another quest - this time the Angel shall return to earth on the night of Christmas Eve and leave one thing behind that would most benefit all of mankind. This time the young Angel helps a little girl re-gaining her faith in Christmas and its spirit - very emotional and authentic delievered by some of the same musicians that appeared on the first disc.
I think these two discs is the best thing happened to me this December - musically. Just go out and buy this wonderful, emotional, powerful, well produced, enchanting and encouraging double disc - you will NOT be dissapointed...! Trans-Siberian Orchestra has already saved my Christmas and made me think about the spirit of this season. And that is basically what music and art is about, isn't it - bringing people from one spot to another?

Sayit / Again / AOR Heaven


Swedish newcomer Sayit - with assistance from Tommy Denander! Tracklisting:Dawn; Love you tonight; Frozen; I can't go on; Halfway to Heaven; Don't cry; When I think about you; Moons comes calling; Heaven holds you near; Never gonna let you go.

Swedish newcomer Sayit is the project of guitarist Sayit Dölen - and he is getting lot of help from fellow Swede Tommy Denander.
Most of the material on the record is written and played by Tommy Denander in collaboration with Ricky Delin - and with them there are lots of other "guest stars" who also was featured on Denanders Radioactive project - like Geir Rönning on vocals, Pierre Wensberg on vocals, Mats Olausson on keyboards, Marcus Liljequist on drums, Kristoffer Lagerström on vocals, David Hungate on bass, Kee Marcello on guitar, Michael Thompson on guitar and Jim Jidhed on vocals.
The tracks is a mix of AOR and Westcoast - and is very delicate. Of course the sound is splendid and the vocal abillities featured on this album is simply fantastic. Especially Geir Rönnings singing like Coverdale on "When I think about you" is breathtaking.
But there are a lot of remarkable tracks on "Again" from the nice opener "Dawn" which is a track co-sung by Rönning and Wensberg and is very much in the same way of Radioactive - powerful and melodic! But also the Chicago-esque "Love you tonight" sung by the to me unknown Magnus Björkroth has a catchy refrain and a good guitar teamwork of Sayit, Denander and Thompson. But the most complex track must be the Toto-esque "Frozen" with Marcello and Sayit in a thundering guitarduel - marvellous, it saves the whole album!!! And I can't figure out why Jim Jidhed (the first Alien singer) isn't a even more recognized singer, his high pitched vocal is excellent on "I can't go on".
Like I said this album has a very good production, some astonishing musicians and good songs to back it up - so lets hope this new Swedish hope will release as good albums in the future too - because Sayit has taken the best of Toto, Chicago and Denander's Radioactive project and got a very nice result out of it!

Glenn Hughes / Building the Machine / SPV 085-72372


The voice of rock - Mr. Hughes! Tracklisting:Can't stop the Flood; Inside; Out on me; I just want to; Celebrate; Don't let it slip away; Feels like home; Highball Shooter; When you fall, I will follow you; Beyond the numb; Big Sky.

Glenn Hughes has done it again - released a very powerful, soulful and funky record!
Like always this old-timer of rock is not afraid of crossing musical boundaries - and on a track like "Don't let it slip away" he outplays guys like Red Hot Chili Peppers in funky-ness! The whole record "Building the Machine" was recorded in Los Angeles and the current line-up in the band consisting guitarist J.J. Marsh, drummer Gary Ferguson and keyboarder Vince Di Cola. The new material was co-produced by Michael Scott, who made a name for himself with the work on Van Halen's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". But as a bonus the record features guest appearence by Miles Davis pianist John Beasley, guitarist Brett Ellis, guitarist/vocalist Pat Travers and Bobby Kimball.
Like I mentioned the music on this record is very diverse - but all in all I think it is very refreshing with a little funky overtone and some heavy riffing on the same record - and here I will remark that the version of the old Deep Purple classic "Highball Shooter" is great!! Very good keyboard work.
But the record is filled with remarkable tracks like "I just want to celebrate" with Pat Travers, "Inside" and "Don't let it slip" with Bobby Kimball. I think this record is far better than last years "Return of Crystal Kharma" - more interesting and inpired!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2001