Reviews February/03

Urban Tale / Signs of Times / FR CD 138


Urban Tale - Scandinavian melodic rock a la Survivor & Journey!! Tracklisting:Starship of Giants; Hello Light!; Houdini's Eyes; Still strong; Son of a Gun (Hero of the World); Open your Heart; Captain of Clouds; Don't you know; Beggar & Thief; Morning Smoke; Monsters; Mary.

Urban Tale made one of the most talked-about debuts in 2001 with their self titled album - so this their 2nd album "Signs of Times" was eagerly expected! .... let me put atraight with you at once - this album is a AOR masterpiece. The band featuring Kimmo Blom on vocals, Erkka Korhonen on guitars, Tomo Kovalainen on bass, Timo Pudas on keyboards and Kari Välimäki on drums started out as a Journey cover band back in 1989 - and I can see a lot of magazines mentiones that source of influence - and compares Blom's voice with Steve Perry's. ....But to me his voice and the bands general style and attitude reminds me more of Jimi Jamison and Survivor - especially the track "Houdini's Eyes" is a deadringer for that american band.
On "Signs of Times" Urban Tale mixes AOR, pop, melodic rock, hard rock and even progressive elements to a very powerful and crystal clear production by Anders Theander. There a loads of memorable trackson the albums and NO "fillers". The albums starts out with the straight ahead up tempo track "Starship of Giants" with a significant Swedish/Scandinavian attitude - but also other tempo tracks like "Son of a Gun (Hero of the World)" are extremely catchy with Blom's high pitched vocals - and almost sounding like a soft Steve Walsh here combined with Korhonens big big guitars. But the biggest clue for me is the MASSIVE ballad "Still strong" - it is long ago I almost cried to that kind of song - but the soul and sense in this song is very strong and emotional - this is already a all time favorite of mine. The soulful voice combined with the keyboards sounding like violins and wind chimes adding a grand guitar solo in the middle leaves me almost melting.
Generally 2003 has started out very well - and Urban Tale has made a classic in spe with this their second album. I'll hope that people will be openminded to this album as well as their debut was highly praised - that was softerand more straight AOR. The band has "matured" and made a very personal statement with this record - i'll hum along several tunes the next month!

On The Rise / On The Rise / FR CD 139


On The Rise - Norwegian melodic rock!! Tracklisting:Beat of your Heart; Lift you up; The World of change; Memories forever; Pride; Leaps & Bounds; Running in the Night; Keep our Love alive; Stay away; Sadness hits like a Stone; Two young Hearts; Could have been the last Time; Stranded; The Moment.

Like I said when I got the promo-single back in December 2002: "This is what Melodic Rock with THE specific Scandinavian sound is all about!"
From the very first stroke in the very first tune this release is 100% melodic AOR with stints of Westcoast and melodic rock towards it.
On the Rise was formed in Bergen, Norway and is featuring the talents of guitarist/vocalist Terje Eide and vocalist Bennech Lyngboe. Terje has been around since he was 16, when he won a local talent contest. Later he joined Heaven & Hell - a rock institution in Bergen in the mid 80's. In 1986 he won The Norwegian Nationalk Rock Championchip on national TV with the band The Heat. He is an wll known guitarist, singer and backup singer in Norway.
Bennech Lyngboe started as a singer/songwriter in 1987. He released a self financed single "Leaves of Fall" in 1995 - and got a cult status in the local area. Together they met in early 2001 and backed up by producer Eirik Gronner, Zsolt Meszaros on drums, Jan Kleveland on bass and Asbjörn Vie on keyboards they made this - sounding like a mix of Nelson, Boston and/or Toto with a straight line to Scandinavian melodic acts like Skagarack. The first track "Beat of your Heart" is an absolute killer track - the immediately hummable melodies and catchy choruses and musicianship par excellence is a blast, and plase notice the guitar solo in the middle it's a classic in the making.But every track is a little course in songwriting in this genre - and it is NOT boring or predictable in any way - and second track "Lift you up" has a immediately digestable intro and a catchy chorus with some big big background vocals in a very nice production. The album also feature a fair amount of more quiet almost balladesque tunes like "Memories forever" that has a country-like intro, and the epic "Keep our Love alive" please keep your Kleenex ready here!
All in all I will say that this is one of the finest debuts in my record collection - it is absolutely quality whether its songwriting, musicianship and/or production. So if you thought taht the melodic genre died out in Norway please check this dynamic duo - you will not be disappointed.

Michael Monroe / Watcha Want / SPV 085-74732


Michael Monroe - Hanoi Rocks vocalist on his own! Tracklisting :Do anything you wanna do; Right here right now; Stranded; I wont lie down & die; Shattered Smile; What Love is; Rumours set the Woods alight; Germfree Adolescents; Life's a Bitch & Then you live; Telephone bill is all mine; Jimmy Brown; Identity; Hey thats no way to say goodbye.

Michael Monroe (Matti Fagerholm) from the memorable Finnish glitter/punk/hard rock band Hanoi Rocks has always had a special gift of writing energetic songs combining the energy from the punk and glitter rock with a catchy sing-a-long tune - I especially remember "Dead, Jail or Rock'n'Roll" from his 1989 album "Not Fakin' It".
That gift has maintained a permanent feature - also on this "Whatcha Want" album. Michael Monroe and partner in crime guitarist Andy McCoy (Antti Hulkko) has inspired bands and singers from Guns n' Roses to Mötley Crüe and in 2003 we will se a rebirthed Hanoi Rocks with both of them - but until then it is great to hear Monroe solo with especially guitarist Pink Gibson as second key member working so hard to maintain this special spirit and genre alive - besides that the current band consists drummer Lacu, bassist Timpa and keyboarder Mr. T.
I recently talked to Michael Monroe and he told me that the two sides of his career goes hand in hand - but whereas the band Hanoi Rocks has top priority at the moment, his solo effort deserves a fair chance. So he also told me that a video or two is in the making. I definitely think that tracks like opener "Do anything you wanna do" is classic Monroe, like the fast "What Love is" and the ballad "Telephone bill is all mine".
I am looking forward to the rebirth of one of my favorite Scandinavian bands Hanoi Rocks - and i am looking forward to see if Mr. Monroe and Mr. McCoy can find the old magic from the mid 80's - but until then "Whatcha Want" is definitely worth a spin on your CD player - and remember it is not over until you have heard Monroes final breath on the acustic "Hey thats no way to say goodbye".

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2003