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1990

Classic: Extreme, Pornograffitti, 1990

Extreme-II-PornograffittiReleased in 1990, so 25 years ago, this was the second album by American rock band Extreme and quite a step up from their first effort. Which was by no means a bad album. Having never heard of them at the time, I think Get The Funk Out passed by on the radio and I found myself impressed by the funky rock groove, the riffs and the melodies, so decided to pick it up. I still remember listening to this album with the headphones on and hardly believing what I was hearing. The combination of groove from Paul Geary on drums and Pat Badger on bass, the versatile, funky, yet hard rocking riffs from Nuno Bettencourt (and shredding solos) and the powerful melodic singing of Gary Cherone accompanied by the vocal harmonies of the others, made a huge impact at the time.

And I kid you not, after hearing More Than Words for the first time, I started telling everybody that did not shut me up that this song would become a huge hit. Which of course it did. Mhm, makes me wish I had that talent more often ­čÖé The third single Hole Hearted did not reach the same heights as the other two, but still made more people aware of them.
But it is not these singles that carry the album, it is the whole of the 13 songs on offer. They are varied, with sometimes very surprising arrangements including horns, fantastic playing and singing all around.

This album, combined with the 2 follow ups are a hard to beat trio in my book and show a band on top of their game. Classic in every sense!

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Classic: Fish, Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors, 1990

fish - vigil in a wilderness of mirrorsFor those of you who are not familiar with Fish, he is the guy that sang Kayleigh with the band Marillion. After leaving them, he started a solo career, and this was his first, and to some best effort. Luckily for him he got off on a good start as the song A Gentleman┬┤s Excuse Me was a bit of a hit here and there. And rightly so as it is a beautiful ballad like song with a great lyric. Which is common to Fish, as he takes big pride in writing those.

Another track on here that was heavily rotated on MTV at the time (when it was still a rock channel, where are those days) is Big Wedge. Uptempo, upbeat and overall a cool symphonic rock track showcasing the man┬┤s talent. But there is more on here worthy of your undivided attention. Opener Vigil starts atmospheric and then develops in a sound akin┬┤his former band. It┬┤s chorus is catchy as autumn flu! State Of Mind is a slow brooding song with fabulous bass courtesy of once Simple Mind John Giblin. On drums we find Big Country┬┤s Mark Brzezicki, on keys Micky Simmonds and the guitars are handled by Frank Usher and Hal Lindes. Other guests are Janick Gers, Tessa Niles and Kick Horns.

The track The Company would later be the name giver to Fish┬┤s fanclub. Tracks like The Voyeur, View From The Hill and Clich├ę are other examples of a Fish at his symphonic and rocking best. Family Business is another slow song with a lot of feel, and as chilling as Gentleman’s Excuse. An album to own and a great joy to revisit every once in a while…

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Classic: Boulevard, Into The Street, 1990

Boulevard - Into The StreetIn my humble  opinion this is one of the most overlooked bands from that time frame. While they became very popular with the in-crowd, success was never big enough. And this album is proof why that is a criminal mistake. It is quite a challenge to find an AOR or melodic rock album that has the same quality and drive. Must have been a momentum thing as grunge was hitting the shores already. And hitting hard.

But this album is awesome in so many aspects: from the warm voice of lead singer David Forbes, the instrumentation from Randy Gould on guitars, Mark Holden on sax, Andrew John on keyboards, Tom Christiansen on bass and Randal Stoll on drums, to the crisp production of John Punter. Massive backing vocals, enough bite and power, and most important: songs that nest themselves in your system and lever let go.
Opener Talk To Me is a perfect example of what the band is capable of. Up tempo and uplifting, with great melodies and musicianship to be able to attract even the most spoiled listener. Song Where Is The Love is moodier, but has a gorgeous chorus and again some very fitting soloing.  Next is Lead Me On, with a great drive and a chorus on par with the rest. Even so early in the record it is obvious how special this CD is.  And let me tell you, the other songs are just as good. No wonder that it was re-released last year. Original copies were selling for big bucks over the internet, and that is understandable (while selling your copy is hard to fathom actually). So take that opportunity if you missed it first time around and add it to your collection! Classic in every sense.

Classic: Alias, same, 1990

Alias - sameThis album has been playing it’s rounds in my car past week. The great thing about it is the feel good vibe it spreads. Whether you like it or not, this stuff is so uplifting, you will find yourself smiling and humming all day long after being exposed to it.

Singer Freddy Curci made name before with the band Sheriff (remember When I’m With You?). Made me wonder if that is where the star on the front cover originates from…

Opener Say What I Wanna Say, immediately sets the mood. A guitar solo over a rocking riff, followed by the┬á spell binding vocals of Curci and a chorus that is as catchy as the flu in autumn. Haunted Heart takes over and kicks back a little. Just to hit back with another great chorus. Waiting For Love is a mid tempo rock ballad in the vein of Whitesnake’s Is It Love. Yet the chorus is more AOR with big harmony vocals.
Next track The Power is one of my favourites. Larded with slide guitar solo┬┤s, it rocks but keeps the melodies alive and breathing. Ahh, to be able to write and sing such lines… Heroes is the first really slow song that builds to another chorus that grabs you. What To Do picks up the pace again and is a rocker of the same level as the album openers.
About half way through you will get the picture. A lovely melodic rock album with great songs and players and the under appreciated vocals of mister Curci. Very well worth the money and time!

Classic: King’s X, Faith Hope Love, 1990

King's X - Faith Hope LoveIt is almost impossible to choose a King’s X album that really stands out from the others. That is, when considering the first 5 they released. Hey, I am talking about 5 albums in a row here people!

King’s X are one of those bands that have an immediate distinct sound. Performing as a three piece, with all members singing (and what harmonies!) and for the rest made up of drums, bass and guitar, they have a back catalogue that would put a lot of greats to shame. Alas, they are not one of those big all time stars. And that is a really big shame!

To me, King’s X are a bunch of extremely gifted musicians who write high class songs with groove, melody, feel and guts. Okay, part of the time I have little clue what they are singing about, but still, it is so damn catchy. They continue to surprise me with with vocal harmonies, switching of lead vocals, rocking work outs, blistering solo┬┤s, pounding bass (you gotta hear that, if only once in your life) and that oh so big, yet natural drum sound. Hearing is believing.

I choose their third record mainly because it is the middle one. But all 5 albums are worth the time and effort to track down. This is a unique band with far too little recognition. Whether it are the shorter tracks like It┬┤s Love or Mr. Wilson, or the almost 10 minute title track, this is a classic rock record that every home should own. Like any other title up to 1994. And once you get hooked (We Were Born To Be Loved !!!), I am sure you will be on your way to buy all other releases as well. It is too hard to resist, even if not all of the same calibre. But you won┬┤t be able to buy one of their (over 12) releases from me, I am holding on to them!

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Classic: Jellyfish, Bellybutton, 1990

jellyfish - bellybuttonToday┬┤s Classic is this wonderful pop rock album by Jellyfish. Alas a band that lasted for 2 albums only I believe. Ah, where have they gone?

It is rare that you hear an album on which every track has the potency to become a huge hit. That this didn┬┤t happen for this band still puzzles me to this day. Is it the over dramatized flower power imagery?
I mean, whether it is the pop genius of That Is Why or I Wanna Stay Home, the humour of The King Is Half Undressed, or whatever other track you play, this is beautifully crafted music that to this day sounds fresh and mouth watering (…”oh, if only they would still make this kind a music today” …).

Okay, I may be biased because of my love for Beatlesque melodies and vocal arrangements, but it sounds easier than it actually is.

Definitely worth buying (second hand probably) if you don┬┤t already have it!