V.A. - Nobody's Chilld - Romanian Angel Appeal (1990)
Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal is a charity album released in 1990 to benefit Romanian orphans, under the auspices of the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation. Artists donating tracks include the Traveling Wilburys, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Duane Eddy, Van Morrison, Guns N' Roses, Ringo Starr, Ric Ocasek and Elton John. All songs were previously unreleased, and "Nobody's Child" (backed with "This Week") and "With a Little Help from my Friends" were released as singles.
The project was organized by Olivia Harrison, who created the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation with the other wives of The Beatles (Barbara Bach, Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney) in April 1990.
TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA - Todd Rundgren's Utopia (1974) & Anthology [1974-85] (1989)
For much of the double-album Todd, Todd Rundgren was exploring weird instrumental avenues, creating a warped, synth-fueled variation of prog rock. This wasn't the culmination of the weirdness A Wizard, A True Star initiated -- it was merely the beginning. Not long after completing Todd, Rundgren assembled Utopia, a prog rock group with no less than three synth players, plus guitar, bass and drums. Ostensibly, the band was a collective effort, with Rundgren contributing no more than the remaining quintet, but the possessive nature of the title of their debut, Todd Rundgren's Utopia, illustrates who the driving force of the group was. And it is true that TR's Utopia picks up where Todd left off, expanding the already lengthy experimental instrumentals by adding layers of synthesizers that stretch on forever -- which is no exaggeration, since only one track ("Freedom Fighters") is single-length, with the remaining three cuts clocking in between ten and thirty minutes. For anyone who isn't a dedicated fan, slogging through these seemingly endless prog excursions is a little tedious, and even the devoted may find that these roads, while occasionally interesting, don't necessarily lead anywhere.
For all their many attributes, Utopia was notoriously uneven on record. They were just as capable of turning out great pop tunes as they were to wander into meandering jams or directionless hard rock and this applies not only to their earliest art rock records, but also to their mainstream pop/rock albums. That's what makes Rhino's Anthology (1974-1985) such a welcome addition to their catalog. There may be a few great songs missing ("Hammer in My Heart," for example) and the three prog rock songs that appear toward the end of the album are a bit of a downer, but the remaining 13 tracks capture Utopia at their absolute best. The group may have attempted to cover more ground in their early prog rock incarnation, but often those records meandered, which meant that the songs only made sense on the original albums. Once they gave themselves over to pop/rock with 1977's Oops! Wrong Planet, they were still uneven, but uneven pop/rock albums can be distilled into one dynamic collection. And that's what happens here. "Crybaby," "The Very Last Time," "Set Me Free," "Love in Action," "Love Is the Answer," "You Make Me Crazy," "Lysistrata," "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" and "I Just Want to Touch You" were undisputed highlights on their respective albums, and hearing them all in a row is a sheer delight. Taken together, they argue that Utopia's records were better and more consistent than they actually were, but the fact is, Anthology (1974-1985) is "the definitive Utopia album," as Bud Scoppa writes in the liner notes. For Rundgren fans who love his solo records but never quite "got" Utopia, this is the only Utopia record they need.
BAD COMPANY - An Introduction To Bad Company (2018)
Formed in 1973, the British hard rock outfit Bad Company was a supergroup comprising ex-King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell, former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, and singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, both previous members of Free. Powered by Rodgers' muscular vocals and Ralphs' blues-based guitar work, Bad Company was the first group signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song vanity label. Their eponymous 1974 debut was an international hit, topping the U.S. album charts and scoring with the number one single "Can't Get Enough of Your Love." Straight Shooter, issued the following year, was another major success, notching the hit "Feel Like Makin' Love," while 1976's Run with the Pack was Bad Company's third consecutive million-selling record. After 1977's Burnin' Sky, Bad Company recorded 1979's Desolation Angels, which embellished the group's sound with synthesizers and strings; a three-year hiatus followed before the release of Rough Diamonds, the group's final LP in its original incarnation. In 1986, Ralphs and Kirke resurrected the Bad Company name, enlisting former Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe to replace Rodgers. The reconfigured unit's debut, Fame & Fortune, was a commercial failure, but 1988's Dangerous Age became a minor hit. Released in 1990, Holy Water fared even better, as the power ballad "If You Needed Somebody" became a Top 20 success. Here Comes Trouble, issued in 1992, achieved platinum status, and earned another Top 40 hit with "How About That." On their 20th anniversary, Bad Company expanded into a quintet with the addition of bassist Rick Wills and rhythm guitarist Dave Colwell, and released the live retrospective The Best of Bad Company Live...What You Hear Is What You Get.
Two more LPs 1995's The Company of Strangers and the next year's Stories Told and Untold followed, and in 1998 the original lineup of Rodgers, Ralphs, Kirke, and Burrell reunited to record a handful of new tracks that surfaced alongside past material early the following year on The Original Bad Company Anthology. A lengthy reunion tour followed that spring, after which Bad Company disbanded again. Although various reunited lineups would appear over the next decade, the 1999 tour would be the last time the four original members performed together. Burrell suffered a heart attack in 2006 and died at his home in Spain. A pair of live releases in 2010 and 2011 were issued, culled from tours of the same era. In 2013, Bad Company joined Lynyrd Skynyrd on a joint headlining tour to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary. While no new material was released, the band's first two albums received deluxe reissues in 2015.
MIKE ZITO, VANJA SKY, BERNARD ALLISON - Blues Caravan 2018 (2018) [CD + DVD Audiorip]
This CD/DVD release revives a unique Blues Caravan! A unique live piece to experience the Blues Caravan of 2018 again and again! The accompanying DVD was recorded on 27.01.2018 at Café Hahn in Koblenz! Ruf's tireless dedication to the blues means it hunts far beyond the US and UK for its new signings and the label has struck gold with Croatian gunslinger Vanja Sky. On this CD/DVD she presents songs from her first studio album "Bad Penny". Some surnames command instant respect on the blues scene. As the son of the mighty Luther Allison the late Chicago blues titan who was Ruf's first signing back in 1994 Bernard Allison has added to the family legend and carved out his own mythology as a world-class songwriter and performer. For this year's Blues Caravan, he'll be drawing on an acclaimed back catalogue that includes 1997's US debut Keepin' The Blues Alive and 2000's classic Born With The Blues, and slipping between genres as only a master can. If you're remotely serious about modern blues, you'll have followed the twists and turns of Mike Zito's fascinating career 'I have long wanted to join the Blues Caravan and run away, so I'm excited, he says'. My shows are energetic and passionate: I try hard to give everything I've got and make every note count. You can expect rocking blues guitar, with a dose of soul vocals, and a mix of my best songs.
SAGA - So Far So Good: Live At Rock Of Ages (2018)
2017 marked Saga’s 40th anniversary. The band that has combined hard rock, progressive rock and pop like no other celebrated their anniversary with a tour around the globe, saying thank you and farewell to the fans… for now. Now, one year later, the exciting live recording “So Good So Far – Live At Rock Of Ages” sees its release. Featuring the most iconic of songs that SAGA has been known and loved for by fans for more than 40 years, “So Good So Far” delivers the epitome of the band’s long and proud history – all recorded at the Rock of Ages festival in Seebronn, Germany in 2017 on both audio and video. SAGA, the headliner of the evening played, an energetic 1,5 hours set in front of thousands of festival goers, featuring the best of 21 SAGA studio albums with classics such as “On The Loose”, “Humble Stance, “Wind Him Up” or “Don’t Be Late”.
Recorded at the Rock of Ages festival in Seebronn, Germany in 2017 - this is a live 'best of'!
THE RATS - First Long Player Record (1974) 
Very much a vehicle for cult figure David Kubinek, aka Kubie. Kubinec had been a leading light of the World Of Oz , a pop psych band who released a highly regarded album on Deram in 1969. He'd also been signed to Motown and he later had a solo album on A&M produced by John Cale. A talented original writer capable of beautiful tunes, haunting lyrics,though obsessed with despair, drink and drugs. The Rats album was a collection of Kubinec songs recorded by producer Adrian Millar with musicians brought in for thejob. Adrian Millar had a history in the studio going back to engineering for Joe Meek, and by the 70's was partner in several production enterprises with Andrew Loog Oldham, of which The Rats was one. (Millar's next move after The Rats was to put together another group of musicians to form The Babys.) The Rats existed in 1974 and had one brilliant single released via the Good Ear label, the T-Rextatsic `Turtle Dove', which is a classic Junkshop Glam single, and features as lead off track on the successful comp "Boobs: The Junkshop Glam Discotheque". When subsequent gigs were to be played after the album release a different set of musicians came in to back Kubie. Such lack of continuity, or even reality, in those days made it difficult to market a band album. Meaning that this album only ever 'escaped' in few numbers rather than achieve a proper release. A great pity for the efforts of Graham Quinton-Jones ,Chris Bailey and Peter Kirke, as The Rats backing Kubie, really kick along a storming rock album of the glam era. First time reissue and thus the first time on CD.
POPA CHUBBY - Prime Cuts: The Very Best Of The Beast From The East (2018)
Popa Chubby really didn't have an easy start, because as a white blues artist the US-American guitarist & singer regularly met with criticism. With his unmistakable style and his passion for mixing Blues & Hard Rock elements, Popa Chubby has managed to make a name for himself and can now look back on a long career with countless studio albums.
"Prime Cuts: The Very Best Of The Beast From The East" is a real treasure chest and contains songs from the first albums like "Booty & The Beast" as well as some songs from his successful albums like "The Catfish" and "Two Dogs". But Popa wouldn't be Popa if he didn't conjure up more songs out of his hat. The jack-of-all-trades also delivers 11 previously unreleased songs (9 studio tracks + 2 live tracks) - a completely new album in addition to the Best Of.
V.A. - Johnny Cash: Forever Words (2018)
In 1986, Johnny Cash's place in country music's pecking order had fallen so low that Columbia Records, his recording home since 1960, dropped him from their roster, claiming he was no longer marketable. Given this, perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment of Cash's late-period association with Rick Rubin and his American Recordings label (beginning with the 1994 album American Recordings) is that the world was reminded Cash was a major artist whose work was still powerfully relevant. Among his fans and his peers, respect for Cash had grown tremendously by the time he died in 2003, and since then, material from his archives has been steadily brought before the public. In 2016, a new wrinkle was introduced to Cash's posthumous legacy when a collection of his poems and lyrics, previously unknown, was published in a book titled Forever Words: The Unknown Poems. Now 16 of the pieces from that book have been set to music by a variety of musicians on an album called Johnny Cash: Forever Words. The artists adapting Cash's words range from longtime friends and associates (Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson) and members of the Cash family (Rosanne Cash and Carlene Carter) to contemporary country and roots music stars (Ruston Kelly & Kacey Musgraves and Brad Paisley) and some relative outliers who nevertheless respected Cash's vision (John Mellencamp and, in his final recording, Chris Cornell). While Cash's lyrical voice is strong in these recordings, each artist wrote and arranged their own music for the songs, and as a consequence this runs all over the stylistic map, from the purist's bluegrass of Alison Krauss' "The Captain's Daughter" and the dark, moody country rock of Cornell's "You Never Knew My Mind" to the eccentric orchestral sound of Elvis Costello's "I'll Still Love You." From a musical standpoint, Forever Words is as much about the musicians and what they see in Cash's words as it is about the Man in Black's secret life as a poet, and while every track was created with skill and evident respect to the lyricist, the lack of musical cohesion works against this as an album rather than just a set of songs. Johnny Cash: Forever Words has some brilliant moments and is an often-moving tribute to Cash's gifts as a writer, but as a listening experience, it's unfortunately inconsistent. Maybe some of this was better left on paper.
NAZARETH - 'Snaz (1981) & At The Beeb (1998)
Originally released on A&M records in 1981, Snaz is one of the better, and least recognized, live '70s (as a style, not necessarily a period in time) hard rock recordings. Unlike more recognized '70s metal artists like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, and others, Nazareth even in their Hair of the Dog heyday never were able to put much "heavy" into their heavy metal guitar attack when they recorded in the studio. There wasn't much of a thump coming from the drums and bass either, and the overall affect was a wimpy sound that didn't nearly serve the band's fine material as well as it should have. All of this left Nazareth's otherwise respectable '70s studio recordings with much to be desired sonically. Recorded live in Vancouver, Snaz is a production and engineering highlight in the band's career. The energy and recklessness of Nazareth's material is much more palpable on these live versions, and while things get a little sloppy at times, it's never distracting. Fans of Nazareth simply must add this record (most recently re-released by Castle in 1997) to their collection of essential band releases.
Before the advent of MTV in the '80s, there was only one way rock bands hit the big time through non-stop, hardcore touring. Nazareth was one of the '70s top road warriors, and 1998's double disc set At The Beeb proves it. Recorded during the band's many in-concert appearances on Britain's BBC Radio from 1972 through 1977, At The Beeb captures Nazareth at the height of its popularity and heavy metal powers. In addition to featuring many Nazareth standards, At The Beeb features several songs that never found their way onto albums, such as "Paper Sun" and an album-closing cover of Frank Zappa's "Road Ladies." Also included are such fan favorites as "Hair of the Dog," "Called Her Name," "Hard Living," and "Expect No Mercy."
NAZARETH - Tattooed On My Brain (2018)
Scottish classic rock legends Nazareth celebrate their 50th anniversary with their 24th studio album, their first without original vocalist Dan McCafferty. The new line-up, featuring new singer Carl Sentence (ex Don Airey, Krokus, many others), guitarist Jimmy Murrison, drummer Lee Agnew and original bassist and founder member Pete Agnew, are hitting the road to promote this marvellous new album, their first for Frontiers, and it also coincides with the Loud & Proud mammoth box set. Formed in 1968 (from the ballroom cover band The Shaddettes), the original line-up featured guitarist Manny Charlton and drummer Darrell Sweet alongside Pete and Dan. A few changes of guitarist, including the addition of guitarists Zal Cleminson and Billy Rankin, with keyboard players John Locke and Ronnie Leahy passing through the ranks. Sadly Darrell Sweet died in 1999, and Dan McCafferty’s health forced retirement.
BRYAN LEE - Sanctuary (2018)
Bryan Lee, 2010 Grammy Nominee, 2011 BMA Recipient, has been playing the Blues consistently for over 50 years now to fans all over the world. He is referred to by his peers as a “Living Legend”, “New Orleans Blues Institution” as well as your “Braille Blues Daddy”. Bryan Lee is one of the few seasoned Blues musicians who consistently honours the art form of the Blues while incorporating his own personal touch which fans love to hear all over the world. Bryan has performed with many of his peers over the years such as Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Freddie King, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Willie Big Eye Smith, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Luther Allison, Sonny Landreth, Mike Zeto, Larry Garner, JW Jones, Tab Benoit, Albert King, Duke Robillard, Albert Collins, Michael Burks and BB King to mention a few.
"This is the Blues/Gospel record I always wanted to make. I want to start by thanking the One who makes this all possible, My Lord and Savior and my dear friend Steve Hamilton. Without Steve, this album would not have become a reality. Steve is a very special angel. I dedicate this album to the Blessed Trinity, who I have had a personal experience with, and to my beautiful wife Bethany, and my beautiful children Dena and Bryan. The idea of a Blues-Gospel Album was born one afternoon while singing the Lord’s Prayer in Svalbard, Norway. I had a dream that was an arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer. When I woke up the next morning, I still remembered it. Rarely do I remember my dreams. The rest is history. A gift is not a gift unless you share it. God gave me the gift of The Blues. And I want to share my gift with you. Last, but not least, I personally want to thank my dear friend Richard Draper. His prayer “Sanctuary” was the basis for the title tune on the album. God Bless you all." - Bryan Lee
LUCIFER'S FRIEND - Lucifer's Friend (1970) & Where the Groupies Killed the Blues (1972)
A German outfit fronted by a British singer, Lucifer's Friend first gained minor notoriety, and later major cult status, as both early practitioners of heavy metal and progressive rock. Formed in 1970 Hamburg, by former German Bonds members Peter Hesslein (guitar), Peter Hecht (keyboards), Dieter Horns (bass), and Joachim Rietenbach (drums), the group was initially dubbed Asterix and recorded an entire album's worth of material before connecting with singer John Lawton, whose then band, Stonewall, was playing a residency at the city's famed Top Ten Club. Lawton's vocals would grace Asterix's only, eponymous album later the same year, and all involved were excited enough by the results that they immediately began collaborating on more material with which to relaunch the band under the provocative new moniker of Lucifer's Friend. Released in early 1971, the Lucifer's Friend album contained organ-intensive hard rock along the same lines as contemporary proto-metal bands like Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, and, especially, Uriah Heep, for whom, coincidentally, Lawton would wind up singing several years down the line.
But, for now, Lucifer's Friend's biggest challenge was a problematic aversion to touring, as well as a compositional restlessness that saw their sophomore effort, 1972's curiously named Where the Groupies Killed the Blues, morphing drastically to acquire progressive rock tendencies reminiscent of King Crimson and, to a lesser degree, the quickly emerging Krautrock acts of the period. These compositional experiments would only intensify on 1973's I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, which added entire brass sections in the vein of Chicago Transit Authority, and 1974's Banquet (featuring new drummer Herbert Bornhold), which soared upon even jazzier elements and symphonic arrangements delivered with help from the James Last Orchestra. Lucifer's Friend would finally reign in such extravagance on 1976's Mind Exploding LP (where Bornhold was demoted to percussionist behind new drummer Curt Cress), and they even considered increasing their touring engagements, but their only problem now was that Lawton had quit accepting the offer to join Uriah Heep that was mentioned earlier. Scotsman Mike Starrs (formerly singer for Colosseum II) was brought in to replace him and Lucifer's Friend proceeded to abruptly abandon their progressive past for good, embracing melodic mainstream rock on a pair of albums: 1978's Good Time Warrior and 1980's Sneak Me In (adding second keyboardist Adrian Askew). Then, John Lawton returned for a final, harder-rocking Lucifer's Friend album, 1981's Mean Machine, after which the group officially split up until 1994's one-off reunion LP, Sumo Grip. Interestingly, through all of these years and stylistic changes, it's ironically that original Lucifer's Friend album more so than their more abundant prog rock releases which has enjoyed the most frequent reissues, being considered a classic document of early heavy metal.
ASTERIX - Asterix (1998)
Asterix was a direct predecessor of Lucifer's Friend; released one (eponymous) album in 1970. Technically, this was the first Lucifer's Friend album, only under a different name. Also, one single was released featuring a slightly altered line-up, without John's involvement. Peter Hesslein began his musical career way back in 1963 with a band called the Giants. Peter Hecht and Dieter Horns were both members of a group known as the German Bonds, from 1965 onwards. Peter Hesslein joined the Bonds in 1968 which survived until 1970. At this point the various members took up the study of graphic design in an attempt to forge more sensible careers. But the call of rock'n'roll was too strong and in late 1970, the ex-Bonds men, together with Joachim Reitenbach , decided to record a new album. They needed a lead singer and eventually found John Lawton who had been with the group Stonewall. The new band took the name Lucifer's Friend and released their first album 'Asterix' in 1970. Their first three albums were undeniably influenced by contemporary British bands such as Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. 'Lucifer's Friend' was released on the Phillips label in January 1971 followed by 'Where The Groupies Killed The Blues' (1972). Lucifer's Friend' was given rave reviews particularly in America where the Chicago Express compared them to Led Zeppelin. This encouraged the five-piece to commence a heavy touring schedule, a policy which later backfired. Gradually their music had become a shade more sophisticated and serious jazz and symphonic influences were detected by critics and fans. This was no doubt due to the increasing importance of 'progressive rock' which seemed to appeal to college students and university audiences rather more than good old heavy metal. It was also more interesting for musicians to play and presented them with new challenges.
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