In 2017, Hear No Evil Recordings released an excellent REO Speedwagon box set entitled ‘The Early Years’. The mid-priced release rounded up the band’s fist seven studio albums and 1977’s double live set ‘Live: You Get What You Play For’ in one handy package, making some of the albums available on CD in the UK for the first time in a long while…and in the case of the unedited version of the live disc, for the first time ever. Given the love that went into that set, it seemed inevitable a similar set covering the band’s next decade – the period that brought them the most commercial success and some massive hits – should follow. Such a box would be an essential release, especially since a few of the albums from that period have become equally hard to find despite selling in huge numbers.
Always a much loved band in melodic rock circles, Harem Scarem have released some great albums over the years, with their first two albums very much at the forefront of the scene at the point where the AOR glory days of the 80s reached their end.
Over the following years, Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance and band continued to make great music, with their 2002 release ‘Weight of The World’ ranking among their best.
Outside of Japan, most of their albums have been increasingly hard to find, but March 2019 will set that right when most of the band’s catalogue is set for release as a lavish fourteen CD set, pairing the first twelve albums with an “Early Years” disc and an exclusive disc of rarities. The good news for fans looking to fill those collection gaps is that each of the individual releases also includes the relevant bonus tracks from the Japanese releases and more besides.
The full details can be found in the press release below.
Toby Hitchcock first came to prominence in the early 2000s as frontman with Pride of Lions, a melodic rock band masterminded by Survivor legend Jim Peterik. With a combination of big performances and old style AOR hooks, the band found an instant fan base within the AOR community, despite treading a very familiar musical path. Outside of that band, Hitchcock has also achieved cult success with an on/off solo career and, if anything, his 2011 solo debut ‘Mercury’s Down’ featured performances that were even more bombastic.
His second solo album – 2019’s ‘Reckoning’ – offers fans exactly what they want, in that its eleven tracks couple some huge melodic rock sounds with an even bigger vocal. For those who love Toby, the album is probably everything they could ever wish for…and more. For the many who find his approach too big, it might be another album that fails to convince at first, but it’s worth persevering with since most of the material knocks spots off 2011’s ‘Mercury’s Down’.
Take two two key members of the original Hardline, the guitarist from Italian melodic rock band Hungryheart and a bunch of strong chorus driven songs and you have a more than reasonable recipe for AOR success. Johnny Gioeli’s delivery can sometimes err on the side of being too bombastic, but in comparison to some of his peers, he still possesses a voice that holds up and when teamed with Hardline/Journey drummer Deen Castronovo, he sounds better than ever. It’s that sense of drive that gives this release most of its strength. After just one full listen, it’s obvious ‘Set The World On Fire’ has no real filler material; it’s dozen rockers so often play like a greatest hits of the best bits from the Frontiers Records catalogue from 2011-2016 and for that alone, so many AOR buffs will consider it an essential addition to their ever growing collections. It’s unlikely to be at all far reaching beyond those whom already consider themselves fans of the musicians involved, but in many ways, to expect more would be kind of beside the point. For what it does – at least in terms of songwriting and performance – this is a great record.
After leaving Rainbow in the mid-80s, keyboard player David Rosenthal began writing songs with a budding AOR singer named Mitch Malloy. The sessions produced some fantastic material, but circumstances changed and recording sessions for a proposed album were abandoned. Malloy subsequently recorded a solo album (a self-titled release, it was soon considered a melodic rock essential) and Rosenthal set about forming a permanent band. The new band, Red Dawn, saw David drafting in a familiar face in drummer Chuck Burgi – a trusted friend from his Rainbow days – and ex-USA vocalist Larry Baud. For those who heard it, their one and only album, 1993’s ‘Never Say Surrender’ would ultimately change the landscape of 90s melodic rock forever.