Thursday, February 23, 2017

DONNIE IRIS: Ten Reasons...


TEN REASONS Why You Should Love:


 Donnie Iris – born Dominic Ierace - was already a seasoned pro by the time he released his debut solo album, BACK ON THE STREETS, in 1980. He had previously fronted The Jaggerz, who scored a 1970 hit with “The Rapper” before taking a slight detour in 1978 by playing guitar with Wild Cherry (post-“Play That Funky Music”). His stint with Wild Cherry lasted roughly a year, but his time in the band introduced him to keyboardist Mark Avsec, with whom he began writing songs with. The two set about recording tracks and putting a band together.  With the addition of guitarist Marty Lee Hoenes, bassist Albritton McClain and drummer Kevin Valentine, Donnie Iris & The Cruisers were born. And no, not the same Cruisers that backed Eddie

COLIN HAY/Fierce Mercy review



Colin Hay is a rarity in the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  He achieved great success out of the gate 35 years ago while leader of Men At Work (“Who Can It Be Now?,” “Down Under,” “Overkill”) but had to pursue a career as a solo artist once the band split in ’86. In 1987, he ventured out as Colin James Hay with the LOOKING FOR JACK album but struggled to maintain success. Next came the Colin Hay Band’s 1990 album WAYFARING SONS, which didn’t fare any better. In 1992, he released PEAKS & VALLEYS, the first in a series of solo albums that would slowly rebuild his career from scratch. Now, three and one-half decades after hitting #1 with Men At Work’s BUSINESS AS USUAL album, Hay is at his peak as a songwriter and vocalist and he shows no signs of slowing down. FIERCE MERCY is proof that he is one of this generation’s finest songwriters. While his hits with Men At Work may have been more ‘immediate’ on first listen, his songwriting is deeper, more passionate and better than ever on this 2017 album. Like his last release, 2015’s NEXT YEAR PEOPLE, this is an album filled with songs that are warm, intimate and emotional. Whether he is singing from experience or as an observer, Hay always connects with the subject matter and it all sounds so personal, which adds to the songs’ power. Lead-in track “Come Tumbling Down” is a sing-a-long that prepares you for the roller-coaster ride of emotions that weave in and out of the rest of the album. “A Thousand Million Reasons,” “The Best In Me,” “The Last To Know” and “Secret Love” are some of the best songs that Hay has ever written or co-written (with Michael Georgiades and others). “Two Friends” (written by Georgiades) features one of Hay’s finest vocal performances to date. Never one to live in his past, Colin Hay has creatively risen above his previous success and recorded what could be his finest musical work to date. Again, Colin Hay has proven that he leaves pretty much all of his contemporaries in the dust. FIERCE MERCY is a lovely, heartfelt album that will stand the test of time. If you stopped listening after the CARGO album, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ROCK CANDY: Home to some of AOR's finest albums!

Rock Candy Records is a label after my own heart. 

However, it is difficult to explain the majesty of AOR to people who think that the genre – also known as Stadium Rock – is built entirely on clichés. To be honest, I wasn’t a total AOR believer back at the beginning of it’s commercial heyday either. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I too considered AOR a cliché’-ridden, mullet-infested musical style that I didn’t want anything to do with. I was into Punk, New Wave, Power Pop and Mod and I didn’t trust any band that featured a member with a moustache. Or a mullet.  Or a striped sleeveless t-shirt. The combination of the three gave me a panic attack. Oh, dear…

Friday, February 10, 2017

THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE is here... and there's nothing you can do about it!

If you ever want to know what Tom Waits sounds like waking up  - with a hangover  - in a ditch just outside New Orleans wearing a clown's wig and clutching a bottle of bourbon wrapped in a McDonalds bag, then you've come to the right place.

The Urban Voodoo Machine certainly sounds like that, only a bit more intense.

RIGHT SAID FRED: Giving their fans EXACTLY what they want!


Right Said Fred may be considered a ‘one hit wonder’ in the U.S., but I’m here to tell you that they are much more than that. Their worldwide hit “I’m Too Sexy” has become a slice of Pop Culture and is still used in advertisements, films and TV shows. The mere mention of the song title will inspire people to spontaneously sing a line or two out loud no matter who else is around. However, as I once wrote over at “If you've never heard anything by Right Said Fred apart from 'I'm Too Sexy,' then you are missing out on one of the best dance-pop bands of this generation. To base your opinion of the band on that one song is like judging The Beatles' entire catalog on a song like ‘Yellow Submarine.’ Sure, it's fun and catchy, but there is so much more to the band than that one piece of pop fluff.” In other words, if you haven’t heard anything else by RSF, then it is time to change that.

Thursday, February 9, 2017



Introducing The Band: MOD HIPPIE




This time, it’s personal.

Full disclosure:
1. Mod Hippie main man Doug McGuire is a longtime friend – his first words to me 40 years ago were, “I don’t like little brothers.”
2. He has played with my brother Mike Schnee on and off for many years – The Leeks and Volkwood Ghost (who put out a pair of albums in the '90s) are just two of the bands they were both members of.
3. I collaborated with Doug on one track featured on BIG WOW.

     With all of that being said, my closeness to this project will certainly make people think I’m being biased when I say that Mod Hippie’s sophomore album, BIG WOW, is one of the best albums of 2017. So, let’s get one thing perfectly clear: from a musical standpoint, I’m much more critical of friends’ music than I am of music created by people I’ve never met. I pretty much figure that if they hang out with me, they can’t be as talented as “Timmy Tagalong” from Australia or wherever.  Boy, was I wrong.  Doug McGuire started out as a good songwriter 30+ years ago and has only gotten better over time. When the first Mod Hippie album – TOMORROW THEN – was released in 2015, I was more than impressed. Even the fact that he used a song with my worst lyrics ever did not sour my opinion of that album.  When he began working on BIG WOW in 2016, I was anxiously awaiting the results. What I was not expecting was something far more cohesive, melodic and powerful.