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The Scrounger's Report

Jun. 25, 2001

Rode Hard and Put Away Wet Scrounger's Report

It's been awhile since I've done a Scrounger's Report, but I sure
didn't intend to do one this way. Dear old mum decided 
that 7 boxes of my stuff from the old homestead were taking up
space in her apartment and she was going to throw them out unless
I came out to get them pronto.

So, I decided to go visit ma this weekend. 1,589 miles of
driving; out there on Friday, back home on Sunday. 28 hours of
driving in a 3-day time period doth not a happy camper make.
I spent Saturday combing the pawn shops and CD stores of Reading
and Lancaster, PA with ma (oddly enough she found a few CDs for
herself as well).

[ ...and finally had a decent hoagie and steak sandwich for the
first time in 8 years. Was good. If only I could import them to
Illinois. *sigh*]

The trip out gave me an opportunity to listen to some discs that
I hadn't in quite a while; some to reaffirm their greatness, others
to reevaluate their mediocrity. I'd also picked up a few discs
specifically for the ride. A brief rundown:

Device - 22B3. 1996 (1986). Renaissance Records.
   Quite the poppy effort, but I recall when "Hanging on a Heart
   Attack" hit the airwaves. Worth checking out if you're into
   '80s pop AOR.

OTEP - Jihad. 2001. Capitol Records.
   Rap metal isn't among my normal favorite genres, but the bass
   player is the brother-in-law of one of my coworkers, so I'm
   keeping an open mind. As a representative of "nu-metal" it's
   pretty much on par (think Fear Factory lite with female vox).

Asia - Aura. 2001. Windstorm Records.
   Considering the somewhat bad press this album had received,
   combined with my disappointment in Arena, I thought long and
   hard about picking this one up. I'm glad I did. This is lighter
   than what I was expecting, but quite melodic! Less "proggy"
   and more traditional structurewise than previous efforts.

Lana Lane - Secrets of Astrology. 2000. Limb Music (Germany).
   I love this chick's voice. I still can't quite put my finger on
   whose voice she reminds me of. It's part Ann Wilson, but
   there's someone else who's closer. I'm not getting it.
   Melodic prog AOR (not too proggy though) with great vox.

Wet Paint - Shhhh..! 199? Koch Records (Austria).
   Despite the Keith Olsen connection, this really is fairly
   mediocre. It has a few shining moments, but overall is bland.

White Heart - Nothing But the Best (Rock Classics). 1994. Star Song
White Heart - Nothing But the Best (Radio Classics). 1994. Ditto.
   These 2 discs make up one HELL :) of a greatest hits set.
   Ultramelodic Christian AOR at its finest. The song "Heaven
   of My Heart" is one of my overall favorite songs ever.
   I remember when Z Music (are they still around?) used to
   play the video. Not as well known as Petra, but a discography
   that easily can compete. I don't know if this set is still
   available, but if you see it it's well worth picking up!

Scorpions - Eye II Eye. 1999. Koch Records.
   2 years later, and yes, it *STILL* sucks. Hard.
   "Use your head, man! What were you thinking?"

Terraplane - Black and White. 1985. Sony (Japan).
   Pre-Thunder. Solid, but I'm not sure how well it stands the
   test of time. Sounds somewhat primitive to these ears.

Amorphis - Am Universum. 2001. Relapse Records.
   Possibly the only worthwhile artist on the label. They are
   continuing their progression from death metal to hard rock.
   Quite decent, but I'm not sure it stacks up to Tuonela...

Mammoth - S/T. 1989. Jive/Zomba Records.
   A quintessential AOR album, and an absolute *MUST* *HAVE* for
   any self-respecting AOR fan. Sounds like a blend of Survivor
   and Journey. These portly blokes (raises them a notch in
   my eyes to start :) could belt out the tunes with the
   best of 'em. A shame they really never did anything else
   (the album "XXXL" released a couple of years back pales
   by comparison, and half the album is demo versions of stuff
   on this album).

ELO - Zoom. 2001. Sony Music.
   SNORE. The trademark stylings are there, but it's a shame
   Lynne suffers from "OldManItis". Nothing rocks. It's all
   wimpy roots rock type stuff with more of Beatles or
   Travelling Dingleberries feel. Disappointing.

Ok, now on to the fruits of the trip itself. In general, the
pawn shops of the Reading/Lancaster area suck rocks. Nowhere
near as good as the ones here in the midwest. The 2 best stores
were both in Lancaster: "CD Warehouse", and "Stan's Record Bar",
with the latter being quite intriguing. The proprietor is quite
knowledgeable and quite the AOR/hard rock fan. He's *really* into
Glenn Hughes, and has virtually everything Hughes has ever done,
including some quite obscure stuff. The store's "reference
collection" contained some stuff that I *really* would have loved
to buy, but alas, not for sale; some fairly rare stuff in there.
His stock was about 70% vinyl and 30% CDs, with the vast majority
of the CDs being AOR, hard rock, classic rock, and melodic metal.
He had sections for MTM, Frontiers, Z Records, and had just gotten
in a bunch of stuff on the "Record Heaven" label. I got a chance
to listen to the most recent Yngwie tribute (not the Dwell Records
one) that sounded interesting. I bought a few things there, but
didn't realize until after we left that I'd left the "Seventh Key"
disc behind. Doh! (I gotta find 'em where I can since neither MTM
nor Frontiers evidently have any interest in my reviewing their
releases...*HINT*... Majestic Entertainment was a joke, but at
least they sent me material which I reviewed faithfully).

Anyway, enough of my bitching about clueless record labels, on
to the discs I picked up, some good, some bad, some mediocre:

Planet P Project - S/T. 1983. Geffen Records.
T-Ride - S/T. 1992. Hollywood Records.
   I've already got these 2, so I picked 'em up for trade
   purposes. Both are good albums, but different genres.

Alter Boys - Soul Desire. 1987. Bigtime Records. $5.00
   Wish I coulda listened to this before buying. Yick!
   Kinda punkish roots rock that, well... bites.

Lucy Brown - S/T. 1991. Megaforce/Atlantic. $2.00
   Not sure what to call this. It's hard rock, but not very

Sacrifice - Apocalypse Inside. 1993. Metal Blade. $1.00
   Heavy thrash? Pretty decent...

Fleshcrawl - As Blood Rains... 2000. Metal Blade. $1.00
   I'll buy anything for a buck. If I don't like it, someone
   in our metal listening group will want it...

Crematory - Awake. 1997. Nuclear Blast. $5.98
   Power/prog/death? Really interesting amalgam of metal styles!
   [Note to C-U in Hell! members: I'll be playing this at our
   meeting in 2 weeks.]

Choirboys - Big Bad Noise. 1989. WTG Records. $4.99
   AOR/roots rock, somewhat unusual in presentation.
   Decent, but not overwhelming.

Palace - Brave New World. 1988. Atlantic Records. $5.00
   Pop/lite AOR. Pretty good, with just a slight "new wave"
   flair to it. Lotsa keys and synth drums. Falls in to
   the same category as Tears for Fears and Simple Minds.

Kansas - Boxed Set. 1994. Epic/Legacy. $17.98
   I never picked this up when it first came out, and when they
   made the shift from an actual "boxed set" to a 2-CD set
   with mini booklet (which is the only way you can get it now)
   I kicked myself for never having gotten the full-blown
   box. So seeing this at a quasi-reasonable price, I decided
   "Why not?"

Soundtrack - Star Wars. 1977. Polygram Records. $12.98
   Yeah, it sounds weird, but I've been looking for this
   thing for years. I didn't want the "Special Edition"
   soundtrack, but the original 2-CD double-wide edition.
   It's been out of print for quite a long time. Finally can
   cross this one off the list...

Mike Dugan and the Survival Band - Workin' No year listed.
   PolyRiff Records. $0.99
   Think "Poor Man's Jeff Healey Band"... looks WAY outta print.

Hughes/Thrall - S/T. 1982. Epic Associated. $7.97.
   I know I'm gunna piss people off, but I *still* don't get
   the allure of Glenn Hughes. I've tried to like his stuff,
   really I have... but it just doesn't click. I don't think
   he has that great of a voice (and any self-proclaimed
   "God of Voice" better be able to sing like no one else
   ever has; maybe his egotism just turns me off to the point
   that I just can't hear the good points in his voice; dunno).

Zaca Creek - First Alert Vol. III. 1989. Epic Records. $1.00
   3-track single from this country/rock band. Melodic enough
   that I'll have to pick up their full-length disc (I've seen
   it enough times, but I've always passed on it). Not as inbred
   as most country music; more of a rock blend ala "The Eagles".

Innocent - S/T. 1997. Escape Music. $15.97
   Excellent melodic AOR! No indication when this was actually
   recorded (Escape has an annoying tendency to not put original
   recording date or copyright information on their releases,
   so trying to tell apart current acts from albums recorded
   10 years ago is a mite difficult...*HINT*).

Alice Cooper - Raise Your Fist and Yell. 1987. MCA. $2.99
   How do you go wrong with Alice? Interestingly, the track
   "Gail" is cowritten by Alice, Kane Roberts, and Kip Winger.

Utopia - Oops! Wrong Planet. 1977. MFSL. $5.99
   A Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs gold disc for $5.99? *SNARF*
   Since MFSL is out of business, expect the audiophile discs
   to go up in price on the secondary market (not that they're
   cheap now; some go into the hundreds of dollars). I've 
   always had a soft spot for Utopia; much better than Todd
   Rundgren's solo efforts (with the possible exception of

Henry Lee Summer - I've Got Everything. 1989. CBS. $1.00
   I'm not the biggest fan in the world, but for a buck I'll

Morgana LeFay - Malefecium. 1996. Black Mark. $1.00
   I figured that even though I already had it, for a buck it
   would make good trade material. Then I check my collection
   list to discover I didn't already have it. Bonus!

Jon Butcher - Wishes. 1987. Capitol Records. $5.99
   I've always liked his classic AOR material, and I wish
   more of the "Jon Butcher Axis" material would make it onto

Lemur Voice - Insights. 1996. Magna Carta. $0.99
   Sure, I'll bite. I've heard some pretty good things
   about this prog band...

Jorn - Starfire. 2000. Frontiers Records. $7.97
   Excellent stuff from the Millenium front man. The second
   half of the album is considerably heavier than the first.
   I think I prefer the lighter, more AOR-ish material better.

Killers - Murder One. 1992. Zoo Entertainment. $7.99
   Paul DiAnno and friends belt out some pretty rousing
   melodic metal. Decent stuff...

And now the "gems" (either really great stuff, or really
out-of-print stuff):

Detritus - Perpetual Defiance. 1990. White Metal Records. $3.99
   Not the greatest Christian Metal around, but quite OOP,
   and being the eternal completist, I had to do it.

Steel Prophet - Book of the Dead. 2001. Nuclear Blast. $15.97
   Yes!! Da boys is back in da howse, more polished than ever.
   I'm really looking forward to seeing them again at Ultrasound
   this year; if their set is half as good as it was last
   year, they should be a highlight once again...

Angel Dust - Border of Reality. 2001 (1998). Century Media. $15.97
   Excellent stuff! At times softer and more melodic than
   what we've come to expect from their last 2 efforts.
   Interesting hearing what they initially sounded like.

Tygers of Pan Tang - Crazy Nights + 3. 1997 (1981). Edgy (Austria)
   Was cool to find this reissue, as it was the last of the
   four I was missing...

The Kry - I'll Find You There. 1992. Asaph Records. $1.00
   Helluva deal for a buck. OOP Christian AOR; quite melodic.

Dio - Backstage Pass - Excerpts from INFERNO: Live in Line.
   1998. Mayhem Records. $6.99
   Promo-only 10-track subset of "Last in Live" 2-CD set
   (I think). Anyone know whassup with this? This is on 
   Mayhem Records, but "Last in Live" was released on the
   Spitfire label, so what is this a promo for???

Edgar Winter - Mission Earth. 1989. Rhino Records. $2.99
   Appears to be quite OOP. Jazz/rock, songs written by
   L. Ron Hubbard. Interesting stuff...

Glenn Hughes/Geoff Downes - Thw Work Tapes. 1998 Blueprint. $2.98
   WTF? Glenn Hughes sings Stevie Wonder. Bizarre...

Rodger Hodgson - In the Eye of the Storm. 1984.
   A and M Records. $7.99
   Excellent!!!! Blows away "Hai Hai". Could definitely be
   described as "the missing Supertramp album." Much better
   than I was expecting!

Chase - In Pursuit. 1993. Salt Music. $9.99
   Excellent melodic AOR. Produced by Bill Baumgart.
   Lotsa good choruses on this one.

Hunter - Dreams of Ordinary Men. 1987. Polygram. $5.00
   Yowza! The title cut especially is great stuff. True AOR.
   Australian band evidently, this album was produced and
   engineered by Todd Rundgren. This band was previously
   named "Dragon" and released at least one album "Body and
   the Beat" in 1984. This is better. If you see this,
   get it.

and lastly, one that when I picked it up out of the bin, not
only screamed "OOP!", but looked like it *had* to be AOR (or
a boy band, but the time period just wasn't right); cover is
a picture of the band, 4 guys with long hair in blue jeans,
one in a leopardskin shirt, one in a plaid vest with black
overcoat, one bare-chested in open leather jacket, and one
in sunglasses wearing a bandanna. Band's name in pink and
blue lettering with "O"s shaped like hearts. How more stero-
typical can you get????

Romeo - S/T. 1993. WFG/BMI Records. $7.99.
   Trite? Yes. Sappy? Yes. An entire album of nothing but
   AOR ballads. Absolutely nothing innovative here whatsoever.
   And I love it. How many cliches can you count in the
   track names?:
    1. Who's Gonna Save You Now
    2. Another Night
    3. Can We Try It Again
    4. It Ain't Worth It
    5. You're Just Another Broken Heart
    6. Don't Tell Me You Love Me (no, not a Night Tanger cover)
    7. Rock Me All Day
    8. Long Road (Back to My Heart)
    9. Crazy
   10. Heaven
   11. Juliet

Well, that's all for now.


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