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The Scrounger's Report

Nov. 27, 2003

The Toot Your Own Horn Scrounger's Report

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? Rather than partake in the Black Friday
fiasco, I decided to do my shopping the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. I needed to
take some cornets and trumpets up to a shop near Chicago for repair and cleaning
(I just started playing the trumpet again after a 17-year hiatus, so I've been
scrounging for vintage horns on Ebay... great, ANOTHER vice to spend money on),
so I figured I'd make a day of it and do some CD shopping as well. [For those
who care, if you ever need instrument repair done, I wholeheartedly recommend
Wayne Tanabe at The Brass Bow in Arlington Heights, IL. He's got a national
reputation as an instrument craftsman. Not cheap, but excellent work.]

This was my first trip up to Chi-town since getting a new car this past summer.
Let me tell you, a supercharged V6 vs. an anemic 2.0 4-cylinder makes surviving
traffic a little bit easier. I wasn't nearly as terrified as I was the last time
I ventured north. I guess I'm just a country bumpkin at heart - I *HATE* city
driving. There's something just a wee bit disconcerting about seeing signs that
say "55 MPH" when I'm doing 75 and people are blowing past me like I'm sitting
still. Why bother? Why not just put up big signs that say "WE DON'T CARE HOW

Rather than going dumpster diving, just about all of the stuff I picked up was
new product. I figured that if I'm going to do a "Best of 2003" list for HH, I'd
better flesh out my selection of 2003 material. Most of my money was spent at
Impulse Music in Roselle. I wish it was a bit closer so I could frequent it more
often (although my wallet is glad its as far away as it is). Even though I could
have bought the CDs cheaper online, there's still something about being able to
physically browse, read the booklets, and listen to discs before buying. I also
hit Tower Records, which proved well worthwhile. For those of you who bitch
about Tower, you don't know how good you have it. Try living somewhere with only
Best Buy, Circuit City, and Sam Goody for your CD selection. Tower blows them
all away by leaps and bounds.

I haven't listened to everything yet, but got a few of these listened to on the
drive back. I'll list off the ones I haven't listened to first...

Journey - Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997. 2003 Sony Music
For $8.95, how can you possibly go wrong? Not sure why Tower is blowing these
out at that price, but I'm not complaining; better than them putting the latest
Limp Bizkit magnum opus on sale...

Virgina Wolf - S/T. 2003 (1986). Wounded Bird Records
Virginia Wolf - Push. 2003 (1987). Wounded Bird Records
Haven't listened yet. Have heard good things about these two though.

Lord Grey - Lady of the Lake. 2002. Shire Records
Features members of Savannah; have not listened yet.

Krokus - Rock the Block. 2003. Warner Music (Switzerland)
Haven't listened yet, but the big-assed "Copy Protected" disclaimers all over
the place are cute. Anyone want a CDR copy? :) :)

Nik Kershaw - Human Racing. 1984. MCA Records (United Kingdom).
Haven't listened yet; am expecting a poppy type of AOR.

Victory - Instinct. 2003. Steamhammer/SPV.
Original lineup back together after all these years. Whodathunk? Haven't
listened yet.

Toto - Live in Amsterdam. 2003. Eagle Recordings.
Haven't listened yet.

Asia - Enso Kai. 2001. Renaissance/Geffen.
Eh?? Says recorded "Live at the Budokan 1983". Could be a boot, but
professionally done artwork, and claims to be fully licensed. Have not listened yet.

Pride - Signs of Purity. 200?. AOR Heaven/Point Music.
Have not listened yet.

Eternal Flame - King of the King. 2002. MTM Music (Germany).
Have not listened yet.

Altaria - Invitation. 2003. Metal Heaven (AOR Heaven).
Haven't listened yet, but the sticker on the front says "featuring members of
Nightwish and Sonata Arctica". Yum!

Shiva - S/T. 2002. Z Records.
Female-fronted melodic rock; have not listened yet.

Ivory Tower - Heart of the City. 2002 (1984?) Chavis Records.
Have not listened yet.

Black Sabbath - Rock Champions. 2001. EMI Plus (Netherlands).
Compilation of Sabbath tuned from 1989-1995. Hey, it was cheap.

Triumph - Stages. 1985. Polystar Records (Japan).
Never got around to picking this up years ago. When I spotted the Japanese
version sitting in Tower's sale rack, I just had to save it from obliveon.

Great White - Stages. Zoo/BMG (Japan).
This is the Japanese 2-CD version, which is a bit of a misnomer, since you
really only end up with 2 extra songs compared to the U.S. 1-CD version.

Hardline - Live at the Gods. 2003. Frontiers Records
I picked up both the CD and the DVD. Three things immediately struck me: (1)
female backing vocalists don't fit with this music AT ALL, (2) Johnny, stop
being such a hard-ass, and (3) I don't know if the setup sucked, but the sound
sure did. There was clear indication that something was wrong with the sound
from the performers' standpoint, and it showed. Johnny even referred to it
"sounding like shit up here". Some songs definitely work better than others in
this performance; "Takin' Me Down" works well. [Edit: I'm watching the DVD as I
watch this, and I need to modify the above: the female vocalists absolutely
fucking ruin this. Good God, what were they thinking????] [Edit 2: Oh. My. Ears.
They. Hurt. Make. It. Stop. Please. Mommy.]

Shy - Breakaway. 2001. Z Records (U.K.)
Shy - Unfinished Business. 2002. Z Records (U.K.)
I'm a Shy completist, so I had to pick these up. Not bad, although the sound
quality suffers at times.

Westworld - Cyberdreams. 2002. Z Records.
Some modern elements at times, but overall quite melodic. Production/mix is
quite good.

Pride of Lions - S/T. 2003. Frontiers Records
Good stuff, very solid. Is it just me or does Toby Hitchcock sound like Dennis
Deyoung? Definitely worth picking up, but not the cat's meow that everyone makes
it out to be [hehehe].

Firehouse - Prime Time. 2003. Canyon International (Japan).
Better than the previous two studio efforts, but seems spotty. Some songs are
absolute gems, while others seem to be failed experiments. I need to listen to
this one a few more times.

V/A - Rock the Nation - Pure Power. 1995? Rock the Nation (Holland).
Label compilation featuring tracks from Leviathan, Alias, Altar of the King,
Second Heat, Change of Seasons, Power, Milan Polak, New World, and S.A. Adams

Phil Vincent - Calm Before the Storm. 1997. New Tomorrow Music.
Great stuff musically, but the production - Oy Vey.

Final Frontier - The First Wave. 2002. Z Records.
Excellent!!! As much as it pains me to say that about a Z Records release, this
is first rate melodic rock. Love the harmonies on this one.

Royal Hunt - Eyewitness. 2003. Frontiers Records.
Not bad, but I still cannot get into John West's lead vocals. To me, D.C. Cooper
will always be the lead vocalist of Royal Hunt.

Dreamtide - Dreams for the Daring. 2003. Frontiers Records.
*sigh*. I miss Fair Warning. Glad to see the boys are moving on. The new
vocalist is decent. Solid stuff; I think this one may be heavier than the first CD.

Earthshaker - The Best '87-'92. 1992. Eastworld (Japan).
$4.99 in a bargain bin. BONUS! While most Japanese-singing groups leave me flat,
for some reason I really like this band. Very melodic stuff! (can't understand a
fucking word they're saying, but it sounds good).

Domain - The Sixth Dimension. 2003. Humbucker Music (Germany).
Yowza! Excellent! I don't recall their early material being this heavy.
Whatever, it works.

Token - Tomorrowland. 2002. MTM Music (Germany).
Wow! This is supermelodic stuff; quite possibly the find of the day from a
melodic standpoint. I don't recognize any of the names in the group, but it
works. Bigtime.

and lastly, the expensive item of the day. I never thought I'd spend $50 on a
DVD, but when I saw this I just had to have it. Being that I'm an absolute
completist for this group I had to grit my teeth and fork over the bucks. Now
that I've watched the DVD, it was well worth it! This is how a live AOR DVD
should sound and look:

Fair Warning - The Call of the East Live in Japan. 2002. Warner Music Japan.
This is a Region 2 DVD, so you'd need a region-free DVD player to watch this.
This Concert was shot in 1993 during the tour for their S/T CD (I think it may
be the same show as the "Live in Japan" CD). Track listing:

1. Sunset (intro)
2. Out on the Run
3. Longing for Love
4. When Love Fails
5. Eastern Sun
6. Crazy
7. Take Me Up
8. Long Gone
9. Take a Look at the Future
10. Children's Eyes
11. Hang On
12. The Eyes of Rock
13. One Step Closer
14. A Little More Love

and then extra tracks:

15. The Heat of Emotion
16. The Call of the Heart
17. In the Ghetto
18. Sukiyaki
19. Mickey's Monkey

All in all an expensive day, but lots of fun material acquired. Until next time,
keep rockin'!


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