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Album Review: Rhino Records' Expanded Edition of The Cars' Heartbeat City

March 30, 2018, saw the continuation of Rhino Records’ revamp of The Cars’ classic catalog with the release of the expanded edition of Heartbeat City (in tandem with Shake It Up, previously reviewed on SRO). This wildly unique fifth album from the band proved The Cars to be at the forefront of technological experimentation, cutting edge visual representation (aka music videos), and eclectic synth pop sorcery – all addictive elements prevalent in the 1984 music scene.


Review and photos by Donna Neale

After working with Roy Thomas Baker on their first four albums, The Cars chose to team up with famed producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange for HBC, a decision that would ultimately be the best in terms of commercial success, but possibly the worst for the band’s cohesive future. They lived in London for over six months, undergoing a grueling recording and production process that left them worn thin. In the liner notes for this expanded edition, written by David Fricke with Ric Ocasek, Ric states, “All those months in London, things got out of sync between us.

Book Review: Psycho Chicken & Other Foolish Tales

Author: Mike Girard

After recently conducting an interview with Mike Girard, long time front-man of the crazy-cool rock band The Fools, I learned that Mike had written a book chronicling the 40-plus year escapades of this odd yet very talented group from the coal-mining town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, the original home (believe it or not) of the fried clam!

“... a group with balls, The Fools!” ~ Charles Laquidara, WBCN radio personality


Review by Joe Milliken

Having been a Fools fan since college – I saw them perform at my alma mater (Dean College, Franklin, Ma.) in 1985 – I was really excited to interview Mike, and after our interview and learning he had written a book, I was automatically interested and just knew I had to read it! Yes, Psycho Chicken & Other Foolish Tales appealed to me on a few levels.

Green Mountain Boys and the Revolutionary Origins of Vermont

Author and former New York Times correspondent, Christopher Wren, recently released his second “Vermont themed” book title Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom: Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys and the American Revolution (Simon & Schuster). The new release follows Walking to Vermont, which told the story of how upon his retirement from The Times, Wren packed up a backpack and walked from Times Square, all the way to his second home in Fairlee, Vermont. But I digress...


Review by Joe Milliken

Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom is an interesting lesson in not only Vermont history but American history in that, while we learned in school about the cold winter at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania and the shots fired at the rude bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, often overlooked is the American Revolution being saved in 1777 in Bennington and subsequently Vermont becoming the fourteenth state in the union over a decade later.

CD Review: Randy Klawon's "Shine Your Light"

Veteran guitarist, keyboardist, and song writer, Randy Klawon, has been around the block... a couple times over. A Mentor, Ohio, native who became a member of The Choir in 1968 - joining his brother Dan in the band that would eventually morph into national hit makers the Raspberries - Klawon has played it all: originals and covers, the British Invasion, progressive and punk rock and now? Original Cleveland power-pop!


Review by Joe Milliken * Photo courtesy of Randy Klawon

He has toured the Midwest bar circuit, recorded at Columbia Studio in New York City and toured up and down the west coast. That is a lot of experience to draw from, and it all shines through in Klawon’s new solo CD titled Shine Your Light, recorded in his home studio (dubbed Panic Studio) and featuring a whopping 22 songs of mostly guitar-orientated power pop. Nearly all the tracks were recorded within the last two years and specifically for this release, while “four or five” of the songs were written previously and carried over to the new sessions.

CD Review: Chris Butler's "Got It Togehter"

Although Chargin Falls-native musician, Chris Butler, is most known for his creating of the experimental new wave band The Waitresses, the Kent State University student (yes, he experienced the infamous Kent State shooting) was also actively involved in the highly influential 70s Kent/Akron/Cleveland music and art scene that practically invented the American new wave sound with such bands as Devo, Chrissie Hynde’s Jack Rabbit, the Bizarros, Pere Ubu, Pagans, and Butler’s own Waitresses, 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band) and Tin Huey.


Review by Joe Milliken

In fact, the surrealist-sounding Tin Huey actually got as far as signing a record deal with Warner Bros., before the Waitresses exploded onto the scene in 1982 with Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful which featured the hit single “I Know What Boys Like.”

Album Review: Rhino Records' Expanded Edition of The Cars' Shake It Up

Rhino Records has done it again. Coinciding with The Cars’ 2018 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and paving the way for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of their debut album, Rhino has released expanded editions of Shake It Up (1981) and Heartbeat City (1984), The Cars’ fourth and fifth albums, respectively. Of course, you may recall that expanded editions of Candy-O and Panorama were released last summer, causing quite a stir in the “Fanorama,” and these March 30, 2018, offerings have generated their own buzz, as well.


Review and photos by Donna Neale

Do you remember how in my review of Panorama I used the illustration of a capital letter Y to show the progression of The Cars’ sound? And how I said that Panorama represented a veering off into the left fork of the letter? Well, with Shake It Up (SIU) we definitely hear the band heading back to center and then taking a U turn up in the opposite direction. No more snarky jabs and swaggering strut; SIU sounds more like a dance set at the junior high… which is where it may have been played most often.

CD Review: Iron Maiden's "The Book Of Souls"

I have been an Iron Maiden fan since 1981. Through all the ups (Powerslave) and the downs (Virtual X), I have always anticipated the next Maiden album with high expectations.


Review by Christopher Bergmann

Upon the return of long-time guitarist Adrian Smith and vocalist Bruce Dickinson in 2000, a string of great albums followed, including Dance of Death, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier (my favorite of the bunch) and Book of Souls.

With Book of Souls, the band reaches a songwriting and performance peak unlike any album before. A two CD/LP set, the band's creative output has only grown as the band members reach and surpass 60 years old. That in itself, is impressive.

CD Review: YES - Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two

A 14-CD live box set releasd in 2015

Back in 2005, recordings of seven consecutive 1972 concerts performed by the legendary progressive rock band Yes, were discovered by Rhino Records, but deemed “too rough to release.” However, subsequent technology has enabled these recordings to finally be cleaned up and released, creating what may be the definitive live collection of "classic" Yes music to ever be released.


Review by Christopher Bergmann * Photos courtesy of Rhino Records

Aside from a few repairs (Alan White’s snare was lost in the mix on a few recordings, snare parts from another show were put in), this set is sparkling and clear, and the versions are, for the most part, full of energy and show in the truest way, how this band really sounded live in 1972.

CD Review: Steve Howe - Anthology 1 & 2, "Solo Career Retrosective" and "Groups & Collaborations"

LOS ANGELES – In 2015, legendary Yes guitarist, Steve Howe, released the two-disc collection Anthology, A Solo Career Retrospective, a 33-track set taken from his vast archive of solo music. This was followed by the 2017 release of Anthology 2, Groups & Collaborations, a three-disc, 56-track collection covering material from the guitarist’s participation in bands, including songs from Yes, Asia, GTR, Tomorrow, and collaborations with other artists. Both collections also feature design and artwork from famed artist Roger Dean.


Review and photos by Joe Milliken

Anthology, A Solo Career Retrospective includes songs cherry-picked by Howe (and his late son, Virgil) and primarily draws from his solo work recorded between 1975 and 2011. As a solo artist, his range of styles are all over the musical map, and all are well-represented throughout this beautifully packaged collection. The tracks are pulled from several early solo albums, a 2008 compilation of re-recorded songs, two other compilation albums in which Howe participated, and two tracks from his Bob Dylan covers album, Portrait of Bob Dylan.

CD Review : Legendary Session Guitarist Steve Hunter Releases "Before The Lights Go Out"

Steve Hunter is one of those musicians - in the wide and deep pantheon of rock music - who may not necessarily be known to the masses. Yet also to many other fans and musicians alike - and some of the names you may be familiar with – Hunter, also known as ‘The Deacon,” is very well-known and highly respected as a studio musician and live performer. He has recorded and toured with such artists as Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel, Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Mick Jagger and Robert Fripp, to name some.


Review and item photos by Joe Milliken * Portrait photo courtesy of Steve Hunter

And as I take a glance at the credits and “thank yous” within his new CD, Before the Lights Go Out, I see such “supporting contributors” as Steve Vai, Joe Perry, Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper, Joe Satriani, Jason Becker, Bob Ezrin and Johnny Depp. Yes, Mr. Hunter is well-known within some impressive music circles.

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