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1986

Wa Wa Nee – Wa Wa Nee [1986]

WA_WA_NEE_STCountry Australia          Style AOR/Rock/Pop/Funk

Rating 80/100

Band Members
Chris Sweeney – Drums,Percussion, Mark Gray – Bass, Paul Gray – Vocals,Keyboards, Steve Williams – Guitars

Tracks
01. One And One (Ain’t Good Enough) (3:20), 02. Teacher (1:56), 03. Stimulation (3:56), 04. Jelly Baby (4:26), 05. Gone (4:26), 06. Sugar Free (4:15), 07. When The World Is A Home (4:00), 08. Manchild (3:59), 09. Love Reaction (5:26), 10. I Could Make You Love Me (3:54)

Profile Wa Wa Nee was an Australian funk/pop band, active from approximately 1985 to 1989. Led by singer/songwriter Paul Gray and guitarist Steve Williams, bassist Mark Gray and drummer ‘The Sween’, the band signed with CBS Records in 1985. Wa Wa Nee had four singles in the Australian top 40 from their debut album release of the same name. They included “Stimulation” which reached number 2 nationally in Australia in 1986, “I Could Make You Love Me”, reaching the Top 5 in the same year, and both “One And One (Ain’t I Good Enough)” and “Sugar Free” making the Top 20.

“Sugar Free” also reached the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Top 40. This, however would be their only success in America “Stimulation” was released as the follow-up single, but only reached #86, culminating their chart career there… The band’s self-titled debut album went platinum in Australia, despite only reaching #29 on the charts. Wa Wa Nee’s “Stimulation” featured in the first episode of Channel 9′s Underbelly: The Golden Mile (on Monday 12 April 2010).

Wa+Wa+Nee

 

 

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Prior Park – Passport [1986]

fc8433ec395bfa22c6cbe12dcff369bf_lgCountry USA          Style AOR

Rating 83/100

Band Members
Jeff Heller – Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals, Jeff Boudrot – Drums, Ted Machliet – Guitar,Vocals , William Guevara – Guitar, Mike Williams – Keyboards

Tracks
01. In My Arms Tonight, 02. Nothings gonna bring me Down, 03. Driving me crazy, 04. Together, 05. She Turned the light out on me, 06. Impressions, 07. The Castle, 08. The Ride

Profile California’s rockers Prior Park besides “Welcome to the park”  released also another album titled “Passport” contained eight powerful melodic rock tunes. The band led by the vocal phenomenon of Jeff Heller that can be compared with Jack Blades, Larry Greene and Rick Cartey. The band move in the classic 80s AOR sound that heard that period and highlights here are definetely “Nothings gonna bring me Down” and “The castle”, two songs with strong songwriting, harmony vocals, pompus key and catchy chorus. The midtempo rocker “The Ride” is another winner as the rocker “She Turned the light out on me”. The ballad “Impressions” and the 70s influenced “Together”, definetely will leave you satisfy. The album worth and if you are fan of bands in the vein of Cinema, Nightwork, Toto and Bootcamp don’t miss these guys….

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Hero – Hero [1986]

HERO_HEROCountry Denmark          Style Hard Rock

Rating 77/100

Band Members
Bo Brinck – Keyboards,Backing Vocals, Johnny Thomas – Guitar,Backing Vocals, Michael Fast – Drums, Peter Fernando – Guitar,Backing Vocals, Rik Jensen – Bass, Steen Larsen – Vocals

Tracks
01. You’re A Hero (04:21), 02. Race And Revel (04:04), 03. Land Of Tomorrow (04:50), 04. We Came To Rock (03:47), 05. Masquerade (03:56), 06. Jealousy Kills (04:13), 07. Now We Play To Win (04:18), 08. Illusions Of Yesterday (03:37), 09. Turning Out A Star (05:37)

Profile From Kalundborg, Denmark, HERO was founded in 1982. The band started to play the typical NWOBHM of the era, recording two demos distributed locally. Circa the mid-eighties they changed their style to a more commercial hard ‘n heavy / melodic rock adding a permanent keyboardist.

Signed by Vertigo, Hero released their self-titled debut in 1986. We have here that unmistakable Scandinavian ’80s sound focused on strong guitars and vocals peppered with AOR synths all over. However, Hero’s music is slightly more edgy than the bands of the same period, with more in common to Norwegians TNT. Their style also reminds you Pretty Maids on many places, not strangely drummer Michael Fast joined the Danish rock institution later in 1991.

“Race And Revel”, “Illusions Of Yesterday”, “Masquerade”, “You’re A Hero”, “Land Of Tomorrow”, all are good, rockin’ exponents of the band’s style, very well produced by Nils Henriksen with a crunchy and crisp sound. Hero disbanded in ’88, as said Michael Fast joined Pretty Maids and keyboardist Bo Brinck went to form Harlot (later Savage Affair).

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Michael Sembello – Without Walls [1986]

MICHAELSEMBELLO_WWCountry USA          Style WestCoast AOR

Rating 87/100

Band Members
Michael Sembello – Lead Vocals,Guitar,Keyboards, Tata Vega – Vocals on ‘Wonder Where You Are’, Steve Rippley,Bud Rizzo,Jennifer Batten – Guitars, Randy Waldman – Keyboards, Richard Rudolph – Bass, Danny Sembello – Bass,Keyboards, Vinnie Colaiuta,Carlos Vega – Drums, Ron Powell – Percussion, Dennis Matkosky,Steve Porcaro – Synthesizers, David Boruff – Saxophone, Herb Alpert – Horns, Stevie Wonder – Harmonica,Backing Vocals, Bobby Caldwell,Cruz Sembello,Danny Sembello – Backing Vocals

Tracks
01. What You Really Want, 02. Last To Know, 03. Funkabilly Swing, 04. Is This The Way To Paradise, 05. Burn It Up, 06. Angelina [CD bonus], 07. Tear Down The Walls, 08. Gravity (Special Dance Mix), 09. Wonder Where You Are, 10. Dangerous, 11. The Picture [CD bonus]

Profile Michael Sembello released his debut album in 1983 and the song ‘Maniac’, included in the movie Flashdance, won the following year’s Grammy in its category and become the third highest grossing song from a soundtrack. Due to this fulminant success Michael has spent much of his career writing and performing music for movies and TV shows, so his solo discography is quite narrowed.

His second solo “Without Walls” is a classic mainstream product of its time: commercial but elaborated Pop-Rock AOR with some Westcoast throwing in. ”What You Really Want” opens the disc with catchy temperament, featuring a very good guitar riff and solo. This track is a Lite AOR gem. “Last To Know” is one of those pop tracks that has the necessary essence to stand the test of time, with a solid songwriting in the best Canadian style. ”Funkabilly Swing” is obviously a funk-rock&pop song, but the sonic treatment here is quite melodic, and the rhythm guitars are just amazing. The eighties magic returns with the AORish “Is This the Way To Paradise”, where Michael sings (especially the chorus) fiercely, and the guitar / keyboard tandem enrich the tune.

“Burn It Up” is another highlight. A pure ’80s uptempo track with an action-movie style. ”Angelina” and particularly “Wonder Where You Are” are smooth Westcoast numbers, while “Dangerous” and “Gravity” are commercial, almost danceable tracks. The latter was included into the ‘Cocoon’ soundtrack and the mix is done with the typical studio trickery of the era. ”Tear Down The Walls” is a marching, anthemic pop-rocker. This song was later recorded by Argentine musician Miguel Mateos (produced by Sembello) and become a latin hit. ”The Picture” is another enormous eighties winner song, with excellent guitar work (Jennifer Batten plays here uncredited), processed drums and glossy production.

“Without Walls” is a terrific album in the classy mid-eighties style, with great songs, superb musicians involved and lush production. ”Angelina” and “The Picture” are only exclusive to Japanese CD version, the only country which had the privilege to see the album released on this format.

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Howard Hewett – I Commit To Love [1986]

howard_hewett-1986-i_commit_to_loveCountry USA          Style Hi-Tech AOR/R&B

Rating 83/100

Band Members
Gerald Albright,Stanley Clarke – Bass, John Barnes,Todd Cochrane,Raymond Crossley,Joey Gallo,Kevin Grady,Monty Seward – Keyboards, Ronald Ray Brunner – Tom Tom, Kevin Chokan,Paul Jackson, Jr. – Guitar, Paulinho Da Costa – Percussion, Nadia Deleye,Gwen Evans,Josie James,Nicole Krauss,Alejandra Loiaza,Ross Vannelli,Carolyn Vigiga,Deniece Williams – Background vocals, George Duke – Keyboards,string, Wilton Felder,George Howard – Saxophone, Ed Grenga – Guitar,keyboards, Howard Hewett – Vocals, Tris Imboden – Drums

Tracks
01. Stay, 02. I’m For Real, 03. Last Forever, 04. I Commit To Love, 05. In A Crazy Way, 06. Love Don’t Wanna Wait, 07. I Got 2 Go, 08. Eye On You, 09. Let’s Try It All Over Again, 10. Say Amen

Profile Howard Hewett made a smooth transition from being a member of the trio Shalamar to becoming a bona fide solo artist. His first single to hit the Billboard R&B charts was the romantically enchanting “I’m for Real.” Too fast to be a ballad and not fast enough to be a jam, Hewett still captivated radio and his audience with this moderate number. The Ohio native glides from his lacerating tenor to his striking falsetto highs supported by cogent backing vocals. The classic piece peaked at number two on the charts. The single “Stay” has a crossover appeal, but it never made a dent in the pop charts. It is not half as impressive as “I’m for Real.

” However, it did manage to show at number eight on the Billboard R&B charts. “I Commit to Love” falls short as well. It too is saturated with pop seasonings. Nonetheless, it tipped in at number 12 on the Billboard R&B charts. The final release was the inspirational selection “Say Amen,” which is Hewett’s personal testimony of being given a second chance after his battle with life’s various vices. It has become an anthem for many. Inside ten weeks, it peaked at number 54. The shortcoming on this album is the material. As Hewett can deliver on the vocals, the songs do nothing for his talent as they lack excitement and mesmerizing melodies; the two elements commonly associated with his great voice.

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Craig Lytle

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Database info

Albums: 1537
Biographies: 370
Meet the Bands: 609
Soundtracks: 146
Reviews: 145

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