"Publisher's Corner"

by Geoff Wilbur
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Kansas Somewhere to Elsewhere

Magna Carta Records
Of course I hung onto the Kansas CD to review myself. My goodness! The plush, full, powerful, soft, progressive music, Steve Walsh's emotional lead vocals, the occasional crashing guitars, the intricate, interwoven songwriting -- Kansas proves once again they're still among the masters. But that's no surprise, and perhaps that the greatest tribute to this band. On every listen, I have a different favorite song, though I will mention "Icarus II" as a great choice for an album opener, as it really draws the listener into Kansas' world. This'll be a long-time favorite.

Velocity Activator

Accelerator Records/Dreamscape Music Group
Melodic hard -- and I do mean hard -- rock with power, passion, tuneful vocal screams, and shredding guitars. Yeah, it might take you back a decade or more when you hear it, but what you'll wonder is why the powers that be didn't they just weed out the pretenders and allow the best of this powerful, guitar-laden ear candy to remain within our mainstream music library... 'cause Velocity is among the best of the melodic hard rock genre.  "Stay," "Beautiful and Useless," "Alive," "You" (with some of the most attention-grabbing guitar licks on the CD), and "Stranger" -- each with a distinctive flavor within Velocity's overall sound. You'll be bouncing in your chair and may even find yourself shaking your fist in the air before you're through this CD. Oh, yeah!

Jim Wilson Cape of Good Hope

Hillsboro
Jim's classical piano touch provides a soothing respite from any worries one might have. At the same time, it dances about lightly, providing an entertaining backdrop to the day. "'Til I See You Again" is one of the standout cuts, and Dan Fogelberg's vocalizing adds a soothing extra instrument to "Picasso's Midnight Stroll." "Home in the Heartland" is another favorite, while Stephen Bishop's smooth voice provides the only lyrical vocals on the CD for "Donna Lynn."

Annick Gagnon

Boardwalk Records/Popular Records
Fun, energetic, ear-bending vocals draw the listener to this disc of fun pop dance music. "I'm Temperamental" has radio scorcher written all over it. "2 Steps Forward (1 Step Back)" is the most captivating pop ballad on this CD. "This Love Of Mine" has diva written all over it, while "Losing a Race With the Moon" smells like a breakaway second or third hit. Britney, Christina, Annick...? OK, maybe not yet, but it's not for lack of talent.

Robin Brock Blame It On Rock & Roll

A2 Records
Combining growl, power, and crispness, Robin Brock's voice rocks, as the does the music behind it. The pure joy apparent in the energetic rocker "Burning Up" will really draw you in. "You Lost Your Heart," meanwhile, is a guitar-filled ballad, showing a softer side of Robin's vocals without sacrificing the disc's rock edge. There's even a mild country music flavor (meaning you could picture Shania Twain performing them) to the rockers "Lipstick and Lace" and "In My Heart." But mostly, Robin rocks medium-hard, and she rocks well.

Mika Pohjola & Yusuke Yamamoto Sound Of Village

Splasc(H) Records
Mostly smooth jazzy instrumental music, Sound Of Village isn't content just to be pleasantly listenable. "Bulan Mei," for example, builds into a harsh frenzy. The short "A Chant For the Procurator" is a real attention-getter. (Flute?) Also, I had fun listening for the street noise in "Sound Of Village." And, of course, I'm a sucker for a piano-dominated piece such as "Season's Greetings," though Mika clearly has a way with the harpsichord on other cuts. This disc is an almost experimental recording from a couple of truly talented musicians -- a "jam" that's as much fun for the listeners as it surely was for the performers.

Dan Fogelberg Live

Morning Star Productions/Chicago Records
The songs on this CD were recorded live at various shows from 1992 through 1995. They're great live Fogelberg. Dan ranges from his trademark soft, soft songs to some free range blues rock. Favorites on this CD include "Songbird," "The Innocent Age," "Hard To Say," "Changing Horses," "Don't Let That Sun Go Down," and "Statesboro Blues," plus a nice, smooth cover of "Here Comes the Sun."

JP Jones Back to Jerusalem

Vision Company Records
The title track opens the disc as a gravelly songwriter-style mid-tempo rock number, sort of hinting at Bob Dylan, in fact. The disc is filled with other such lyrical masterpieces, as JP is clearly a master of the folky rockin' singer-songwriter style. There's a hip, peppy vibe worth noting in "Aint That Love." "Works For Me" and "As If," meanwhile, show a light, playful side to JP's music. Overall, there's a broad musical canvas here, all painted by the strokes of a master folky rock singer-songwriter.

Poison Power to the People

Cyanide Records
Five new tracks plus thirteen recorded live. The aggressive, distorted opening of the title track might catch you off guard, but you'll soon be moving your legs and bobbing your head to the rhythm. Also notable among the new tunes are Poison's catchy ballad, "The Last Song" and the frantically energetic "I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine." Favorites from among the live songs include "Something to Believe In," "Fallen Angel," "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Unskinny Bop," and, of course, "Talk Dirty to Me." Drink up this good Poison.

BJ Thomas You Call That a Mountain

Kardina Records
BJ's deep, strong, soothing, soulful voice is a welcome presence on this calming, pleasant CD journey. The uplifting "What's Forever For" shines with BJ's famous vocal treatment. He gives a great vocal turn to "I'm So Lonesome I Can Cry." And he checks in with the fun, light, happy (my favorite on the disc) "Hey Won't You Play" -- you know, the "another somebody done somebody wrong song." (You've also got "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head" on this disc.) And if you're looking for a great ballad, my favorite here is "Old Fashioned Love." Or is it "Home Where I Belong"? Whatever, it's all good stuff -- classic BJ Thomas.

The Best of Rosebudd Records Volume 1

Rosebudd Records, P.O. Box 26044
Bill Toll & Cidy Zoo open the CD with "Angelina," a modestly haunting, medium-heavy, mid-tempo, straight-up modern rockers. Randy Roberts' "Wrong Number" is a swinging, danceable, mid-tempo country ditty. Robb Hudspeth makes a convincing case amid the smooth rise and fall of his vocals on "I'm the Messiah." Bruce Neault sings "Walk in the Light of the Lord" with a steady, even tempo. Bill Toll & Cidy Zoo deliver a catchy little instrumental ditty, "25 Strings." Renee Francine belts out the soft R&B, adult contemporary torchy scorcher "Night Minds." Venus Ford & the Illumination's "I Greet the Morning" is a soft, slightly eerie, subtly attention-grabbing soft pop/rock number. Carl Caballero hollers out "Two Hours till Midnight" in raucous, bluesy country barroom style. Susan Hatt's sweet voice soars as its ebbs and flows fuel the soft power of "He is a River." Pony's "Dandelion Day" is a bright, happy, energetic little child-oriented ditty. Bruce Neault elicits a "yee-haw" from listeners with the fast-paced, picker-'n-grinner "Molly and Me." In a modern-styled country ballad, Randy Roberts suggests "Let's Play House" as part of the song's life-long story. Bruce Neault bops along through the mid-tempo, old-fashioned country "Love Me Once Again." And Bruce Neault closes the disc by grooving his way through the modern, jazzy instrumental "Groovey Tube."

NSync Celebrity

Jive Records
There's a little more noise and a rougher edge on this than has been on previous NSync efforts. Catchiest tracks are "Pop" and "Girlfriend." "Celebrity" is lyrically interesting, while "The Game Is Over" has an interesting texture and adds to the feel of the album (even if I'd leave it as an album track). The ballad "Gone" is full and strong with hooks galore. "Just Don't Tell Me That" is a fast-paced number with NSync's typical, fun, chart-topping flavor. And "Something Like You" is an ultra-soft, sweet ballad. Strong disc from NSync with a lot of new musical flavor mixed in with the group's trademark style.

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