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Erica Guerin - GET REAL

King Snake Records
Discovered by Kenny Neal at the 1996 Baton Rouge Blues Festival, this gal has a powerhouse voice and uses it. Kinda sounds like Tina Turner when she heats up and really lets go. Lots of soul and attitude, which is a great combination for the blues. The songs are honest enough and the production is good enough to get Erica Guerin some attention. Standout tracks include "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "Take Away Your Trash."

- Mike Somers


Sammy Hagar - MARCHING TO MARS

Track Factory / MCA Records
If MARCHING TO MARS is the kind of music Sammy wanted to start writing, he should have quit Van Halen many years ago, with by far some of the best material he's ever come up with on any of his solo efforts. Many of these tracks are even better than what Sammy was trying to do with Eddie and the boys. Of course, it sometimes takes having some personal thing to get off your chest to come up with these songs. Some of these thoughts come out on "Little White Lie," "On the Other Hand," and "Both Sides Now." Sammy gives us a beautiful ballad about his daughter with "Kama." But the true gems of all time to add to the Sammy collection are "The Yogi's So High," "Who Has the Right," and the title track "Marching to Mars."

Where has Hagar been hiding these songs? It's about time he's back solo and will keep giving us more material like this, as well as keep his solo touring for while. He's far better off the captain of his own ship.

- Michael Fuller


Moisture - BASTARD

Static Records
Moisture proves that they are not all wet with their debut CD. They have a unique sound that is a blend of hard/alternative/classic rock. Mixing metal and acoustics with simple, straightforward lyrics that are sure to touch the soul, they have created a CD that belongs in every rock music loverís collection. Moisture delivers a sound that is sure to please, with their painfully honest songs that grow on you.

- Donna Hash
[See also Geoff Wilbur's review in "Publisher's Corner."]


Sea Spiders - SEA SPIDERS

No Tones Unturned Records
Is the daily grind of life getting you down? Are you feeling the "time crunch" of meeting deadlines, schedules and commitments? Well, slip on this disc and kick back to the Sea Spidersí concoction of world beat rhythms and Deadhead-style sensibilities. Not quite new age, but youíll catch a spiritually calming vibe just the same.

- - Eric Harabadian


Fish - SUNSETS ON EMPIRE

Viceroy Music
Following many years battling to get his music distributed by an American label instead of fans shelling out the big cash for imports, Fish has gotten the Viceroy Music people to believe in him, and his music enough to back his first solo effort in years.

SUNSETS ON EMPIRE marks a vast amount of change since his day as frontman/songwriter for the band Marillion. However, if there was ever a comparison with Fish and Peter Gabriel (one of Fish's favorite musicians) back in his earlier career, there will definitely be more of one now. Fish has shed his signature progressive artsy influence to present more danceable, heavy per-cussion at times, but without losing his signature talent of presenting his political views in songs like "Jungle Ride," a ballad about his daughter, "Tara," or about the darker side of life with "The Perception of Johnny Punter" and "Brother 52," which are by far a couple of the better songs.

Now that Fish has gained the confidence of an American label again as well as returning to his die hard fans, we can hope he keeps his promise in hitting the tour trail again next year.

- Michael Fuller

- Michael Fuller


Kenny Rankin - HERE IN MY HEART

Private Music
Kenny Rankin is a singer-songwriter who has weathered the music business for over thirty years. Having had his songs recorded by everyone from Mel Torme to Jose Feliciano, he has crossed the gamut from pop to folk and beyond. Rankinís latest is a love letter via Brazil and marks another chapter in his ever-evolving career. His vocal phrasing is superb, as he effortlessly evokes sincere and heartfelt emotion from every lyric he sings. The Latin-tinged album is a pleasant blend of classic pop standards and jazzy original gems.

- Eric Harabadian


Andy Summers - THE LAST DANCE OF MR. X

RCA Victor
Andy has been a jazzman/fusion guy ever since the Police went their separate ways. This is the strongest showing of these guitar focused, instrumental ditties. With a full palate of interpreted classics by Mingus, Wayne Shorter, and Monk, Summers makes each tune his. Tony Levin handles bass duties beautifully in his distinctive (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) voice. If you have any hankering for a great guitar album and arenít afraid of the "f" word (fusion, that is), give THE LAST DANCE OF MR. X a listen. Although his jazz playing is a departure from the Police work, youíll be reminded of why Andy Summers is the most influential guitarist of todayís ska/hardcore bands.

- Rick Gebhard


Exhibit Eight - EXHIBIT EIGHT

New West Records
These guys will probably be really good with a bit more seasoning. They almost sound like Dream Theater without keyboards. The vocals seem to miss personality in search of the perfect harmony. I guess thatís a comment to be taken both ways. High caliber musicianship throughout. Since this was only a demo CD with four songs, their future CDs could be interesting.

- Patrick Ondrus


Robyn - ROBYN IS HERE

RCA Records
This debut CD is filled with a wonderful mix of hip-hop and funky tunes that allow Robyn to showcase her fantastic voice. She has a sound that is full of harmonious, original songs that have what it takes to distinguish her from the rest of the pack. Her voice is her staying power, and she delivers a great collection that lets her vocal abilities show. Move over Mariah and Whitney, because Robyn IS here.

- Donna Hash


Knobby Low Boy - BUTTERFLY

New West Records
Well, let me tell ya. I hope these boys do better on their next time out. The way this recording comes across they sound like your typical Midwestern bar band trying to be really heavy. It took about three listens for me to realize it, but the guitars were out of tune on the entire CD. It was just enough to make you feel like you were listening to the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. That, together with so-so vocals, just didnít cut it for me. I really tried to like it, but it wouldnít take root.

- Patrick Ondrus
[See also Shane Copher's review in "Leadhead's Lounge."]


The Alligators - GIMME SOME SKIN

Blues Factory Records
This CD rocks! These guys are the real thing when it comes to straight-ahead contemporary jump blues and rock. Coming out of Motown like a diesel truck beariní down on you from behind, the ĎGators have put together one of the best collections of burniní-down-the-house blues rockers with pure Detroit-style attitude. Every track captures the power and passion that these guys pour into the soul of this music and into their performances. Standout tracks include "Maggie Campbell," "See Ya Later Alligator," "Whiskey, Whiskey," and "Pocket Full of Tens," and every other track sizzles with pure blues power. This CD is not for the faint of heart!

- Mike Somers


Orange County Supertones - THE SUPERTONES STRIKE BACK

BEC
The bandís second CD showcases their strong commitment both to an upbeat ska sound, complete with slick rhythm and horns and galloping guitar lines, and to Jesus, with lyrics focusing on Godís unconditional love. Added to this interesting juxtaposition is some Hammond organ ("Resolution" and "Tonight"), an acoustic track ("So Great a Salvation"), and an instrumental ("Caught Inside") with a swinging surf-style so cool it may make you want to convert.

- Cathy Clause


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