The Cassette Chronicles – Survivor’s ‘Too Hot To Sleep’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Survivor – Too Hot To Sleep (1988)

This album was the final release from the band during their most successful period. It was also, unfortunately, a rather overlooked gem. The band changed up their sound a good bit for this album. While their keyboard heavy sound made for huge hit albums with Vital Signs and When Seconds Count, the presence of that keyboard sound is pushed into the background more than usual in favor of more of an aggressive guitar sound. While the album would still fall under the AOR banner, this is definitely a more guitar rock oriented direction for the material.

And it is a good, no check that, GREAT album. I remember hearing the first single “Didn’t Know It Was Love” on the radio station I was listening to at the job I had at the time. I was so psyched to know they had a new album coming out that I cranked the volume up. And right from the start, the band served musical notice of the tweak to their sound. The opening track on Too Hot To Sleep, “She’s A Star,” is a tour de force with a smoking hot guitar line throughout the song.

The band became a three piece for this album because they used session players for their rhythm section. Singer Jimi Jamison was huge with his vocals, even more powerful with a good dose of grit added to the mix. Frankie Sullivan (in what was probably the last instance of him seeming to give a damn) was able to do a lot more shredding on the guitar and while Jim Peterik’s keyboards weren’t as prominent as the past, he was still responsible for a lot of the actual songwriting.

In truth, there is not a single bad song on the album. I love it all. Hell, I actually had just ordered the reissued/remastered edition of the album on CD from Rock Candy Records a couple days before I bought this cassette.

Survivor may have seen this last gasp of greatness fall flat with the music buying public at large, but those of us who were and continue to be hardcore fans know the truth, this album is truly magnificent.

Notes of Interest: With longtime drummer Marc Droubay out of the band, Survivor hired drummer Mickey Curry to record the album. You’ll note that Curry was also a featured player on the first album featured in this series, Helix’s Wild In The Streets. Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw also appears on backing vocals for the album.

The Cassette Chronicles – Honeymoon Suite’s ‘Racing After Midnight’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Honeymoon Suite – Racing After Midnight (1988)

In the song “Tears On The Page” there is the lyric line “We should’ve made it, we could’ve had it all.” That line could conceivably sum up the woulda, coulda, shoulda aspect of Honeymoon Suite’s career.

The band’s first three albums, including the self-titled debut and their to-this-day masterpiece The Big Prize and this Racing After Midnight release are superb examples of the best of what is now the melodic rock genre has to offer. They had it all, great guitar work, a dynamic singer, the overlayed keyboards that didn’t mute the guitar work and catchy as hell songwriting. Sadly, while there was a modicum of success in the US and far more in their native Canada, it seems the deserved fame and respect the band deserves kind of eluded them.

However, it isn’t because there was anything lacking in the material. Because on Racing After Midnight, the band is on fire throughout. The mixture of rockers and ballads keep the blood flowing and shine a spotlight on guitarist Derry Grehan and singer Johnnie Dee in particular.

The band wastes no time getting started, leading off the album with the adrenaline fueled “Lookin’ Out For Number One.” It’s one of two tracks that best highlight the fiery licks from Grehan. It’s aggressive without being over the top and full of enough melodic hooks to grab you and not let go. The other song that blazes with Grehan’s fretwork as the sole spotlighted instrument is “Other Side of Midnight,” the closing song on side one of the album.

Of course, this is the 1980’s we are talking about so the keyboard sound also plays a big part in the band’s overall sound. While the slower tempo ballad songs are quite obviously powered by Rob Preuss’s keys work, I thought where he stood out best is when the keys and guitar were combined to give songs like “Love Changes Everything” and the aforementioned “Tears On The Page” a more fleshed out and musically deeper fulfilling sound.

The album closes with a remixed version of the ballad “Lethal Weapon.” The original version of the song was played over the closing credits of the first Lethal Weapon movie. I remember hearing the song when I saw the movie and thought that it seemed a bit trite for the song to have to work in “Lethal Weapon” into the chorus. Nearly 30 years later, I still feel it just didn’t quite mesh the way I’m sure it was intended.

The band is still together, having gone through a series of lineup changes over the years, and they still tour. There have been five albums since this one. Their 2008 release Clifton Hill was an album that I got to review when I was writing for another website at that time.

So, if you haven’t ever checked the band out, you are missing out on some fine melodic hard rock. Racing After Midnight amply demonstrates how talented Honeymoon Suite was and the fact more people didn’t get that fact at the time is a little sad because they really could’ve and should’ve had it all.

Notes of Interest: The album was co-produced by Ted Templeman, best known for his work with Van Halen, The Doobie Brothers and solo work from ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald. McDonald helped out with the recording of Racing After Midnight when singer Johnnie Dee was seriously injured in a car accident. McDonald wrote lyrics and sang back up on the song “Long Way Back.”

 

Gracelyn Rennick uses music as her ‘Saving Grace’ to overcome challenges and help others

Photo by Michelle Rennick of ThatChixPix.

Gracelyn Rennick is an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from Rhode Island. She plays a number of instruments, including guitar, ukelele, piano and drums. She has been writing and performing her own songs since early 2013 and released her debut album, Saving Grace, in 2015. Last September, her original song “Like The Stars” won the pop/contemporary “Song of the Year” Award at the Josie Music Awards in Nashville, TN, and she plans to release more songs in the future. Rennick has also suffered from multiple chronic illnesses and has used her music to overcome any challenges she has faced. We recently interviewed with Rennick who hopes to play more gigs outside of New England in the future.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You released your first CD, Saving Grace, in 2015 when you were 16. Since then, you’ve released two singles – “Like The Stars” and “Already Gone.” Do you have plans to record any more songs for another CD?

GRACELYN RENNICK: Right now, I am focusing on my writing and making sure that I have enough new songs, if I do end up making an album in the future. I am always writing, so you never know when I am going to drop a single or something like that. I can be very unpredictable when it comes to releasing music, which is pretty cool to my fans; for me to be able to spring a new song on them.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Last September, “Like The Stars” won the pop/contemporary “Song of the Year” Award at the Josie Music Awards in Nashville, TN. How did you feel about receiving that award for that song?

GRACELYN RENNICK: When I found out that “Like The Stars” was nominated, it was an incredible feeling and I felt so blessed. When we attended the award show, we really didn’t have high hopes about winning any of the awards that I was nominated for, especially “Song of the Year” since there were so many amazing songs being nominated in that category as well. When they announced my name and song as the winner, at first, I didn’t believe it. But, I was so humbled to have received the award and it is still, to this day, one of my biggest accomplishments.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Everyone has their own songwriting process. Could you elaborate on yours?

GRACELYN RENNICK: My songwriting process is all over the place. Some days I just go into my room with an idea or with a short lyric, grab my guitar, and just go. Other times, I have a whole song in lyric form already written and I have to put music to it or vice versa. I find it easier to write what comes naturally, rather than writing from a theme. A lot of my songs are based from life experiences, but I never really can tell until after I have written the song. I never know what my songs are about until after I analyze them. I write in a more general, indirect way, so that more people can relate to my songs and make them what they want to hear.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: In your biography online, it says that you’ve suffered from chronic illnesses, including neurological Lyme disease, Mitochondrial disorder, seizure disorder and neurotoxin illness but you’ve thrived with your music. How has your music helped you overcome any health-related challenges you’ve had?

GRACELYN RENNICK: Music was my solution to being happy again. When I was sick, I had no friends, I didn’t go to school for two years, or really even leave my house. I didn’t have much, other than what was right in front of me. I started to take up classical piano on my own, which really was a step in the right direction for me because I found joy in the keys. As I got healthier, I picked up my guitar, which I hadn’t touched in years, and started to strum. Thus, beginning my singer/songwriter and performing career. Writing songs and performing them for people gave me more happiness than I think I have ever had and that is how music helped me through my health challenges.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’ve also used your music to raise awareness for a number of chronic diseases and to help other people. Could you tell us some of the causes you personally support?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I have plans in the future to release one of my originals, “You’ll Be OK,” and have the proceeds go to suicide prevention organizations. I wrote that song about a really tough time in my life when I thought there was no way out. I wrote it about HAVING an out and that, no matter what happens, you’ll be ok. I also perform my music at events for The Epilepsy Foundation of New England. I suffer from a seizure disorder myself, so I try to help out with them as much as I can. In addition to that, I put together a fundraising show in 2015 for a woman who was suffering from cancer and her family. I ended up raising over $3,000 dollars in ticket sales and merchandise.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: What do you like most about doing charity work?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I like the feeling I get when I know that I have helped or am helping someone or a community. I usually work with organizations that hit close to home for me, so it’s helpful for them to know that I understand what they’re going through because I’ve been through it as well. It’s also like a sigh of relief for me, knowing that I am not alone in this world. As much as I may help other people, little do they know, that they help me as well.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’ve read that you asked your parents for a guitar when you were nine-years old. A lot of children want an instrument at a young age but they never really pursue it. What motivated you to stick with it?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I think the answer is plain and simple. It’s what I wanted to do. As crazy as it may seem, at just nine years old, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was absolutely determined to make sure that I didn’t let that dream slip out of my fingers.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Who are some of your influences in the music industry?

GRACELYN RENNICK: My very first musical inspiration was Luke Bryan. I started listening to his music around the same time that I started writing my own. My whole first album has a lot of influences from him on it, and other country artists like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, etc. As I started to get older and become independent in the type of music I listened to, I started to find inspirations in bands as artists, such as, All Time Low, PVRIS, Halsey, The 1975, and Set it Off. Nowadays, I am finding my music to be more like Kelsea Ballerini or Maren Morris. But, with all of those artists aside, I would have to say that my biggest musical inspiration is Ed Sheeran. I mean, have you seen that guy perform…he’s insane!!!! I aspire in every way to be like him.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’ve opened for a number of national acts, including Lee DeWyze and Howie Day. What do you like most about performing live?

GRACELYN RENNICK:: I feed off of the energy of the crowd. Being able to look out and see people listening to your music, and the occasional people actually singing your music, is what keeps me going. It’s an incredible feeling to actually be listened to, rather than when you’re playing in a restaurant and no one could care less about you or what you’re singing. Performing is my favorite part of the whole shebang, I would take it over writing any day.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Speaking of performing, you’ve become a regular at Joey Kramer’s Rockin’ & Roastin’ in N. Attleboro, MA. Have you had the opportunity to meet Joey? Do you like playing there?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I work at Rockin’ & Roastin’ as a Barista in addition to my music career. I also host an open mic there! Its a really awesome place and the open mic’s every Tuesday are so much fun! I have met Joey a couple of times. The first time I met him, I had him sign my old Takamine guitar and he kept telling me how nice of a guitar it was! It was a super cool experience since Aerosmith has always been huge inspiration of mine.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: What are some of your plans for the future?

GRACELYN RENNICK: Well, for the near future I am going to be trying to play more gigs around the New England area and always writing new stuff. More further in the future, my goal is to start touring and doing shows outside of my little box that I normally play in in New England. I will also be attending the 2017 Josie Music Awards in Nasvhille in September!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Is there anything you’d like to add?

GRACELYN RENNICK: If you’d like to see where I am performing next, or want to see what I’m doing with my music check out all my links!

Website: http://gracelynmusic.com/index.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GracelynMusic
ReverbNation: Gracelyn Music

The Cassette Chronicles – Hericane Alice’s ‘Tear The House Down’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Hericane Alice – Tear The House Down (1990)

In preparing to write about this album, I found myself thinking back to 1990 when the album was released. I had seen an ad for the album in a magazine (possibly Metal Edge, but I’m not completely sure) and it looked intriguing to me.

So, I got myself to the store and picked the album up on cassette. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the last interesting thing I can recall about the album. It was the only release from the band and I remember not thinking much of the material. So, the album eventually got weeded out of my music collection.

Of course, when I made the big 100 cassette purchase from Purchase Street Records, this album was not only amongst the many and varied possible treasures, but it was still in the original cellophane wrapping from the Strawberries record store.

In 1990, as the era of metal music ruling the charts was starting to wind down, record companies were signing pretty much any type of “hair” band in the hopes of finding a gem that could lead to big record sales. It was throwing crap against the wall to see what, if anything, would stick.

Unfortunately, listening to this album now 27 years after its release hasn’t improved the quality much at all. Instead, this is a prime example of why metal died as a chart-topping force.

The music is really not that great, lacking what I would call a true feel for melody. At times, it sounds like it is just a bunch of discordant noise strung together in the hopes that nobody would notice the lack of a cohesive whole.

Side One leads off with the band’s single (and video clip) “Wild Young And Crazy”, which is mildly entertaining I suppose but it just lacks something in the hook department. It is a fast paced song designed to get your blood pressure up, but it really just kind of falls flat. As for the rest of the songs on the first side of the tape, only the title track serves to reward the listener with any sense of raising your energy level.

As for Side Two, well let’s just say that there are five songs and be done with it. Nothing on the second side of the cassette even compares to the first side.

Part of the goal of this series of articles is not just to potentially enlighten readers to some of the glorious metal of my favorite era of music, but also to remind myself of what I loved, what I missed, and maybe rekindle something from bands that just fell by the wayside.

But listening to Hericane Alice just reminds me of everything that went wrong by the end of “The Metal Years.” I can’t even say this was a noble attempt that fell shy of the mark. This album was just pretty much an abject failure. Tear The House Down makes it that much easier to understand why the band never really went further than the one release. This won’t be an album that gets more play time from me because.

Notes Of Interest: Bassist Ian Mayo and drummer Jackie Ramos went on to play with current Dead Daisies guitarist Doug Aldrich (ex-Dio, ex-Whitesnake) in both Bad Moon Rising and Burning Rain.
Singer Bruce Naumann reformed Hericane Alice in 2007 with an entirely new lineup around him. At last check on their Facebook page, they seem to still be active.

The Cassette Chronicles – Bryan Adams’ ‘Reckless’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Bryan Adams Reckless (1983)

What can you say about an album that is almost universally hailed as an artist’s commercial and artistic masterpiece? Reckless certainly lives up to that statement seeing as how six of the album’s 10 tracks were bonafide smash hits on the pop chart.

The funny thing is that all these years later, a couple of the songs that did hit the charts seem to be almost forgotten. You had “Summer of ’69” and “Heaven” which I daresay are probably the two biggest songs on the album still getting played today. While the latter song got played to the point of annoyance, it did start off as a relatively decent and sentimental love song. As for “Summer of ’69,” Adams waxing nostalgic for the early days of starting out in music whether it be for his own beginnings or just in general still makes me sing along (badly) to this day. It also is one of three songs that I particularly enjoyed the lead guitar work from Keith Scott. Scott’s leads on “Kids Wanna Rock” and “Ain’t Gonna Cry” are pretty incendiary and give each of those lesser known tracks that much more of a burst of fiery passion. And I thought “She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin'” had a great vibe and guitar through line.

Of course the “It’s Only Love” song featured Tina Turner during her resurgent period in the ’80s and there’s just no way to criticize anything she did on the song. She and it are just amazing.

I’ve always enjoyed “Run To You”. I’m pretty sure that it was the first song I remember hearing from the album when listening to 92 Pro FM out of Rhode Island, whether on their regular broadcasts or when they aired American Top 40 on Sunday mornings. The intro to the song had a very cinematic feel to it and that was driven home in the video for the song. It was the other song that I still find myself singing along to on the rare occasion I hear it on the radio.

I had mentioned that a couple of the album’s tracks that charted seemed relatively forgotten these days. And that’s a shame to me because I thought “One Night Love Affair” and “Somebody” were actually quite strong numbers. For me, I probably hold “Affair” in higher regard than I ever did “Heaven”.

I was 12 years old when this album came out and I was about two years away from my musical awakening as a heavy metal fan. I loved the songs from Reckless but never actually owned the album. I was reading an article a while back on the release of an anniversary reissue of the album with a boatload of extras and I was intrigued to want to buy it. But I couldn’t find it in any shop (big surprise) and it was pretty expensive online. So, when I saw the cassette in the box, I had to grab it. And wow did it bring back some Sunday mornings listening to Casey Kasem count down the hits.

This album had it all from rockers to the first of the big Bryan Adams ballads. It was just pure rock and roll fun. I’m still looking for an affordable copy of the reissue but until then, I’ve got this cassette and man I’m digging it.

Notes of Interest: Lou Gramm (at the time of the recording he was still in Foreigner) helps out on backing vocals on the song “She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’.” Journey’s drummer Steve Smith is behind the kit on “Heaven.”

Limelight Magazine announces partnership with Kate Eppers

Limelight Magazine, a New England music and entertainment publication, is pleased to announce an exclusive one-year partnership with singer-songwriter and actress Kate Eppers who recently released her acclaimed, solo, debut album The Wishing Well.

Under the terms of the partnership, Limelight Magazine will work directly with Eppers to help develop and promote her as an artist. Eppers, in turn, will become the face of the publication for the next 12 months and will help promote the events booked by their publisher, JKB Entertainment Group, through social media.

“We’ve been wanting to partner with a local musician for quite sometime,” said Jay Kenney, who co-founded Limelight in October 2006. “We interviewed Kate for a feature story about her new album and the songs really spoke to me. After we published the story, Kate sent us an e-mail to not only thank us for the coverage but she offered to volunteer and help promote our events without asking for anything in return. I immediately discussed this with my business partner, Katie Botelho-Bielatowicz, and set up a meeting with Kate. I had a feeling she was the right person to partner with and our meeting proved that.”

“Although I haven’t met Kate yet, I can already tell she’s going to be great to work with!,” said Ms. Botelho-Bielatowicz. “She seems like such a genuine, down to earth person, and you don’t come across that very often.”

Eppers was equally excited about the new partnership.

“As a huge fan of Limelight Magazine, I was beyond thrilled with their feature on me highlighting my album The Wishing Well,” she said. “Now with this exciting partnership I am over the moon excited! As an independent singer-songwriter, I fully appreciate what Limelight Magazine does for persons like myself and the indie scene. Limelight is a great advocate of the many unsigned musicians of the world/local scene whom are working tirelessly to leave their footprint. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to an amazing year with Limelight.”

Eppers released The Wishing Well on March 17, 2017. The album can be downloaded on iTunes and Amazon, or streamed free on Spotify, SoundCloud and Reverbnation. Her website, kateeppers.com, offers some free downloads. For those interested in a physical copy, Eppers will have a CD release party at Opus, a progressive and welcoming restaurant, in Salem, MA, on Saturday, September 16th. Be sure to like her Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Limelight Magazine is one of the leading online destinations for coverage of the New England music scene and beyond, providing its readers with exclusive interviews with musicians from all genres of music. Since 2014, they’ve expanded their editorial content to include movies and television and pop culture conventions throughout the United States. Besides its online efforts, Limelight Magazine is committed to supporting the local music scene of New England by providing feature stories on many of these hard working musicians. They also promote the events booked by JKB Entertainment Group.

Kate Eppers (PHOTO BY LEE MAC PHOTO, SUBMITTED BY KATE EPPERS)

The Cassette Chronicles – Black Sabbath’s ‘TYR’

BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.

The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.

These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Black Sabbath’s TYR (1990)


Singer Tony Martin’s third album fronting Black Sabbath found the band putting out an album that only slightly sounds like their trademark sound. I know it might not be seen as the most successful version of the band, but I’ve always kind of liked Tony Martin’s vocal work with them.

I remain slightly bemused at myself over the fact that the original version of Sabbath (with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals for those not paying attention), always seems to come out as my least favorite version of the band. Or if not the least, certainly pretty much on an equal level with the stuff that Martin did with Sabbath.

The music remains heavy but the doom laden methodical stomp is lightened for the most part. Initially, the lyrics make the album seem like a concept release surrounding Norse mythology but a little research online shows that while some songs are connected by that wtheme, the album was not conceptual in nature.

There’s a very cinematic feel to most of the tracks and I think that kind of stylistic approach helps make the music feel heavier than it seems at first listen.

Tracks like “The Law Maker,” “Heaven In Black” and the killer “Valhalla” find Tony Iommi’s guitar work in fine form. He just shreds on “The Law Maker,” a song that I wish could’ve been somehow included in the band’s live set during the two times I saw them in recent years. It would’ve made for a spectacular addition.

Since I hadn’t ever listened to this album before picking up the cassette, the album played like a brand new release to me. This gave it an extra kick because it was like discovering a hidden treasure. The potential of this kind of musical revelation is what makes me keen to check out the rest of the Sabbath albums with Martin’s vocal work.

Note of Interest: The band’s rhythm section for this album is drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray. They played together in the 1970’s as part of the group Cozy Powell’s Hammer and then again in the 1980’s in Whitesnake.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!