The Cassette Chronicles – MICHAEL MONROE’s ‘NOT FAKIN’ IT’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. 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.

MICHAEL MONROE – NOT FAKIN’ IT (1989)

While most people hear the name Hanoi Rocks probably think of their music, for me the name just makes me think of their drummer who was killed by Motley Crue singer Vince Neil in that infamous car accident.

That would be due to the fact that I never really heard any of the band’s material. They were just yet another one of those bands that slipped by me when they were together. I can’t even say that I discovered them long after the fact. But I’ve long been aware of singer Michael Monroe, even if I hadn’t bothered to get off my butt and listen to any of his solo material either. Sometimes I wonder just what I was thinking back in the day. I know that there’s only so much time to check out music but as this series has shown, I’ve invariably missed out on quite a lot in the genre of music I once considered myself well-versed.

Not Fakin’ It is the second solo album from Monroe and it is his most successful in terms of both sales. My initial thought was that I’d never heard any of the music from this album before, but the lead track on Side One is “Dead, Jail or Rock ‘N’ Roll” and it so happens that a few weeks back I heard the song on the Dee Snider radio show The House of Hair.

But that track was the only song I had the least little bit of passing familiarity with amongst the ten track running order. The balls out rocking anthem certainly got me interested in what the rest of the album had to offer me and boy was I in for a musical joyride!

Seriously, this is an incredible album. It’s filled with one fiery rocking track after another. This fact will certainly keep anyone’s blood pumping but I was both amped up and repeatedly shocked at just how good the music was.

“While You Were Looking At Me” was another fast paced track that for 1989 had a somewhat topical for the times set of lyrics. “She’s No Angel” (a cover of the Heavy Metal Kids song) also burns fast and hard but the lyrics take a slightly typical turn. But don’t think that means I didn’t like the song. It was quite enjoyable. In truth, the only song that really didn’t grab me was “All Night Long With The Lights On”. I’m sure that there’s a part of Monroe’s fanbase that loves the song of course, but it just felt like a filler track for me.

The title track closes out Side One and learning that it is actually a cover of a Nazareth song was interesting. I’m going to have to check out the original version to see how it compares because the electrically charged and ripping rendition that Monroe did kicked my butt.

The album’s second side opens with probably the speediest tempo song “Shakedown”. The vocal performance from Monroe helped elevate the track in my mind. He had the rat-a-tat-tat spitfire delivery that leaves one to wonder how any performer manages to pull that song off in the studio (without editing various parts together) much less in a live setting.

I really got into both “Love Is Thicker Than Blood” and the closing number “Thrill Me” for the full throttle rocking nature of each track.

The second side’s material was great but what really did it for me was the way the songwriting gave a different slant on the more straightforward rock and roll you quickly become accustomed to on Not Fakin’ It.

The song that comes closest to being lumped into the ballad category is “Smoke Screen” and that is mostly due to it being a slower pace to the music than anything else. It’s just a cool song that ramps up the energy level when you hit the guitar solo through to the end of the song.

But I was both taken with and blown away by “Man With No Eyes”. Like “Smoke Screen”, it has a slightly less frantic pace to it. But if you listen to the lyrics as they combine with the musical soundtrack, it sounds (particularly the chorus) like it belongs as the end credits song for a horror movie. The funny thing is that the song has a pretty upbeat feel to its musical score. It just struck me as all kinds of a creative triumph.

Michael Monroe’s Not Fakin’ It was an immensely huge and stunningly welcome surprise to me. I am way behind in appreciating what Monroe has been offering for years but with this album, I’m finally there. It is just a superb set of pure rock and roll that I’m going to be playing a lot for the foreseeable future.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The creative lineup for the album (which got a remastered release in 2003) is amazing. Monroe’s Hanoi Rocks bandmate Nasty Suicide played guitar on the first three songs on the album as well as co-writing the lead track and “Smoke Screen”. Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) played piano on “She’s No Angel”.

Little Steven (from The E Street Band) played big creative role on Not Fakin’ It. He co-wrote two songs and was the sole writer on “While You Were Looking At Me”. He sang backing vocals on four tracks and helped with the arrangement on four tracks as well. You can look up the album’s entry on Wikipedia for the rest of the “name” players who showed up in guest spots.

The video for “Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘N’ Roll” featured an appearance by Axl Rose.

Michael Sweet & Tony Harnell to relive Stryper and TNT tour of 1987

In 1987, Stryper and TNT toured North America together and delighted fans with their electrifying sets. Now, the frontmen of both bands, Michael Sweet and Tony Harnell, join forces to relive that special 1987 tour. Both artists will be playing full electric band sets and songs from their respective bands, solo albums and much more at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on Saturday, May 23. Moriah Formica from The Voice opens the show. This is the only New England date. Click HERE for tickets.

ABOUT MICHAEL SWEET

With a career and repertoire spanning over three decades, Michael Sweet has fronted Stryper, one of the most trailblazing groups of the MTV generation, written a stable of Billboard charting singles, filled arenas all the world over, said goodbye at the peak of it all, took stock in a thriving solo career, got Stryper back together for yet another record breaking run, recorded two studio albums with guitarist George Lynch, and even took a stint co-leading one of the most legendary classic rock acts ever, Boston, from 2007 to 2011.

Musically speaking, Sweet is coming off yet another creative high in the Stryper camp thanks to string of stellar studio albums including No More Hell To Pay (2013), Fallen (2015), and God Damn Evil (2018).  He also released his solo album Ten last year and is currently recording a new studio album with Stryper.

ABOUT TONY HARNELL

California born, New York City bred, Tony Harnell’s music journey took off at the age of 21 when he signed his first record deal with Mercury Records. Since then he’s been a fan favorite in the hearts and souls of millions, whether on his own, leading the Norwegian/American hard rock group TNT, or as the front man for the Wallflowers featuring Bumblefoot.

A critically-acclaimed vocalist, Grammy winner, and Hall of Fame Inductee in Norway, Tony has sold millions of albums and received numerous gold and platinum awards. With multiple top requested MTV videos, sold out concerts worldwide, and a lifelong passion for music, Tony is considered by fans, critics, and peers alike to be one of the greatest rock voices and songwriters of all time.

For Tony, it’s always been about the music. Growing, creating, becoming the next best version of himself as a singer, songwriter, and performer.

The Vault at Greasy Luck is located at located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford. This show is 21+ with valid I.D. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

 

Limelight Magazine now accepting nominations for local music awards

We are now accepting nominations from the general public for this year’s Limelight Magazine Music Awards which recognizes local musicians from New England during the time period from Dec. 21, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2020. Please note that the musician(s) you nominate must currently reside in New England. Nominations for the categories listed below can be e-mailed to limelightmusicawards@gmail.com. The top three artists who receive the most nominations per category make the ballot. Industry professionals determined the other available slots. We only accept nominations by e-mail. Nomination deadline is Saturday, Feb. 22, at 11:59 PM.  For a complete ballot, click HERE.
  • Young Performer of the Year (half the band must be 18 or younger)
  • Frontperson of the Year (New)
  • Tribute Band of the Year
  • Live Artist of the Year
  • Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Male Vocalist of the Year
  • Album/EP of the Year (Group)
  • Album/EP of the Year (Solo Artist)
  • Song of the Year
  • Hard Rock/Metal Act of the Year
  • New Artist of the Year
  • Country Artist of the Year
  • Breakthrough Artist of the Year
  • Video of the Year (Group)
  • Video of the Year (Solo Artist)
  • Singer/Songwriter of the Year
  • Band of the Year

FAQ – Limelight Magazine Music Awards 2020

After a three-year hiatus, the co-owners of Limelight Magazine have decided to bring back their music awards event with proceeds going toward the Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund. To make the process go smoothly, here are some questions that were typically asked in the past with the answers to them. Please read this over before contacting us.

When and where is the 2020 Limelight Magazine Music Awards?

This year’s Limelight Magazine Music Awards will be held at the Vault Music Hall, located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA, on Sunday, April 26, at 2 PM.

How long does the ceremony typically last?

The ceremony typically runs between three and four hours.

Is it all ages?

The Limelight Magazine Music Awards is an all-ages event.

Is there beer and wine?

Beer and wine is available for purchase at Vault Music Hall with proper I.D.

Is there food?

Food is available for purchase at Vault Music Hall.

Is parking free?

Street parking is free on Sundays in New Bedford.

How much are tickets?

Tickets are $10.50 in advance and $12 day of show. Please visit brownpapertickets.com or Eventbrite.com to purchase them. (Tickets go on-sale March 3, 2020).

How does a musician get nominated?

The nominating process is decided by music industry professionals and the general public. For two weeks in early February, we solicit nominations by e-mail from music industry professionals. Then, we solicit nominations for one week (February 16-22) from the general public. Nominations can be e-mailed to limelightmusicawards@gmail.com. We only accept nominations by e-mail. Please like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/limelightmagazine to stay up-to-date.

What are the categories for the Limelight Magazine Music Awards?

The categories for 2020 are: Album of the Year (Group), Album of the Year (Solo), Band of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Country Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Frontperson of the Year (NEW), Live Act of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Metal Act of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Singer-Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year, Tribute Band of the Year, Video of the Year (Group), Video of the Year (solo), and Young Performer of the Year.

The following special awards are also presented: Legend Award (given to an artist from New England who has been around for at least 25 years and is going strong today) and Unsung Hero Award (given to a musician from New England who made a contribution in the lives of others without asking for anything in return). These are decided by the staff of Limelight Magazine.

Are there any restrictions on who can be nominated?

All musicians must currently reside in New England.

Will I be notified of my nomination?

You will be contacted by Limelight Magazine either by e-mail or through Facebook before public voting begins.

When does public voting begin and end?

Public voting runs for one week. It begins on Tuesday, March 3, at noon and ends on Tuesday, March 9, at 11:45 PM.

How many times can someone vote?   

Only four votes per I.P. address count. The system allows you to vote more than this but only the first four votes will count.

I’ve been nominated for an award, can I perform at the awards ceremony?

Up to eight artists will be randomly selected from all the nominees and asked to perform at the awards show.

I’ve been selected to perform, does this mean I’ve won an award?

Once again, you’ve been randomly selected to perform. This does not mean that you’ve won an award.

Do nominees have to pay for tickets?     

Since we have decided to donation a portion of the proceeds of this event to the Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund, everyone who attends is charged, except the musicians who are performing at the awards ceremony.

Are the musicians who’ve won an award told beforehand?

No. The winners are only announced at the awards ceremony, with the exception of the special award (i.e. Legend, Unsung Hero) recipients.

I have a gig or another commitment on the day of the music awards, can you please tell me if I’ve won?

No. Unfortunately, secrets are never kept and we abide by our own rules. If you cannot attend and no one can accept on your behalf, we will notify you on the following day and your award can be picked up at a mutually agreeable location.

I’m unable to attend the music awards ceremony. Will I find out if I won and how can I pick up my award?

The winners will be announced on our website the day after the awards show. Anyone who wasn’t in attendance can arrange to pick up the award at the Vault Music Hall on the day of one of their shows.

Can I sponsor this year’s Limelight Magazine Music Awards?

Yes, sponsorships are very affordable. Please reach out to us directly at limelightmagazine@gmail.com or jkbbooking@gmail.com for more information.

(Revised on February 15, 2020)

Filming Location Spotlight – “Looker” (1981)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films. Today we spotlight a filming location for the 1981 movie “Looker” which was directed by the late Michael Crichton. The top photo of is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like today.

In the movie, the walkway bridge is part of Digital Matrix but in actuality, it’s the Hillside Campus of ArtCenter School of Design located at 1700 Lida Street in Pasedena, CA.

The Cassette Chronicles – Don Henley’s ‘I Can’t Stand Still’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. 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.

DON HENLEY – I CAN’T STAND STILL (1982)

In a case of “the first shall be last”, Don Henley’s debut solo album I Can’t Stand Still is the last album of his five solo releases that I added to my collection. I’d heard the stone cold killer track “Dirty Laundry” when it was a big hit on the singles chart, but I’d never gotten around to hearing or buying the full album. I’m a big fan of both The Eagles and his solo work, so it is kind of a surprise that I had his other solo albums but not this one.

(Brief Interruption: As I typed that last sentence, the Eagles song “Desperado” started playing on the radio station I listen to at work, where I composed this week’s article.)

Despite being the biggest hit (and truthfully only hit) from the album, “Dirty Laundry” is held off in the track listing until Side Two. This gives me the whole first side to see what the beginnings of Henley’s solo career had to offer as a completely new experience.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite get off on the right foot for me. The title track opens the album and it just kind of left me wanting something more. I could say the same for the two ballads that appear on Side One as well. I just couldn’t find my way to a real appreciation for either “Long Way Home” or “Talking To The Moon”.

This gave me pause and I tried to puzzle out why neither song did it for me, particularly since I’ve found the ballads from The Eagles were always some of my favorite tracks. The only thing I could come up with is that neither of these two songs seemed all that lyrically potent in comparison to both his work with the Eagles and the latter solo releases.

Side one isn’t a total loss for me though. “You Better Hang Up” features a stronger uptempo pacing and “Nobody’s Business” (co-written by Henley, Bob Seger and J.D. Souther) is a flat out rocker!

If you’ve been a fan of Henley for any length of time, you are well aware that his various beliefs on social topics make their way into his lyrics. As side two opens with “Dirty Laundry”, he goes full on at the media for the sensationalistic way they covered the news. Of course, seeing how the news is covered now, Henley’s complaints about the 1982-era news media seems both quaint and newly timely all at the same time.

He follows that up with the song “Johnny Can’t Read” where Henley takes the educational system to task. It’s noteworthy because he once again capably couches his message inside a great sounding musical soundtrack.

While I wasn’t crazy about “Them and Us”, the album closed out strongly with the last three tracks starting off with a traditional instrumental called “La Eile”. It’s relatively brief but sounded great. And despite not liking the ballads on Side One of the album, the slower paced “Lilah” was a big hit with me because it had the lyrical potency I look for in his work and/or pretty much any ballad looking to be a worthwhile listening experience.

The biggest surprise to me was the final track “The Unclouded Day”. I’m not one for religion but when I looked up to find that this was a gospel song originally written in 1879, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Adding to the surprise factor is that Henley’s version is just amazing!

While this album wasn’t quite the home run I was hoping for when I popped it into the cassette player, there are a number of great songs on the album and I Can’t Stand Still laid the foundation for what was to come from Henley on his other great solo albums to come.

NOTES OF INTEREST – Despite this being Henley’s first solo album, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit from the Eagles make appearances on “Dirty Laundry”. Schmit also guests on four other tracks on the album.

The list of famous musicians who made guest appearances on I Can’t Stand Still (which achieved Gold sales status) includes Jeff and Steve Porcaro and Steve Lukather (all from Toto), Benmont Tench from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Bill Withers. One of my all-time favorite musicians is Warren Zevon who provides backing vocals on “Them and Us”.

The album is dedicated to Henley’s girlfriend at the time, Maren Jensen. She sang on the song “Johnny Can’t Read”. She is best known from her time as an actress where she played “Athena” on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.

While I’ve never seen Don Henley in concert with The Eagles, I did get to catch a show at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA, back in 1989 when he was touring in support of his The End of the Innocence album. It was a fantastic performance.

Uli Jon Roth to perform at Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass.

Former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth will make his debut performance at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on May 19, 2020. This is only the second time in Roth’s long career that he’s performed in Massachusetts. Purchase tickets HERE.

The musical career of guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth spans an amazing five decades. As an artist, Uli is a phenomenon and his unique set of artistic talents has gained him an international reputation as a musical visionary and innovator early on in his career. Having not only explored the world of rock music with the Scorpions and written symphonies for orchestras, Roth has recently come full circle to re-connect with his roots.

This time, the trail blazing German-born guitar genius of Scorpions fame presents us with a very different way of experiencing his music. Supported by an integrated multi-media show, Uli will fire on all cylinders simultaneously like a passionate scientist who is totally dedicated to his unrelenting quest for manifesting beautiful music with the power to be uplifting, inspirational and spellbinding.

The choice of music for INTERSTELLAR SKY GUITAR is inspired and guaranteed to create an exciting journey through Uli’s intriguing musical world. The journey crosses over from both classical and baroque master pieces – such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Mozart, Bach and Beethoven – to new music by Uli written for his 9-string Flamenco Sky Guitar as well as excerpts from a new Sky Guitar Concerto. The concert finishes with several pieces from Uli’s Scorpions and Electric Sun days, complete with exciting new orchestrations and different arrangements.

Uli’s signature tool of expression is the legendary Sky Guitar which he invented and on which he will perform. These stunningly designed six-octave instruments have a far greater tonal range than traditional guitars, allowing Uli to equal the range of the violin and the cello. The main star of the collection is the stunning state-of-the art Excalibur 7-string Sky Guitar and the new 9-String Flamenco Sky Guitar, for which Uli has recently written a whole series of beautiful new pieces and which he will showcase for the first time on this tour.

This epic musical journey is bridging the creative worlds of classical, ethnic and rock music in an unprecedented way. Experience the pinnacle of great guitar playing of the first order and allow yourself to be transported into other dimensions of music on Starship Uli.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets can be purchase online at narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Photo - Uli Jon Roth 1

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