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THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – MARCHELLO’S ‘DESTINY’

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.

MARCHELLO – DESTINY (1989)

As we travel back to 1989 this week for a look back at Destiny, the debut album from Marchello, I find myself once again wondering just how this particular band fell through the cracks for me. It’s not just that I haven’t heard the music before but I can’t rightly recall even having heard of the band before.

And as I would discover, it is kind of a shame because I ended up enjoying the Destiny album as a whole. As I said, it was 1989 when the album came out. Heavy metal and hard rock was still on top of the musical heap. Led by singer and guitarist Gene Marchello, the album’s creation was also powered by Peppi Marchello. He produced the album as well as writing or co-writing most of the songs as well. While the shared last name indicates they are related, I couldn’t find out the exact relationship online.

As for the album itself, the song “Brown Eyes” opens things up with a quick and lively pace. It has a great catchy sound and once I stopped hearing the lyrics wrong in the chorus, I really got into the song. I was a little less enamored with the next track “Tight Pants”. The lyrics for that one would seem to be “of its time” but while that didn’t bother any sensibilities for me, the song just didn’t really strike me as being all that interesting.

The album’s title track had a kind of mood setting intro that quickly developed into a blast of amped up rock and roll energy. I liked the song for the most part but I will say that I thought the guitar solo was so over the top that it ended up being useless musical masturbation instead of fitting in with the rest of the song.

With a title like “First Love”, you can probably imagine that it would be a ballad. I mean, it was a near universal requirement at the time for bands to do ballads to get noticed. However, while the song does start off that way, it quickly becomes a heavier sounding uptempo number. In fact, before the first verse of lyrics is over, the band is rocking out.

The closing track on Side One of the cassette is a high flying rocker called “What If” and it was quite the earworm as I listened to it.

The second side of the album opens up in a similar fashion with “Living For #1”. It’s a fast moving hook-filled track that keeps you energized throughout. While that “First Love” song played with your ballad expectations, the song “Love Begins Again” is more of a straight up power ballad. The most striking part of this song is that while Gene Marchello’s vocals sound fine throughout the album, I thought they were rather thin-sounding on this one. Overall the song is OK but the strange way the vocals came out didn’t do the track any favors.

While the title of “Heavy Weight Champ Of Love” is spelled incorrectly, the song itself is actually pretty good. It’s got a hard-driving sound and the twist in the lyrical “story” is interesting given the era in which the song came out.

“She’s Magic” is pure adrenaline and while “Winners Never Lose” is another track that starts off as a ballad, the song’s pacing picks up throughout its run time and it was another pretty good song.

Perhaps the most surprising song on the album is the closing track “Rock ‘N Roll Rumble”. It surprised me because it is an instrumental, which is not always a good way to close out an album. But any hesitation on my part was quickly set aside. This is a fantastic track and while I mentioned that guitar solo that was over the top on the album’s title cut, the guitar playing here showcases Gene Marchello’s playing ability but tailors it inside the song perfectly..

It may have taken me more than thirty years to discover Marchello’s Destiny album, I was rather surprised to find out that it was a musically fulfilling release that had a good sense of the melodic with the large portion of its eleven tracks. Full on rocking overall, this new-to-me album and band made for great musical experience!

NOTES OF INTEREST – While the band recorded a second album in 1991 (entitled The Power Of Money), it was never officially released (to the best of my knowledge and Internet research) until 2012 when it came out via AOR Heaven with the new title The Magic Comes Alive.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BRUCE DICKINSON ‘S ‘TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE’

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.

BRUCE DICKINSON – TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE (1990)

The release of the Tattooed Millionaire album came three years before singer Bruce Dickinson would leave Iron Maiden. It all came about after Dickinson had recorded the song “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter” for the soundtrack of the NIghtmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child movie.

However, the Dickinson version of the song was scrapped from appearing on the original release of this album when Iron Maiden planned to record a version of the song for the No Prayer For The Dying album.

But you can’t keep a good idea down and so without that particular song came Tattooed Millionaire. I’ve owned the album for a number of years but it isn’t one that I’ve found myself listening to all that often. And I couldn’t really figure out why until I played the tape for this article. It’s not like there aren’t a lot of great songs that make appearances on live recordings and compilations. So I was stumped.

But once I played the album, I kind of figured out what the reason might be. You see, while Charles Dickens wrote A Tale Of Two Cities, Tattooed Millionaire is a tale of two sides…of the album.

Before I get into that however, the rather amusing fact I’d forgotten about was that guitarist Janick Gers played the guitars on Tattooed Millionaire. You’d think I’d have remembered that since Gers went on to join Iron Maiden and has been with them for decades at this point. But nope, I totally wiped that from my memory. He co-wrote all but two of the songs for the original album as well.

Getting back to the album, Side One is an absolute humdinger! You’ve got the opening track “Son Of A Gun” which starts out a bit slow during the intro but then breaks out into a killer sounding rock track.

And that’s not a mis-stating of musical styles by the way. This album was clearly intended to be more of a hard rock sound to differentiate the music from what Dickinson was doing with Iron Maiden.

The album’s title track remains to this day a full-on powerhouse. You’ve got the requisite power driven rock soundtrack but with a nice twist of melody mixed in. And then you add in Bruce’s vocals track which finds him practically spitting out the venom-laced lyrics. If this song didn’t get you pumped up back then, you just didn’t have a pulse.

There are many songs that I absolutely adore from Dickinson’s solo catalog, but one of the very finest examples of his songwriting comes in the form of “Born In ’58”. It’s a nostalgic look back at growing up surrounded by the people who taught you, as Bruce sings in the song, “Old fashioned stuff like wrong and right”. I love the entirety of the song lyrics for this track and as the music alternates between a midtempo beat and a more uptempo rocking style, this song is just perfect.

It’s the ripping and raw vocal delivery from Dickinson that powers “Hell On Wheels” through its pedal flat on the floor soundtrack. The song “Gyspsy Road” closes out Side One and while it does a pretty solid job at rocking out, there’s a slightly softer touch at times as well.

So the first side of the album is really great in my estimation. But when I flipped it over to Side Two, I found myself a little less enchanted with the material.

I thought “Dive! Dive! Dive!” had a lot of fun with its very tongue-in-cheek lyrics while walloping listeners with a hard driving musical rhythm. And though I don’t hate Dickinson’s cover of the Mott The Hoople song “All The Young Dudes”, I found I didn’t quite like it as much as I once did. I don’t know why I felt that way listening to the album now but it just didn’t hit home with me like when I first heard the song. Because of that change of heart, I kind of just wanted the song to be over.

But for whatever reason, despite each of the songs being hard rocking tracks, I just didn’t really get into the last three songs on the Tattooed Millionaire all that much. While “Lickin’ The Gun” does have an interesting delivery from Dickinson when singing the song title, I just couldn’t find my way to being more appreciative of the track.

Meanwhile, “Zulu Lulu” felt like a track that should’ve been left in the vaults. As I listened to it, it was almost like it was trying to be a funny song without actually including anything that would’ve brought a chuckle from me. The album closed out with “No Lies”, which just kind of laid there flat while I kept waiting for it develop into something more.

In 1990, Bruce Dickinson was already a global musical star so it’s not like anything I say in the here and now is going to damage his standing. And believe me, I think the first side of the album is proof positive that he was being highly creative at the time. But glancing back now, the second side of Tattooed Millionaire showed that even someone as great as Dickinson had room to grow.

NOTES OF INTEREST: After Tattooed Millionaire, Bruce Dickinson has released five more solo studio albums. The last one, Tyranny Of Souls, came out after he’d rejoined Iron Maiden. It was my favorite album of 2005.

The Tattooed Millionaire album has been reissued twice. The first one came in 2002 with five bonus tracks. An expanded edition was released in 2005 with a second disc that had eleven tracks on it.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL” (2009)

On the final Friday of every month in 2022, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight some of the filming locations for the movie The House of the Devil, which was directed by Ty West. The film was released in 2009. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the film while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in November 2020. These photos were taken in Lakeville and Torrington, CT.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – TWISTER SISTER’S ‘LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS’

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.

TWISTED SISTER – LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS (1987)

In 1987, the bloom was definitely off the rose for Twisted Sister. The commercial success of the band that came with the Stay Hungry album had faded and by all reports, the band members pretty much all hated each other. This is not exactly a conducive environment in which to write and record a new album.

And technically, they didn’t. The Love Is For Suckers album was actually supposed to be a Dee Snider solo album that was rebranded for Twisted Sister under record company pressure. Hell, drummer A.J. Pero didn’t even play on the material included.

But does the branding of the release make it better or worse? For me, I just love the music so regardless of what name it came out under, Love Is For Suckers is just a great collection of tracks in my mind.

I know that it is mainly focused on the more commercial sound that metal had going for it in 1987 with less of the edginess of some of the earlier Twisted Sister material, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting to me.

In fact, it’s hard to find anything I don’t like about the album. There’s ten songs and I love them all.

Side One opens up with “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)”, an anthemic giant middle finger type of song to the PMRC and their particular brand of evil from what is now considered back in the day. Dee Snider is well remembered for his calm, yet blistering, takedown testimonial in front of Congress. This song is the musical version of that. It’s got a kicking rock sound to it and the vocals are excellent.

That last sentence pretty much describes the rest of the material as well. Other than Side Two’s “You Are All That I Need”, each track is a hard rocking gem with plenty of fast-paced music combined with Snider’s sometimes snarling delivery of the lyrics. And even on the “You Are All That I Need” song, it’s really not too much of a ballad. Yes the lyrics are sentimental in nature (but not remotely sappy), but the music has more of an uptempo edge even if it is slightly slower in pace than the other songs.

As for the rest of Side One, “Hot Love” is a quick-stepping track fueled by lust-driven lyrics. The album’s title track features a pace that is practically blistering with Snider kind of spitting out the lyrics in such a way that your ears can’t help but be drawn to his delivery. And the mid-song more spoken word part of the lyrics is kind of hilarious to me (in a good way).

You can probably guess what “I’m So Hot For You” is about but along with the song “Tonight”, the song rocks and rolls to a strong finish for the first side of the album.

Side Two keeps the motor running with the anthemic rocker “Me And The Boys” and  “I Want This Night (To Last Forever)”. The latter song may sound like it is a ballad but it’s definitely a rocker that will keep the energy flowing through you.

My favorite song on the album has always seemed to be “One Bad Habit”. It kind of fits me in a lot of ways. The song moves fast but what makes the track for me is Snider’s vocals and the ode to a love of rock and roll with a heavy dose of realistic sarcasm to the lyrics at times. If I was ever to request Snider to play a song from this album, it would be “One Bad Habit”.

The album closes out with an anthemic shout out track called “Yeah Right!”. While the song lyrics aren’t going to win any praise about being masterful, I love the way the song brings the album to a rousing conclusion and leaves the listener (ME!) with an amped up feeling that I just want to play the album over again immediately.

The Love Is For Suckers album didn’t do much business for the band and after a brief tour in support of it, Snider officially left the band. It’s kind of the orphaned child of the band’s catalog. I can understand the reasons for why this is the case, but I don’t agree with them. Nearly 35 years after its original release, this is just great album that, to me at least, perfectly encapsulates the metal scene of the late 1980’s!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Love Is For Suckers album was reissued in 1999 via Spitfire Records with four bonus tracks. Those bonus tracks got a separate EP release in 2021 under the title Feel Appeal: Love Is For Suckers Extras.

Beau Hill produced the album, which might account for the various guest appearances of Kip Winger and Reb Beach from Winger (though I’ve read stuff online that suggest they played on the album a lot more than credited for. Not sure if that’s true or not). Both Steve Whiteman and Jimmy Chalfant from Kix show up as well. Hill produced Winger’s debut album in 1988 and helped produce the 1985 Kix album Midnite Dynamite.

Joey Franco was the drummer who recorded the Love Is For Suckers album in place of A.J. Pero. He played in Widowmaker with Snider as well. TNT guitarist Ronni Le Tekro helped arrange the material for the album. And according to Wikipedia actor Luke Perry (Beverly Hills, 90210) made a guest appearance providing “additional shouts”.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – NUCLEAR VALDEZ’S ‘I AM I’

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.

NUCLEAR VALDEZ – I AM I (1989)

I’ve had the Nuclear Valdez album I Am I hanging around ever since I got it when I purchased the Big Box of Cassettes a few years back. I’d never gotten around to listening to or writing about the album and that led to me making an assumption about the album that turned out to be pretty much wrong on all counts. While most of the albums in the box are from the 80’s metal genre, the Nuclear Valdez album is clearly more of a straight up rock album. It may have come out in 1989 when heavy metal was still in it’s prime years but the band certainly didn’t go chasing too hard after that particular vein of glory.

So you can understand I was initially rather surprised when I listened to the album. Those wrongheaded expectations meant I had to work just a little harder to fully get into the album in order to write about it. But once I did that work, I had a much clearer picture of I Am I.

The band had a minor hit with the video for the opening song “Summer” and as I listened to it, I could understand why. It’s pretty uptempo and upbeat with a catchy hook that will draw you in. The music’s pacing is pretty relentless (and melodic) throughout. It will definitely grab your attention.

I thought the songs “Hope” and the side ending “Unsung Hero (Song For Lenny Bruce)” were decent enough but I definitely had to work at developing an appreciation for them. That didn’t happen at all with the ballad “If I Knew Then” which was simply a painfully drawn out exercise for me.

But the intriguingly titled “Trace The Thunder” was a fantastic song. Another faster paced track, I also found that the song sounded like something you might’ve heard from Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite. This is most evident to me in the vocals from singer Froilan Sosa. It actually took me a while to figure out what band this song reminded me of but once I did, the song became even more of a winner in my eyes (I’m a big fan of Honeymoon Suite).

The second side of the album felt a little bit stronger to me. While “Strength” was decent enough, Nuclear Valdez really found a groove starting with the track “Eve”. Lyrically, the song might feel like it should’ve been a ballad, but I thought the much quicker rocking pace to the music elevated the song as a whole. The song “Apache” is a full on rocker that really appealed to me as well.

The band took a deeper lyrical turn on the songs “Run Through The Fields” and “Where Do We Go From Here”. For “Run Through The Fields”, the song moves from mid-to-uptempo in terms of musical pace. Musically, the song is excellent and assuming I’m not overthinking the lyrical content, the band is quite keen on driving a point home. (I’m going to let anyone who checks out the album figure out the specifics of what the band is singing about on their own). Oh, and that Honeymoon Suite sound seemed in evidence on this song as well.

As for “Where Do We Go From Here”, the song tempo moves a bit faster even with that same deeper lyrical take. And like “Run Through The Fields”, the song really takes hold of you.

The last song on the album is listed as a bonus track, but however you designate it “Rising Sun” is a solidly crafted uptempo number (with a guitar solo that I enjoyed a lot) that brings the album to a fitting conclusion.

I had some ill-conceived notions about the album before I listened to it but being a bit challenged by what I did end up listening to turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable in the end. While Side One of the album is not quite as strong as the second side, Nuclear Valdez’s I Am I is quite the new discovery for me!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The I Am I album was the band’s debut but they have released three more albums over the years: 1992’s Dream Another Dream, 2000’s In A Minute All Could Change and 2017’s Present From The Past.

The band got their name from a co-worker of bassist Juan Diaz. The co-worker reportedly had an explosive temper. Original guitarist Jorge Barcala left the band after the Dream Another Dream.

The I Am I album featured guest appearances by Bruce Brody (ex-Lone Justice) and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) on keyboards. Singer Meredith Brooks provided backing vocals on the song “Rising Sun”.

TJ’S MUSIC FALL RIVER ARTS ACADEMY STUDENTS TO PEFORM AT GRACELAND

By CHRISTOHPER TREACY

Just as it was in 2019 with Carnegie Hall, Fall River Arts Academy Director, Todd “TJ” Salpietro knew he couldn’t say no to a performance at Graceland.

On Thursday, April 7, 2022, twenty-two of his music students from the Fall River Arts Academy (FRAA) will rock the Guest House at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, and he couldn’t be more proud.

“I know some of the younger students don’t exactly get it yet,” he beamed during a recent chat.  “But as they grow up, they’ll certainly come to appreciate it. And as for the parents, they’re really excited to have their kids perform not only at the home of the ‘King of Rock and Roll,’ Elvis Presley, but in Memphis, which is considered rock’s birthplace.”

The appearance on the Memphis stage—a 400-seat theatre on the Graceland property—is part of yet another honor bestowed upon the school: FRAA has been nominated for Music Academy School of the Year. The final chapter in this competition is tied into the trip to Memphis.

“FRAA is one of eight schools that’s up for the prestigious Music Academy School of the Year award,” Salpietro explained. “That’s amongst a group of several hundred other music schools across the country. We’ll be presenting in front of a panel of industry professionals at the Graceland Guest House on April 5, explaining our amazing growth— specifically, what approaches we’ve taken to grow our school to 550 music students. All eight schools presenting for School of the Year will be hosting student performances that week.”

For the music portion of the trip, Salpietro says there are two significantly different FRAA showcases planned for April 7 that will include students ranging in age from seven to sixty. The first, an early afternoon set at 12:45 p.m., will consist of ten vocalists singing with a combination of backing tracks and accompaniment supplied by instructor Giulia Khoury, as well as solo viola and piano spotlights. 

The second showcase is an evening gig, slated for 7:45 p.m., which will feature a trio of band configurations: a house band, including Salpietro on drums with FRAA instructors Jim Denour, Nolan McGovern, and Giulia Khoury. The other two are plucked from TJ’s Music Allstar ensembles: Level Up and On a Thursday, both of which will play a four-song set.

“I’ll be participating as the house band drummer,” he said. “I’ll be performing a few songs with students and also with Luciano Jacques, an amazing 14-year-old multi-instrumentalist and relative of mine. He’ll play with On a Thursday during their set, and he’ll also feature during the house band’s set, singing and playing fiddle on the Charlie Daniels classic, “Devil went down to Georgia” to close the show. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get on stage to perform with him. This performance means a lot to us both… we’re looking forward to tearing the house down.”

Salpietro seems excited to get back to an ongoing trajectory of live student performances after the pandemic put a forced pause on his plans. He intends to continue building on the success of the school’s 2019 trip to Carnegie Hall where the FRAA players received a standing ovation.

“We’ve hosted some of our rehearsals, and you can just see how pumped everybody has been and how much preparation is going into this performance. My mission as director of FRAA is to introduce as many performance opportunities as possible that will inspire our students to really practice. Personally, I feel they practice more diligently knowing they have a higher profile performance coming up.”

In between presenting for the award on April 5 and the sold-out musical showcases on April 7, the group will enjoy a pre-show party for 75 people on a Memphis Riverboat dinner cruise with a live band, dinner, and dancing. The good news for the rest of us is that the April 7 musical performances will be live-streamed. Click HERE for more information.

“As far as I am concerned just being nominated and nationally recognized amongst this amazing group of business professionals is an honor to me,” Salpietro said. “But I’m going to give it my best to bring home the win.”

SOME STUDENTS FROM TJ’S MUSIC FALL RIVER ARTS ACADEMY PERFORMING TOGETHER (SUBMITTED PHOTO)