All posts by limelightmagazine

Cheryl Wheeler to perform at The Spire in Plymouth

PLYMOUTH – Cheryl Wheeler, a folk icon who must be seen to be appreciated, will perform at The Spire Center for Performing Arts in Plymouth, Mass., on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets HERE.

Wheeler is known for her gifted songwriting, beautiful voice, and entertaining stage presence. Even if you are not already familiar with Wheeler, you’ve probably already heard her music. Mixing keen insight with humor and pathos, her songs have been covered by artists like Peter, Paul and Mary, Suzy Bogguss, Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks, Bette Midler, and more.

From other people’s comments about her, you learn that she is a natural storyteller with a fantastic sense of humor. But until you see her in person, you never really believe what you’ve been told about her. Interestingly enough, almost half of the songs she performs during her shows have never been recorded!

Her first public performance was at a Hootenanny when she was 12. She started writing her own songs when she was 17. Her funny stories between songs reveal her talent for diversity. Each time she tells a story, it will be a little bit different, so even if you’ve heard it before, you still find yourself laughing.

The Spire is located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth. The venue features superior acoustics, custom state of the art lighting and sound systems and original period architectural details, offering patrons an exceptional performing arts experience.

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The Cassette Chronicles – Contraband’s self-titled debut

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.

CONTRABAND – CONTRABAND (1991)

We’ve all heard that cliche of how when you assume, you just make an ass of you and me, right? Well, that kind of happened when I decided to write about this album.

The musical pedigree for this so-called supergroup or side project is rather noteworthy for the variety of well received rock groups of the 70’s and 80’s. You’ve got Michael Schenker (UFO, Scorpions, solo) and Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) on guitar, Shark Island’s singer Richard Black on vocals, Bobby Blotzer from Ratt on drums and Share Pedersen from Vixen on bass. Honestly, the reason I paid any attention to the band initially was because of Pedersen, who I had a major thing for at the time.

The release of this album came with a big single and video for the opening track, the Ian Hunter written “All The Way From Memphis”. This version of the song is ultimately outstanding and likely the best remembered track from the album.

But that act of assumption by me led me to thinking that this album had been a pretty successful one when it was initially released. My perception was corrected when I read that not only were the sales of the album disappointing but the reviews weren’t all that great either. So I was left to wrack my brain as to why what I thought was so far from the truth. The reason turned out to be pretty simple. I never bought the damn album in the first place. My total exposure to the band was in fact the “All The Way To Memphis” song. I could’ve sworn I owned this one back in the day.

It might’ve been a bit of a good thing I failed to grab this one up when it was released. The material on the album leaves you with just enough of a tease to leave you rather unsatisfied. In fact, the band pretty much bookends both sides of the album with good songs while the 3 songs in the middle are at best mediocre or abysmal at their worst.

“Loud Guitars, Fast Cars & Wild, Wild Livin'” is a burst of pure adrenaline racing from one high point to the next at breakneck speed to close out the first side. The song ended up being used on the soundtrack of the movie If Looks Could Kill as well.

A cover of blues singer Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight” is given a more hard rock or metallic going over, but remains a superb cut and the band joined an impressive lineup of artists to record their own version of Brown’s hit including Bruce Springsteen, Montrose, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and James Brown.

David Bowie’s “Hang On To Yourself” closed out side two and that was the fourth really great sounding track on the release.

Sadly, that’s where the good news ends. The remaining six songs came off as trying a little too hard and failing to hit whatever the target was. I just wanted those songs to be over with each time I listened so I could get to the worthwhile tracks.

If I could just hear the four songs I liked, I’d be fine. However, since you have to take the album as a whole, I found my admittedly inaccurate perception of the album shattered and was left profoundly disappointed in the end.

Notes of Interest – The songwriting credits on Contraband were a treat to read about. While Richard Black got co-writing credits on three songs (only one that I liked), the rest of the band had nothing to do with any of the creative side of things. This might explain why the album comes off a bit more like a hired gun project trying to cash in at the twilight of the metal glory days than a full fledged band.

Besides the covers I already mentioned, there were a number of other songwriters utilized for the album. Two of them in particular have had a host of collaborations with big name musical acts. Michael Thompson co-wrote “Kiss By Kiss” with Mark Spiro. Thompson has worked with Babyface, David Foster, Celine Dion and Eric Clapton amongst a host of others. Meanwhile, Spiro has worked on music that is reportedly responsible for 100 million albums sold by artists such as John Waite, Bad English, Laura Branigan, Heart, Cheap Trick and many more.

Dann Huff co-wrote the song “Intimate Outrage”. He was a part of the band Giant, whose album “Last of the Runaways” was a featured album in an earlier installment of this Cassette Chronicles series.

The Cassette Chronicles – Hurricane’s ‘Take What You Want’

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.

HURRICANE – TAKE WHAT YOU WANT (1985)

Back in late April of this year, I wrote about Hurricane’s album Over The Edge. For those that don’t recall, I pretty much didn’t really like the album except for a couple of songs. I had mentioned in that article that a friend of mine was of the belief that the band’s first album was a far superior release.

I finally decided to see if his assertion was something I would agree with. Surprisingly enough, I have to say that I do. Released by the band in 1985, Take What You Want, shows the band in its musical infancy with their “rougher” edges yet to be smoothed out to make the band more palatable for the masses.

To be fair, given that there were only six songs on the original vinyl release of the album, this release should probably be classified as an EP, but that slight nitpick aside, this was a much more enjoyable album for me to listen to. I should also note that there are a few discrepancies on the album’s liner notes. The liner notes list 1985 as the release date but on the actual cassette it says 1987. I’m not sure if this is because Enigma Records decided to re-release the album when they signed the band or not. Also, the liner notes also say that the program is repeated on both sides of the cassette but it isn’t. The first three songs are on side one while the last FOUR songs are on side two. And yes, I did emphasize that there are four songs on side two because there was a rather intriguing instrumental called “La Luna” that was added to the cassette that did not appear on the vinyl release.

Musically speaking, the album is a much more raw sounding recording. The production on the album is definitely not what you will find on the band’s subsequent releases. At times, the vocals from singer Kelly Hansen sound as if they were recorded in an echo chamber and then added into the soundtrack but yet not fully integrated into the mix as a cohesive whole.

While it is something to note, the rawness of the band’s sound didn’t affect my enjoyment of the music. In fact, it pretty much served as an enhancement to what I was listening to. Like I said, I was not pleased with their second album but this album really sold itself well to me. With the exception of the middling ballad “It’s Only Heaven” (which did have a hot guitar solo from Robert Sarzo), the band rocked out through the other tracks.

“Take Me In Your Arms” had a bit of a restrained take on the pacing at the start of the song but then blossomed into a rocker, but “The Girls Are Out Tonight” kicked into high gear from the get-go. The same can be said for the title track, the namesake track “Hurricane” and “Hot and Heavy”.

I missed out on this release when it first came out and though I knew about it all these years I never bothered to seek it out. It has been in the Purchase Street Records 100 cassette purchase box since I bought them and though I have only now gotten around to listening to it, it did really pay off for me.

Yes, hindsight is always 20-20 but this version of the band is one that I could’ve easily found myself getting behind. The songwriting is pretty damn good here. It feels a little less calculated than what was to come on album two. If I am to hazard a guess, Take What You Want is the best musical primer for anyone that wants to discover the band and is also the demonstrative choice for what the band should have been like throughout its original run.

Limelight Magazine’s 31 favorite horror films since 2000

BY LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE 

Many people say that the best horror films came out in the 1970s and 1980s, but that simply is not the case. While there are definitely a number of classic flicks there were released during these two decades, the past 17 years have yielded a number of quality horror films that are just as good or even superior to their predecessors.

Since it’s October, we thought it would be festive to list our favorite 31 horror movies since 2000. We haven’t given any details about each film because you should be checking them out for yourselves and making your own judgments. For the fun of it, we included the “Tomatometer” from Rotten Tomatoes to see how the films rate from critics nationwide. Interestingly, only three of the films (i.e. High Tension, Saw and Tusk) fell below 50%.

It should also be noted that we have not seen every horror film of the past 17 years, but have done our best to see as many as possible. This list will be revised if we find more flicks that are worthy of adding. We realize a list like this will trigger differing opinions so we welcome all of your comments.

  1. It Follows (2015)   [Tomatometer = 96% fresh]

it-follows-movie-poster

2. The Babadook (2014)   [Tomatometer = 98% fresh]

The Babadook

3. Tusk (2014)   [Tomatometer = 41% fresh]

Tusk

4. Let Me In (2010)   [Tomatometer = 88% fresh]

let_me_in_ver6_xlg

5. Orphan (2009) [Tomatometer = 55% fresh]

6. Raw (2017)  [Tomatometer = 90% fresh]

7. [Rec] 2 (2009)   [Tomatometer = 70% fresh]

rec2

8. The Orphanage (2007)   [Tomatometer = 87% fresh]

The Orphanage

9. Martyrs (2008) [Tomatometer = 53% fresh]

10. The Invitation (2015)   [Tomatometer = 88% fresh]

invitation

11.House of the Devil (2009)   [Tomatometer = 86% fresh]

house_of_the_devil

12. Inside (2007)   [Tomatometer = 83% fresh]

13. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015) [Tomatometer = 73% fresh]

14. Behind the Mask (2006)   [Tomatometer = 74% fresh]

behind_the_mask_ver2

15. High Tension (2003)  [Tomatometer = 41% fresh]

2003-poster-high-tension

16. Saw (2004)   [Tomatometer = 48% fresh]

17. The Conjuring (2013)   [Tomatometer = 86% fresh]

the-conjuring-exclusive-poster-131169-a-1364403315-470-75

18. Rec (2007)   [Tomatometer = 88% fresh]

rec

19. Starry Eyes (2014)   [Tomatometer = 75% fresh]

Starry Eyes

20. The Neon Demon (2016)  [Tomatometer = 57% fresh]

21. The Children (2008)   [Tomatometer = 73% fresh]

TheChildren

22. Cold Prey (2006)   [Tomatometer = No Score]

Cold Prey

23. Session 9 (2001)   [Tomatometer = 63% fresh]

session_nine

24. Sleep Tight (2012)   [Tomatometer = 93% fresh]

sleep-tight-movie-poster-2010-1020735230

25. The Witch  [Tomatometer = 91% fresh]

26. Afflicted (2014)   [Tomatometer = 81% fresh]

Afflicted

27. The Mind’s Eye (2015)   [Tomatometer = 59% fresh]

the mind's eye

28. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017) [Tomatometer = 87% fresh]

29. Them (2006)   [Tomatometer = 61% fresh]

them_ver2

30. Ginger Snaps (2000)   [Tomatometer = 89% fresh]

giger snaps

31. Midnight Meat Train (2008) [Tomatometer = 72% fresh]

Honorable Mentions: Curse of ChuckyDon’t Breathe, The Final Destination, Frontier(s), Goodnight Mommy, The Hills Have Eyes, Hostel, Lost After Dark, May, Maniac, The Sacrament, Saw IV, Saw VI, Trick ‘r Treat, The Void, We Are Still Here and Wolf Creek.

The Cassette Chronicles – Trouble Tribe’s self-titled debut

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.

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TROUBLE TRIBE – TROUBLE TRIBE (1990)

You ever wonder why and how a band slips away from your memory? I know that I do from time to time. More often since beginning this series that’s for sure.

New York rockers Trouble Tribe had their self-titled album released by Chrysalis Records in May of 1990, and I distinctly remember picking the album up in a store. But despite liking it, I don’t remember what happened to my copy of the album. I remember liking it enough to join the band’s street team though.

Do you remember those? You send away and join up to help spread the word in your area about the band. I joined a few of those back in the day, though I couldn’t really tell you for which bands anymore. Except for Trouble Tribe that is. The reason I remember their street team is because after I sent away to join up, I forgot all about it. Until the phone rang at my house one night. My mother called down the hallway to me and said I had a call. When I picked up the phone, much to my rather astonished surprise it was Trouble Tribe drummer Steve Durrell on the other end. The conversation has faded into the misty haze of time, but it wasn’t a quick hi and bye thing, there was a few minutes spent just chatting away. I can tell you that never happened with any other band that I signed up with.

Now because I haven’t listened to the album in quite a few years, it is almost like listening to it for the first time. It is something that I like to have happen from time to time because it gets my musical imagination fired up to see what’s coming next.

The first side of the album is outstanding. So much of the music from the 80’s metal heyday had become repetitive by this point (about two years before Nirvana killed the whole damn genre). While Trouble Tribe won’t go down as the most original band of all time, their music was pretty damn invigorating all the same and felt as if it was truly their own sound rather than following a blueprint laid out for them.

The songs “Tattoo” and “Here Comes Trouble” are the band’s two big singles and they lead off the album. You can find videos for the songs on YouTube. They’ve got the right sense of melody and hooks that should’ve made them, at least for a time, far more than one of the more obscure bands of the genre. But the jam packed album (13 songs including two quick instrumentals and a cover of The Beatles song “Dear Prudence”) doesn’t stop there. Click HERE to view Trouble Tribe performing “Dear Prudence” live.

There’s a nice little bluesy intro on “Gimme Something Sweet” and the power chord driven ballad “In The End” sold itself well with me. “Back To Wall” has some standout guitar work from Adam Wacht. “Boys Nite Out” flat out rocks. Throughout the album, singer Jimmy Driscoll gives a sublimely lights out vocal performance.

As for Side two, after the heavy rhythmic pounding of the instrumental “Tribal Beast,” the high energy rocking continues with “Red Light Zone,” another killer piece of music. That flows into the edgy rocker “(Angel With A) Devil’s Kiss”.

Nobody’s perfect and that Beatles cover fell flat with me, though I’ll admit I’ve never been much of a fan of The Beatles and that may play a part in why I didn’t care for this version of the song. But things get back on track with the rocking “One By One”. The band slows things down with “Cold Heart” which is another big power chord driven epic ballad type of track. It’s not as good as “In The End” but the underpinnings of a memorable track are there for all to see. The short fast paced instrumental “F’s Nightmare” kicks things back up briefly as the album comes to a close.

I am quite terrible at making accurate predictions but since that doesn’t stop me from buying a lottery ticket, I don’t see why I can’t make one here as well. I think if this album had been released even just three years earlier, Trouble Tribe as a band might’ve had far more of a commercial impact. Still, this is definitely an overlooked and underserved gem of a rock and roll album and you’d do yourself a kindness to get your own copy. It may have taken nearly 3 decades to fully appreciate the album but I’m there now and you should find your own path to the Tribe as well.

Notes of Interest – The band has a website and a Facebook page. However, it has been awhile since either has been updated. The last information posted on their http://www.troubletribe.com website said the band was in the studio working on a new album, but that was in October of 2015.

Guitarist John Sykes (ex-Whitesnake, Blue Murder) is thanked in the liner notes.

MODERN ENGLISH – ROBBIE GREY PREVIEWS UPCOMING U.S. TOUR

BY J. KENNEY

Over the summer, Limelight Magazine had the opportunity to catch British rock band Modern English in concert at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. The band was taking part in the month long Retro Futura tour that also featured Howard Jones, Men Without Hats, The English Beat, Paul Young and Katrina (formerly of Katrina and The Waves). It was our first time seeing any of these acts live in concert.

While we were impressed by everyone’s performance, Modern English’s short set was the highlight of the entire show. Rather than stick to their ‘80s material, the band included a new song in their set called “Moonbeam” which is featured on their most recent studio album Take Me To The Trees. The song had the audience on their feet with a standing ovation. Since I couldn’t get the song out of my head, I purchased the physical CD on Amazon after the show and I’ve been playing it non-stop ever since. The album had such an impact on me that I also purchased their other studio albums, including some from private sellers on E-bay.

Take Me To The Trees is the band’s first studio album in 30 years and features four-fifths of the original lineup. The album reconnects the band to their roots, as it was co-produced bv Martyn Young of Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S fame, whose last production job was 1986. The album’s cover was also done by Vaughan Oliver, whose first sleeve design was Modern English’s “Gathering Vibes” single in 1980.

Modern English is currently rehearsing for a fall tour of the U.S. that will hit ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, Mass., on November 13th. (Purchase tickets HERE). Despite his busy schedule, lead singer and guitarist Robbie Grey, who has been part of every incarnation of the band, answered some questions Limelight Magazine had for him about the Take Me To The Trees album and tour.

MODERN ENGLISH’S TAKE ME TO THE TRESS IS THEIR MOST RECENT STUDIO ALBUM AND FEATURES FOUR-FIFTHS OF THE ORIGINAL LINEUP.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): According to the band’s Facebook page, Modern English is currently rehearsing for their upcoming tour of the US. How are rehearsals going so far?

ROBBIE GREY: The rehearsals are going well. It’s great to be playing a mixture of really early Modern English material with the new album and figuring out how to arrange the set.

LM: Earlier this year, Modern English released its first album in over 30 years with four-fifths of the original line up. How was recording this album with this line-up different than recording your first three studio albums?

ROBBIE GREY: “Well we did the new album in our own art studio space using the art gallery as the live room. Before we always used recording studios. Also, using the music program logic was new to us. Recording over a couple of years was new as we could never afford that before using professional studios.”

LM: Do you have a favorite song off Take Me To The Trees and why is it your favorite?

ROBBIE GREY: “Trees” is my favourite. It reminds me of a film soundtrack. It’s very cinematic. I love the arrangement of the instrumentation. Also the lyric is very nature based. I like that.

LM: Take Me To The Trees was a PledgeMusic supported album. Why did the band choose to take this approach?

ROBBIE GREY: It’s the new way. Great to touch base with our fans. We were surprised after all the time away to do so well with the Pledges. We had a lot of control which was a real bonus.

LM: Does recording new music through a fan driven campaign create more or less pressure on the band than having the support of a record label to produce a hit single?

ROBBIE GREY: It’s a lot less pressure I think. No record company means no interference.

LM: Speaking of the new album, Take Me To The Trees is one of your best. I’ve played it non-stop since buying it on Amazon. At this point in time, do you know how much of the new album will be part of the set list for the upcoming US tour?

ROBBIE GREY: “Trees,” “Sweet Revenge,” “Moonbeam” will all be featured on the tour.

LM: As for the older songs, will you primarily focus on material from Mesh & Lace, After The Snow and Ricochet Days with the original line up or will there be songs from Stop Start, Pillow Lips, Everything Is Mad and Soundtrack as well?

ROBBIE GREY: The shows will feature songs from Take Me To The Trees, in addition to early 4AD singles and tracks from Mesh and Lace’ and After the Snow.

LM: I got to see you perform for the first time this summer in Providence, RI, on the Retro Futura tour. One of the highlights of your set was hearing “Moonbeam” from Take Me To The Trees. You were the only band to play a new song and the audience loved it. Many bands at retro shows typically stay away from performing new songs but you included one in your set. How do you feel when the audience appreciates your new music just as much as what you created in the past?

ROBBIE GREY: We agreed to the Retro Futura tour only if we could play new material. “Moonbeam” fit into the short set really well. People really liked it. Always good when new stuff goes down well.

LM: You’ve had various lineups of Modern English over the years. What makes recording and performing with this core group of individuals different than the rest?

ROBBIE GREY: It’s the original band. Always had a magic about it. There’s no comparison really. Get us in a music room and it works.

LM: You may have been asked this before but looking back on your long career with Modern English, what has been one of the biggest highlights for you personally?

ROBBIE GREY: “We just picked up an award in London for 5 million radio plays for “I Melt With You.” More than Bowie’s “Changes” and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” I mean that’s pretty good!

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

ROBBIE GREY: We always just want to make music. We’re still very creative. It’s an exciting feeling. I hope people can see that.

MODERN ENGLISH (PHOTO BY NIKOLAI PUC’ PHOTOGRAPHY)

The Cassette Chronicles – Night Ranger’s ‘Big Life’

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.

NIGHT RANGER – BIG LIFE (1987)

For the third and presumably final spotlight feature on a Night Ranger album, it is time to check out the Big Life album. It is 30 years on from its initial release and aside from the inclusion of the soundtrack title cut for the Michael J. Fox comedy film The Secret of My Success, this is a mostly disappointing album.

The first side of the album has just four songs and after checking them out I asked myself two questions. The first was how did this album ever go gold? The second question was why would anyone want to listen to these four songs ever again?

Despite featuring the requisite melodic hooks you’d likely come to expect from the band, the songwriting felt so flat and uninspired that the biggest point of interest came from the song “Rain Comes Crashing Down” and that is because the title conjures up an image in my mind that the song didn’t really match. There’s a bit of an attempt at giving the musical soundtrack to the song a cinematic vibe but it just doesn’t come fully together.

The second side comes off a little better. It opens with the “The Secret Of My Success” from the movie I mentioned above. The song was co-written by David Foster (one of three people to garner a production credit on the album along with the band themselves) and it has all the hallmarks of an 80’s movie soundtrack hit. It’s got a heavy keyboard influence running throughout the song while a rocking guitar line competes for your attention. The vocals are very up in your face during the chorus as well.

The song “Carry On” is a pretty kicking rocker with a simply outstanding guitar cut powering the song. I thought “I Know Tonight” was an understated gem of a rocker though I think that is mostly due to enjoying another standout guitar line, but it also had a smartly crafted lyrical performance as well.

The other two songs on side two are mediocre at best and did nothing to fire the musical imagination for me at all.

The band’s commercial fortunes were definitely on the wane with this album and I can certainly understand why. You have to wade through an astonishingly large amount of filler to find the diamonds in need of a polish. It is certainly to the band’s credit that their songwriting feels so much stronger these days than here on Big Life.

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Note of Interest: Vocalist Kevin Chalfant is credited with providing backing vocals on the album. He fronted the bands 707 and The Storm and was once targeted to be Steve Perry’s replacement in Journey though it never came to fruition.