The column is a bit late this week because life has got in the way.
First up we have a wonderful greatest hits collection from Fair Warning called Best and More. This German band are big in Japan and have done numerous sell-out tours there. This release might be a good taster for American AOR fans wanting a good introduction to the band.
After a few listens, you will be singing along with the choruses as if you were a fan. They have quite a talent in writing choruses that are very hard to forget. They have done a fairly good job at avoiding the po-faced cheese this type of band can drift into. There is never a sense of trying too hard.
At 32 tracks, it is damn good value for money to boot. The first CD is made up of mostly studio tracks, while the second is mostly live outings. Live tracks range from acoustic workouts to full on live tracks recorded in a stadium. There is something for everyone on this release.
Fair Warning, who share their name with a great Van Halen album, are a band that bridges the gap between American AOR (Journey, TOTO, etc.) and Scandinavia AOR (Europe, A-Ha). Their slickly produced studio output sounds universal and attractive to all. This is probably why they are so "big in Japan" but have yet to really crack the U.S.
The band have a keen sense of humor as well with such tracks as "Generation Jedi" which clearly should be the theme song to Star Wars the Old Republic. The opener "Burning Heart" is a great heavy AOR workout that really gets things going nicely. Then there are great singalongs like "I'll Be There". What is great about this release is there is something from all eras of the band which shows you how the band have evolved into the force they are today.
Another great AOR release is the new one from the band Mad Max, called Another Night of Passion. As you might expect from the title, it is an album full of sex and rock & roll. Most amusing is the opening track called "Rocklahoma", a song that is destined to be a live favorite. It is an album that was 25 years in making and the band haven't aged their sound one bit since their '80s hey-day.