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Thursday, July 26, 2012

RIP Larry Hoppen 1951 - 2012

RIP Larry Hoppen 1951 - 2012

Larry Hoppen Photo courtesy of

A sad day once again in the world of rock, as another name from the classic rock generation passes on.

Orleans singer / songwriter, Larry Hoppen sadly passed away on the evening of Tuesday 24th July, 2012, he was 61 years old.

Still performing in recent years, I caught Larry playing Orleans hits, performing with the 'Voices of Classic Rock' tour, back in 2001, in a lineup that included such names as Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Country Communion), Mike Reno (Loverboy), Pat Travers, Spencer Davis, Bobby Kimball (Toto) and John Cafferty.

Formed in 1972, Orleans released twelve studio albums between 1973 - 2008, although they went on hiatus in 1997, reforming in 2001.
Indeed, 2012 was the 40th year of the bands history.

RIP Larry, thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

The Orleans band newsletter shared this with fans yesterday:

Dear friends

 It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the news of my brother Larry's sudden passing on the afternoon of July 24th, 2012. By now, many of you have already become aware of this fact but, to be sure you are all aware, I am writing to you now.

The official press release is copied below and that's all we have to say about his passing, officially. 

On a more personal note, Larry was both my older brother and my partner of the past 40 years in this journey called Orleans. Words cannot express the depths of my sorrow. I know that holds true for Lane, Fly, Charlie, John Hall and all the rest of us who worked with him so closely over time.

Thanks to alll of you who have already been so kind with your well-wishing calls, texts, voice mails and emails. Unfortunately, I cannot answer each one individually, but know that your kindnesses are appreciated.
Please, unless we are already close, I would ask you not to call my personal telephone number at this time.

Obviously, we will not be able to fulfill our commitments for this weekend's shows. We are all in shock here.

On the other hand, with the promoters' permissions, I intend to do the rest of the shows on the books for the remainder of the year. Certainly, Larry is not replaceable but, with the aid of the many fine artists we have worked with, I feel we can somehow satisfy these commitments, with class, in his honor. It is my intention to finish our work, not just default and disappear.

If you would like to help, there are two ways you can tangibly do that:

As indicated below, Larry's paasion was in aiding food banks do their work in local communities. A contribution there would honor his memory.

The suddenness of this event has left me personally in charge of satifying much unfinished business. Some of it is simply unsalvagable and creates significant hardship. If you feel moved to do so, you may make a contribution of any amount to our PayPal account at , which I will use best as I can to honor our economic commitments to others. Humbly, I thank you in advance.

At this time, there are no plans yet for funeral or memorial services. Those arrangements are in the hands of his wife, Patti. As that information becomes available, I will pass it on within the context of her wishes.

Please keep our family in your hearts and prayers.
We love you all,



Larry Hoppen, one of the founding members of the band Orleans, passed away on July 24th, 2012.  Born on Long Island, New York, Hoppen was 61 years old.

Between 1969 and 1971, his Ithaca, NY- based band, Boffalongo, made two LPs for United Artists. The second included the original recording of "Dancin' in the Moonlight", later a hit by friends King Harvest. Soon after Boffalongo disbanded in late 1971,
Larry got a call from (former US Congressman, D-NY, 19) John Hall, inviting him to come to Woodstock, NY to join with the late Wells Kelly and John to form Orleans which he did in early 1972.

Larry's younger brother, Lance, joined the band the following fall. Tens of millions know Larry's uplifting tenor from the Orleans hits "Still the One", "Dance With Me" and "Love Takes Time".

Larry also performed and/or recorded with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Livingston Taylor, Lulu, Graham Parker, Blues Traveler, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Michael Franks, Levon Helm, the late great Michael Brecker, the late great Chet Atkins,
the late great Artie Traum, John Sebastian, Bela Fleck, Felix Cavaliere, Edgar Winter, Robbie Dupree, Spencer Davis, Rick Derringer, Mark Farner, John  Ford Coley, Jimi Jamison, John Cafferty and many more notable artists. 

Larry released 2 solo albums: "HandMade" and "Looking for the Light", the latter being a flagship fundraising vehicle for his 501(c)3 nonprofit Sunshine for HIV Kids.

Larry was still touring with Orleans, including brother Lance and youngest brother Lane, and was scheduled to appear on Fox TV's nationwide "Fox & Friends' All-American Concert Series" show this coming Friday, July 27th.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia Smith Hoppen and his daughters, Claire and Maeve, as well as his bothers, Lance and Lane and his sister, Lynda.

The Family asks that since Larry's passion was feeding hungry people, his friends and fans can honor his memory by making a contribution to their local food bank in his name.

Patricia Smith Hoppen and her daughters ask the media to please respect their privacy at this difficult time.


Lance Hoppen
for the entire Orleans Ground Crew


Ex-Rainbow/Deep Purple Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner comments on the death 
of his former colleague Larry Hoppen of Orleans.

Larry Hoppen, one of the founding members of the band *Orleans*, 
passed away on July 24th, 2012.  Born on Long Island, New York, Hoppen 
was 61 years old.

Turner, who worked with Hoppen often since 1999 said, "Larry Hoppen 
was one of the most talented people I knew. He was an incredible 
musician and singer...his voice and songs with Orleans took me through 
my younger days with inspiration and joy. Later in life Larry and I 
joined forces on many different projects (Voices of Classic 
Rock/Rockforever, Orleans and Friends, Rock and Pop
Masters, Spectra All Stars, etc.). I grew to know him personally and 
was proud to call him friend. I would like to extend my deepest 
sympathy to his family, friends and fans...they are in my thoughts and 
prayers at this tragic
Joe Lynn Turner

I'm sure they'll be many more tributes to the man.
RIP Larry.

Official weblinks:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gotthard – 'Firebirth' album review

Gotthard – 'Firebirth' album review

Released on: Nuclear Blast. Release date: Available now.

To many of the old fans of Swiss rockers Gotthard the thought of a new album with a new singer following the tragic death of original front-man Steve Lee in a terrible motoring accident two years ago - while he was on holiday in the US. - was unthinkable. Surely though, if you’re really a fan of the band’s music, then like so many other acts before, you’d think it would make sense to find a way to carry on. Doesn’t it also honour the original individual’s name and abilities? I think it does for sure.
I also believe the guys have done an excellent job to with ‘Firebirth.’ The bands last album with Steve Lee was 2009’s ‘Need To Believe’ which was received with great praise and I think the band has done great to come back with an album sounding so good.
Many people have probably not heard of Gotthard, here in the States but I'll tell you, check them out, their past works which feature founding member and original vocalist Steve Lee, are very good indeed.
The band released nine albums since 1992, prior to Lee's death, as well as four live albums!

Something else many people may not be aware of, is that guitarist Mandy Meyer (Asia, Cobra, Krokus), also played on three studio and one of those live releases, so you see, even more reason to check these guys out some more!

The band today features founding members Leo Leoni (Guitars), Marc Lynn (Bass)
 and Hena Habegger (Drums), as well as Freddy Scherer (Guitars) who has been with the band since 1996 alongside the bands new vocalist Nic Maeder
Opening with the first single ‘Starlight’ is a good, strong choice. The song had picked up a lot play and positive reactions from around the globe and with an almost Aerosmith type vibe to it, I think it’s an absolute winner.   All power to new singer Nic Maeder for providing a very strong, yet difficult task in completely this album, you’ve done well mate!

‘Give It Real’ next rocks out a little harder initially for sure, harder and dirtier edge to it. Impressive scream in the intro too!

Next it’s the very classy rock ballad ‘Remember It’s Me’ which the band had given away as an Mp3, through their site to fans.
It still gives me goose bumps and there’s not many these days that do. Class guys, it’s a brilliant slice of AOR!

Back to rocking things up with the edgy ‘Fight’ next, driven by some rumbling bass and gritty riffs, it’s a steady rocker.

Maybe the band has been watching too many Bruce Willis movies with next track ‘Yippee Aye Yay,’ although Willis purists will correct me by saying that Bruce’s line is actually ‘Yippee Ki Yay!’
It’s funny at times I think that vocally this one comes across like David Coverdale, especially where Nic lowers the tone of his vocal in places, where otherwise the song is almost driven by an AC/DC like riff.

Ballad time next with the haunting ‘Tell Me,’ which is a combination of simply played piano and backed by strings throughout.

With ‘Shine’ it’s a little more up tempo, but still almost power ballad territory, but also a little pop rock like, still driven with eased power chords. Another gem though.

‘The Story Is Over’ is a song that starts with a little build up and some big riffs kick in and then it really gets into an almost classic Whitesnake like groove. Steady grooving rocker.

Have to say, ‘Right On’ gives more than a nod to Bon Jovi with the voice box and then a little Coverdale like again too, nothing they haven’t done before on previous material.
Another steady rocker, a little poppy perhaps but with a harder edge.

You know, it all sounds very good, but there’s really only about four standout songs, this far in.
 Nic is not Steve Lee and he’s not bad and I personally don’t believe he has in any way changed the way the guys write.
It’s a very guitar driven album, with keyboards kind of limited, but I guess with no dedicated keys player, that's the way it goes, except on the ballads, but that’s more piano and strings to be honest.

‘S.O.S.’ starts with just a guitar riff, then in comes tribal style drums and then vocals, overlaid guitar parts and bass, as the song builds and builds to get into a mid-paced rocker. Not incredibly catchy, but not bad.

With ‘Take it All Back,’ it’s a fairly slow to mid paced generally easy going pop rocker in a style not unlike say Tesla.

Back to a solid rock groove with ‘I Can,’ and I like the pre-chorus lead guitar parts, nice touch. This one rocks well, in an upbeat style not unlike a basic AC/DC backing riff, offering much than that as a song. Nice little, yet too short, harmony lead break.
Final track, ‘Where Are You’ gives me goose bumps again and how … The multi layering is well done and these guys have ballads down so well, akin to say Europe. Nice one!

Overall then, it’s a very well-crafted album, with some great highs with rockers and ballads, some may say, why so many laid back tracks?
I have to say, huge kudos to the other guys in the band backing up Nic, as they effectively lost a brother in Steve Lee and to try and pick things up again after is a tough thing to do, but I think they’ve done pretty well.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Official band website:

News Update for Wednesday July 25th, 2012

Hi Folks,

OK, here we go, news updates are back!
Hope to get my review of the latest Gotthard album, 'Firebirth' up soon too!
Cheers, Al

Heaven and Earth album closer to completion

I had the good fortune today, to catch up with Stuart Smith, the main man behind the Heaven and Earth project releases, that have featured many, many guest artists, including phenomenal players and vocalists alike. The new forthcoming album, I have no doubt, will be no exception!

With two and a half albums behind them, OK, two albums and a great EP, that have featured the likes of Joe Lynn Turner, Howard Leese, Keith Emerson, Kelly Hansen, Richie Sambora, Bobby Kimball, Glenn Hughes, Carmine Appice, Paul Shortino, Kelly Keeling, Chuck Wright, Steve Priest, Ricky Phillips and so many more!

The two mainstays in the lineup, have always been Stuart Smith - Guitar maestro - drummer Richie Onori and keyboard wizard Arlen Schierbaum. Added to the lineup on the forthcoming Heaven and Earth album are great vocal talent Joe Retta, who has played alongside both Stuart and Richie in the current lineup of Steve Priest's Sweet, for the past four years. Also onboard for this album is a bassist, many will know from his time with Quiet Riot, Giuffria and House of Lords, to name just a few and that is, Chuck Wright!
Chuck has also recently been working with popular AOR player, Stan Bush in the Acoustic Saints project.

Stuart told me, the songs are all there, with all the main tracks laid down and now it's down to all the other guitar parts and other additional percussion, mixes, etc.
The album's artwork is by Glen Wexler who has worked on artwork for Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Slaughter, Rush, ZZ Top, how's that for starters and so many more too!
The following band shot is his first release work for Heaven and Earth, can't wait to see more!

As well as the aforementioned players, guests include both Howard Leese (Bad Company, Heart) and David Paich (Toto).

Expect the album to be released around the end of August according to Stuart, final release details to be confirmed, such as final album title and label.
Based on all releases so far, I can't wait for this, should be a cracker!

Keep up with all that is going on, through the bands Facebook page.
It's the most up to date ...

Thin Lizzy take a breather before heading out across Europe again!

Yes, fresh off touring across Europe, playing headline dates and dates alongside the likes of Guns 'n' Roses and ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy come off the road, having been recording new studio  material in between dates, for the first time since Thunder and Lightning, released back in 1983.
Looking forward to new Lizzy music!

These next dates will start August 6th, in France, then other dates will take them up until April 18th, 2012.
The band will then come off the road until the second week of November, when they then head to Greece, before then hitting other European Cities and will play back in the UK at the end of November.

All the live dates can be found right here:

In each case, check venue website or local ticket agent for further details.

Official band website:



The Outlaws - Photo by John Gellman

July 23, 2012 -- For THE OUTLAWS (@outlawsmusic), it’s not only about the music they’ve made for decades, it’s also about the pride they’ve always put into creating their legacy. 
As purely evidenced on their much long-awaited sixth studio album, IT’S ABOUT PRIDE is due out September 25 on Rocket Science Ventures “Tomorrow’s Another Night,” the album’s first single, is being serviced to radio on August 20.  The band known for their triple-guitar Rock attack and three-part Country harmonies finally returns to the music scene with their first new studio album since 1994’s DIABLO CANYON (Blues Bureau International).

During the last 40 years, the Southern Rock legends--founding singer/songwriter/guitarist Henry Paul and drummer/songwriter Monte Yoho along with lead guitarist Billy Crain, co-lead guitarist Chris Anderson, keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins and bassist/vocalist Randy Threet—have celebrated triumphs, endured tragedies and survived legal nightmares to remain one of the most influential and best-loved bands of the genre.  Now THE OUTLAWS are back with new music, a new focus and an uncompromising new mission:  it’s about a band of brothers bound together by history, harmony and the road.  It’s about a group that respects its own legacy while refusing to be defined by its past.  Most of all, it’s about pride.

IT’S ABOUT PRIDE is an album four years in the making and perhaps 20 or more in the waiting.  For original OUTLAWS singer/songwriter/guitarist Henry Paul, it’s a hard-fought revival whose success can be measured in old fans and new music.  “Because THE OUTLAWS have been out of the public eye for so long, it’s almost like starting over,” he explains.  “But because of the band’s history, we’re seeing this as a new chapter.  We’ve written and recorded this album on our own terms, and we’re out to make a significant impression.  What our fans loved then they still love now, because we are just as good or even better than we were.  Most of all, they recognize the heart of what it is we still do.”

For co-founding drummer/songwriter Monte Yoho, the journey is both bittersweet and jubilant.  “I still think about the friends we made when we first came into this industry, how we struggled to define this thing that became known as ‘Southern Rock,’” he says.  “This new album embodies all the things we shared musically and personally, as well as the relationships we have with our fans to this day.  It’s about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and why we still love to do this.”

In addition to the touring THE OUTLAWS will be doing over the next few months to promote IT’S ABOUT PRIDE, they’ll also be a part of the “Simple Man Cruise” on Norwegian Pearl along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Doobie Brothers, and many others, which departs from Miami on October 27. 
Fans can check out:
for further info.

Of a recent live show, Bill Robinson of proclaimed:  “…(Henry Paul and Monte Yoho)  are doing a valiant job at staying true to the original Outlaws melodies…Besides the lyrical genius of Paul's words and the imagery they convey, these songs' music mixes a beautiful, acoustic guitar opening with raucous, hard-driving type leads from there on in.”
Formed in Tampa in 1972, THE OUTLAWS became one of the first acts signed by Clive Davis (at the urging of Ronnie Van Zant) to his then-fledgling Arista Records.  The band’s first three albums, THE OUTLAWS, LADY IN WAITING and HURRY SUNDOWN (featuring such Rock radio favorites as “There Goes Another Love Song,” “Green Grass & High Tides,” “Knoxville Girl” and “Freeborn Man”), would become worldwide Gold and Platinum landmarks of the Southern Rock era.  Known as “The Florida Guitar Army” by their fans, THE OUTLAWS earned a formidable reputation as an incendiary live act touring with friends The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band and The Charlie Daniels Band as well as Doobie Brothers, The Who, Eagles and The Rolling Stones.  Henry Paul left after the group’s third album to form The Henry Paul Band for Atlantic Records, and later the multi-Platinum country trio Blackhawk.  Over the next 20-plus years, THE OUTLAWS would experience rampant personnel changes, tonal missteps, ill-fated reunions and bitter trademark battles that left fans – not to mention Paul and Yoho – frustrated and saddened.  And with the tragic deaths of co-founding members Frank O’Keefe and Billy Jones in 1995, and songwriter/vocalist/lead guitarist Hughie Thomasson in 2007, it was feared that THE OUTLAWS’ trail had come to an end.

“THE OUTLAWS were the one area of my career where I had regrets,” admits Paul“More importantly, I think it was the one area in my career where I thought I still have something to prove.  I felt compelled to stick my neck out and take a chance of putting this band back together.  I knew we would be judged, but I hoped we would be judged on our abilities.” 
Check out THE OUTLAWS at any of the following stops, with more tour dates to be added in the coming weeks:

DATE               CITY                             VENUE
Fri 7/20             Edwardsville, IL             Wildey Theatre
Mon 7/30          Verona, NY        Turning Stone Resort and Casino/Showroom
Tue 7/31            Wildwood, NJ               Cape May Convention Center
Wed 8/1            Englewood, NJ             Bergen Performing Arts Center
Thu 8/2             Unionville, CT                Infinity Music Hall & Bistro
Sat 8/4              Winter Park, CO            Music Fest
Fri 8/17             Vernal, UT              Country Explosion
Sat 9/1              Whitefish, MT                Depot Park
Thu 9/13            New Hope, PA              Havana New Hope
Fri 9/14             East Durham, NY          Blackthorne Resort
Sat 9/15            Newton, NJ                   Newton Theatre
Fri 9/28             Pomona, CA                 Los Angeles County Fair
Sat 10/27          Miami FL                       Simple Man Cruise
Sat 11/17          Medina, MN                  Medina Entertainment Center

About Rocket Science:

Rocket Science is a premier label services engine founded in 2004. A solution for artist and management that provides comprehensive label management services and worldwide distribution under one banner. Coupled Sony-RED Distribution, Rocket Science offers a turnkey solution with a focus on execution.

Artist weblinks:

The Front – Live In New York City 1990 receives official release

July, 2012 - Early nineties "wild child" upstarts, THE FRONT, release

THE FRONT made the scene in January 1990 with their hit single, "Fire".
MTV soon had the accompanying video in stress rotation and THE FRONT headed
out on a world tour.

After signing with rock manager extraordinaire Doc McGhee of McGhee
(Bon Jovi, Motley Crüe, Scorpions), the five piece band from
Kansas City were courted by the major labels finally inking a deal with
Columbia Records in 1989. THE FRONT released their eponymous first record on
October 31st, 1989; by January 1990, the single "Fire" and the corresponding
video were in heavy rotation across America and MTV.

THE FRONT toured with the likes of Bang Tango, Bonham and Enuff Z'nuff; and
by the early spring of 1990, Alice Cooper asked THE FRONT to support him on
his "Trash" tour, which took the band throughout the eastern half of the
U.S. and into arenas. After headlining a west coast tour, THE FRONT went to
Europe with Lenny Kravitz for two months playing virtually every major city
throughout the continent. THE FRONT ended 1990 back in Europe and playing to
over half a million people on the Monsters of Rock tour with headliners
Aerosmith and Whitesnake.

While recently digging through some DAT (Digital Audio Tape) recordings he
had in storage, Michael Anthony Franano, lead vocalist and principle
songwriter for the group, found a stereo board mix of three shows from the
Alice Cooper tour. Michael felt that the recordings were actually in better
quality than he had hoped (DAT tapes were notorious for developing "drop
outs" after a few years), and being that THE FRONT had never released
anything live in the past, decided to master the recordings and make the CD
and downloads available to fans. Michael decided he would release the New
York City concert recording as is, no overdubs; as it was, when it was, dirt
and all. The recording reflects a band at the top of their game; hungry and
electric, pure rock and roll.


Le Motion
Sister Moon
Sunshine of Your Love
Sister Moon
Sunshine Girl
Violent World

The Front Live in New York City 1990 is available on iTunes and internet
retailers and directly from THE FRONT'S website
Michael Franano is currently working on brand new material as a solo artist
and has a new official website the music is a sonic
departure from the heavier sounds of THE FRONT, but the overall mood and
lyrics find Michael still asking life's questions but this time around,
maybe finding a few answers.

The new releases will be available on iTunes
and internet retailers and Michael's official site:

Official Websites:





Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brief Note Update - Tuesday July 24th, 2012

Hi folks,

Sorry for the lack of updates, really trying to catch up with reviews when not trying to give the family some vital and only fair, quality time.

Poor kids, six and seven and on holiday from school and where do we go for them? Mainly the backyard ...

We really haven't had a family holiday / vacation - For all four of us - away in so long, with the whole family situation in England and the two 'had to' make trips that Rhonda and I took when first my Mum was admitted into hospice late last year and then more recently for her funeral, earlier this year. RIP Mum.

Rhonda and I are both just working so much and I know, we aren't the only ones watching the cash, with limited resources and time off allowance, so I feel for all of you folks out there in the same situation. Having to use up a lot of vacation time - Since America is loathe to allow 'personal' time off for family. - leaves those of us with little time for quality family time away.
So thankful for weekends, although never long enough ...

Anyway, I'm getting off topic here.
The David Paich (Toto) interview is almost ready to be posted, not much more left on that - So I understand ... - to be typed up. A good friend was helping me with some of this typing up - Thanks LeeAnn. - but likewise her free time is extremely limited too, so I'm going to help her out by taking the interview back, to get it wrapped up.
Some album reviews almost there folks, although time to do so are limited, but they are coming!

News wise and press release information seems to be at a low right now, not too much to share and as you've no doubt notice, very few show reviews this year. Lack of cash and PR folks unwillingness to offer up review passes ... Boy would I love to take Rhonda to a great rock concert, oh yeah, lack of people to watch the kids while we go out for an evening .... There's always something!
Ah well ...

Thanks for you loyalty readers, news coming when there's a little more to post, in meantime, spare a thought and prayer to those families in Colorado with all they are going through.
Recovery and healing from a tragedy like that is just unreal ....

Take care folks, have a good rest of the week, got to get ready for work ...
Cheers, Al