2004 - Looking Back
2004 Predictions
2004 Awards
2005 - The Year Ahead
Vote / Polls!

Welcome to the annual end of year summary and Awards page!
This is my personal take on what I consider to be the best releases for the year 2004, with a nod to other recommended songs and albums in the Honorable Mentions lists. The MelRock Awards covers the Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year, plus a recap on the events of 2004 (both good and bad) and a look ahead to what we might expect during 2005.
After all is said and done - your chance to post your own lists and opinions. Anyway - enjoy! I could go on editing this for another month, but I guess I should just get it online! Oh, and sorry it's late (again)

The Best Music of 2004

(Ranked In Order)

  1. TNT My Religion
    A perfect album - this received the only 100 score for the year and in my mind is the perfect mix of classic TNT with an updated and contemporary feel. A fan favourite and a well deserving winner. A varied and diverse album, yet it's best quality is a clean and easy flow of songs.
  2. Tak Matsumoto Group
    TMG 1

    The pairing of Jack Blades and Eric Martin was always going to be special, but the power of guitarist Tak, plus a monster recording budget made this a truly formidable release. Another great example of hard hitting rock, with big melodies, but a strong contemporary feel. The heaviest album either Blades or Martin has ever recorded. More please.
  3. Pride Of Lions
    The Destiny Stone

    Proving the debut wasn't just a one-off, Jim Peterik and band put together an even better follow-up of brilliant AOR. Any other year would have found this release at #1, but the competition was strong in 2004.
  4. Adriangale

    The surprise release of 2004 - not only surprising fans when it was announced, but surprising all with it's much bigger production sound and some truly memorable songs.
  5. Jeff Scott Soto
    Lost In The Translation

    Another classy release from Jeff and band, with an update tougher sound that really matched some of the energy these guys have on stage. Brilliant songs, with some great hooks that got better every listen. A revised track running order would have made it even better.

  6. From The Inside - From The Inside
  7. Soul SirkUS - World Play
  8. Seventh Key - The Raging Fire
  9. Rick Springfield - Shock Denial Anger Acceptance
  10. House Of Shakira - First Class


  11. Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
  12. Stan Bush - Shine
  13. Over The Edge - Over The Edge
  14. Kick - New Horizon
  15. Stage Dolls - Get A Life
  16. Ten - Return To Evermore
  17. Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  18. M.ill.ion - Kingsize
  19. Tesla - Into The Now
  20. The Ladder - Future Miracles
  21. Jaded Heart - Trust
  22. Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  23. Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  24. Danny Danzi - DanziLand
  25. SR-71 - Here We Go Again
  26. Final Frontier - The Second Wave
  27. Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal
  28. Grand Illusion - Ordinary Just Won't Do
  29. Crossfade - White On Blue
  30. Hugo - Fire In The Night
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • Chris Catena - Freak Out
  • Iommi with Glenn Hughes - The 1996 DEP Sessions
  • Megadeth - The System Has Failed
  • Higher Ground - A Thousand Pieces
  • Second Heat - Second Heat
  • Charade - II
  • James Christian - Meet The Man
  • Shadows Fade - Shadows Fade
  • Heartplay - Where The Deadends Meet
  • Asia - Silent Nation
  • Europe - Start From The Dark
  • Jean Beauvoir - Chameleon
  • Bonrud - Bonrud
  • Magnum - Brand New Morning
  • Zillion - Zillion
  • Frontline - The Seventh Sign
  • Dokken - Hell To Pay
  • Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth
  • Scorpions - Unbreakable
  • Edge of Forever - Feeding The Fire
  • Shortino / Northrup - Afterlife
  • Genius - Episode 2
  • Alyson Avenue - Omega
  • Hugo - Fire In The Night
  • Altaria - Divinity
  • Tim Donahue - Madmen & Sinners
  • Eclipse - Second To None
  • Panik - A Page Torn
  • Power Quest - NeverWorld
  • Deacon Street Project - Deacon Street Project
  • Iron Horse - Bring It On
  • Statetrooper - The Calling
  • Hobbit - All For The One
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Kings & Queens
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Last Autumn's Dream
  • Shadowman - Land Of The Living
  • Street Talk - Destination
  • Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  2. Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  3. Iommi/Hughes - 1996 Dep Sessions
  4. Million - Kingsize
  5. Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal
  6. Megadeth - The System Has Failed
  7. Altaria - Divinity
  8. Zillion - Zillion
  9. Power Quest - NeverWorld
  10. Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Pride Of Lions - Pride Of Lions
  2. Stan Bush - Shine
  3. Over The Edge - Over The Edge
  4. Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
  5. Stage Dolls - Get A Life
  6. The Ladder - Future Miracles
  7. Shadowman - Land Of The Living
  8. Final Frontier - The Second Wave
  9. Hugo - Fire In The Night
  10. Crossfade - White On Blue
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  2. SR-71 - Here We Go Again
  3. Glen Burtnik - Welcome To Hollywood
  4. Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
  5. Panik - A Page Torn
  6. Plunge - Hometown Hero
  7. Higher Ground - A Thousand Pieces
  8. London Calling - You're So Lucky
  9. Suburban Love Junkies - Weightless
  10. Fluid Sol - Fluid Sol

(Ranked In Order)

  1. TNT - She Needs Me
  2. Tak Matsumoto Group - Everything Passes Away
  3. Rick Springfield - Will I
  4. Soul SirkUS - Coming Home
  5. Pride Of Lions - The Courage To Love Somebody
  6. House of Shakira - You Are
  7. Adriangale - Long Gone
  8. Jeff Scott Soto - Find My Way
  9. SR-71 (Mitch Allan) - In Your Eyes
  10. TNT - My Religion

  11. Soul SirkUS - New Position
  12. From The Inside - Is Anybody Watching Me?
  13. Adriangale - Crunch
  14. Jeff Scott Soto - Soul Divine
  15. The Ladder - Closer To Your Heart
  16. Rick Springfield - Your Psychopathic Mother
  17. Kick - Something To Hold On To
  18. From The Inside - Blessing In Disguise
  19. Pride Of Lions - Second Hand Life
  20. House Of Shakira - Landing

  21. John Waite - The Hard Way
  22. Shadowman - These Days Are Gone
  23. Asia - Long Way From Home
  24. Rick Springfield - Every Night I Wake Up Screaming
  25. Stage Dolls - Runnin' Back To You
  26. Seventh Key - Always From The Heart
  27. Ten - Sail Away
  28. TNT - Invisible Noise
  29. Final Frontier - Lost Inside A Dream
  30. Tak Matsumoto Group - The Greatest Show On Earth

  31. Street Talk - Astray
  32. Tesla - Caught In A Dream
  33. Glen Burtnik - Roses
  34. Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  35. From The Inside - Nothing At All
  36. Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  37. Kick - Forever Yours
  38. Europe - Start From The Dark
  39. Heartplay - Never Again
  40. Plunge - One More Time

  41. Stan Bush - Falling
  42. Spin Gallery - Satisfied
  43. Million - Rock N Roll Nation
  44. Magnum - The Last Goodbye
  45. James Christian - Strong Enough
  46. Fluid Sol - Fear
  47. Butch Walker - Maybe It's Me
  48. Voodoo Hill - Make Believe
  49. TMG - I Wish You Were Here
  50. Jaded Heart - Burning Heart
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
  • TNT - Lonely Nights
  • House Of Shakira - Ain't Your Crowd
  • Soul SirkUS - My Sanctuary
  • Soul SirkUS - Soul Goes On
  • The Ladder - Like Lovers Do
  • Plunge - Running Away
  • Plunge - One More Time
  • Fluid Sol - Down
  • Higher Ground - Speechless
  • Higher Ground - Inside Me
  • Second Heat - Anything For Love
  • Second Heat - What Am I Gonna Do
  • Million - Eyes Of A King
  • Million - Backdoor Queen
  • Pride Of Lions - The Destiny Stone
  • Pride Of Lions - Falling Back To Then
  • Charade - In The End
  • Charade - Like The Way It Is
  • Renegade - Angel Of Love
  • Butch Walker - Uncomfortably Numb
  • Statetrooper - The Calling
  • Bryan Adams - Open Road
  • James Christian - Leave Well Enough Alone
  • Shadows Fade - Sooner Or Later
  • Europe - Got To Have Faith
  • Europe - Wake Up Call
  • Heartplay - Don't You Ever Fall
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Drowning
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Sacred Eyes
  • Asia - What About Love
  • Jean Beauvoir - Something To Believe In
  • Jean Beauvoir - Where The River Runs Deep
  • Bonrud - Desperate Heart
  • Magnum - It's Time To Come Together
  • Magnum - We All Run
  • Grand Illusion - Back To Yesterday
  • Grand Illusion - Love Lies Buried
  • Zillion - You And Me
  • Zillion - Kryptonite
  • Frontline - This Lie
  • Frontline - Where's The Love
  • Dokken - Don't Bring Me Down
  • Dokken - Escape
  • Stan Bush - Do It All Over
  • Stan Bush - Say It Ain't Love
  • Ten - Even The Ghosts Cry
  • Ten - Evermore
  • Voodoo Hill - Dying To Live
  • Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth
  • Glen Burtnik - Welcome To Hollywood
  • Glen Burtnik - Another
  • SR-71 - Here We Go Again
  • SR-71 (Bowling For Soup) - 1985
  • Stage Dolls - Get A Life
  • Pete Lesperance - Scars
  • Pete Lesperance - Say You Will
  • London Calling - Beautiful Day
  • Scorpions - Deep And Dark
  • Scorpions - Love 'em Or Leave 'Em
  • Dare - Beneath The Shining Water
  • Edge Of Forever - Feeding The Fire
  • Shortino / Northrup - Afterlife
  • Shortino / Northrup - Crazy Mind
  • Adriangale - Question
  • Liberty & Justice - Noise
  • Alyson Avenue - When Dreams Fall Apart
  • Alyson Avenue - Do You Ever Miss My Passion
  • Over The Edge - Over The Edge
  • Hugo - Hand In Hand
  • Hugo - It's The Love
  • Altaria - Darkened Highlight
  • Altaria - Prophet Of Pestilence
  • Impellitteri - The Writings On The Wall
  • Impellitteri - Propaganda Mind
  • Rick Springfield - Perfect
  • Jorn - Living With Wolves
  • Tim Donahue - Million Miles
  • Eclipse - Always Standing
  • Eclipse - As I Do
  • Kick - Paralysed
  • Kick - New Horizon
  • Crossfade - Did You Really
  • Crossfade - You
  • Panik - Find A Way
  • Panik - Harder
  • Spin Gallery - My Heart
  • Spin Gallery - Standing Tall
  • Deacon Street Project - Radio
  • Deacon Street Project - Before I Loved Just You
  • Chris Catena - Crazy Man
  • Chris Catena - Freak Out Tonight
  • TNT - Everybody's Got A Secret
  • Danny Danzi - Eternity
  • Danny Danzi - Just A Matter Of Time
  • Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  • Pink Cream 69 - Here I Am
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Cold Heaven
  • Axel Rudi Pell - Strong As A Rock
  • Tesla - Words Can't Explain
  • Tesla - Miles Away
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Again And Again
  • Last Autumn's Dream - Break The Chains
  • Shadowman - Medicine To Me
  • Shadowman - Touched By An Angel
  • Final Frontier - Somebody's Got To Pay The Price
  • Jaded Heart - Feels Like Home
  • Jaded Heart - Love Is Magic
  • Seventh Key - You Cross The Line
  • Seventh Key - The Sun Will Rise
  • Street Talk - Made For Paradise
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Jorn - Out To Every Nation
  2. Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome
  3. Altaria - Unchain The Rain
  4. Megadeth - Die Dead Enough
  5. Million - Backdoor Queen
  6. Jorn - Young Forever
  7. Axel Rudi Pell - Cold Heaven
  8. Voodoo Hill - Dying To Live
  9. Impellitteri - Hurricane
  10. Jorn - Living With Wolves
(Ranked In Order)

  1. Soul Sirkus - Coming Home
  2. Pride Of Lions - The Gift Of Song
  3. Heartplay - Never Again
  4. Ten - Sail Away
  5. Kick - Something To Hold Onto
  6. Pride Of Lions - Back To Camelot
  7. Spin Gallery - My Heart
  8. Pink Cream 69 - That Was Yesterday
  9. Adriangale - Without A Moment's Notice
  10. Stage Dolls - Naked In The Rain
(Ranked In Order)

  1. SR-71 - In Your Eyes
  2. Rick Springfield - Every Night I Wake Up Screaming
  3. Pete Lesperance - Down In It
  4. Glen Burtnik - Welcome To Hollywood
  5. Plunge - One More Time
  6. Butch Walker - Maybe It's Me
  7. Pete Lesperance - Say You Will
  8. London Calling - Beautiful Day
  9. Butch Walker - Uncomfortably Numb
  10. Europe - Wake Up Call

The Best Of Results:
30 killer albums, 50 classic songs - and a well deserved selection of honorable mentions. This year's best were culled from around 250 reviews and at least another 100 titles featured on the site as soundbytes. That's at least 4200 songs and what you see above are the best of the best as far as I see it. In these circumstances there is always a lot that miss out, but a tough decision on what to include in the very best has to be made.
No doubt there will be as many that disagrees with some results as there are those that agree. But within the majority of 2004 Best Of lists, I would expect the above titles and songs to feature regularly. They are all outstanding releases.
Below is quite a read - I hope you enjoy it and look forward to feedback. Feel free to print the Awards Page out and read it on the can. It runs at about 24 pages in case you were wondering!
Although there were plenty of releases out in 2004, I felt the melodic/AOR scene itself was a little quiet - almost in a state of survival mode, waiting to be pushed in a new direction. This goes for the both the European and American scene. The Best Of 2004 results are quite interesting I think. These are the titles that held my interest throughout the year and held up the best as far as how I view them personally.
Of the Top 30 albums, all melodic labels are represented, which I think is a very good thing (Frontiers, MTM, Escape, Lion, Majestic, Kivel, Atenzia, Z). Titles released by Frontiers Records again feature heavily, but not as dominant as in last year's results and for the first time, several Indie releases - self-released by the artists themselves - make the cut.
Rick Springfield, Ten, Soul Sirkus and Hugo all did the hard yards of getting their albums into the public's hands themselves. Some with the help of distributors, some purely from self-promotion and online sales. I'm sure there will be more of this to come, but to reach the masses - all possible fans out there - will definitely require some creative thinking and possible co-operation with others.
I am disappointed I could not feature Van Halen anywhere in my Top albums or songs. Sammy Hagar is a long time favourite and I love that band, but those new songs - the vibe is just so flat.

You will notice that the titles featured in the Best Of lists do not have their respective record labels listed alongside them. I have never done this for the end of year lists because I really don't care what label the titles are on - it's about the music and the above titles are featured without prejudice. I shouldn't really have to make that statement, but it seems each year someone tries to read a pattern into the results. Don't bother - there isn't one!!

State Of The Nation!:
12 months ago I wrote that 2003 was a challenging year. Little did I know that 2004 would out do that and 2005 is already heading in the same direction. To date I have managed to overcome the various issues and problems thrown at me, but sitting here in only Mid-January 2005, I really can't predict if I will have the resources to come through 2005 unscathed. If I am sitting here typing out my thoughts in January 2006, I'll be a happy man.
Times are tough, business is tough and everyone is looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope it's there.
I also stated last year that 2003 was the most difficult year for dealing with running and maintaining the site. 2004 easily topped that and I am finding that maintaining constant sponsor support for the site is harder than ever. The main reason behind this, is the basic fact that times are tough and there really isn't much money to spare - that goes for readers busy raising families, record labels trying to break new ground and retailers and labels alike trying to inspire people to purchase new product.
2005 will see this trend continue - which I why I really haven't been able to predict where things will end up. One hopes for the best naturally - better titles, bigger sales, bigger comebacks, etc. For those able to rise to the occasion, benefits will flow. But to say that of the whole scene is being very optimistic.
I also note that there is an air of negativity with some folk. This happens from time to time, especially when watching the cycles of the Noticeboard. I am always glad people decide to stop by the site and check it out, and remain hopeful contributions to the Message Board communities can be a positive one.

The Scene:
2004 offered no major surprises. Frontiers Records continued to build their stable of artists and the number of titles they release; MTM Music built on their Classix sub-label with a number of re-issues, while for their frontline releases, the label put a lot of faith in newcomers - hoping to continue and build the profiles of these artists over the coming year.
Lion Music continued to tread the same path they are best known for, but scored big on the AOR side of things with the classy House Of Shakira release and Escape Music did much the same, providing fans with 2 cracking AOR releases in Shadowman and The Ladder, plus more traditional AOR and some impressively done re-issues. AOR/Metal Heaven continued to add to their stable of releases, with some well chosen titles released through the year.
Majestic Rock Records were one of the few emerging labels for the year. The new label started off as a re-issue house, but quickly snapped up some great talent such as Kick and Million for a move into the new release market.
The biggest worry for 2004 was Atenzia Records, who have and continue to promise a great deal, but to date have delivered little, with only a handful of sporadic releases during the year.
2003 was the year of Z Records - or the non-year of....depends on your take of the situation. The label was publicly lynched several times over in 2003, with things mellowing somewhat during 2004. Periods of discussion and controversy appeared, but quickly died down. The label released a few albums, but their biggest problem remains the stream of press releases touting dates that never eventuate - which puts doubts into the minds of the record buying public.
A number of outlets carry Z news and I am considering running the occasional Z update - in the good name of supporting the artists signed to the label - but I continue to have doubts over the content of those press releases and the accuracy of upcoming release dates.

But Z were not alone in announcing CD releases that would not eventuate. Now & Then Records had a slow year where only a few titles were released (in conjunction with Frontiers) with others announced not yet seeing the light of day. Their big problem came from a partnership with French label NTS - only weeks before the label went bankrupt, causing big problems for all. Good news though - the original AOR label will return in 2005, with it's first releases scheduled for February.

2004 saw the second CD released. I thought the first one gave me trouble - putting it together was a huge learning curve! - but this was a real headache to get sorted. In the end, I thought it was more consistent and better quality than the first volume. Sold about 850-900 I guess, but was considerably more expensive to put together given that it was a 2-Disc set. I for one was really pleased to be able to offer some new and unsigned bands a bit of exposure, as it's one thing I never seem to have enough time to do on the site itself.
The feedback I got has been great, with just as many people liking Disc 2 over the more established names on Disc 1. Time to think about a third volume!

The biggest event for me professionally in 2004 was my debut as a tour manager/promoter for the Jeff Scott Soto Australian tour. I'll use the term manager lightly...I'm sure Howie would love to comment on that! That two weeks was another huge learning curve, let me tell you! I had some idea of what I was getting myself into and what had to be done, but that wasn't the half of it.
I have spoken at some length about the tour, so I'll just add that Jeff was happy, I was happy and we both learnt a lot about what we should do next time around - and we would like to do it again, no doubt.
I'd love to do this for more bands, but the bottom line is that I can't see any other artists putting their own money on the line to do it. Shows can be booked, publicity done, but it takes a lot of money to get here and no promoter is going to buy into a small tour on this scale from any melodic music band.
Selling merch will help any artist break even if they want to come on their own dime, so if there is anyone that wants to further their music horizons and say G'Day to some Aussie fans, it came be done, but you have to be brave about it! Full credit to Jeff for diving in head first.

Musically speaking, I think the biggest news of 2004 was the return of Van Halen. As promoted in November by myself (and denied by all right up until the actual announcement), Sammy Hagar made his return to the band for what was a very interesting time. I have to say that I was really excited by Hagar's return, but the events that transpired really left me with a bad taste. This is my favourite band in the world, but their 2004 Tour just didn't seem natural and the Best Of Both Worlds release was extremely sub-par in every aspect. The whole re-union seemed staged and presented to fans as a cash making exercise.
The new tracks lacked spark, and while on tour, it was still clear to see that it was a band with two camps - Sammy and Mike and Eddie and Alex. No one, no matter what they say will convince me otherwise and I don't see any change for this should their be a future.
Should the band record a new studio album (My guess is they will, but not this year), I hope it has a better vibe than the 3 pieced together new tracks that appeared this year.
Speaking of that compilation - when the producer has to come out and explain certain parts of the album, you know something is wrong. Glen Ballard did just that - doing his best to explain away a few errors on the compilation. That sentence I just typed gives me a huge sense of deja-vu...oh yeah, Bob Rock and Metallica in 2003.
When VH did eventually hit the road, reviews ran the full range - brilliant to sloppy - with Eddie copping most of the flack. I handed out some of my own when it come to him nixing Soul SirkUS supporting the band on 2 Californian dates. Bad show Eddie!
Meanwhile, David Lee Roth headed off to NYC and trained as an Emergency Response Technician. Always good to have a back-up career incase music doesn't pay the bills.

The biggest stir of the year for me personally however, does not go to Van Halen. Yes, Eddie's drunken stage antics provided plenty of headlines - as did the back and forth PR generating comments from Alex and Sammy, but once the re-union was announced, the frenzy died off a little.
Besides, the Van Halen announcement I made fell under 2003 scoop of 2004 was the exclusive unveiling of news that Def Leppard's new album would be an all-covers affair - which was followed by a second scoop featuring the track listing. At least, I thought it was!
The band were keeping a lid on their plans and did not appreciate my leaking the news of the covers - especially as at the same time I suggested that it was a daft idea. After all, the band do covers every album they record - they are just issued as b-sides and I believe we have plenty of those already.
Anyway, the band were not happy and out of the blue comes an e-mail with the full track listing from the album....the rest of the story you know. Lesson learned. If you are going for a scoop, be wary of a reprisal and make sure it ain't a set-up!
At least I eventually got my scoop when I printed the real track listing online Feb. 1.

Arguments of 2004: one of the best I think goes to my buddy Chris Logan - last seen as vocalist for MSG. This guy sent me some good abuse after my review of the last MSG album and I hadn't really heard any news of him since then. But it seems someone within the MSG camp attacked him from behind and he left the tour that night.
This from Chris at the time: "Unfortunately, there was an altercation which took place after the show tonight (Nov. 14) (after a killer show at Klubben in Stockholm, Sweden tonight, I might add). I was attacked twice from behind by a member of our tour, who was too big a coward to face me from the front. I was severely injured in the process, and I cannot continue under the current conditions."
I feel bad for the guy actually, as the spin doctors have clearly kept the name of his attacker out of the headlines, but I'm sure we can all guess who it was. Well, at least I thought it was you know who, but it seems Chris is still lined up to add some vocals for the new MSG album afterall. All is well that ends well?

Who else - well there was Eddie Van Halen's onstage blow up near the end of the VH tour, and Sammy's tell it like it is radio interview just before that, but we can't forget Mark Mangold and The Sign vs Frontiers Records - much of it played out on my own message board. Seems Mark did not appreciate the label making changes to his record and the label didn't appreciate what was originally delivered. Regardless, one can safely say the two will not work together again in the future.

I wouldn't say it was an argument as such, but Diamond Head employed a new singer and announced it, much to the surprise of original singer Sean Harris, who saw the news on my frontpage and wrote in a rather well worded response. Another pairing unlikely to work together again.

WASP made the headlines several times over with frontman Blackie Lawless clearly having a few bad weeks, canceling a number of shows for what one could describe as some 'creative' excuses. Food poisoning was one, unsafe stage barriers was another and the best of all was the one where Blackie's over-sized mike stand was too heavy for the stage to take - therefore the show had to be cancelled. Funny stuff.

The biggest argument of all was one no one ever saw. Perhaps they should have, as I was mad as hell at the time, but chose to keep the issue offline. In fact, even now I'm torn between telling all and keeping it to myself. Perhaps a compromise as I don't want to be misunderstood as being pissy. It's not like that - it's more a funny story and one I am still amazed at. I'll refrain from naming names and just use the incident as an example of some of the things I have to deal with behind the scenes!
It's also a great example of no matter how much great publicity you can give any given artist, to some you are only as good as your last review and the first sign of anything negative and you are public enemy #1. Thankfully that's not the case to often, but certainly more often than it should be and it's an issue I deal with every year.
So - to the case in point....
In the lead up to a certain big new release from a favourite artist, I was giving out a ton of press - mentioned 7 or 8 times in the first 2 months of the year alone. As the release drew nearer, the info dried up and a veil of secrecy descended over the release, the likes of which I have only seen a few times before.
I started to mention this on the site and was publicly pressing for more publicity as that's what happened in the past and so I could better promote this release. That never came, and I ended up pre-ordering a copy of the album myself, as I never heard back from anyone involved in the album's release. Funnily enough, out of the blue a promo CD did finally arrive - on the day after it was released.
Little did I know, all my online/site comments and e-mails of contact had been logged and recorded by a certain individual, which would come to my attention shortly.
I did a review of the album after enough listening time had passed and gave it a pretty good score overall - very good even - with a few side comments on how it could have been even better still. There was also a special version of the album released, with extra tracks. For the purpose of a quick and accurate review, I had a bud in the USA who got it delivered straight away, e-mail me the extra tracks before I got the special version myself. The extra tracks on offer for the extra price being charged is where I had my biggest problem and stated so in the review.
Those comments were also recorded!
Here's what happened next. As a supporter of this artist and someone who has each and every release to date, I paid out my $$ for the limited edition as soon as it was available for pre-sale. Some 4 weeks after the publicized shipping date I made an enquiry as to where my CD might be. That was 6 weeks from payment date. A generic e-mail was sent stating all international shipments of pre-orders have been completed. I waited another 2 weeks - some 8 from original payment and 6 weeks from shipping date. Another request for information was sent. This time demanding to know a ship date. No response.
Another request was sent the next day and again the day after that...and again the day after that! The last e-mail threatened to lodge a complaint with the online payment carrier. I added the line: "I'm regretful that you have chosen not to reply and treat your customers with such contempt."
I received a simple reply that stated: "Trust me Andrew, *you* are the only one I treat with such contempt."
It was followed up by another e-mail the following day. It stated "I'm just passing a little bit of the love back to you...After those bad reviews and nasty remarks about *******'s new CD and all...Turnabout is fair play!"
Now, if they want to think that way fine, it happens from time to time...but they still have my money. I sent back a suitable reply (!), adding one last line: "You are yet to address the issue of where my order is. Would it be too much trouble to ask that you respond to that?"
I then got the biggest surprise of all. This was the reply to that question "I've never shipped your order...I'll go ahead and refund your payment in the morning and we'll be all square. Adios...."
That e-mail arrived over 2 months since I paid out my money. I eventually got my refund, but not for another 10 days!!!
It was sent with one last e-mail, containing this comment: "I know this will probably garner only more negative spin and statements to you....but I truly believe it's time to cut ties with you. I just can't see you ever being a help, in anyway, to ****** or his organization. I only see more sour grapes and nasty statements, which don't do anybody any good."
Sadly I have not had any contact with this artist since and haven't posted a single news item until one item recently, which I though my readers would be interested in. I didn't print anything negative and haven't since, but I thought this story should be told - if only as an example of how my reviews upset some artists! I remain extremely disappointed in them and the people in their organization. But I doubt they care...Funny stuff eh? And I still haven't tracked down this Limited CD!

This Year's Unrelated To Anything Rant:
Last year I included a rant about the quality of press releases being sent out. 2004 wasn't much better! Some labels out there need to re-think who is writing their news up and re-check it again before hitting that send button. Two new pet peeves from the press releases sent last year - 1. Yelling! Far to much use of CAPITAL LETTERS folks!! Tone it down a little!
2 - The mis-use of the term "is back"!!!!! Mis-use or over-use - it has to stop! The funniest example is a press release for a certain artist's new solo album stating "***** is back!!", when the artists last album was a mere 12 months ago and they haven't stopped being in the press all along anyway. Please restrict the use of the term "is back!!!!" to an artist that is genuinely returning from a period in the wilderness! Ok, rant over...

Noteworthy Musical Events of 2004:
Former Survivor vocalist Dave Bickler continued to make waves with his inspired tributes to ordinary working folk in a long series of Budweiser commercials. Speaking of Survivor, the band announced they had commenced work on a new album on January 5, 2004, but I now have it on good authority, there is no chance in hell of a new studio album this year - instead perhaps in 2006. As my contact suggested to me - Survivor are officially the Guns N Roses of the melodic rock world. Shit or get off the can already.

Rush had an interesting year - with another successful tour and a series of European dates plus a new anniversary celebrating covers EP and then there was that thing with guitarist Alex Lifeson. His arrest on assault charges was unfortunate, but it did sound like he was well and truly pissed.

Alex wasn't along in being arrested. What year could possibly go past without Vince Neil making the headlines for punching someone and/or getting arrested? This year he did both, before taking to getting a makeover, which saw a new nip and tuck version of Vince revealed. He also found time to do the chicken dance at some festival, which saw well deserved ridicule heaped upon him.

Ted Nugent put a chainsaw through his leg, which wasn't the smartest thing I ever heard of, but he recovered fully to hit the road as usual.

Several artists upped the ante as far as flogging their own merchandise. Nelson continued to do it via their site and e-bay, Kelly Keeling has CDRs for sale for $15 via his own site, Lanny Gordola, Neal Schon and even Eddie Van Halen had guitars up for sale. Kiss continued to put their name on anything, with a line of specialist stores almost ready to go. Expect KissWorld to open in 2005 and close in 2006!

Speaking of Nelson - the band have recorded a brand new studio album which went unreleased in 2004, re-recorded their greatest hits for a Japanese release that got cancelled and Matt Nelson joined a new project called Red 37, who's album (you guessed it) remains officially unreleased and available only via self-made CD on the band's website. What is going on with the guys and can they get it together to actually release anything? The band are super talented and Life was such a classic and released through a range of small labels - why not just get these releases on the market?

A few musicians opened their own record labels in 2004 - Jack Ponti formed Bardic Records in March, but I really haven't heard much about it since then. The label's roster of artists shows it ain't a melodic rock label, that's for sure!
Also heading off to work was Corey Hart, who formed Siena Records, in conjunction with WarnerBros Canada. Again, not much movement since, but a new solo record might be nice!
Stuart Smith and partners have also formed their own label - Black Star Records. Expect a few interesting releases from them this year.

Satellite Radio made increased head roads into the market place, with a few new hard rock shows making their debut - both in the UK and the USA. This is definitely the way forward and is radio's answer to the Internet as far as a freer range of uncontrolled playlists being available.

Boston mastermind Tom Scholtz spent much of 2004 re-mixing, re-recording and adding new material to the Corporate America release, before releasing it again on a new label. No ETA on it's release!

The Alarm get credit for being the most ingenious band of 2004 - they recorded a new single and album and achieved a #28 chart position in the Uk on the back of a video that featured a sub-in teenage band to give the appearance of being cooler than they might otherwise be perceived. Seems it worked!

No White Lion re-union for 2004 and right now most likely never. Mike and the rest of the guys couldn't come to terms and I think any doors open from the possibility are now well and truly shut. Especially now that Mike is on the road as Tramp's White Lion, doing the music of his former band himself.

Guitarist extraordinaire Ralph Santolla joined Sebastian Bach's band, which could prove to be very interesting indeed. So far no sign of trouble and I'm anxious to hear some results!

There were a few big splits that need to be talked about.
Jesse Harms left Sammy Hagar's band, after some 20 years of service. That was really sad - it seems Sammy's band was no longer a democracy and Harms could see VH coming a mile off. Jani Lane left Warrant to be replaced by Jamie St. James - which isn't a bad move, but we are yet to hear any new music from the band.
Lou Gramm left Foreigner, or at least, was requested to leave after his voice simply didn't hold out while on tour. He continues on as a solo artist, but reviews reaching me paint a very bad picture for the once flawless and great vocalist.
Drummer Phil Verone left Skid Row, only to re-join a few months later. Buckethead left Guns N Roses (are they still together?!), Ron Taylor left Lillian Axe, Tony Martin fell out with M3, Morty Black left TNT, Paul Shorinto failed to make magic with Heaven & Earth and Stratovarius leader Timo Tolkki left himself during a mental crisis.
In fact, let's jump to Timo Tolkki - who gets the wally of the year award hands down. Not only did he drive everyone from his band, he recruited a new vocalist no one liked, argued with his record label that then went after him for the return of his massive advance and he was attacked by a crazed fan, clearly unimpressed with his actions. The pinnacle of this came when Timo made this statement:
"World peace, tolerance to other people's feelings and opinions, systematically refusing to cooperate with EVIL, world without armies, world without hate, love... My eyes have opened finally. These fucking things are just UTOPIA. They can never be achieved. I was once stupid because I honestly, wholeheartedly believed that these things could be achieved and that we human beings could learn from the past and just live in peace. I've got news for you baby, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So why not just have good time, you never know when your days are numbered. It could be tomorrow you know! So don't wait ANY MORE! MAKE YOUR LIFE A MASTERPIECE! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! FUCK EVERYBODY WHO WANTS TO STOP YOU!! ADOLF HITLER IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE WORLD. I FUCKED HIM LAST NIGHT. WE ARE ALL HITLER AND WE ARE ALL CHRIST. AND HITLER IS WINNING!!"
Nothing I can add to that - it pretty much speaks for itself.

2004 wasn't all about splitting though - Ted Poley re-joined Danger Danger and has been touring with them; Joey Allen re-joined Warrant; and late in the year Timo Tolkki found himself again and promptly put Stratovarius back together.
Aussie rockers Noiseworks are pretty much back together, although Jon Stevens is keeping quiet about their plans. I think he is retaining hope someone might actually buy his God awful solo record. His manager expressed a certain displeasure at my review, which actually ranked Stevens' album as the very worst release in 2004. That it is. Even worse than the Gene Simmons album. Man what a record that was though! It's title and the album itself is equal to the contents emptied from the body part it represented.
Another cult Aussie act - Ice Tiger also reformed, with moves to make a new album in 2005.

To switch attention back to touring briefly, I found there were not as many smaller tours this year - there also was no Gods Festival (sadly) and everything seemed just a little subdued there. Getting people from the comfort of their homes in this day and age is a challenge. I hope there is a little more life during 2005. The announcement of The Gods 2005 is a good step in that direction.
One of the bright spots was Sweden Rock Festival selling out for the very first time, and with 2005's line-up announced, look like doing that again with ease.
Credit to another individual for putting his money where his mouth is goes to Kieren Dargan, who organized and promoted the Tyketto / Teer / Deadline tour of the UK, not to mention the well received Firehouse / Vaughn tour. Well done Kieren. I here more plans are underway, so power to you mate.
There wasn't a Gods, but Z Records did put on a show - but sadly only 70-odd people showed up. I don't want to get into a negative Z thing here - credit to them for trying a show - but there were a few artists advertised that didn't show or cancelled at the last minute and it's this continuing factor of conflicting information published by Z that has given the community considerable cause to question what information is actually valid and which is correct. I hope 2005 brings a change there. Consumers need to have confidence.
The Munich Open Air Festival was another highly publicized event that went badly wrong on the day. An outdoor summer festival sounds like a safe bet, but not even the line-up of Dare, TNT, Gotthard, Kingdom Come and Primal Fear could convince the majority to brave a day long torrential down pour that caused organizers to lose a lot of money, not to mention make filming the whole event for DVD releases next to impossible.
Thankfully it was still doable and the first DVD featuring Dare will be released soon.
UFO toured America - eventually - the band got turned back first time around, due to incorrect visas, but even then a re-scheduled tour took place without Pete Way, as his visa still wasn't correct. Not overly professional, but Barry Sparks stepped in to save the day.
Journey continued to tour, with the new set list featuring everyone having a go at vocals - the most impressive being the ultra smooth Perry-like vocals of drummer Deen Castronovo.
A number of other groups toured, but I won't get into each and everyone. I would say that I hope ticket prices can be kept down and affordable and fans get out of their houses should these bands come to town. A great deal of an artists money is now derived from touring alone, with little coming from making new CDs. Support their tours and new music will continue to be produced - at least, it better be!

Disappointments & Re-Issues Of 2004:
The Disappointments of 2004: Sadly, 2004 saw the biggest selection of disappointments released in a single year since I started this site. From time to time I hear a comment regarding the number of good reviews posted, but take a look at the number of bad or average reviews I posted this year! Quite honestly, if any album doesn't make the cut - you will hear about it.
The worst album of 2004 has to be the Jon Stevens solo album - which saw the rocker return to his soul/R&B roots, but no one cared.
Kiss' Gene Simmons was the next worst, with his album absolutely devoid of any sense of cohesiveness. One could see how thrown together the album was, and surprisingly I didn't receive half the abuse I expected from Kiss fans after posting the review - so it really must have been bad.
The Tygers Of Pan Tang release wasn't much better - and their vocalist has now departed; Hall & Oates proved their originals are far better than their attempt at covers; and Stephen Pearcy's album saw him so far from what he is best known and loved for, I cannot imagine who would buy that album.
Another two clangers were albums from Helix and Julliet. So utterly dire and so far removed from their heyday sound, one must again question the thought process behind such a change in direction.
Dead Heart Beating was another album from a classic rocker (Airborne's David Zychek) that headed in a tuned-down grungeworthy direction. Enough of the tuned down guitars already!
Europe changed face, but managed to pull it off with some great songs - but ran out of steam half way through their album.
House Of Lords had the right ideas, but the album didn't sound finished and was lacking big choruses, which again, is what the band were best loved for.
Heart's big comeback was a disappointment for me personally and I know others agreed. But it did find some favor with other fans of their early work.
Also disappointing was Velvet Revolver, Bulletboys, Velvet Dreams, Brides Of Destruction and the Aerosmith covers album.
One last one that I found disappointing personally, was the Jack Blades solo album. Once again a case of too many styles on one record and not enough of the classic JB we all know and love. Not a bad record as such, but not what I was hoping for.
The Van Halen compilation was also a pretty shabby bit of work, with errors, a confused running order and poor booklet all part of over-priced package.
So, plenty of disappointing and sub-standard releases in 2004. More than there should have been and I'm sorry to those involved with the album that I upset with negative reviews or comments. That's sadly one of the hazards of this job.

On a more positive note -
Best Re-Issues & Compilations of 2004: Last year saw some of the best re-issues put on the market to date. French label Bad Reputation really didn't put out a lot in 2004, but their 2 major releases were all class. The re-issue of the debut Riverdogs album, with the never officially released acoustic On Air promo album was a gem, as was their rounding up of all officially and promotionally released Shark Island material on the Law Of The Order re-issue. I'd make some mention of typo's within that release, but as it was re-pressed with corrections, there is no need!
Majestic Rock saw to it that Wasyed's classic AOR record Save Your Prayers got a decent release as well as some other lost NWOBHM titles.
Mike Tramp bootlegged himself, with a self released set of 6 titles which really painted a monster picture of unreleased and demo material for fans of his and White Lion. If only every band would do so much for their fans. The market for such releases is small, but for fans of any given artist, a look into their demo vaults would be priceless.
Bon Jovi actually stuck to their word for once and delivered a fabulous 4CD, 1DVD box of mainly unreleased tracks - but still left plenty in the vault from the early years for a Volume 2.
MTM Classix helped 707 get their classic AOR release Mega-Force onto the market, as well as the previously unreleased The Bridge album. Sadly though, singer Kevin Chalfant was snubbed from participating in the liner notes for Mega-Force. His comments would have made for a complete package.
Escape Music were again involved with some great re-issues, this year delivering Surrender, Paul Janz and The Creek.

I think the best re-issues of 2004 came from Talisman. Their care in re-mastering all of their albums and packaging them in slip cases with bonus discs filled with demos and live tracks was classic and when not available, doubling up the albums as 2 for 1 releases made for a fan must have. Sitting side by side, these releases are essential for all Talisman fans.
There were also a couple of great compilations, the Survivor Essential Collection one of the best packages, thank to band involvement and a great deal of care in assembling the CD thanks to BMG.
Sammy Hagar was another great compilation, much for the same reasons as the Survivor one - Sammy's involvement, some rare and unreleased tracks and a nice package made his release truly essential and showed up the weaknesses in Van Halen's package.

Ok, time to look back and embarrass myself with the results from what 2004 predictions I trumpeted at the start of the year. Did any actually come true, or did I bomb out on all counts? Let's see....

There will be at least 3 Steve Perry is returning to Journey rumors, but there will be no new music from the band. One of it's members will announce a new side project that will rock!
50/50 - Only 2 Perry's is return rumors from memory - seriously time to move on folks, this isn't going to happen. No new music was true enough and I had inside info on the Neal Schon project, so I kinda cheated on that point!
Neither Brides Of Destruction, nor Velvet Revolver will do much damage at retail. That's not slamming the albums - I haven't heard either yet - but I just don't see them selling a shitload.
50/50 - Velvet Revolver actually did quite good business - more than I thought from an average album, but Brides Of Destruction certainly under achieved. Both albums could have done better still had a better vocalist been chosen for the material.
Styx will this year, NOT release a live album!! (They couldn't could they???)
50/50 - No live album but the band were subjected to yet another compilation - albeit a good one - from Universal Records.
Sony will release a new Toto compilation (Ok, I'll try and make my predictions a little harder...)
TRUE! Greatest Hits + Unplugged was released by Sony in August 2004.
Could there be a new USA released Survivor compilation later in 2004?
TRUE! But again, I cheated having inside info...shameful I know.
Vito Bratta will not re-join White Lion on the road.
TRUE! That was a genuine guess - I couldn't see this re-union coming together and sure enough, it didn't.
Whitesnake will not record/release any new material. That live album is a maybe...
TRUE! And same goes for 2005...
2004 will be the year of Jeff Scott Soto.
TRUE! (Depending on your outlook!) 2004 was definitely a huge year for Jeff, rocking with Neal in Soul SirkUS, doing his biggest ever solo tour and releasing a killer new album, playing another show with the Queen guys, not to mention those Talisman re-issues. Jeff was everywhere, but remains a couple of steps short of being a household name. It will happen!
At least one classic hard rock band will reform. How about a new Rainbow album with Joe Lynn Turner? Not likely, but that's one of my "out there" predictions.
TRUE! No Rainbow, but Van Halen and Danger Danger reformed, so I'll take that as a pass. Stratovarius - now who would be stupid enough to predict anything for these guys in 2004. We already know there will be no new music until early 2005, but if Timo continues on his way, I predict at least 3 headline causing outbursts and I would place even odds on the band dissolving before the end of the year.
TRUE! The band made the headlines several times, split, and reformed - all in the space of 12 months. Love it! Expect new music end of '05.
Impellitteri's new album will be a major flop (sadly), with old fans alienated and little interest shown from any new record buyers.
50/50 - I quite liked the album, I thought it had some great metal on it, but it certainly has not fired up the tills at retail. I hope a Euro release can still happen soon.
Van Halen will finally announce Hagar's return and will release their Best Of Volume 2.
TRUE! Well, it was Best of Both Worlds, not BO Vol.2.
A top American melodic rock act (now defunct) will release a lovely compilation of unreleased tunes.
FALSE! Again going on inside info, this release did not materialize, but we can always hope for something this year.
Guns N Roses will head to Europe for some live dates, which could be cut short, but in any regard will end in more controversy.
50/50 - There were two lawsuits (which Axl both lost) and Buckhead bailed from the band in controversial circumstances, causing Euro dates to be cancelled. No word since!
The Bon Jovi box set will be another disappointment from the band. Not enough rare/unreleased tracks. Again I hope I am wrong. The guys have some work to do to impress fans after the lame live album and 2003's This Left Feels Right.
FALSE. Happy about being wrong here - the box set was a winner. Well done guys.
Paris Hilton will be hit by a meteor. Justin Tiberfake will be hit by another meteor. Britny Spears will be hit...ok, you get the idea...
FALSE. Sadly. These buffoon's continue to waste good oxygen.
Heart's new album will rock.
50/50 - It rocked in places, but was dead boring in others.
At least one melodic record label will cease business.
TRUE. Tough times indeed as NTS in France folds and UlfTone in Germany goes into partnership with Frontiers. Everyone in the scene is doing it tough.
Europe will finally release a new studio album, Giant won't.
TRUE! Wish those Giant boys would reconsider though....

Looking back at the predicted big titles for 2004:

Melodic/Hard Rock:
Albums that didn't make it out: Von Groove, AC/DC, Beautiful Creatures, Seven Wishes, Daniel McMaster, Hardline, Thunder, Liesegang/White.
Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2004: Pink Cream 69, Seventh Key, Jaded Heart, UFO, Axel Rudi Pell, TNT, Danny Danzi, Tesla, Velvet Revolver, Von Groove, AC/DC, Beautiful Creatures, Europe, Hardline, Heart, Hodson, House Of Shakira, Northrup/Shortino, Dokken, Jeff Scott Soto, Scorpions, Seven Wishes, The Sign, Thunder, Liberty & Justice, Liesegang/White.
Ok, a big yes to Pink Cream 69, Seventh Key, Jaded Heart, TNT, House Of Shakira, Jeff Scott Soto, and Tesla. Further approval to Danny Danzi, Scorpions, Axel Rudi Pell, Dokken and Northrup/Shortino.
Heart and The Sign could have been better and Liberty & Justice and Velvet Revolver disappointed.

You can see the results from the lists at the top of the page, but to recap, the best 2004 Hard Rock came from TNT, who really nailed what fans were asking for. TMG was the surprise pick, which saw Eric martin singing like his life depended upon it and some fine songs from the pen of Jack Blades with Eric and Tak. Jeff Scott Soto also got tougher this year, with a grittier and heavier solo release. Three of my Top 5 for 2004 featured classic melodic hard rock with a slightly updated style. No one says this genre has to live in the past and these artists proved how to move forward without moving away from what people want. Same could be said for House Of Shakira and Kick, who deliver quality and classics, but always remain original in their delivery.
Adriangale did it with great songs and a killer production. No one saw this album coming, but it delivered big time and I must insist there is another album sometime soon.

Albums that didn't make it out: Tony Harnell, David Roberts, 1927, Crystal Blue, Diving For Pearls, Heartland, Gregg Giuffria, Lec Zorn Project, Lawrence Saltis, Zion (Freddy Curci), Kip Winger.
Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2004: Rick Springfield, Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Hugo, Danny Vaughn, Over The Edge, Stage Dolls.

Rick Springfield was a big surprise....great in places, phenomenal in others and disjointed in between. I would rate it as close to the best pack of releases, but not quite there overall. A good A&R guy would have fixed that record before it's release to be a more cohesive listen, rather than 2 or 3 separate styles blended into one record.
Glen Burtnik went too far to the right sadly, with some killer songs given a modern rock work over and a few other tracks better left off altogether. The album suffered in that I'm not sure who it was being pitched to. James Christian was ok, but not quite classic in that the songs were all old and the production style a little too heard it before.
Danny Vaughn's From The Inside release was spot on the money - what a vocalist! Over The Edge was a quality return for Mickey Thomas and Stage Dolls was everything a fan could ask for.
The rest of the bloody releases highlighted for acclaim never got released! Let's hope for better in 2005!
The best AOR release for the year was again Pride Of Lions, who pretty much delivered the perfect sequel to their debut. Without changing much, the band moved forward some and delivered some great songs. Seventh Key also impressed, with another knockout production job on hand. Two Westcoast releases impressed this year - Spin Gallery and Crossfade both deserved mentions. Another surprise was the new Stan Bush record. I didn't expect one, but when it came I was really pleased. Stan doing what he does best - delivering no frills, straight ahead melodic rock. Quality stuff.

Albums that didn't make it out: Swirl 360, Raine, Seven And The Sun.
Best Releases: The Panik release was pretty solid, as was Creighton Doane's solo release and Plunge was pretty good - as was FluidSol, which had some great moments, but might have been too much of a departure for established Mitch Malloy fans.
Biggest surprise of the year was the quality of the SR-71 album, which saw them return to their best sound, closely followed by the excellent Pete Lesperance solo album. Avril Lavigne impressed me, but she gets enough press (i.e. too much) elsewhere.
Bowling For Soup and Simple Plan both did good business Stateside, but American Hi-Fi disappointed and have yet to get their album out in the USA.
Hoobastank broke through for some major sales numbers and good on them for that - their second album is pretty solid. However, their biggest success came from the single The Reason, which remains bland as bat shit. If there is one thing these nu-breed bands can't do, it's a decent power ballad. Is the chart topping art form of the 80's and early 90's lost forever?

I said 2004 looked like a bleak for glam fans and that was true enough. One bright spot in all the doom (or lack of releases) can from Sweden's Wig Wam - what a glorious album! Absolutely nothing else of merit to speak of!

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2004: Jorn, Magnitude 9, Mister Kite, Empty Tremor, Alteria, Genius, Anthrax, WASP, Power Quest, Warrior, Jon Oliva.
Yes, Jorn rules...a great album that wasn't quite perfect, but a highlight nevertheless....Magnitude 9 won widespread acclaim, Altaria proved they are a name for the future and WASP met with mixed reviews.
No sure I even heard the Anthrax or Jon Oliva releases, and Power Quest was held over to 2005. Empty Tremor and Genius were ok.

Albums that didn't make it out: Bob Seger, The Who, The Hooters.
Highlights: U2, Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, Avril Lavigne, Duran Duran.

Bryan Adams partially returned to form, at least ditching the lame ass lyrics which have plagued his last couple of albums. But his album is yet to be released in the USA, which is yet another example of how mad - no, insane - this industry has become. If it is released - which it is rumored to be in May - will anyone care? Will everyone have already bought import copies or downloaded it?
U2 put out a great album, but could have rocked a little harder. They continue to proclaim themselves to be the savior's of rock n roll, but they need to reel that in a little I think.
Richard Marx and Duran Duran put out very smooth, polished and well performed records which pleased fans and Avril proved she wasn't a one-album wonder.

So - from my final list of predicted best releases for 2004 - what made the Top 10, or Top 30?
Top 10
- Rick Springfield, Danny Vaughn, Seventh Key, TNT, Jeff Scott Soto.
Top 10-30 - Hugo, Over The Edge, Stage Dolls, House Of Shakira, Tesla.
Missed the Top 30 for 2004 - Glen Burtnik, Dare, James Christian, Velvet Revolver, Europe, Heart, Hodson, Northrup/Shortino.
Not released - Tony Harnell, The Hooters, Thunder, Harem Scarem & Def Leppard.

2004's Dearly Departed:
"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, Terry Knight (ex-Grand Funk Railroad), British DJ John Peel, Doug & The Slugs vocalist Doug Bennett, Jack Pemma (lead singer/guitarist from White Eagle), Starcastle bassist Gary Strater, singer/actress Laura Branigan, Lacy Van Zant (Father of Ronnie, Donnie & Johnnie Van Zant), Jeff Reid (former bass player for SR-71, Honor Among Thieves), Ray Charles (legend), session drummer Ray Hernandez, former Enuff Z Nuff guitarist Derek Frigo, Lizzy Borden guitarist Alex Nelson, both parent to Weird Al Yankovic, Carl Anderson (Jesus Christ Superstar), Bob Mayo (Peter Frampton Band) and good mate Graeme Paine.

Vocalist Of The Year: Jeff Scott Soto - Could there be anyone else? Yes, I have a bias towards this fabulous performer, but it is well deserved and I am not alone in my admiration for the singer. He is the hardest working individual I have seen in my time running this site and his dedication to his craft and the energy he gives to everything has been sucking people in left, right and center. His personal fanbase has grown through hard work, dedication and extensive touring - 2004 saw Jeff tour further and farther a field than ever. He also released what was arguable his best solo album to date and the groovy Soul SirkUS record. Add to that a couple of tribute album appearances and live dates with Boogie Nights and you quite simply have a winner with no competition!
Last Year: Harry Hess

Producer Of The Year Award: Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi - Now this is an interesting one. With respect to his talent, I wouldn't rate Fabrizio the very best producer around, and I find myself tiring a little of his sound. But he is very talented and in 2004 no other individual had a greater impact on the melodic rock scene than he did. As the producer, arranger, mixer and musician, Fabrizio was behind several major albums this year, with From The Inside and Over The Edge making the Top 15 for the year, not to mention his work with Glenn Hughes, James Christian, as well as Tommy Funderburk, which was released last month. He's currently working on projects with Freddy Curci (Zion), Terry Brock, Joe Vana (Ambition) and the next Vertigo release.
Last Year: Tommy Denander

Now to the silly stuff - and I might preface by saying, although these awards are reviewed and changed every year, I am very surprised at how many awards are appropriate again this year for similar reasons, just different people! Fact is stringer than fiction I guess.

The 'Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor' Award For Best Piece Of Self-Serving BS PR: Van Halen for the constant mopping up needed to present an all-is-great picture on tour in 2004.
Last Year: Fred Durst

The 'Great Kat Best Escaping Of Reality During 2004' Award: Stratovarius' Timo Tolkki for the second year running! He started going awol last year, but really topped it off this year with some astounding comments. Good to hear he is on his way back.
Close runner up: Eddie Van Halen.

The 'Bite The Hand That Feeds' Award: Guitar World - for their 100 Worst Solos article, which pretty much bagged out 100 bands that helped them stay in business 1984-1994.

The 'Dead, Jail or Rock N Roll (Jail Option)' Award: Former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland for fooling with little boys.
Last Year: Michael Morales.

The 'Guns N Roses Most Changes To The Scheduled Release Date' Award: Black N Blue - Their comeback album was originally scheduled for release April 19, 2004. It was then moved to September 04, Feb 5 2005, Feb 14 2005 and now April/May 2005.
Last Year: Cheap Trick

The 'Announced But Never Seen Again Disappearing Albums' Award: Z Records - for announcing the following albums - none of which have been released as yet - Adam Bomb, Femme Fatale, VOA (Bob Halligan Jr.), Final Frontier (moved to Frontiers), Life (Leif Johansen), Eddie Campbell, Gypsy Rose.

The 'Vince Neil Drunk Best On-Stage Antics' Award: Eddie Van Halen, for his various antics during the band's 2004 tour, the best of which were saved until the last week of the tour. Honorable mention to Vince Neil, who makes the cut each year - this time it was in Texas.
Last Year: Jani Lane, Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach.

The 'Eddie Van Halen Best Drunk Off-Stage Antics' Award: Rush's Alex Lifeson for his NYE punch-up and arrest.

The 'Not Very Rock N Roll Way To Cause Grievous Bodily Harm To Oneself' Award: Ted Nugent, for putting a chainsaw to his leg!
Last Year: Ronnie James Dio.

The 'Welcome Back in 2004' Award: *TIE* . Ted Poley in Danger Danger, Joey Allen in Warrant, Stratovarius and Nosieworks

The 'Please Go Away Again' Award: Julliet.

The 'Just Finish & Release The Bloody Thing Already' Award: Do I even bother mentioning Guns N Roses - again!

The 'Milli Vanilli' Award: The Alarm - for using teenagers posing as the band in their video clip! Got them to #28 in the UK.

The 'Frankie Sullivan' Lawsuits-Are-Us Award: Axl Rose! Rather than work on finishing his album, Axl spent time suing Cleopatra for their Hollywood Rose release, and also sued Geffen to try and prevent them releasing a Guns N Roses Greatest Hits album (which was pretty lame) and is currently still fighting with past band members over new publishing issues.

The 'Most Likely To Release A Live Album in 2005' Award: Kiss, Yngwie Malmsteen, Skid Row, Asia, Judas Priest, Duran Duran, Whitesnake - more random guesses!
Those nominated last year - Iron Maiden, Meatloaf, Thunder, Nelson, Dream Theater.
Meatloaf, Dream Theater both came up with live albums!

The 'This Bud's For You' Award: Dave Bickler - Hope Budweiser are paying you in cash and not discounted supplies!

The 'Honkin' On Something' Award: Aerosmith - for that awful album title!

The 'Buddy's Not Your Buddy' Award: Buddy Hayden - for passing guitarist Brett Garsed's recordings off as his own when trying to get a record deal.

The 'Best Interview Of 2004' Award: Steve Lukather - The great man didn't hold back and told it like it was! If you haven't read it yet - do it!

The 'It's 2004, not 1964' Award: Queensryche - For going Black & White on their live DVD this year.

The 'Life Is A Cabaret' Award: Gary Hughes - We hope you are enjoying your time on stage in Blackpool Gary - now get back to the studio!

The 'Ronnie Lee Keel Haystack' Award: Bret Michaels - Dude, the boys in Poison await your return.

The 'Best Noticeboard Username for 2004' Award: Harry Von Buglehorn Runners up: Broken Leg, Mid-Life Crisis, Hoversquirrel, bosnian bagel buoy, Rather Large Canine.

The Best Website Award: - spent way too much time and money there this year.

And last but not least!

Dickhead of the Year Award:
I've read through the 2004 run down and also surmised in my mind the difficulties of the year and given thought to the individuals that make my life and job harder. The one thing that keeps coming to mind is why? It's hard enough to do anything successfully and that goes for running this site and any other site or venture out there - not to mention all the artists working hard and the organizations behind them. Good luck to anyone trying to survive in this business.
I had two run-ins this year with organizations behind artists and both went out of their way to make life as difficult as possible for me. Those two organizations are the joint winners of this award.
I think it's a shame that they feel their actions were justified, when all am doing is promoting their artists. If they don't like something I say, then that's too bad. I'm not making shit up for the sake of offending. Sadly it seems one negative comment, or at least something they don't agree with can wipe out several years of positive publicity and promotion.
If you can take all the good - you must accept some of the bad and perhaps use those comments or suggestions made to improve the artist. After all, that's why negative comments are made in the first place - in hope of inspiring an improvement. I will take note of that myself too.
The Dickhead Award started out as a bit of fun and I'm hoping 2005 will see it retired, as I'll be trying hard for a smooth and pain free year ahead. Here's hoping!

Melodic/Hard Rock:
Highest profile albums due for 2005: Domain, Black N Blue, Seven Wishes, Thunder, Joe Lynn Turner, Neal Schon, John Norum, Liesgang/White, Darren Smith Band, Jaded Heart, At Vance, Soul Sirkus, Edge Of Forever, Boysvoice, Gotthard, Brazen Abbot, Beautiful Creatures, Bon Jovi, Chris Catena, Def Leppard, Emerald Rain, Fate, MSG, Hardline, Harem Scarem, Khymera, Legs Diamond, Liberty & Justice, Michael Bormann, Moonstone Project, Night Ranger, Kelly Keagy, Rik Emmett/Mike Shotton, Skid Row, Street Legal, Stryper, Styx, Teer, The Darkness, TNT, Starbreaker, Von Groove, Yngwie Malmsteen, AC/DC, Guns N Roses..

Melodic Hard Rock is where it is at for 2005 - with a ton of releases due, running the spectrum of styles and influences. This seems to be the genre's strong point right now, with the art of pure AOR seemingly slowly sliding off the spectrum.
Some important albums due in 2005 for some artists. Gotthard have made changes to just about every aspect of their organization, including singing to what is essentially a metal label, so they will want to deliver - but will they update/change their style in a way that will alienate their fanbase?
Both Michael Bormann and Jaded Heart will be out to prove they can succeed without each other and it is inevitable that both releases will be compared to each other - who will be the winner? I'm hoping for a dead heat...
John Norum's album is due this month and I have already heard it - a review soon, but I'll cross it off the best of 05 list.
Darren Smith has a lot to live up to with his solo project - I think a lot of Harem fans will dig it - but it's not quite a classic.
Chris Catena continues to be a rising star, with a live album, a covers project and plans for a new studio album all on the go. Expect his name to be even more visible in 2005.
Brazen Abbot have a new label home and I think this will possibly be Nikolo's best release to date - he seems to always get a little better each release.
Will the new Beautiful Creatures album finally get released? I think so, even if it is just for Japan. Should be pretty good too I think.
The big question is will Bon Jovi finally deliver on their promise of a big rock album? They have said that the last 3 albums, but have fallen short - even if there has still been some great moments on those albums. The lead single Have A Nice Day is an instant anthem, so there is definite hope.
Def Leppard's schmozzle of a covers album will see the light of day (or will it?) and the band start touring in May I believe. My personal view is that no one will care and it could kill the band's major label career once and for all.
Emerald Rain have a Japanese release lined up for their new album and I hope a European release will follow. If the album is consistent as I know the guys can be, it will be a highlight.
The MSG album coming up this year is an 18 track album of new material, featuring a bunch of singers like Logan, Keeling, Tommy Shaw and more. Might be interesting.
I'm a little worried about the comeback of Fate - I heard the one new track on the MTM sampler and thought it was awful. Same with Black N Blue, but that has an equal chance of being released as it does not!
Hardline's 3rd studio album needs to impress all fans, as their Hardline II album met with mixed reviews. I thought they had some great songs and ideas, but didn't quite nail it. Looking forward to this - I believe it will be very good indeed.
Harem Scarem, Night Ranger & Kelly Keagy - can you imagine a finer year if all three release great albums? The Harem one already has me excited - Harry said the band were making a real effort to make this one special - but I thought the last 2 brilliant already.
Night Ranger have never ever made a bad record - it's a shame that there is only 7 of them to play! The styles vary a little and everyone has their favourites, but let's hope their plans for a new record finally come to fruition this year.
Kelly Keagy's new album on the other hand will get done this year - I'm very confident of that and will Jim Peterik producing and co-writing, expect nothing less than a monster to rival his classic solo debut.
And there's Jack's covers album with Tommy Shaw too - but I'm not as enthusiastic about that - it will be ok, but I can't see it making my Top 20 for the year.
And speaking of covers - still - the Styx covers album will bomb. There ya go...a prediction for you. I loved Cyclorama, but just can't get enthusiastic about all these covers albums.
It will be interesting to see if old school rockers Boysvoice and Legs Diamond can re-capture their former glories. I expect solid releases from both.
I'm hopeful of the Rik Emmett/Mike Shotton project making it out, but can't be sure how long the process will take. One thing is for sure, it's time for Rik to rock again!
Skid Row are making a new album - I hope it takes them less time than the 3 years it took their last album to be delivered and finally released. As much as I liked some of the more modern tracks from the Thickskin release, the guys will need to get back to their roots this time around to make any impact at retail.
Street Legal are coming back with a new line-up, so I don't know what to expect, besides knowing it will be high quality European hard rock.
The Darkness! The mere mention of their name creates mass debate - but you know what - I'm warning to them. I'm enjoying that album. I always dug the songs, but once you see the singer is only taking the piss - accept that and laugh at their antics - all designed to create headlines - you might enjoy what is some great tunes (even those vocals). Their new studio album due mid-year will be critical for them - one hit wonders, or genuine stars? I expect a very good album - and yeah, I surprise myself when I say that.
Tony Harnell has a big year ahead - a new TNT album and his solo Starbreaker project - both destined to be atop of best of lists at the end of the year. I'm listening to Starbreaker now - man, this record is heavy as! Big European hard rock and melodic metal. Fans will love it.
Tony's partner in Starbreaker is the great guitarist/songwriter Magnus Karlsson, who is also working on the project featuring Russell Allen and Jorn Lande. So I expect he and that project also will both feature highly in next year's awards.
Did you notice Soul Sirkus listed again? New guitar parts, a totally new drum track and a re-mix will see this album given a fresh new life. Maybe a new track too? A fresh deal will see it reach a winder audience.
Von Groove's long awaited album will be released and I'm looking forward to that - but by what label?
And what year ahead summery could be without a comment on Guns N Roses - will it be released? You know what - I'm going to say no. It's really anyone's guess, but I'll commit to a no!
And will the Jeff Watson / Eric Martin album get done? If so, that will (I expect) be a monster.

Predicted Best Melodic/Hard Rock Releases for 2005: Joe Lynn Turner, Gotthard, Brazen Abbot, Soul Sirkus, Bon Jovi, Hardline, Thunder, Kelly Keagy, Harem Scarem, Night Ranger, The Darkness, TNT, Starbreaker, Von Groove, Emerald Rain..

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Heartland, Shaw Blades, Lec Zorn Project, On The Rise, Return, Toto, Radioactive, Martie Peters Group, Shy, Outland, Heartbreak Radio, Final Frontier, 91 Suite, Alien, Broke [N] Blue, Change Of Heart, Frederiksen/Denander, Gregg Giuffria, John Wetton/Geoff Downes, Journey, Khymera, Mark Spiro, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Riverdogs, Zion, Noiseworks, 1927, Crystal Blue, Lawrence Saltis, Joseph Williams/Vertigo, Diving For Pearls, Slamer/Brock, Shadowman, The Ladder.

The two tracks I have from Heartland have me very excited. The songs are great quality, but the vocal production from Grand Illusion's Anders Rydhom has some extra layers and tricks which make for even more compelling listening. And Anders will also team up with Sherwood Ball for what will be an interesting release.
Yes, you read correctly - there is a new Mike Slamer album coming with none other than Strangeways/The Sign vocalist Terry Brock in charge. How cool is this release going to be? A monster?
Lec Zorn Project - a pleasant slice of pure 80's keyboard AOR - destined to be finally released this year.
On The Rise are sadly no longer a duo, so what their second album will deliver is another big question. It will have to be very good to top the awesome debut.
Toto are in the studio and what they turn up will be another mystery. The band have delivered on most occasions, although I was outspoken on their disappointing covers album. But I have been forgiven for that and as the band have never repeated themselves, I am not sure what to expect. Big thing are anticipated, but individual tastes might come into play.
Tommy Denander will keep busy as always with at least 2 big releases - a new Radioactive and the anticipated Frederiksen/Denander project. Both will feature a similar vein of classic AOR and we all know what to expect - but will one release outshine the other?
91 Suite have signed to Universal in Spain - will a major push equal a major melodic rock/AOR release? Their debut was very special, so anticipation is high.
Come backs for Alien, Gregg Giuffria and Noiseworks are all highly anticipated, but will the results stack up? I have no doubt that Alien will rule, but can't be sure Noiseworks or Giuffria will be released this year. Both are slow movers and results could vary.
One album I do anticipate will please fans of British AOR is Change Of Heart - several years since their debut, this one has been long in the making and I think will be very good.
The pairing of John Wetton/Geoff Downes I think will ensure another good year for Asia fans. Not to mention John's own solo album. A busy year ahead.
Follow-ups from Khymera and Joseph Williams/Vertigo are expected and will be expected to be even better than the strong debuts. Anything less will not cut it.
REO Speedwagon's album should be interesting - it's been some time since their last studio album.
A new album from Mark Spiro is due, but it will have to be way better than the last album, less programmed and dare I say it - something a little different?
Rick Springfield has a new release for the second year running. He hasn't don that since his golden run from 1981-1985. Although not an album of new material, expectations run very high as is always the case with this quality artist.
Will the Riverdogs actually get a full album completed? I would have said yes, but right now, I'd say 50/50, but some new material will see the light of day.
Now, where is the Freddy Curci/Zion project? C'mon Freddy - time to deliver....can the time taken to get this done equal expectations. Not so sure now.
More new material is expected from Steve Overland, with new Shadowman and The Ladder albums due. I expect both to improve further on their excellent debut's.
Tower City frontman Lawrence Saltis is lined up for a solo album, but will he turn modern or stick to what fans of this website want to hear? I love this guy's style, so I'm expecting a great release - but have those lingering doubts.
Same goes for Diving For Pearls. I desperately want the band to deliver a cracking new album - but have they moved too far to the left for AOR fans? Or with the album vary styles within too much?
Bruce Turgon is readying a solo album - a man with his pedigree does not release anything sub-par!
The biggest for last - Journey. Just how big will this album be? I was critical of Arrival to start, but the amended US release was a near perfect AOR release. Neal's been shredding of late, with Soul Sirkus and his upcoming solo album, so expectations from the whole melodic rock community will be near boiling point.
Their recent tour featured all members having a go at singing. I get the feeling the same will be transferred to the recording process, which in my opinion brings major dangers. I'm enthusiastic of what Neal has had to say about the direction and style of the album - but to have 3 or 4 singers spread over 12 tracks gives any band a challenge to make the album a truly cohesive, easy flowing affair. I think we will know by mid year, but a lot is riding on this album!

Predicted Best AOR Releases for 2005: Heartland, Slamer/Brock, Toto, Radioactive, 91 Suite, Alien, Change Of Heart, Frederiksen/Denander, John Wetton/Geoff Downes, Journey, Khymera, Rick Springfield, Crystal Blue, Vertigo, The Ladder.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Miles Above, Waltham, Bad Way, Square One, Swirl 360, TaxiRide, Foo Fighters, Magna-Fi.
Not a lot to speak of here - which is much the same for 2004. A few big releases, but little new talent breaking through. Square One from Australia will impress fans of soft power pop, Bad Way offer something promising from Spain and Swirl 360 have a good chance of improving on their under performed debut.
Miles Above will continue to build on the good work commenced with their debut and could Waltham top the charts twice with the same album? I think so, as what I have heard sees the album being re-recorded with a great budget, plus newly added tracks.
Australia's TaxiRide and America's Foo Fighters both need impressive albums to guarantee their continued viability.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Hanoi Rocks, Roxx Gang, LA Guns
That can't be it can it?? I must have overlooked something - e-mail if you think I have and I'll update this, but for glam fans, it's going to take a surprise release to blow your mind in 2005. The Hanoi Rocks release should be reliable, but LA Guns may not get the new album out in 2005, as they have just commenced the writing process. Glam fans will be searching for another Wig Wam, that's for sure.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Masterplan, Power Quest, Altaria, Iommi/Hughes, Halford, Judas Priest, Circle II Circle, Lande / Allen, Midnight, Dream Theater, Stratovarius, Queensryche, Spocks Beard, Arena, Lana Lane.
Mentioned here is just a brief line-up of metal albums due in 2005. The genre continues to grow and continues to see some hard rock bands intensify their efforts to toughen their sound to break into the burgeoning metal market.
Masterplan has already been reviewed - could this be their year - what a monster!
Power Quest made great strides with their debut and I think everyone is really looking forward to their new album, due in June.
Altaria are going from strength to strength, so again, I think this will be a metal highlight for the year.
Iommi/Hughes is already being hyped and Glenn speaks very passionately about it - so expect an onslaught of PR when a release becomes due. These two guys work magic and you'd be foolish not to expect this to be a monster.
It's my personal view that Rob Halford will better his band Judas Priest when it comes time to get his new solo album done.
Circle II Circle need to win back fans after some bad PR, poor live appearances and line-up changes. I'm not expecting much - especially after a great debut.
Dream Theater are promising something different - which I know established fans will eat up. These guys are so supremely talented, it's insane. But I have personally gone off them a bit. Last album I loved was Falling Into Infinity.
I spoke of Lande / Allen before - this will be a monster! Midnight and Stratovarius are due for comebacks - not sure what to expect there.
Queensryche are making a bold move to recapture former glories with Mindcrime II, but so many years have passed and they continually disappoint long time fans, so I don't expect too much there.

Highest profile albums due for 2005: Bob Seger, Billy Idol, The Hooters, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Wallflowers
Looking ahead, there doesn't appear to be much lined up for 2005 for fans of good pop. I expect some great titles to emerge, but from what we know is due, put Bob Seger down for a highlight (if he gets it together), plus Billy Idol, who with Steve Stevens on board is expected to return to former glories.
I don't expect The Hooters to get their new album done this year - those boys are waaay slow - but it could be a Top 5 finisher if it gets done.
The Who - could be good, could miss the magic.....Bruce Springsteen is set to strip it back again for his new record, so I'm not as enthusiastic about that.

The Overall Best Of The Best for 2005?
Ok - shortening the list even further - what could my Top 10 (or so) of 2005 be? It will be interesting to look back, but here goes:
Kelly Keagy, Harem Scarem, Night Ranger, TNT, Starbreaker, Heartland, Toto, Lande / Allen, Waltham, Iommi/Hughes, Change Of Heart, Frederiksen/Denander, Soul Sirkus, Masterplan, Von Groove, 91 Suite, Journey, Slamer/Brock.

So what won't be released in 2005? What are line-ball releases?
Liddel, Rush & Thrall, Nelson, VOA, Raine, Planet Mecca, Burning Rain, Femme Fatale, Bob Seger, The Hooters, Guns N Roses, Gary Moon, Mike Tramp, Daniel McMaster, David Roberts, Meatloaf, Seven And The Sun, Tsar, Leif Johansen, Rain.

Liddel, Rush & Thrall - scheduled for release for 2 years now. Gone for good is my bet.
Raine - just where did these guys go wrong? So much promise and so much talent - just release something boys!
Mecca - as much as it disappoints me to say - I can't see this new album getting completed. Not without a guiding hand, such as the role Jim Peterik played in the debut.
Rain - working on a new album, but I'm not sure how long the process will take. Looking forward to it nevertheless.

General Predictions 2005:
A punch-up/brawl will take place at a major rock festival - possibly Sweden Rock - and possible involving Yngwie Malmsteen. Or perhaps Motley Crue. Maybe both?!

One of the very best albums of 2004 will be a debut album from an artist never before heard of.

Possible band break-ups - SR-71, Stratovarius (again), Judas Priest (again), Motley Crue (again), Circle II Circle.

There will be no new Survivor album.

There will be no new Van Halen album.

There will be no new Cinderella album, but Tom Keifer's solo album will get released.

Vince Neil will be arrested.

Halford's album will be better than the Judas Priest album.

Masterplan will break through into America and a wider audience.

Bob Seger will finally hit the road for some live dates.

Waltham will score a hit single in America. Rick Springfield won't (although I hope I'm wrong there...)

The Def Leppard covers album will get scrapped in favor of an all new hard rocking studio album.

Sales of Bon Jovi's new album will top Crush and Bounce.

The Darkness will pull a series of publicity stunts just prior to the release of their new album - including getting up as many people's noses as possible to ensure good headlines.

The lead singer of a very well known and popular melodic rock group will depart the band.

Bret Michaels will be formerly proclaimed a country music star and Poison will be no more.

A European label will announce their biggest signing ever, with much pomp and ceremony.

Just before I finish this wrap up - what about the labels themselves? What are they looking forward to in 2004? I thought I would find out!

Mario @ Frontiers Records.
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
The top six were Madmen and Sinners, House of Lords, Glenn Hughes "Soulfully Live", Jeff Scott Soto, Kingdom Come, Seventh Key.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
As always... too difficult to say for the records I have been personally involved in and the list would be too long. So - as always - I have to say... all of them!
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Hoobastank "The Reason", Mercy Me "Undone", Blackfield "Blackfield", Anastacia "Anastacia", Jeremy Camp "Restored", Stage Dolls "Get A Life". A few others made my listening year but ere mostly rediscoveries from the past... From our label friends I wish to mention in particular The Ladder and TNT.
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Many "big names" bands failed to reach the heights they used to. Also I think the modern rock / Nu breed scene lost a lot of the initial freshness and positive input and creativity... only a very few amount of albums really were worth of any attention this year.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
It is difficult to feel more excited than what we are now. This new year looks brighter than ever and we are simply going to drop one bomb after the other. Wait and see!
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
On our label 3 would simply not be enough. Glenn Hughes, Thunder, Joe Lynn Turner, Starbreaker, Soul Sirkus, Royal Hunt, Harem Scarem, Hardline, Lande / Allen, Mike Slamer new CD with Terry Brock on vocals, Brazen Abbot, Fergie Fredriksen, Bruce Turgon new CD with megaguests plus... another couple of top secret supergroups (one from Europe and another from the US) plus the biggest melodic rock signing ever done on Frontiers... how could you just name 3 out of those for 2005?? Just not mentioning a few VERY exciting newcomers both in the progressive metal and melodic rock field...

Sebastian @ MTM Music
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
TNT "My Religion"
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
TNT "My Religion" & DARE "Beneath The Shining Water"
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
- Any disappointments from 2004?
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?

TNT new studio album and NORTHERN LIGHT new studio album.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
We only have high quality products, as you know!? Best selling album TNT for sure.

Geoff Gillespie @ Majestic Rock Records
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Tytan's 'Rough Justice' Reissue and Waysted's 'Save Your Prayers' both performed really well.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Oh, M.ILL.ION's 'KINGSIZE' was fantastic. Also great to finally make Waysted's 'Save Your Prayers' and Tobruk's 'Wild On The Run' available again.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Really liked the Feinstein 'Third Wish' album, the latest Twilightning record is excellent and Masterplan's 'Aeronautics' is out of this world!
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Last Autumn's Dream 'II' is....not very good.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
Kinrick's 'Sense Your Darkness' and Power Quest's 'Magic Never Dies' are both extremely exciting prospects for us. I also have a young band from the North East of England called Fallen Skies who wll be unleashing their Epic Fantasy Power Metal on the world with their debut album this Spring. Towards the end of the year, M.ILL.ION will head back to the studio, and they have to make something really special as a follow up to 'KINGSIZE'. Some cool reissues lined up, too...
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
I wish I knew the answer to that question - make things a lot easier for us all, wouldn't it?

Khalil Turk @ Escape Music
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Shadowman, Casanova, Grand Illusion, The Ladder
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Tough question! (All of them) but Shadowman and Grand Illusion.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Duran Duran "Astronaut", Keith Urban "Be Here", Tears For Fears new album.
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Far too many disappointing albums last year..Bryan Adams "Room Service" one of them.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
Heartland "Move On", Change Of Heart, Anders Rydholm / Sherwood Ball and the Shadowman.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
Judas Preist new Rock genre.

Georg Sigel @ AOR Heaven
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Altaria - Divinty & Frontline - The Seventh Sign.
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Second Heat & Higher Ground.
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Day Of Fire, Tesla, Europe.
- Any disappointments from 2004?
Blind Alley - great album, but it didn't sell well.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
New Legs Diamond studio CD and Biss - new album with Marc Storace.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
Soul SirkUS, new Journey album, Masterplan.

John Kivel @ Kivel Records
- What were your label's best selling titles in 2004?
Adriangale "Crunch"
- What were your favourite releases of the year?
Adriangale "Crunch" and Straight Wired "Color My World".
- Favourite releases from outside your label?
Pink Cream 69 "Thunderdome", Blind Date, ZO2, Lynch Mob "Revolution".
- Any disappointments from 2004?
HOUSE OF LORDS and EVEN the James Christian. I love both band and singer. But im sorry didn't do it for me on either. I REALLY wanted to like both.
- What are you most excited about and looking forward to with your planned 2005 releases?
Adriangale has a few things coming down the pipe line in 05 that I'm looking fwd to. I have a project I'm doing with Rif from Adriangale that I'm excited about. As well as a new band we just signed called Edens Lie. Great band! Think Michael Sweet, Think Warrants Ultraphobic, maybe a wee bit of Tesla at times as well. They are in the studio now and the album is coming along nicely. No working title as of yet though.
- What do you think the 3 biggest selling and best quality releases will be for 2005?
Couldn't tell ya, I have no clue. I hope one of them might be one of mine! LOL.

Questions were also sent to Now & Then, Perris and Z Records. Sadly - no replies were received.

Hope you have all enjoyed the 2004 feature! Once again it's late and taken up far too much time compiling, but I love doing it and the feedback is always great / interesting. You may not agree with everything written within this feature, but I do hope you all found it to be a good read. Here's to the year ahead!
Do let me know what you think!

Previous Years In Review: 2003 / 2002 / 2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998 & 1997

2004 - YOUR SAY!