Armageddon – The Money Mask – 1989

This is the Introductory album from Armageddon. The band actually started up in 1987 as Second Chance and had a couple of Demo’s using that name. There were a few lineup changes in this time but nothing unusual for a new band. It was strange however that they brought in several session musicians to help out with this album which is not something you usually see with a Metal band. Apparently the band went into the studio to release the album themselves but R.E.X. Music decided to take a chance on it and stick their name on it. Unfortunately very few copies were pressed so there wasn’t much distribution of the album. As for the album I think it’s pretty good, several tracks lean hard rock instead of metal and quite frankly I found several tracks to my liking and I don’t really care for Metal. Though this was the only album from the band in the 80’s/90’s but they soldiered on and continued recording and self releasing music in the 2000’s. They now refer to themselves as Armageddon USA. This album was re-released in 2007 by Retroactive Records with an additional disc of bonus material. If I get my hands on that bonus disc I’ll be sure to review it.

Tracklist
1 – The Money Mask – 3:20
2 – Mercenaries Of Injustice – 4:08
3 – More Than Conquerors – 3:58
4 – Looking Out For You – 5:42
5 – The Ship Of Changes – 5:23
6 – (Liberation From) Blazing Wasteland – 3:45
7 – Nightlight – 5:44
8 – Giving It To You – 4:23
9 – The Judge – 4:50
10 – We’re Outa’ Here – 3:59

Credits
Backing Vocals – Charlie Phillips, Mike Vance, Paul Krueger (tracks: 9)
Bass – Dan Wilkinson
Design – Jeff Spencer
Drums – Joe Hasselvander (tracks: 2, 3, 4, 10), Mark Miley (tracks: 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Guitar – Charlie Phillips (tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10), Phil Zeo (tracks: 5, 7, 8), Robby Lee (tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10)
Keyboards – Janusz Smulski, Lamont Coward (tracks: 5)
Lead Vocals – Mike Vance
Mixed By – Paul Krueger
Producer – Paul Krueger
Twelve-String Guitar – Phil Zeo (tracks: 5)

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – R.E.X. Music
Manufactured By – American Helix Technology Corporation
Produced For – K Productions
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Talkingtown Records
Copyright (c) – Talkingtown Records
Pressed By – American Helix
Published By – Second Chance Music
Published By – Lamont Coward Publishing
Recorded At – Morning Star Communications

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Matthew Ward – Fortress – 1990

Matthew Wards 4th solo album actually turns up the Rock factor compared to previous work. I discovered why on Ward’s website where he says this about the album. “Normally, I write around keyboards. This was the first, and only, CD I have recorded that was written and arranged mostly on and for the electric guitar. I simply did what I wanted and let it rock.” He left that guitar work to James Dillingham who is a relatively little known guitarist but he handled the duties very well. I wouldn’t say this album is Rock & Roll gold but it’s definitely worth a listen. The one thing about Matthew Ward that has always kind of surprised me is that normally I wouldn’t really like his style of music but I always enjoy his albums and several of his songs are in my regular rotation. Of interest on this album is that he closes it out with a guitar heavy Rock version of Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. I’ve heard several rock versions of this song and this one ranks right up there in terms of quality, especially the guitar work.

Tracklist
1 – Warrior – 4:13
2 – Heaven Is Calling – 4:09
3 – Since I Found You – 4:18
4 – Faithful And True – 4:10
5 – Psalm 33:3 – 4:18
6 – You – 3:51
7 – Indecision – 4:26
8 – God Of All – 3:35
9 – Mixed Emotions – 3:26
10 – Fortress – 5:02

Credit
Arranged By [Arrangements] – Gary Leach, Matthew Ward
Art Direction [Assistant] – David Reid
Art Direction, Design – Bradley Grose
Backing Vocals [All Background Vocals] – Matthew Ward
Bass – Bob Gentry
Drums – Dean Castronovo
Engineer – Greg Hunt
Engineer [Second Engineer] – Gary Leach
Guitar – James Dillingham
Jew’s Harp – Greg Hunt
Keyboards – Gary Leach
Lyrics By [All Lyrics By] – Matthew Ward (tracks: 1 to 9)
Mastered By – Doug Sax
Music By [All Music Written By] – Gary Leach (tracks: 1 to 6, 8, 9), Matthew Ward (tracks: 1 to 6, 8, 9)
Other [Make Up/Hair] – Susan Grose
Photography By – Alan Dockery
Producer [Produced By] – Matthew Ward
Programmed By [Synth Programming] – Gary Leach

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Matthew Ward Productions
Copyright (c) – Matthew Ward Productions
Distributed By – Benson Music Group
Distributed By – R.G. Mitchell Family Books, Inc.
Recorded At – Rosewood Studio
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab
Published By – Megan’s College Fund Music

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The Call – Into The Woods – 1987

The 6th release from The Call is often referred to as their “Dark” album. Personally I don’t find it that dark but I also don’t find it that good. It’s not a bad album just not as good as their previous albums. Michael Been states it’s his favourite album and I have to agree that it has some of their best lyrics of all their albums. I personally just preferred the more commercial sound of their previous work. The official single was “I Don’t Wanna” which only climbed to #38 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart. My pick for a single is “It Could Have Been Me” with it’s addictive drum line it stands out.

Tracklist
1 – I Don’t Wanna – 5:15
2 – In The River – 4:04
3 – It Could Have Been Me – 4:38
4 – The Woods – 5:10
5 – Day Or Night – 4:12
6 – Memory – 4:05
7 – Too Many Tears – 4:24
8 – Expecting – 4:52
9 – Walk Walk – 3:50

Credits
Michael Been – Bass, Composer, Guitar, Producer, Vocals
Cary Butler – Assistant Engineer
Tom Ferrier – Composer, Guitar
Jim Goodwin – Composer
Stephen Innocenzi – Mastering
Steve Kline – Assistant Engineer
Matt Mahurin – Photography
Stephen Marcussen – Mastering
Scott Musick – Composer, Drums, Vocals (Background)
Eric Myer – Photography
Dan Nash – Assistant Engineer
Dave Reitzas – Assistant Engineer
Dan Smith – Producer
Don Smith – Engineer, Producer
Andy Udoff – Assistant Engineer
Tracy Veal – Design
Gary Wagner – Assistant Engineer

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records
Pressed By – Specialty Records Corporation
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Elektra/Asylum Records
Copyright (c) – Elektra/Asylum Records
Published By – Neeb Music
Published By – Tarka Music
Published By – Titleface Music
Published By – WB Music Corp.
Published By – Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
Recorded At – A&M Studios
Recorded At – One On One Studios
Recorded At – Rumbo Recorders
Recorded At – Conway Studios
Mastered At – Precision Mastering

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Shelter – Prophets And Clowns – 1983

There is very little information out there on this band. I’m a little surprised at this as the album was produced by Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos). Rob Watson (Daniel Amos) also helped with some Keyboards. The sheer involvement of these guys should have made this band a little more known. On their album sleeve they thank Servant so there is some connection with them too. But that’s it, that’s all I could find on this band. The album is mainly easy listening with a couple livelier tracks but for the main part is light rock. It’s good though and the production is strong so it really deserves at least one listen. It won’t make it into my regular rotation but as I say, it’s worth a listen.

Tracklist
1 – Singer And The Song – 3:15
2 – Prophets And Clowns – 3:22
3 – Super Heroes – 3:15
4 – Walk In The Spirit – 3:15
5 – Here I Am Again – 3:25
6 – This Is The Day – 4:59
7 – Hope – 3:38
8 – I’ll Play The Fool – 3:18
9 – Song To The Church – 4:16
10 – Come All Who Labor – 4:15
11 – Singer And The Song (Reprise) – 1:12

Credits
Bass, Vocals – Mark Sullivant
Drums – Darrell Ferraiuolo
Guitar, Vocals – “Jimmy T” Thomas
Keyboards – Tim Robbins
Producer – Terry Scott Taylor
Vocals, Guitar – David Bunker
Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion – Jan Thomas

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – Word Records Limited

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Jerusalem – Prophet – 1994

Jerusalem previous album was released in 1987 and they subsequently disappeared. Then suddenly in 1994 they reappeared with this astonishing album. I’ll be honest I was quite taken aback by this album. Put quite bluntly I believe this is their best album ever. Describing the musical style of this album is a bit difficult but if I had to I guess I would say Commercial Metal meets U2. Ulf’s vocals on this album are simply his best work yet. The influence of U2 is unmistakable but I don’t feel he was trying to be U2. It actually has a distinct sound all it’s own. It was released by Viva Records in Europe, R.E.X. Records in North America, X ZERO Corporation in Japan, and strangely DR Studio in Poland. Without a doubt my favourite track is “On The Road” which by the way does not have the U2 sound of other tracks. It probably has Ulf’s best vocal effort ever. Anyway I can go on and on about how much I love this album but I urge you to give it a listen yourself and let me know what you think.

Tracklist
1 – City On Fire – 5:43
2 – Risen – 5:07
3 – The Waiting Zone – 4:40
4 – Umbrella – 5:36
5 – Be There With You – 6:43
6 – On The Road – 3:20
7 – Likes Them – 4:11
8 – Truth – 4:52
9 – Face In The Crowd – 5:50
10 – Tomorrow – 4:19
11 – Berlin 38 (Next Year In Jerusalem) – 9:07
12 – Soldier – 5:39

Credits
Art Direction, Design – S. Durling
Bass, Bass [Pedals], Backing Vocals – Peter Carlsohn
Drums, Backing Vocals – Michael Ulvsgärd
Engineer – Magne “Manicken” Svensen
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Ulf Christiansson
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Reidar I Paulsen
Lyrics By – Christiansson
Mixed By – Bernt A. G. Austad
Music By – Ulvsgärd, Carlsohn, Paulsen, Christiansson
Photography By – Anders Kristensson
Producer, Arranged By – Jerusalem

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – R.E.X. Music Inc.
Copyright (c) – R.E.X. Music Inc.
Licensed From – Viva Records
Recorded At – Studio Kuling
Recorded At – Jerusalem Studio
Mixed At – Musikkloftet
Manufactured By – Disc Manufacturing, Inc., Huntsville – 101666

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Straightway – Black or White – 1989

Straightway were a Mid 80’s Metal band out of Houston, Texas who had a couple demo’s before releasing this EP in 1989. It has a very commercial Metal sound and is actually pretty well produced considering they produced it themselves. In reality this is a 4 song EP with a short instrumental and a novelty rap song. In my opinion they should have just left then off. The rap track is ridiculous and difficult to listen to but maybe my opinion would have been different in 1989. Actually I doubt it. So let’s remove those 2 tracks from the review and talk about the final 4. Like I said they have a pretty commercial sound and I’m a little surprised they didn’t have a follow up album but I honestly feel their Beastie Boys’ish rap track hurt them. Actually if someone had done a Beastie Boy’s type album it might have had some success but I wouldn’t have bought it. So if you like your metal with a commercial feel this is the EP for you.

Tracklist
1 – Black Or White – 4:32
2 – Come Back – 3:58
3 – Intro In C# Minor – 0:36
4 – Wounded Heart – 4:41
5 – Christ Is King – 5:05
6 – Don’t Even Swerve – 1:29

Credits
Artwork [Logo] – Juan Hidalgo
Bass, Vocals – Mark Walton
Drums, Vocals – Damon Tankersley
Engineer – Cary Wise
Lead Guitar – Doug Middleton
Lead Vocals, Keyboards – David Walton
Other [Hair & Makeup] – Renee Arrowood
Photography By – Jesslar Photography
Producer – Straightway
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Mike Locke

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Platinum Records International
Recorded At – Fourth Creation Studio, Conroe, Texas

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Rick Riso – Gotta Have The Real Thing – 1985

Rick Riso was the lead singer for Messenger in the 70’s who released 2 albums the last in 1978. Rick then disappeared until this album showed up in 1985. The style is similar to Messenger with a funk feel/sound. As I mentioned on my review of a Messenger album I really can’t find out much about Rick. There just isn’t any info on him. This is a little odd as this album had a top 10 single. “Gotta Have The Real Thing” made it to #10 in October of 85 and even stayed on the charts for 22 weeks. So I’ll have to leave the review at that. This is a fun funk pop album and deserves a listen.

Tracklist
1 – Don’t Let It Fool You – 4:16
2 – Remember Me – 4:32
3 – Gotta Have The Real Thing – 4:00
4 – He Is Willing – 3:43
5 – I Only Wanna Follow You – 4:12
6 – Take A Stand And Fight – 4:23
7 – Your Loving Hands – 3:49
8 – Armor Of The Lord – 4:21
9 – Each Moment Of My Life – 3:54
10 – Worship You – 3:56

Credits
Backing Vocals – Donny Henderson
Bass – Dave Marotta, Leon Gaer
Bass, Backing Vocals – Tim Jaquette
Drums – Dave Spurr, John Ferraro
Engineer, Mixed By – Tim Jaquette
Executive Producer – Chris Christian
Guitar – Carl Verheyen, Carlos Rios
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Bob Somma
Harmony Vocals – Alexa Anatasia
Keyboards, Arranged By – Bill Meyers, Mark Levang
Mastered By – Bernie Grundman
Percussion – Paul Bahn
Producer, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Songwriter – Rick Riso
Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Songwriter – Joey Arreguin
Synthesizer – Marc Hugenberger
Synthesizer, Backing Vocals, Arranged By, Keyboards – Brad Cole
Trumpet – Walt Fowler

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Studio Masters
Mixed At – Studio Masters
Mastered At – Bernie Grundman Mastering

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Zero Option – Absolute Zero – 1988

Zero Option was actually just one guy, Ralph Ward. I guess you could call him the Thomas Dolby of Christian music. Well maybe more the Howard Jones due to his vocals. This is actually his second album, his first album was titled “Ralph Ward” but using the artist name Zero Option. Does that qualify as a self titled album? When asked why he didn’t refer to his work by just his name he said “…..people expect you to be one bloke standing there with an acoustic guitar!” He took the name Zero Option from the nuclear disarmament policy of the same name which I guess was big in the U.K. in the early 80’s. He played anywhere he could including pubs, schools, and Churches. The album is a synth affair with upbeat vocals. At times I hear Harold Faltermeyer, Howard Jones, and even Men Without Hats. Speaking of Men Without Hats the album cover looks like it’s right out of the music video for “Safety Dance”. This is the style of music I loved i the 80’s and it’s too bad I had to wait until 2021 to hear this album because I really like it.

Tracklist
1 – Throwing It All Away – 5:32
2 – Let Me Die On Platform 9 – 6:09
3 – Still In Love With You – 3:31
4 – Let Go And Let God – 5:43
5 – The Telephone Song – 5:30
6 – Caught Up On The Wrong Side – 3:42
7 – In My Dreams Tonight – 5:47
8 – For Eternity – 4:33
9 – Love Looks Down – 3:19
10 – Hold Out Forever – 5:00

Credits
Instruments, Vocals, Producer, Songwriter – Ralph Ward
Producer, Engineer – William Jackson

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The Reach – Under The Same Sky – 1989

Before “In Reach” there was “The Reach”. They were essentially the same band with some slight personnel changes. Though they had 2 demo’s this is their first real album. The album was produced by David Zaffiro (Bloodgood). I don’t know if that’s why Image Records picked them up or if it was because Image picked them up. I really can’t find out too much information about the band so I guess I’ll talk about the album. I was really surprised at how good this album was considering it’s relatively unknown. It has a great 80’s pop sound though I have seen some writers refer to it as an AOR album but I actually beg to differ. The album if anything leans rock but is definitely a pop album. Maybe I’m splitting hairs here but the AOR title just doesn’t seem appropriate to this album for me. The lead track makes you want to listen to the whole album and I would have played it when I was a secular DJ. It definitely could have held it’s own on the Billboard charts. I’m not saying a top 10 but it could have made top 100 no problem. So if you missed this one in the 80’s you should give it a listen now and see what you missed, I think you’ll like it.

Tracklist
1 – Vogue – 3:15
2 – Rightful One – 3:27
3 – Big Time – 2:40
4 – 1 Lufthgir – 0:22
5 – Under The Same Sky – 4:05
6 – Tonight – 4:01
7 – B-4-I-Go – 4:14
8 – You Are The Light – 3:02
9 – 1000 Candles – 3:00

Credits
Arranged By – The Reach
Backing Vocals – Dave Schuller, Paula Meserole
Bass – Scott Burell
Consultant [Mixing Consultant] – Terry Shelton
Design [Album Design], Art Direction – James Jacobson
Drums, Percussion, Sound Designer [Sounds Effective], Text By [Sleeve Text Layout Assistant] – Vince Grant
Engineer, Mixed By, Edited By, Guitar [Additional] – Charles Meserole
Executive-Producer – Dorn Reppert
Guitar – Ken Mesford
Keyboards – Brooke Lizotte, David Hubbard
Producer, Arranged By, Engineer, Mixed By, Edited By, Backing Vocals, Sound Designer [Sounds Effective] – David Zaffiro
Vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals – Brett Williams

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Image Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Image Records
Recorded At – Extra Sensory Productions
Mastered At – Motown/Hitsville U.S.A. Recording Studios

Haven – Age Of Darkness – 1991

This is the second album from Haven and in my opinion they kept their style but corrected the problems with the first album. First of all they kept their quality vocals and continued to avoid screaming. They also didn’t commercial up the sound with keyboards as so many metal bands are tempted to do on second release. There is piano but it is well done and respectful to the style of music they were doing. I always respect a band that stays true to their style on a second album. I believe that often record companies want to “commercialize” up a second album but not here. R.E.X. Music let the guys do what they do well. You will notice that several tracks are quite long and usually a record label tries to talk bands out of doing that but not here. It really looks like they let the guys just do their thing. The one area that things were greatly improved on this album was the engineering and production. So here it is, an honest straight forward metal album that you will enjoy.

Tracklist
1 – Tenacious Volition – 1:14
2 – Divination – 4:46
3 – When You Said Goodbye – 5:30
4 – Holly – 5:15
5 – Exaltation – 1:06
6 – The Witching Hour – 7:00
7 – Seance – 5:17
8 – Spend My Life With You – 5:21
9 – Unchanging Love – 4:57
10 – Blood Of The Lamb – 4:42
11 – Once Upon A Time – 3:10

Credits
Acoustic Guitar – Ed Bruner, John Farrell, Kevin Ayers
Artwork – Jeff Spencer
Bass Guitar – Ed Bruner
Engineer – Johns Thomson, Tom Tatman
Executive-Producer – Doug Mann
Guitar – Andrew Bruner, John Farrell, Kevin Ayers
Mixed By – Tom Tatman
Piano – Ed Bruner
Producer – Kevin Ayers, Kurt Bachman
Vocals – Kevin Ayers

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – R.E.X. Music Inc.
Copyright (c) – R.E.X. Music Inc.
Glass Mastered At – DADC – DIDX-011615

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