Reviews

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Rare Tracks & Demos RARE TRACKS & DEMOS (2017)

Review by P.R. - Melodic Rock News // The AOR all star project commanded by Frederic Slama is back with a new CD titled "Rare Tracks & Demos" to be released by Perris Records next November 17th. As the album title states, these are songs never released plus pre-production demos of tracks already known but featuring different vocalists, mix, etc. Curiously, most the pre-production demo versions are better than the ones that finally surfaced on the different AOR official releases. Among the vocalists featured here we find Sarah & Mélissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets), Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn's Dream) or Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), while many demos are sung by the quite talented Michael Kisur which seems was used to record the basic tracks that later were replaced by the star guest singers. As said, many of the demo takes of the songs that already appeared on the AOR albums are better than the final versions, because there's a lively feel and punch somehow lost in the final production / mix. Songs like 'How Will She Find Her Way Back?' or 'Secrets In Her Heart' (the known versions sung by David Chamberlin) and 'Tears In The Rain' (the known version sung by Rick Riso) are more integral here, raw if you want. It's also very cool to listen to 'The Crystal Heart' (appeared in the album L.A. Connection sung by Bob Harris) in this demo version using the female vocals of Sarah Fontaine from Chasing Violets. Among the best 'rare tracks' never released there's the strong 'The Last White Wolf', and the very Toto-ish 'Dinosaur Moves'. A highlight for me is the awesome 'Carry On' featuring Mikael Erlandsson on lead vocals. This melodic rocker is one of the best songs ever penned by Frederic Slama and I wonder why never was included into any previous AOR album. Among the top class musicians performing on these tracks you have Tommy Denander (Guitars, Keyboards), the exquisite Michael Thompson (Guitars), session master Michael Landau (Guitars), the great Tom Keane (Keyboards), Abraham Laboriel (Bass), John Robinson (Drums), and more. So expect the usual quality in the instrumental section. To sum up, "Rare Tracks & Demos" is one of the best AOR releases, simply because it offers something different: a rawer sound. Yeah, calling an AOR track 'raw' is a figurative sense, because here all is about melody and classy harmonies. What I mean is that "Rare Tracks & Demos" are less polished, less 'over-produced' if you want, and most the songs 'breathe' with a more pulsating nerve. Highly Recommended

Review by Valeria Campagnale. - My Global Mind // The all-star project AOR is back! Directed by Frederic Slama and released through Perris Records, their new release is entitled: “Rare Tracks & Demos”. The album contains 16 songs never before released and pre-production demos. Featuring on this album are many great vocalists ranging from names such as Mikael Erlandsson, Kelly Keaggy, Mélissa and Sarah Fontaine and Michael Kisur, just to name a few. And many brilliant musicians such as; Tommy Denander (Guitars and Keyboards), Michael Thompson (Guitars), Michael Landau (Guitars), Tom Keane (Keyboards), Abraham Laboriel (Bass), John Robinson (Drums) have contributed to this excellent album. I’m always skeptical when presented with this sort of album, particularly when past AOR albums didn’t excite me at all. This time, however, I have been amazed by the simplicity and the pureness of this album’s sound. “Listen To Your Heart” is a very good song which has been done really well. It is the sort of start one expects from the artists of such magnitude. The same could be said for the track following; “Mary Anne”. It has a similar sound as to the opening track, which makes for another brilliant track. “Lost In The Wrong Direction”, is a bit more up-tempo but similar sound signatures are apparent. The album is made from the echoes of the ’80’s and pieces such as; “How Will She Find Her Way Back?”, shows us the true value the musicians featured on the album. I can truly say that this is a very special song. There are so many other good tracks on this album from “The Crystal Heart” to “Secrets In Her Heart” and the beautiful tracks: “Tears In The Rain” and “The Last White Wolf”. It would be fair to say that the songs contained on this album, from the first one to the last track is very well done. And the closing track, “Dark Whirlpool” is a fitting ending to what is an excellent album. And more could not be asked for. “Rare Tracks & Demos” is the best AOR album for now. It is full of melodies and cleverness, which has been made with fine style and class. When I started with this review, I mentioned that AOR’s previous work did not make me too excited. With this album, not only am I excited, but I greatly appreciate the talent of all the musicians contributing to this album. Compared to their previous work, this album lacks the glossy touches, it is rough but it is authentic. Which is the way the rock music should be. Frederic Slama has turned out a very good piece of work.

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The Heart Of L.A - copie THE HEART OF L.A (2017)

Review by James - Melodic Rock News // Frederic Slama’s AOR all star project is back with a new album titled "The Heart Of L.A", a compilation of selected tracks from the past freshly remastered plus 2 previously unreleased songs. As you may know, Slama and his partner Tommy Denander conducted the AOR project sinde the early 2000’s, releasing some superb albums including the top vocalists from the genre."The Heart Of L.A" includes performances by Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie, Talisman, W.E.T.), Steve Overland (FM, The Ladder), Paul Sabu (Only Child, Kidd Glove, John Waite), Bill Champlin (Chicago), Fergie Frederiksen (Toto), and Paul Shortino (ex Quiet Riot), just to name few. The good thing from "The Heart Of L.A", apart of the great song selection, is it's overall sound. Many of these tracks, when originally released, suffered from disparate production. Now in this 2017 release the remastering has done miracles, resulting in a more homogeneous sound and a cleaner output. You can hear the difference. Additionally we have 2 previously unreleased tracks, 'Don't Turn Back' and ’When The Darkness Falls' performed by The FMS Project, featuring Slama alongside an all star musician cast. Easily, HIGHLY Recommended.

Review by Patrik Donders - Higher Aor Power // Steve, Jimi and Lou are not on it but that’s about it. Chalfant, Sabu, Overland, Damon, Champlin, Frederiksen, Bardowell … are all there. The Heart of L.A. is a celebration of the voice. You might have heard those songs before but they did never sound so good, remastered and all.This is a fest. A treat. A gem ! Enjoy !

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Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay Magazine UK // Even Alexander the Great, that conquering emperor who took Greece, Turkey, controlled f the East Mediterranean coast, must, before his untimely death at 33, have sat back and surveyed what he had done, taken the time to survey his success. After all, that is what this emperor, the Emperor Of AOR Frederic Slama, appears to have done. After 25 years of sometimes peerless Adult/American Orientated Rock, he deserves to look back a bit and this anthology is just the way to do it. What to include though? Its not as if we're talking about hits you can't leave out here, but Mr S has made sure that many albums are covered. What stands out? Everything. But perhaps the soft pump of recent 'Smartest Girl in LA' with JSSoto making it look so easy, Fergie F in 'Deep Whirlpool' delighting among the Toto verse, the Emperor's soaring solo in 'Heart In Pawn', Kevin Chalfant stepping from one soft cloud to another on tender 'One Foot In Heaven' and the clear simplicity of 'Closer To Zero'. There are 16 tracks here, can't mention them all (but 'From LA To Paris', 'Don't Turn Back', 'Dangerous To Know', 'Silent Victory' are all great) and if this is just too similar, too AOR, there are always the guest vocalists, from Jesse Damon to Chris Ousey and Steve Overland by way of Jesse Damon, Paul Shortino and others. Similar, but if you're into this style, with subtle differences which can delight. What a legacy. Frederic Slama is a one man AOR industry. Time to become a shareholder. 9/10


L.A Darkness1 L.A DARKNESS (2016) 

Review by Alexandra Mrozowska - Hard Rock Haven // Los Angeles-related album titles and cover artwork distinctively Californian in theme are hallmarks for the AOR series now – associated of French musician Frédéric Slama and his star-studded project immediately, now that the 15th album released in this formula hits the shelves. What set the dynamics for its predecessors and provided the framework for the project to operate was always a number of renowned guest singers sharing the microphone – each of those performances being a treat for an AOR/Melodic Rock fan. With the aforesaid number fifteenth, entitled L.A Darkness, there is no difference in any of those aspects. Also somewhat traditionally for Frédéric Slama and his project, names of the singers involved tended to electrify fans of the genre on both sides of the pond. This time around, the microphone was in charge of Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteem, Talisman, W.E.T), Kevin Chalfant (The Storm, 707, Two Fires, Journey, Shooting Star, The V.U), Steve Overland (FM, The Ladder), Jesse Damon (Silent Rage, Kiss), Henry Small (Prism), Paul Sabu (Only Child, Kidd Glove, John Waite), Philip Bardowell (Unruly Child, Places Of Power, N.O.W) and Rick Riso (Chasing Violets). To describe this particular bunch as interesting for an AOR fan would have been an understatement. The uptempo track number one, “The Smartest Girl In L.A”, has Jeff Scott Soto revisiting his Talisman and Eyes days with style; those who value his early and mid-‘90s output above everything else will be particularly pleased. With “The Locked Soul”, things gravitate towards mellower AOR sound musically, the charge behind the microphone taken by FM’s Steve Overland. “One Foot In Heaven” with Kevin Chalfant (The Storm, Two Fires, Journey etc.) continues in more or less the same manner as its predecessor. The album retains its feisty, edgy vibe with “Blueprint For Love”, Jesse Damon’s shining moment which could have been mistaken for a long-forgotten outtake from Silent Rage’s Shattered Hearts or Don’t Touch Me There era. Philip Bardowell’s vocal expressiveness finds its outlet in the performance of emotionally laden mid-tempo “Desire Turning Into Dust”, followed by Steve Overland’s return in guitar-driven track number six, “Heart In Pawn”. “Seven Storms”, with Prism singer Henry Small on board, has a slightly late ‘70s/early ‘80s feel to it whereas the uptempo, keyboard-laden “Why Girls Say No”, sung by Rick Riso, could have served for a definition of Pomp Rock should a need to arise to coin one. “Dangerous Fascination” takes a listener back to the glory days of Only Child and Kidd Glove with the vocal performance of Paul Sabu – a Melodic Rock gem in its own right. As for the album’s grand finale, instrumental tracks are overall not a novelty in AOR’s camp albeit a rarity of sorts, especially in the case of their recent albums. This fact, however, is quite a pity if to consider the quality of “Burning Rainbows” which has L.A Darkness closed on a high note. Accordingly to its title, L.A Darkness is hailed to explore “the darker” side of AOR/Melodic Rock. Whether this particular presupposition is reflected in the sound and style of the album or not, it is up to the listener to decide. Facts are that the CD encompasses what’s always been the highlights of the project – a strong line-up and catchy, well-crafted material much embedded in the ‘80s AOR aesthetics. With the fifteenth album under his belt, Frédéric Slama is not going to disappoint his staunch fans for certain, although chances are he earns some new ones as well. 

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay Magazine UK // ...And he sat proudly on his midnight black stallion, surveying the carnage below. Those young lads Vega had made a good showing, taking parts of the battlefield and colonising large swathes of the marketplace. Pressed close by upstarts White Widdow, confusingly fluffy but with a heart of steel, they has seen success too, whilst those mature fighters Journey were smart, making the odd flurry into the action, leaving enclaves of support and then withdrawing, to ponder their next excellent move. The Emperor Slama saw it all. He was not worried. He was not surprised. For he was the AOR emperor. Didn't his band carry that name after all? He smiled at Sergeant Sabu and Captain Chalfant. 'Gentlemen, release the secret weapon' he whispered. 'Release 'L.A Darkness'... Fanciful yes, but Frederic Slama has always been called the Emperor of AOR...by me, anyway. His band is called after the very music he loves, so many luminaries want to work with him and he beavers away, dropping excellent albums with little public fanfare. This is his 15th album and, like so many of his, it's a little cracker. His last album, 'Return to LA', was a little harder, this time he's produced an album of purring, soaring, succulent melodies in his seemingly effortless way. More West Coast than anything, AOR consistently please and often amaze. Just check out the tight Melodic Rock 'Blueprint For Love' with Jesse Damon singing and enjoy the short, screaming solo, the visit to the 80's on 'Heart In Pawn' with Steve Overland, calm, clean, pristine. Opener ''The Smartest Girl In L.A.' (Jeff Scott Soto) can rely on its refrains to delight, 'The Locked Soul' (Overland again) pumps some air in as the chorus glides by. All classic AOR wonders, all examples of the man's music, all for you to enjoy. He doesn't want medals. He doesn't want plaudits. He wants you to enjoy his music. That doesn't have to be an order.

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Review by Vassilis Hassirtzoglou - Heavy Paradise // Frédéric Slama’ s AOR all star project is back with a new killer record with the title "L.A. Darkness". With the help of top producers such as Tommy Denander & Paul Sabu, Slama is offering once again a really solid album that will please each and every single fan of this particular scène. The new AOR album features some legendary singers like Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteem, Talisman, W.E.T), Kevin Chalfant (The Storm, 707, Two Fires, Journey, Shooting Star, The V.U), Steve Overland (FM), Jesse Damon (Silent Rage) and Philip Bardowell (Unruly Child, Places Of Power, N.O.W) to name a few.The only difference regarding AOR's previous albums is that "L.A. Darkness" has a more 'edgy' approach. Of course, you'll find the well-known big melodies, strong arrangements, catchy hooks and choruses and the west-coast/AOR vibe of the previous recordings, but as I mentioned above all these with an edgier approach. From the fantastic opener tune of "The Smartest Girl In L.A.", Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, we have a clear winner!! This is a huge melodic rock anthem and Soto is the perfect man for this really impressive track. Next, "The Locked Soul" is a superb slice of edgy AOR stuff and Overland's performances are top notch! In "One Foot In Heaven" (K. Chalfant) we have a track that should have been included in any of The Storm's records back then while in "Blueprint For Love" the band put more muscle and when you have also Jesse Damon on vocals then nothing can't go wrong. From classic AOR paths with "Heart In Pawn" to the key-driven "Why Girls Say No" this album is so enjoyable from start to finish and there is no filler sight. For sure, this is a high-class melodic rock stuff that features a bunch of some killer tunes in it, an impressive list of musicians, a solid production and a strong 80's feeling all over the album.

Review by Jason Richie - Get Ready To Rock // Frédéric Slama is back with the latest installment of the AOR series, number fifteen to be precise. Joining him are an impressive list of singers including Jeff Scott Soto and Steve Overland, plus Tommy Denander helps out on the instrumental side of things. You normally know what to expect on an AOR album, usually lots of laid back AOR with a distinct West Coast/Toto feel. However on this album this is much more rock orientated, albeit melodic rock nothing metal fear not! The songs are like the press release states ‘edgier’, more like the rockier side of Foreigner, Toto et al. Some impressive vocal performances like Jesse Damon (Silent Rage) on ‘Blueprint For Love’ and Kevin Chalfant ‘One Foot In Heaven’, which sounds uncannily like one of his previous bands the Storm. Philip Bardowell pops up on the AOR-tastic ‘Desire Turning Into Dust’, surely time for another Places of Power or solo album from him? FM’s Steve Overland never disappoints and has two songs on here, the melodic bliss of ‘The Locked Soul’ and the bizarrely titled ‘Heart In Pawn’ – nice mix of keys and guitar on this one. ‘Seven Storms’ sees a guest appearance from Prism’s Henry Small, who has a crystal clear vocal and the song has a 70′s feel.Those missing the more load back side of AOR will enjoy the instrumental ‘Burning Rainbows’ which recalls Toto circa their ‘Fahrenheit’ album. The US version adds two bonus songs including one featuring the king of backing vocals on melodic rock albums (check your album credits on ones from Whitesnake, Magnum, Richard Marx among others ), Tommy Funderburk. One of the best AOR releases to date and certainly the most rocking, in a melodic sense of the word of course. ****


Return To L.A  RETURN TO L.A (2015) 

Review by Martin Stark - Rock It // French composer Frédéric Slama, playing guitar as well keyboards continuously gathers an illustrious bunch of singers foremost to make his vision of classic AOR/Melodic Rock reality. Paul Sabu (Only Chjld), Tommy Funderburk (Airplay), Jesse Damon (Silent Rage) oder Erika, only to mention some, are given fitting songs covering the whole genre from hard-edge rockers and sticky-sweet keyboards to emotional ballads. The genius of Tommy Denander on guitar is all over the place. Being the mother of all projects and a remarkable collection of talent and individual acoustic color, AOR totally manages to deliver timeless classic Melodic Rock - once again. It's a true gem and a serious candidate for the Melodic throne in 2015. 

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Review by George Lane - Be Rock // "Victim Of My Own Desire" starts and the room is filled with great keys, melodic guitars and rhythmic drums and bass! The hoarse vocals of Paul Sabu bond with the track perfectly ! The result is, 30 seconds after it starts and your head will already be moving along with the rhythm and melody. Excellent start for the album! The track trully showed Paul Sabu's best side! Right after it comes "The Trail To Your Heart", which is an even more melodic and rhythmic track. An excellent quality composition, which stands as a testament for how a melodic rock track should be made! Frédéric once again shows us the quality of his compositions from the very first 2 tracks of the album, and if he continues like this then we're talking about his best work so far. So let's see what awaits us next. I press Play and the next track, "Dangerous To Know", begins! Beautiful keys and melodic guitars fill the room once again. Add to the fact the amazing crystal-clear vocals and you have completed this track's musical puzzle! "Angels Never Sleep" is up next, and from the moment it starts you'll turn to your speakers, the first thought you'll have is: "Another melodic rock diamond? Fourth in a row?", but it indeed is true. Frédéric has done an amazing job and I really am listening to the best he has released so far! Afterwards comes "Burning Rainbows" in calmer rhythms, where we have Erika Nordberg in vocals. Simply, close your eyes and enjoy it."The Sign Of Fire", "The Breaking Point" and "Percent Chance Of Loving You" follow the same quality footsteps as the previous tracks! "Love Remains The Same" and "The Wisdom Of Eve" close this wonderful album melodically! If you like melodic hard rock music, then on March 23rd 2015, the album's release date, you should grab this melodic rock diamond! Drop whatever you're doing and buy it! With such quality music that it provides, you'll be the winner of the situation! I trully believe that this is the best that has been released by Frédéric Slama, and that's not all: the performances of the singers are excellent, as are the choices on who will sing each track. Add the excellent production of Album in the equation and you'll understand what we're talking about! Simply, a top album! As for the score, anything less than 10/10 would do injustice to this album, and I won't allow that! I can very easily and truthfully say that it's a 10/10 !

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Review by Patrik Skoglund - Power Of Metal // "Return To L.A.", it's the 14'th release in Frederic Slamas AOR's disc catalog. And, as always Frederic has done a disc together with mega strong band members in the Melodic Rock genre. Apart from Slama and the marvelous guitarist Tommy Denander, Jesse Damon (Silent Rage), Tommy Funderburk (King Of Hearts, Airplay), Erika (Yngwie Malmsteen) and Sarah & Melissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets). Sabu, Slama and Denander also were involved in the production process. If you spins the albums from Survivor, Foreigner, Giant, Journey & Toto at your home, is 'AOR' something you absolutely will love to listen to. Little stiffer melodic rock with mature rock riffs and as always on AOR's albums in an 100% clinical production. 'Victim Of My Own Desire' opens the album and smooth, shining guitars from Denander together with Sabu's strong vocals flows out of my speakers. Sparkling guitars and very tasty melodies in harmonies. Tommy Funderburk sings on 'The Trail To Your Heart' and he gives an even more clean sound on this track than Sabu can deliver on 'his' songs. Denanders guitar skills is hitting me 3 minutes in this song. Absolutely stunning. 'Dangerous To Know' is a slower track and I hear a new voice. Rick Riso is the vocalist on this tune. A very nice acquaintanceship. Jesse Damon from Silent Rage contributes on 'Angels Never Sleep' and this is one of my favourite songs on the album with foot-tapping rythms and heavier guitars. My longdistance teen love Erika Norberg sings on 'Burning Rainbows' which is a lovely ballad and she still sings with a sexy voice.... It's nice to hear her sing again. A classic AOR tune is the delicate The Breaking Point' with Jesse Damon on vocals with splendid guitar work and fat backing vocals. A new acquaintance for me is Bob Harris who handles the mic on '99 Percent Chance Of Loving You'. A mature rock song with clean and melodic keys. Tommy deliver a brilliant solo on this track. The big ballad on this album is 'Love Remains The Same' with the two Fontaine sisters on vocals and this song is actually one of the best tracks on Return to L.A. A little melodic gem. The disc ends with the same voice as it began. Paul Sabu sings with his unmistakable voice and it ends with a boom.The overall impression of Frederic's and Tommys piece of art is an album for the fans of melodic and adult rock with diverse singers and a magic guitarist in worldclass. I'll surely keep it on my Ipod for a long long time. 

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Review by Alexandra Mrozowska - Hard Rock Haven // In the current decade, there hardly has been a year without an album released by Frédéric Slama’s AOR. In 2012, fans of the star-studded project under this moniker were treated with two recorded albums seeing the light of day. However, 2015 proves to be just as successful with its follow-up to 2014’s L.A. Connection, which is due out in March. Entitled Return To L.A., it’s the 14th release in AOR’s overall catalog (spanning from 2000’s L.A. Concession). And, as always, it utilizes, both, the all-star band formula and the Melodic Rock genre to the utmost. Apart from Slama and Tommy Denander, the Melodic Rock notabilities engaged in the process of making the album were the likes of Jesse Damon (Silent Rage), Tommy Funderburk (King Of Hearts, Airplay), Erika (Yngwie Malmsteen) or Sarah & Mélissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets). Also, the artists who already have contributed to the project in the past make the eponymous return on the new album, from Paul Sabu (Only Child, Kidd Glove) to Rick Riso and Bob Harris (Axe, Steve Vai). Sabu, Slama and Denander also were involved in the production process.Similarly to his past endeavors and with this album, Slama spares no effort to turn back the hands of time, bringing whatever was the best in mid-‘80s Melodic Hard Rock. And, as usual, he does so with a little help from his friends – one of many on board being Sabu, who re-appears three times throughout the entire album, starting with the first track, “Victim Of My Own Desire.” The song is a classy AOR piece, much in vein of early ‘90s material released by the likes of Mark/Marcie Free or James Christian on their respective solo albums – with Sabu’s raspy, breathy voice giving a feistier edge to it. It’s the very same voice that drives the sixth track “Sign Of Fire,” embroidered with huge ‘80s-tinted keyboards, which also closes the album on a very high note with the melodic mid-tempo track, “The Wisdom Of Eve.” The next to be called to the blackboard is a singer whose participation on the album was causing quite a stir in Melodic Rock circles. The discography of the American hard rockers Silent Rage might not have been particularly rich, but its late-‘80s albums Shattered Hearts and, especially, Don’t Touch Me There are considered cult classics among its fan-base. It’s no wonder many looked forward to Damon’s participation on AOR’s Return To L.A. On this release, the voice of Silent Rage is featured in two of the 10 song. His vocal performance in “Angels Never Sleep” and “The Breaking Point” might not have been as feisty as his juvenescent Hard Rock anthems, such as “Rebel With A Cause” or “Don’t Touch Me There,” but nevertheless is a quality one. And, with the fantastic vocal harmonies of the former of the two as well as the guitar-laden melody of the latter, both tracks can be distinguished as the highlights of the entire album anyway. However, apart from very convincing performances from Sabu and Damon, there’s more to AOR’s new album. “Trail To Your Heart” is a slice of keyboard-driven Pomp Rock, featuring Tommy Funderburk on vocals, embroidered with particularly infectious chorus against the charming background melody. Rick Riso is easy to recognize in “Dangerous To Know,” a dynamic, Foreigner-esque mid-tempo song. Graced with dreamy, delicate vocals of the Swedish singer Erika Norberg, the fifth song “Burning Rainbows” gravitates toward more ballad-esque territory, as does “Love Remains The Same,” with vocals shared between the French sister duo Sarah and Mélissa Fontaine. However, while the former may seem a bit too popish for a Rock listener’s taste, the latter stands out because of the tremendous vocal harmonies between the two singers. And last to mention, but certainly not the least among the guest singers, is Bob Harris, who offers his characteristic, soaring vocals to be heard in keyboard-laden “99 Percent Chance Of Loving You.” Would it have been a truism to say that with Return To L.A., Slama returns in fine form? Perhaps, yes, but let’s stick to this clichéd wordplay anyway and admit there’s hardly a possibility for a Melodic Rock fan to be disappointed by AOR’s 14th album. Having avoided the dreaded repetitiveness by bringing some new faces to the table, the list of guest singers is impressive, and, as usual, Slama bravely continues his journey through the sounds of tinkling keyboards, ‘80s-infused guitar shredding and catchy choruses. Let’s only hope that there are many stops along the way as he travels, each of them as good as this. 9/10

 

la_connection_copie-2 L.A CONNECTION (2014) 

Review by Katarzyna Zakolska - Metal Temple // A.O.R. was formed in 2000 by guitarist / keyboardist Frédéric Slama. In 2000, the first album "L.A. Concession" was released and during the following years A.O.R. released eleven albums featuring some of the greatest talents. In 2013 Frédéric Slama’s  A.O.R. project is back with a great album called "The Secrets of L.A.", and new disk "L.A Connection” saw the light of day in 2014. Many great guest-musicians put into this CD a very high quality experience.
My favourite track on the album is “The Pride Of Strangers” with Paul Sabu on vocals, with energetic guitars, keys, and such a melodic chorus! Opening the CD is “On The Edge Of Glory”, with Bill Champlin on the vocals is more than fantastic! Here is gentle piano, nice melodic riffs & great 80’s AOR. I love also the way the bass & drums work together. Theguitar solo is just fabulous; catchy refrain and keys create this song in a really rockin climate. Melodic riffs, dancing rhythmical section and AOR keys back the balsamic voice of David Forbes in “Closer To Zero”. It makes this song so memorable and caused me to want to listen more & more. Just listen to the brilliant sounds of keys cooperating with impressive stronger riffs in “Age Of Desire”, with singing of Rick Riso, who has tempting vocals. Here is also a great choir & melodic chorus in SCORPIONS style. Sounds similar to FOREIGNER or TOTO can be heard in “Lost Souls Don't Cry” with singer Philip Bardowell, excellent AOR keys, amazing solos and catchy refrain with choir.
Also interesting are: "Exiled In Sadness” where keys, AOR section, wonderful voice of Sherwood Ball, and mega catchy choir refrain couldn't dig out of my mind, ballad “The Crystal Heart” singing in wonderful way by Bob Harris and amazing atmosphere of guitars in JOURNEY or KANSAS style, “Circle Of Danger” with strong female vocals by Tamara Champlin and melodic riffs, or “Once Off Guard” with vocalist Jeff Paris, working pretty well with bass and so melodic with YES or ASIA echoes.
Frédéric Slama has record another great album on a worldwide level with lots melody. Every song is a potential hit! "L.A Connection” is for Melodic Rock and AOR with spirit of the 80’s years. These catchy melodies still dig inside my mind after I listened to the whole album. Another time, another hit, and a fantastic line-up! Surely a necessary listen for every Hard Rock and AOR fan! Sincerely recommended! 10/10 masterpiece !

Review by Graig Hartranft - Danger Dog // Sticking to his 'LA' theme, classic AOR melodic rock music, and his formula of creating it with the best musicians of the genre, Frederic Slama returns with L.A. Connection, the thirteenth in the AOR series. You can check out the vocal line up at the right and be impressed. Tommy Denander also returns to the studio to play and help wiggle the knobs.My first observation about the album is that I'm surprised how heavy it is, in comparison to some of Slama's previous AOR albums. By heavier and not suggesting something near melodic metal, but more towards melodic hard rock. The riffs seem bigger, the leads more stinging and furious, and the bottom end deeper, heavier. It's not a bad thing by any means, just different. On the Edge of Glory, Closer to Zero, and Once Off Guard are jammin' rock number with some dangerously crisp guitar solos, likely from Tommy Denander I suspect.When I think of past AOR albums, AOR music in general, I often recall that Westcoast sound which has a lighter, breezy, style with moments of fireworks. Largely, with this album it's the reverse. If there is a 'lighter' side it comes with the two closing songs Circle of Danger and Crystal Heart. Yet, for the former, even with female vocals, there's still a steady and heady rock groove propelling the song. The latter song definitely moves by Bob Harris' (Axe, Warren Zevon, Frank Zappa, et al) immensely passionate, almost bluesy vocals, which in turn are carried along by a smooth groove and light guitar. It's probably one of my favorite songs. With little doubt, L.A. Connection is another strong and entertaining album from Frederic Slama and friends. Quite recommended.


                                                aor-3


Review by Patrik J. Skoglund - Power Of Metal // Frédéric Slama is the brain behind this amazing hard rock project called AOR. 'L.A Connection' is the 13th album and Frederic has a fantastic line up this time (again). Together with his friend Tommy Denander (who he also shared the production work with), has done a darn good AOR album. I've been listening to this album for quite some time now and can't find a single filler track. Extremely high quality in every track and the vocal capacity is tremendous. Fans of Foreigner, Giant, ASIA, Journey & Toto has something to check out. Timeless hard rock with stunning melodies and musical craftsmanship in world class. Stunning vocals, melodic guitar balm for my ears and excellent riff and hooks from Denander. Bill Champlin opens the album with 'On the Edge of Glory', but my personal favourite song is 'Pride of Strangers' with Paul Sabu on vocals. Very catchy and hefty track with very melodic chorus. The charming voice of David Forbes is blessing the nice song 'Closer to Zero' with some sharp guitar loops from Tommy. Slama's keyboards are like a red fat wire through the songs. It gives the songs a base together with the bass and the drums.'Age of Desire', with vocals by Rick Riso is another top notch track on the album. 'Lost Souls Don't Cry' with singer Philip Bardowell contains some timeless AOR keys and magical guitars. 'Exiled in Sadness' with the wonderful voice of Sherwood Ball, 'The Crystal Heart' with Bob Harris and “Circle of Danger” with strong female vocals by Tamara Champlin are all shining gems polished with masterful quality thinking. 'Once Off Guard' with vocalist Jeff Paris is flirting with the Asia and Yes sound. Overall it is an album which will be on my Ipod for a long long time! Congrats to another top class AOR album!!


Secrets Of L.A THE SECRETS OF L.A (2013) 

Review by Alexandra Mrozowska - Hard Rock Haven // Frédéric Think catchy melodies, fine songwriting, polished production, big hooks, massive keyboard sound and power-chord-heavy guitar riffs. Call it AOR, AOR/Westcoast, Melodic Rock or lite metal — whatever the name is, within this particular (and often underestimated) genre you can find some of the biggest voices as well as the most brilliant songwriters and producers in rock music. As for the latter, one of the most creative and versatile is Frédéric Slama, whose incredible star-studded project — named simply AOR — continues its journey through the world of guitar and keyboard driven pomp rock sounds one album after another. Another important step in this journey for Frédéric, this time collaborating again with a renowned guitarist/producer Tommy Denander, was his last year’s release The Secrets of LA. Endorsed by much important names of the genre — Jeff Scott Soto, Bob Harris, Robin Beck or the late Fergie Fredriksen, among others — The Secrets Of LA is the twelfth AOR album, dubbed the best to date by its creators. It starts with “Deep Whirlpool.” Now, there’s even more to this well-crafted arena rocker than it was just a few months ago, with the late, great Fergie Frederiksen (ex-Toto, ex-LeRoux, solo) handling lead vocals. Apart from being a great track music-wise, it’s a real monument to Frederiksen’s high pitched, crystal clear voice. It’s followed up by “Stage Struck”; in this song, enriched with some groovy lead guitar work and a fiery solo, it’s Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Axel Rudi Pell, currently of W.E.T.) that takes over the microphone. Yet another singer who doesn’t need neither recognition nor recommendation, does he? In “Secrets In The Shadows,” it’s the massive but melodic keyboard sound which takes the lead — the vocals delivered by the Swede Jim Jidhed (Alien, solo). The next two are “Back To San Francisco” and “Out Of The Past”, another tracks much in the same vein; these dynamic guitar/keyboard duels are enriched by voices of Bill Champlin (ex-Chicago) and Bob Harris (Axe), respectively. A groovy track “The Name Of The Game” is a showcase to Robin Beck’s powerful but sensual vocal performance — one of the best female voices of the genre still stands strong! “Web Of Lies”, featuring Göran Edman, is a perfect balance between dynamism and melody, and its follow-up “Hollow Triumph” bears resemblance to the sound of the early ‘90s melodic rock acts (such as the German Casanova – with Mikael Erlandsson, of Last Autumn’s Dream and Lover Under Cover, sounding a lot like Michael Voss).“The Main Attraction,” on the other hand, gravitates towards more contemporary AOR/pomp rock style, bands such as Brother Firetribe or Work Of Art. These characteristic vocals couldn’t have possibly been delivered by anyone else but Bob Harris, right? It’s Axe frontman behind the microphone again, his performance being of quite obvious quality. And as for the grand finale, a melancholic ballad “Voices In The Wind” is illustrated with the emotionally laden, sonorous voice of Tamara Champlin, an American singer/songwriter (and Bill’s wife). It’s another AOR/melodic rock gem among many on the star-studded, absolutely brilliant album.With The Secrets Of LA, what Frédéric Slama and Tommy Denander actually unveil is the best kept secrets to perfection in music. They prove there are amazing talents and years of much valuable experience behind the greatest names in the genre, many of them contributing to this album in particular or having contributed to Slama’s AOR project before. Being the twelfth release under the “AOR” moniker, The Secrets Of LA is a stepping stone between classic AOR sound many of the guest singers and musicians are associated with and the modern-day production and approach to the genre. And for the listeners, it remains a real trademark of quality in this kind of music; there are no fillers to this album, each and every track being worth attention. Highly recommended.

Review by Gary Clarke - Metal Talk // Frédéric Slama is the beating heart and thoughtful brain behind this concept. Utilising the AOR tag he has already released 11 albums since the year 2000, which incorporate the L.A. name in the titles and showcase the melodic and lighter styles of the vast Universe of Rock music.The novel spin that this guitarist and keyboardist uses for his albums is to include as much as possible, various names and talents from the world of Melodic Rock. Whether they are members of Toto, Yngiwe Malmsteen, Lionville, Chicago or anyone else for that matter, Slama finds a home for them within his songs.When you reach album number 12, you'd be expecting some tired ideas or perhaps something akin to a repeat of previous efforts, but the sound is tougher than on his back catalogue. Still residing in the realms of the melodic, Slama handles the production duties of his vision and thankfully found that presenting a little more prominence to the guitar has brought about something punchier and striking.There are naturally keyboards in the mix, and some tasty vocal performances which are not lost, and all work well together providing a set of complementary ingredients. On reflection it may well be the masterstroke of assembling such a cast of talents that give this multi-talented musician and producer his creative edge, pushing him to produce material worthy of their time and incorporating their contributions accordingly? For those who love their Rock in this style there is much to enjoy. Check out Robin Beck delivering a solid performance on 'The Name Of The Game' which arrives after her very impressive album 'Underneath' unleashed earlier this year. 'Deep Whirlpool' which cranks up the urgency right at the beginning of 'The Secrets Of L.A.' features another Melodic Rock heavyweight in the shape of Fergie Frederiksen on vocals and is another stand out moment along with second track 'Stage Struck'. This latter track showcases the highly regarded Jeff Scott Soto tackling singing duties. Other vocal contributions on the ten songs included on this album include Jim Jidhed (Alien), Bill Champlin (Chicago), Bob Harris (Axe), Goran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen), Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn's Dream) and Tamara Champlin. They all do a sterling job and as collaborations go, all involved should feel suitably proud of the results. Not to be outshined, Tommy Denander (Radioactive, Paul Stanley & Alice Cooper) offers up his skills with the music, credited with playing all instruments.Due to the nature of this sub-genre of the Rock scene, a good production brings out the best from the essence of this sound and the same applies to 'The Secrets Of L.A.' as the slick delivery of 'Secrets In The Shadows' and closing number 'Voices In the Wind' wash over with a silky touch. Slama was known in the earlier releases of his canon of work as more of a West Coast sounding songwriter which changed over time to accommodate more of an all round Melodic Rock feel in later years. With 'The Secrets Of L.A.', he's found a driven and edgier overall sound which makes this album carry a contemporary and satisfying palette.

                                               F Guitar Studio

Review by Katarzyna Zakolska - Metal Temple // A.O.R. was formed in 2000 by guitarist / keyboardist Frédéric Slama. In 2000, the first album "L.A. Concession" was released and during the following years A.O.R. released eleven albums featuring some of the greatest talents of Hard Rock / AOR. Coming on 29th November 2013 Frédéric Slama’s A.O.R. project is back with a greater album called "The Secrets of L.A.", featuring once again another impressive list of well-known artists that put in this CD a very high quality experience and performance.“Deep Whirlpool”, opening the album, has a fantastic sound, energetic rhythm section with great halo of keyboards. Fergie Frederiksen's voice on display is so gentle and heavenly bottomless therefore the catchy chorus turned out so memorable. “Back To San Francisco” with the amazing Bill Champlin on vocals is also a fabulous AOR haze with quality riffs and keyboards, an 80's comeback. “The Main Attraction” featuring additional AOR oriented ether, the impressive melodic presentation and the vocals of Bob Harris attributed this song in a totally different design than CHASING VIOLETS. On “Web Of Lies” there is a true power within Göran Edman's showcase along with an astonishing songwriting following massive aspects of the guitaring and melodic sensitivity. There is also that fine tightness in the vein of DEEP PURPLE. “Secrets In The Shadows” has that fine vibe of VAN HALEN and STILSKIN while exploring the mixture between heavier riffs and atmospheric gentleness. The vocals of Jim Jidhed resembled the Bluesy Hard Rock vibe of WHITESNAKE. “Hollow Triumph” shares the grandeur of FOREIGNER with the quality performance of Mikael Erlandsson (LOVER UNDER COVER) that reserve the 80's AOR spirit along with versatility. “Stage Struck” is a heavier number, yet with plenty of melodic and memorable moments, especially with Jeff Scott Soto (W.E.T.) singing at the helm. I would also recommend on “Out Of The Past” featuring Bob Harris, calmer ballad of “Voices In The Wind” with an amazing vocal performance of Tamara Champlin and “The Name Of The Game” with heavier energetic riffs in AOR climate and strong feature by Robin Beck.This brilliant CD is full of songs that will surely have you thrilled. "The Secrets of L.A." might be aimed for those AOR and melodic Rock fans along with 80's fans, yet it would be quite a challenge for modern fans. Frédéric Slama clinched another successful record with an inspiring Rock artistic nature. MASTERPIECE !!!

                                                   F & Tommy AOR studio

Review by Marco Spaeth - Aor Heaven Magazine // AOR’s last albums marked a goodbye from the classic Westcoast sound of the early releases. On the new record “The Secrets Of L.A.” this process hits its peak as mastermind Frederic Slama has created a pure AOR and Melodic Rock album. And with the help of guest musicians like Tommy Denander, Fergie Frederiksen (ex-TOTO), Jeff Scott Soto (ex-TALISMAN), Jim Jidhed (ALIEN), Robin Beck, Tamara Champlin and Bob Harris (AXE) nothing could go wrong. If you enjoy acts like STREET TALK, RADIOACTIVE or LIONVILLE, then guitar- and keyboard-driven songs like “Secrets In The Shadows” (feat. Jim Jidhed), “Back To San Francisco” (feat. Bill Champlin) or “The Name Of The Game” (feat. Robin Beck) are tailor-made for you. The two most outstanding songs on the record are “Web Of Lies” and “Hollow Triumph” on which Göran Edman (STREET TALK) and Mikael Erlandsson (LAST AUTUMN’s DREAM) sing some excellent lead vocals each. To be fair, I have to mention that half of the songs on “The Secrets Of L.A.” were already used for Frederic Slama’s second project CHASING VIOLETS. Thanks to the different lead singers and slightly changed arrangements some of them sound very different compared with the originals. Anyone who enjoys AOR and Melodic Rock in the style of the aforementioned acts should appreciate “The Secrets Of L.A.” as well.

                                                 AOR

Review by Duncan Jamieson - Frontiers Melodic Rock Fanzine // Hard to believe this is now Frédéric Slama's twelve album for his AOR project. Again, he assembles a cast of great AOR singers for ten tracks of classy Melodic Rock. It's rockier than his early Westcoast sounding AOR albums. He produces the disc with Tommy Denander and it's easy to make comparisons with Denander's three Radioactive records where he also used some great singers to front his tunes. Every singer takes a song, except Axe's Bob Harris who gets two. It goes from the rock tracks like Fergie Frederiksen's "Deep Whirlpool" and Jeff Scott Soto's "Stage Struck" to the AOR of Jim Jidhed's "Secrets In The Shadows" and the almost Fleetwood Mac sounding "Voices In The Wind" sung by Chicago's Bill Champlin's wife Tamara. Quality, polished Melodic Rock with no duffers. 90/ 100

Review by Simon R - Rush On Rock // There really is no secret to the success of Frederic Slama’s cult act AOR – a focus on melodic rock’s creative heartbeat and the fusion of the genre’s very best exponents guarantees a creative triumph.Drafting in Fergie Frederiksen, Jeff Scott Soto, Goran Edman and Mikael Erlandsson all but ensures The Secrets Of LA is one long pomp fest – albeit with a slightly harder edge than previous AOR offerings.But inviting Robin Beck to add her iconic vocal tone to The Name Of The Game is the genuine masterstroke here. The outstanding track on an album bursting with AOR gems allows an artist enjoying an Indian summer to express herself in an environment tailor made for an inspirational female lead. RATED: 9/10 LA Star


L.A Temptation L.A TEMPTATION (2012)

Review by Marco Spath - Aor Heaven // Write AOR, the project of multi-talent Frédéric Slama, has turned into a true hit. With regularity he gathers the crème de la crème of the Melodic Rock scene to breathe life into his new songs. For “L.A. Temptation” he could hire James Christian (HOUSE OF LORDS), Göran Edman (ex-STREET TALK), Chris Ousey (HEARTLAND), Philip Bardowell (PLACES OF POWER), Paul Shortino (KING KOBRA) and many others. Compared with AOR’s previous releases “L.A. Temptation” has turned out a bit heavier as the classic Westcoast influences of the early albums have been eclipsed. It goes without saying that there are still some TOTO influences on “L.A. Temptation”, but the similarities with acts like SURVIVOR, JOURNEY or BAD ENGLISH are way more obvious this time. For fairness reasons I have to mention here that seven of the twelve new songs were already used for the recent CHASING VIOLET album “Outside Heaven”. Due to the male vocals the new versions sound rougher and more resolute. The album’s strongest songs are the Göran Edman sung “Above Suspicon” that brings back some wonderful STREET TALK memories, the guitar-refined “From L.A. To Paris” with HEARTLAND’s Chris Ousey on vocals, the surprisingly emotionally sung “Silent Victory” featuring Paul Shortino and the dynamic opener “No Margin For Error”. A really good album.

Review by Barry McMinn - Frontiers Mag // "L.A Temptation" is the latest album from Frédéric Slama and his AOR project and once again ha has an array of stars of the Melodic and Hard Rock world both musically and vocally. The list reads like a who's who and far too many to name, but i can tell you about the music. This album  has a little harder edge to the previous albums, but don't worry, Slama hasn't gone all Trash Metal. He's taken a few more Hard Rock and Melodic Rock elements and mixed them with the traditional Westcoast AOR sound that we've become familiar with from the AOR albums and produced a gorgeous mix that will warm the hearts of fans of all three genres. Some prime examples have to be the riff laden "A Heartbeat Away" (feat. James Christian), the moody "Silent Victory" (feat. Paul Shortino), the rocking "Out On The Streets" (feat. Paul Sabu), and "The Price To Pay " (feat. Hank Erix & Göran Edman). Just a few of the twelve melodic monsters on what is another tremendous album from Slama.

                                               l.a

Review by Rob Watkins - Uber Rock UK // Frederic Slama started his musical career in France before decamping to L.A. where he lived for more than a decade. After releasing a couple of solo albums during the eighties, Frederic started a band, and this marked the birth of AOR (the band) and a succession of L.A. themed album releases featuring famed guest musicians from groups such as Toto, Chicago, FM and other musical luminaries from the world of AOR (the genre) followed, and this collection I’m very please to say is no different - featuring as it does numerous celebrated guest vocalists throughout the album’s dozen tracks.‘No Margin For Error’ opens the eleventh AOR opus and it features the singing talents of Philip Bardowell (Unruly Child) on this slice of tune-age that immediately hits the higher echelons of the American Orientated Rock movement offering you the listener everything expected from this type of release. Famed Swedish singer Goran Edman adds his fine vocal wares to ‘Above Suspicion’ and ‘Second Chance At Love’ with both tracks well structured numbers with plenty of hooks and melodic moments. Edman also shares dual vocal duties on ‘The Price To Pay’ alongside Hank Erix (Houston) a track that soars like a long lost Iron Eagle theme song. ‘From L.A To Paris’ featuring Chris Ousey (Heartland and Virginia Wolf) is one of the album’s real standouts with yet more talented vocal tones setting this album alight with some soulful British style and charisma. ‘A Heartbeat Away’ meanwhile rocks out with James Christian (House Of Lords) adding a wonderous vocal to another chorus that is full of pride for the songwriter. ‘Silent Victory’ brings Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot) into the musical spotlight on this 80`s tinged gem, then Rick Riso takes over on vocals for ‘No One’s Gonna Hurt Me Anymore` a well crafted arrangement and catchy choral hooks throughout. The acclaimed Paul Sabu picks up the microphone for ‘Out On The Streets’ and again on `Outside Heaven`, and at this point AOR (genre and band) aficionados make note of this collection, as you won’t be disappointed one jolt.As the album enters it’s final third ‘Hold Back The Dawn’ features Jerry Hludzik out front, and a special mention should be given to the musicianship of AOR (the band) especially Paul Sabu for his instrumentation on the album alongside the well respected Tommy Denander who performs guitar, bass and of course the man himself Frederic Slama on guitar and keyboards amidst the beautiful studio production also courtesy of Slama.The record closes with Joey Summer taking the lead on 'When Darkness Falls'. A.O.R. Heaven from AOR.

Review by Dave Reynolds - Aor Magazine // AOR just got heavier… The latest album in a surprisingly lengthy catalogue from the French exponent of U.S Westcoast melodic rock, Frédéric Slama, "L.A Temptation" finds our man eschewing the more laid back, technical sounds of his past work and going in a much harder-hitting direction akin to Survivor, Only Child and House Of Lords. (James Christian is one of many guest lead vocalists featured here. Chris Ousey, Paul Shortino and Paul Sabu also contribute.) The opener "No Margin For Error" set Slama's stall out from the off and there really are some sterling performances to be had here. "From L.A To Paris" with Ousey on vocals is exquisite – and the majority, if not all, of the tracks, should find favour with this magazine's readership. This is inarguably Slama's finest album under the AOR banner yet.

                                                         fs24

colors of LA THE COLORS OF L.A (2012)

Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // Write a bunch of catchy AOR/westcoast songs, invite some excellent vocalists plus an impressive lot of guest musicians, produce the whole thing yourself and make sure there’s a reference to the city of Los Angeles (always spelt as L.A) … That’s the method our French friend Frédéric Slama has used for all of his AOR albums. So, what makes this one different from its predecessors? Not much, except for the fact that the album contains some songs that were already present on earlier AOR albums, but now in a fully re-recorded version. What passes is review are ten vocal and two instrumental tracks and as always there’s a wealth of quality on offer. Among the vocalists this time around are Joe Pasquale, Jerry Hludzik (2 tracks), Steve Newman, Joey Summer, Philip Bardowell (3 tracks) and Rick Riso (2 tracks). As always it provides the necessary variation and that’s what makes every AOR album such a captivating listening session. I just don’t know why Mr Slama found it necessary to re-record some older tracks. Were they not good enough the first time around then? Anyway, what I do like is that the album ends with two real good instrumentals. The cutest tracks are opener “Jenny At Midnight” (ft. Joe Pasquale), “Under Your Spell” (ft. Joey Summer), “Halo Of Light” (ft. Rick Riso), “Dreams From Silver Lake” (ft. Jerry Hludzik) and “You’re My Obsession” (ft. Philip Bardowell). Conclusion: For me “The Colors Of L.A” is by far the best new album that was released in the first month of 2012. 5½/6.

Review by Dave Ling - Classic Rock // Compiled with the usual selection of special guests, here's another West Coast banquet from the impeccably well-connected guitarist and songwriter Frédéric Slama. Players include Steve lukather, David Foster and Tommy Denander, with vocals cameos from former Unruly Child mouthpiece Philip Bardowell and Newman's Steve Newman. no doubt about it, Slama is a master of his craft. 8/10

                                                 slamaor

Review by Ian Johnson - Fireworks Magazine // Frédéric Slama returns with a brand new AOR album, and once again it features a lengthy list of the great and the good who play west coast music. And if i were lazy i could just write a long list of who is on it, and leave it at that. This list would include Tommy (of course i'm here) Denander, Steve Lukather, Mike Landau, Philip Bardowell, jerry Hludzik, Bill Champlin and usually that would be enough. However, that would of course be a massive disservice to Mr. Slama and his cohorts, who have more than played their part on this new release and have together recorded yet another fine disc of highly melodic west coast AOR and therefore deserve a proper review. I would therefore like to tell you about some of the wonderful songs on "The Colors Of L.A". Opening cut "Jenny At Midnight" is a smooth light AOR track filled with killer keyboard runs and sublime vocals courtesy of Joe Pasquale, "Benedict Canyon" sung by Dakota's Jerry Hludzik is another fine slice of laid back west coast perfection, that features a quite superb guitar solo, "Kimberly" follows and it is the least AOR (band) track on the album, sung by our very own Steve Newman, the song is the heaviest cut on the cd and come across as more of a Newman song, rather than an AOR one. "Brittany" is a song written in tribute to the late actress Brittany Murphy, sung by Philip Bardowell, the lyrics are heartfelt though the track is a little up-tempo for a tribute. Now for a song that just blew me away, "Halo Of Light" and it rocks, the guitars are again wonderful and the keyboard fills smooth but where the track really gets its power from is in the vocals of Rick Riso, a man blessed with a voice not unlike that of the god that is Glenn Hughes, and it is he who really brings the best out of this cut. Riso reappears on "Teach Me How To Love You Again" a jazzy easy going track that once shows just how good a singer he is. The song has also a wonderful saxophone solo from Brandon Fields, which is full of soul and emotion. The last vocal track i'd like to tell you about is "Dreams From Silver Lake", sung by Hludzik, the song reminding me of his own band Dakota circa their "Runaway" album. Catchy and hook filled the song is a fantastic way to round things off. Finally there are two instrumentals bonus cuts, "Grace" and "Never Gonna Let Her Go" which are the epitome of west coast rock, cleverly arranged, and full of awesome musicianship. Mr. Slama and his associates have made another superb album of west coast music and lovers of this genre should beg, steal or borrow to get a copy - or better still of course, buy one !

                                                   Slama & Denander

Review by Denys - My Global Mind // You know certain projects just work in their respective genres, and the AOR laden project of French man Frédéric Slama falls into this category. Slama having lived in LA for 10 years himself associated himself with some big time names when it came to session guitarists and amazing talent which later down the line have contributed greatly into his AOR projects. For some of the genre the AOR release “LA Reflection” was the cream of the crop when it was released in 2002 landing on many journalists top lists of West Coast records. It has seemed to be a who’s who name list for each consequent release for Slama and AOR as he has managed to keep on collaborating with some immense talent in the genre and consistent players/producers the likes of Tommy Denander for instance. Forward back to 2012 and here we go once more with the 10th official studio album featuring more talent such as (Philip Bardowell, Jerry Hludzik (Dakota), Joe Pasquale, Steve Newman, Joey Summer, Bill Champlin (Chicago), Christian Tolle, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, David Foster, Randy Goodrum, Michael Thompson, Rick Riso, David Diggs and many more.) Not only is the talent involved great, but the music has always been intricately showcasing a mix of West Coast and Melodic Rock staples throughout the years proving to be a nice balance of melodic bliss.The trademark West Coast sound is clearly visible with it’s production which is superb once more and being handled by Denander. Pure AOR staples like “Benedict Canyon” are great examples of the style that Slama portraits best, nice job of vocals by Jerry Hludzik. The next track “Kimberly” features the great Steve Newman on vocals and he brings a slightly harder edge to this song, as it leans more towards the Melodic Rock side of things, consequently this tune features a nice harder groove and is a great tune. The solidity of the quality of the songs keep rolling forward with nice numbers like “Just One Kiss on Your Heart” featuring Philip Bardowell on vocals alongside some exhilarating guitar hooks that invigorate the track.This is an AOR/Melodic Rock purists dream as the talent here provides a stable backbone for each song, Slama does well as usual assembling the core of the talented guest musicians throughout the album, and he does a solid job on guitars and keyboards. This has always been a music project for pure lovers of the AOR genre and for the quality of the songwriting and the guest always involved, it deserves some well refined feedback. The Colors of L.A. delivers yet again with a crisp clean production to add to add on top of it’s top tier music.  

                                                   wall (with C) copie

Review by Andy Nathan - Get Ready To Rock // Its a real statement of intent, and possibly a foolhardy one, when you call your band after your chosen genre of music. However French guitarist and songwriter Frederic Slama has called on his contacts from ten years in California to make a series of well received albums, of which I must admit this is the first to cross my radar.His networking skills match his musical talent with an array of the cream of West Coast session players with Steve Lukather, David Foster, Michael Landau, Michael Thompson and Bill Champlin among the guests. But his main musical collaborator is  Tommy Denander, who has the Midas touch when it comes to great sounding melodic rock, and who successfully ploughed a similar furrow with his Radioactive projects. The ten tracks- plus two instrumentals- feature no less than six lead singers including Brighton’s own Steve Newman whose Kimberly loses little by comparison with his stateside colleagues.The instrumentation is lush, with guitar and keyboards and piano clearly coming out of the mix, and super smooth, precise vocals throughout. The openers Jenny at Midnight and Benedict Canyon (surely the only song to reference reading both Keats and Emerson!) are some of the best songs of their type this side of prime time 1980’s Toto or Chicago. The fare eventually gets a bit samey, with many of the singers interchangeable, but Philip Bardowell  can lift even the most humdrum material and his Lou Gramm-esque delivery on Just One Kiss on Your Heart and You’re My Obsession are other highlights.With music this quality, Slama’s future is as bright as the garish rainbow colours on the sleeve of this album.

Review by Dave Ling - Aor Magazine // Frenchman's West Coast fantasia is fine indeed ! Frédéric Slama has aroused a certain degree of suspicion over the distinguished collaborators who features on the albums he's released as AOR. But how much of their time would high-calibre musos like Steve Lukather, David Foster, Michael Landau, Bill Champlin, Randy Goodrum or Vinnie Colaiuta spare to no-hope charlatan? As a connoisseur of West Coast music, Slama - who produces, performs and writes - knows what he wants to hear, and should famous friends share that visoin, they muck in and make them come true. With vocals by Newman's Steve Newman and former Unruly Child/ Beach Boys mouthpiece Philip Bardowell, this album's shimmering melodic qualities are best characterised by the classy "Benedict Canyon". 8/10

 

la_ambition-3 L.A AMBITION "THE BEST OF AOR" (2010) Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // To celebrate AOR’s tenth anniversary, Escape Music and project leader Frédéric Slama decided to release this limited edition digipak compilation, containing a total of 28 tracks which are spread over two CDs: a hard one (but don’t take that too literally) and a soft one. It isn’t the first AOR compilation that is thrown on the market. In 2004 we already got the independently released « Nothing But The Best », which brought together twelve memorable songs of the first four AOR albums as well as an additional three unreleased tracks, that opened the sampler in great style. Since then, Frédéric has released another three AOR albums: « L.A Attraction » (MTM Music, 2006), a re-issue of 2000’s « L.A Concession » (MTM Music, 2006) and « Journey To L.A » (Escape Music, 2009). For this double compilation, songs have been taken from every past release and five previously unreleased bonus tracks (demos and new mixes, all of good quality) have been thrown in for good measure (the songs are marked with *). Expertly remastered by Martin Kronlund, this is an absolute must for all those out there who have yet to get acquainted with the westcoast/AOR material of this always sympathetic Frenchman. Featuring a total of 42 top musicians (see the list), nothing could actually go wrong. In other words: this is the ultimate AOR compilation. 5½/6.

                                                      Rick

Review by Dave Ling – Classic Rock // Kicking off with a track sung by FM's Steve Overland, this two-disc, 28 songs retrospective of the French band AOR is divided into The Hard Side and The Soft Side. Although the latter disc gets a little too syrupy, the collection's special guest-strewn contents are heartily recommended to fans of Toto, Survivor and Chicago. 8/10

Review by David Cockett - Destiny // Bit of an all star studio project put together by French born guitarist / songwriter Frédéric Slama, the first AOR album ‘L.A Concession’ was released about a decade ago now. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the project, Slama and his current label Escape Music together have put together this limited edition, two CD digipack celebrating some of the highlights created over the ensuing years. One of the best pure Westcoast / AOR bands you’re ever likely to hear, over the years AOR has played host to some of the greatest luminaries the industry has ever produced. From a ‘who’s who’ list the likes of Steve Lukather, Bruce Gaitsch, Tommy Denander and Vinnie Colaiuta is impressive enough, but its always been the vocalists that have really set AOR apart from the rest to these ears – hell, how can you go wrong with class acts such as Steve Overland, Fergie Frederiksen, Bill Champlin, Goran Edman and Philip Bardowell (amongst others)! Split into a selection of heavier numbers (The Hard Disc) – although even heavy for AOR is still pretty mellow in absolute terms – and mellower moments (The Soft Disc), ‘L.A Ambition’ is a great introduction to the band, particularly as some of the earlier releases are now quite hard to find. All tracks have been remastered, and as an added incentive for established fans, there are an additional five previously unreleased demo’s from the 90’s. The whole thing kicks off with Steve Overland and the emotive magnificence of ‘You’re My Obsession’, and if you’re in the mood for something mellower to chill out to (much needed after the stress of watching England perform in South Africa … or not as the case may be!), it’s a great way to pass a couple of relaxing hours.

                                                       backcover

journeytolamini JOURNEY TO L.A (2009)

Review by Gez - Loud 1 // Frédéric Slama is an amazing guy who has produced some of the finest AOR albums ever made. In a fair world he would be a household name and perhaps if he'd chosen a different musical genre he would be, but thankfully he chose to play AOR music and for those of us who have discovered his musical magic he has given us many years of listening pleasure. Journey To LA his latest offering is simply a brilliant AOR album and truth be told if you are an AOR fan you SHOULD grab this album as it no only has some amazingly well penned tunes but it also reads like an A-Z of the best in the genre. If you like JOURNEY, TOTO, STRANGEWAYS, LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM, HEARTLAND, FM, HOPE or CLIF MAGNESS then you'll absolutely love this album. Its Brilliant. An essential purchase.

Review by Dave Ling – Classic Rock // AOR unites the cream of American and European melodic rock talent, including Toto alumni Steve Lukather and Fergie Frederiksen, FM’s Steve Overland, Bill Champlin of Chicago, Swedish guitar hotshot Tommy Denander and Beach Boys singer/guitarist Philip Bardowell. The outcome is a shimmering and immaculate slice of pure West Coast radio-rock. 8/10

Review by Dick Dijk - Fury Rocks // There are three things in life that get’s me excited: 1: my wife, 2: motorcycles, 3: music – uuhhh, o.k. four, between you and me I can tell you that Pamela Anderson also excites me, hahahaha-, but since I received AOR’s Journey To LA I’m walking around know with a hard one for several days and did have some spontaneous orgasm, because for the A.O.R/Melodic rock fans is this the ultimate record. Responsible for this mega album is the Frenchman (!) Frédéric Slama, his sixth album with the text LA in it. He succeeded to get some off the biggest names in the rock music to work with him and the list goes on and on. Tommy Denander – also producer - , vocalist Philip Bardowell from Places Of Power, Steve Overland – FM Shadowland- , Fergie Frederiksen – Toto- , Bill Champlin – Chicago- and Steve Lukather plays some guitar on it. From the list there’s one name that draw my personal attention and that’s guitarist, keyboardist Bruno Levesque from the highly underrated band Silence. It’s good to hear from him. But don’t let we forget that Frédéric Slama is the main man off this project, he’s a brilliant songwriter and with his amazing Journey To LA I’m for sure it’s going to end up in my year list. If he can keep up this level in the future I wish he’s going to be over a hundred years or more, because then I won’t be needing any Viagra when I’m older, hahaha. 9,8/10.

Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // There are not that many French artists that I admire, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Monsieur Frédéric Slama, a.k.a. AOR. He’s specialized in AOR/westcoast and if it comes to recording a new album, he can always count on an impressive ‘cast’ of guest musicians, who are all well-known in session and westcoast circles. Produced by the man himself with the help of workaholic Tommy Denander, this “Journey To L.A” is another jewel in this Frenchman’s crown. I don’t know if he has to pay all these guest musicians, but if he does, he might probably be broke by now. Have a look at the list and I’m sure you will be impressed by the quality of what you see. And what’s more: Slama’s songs are fingerlickin’ good. He already came up with impressive stuff in the past, but this time around he has really pushed himself to an incredible level. Count to that the excellent performances of ace vocalists such as Philip Bardowell (Places Of Power), Steve Overland (FM, Shadowland, Overland), Fergie Frederiksen (Toto), Bill Champlin (Chicago) and songwriter Dane Donohue and you’ll agree with me that Frédéric left nothing to chance. I don’t have to pick highlights this time around, because this album is as good as perfect from start to finish. So, for all out there who love a catchy mix of AOR and westcoast, you know what to do … This one will certainly land in my top-10 of the year !!! 6/6

                                                                                AOR

Review by Tommy Hash - Ytsejam // "Come into the warm summer sun" are what the sounds on Journey to L.A command, as the 'westcoast' album of 2009 has been unleashed. The project of French producer/musician/songwriter Frédéric Slama, this latest installment of his AOR supergroup project again pertains to the powerhouse sound that is a reflection of the Los Angeles vibe - big sound, big production, loads of guitars, and classy melodies. Along with co-producer Tommy Denander at the helm, vocalists include Philip Bardowell (Places of Power, Unruly Child), Steve Overland (FM, Shadowman), Fergie Frederiksen (Toto), Bill Champlin (Chicago), and well known west coast singer Dane Donohue; add the multitude of axemen, Steve Lukather, David Williams and Eric Barkdull and amongst a mass of musicians (all types of pop here, from hard rock to R&B, which adds diversity) - you know that the record was again set out to be all killer and no filler. While the pop sensilbility is in full-force throughout Journey to L.A. the hard rock element is cranked up on tunes such as the Overland fronted "Waiting in the Darkness," the soulfully metallic "Never Surrender," and the anthemic "Don't Turn Back," yet the melodramatic knack for AOR/melodic rock splendor is executed with cuts "Heartless," "Desperate Dreams," and the instrumental "Your My Obsession" while eased back moments include "Love Remains the Same," "The View of You," and the ballad "Lost in Your Eyes," where the latter could have easily have been a lost Toto track. Even with the different vocalists and musicians, the music does stay in focus with the consistency of catchiness and melodic gusto, rounding itself out as being both a songwriter's and a producer's record. Highly recommended for fans of Toto, Deacon Street Project, Ramos/Hugo, Vertigo, & Ambition. 4,5/5.

Review by David Cockett - Destiny // Something of a Westcoast / AOR all stars project built around the songwriting talents of Parisian born guitarist / keyboard player (and one time journalist) Frédéric Slama, the name AOR has over the course of time, become synonymous with quality. Debuting as long ago as 2000 with ‘LA Concession’ (originally a limited print run CD-R which eventually got reissued through the now defunct MTM imprint a couple of years back), Slama has continued to call in favours from some of the music industry’s most elite brethren, skilfully teasing superb performances from one and all as he strives for the most consummate West Coast / AOR release of all time. Follow up to 2006’s excellent ‘L.A. Attraction’ opus, ‘Journey To LA’ is the sixth studio release to bear the AOR name, and once again the quality and consistency is nothing short of astounding. Bolstered by a support cast of musicians which includes the likes of Tommy Denander and Steve Lukather, Slama weaves his normal magic spell throughout, piquant guitar stabs and all pervasive keyboards creating a never ending series of infuriatingly catch hooks. As for the vocals, most this time come courtesy of Philip Bardowell, although Steve Overland, Fergie Frederiksen, Bill Champlin and Dane Donohue all chip in with one track each. Overland’s opener ‘Waiting In The Darkness’ is the show stealer for me (no surprises there I’m sure!), but ‘Just For Love’, ‘Desperate Dream’s’ and ‘Don’t Turn Back’ (to name but three) all have that elusive feel good factor guaranteed to lift your spirits on even the dullest of days. On the whole, the vibe is a little more upbeat than most AOR works that have gone before; less ballad heavy and more guitar driven which works just fine in my book! I’m tempted to say it’s the best AOR release to date, and whilst I know that’s a bit of a cliché, to these ears the quality just speaks for itself.

Review by Claudia Ehrhardt - Ice Vajal // The Paris-born guitarist and keyboarder Frédéric Slama lives in L.A. for more than a decade and he loves AOR and Westcoast music, so after doing some solo albums he started in 2000 the project AOR. The first album was LA Concession. Now it's time for the 7th release - Journey To LA. Again he teamed up with Tommy Denander and Philip Bardowell. The trio invited some renown musicians to join them and so the list of guests reads like the who-is-who of AOR and Westcoast music! To name just a few... Steve Overland, Fergie Frederiksen, Bill Champlin, Steve Lukather and David Williams - to name just a few! Songs like Don't Turn Back will soon haunt you! But also the emotional balladesque tune Love Remains The Same is catchy and brings back early 80's atmosphere. Close your eyes and let the song carry you away! Actually every one of these dozen tracks should convince you, so I won't recommend one or the other song to check out. One of my favorites is Desperate Dreams... Great guitar play and emotional vocals. Enchanting. Never Surrender is just shy of 8 minutes! A melodic heavy rocker which will win you over with its emotionality - and the guitar passage which dominates the 2nd half and the guitar kinda replaces the vocals. Heartless is another great one and West Into The Sun reminds me a bit of Chris Rea... And with Lost In Your Eyes they add a light jazz touch - very cool! The closer is You're My Obsession, an instrumental.Thanks to Frédéric Slama for keeping the AOR & Westcoast music alive! And for gathering such an amount of talent on one disc! 9/10

                                                           master 1

concession2006  L.A CONCESSION with Bonus Tracks (2006 Reissue)

Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // Since Frenchman Frédéric Slama started his one man band AOR at the beginning of the new millennium, no less than five studio albums and one compilation have been released and all of them provided us with excellent westcoast music performed by the cream of (mostly) American and European westcoast (session) musicians. “L.A Concession” was the title of his first album and at the time (2000) it was only released as a strictly limited private pressing on CD-R only. No wonder silly high prices were offered at eBay! Following the success of “L.A Attraction”, which was released in January of this year, MTM Music decided to release AOR’s debut album officially, fully remastered for the occasion and now including no less than four previously unreleased bonus tracks (marked with *) plus a brand-new colour booklet containing all the lyrics. All this and the mighty impressive list of contributors must convince you to buy this, especially if you’re a fan of the genre. 

 Review by Chris - Metal Observer // Originally released somewhat sparingly on CDR ‘way back in 2000, AOR’s debut album has become a much sought after Melodic Rock release. Common sense has therefore prevailed and “L.A. Concession” is getting an official re-release beefed up with four bonus tracks to boot.If you are a fan of “Westcoast” US Melodic Rock then AOR will already be a familiar name. Being the brain child of French guitarist Frédéric Slama each AOR release features not only the sublime guitar talents of Slama but those of Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, David Chamberlin and Gregg Bissonette. So if you like TOTO, FOREIGNER, a bit of STYX, JOURNEY and REO SPEEDWAGON then you will be absolutely delighted with the offerings Slama et al put before you.Even as a devotee of all things Heavy Metal I’d like to think I can spot talent and a good song wherever and with AOR there’s quality a plenty. “Never Gonna Let Her Go” and “Caught Inside Your Heart” are slick classy pieces of melody infused Rock perfectly capturing that Westcoast sound. As with the previous two AOR albums “L.A. Reflection” and “Dreaming Of L.A", Slama has produced another match winner. It might be a purely niche market that he plays for but quality is quality. A definite Melodic Rock highlight to end the year.

                                                                Slama2

 Review by Eddy – Lords of Metal // Ever been to Los Angeles ? If you ever were or planning to do so in the future, you will never forget that experience anymore. It's one of the most exciting and beautiful places on earth. French rock journalist Frédéric Slama thought so too so he decided to leave his homeland France to move to the city of angels. Slama is not only a journalist, he also plays guitar and keyboards and has great skills to write beautiful melodic rock songs and produce them himself. L.A. is the main influence for him to write songs about. Just look at the titles of some of the albums he recorded under the flag of his project called AOR: 'Dreaming Of L.A', 'L.A Attraction' and now his new release 'L.A Concession'. Well actually, this is not a new album; it's a kind of a re-release from a demo from 2000. MTM Music picked it up, added four bonus-tracks to it and made an official release of it. Being to Los Angeles twice, I really get the vibe through his songs, when you close your eyes you can imagine yourself being there on the west coast of America. Once again he has filled a disk full with beautiful melodic (soft) rock songs. Of course he does not do all by himself, through his journalistic job he got access to some of the finest musicians on this earth. What to think about Lenny Castro, Vinnie Colaiuta, Michael Thompson, Gregg Bissonette and my pal Steve Lukather from Toto. With them this record just can't go wrong. They all bring out the best of themselves to help Mister Frédéric Slama fill up his new album with some fine A.O.R. music. So melodic friends, stop looking on Ebay for copies of Slama's 2000 cdr version, MTM Music will save you a lot of money with having this album in their catalogue now.

Review by Ian Johnson – Aor Dreamzones // Some of you may know this is the debut album from Frédéric Slama and was first released as a cd-r way back in 2000 and subsequently it has been fetching some silly prices on E-Bay, so thankfully MTM have done the right thing and re-released it with four bonus track’s to boot. Any of you who have followed Frédéric Slama’s career will know that what is on offer with this cd is sublime west-coast music played by an assortment of the world’s best exponents of the genre, Tommy Denander / Steve Lukather / Michael Landau / Jeff Porcaro etc, etc. And as such you also know just how good Mr. Slama is at crafting a top notch album full of cool aor that puts you in mind of those endless summer day’s and long hot night’s of a few month’s ago. That this is his debut album say’s a lot about the man because as the year’s have gone by Frédéric Slama has really stuck to his gun’s never really veering from his vision of recording the best /perfect west coast album and although he may have put together bigger and in some cases better line up’s this still stand’s the test of time as one hell of an album. Picking track’s from an album as good as this is hard but I’d like to steer you towards the hard edged ( for AOR anyway ) Leave Her To Heaven, the beautiful On Dangerous Ground or my album fave Only In My Dreams. The song’s production and musicianship are as good as you would expect from the AOR name and any of you who have heard of this release but have not been able to get a copy can now buy it with ease ( thank you MTM ), a classy slice of aor and one that I can highly recommend. ( If you already own the cd-r, this is still worth buying just for the four excellent bonus track’s that you get on the reissue ).                                           

                                                                  panorama

 attraction  L.A ATTRACTION (2006)

Review by Eddy Freiberger - Lords Of Metal // AOR is a project by Frédéric Slama, a French rock journalist, who decided to move to Los Angeles ten years ago. In his line of work he got the chance to make contact with some of the finest musicians around, of course many of them from the L.A. area. Well, this Slama-man did not only write about music and musicians, he is also a very talented musician with an endless supply of great compositions in store. Since the year of 2000 he has been able to release an album every single year and 'L.A Attraction' is the 2006 album from this mastermind. This time he got names like Steve Lukather, Philip Bardowell, Rick Riso, J. Lynn Johnston, Dane Donohue, David Diggs and Michael Landau committed to his project. These guests are all over this record but the base of AOR is Frédéric on guitars and keys, Tommy Denander on rhythm & lead-guitars, keys and bass and Joey Heredia (from Steve Lukathers solo-band El Grupo) on drums. The songs are a fine collection of all the best you might expect from bands like Toto, Survivor, Radioactive and Foreigner all put in a personal jacket by Mister Slama. Like the title says this music is dedicated to the city where Frédéric lives L.A. Over the years he already did many songs about this exciting city, you can almost taste the atmosphere of the city of Angels through his music. This new album can be highly recommended to the fans of the Adult Oriented Rock genre. It is the kind of music you will enjoy, sitting back relaxed in you living room, with candles, a glass of wine and no worries on your mind. It's difficult to point out the best songs when there is so much beauty on a record but the absolute best tunes are 'One More Chance', 'Like An Open Book', 'L.A. Winds' and the instrumental song 'Lost In Your Eyes'. If you close your eyes, Frédéric will lead you on his trip to all of L.A's Attractions. Score: 92/100

Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // No matter what some of our visitor’s might claim, I’m sure that the majority of so-called westcoast aficionados admire the oeuvre of Frenchman Frédéric Slama, better known under the pseudonym of AOR. His latest album was the indie released compilation “Nothing But The Best” and apart from 12 tracks chosen from his first four albums, it also contained three brand-new, impressive tracks, of which one was sung by Fergie Frederiksen and two by Dane Donohue. I ended my review of that compilation with the following words: “If the next studio album promises to be as good as the opening tracks on this compilation, we’re surely in for a treat…”. Well, we’re a little less than two years further now and here is that long-awaited next studio album, called “L.A Attraction”. It’s Slama’s fifth album and the follow-up of “Dreaming Of L.A”, released by AOR Heaven on September 28, 2003 and considered as his most complete/impressive album to that date. To cut a long story short, the new album (now released by MTM Music) is more of the same, albeit it slightly more rock-orientated. Wonderfully produced and arranged by Frédéric Slama, Tommy Denander (can you imagine a Toto-ish album without him?) and David Diggs, it’s another highlight featuring some of the finest musicians in the world of westcoast (see the list) and filled with mainly relaxed songs, that make me dream of L.A, which I visited last August. Slama doesn’t surprise me anymore, he just confirms his great talents! Ratings: 5/6

                                                         kimball

Review by George Thatcher - Glory Daze // Previously I never found the time to investigate Frédéric Slama's AOR. I should slap myself with a wet bus ticket, as the man has had a heap of albums, and with a name such as AOR.. well, who I am to argue the merits of a tremendous band name! So, you know what? I took time out to investigate some of the back catalogue as part of my West Coast/AOR refamiliarisation, and I came away impressed. This is now his sixth album, but this is the first for MTM Music. The line-up is as impressive as that which we've seen with Tommy Denander's Radioactive project, and I quite looked forward to this album as a result. I guess comparison wise, 'L.A Attraction' is not as west-coast oriented as some of those earlier albums. The album taking on an edgy hard rock/AOR tinge instead. Whether that's a good thing or not I'm not sure. I've been on a diet of AOR for a while now, and I was looking forward to something slightly different, but thats not to say I am not unhappy with what I'm hearing. Far from it. What we get is similar to Radioactive and Toto, while the songs and production are top-notch. Slama and co take us on a ride of exquisite mid-tempo numbers such as the power-ballad 'Like An Open Book', the gorgeous instrumental 'Lost In Your Eyes', or the slow seductive jazz/pop of 'Give A Little Love'. Variety is on display without a doubt. For the rockers among you, take solace that tunes such as 'How Could I Ever Forgive Her' and the excellent 'L.A Winds' keep the balance in check. But really, other great tunes like the piano laced 'House Of Love', or the warmth of the earthy sounding 'The Spark Of My Soul' add to what is already a compelling CD. One listen to 'L.A Attraction' will keep you occupied for a while. While you are at it, see if you can track down the other AOR albums. But a word of caution, if you ask for AOR records in particular, don't be surprised to get funny looks from people, otherwise they might suspect that you are trying to acquire all the great AOR records from the past, not just from the band called AOR! And that could have severe repercussions on your bank balance... Rating: 8.25/10

Review by Gabor Fabian - Strutter // The project of FRÉDÉRIC SLAMA called AOR has been a guarantee for quality music for a few years now with several albums. The new CD ‘LA Attraction’ is probably one of the best and most AOR based releases. This album sounds a lot like TOTO and RADIOACTIVE, also partly due to guitarists STEVE LUKATHER and TOMMY DENANDER who make an appearance! Without a doubt, this is one of those highly recommended albums to the fans of classic 80s AOR/Westcoast. The arrangements, the hooks, the vocals, the choruses, in fact the whole sound is basically pure 1982 LA based AOR/Westcoast like the perfect mix between TOTO, DAVID ROBERTS and FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS. The vocalwork is stunning by the several different singers, of which the most notable singer of them all is PHILIP BARDOWELL, the man who released a fantastic solo CD last year. 12 songs are included, starting with the strong catchy uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker “How could I ever forgive her”, which is followed by the pure 80s TOTO Westcoast song “Don’t ever say goodbye”. Then comes the lovely relaxing laid-back midsummer eve’s FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS/ALLIANCE 1982 orientated “One more chance”. Up next is the HEARTLANDish calmer AOR song “Like an open book”. Back to the relaxing FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS style of the early 80s on the lovely AOR/Westcoast semi-ballad “The house of love”, which also has a DAVID ROBERTS type of chorus. “Tears in the rain” has a sort of soulful touch, kinda like GLENN HUGHES fronting TOTO, with then a pure AOR chorus. Somehow the following tracks are less stronger than the beginning of the CD. These are “I won’t give up on you”, “The spark of my soul” and “Last chance at love”, all suffering from average choruses. Happily, “L.A. Winds” with Philip Bardowell on vocals makes it up a bit as being a very strong midtempo AOR song. The final 2 tracks are “Give a little love” and “Lost in your eyes”, both less interesting for the AOR fans. So after a rather very good start (first 6 songs), the second part of the CD is less sensational and could have used some uptempo AOR rockers. Still it is a very well made record. Although TOTO are the masters of classic 80s Westcoastish AOR, I really think the new RADIOACTIVE and even some of the songs of this AOR CD release are better in my opinion than the new TOTO release ‘Falling in between’, but these are just my thoughts. This new AOR CD is a must-have for any AOR fan who also appreciated some Westcoast, but still something that needs to be in the collection of every AOR/Westcoast/TOTO fan, especially the first 5/6 songs of this CD are quite impressive, so better check it out asap ! Points: 8.3 / 10

 billchamp  Frederic&Kenny   

                                                    

bestcover NOTHING BUT THE BEST (2004)

Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // Frédéric Slama is a French songwriter who has lived in L.A for over a decade. That and the fact that he has worked as a music journalist has resulted in a wide circle of friends in the world of AOR and westcoast. After having produced some French and US artists, he thought the time was ripe for the foundation of AOR, which is a sort of one man studio project centered around his talents as songwriter, performer (guitars and keyboards) and producer. Although “L.A Concession” (2000) and “Next Stop: L.A” (2001) were both self-financed, they already made quite some impression on both the press and the fans of the westcoast/AOR genre. Things however gained momentum with the release of “L.A Reflection” (2002) and “Dreaming Of L.A”, both featuring an impressive list of guest musicians. No wonder both albums were picked up by Cool Sound in Japan and the last one by AOR Heaven in Europe. Now AOR or Frédéric Slama is back with “Nothing But The Best”, which is a compilation of the most memorable songs of his 4 albums, plus three new and impressive unreleased tracks, which open this sampler in great style. Opener “Desperate Dreams” is sung by Fergie Frederiksen, the other two new ones are performed by Dane Donohue, while Tommy Denander took care of most instruments. Quite impressive stuff, but the same can be said about the following 12 tracks, that give us a nice overview of what this talented Frenchman is capable of.No less than 40 (forty!) artists assisted on one or more tracks and it’s like a wet dream for every fan of westcoast/AOR. The album is dedicated to the memories of Greg Guidry, Carlos Vega and Jeff Porcaro, who have all left us far too early. If you haven’t got any AOR (Frédéric Slama) albums in your collection, you should consider purchasing this brilliant compilation, which deserves nothing else than full marks. And if the next studio album promises to be as good as the opening tracks on this compilation, we’re surely in for a treat.Ratings:6/6

Review by Chris - Metal Observer // ‘’Nothing But The Best’’ is a collective round up of French-US West Coast based singer/ writer/ producer Frédéric Slama’s band AOR. Those familiar with Slama’s mercurial talents for producing and performing some of the finest west coast AOR will already be aware of this man’s drive for AOR perfection and attention to detail. Dripping with high end quality smooth AOR this is simply stunning. From punchy anthems like ‘’Leave Her To Heaven’’ to casual, laconic workouts such as ‘’On Dangerous Ground’’ ‘’Nothing But The Best’’ is a culmination of Slama’s four previous AOR albums – ‘’LA Concession" (2000), ‘’Next Stop L.A (2001)’’, ‘’L.A Reflection (2002)’’ and the excellent 2003 offering ‘’Dreaming Of L.A’’.Having studied his art in his native France and the uncanny ability to rope in some very fine musicians – Steve Lukather and Steve Overland to name but two – has brought riches beyond compare for Slama. Each song is wonderfully crafted wedges of polished AOR Rock music. The ever increasing band of skilled musicians only lends weight and credence to an exemplary body of music and to be able to release a best of album after only four years supports the respect and popularity of this French man living abroad. Casual listeners to AOR and devotees will only seek thorough enjoyment from this album. Rating:9/10

                                                            stickeraor

Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem - Strutterzine // The AOR project of French guitarist Frédéric Slama started in 2000 and so far 4 CDs have been released. Now there’s a best of release available, which is a collection of the best songs from the 4 albums, with the addition of 3 new unreleased tracks. Musically it’s a mixture of pure 1980s AOR and Westcoast, somewhere between TOTO, SURVIVOR and CHICAGO. The list of guest musicians is unbelievable, because the whole LA Session Musicians scene made an appearance on the AOR albums, including the complete TOTO line-up (Steve Lukather, David Paich, Mike Porcaro, Steve Porcaro and the late Jeff Porcaro), BRUCE GAITSCH, TOMMY DENANDER, GÖRAN EDMAN, MICHAEL LANDAU, RICHARD PAGE, BILL CHAMPLIN, MICHAEL THOMPSON, DAVID ROBERTS, STEVE OVERLAND etc. etc. Without a doubt, a very impressive list of musicians and singers, and although the regular AOR CDs were a mix of AOR and Westcoast material, this best of has the balance of going into a pure AOR direction most of the time, which is a good thing of course. There’s a lot of excellent AOR material on this album, but let’s start with the 3 new songs, which are “Desperate dreams” (Lead vocals by Fergie Frederiksen, high class 80s AOR rocker like SURVIVOR meets a rockin’ TOTO), “In my crystal ball” (nice westcoast AOR, early 80s style, a la GREG GUIDRY) and the lovely AOR ballad “Only in my dreams”. The remaining 12 songs are taken from the 4 AOR CDs, with as highlights such as fantastic AOR songs like “Leave her to heaven”, “You’re my obsession”, “Love has found it’s way”, “Sensation” and “A quiet storm”, although there are also a few Westcoast/Popish songs. However, the main style here is AOR and so the bandname is indeed true, and without a doubt this is a highly recommended AOR CD, especially if you haven’t been able to buy any of the AOR CDs so far. This album is made by professional musicians and is by far a very high quality record, so check it out if you’re into AOR music! Rating:8,5/10

Review by Kimmo Toivonen - Aor Europe // Frédéric Slama has released 4 albums under the name of "AOR", all of them featuring internationally known AOR/Westcoast musicians. This album is a "Best of" compilation with a few new songs, and the line-up on these songs is virtually a "who's who" of AOR/westcoast music...Steve Lukather, David Roberts, Tommy Denander, Bill Champlin. I wasn't expecting much, since the only other "AOR" album I had heard, last years' "Dreaming Of L.A.", had been a way too west-coast-like and soft for my taste. Sure enough, this album isn't a hard rocking one either, but it does feature a bunch of really fine songs, and some of them do "rawk"! The new songs (or at least "previously unreleased") represent the extremes of Slama's style: "Desperate Dreams" is excellent classic melodic rock, while "In My Crystal Ball" is more west-coast styled, jazzy track. The third track "Only In My Dreams" is a balladic, AOR-styled song, somewhere between the two extremes. I would prefer if Slama concentrated on the first mentioned side of his writing, but that's just my opinion (coloured by my eternal jazz-allergy). Out of the older songs, I have to name a few: the two tracks sung by Göran Edman, "Leave Her To Heaven" (the vocals are oddly mixed though) and "Sensation", Steve Overland-sung "You're My Obsession", Chris Demming-sung "A Quiet Storm" ...that's what AOR is all about. As I mentioned, the jazzy westcoast styled doesn't really work for me, so there are admittedly a few songs that I'd rather skip, but thankfully there aren't too many of those numbers.Rating:8/10

Review by Kenneth Bremer - Blue Desert // One of the most active european musicians in the west coast world is without a doubt Frédéric Slama. He has released 4 albums under the name "AOR" and all albums have an impressive lineup of musicians that all has a big part of the west coast music world, and he has brought some of the "great heroes" back again, such as Dane Donohue, David Roberts and has been working with both american- and european producers to get close to the "real" west coast sound.Now Cool Sound in Japan is releasing the album "Nothing But The Best", a best of collection with 12 songs from the 4 previous albums, all remastered by Tommy Denander and also 3 new unreleased songs are added to the album. "Nothing But The Best" features the talent of 40 of the biggest stars in the west coast/AOR music scene, and just to name a few you can hear: Fergie Frederiksen , Steve Overland , Goran Edman, Bill Champlin, David Roberts, Dane Donohue, Michael Ruff, Rick Riso, Tommy Denander, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Bruce Gaitsch, Michael Thompson, James Harrah, David Williams, David Diggs, Brandon Fields, Dave Boruff, Tom Saviano, Hussain Jiffry, Vinnie Colaiuta, Ed Greene, Carlos Vega, Joey Heredia, Richard Page, Steve George on the album.

              tree

dreaming(eur) DREAMING OF L.A (2003)

Review by Chris Lambert - Rock Report // Here, AOR doesn’t refer to our beloved style of rock (adult orientated rock), but to Frenchman Frédéric Slama’s studio project, which started in 2000 with the album “L.A Concession”. Although this and his second album “Next Stop L.A” (2001) were self-financed affairs, the sound and the songs were great and gradually his name became more and more known among the lovers of so-called westcoast music. No wonder the Japanese Cool Sound label picked him up for the release of his 3rd album, called “L.A Reflection” (2002), on which a lot of well-known westcoast musicians guested. “Dreaming Of L.A” (as always referring to L.A., the centre of westcoast) is Slama’s fourth album in four years, but it’s the first he doesn’t have to release in Europe at his own expense, because he now has got a deal with AOR Heaven. Already released in Japan by Cool Sound on August 10, “Dreaming Of L.A” will be released by Georg Siegl’s label at the end of September, including no less than 4 bonus tracks: “Last Days In San Francisco” plus new versions of three older songs (the tracks 10-12). Excellently produced by Tommy Denander and David Diggs, this is an album that may not be missed by all fans of the westcoast genre. As a whole the album sounds very relaxed and it’s great to see so many great musicians involved again. The list is way too long to publish, but let me whet your appetite by mentioning only Steve Lukather (g), Michael Landau (g), Bill Champlin (v), Steve Overland (v), the long lost David Roberts (v), Vinnie Colaiuta (d), Brandon Fields (s) and Göran Edman (bv). Without a doubt Slama’s most complete/impressive album to this date!

Review by Endre Hubnet - Aor Europe // There's a project with such a name out there and it's already the fourth release, yet I only heard the 2001 effort "Next Stop L.A.". Yeah, I know, a crying shame! However since the previous releases were all indies, they are really hard to come by. This time it's AORHeaven backing it up, so let's hope it will reach a wider audience than before. The music and the names behind guarantee consumer satisfaction, so why not? AOR is French songwriter/producer/ex-(?)journalist Frédéric Slama's project spiced up with guest vocalists and musicians. If I mention some of the contributors you'll all have an idea what the music is like: Steve Lukather, Bill Champlin, Steve Overland, Tommy Denander. Yeah, you are right: Toto meets Chicago, soft AOR with stunning musicianship, thick arrangements, balanced mix, and good front- and thick backing vocals. AOR at its best or should I call it HOSR (Housewife Orientated Soft Rock)? Well, you name it! Just don't expect roaring guitars and uptempo crashing. But who'd expect something like that when buying an album like this? Being a big Chicago fan my favorite tracks are the ones featuring Bill Champlin, "Lost in Your Eyes" is a pure gem, a midtempo soulful number that could easily find its way to any 80s or early 90s Chicago release. The same goes for the other Champlin track "Teach Me How to Love You Again" [cool sax work!]. However the majority of the songs are more in the vein of Toto in the 80s. No wonder since this time it was Tommy Denander taking duties of the production; not that the album would sound any different from the above mentioned bands or from the 2001 release… which is a good thing I guess cuz the production is as good as it can only get in this genre. Why an 8 then and not a perfect 10? Well, while Champlin, Steve Overland and David Chamberlin all deliver the stunning vocal performance we are used to from them, some of the lesser-known names fail to impress me. Maybe they just pale in comparison with the big guys but anyway towards the end of the album some weaker tracks (or rather some weaker vocal performances) sneaked in. Yet the album is definitely recommended to fans of the genre and the above mentioned bands, since you get what you are promised here, no experimenting, nothing new under the sun, just plain old good music for everyday use.

Review by Chris - Metal Observer // AOR is the brainchild of Frédéric Slama, a French AOR devotee who has gone that bit further and actually put a one-man band together to produce a number of pure AOR albums that are populated by some of the most famous names in the Melodic Rock genre. So when I tell you nearly all of TOTO including Steve Lukather where guest players on his third album "LA Reflections" and once again Lukather plus Bill Champlin (CHICAGO) and Steve Overland (FM) guest on "Dreaming Of LA" then Slama must carry a certain amount of weight and respect in AOR circles. The music is very like TOTO. Soft gentle ballads wrapped up in sweeping melodies and warm guitar solos that give way to jazzy soft Rock which isn't going to raise the temperature above normal but will be a pure delight for AOR fans. No less than nine singers handle vocals on this! And all are immaculate in delivery with David Chamberlain and Bill Champlin standing out in particular. The musicianship is first class all round, as is the production, which is crisp and light. Slama has conceived AOR to be a studio band so he can indulge freely in his life's passion and when a fan can produce results as good, if not better, than the big guns question have to be asked why he doesn't do it full time. If you can, find time to chill out to AOR'S relaxing sounds.  

Ratings on the web for " Dreaming Of L.A "// 5/5 on rockangels.com // 10/10 on Blue Desert // 9/10 on Rock It Magazine (O6/2003) // 4/5 on Adult Contemporary Music in japan. (ACM) // 85% on Melodic Rock.com // 93% in Aor Heaven october 2003 catalog // 5/6 on Rockreport.be // 90/100 on hmportal.it // 87/100 on crossrocks.com // n° 8 in the Rock it charts (06/2003) // 8/10 on the Swedish Westcoast Music Site // 8,5/10 on melodicjourney.com // 80/100 on aorwebsite.i t// 8/10 on aor-europe.com // 7,5/10 on disintegration.it // 7/10 on rock hard germany // * "A superb album " from Rock Time * "A classic" on gaestliste.de * "Great album " on bright-eyes.de * "Superb mix of Westcoast & Aor " on powermetal.de * "Great cd " on ragazzi-music.de

                                                   slamaor                                     

reflection L.A REFLECTION (2002)

Review by Ed Kruijskamp - Rock Report // Frédéric Slama's new album is his best effort up to this date. All of his releases are done by himself without the help of a major record company. The progression continues, because "L.A Reflection" is a great westcoast/AOR album with help from some of the best AOR musicians from the past & present. What to think of Tommy Denander, Göran Edman, Michael Ruff, Rick Riso, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Bruce Gaitsch, Michael Thompson, Steve Porcaro, David Paich and Mike Baird, who are only some of the big names on the extensive list of musicians. There are 14 tracks on the album, with some remakes of earlier released tracks, all top-notch produced and performed with the highest class. It's just great to hear a real back to basis AOR album mixed with some sensational westcoast songs. A great X-Mas present! Love it! Rating:5/6

Review by Andrew Mcneice - Melodic Rock // L.A Reflection is album number 3 for Frédéric Slama under his AOR moniker. And without a single doubt this is his finest release. I haven't been convinced by the other two, with production lacking a little, but am very much impressed by this album. Flooded with special guests from the world of Westcoast and AOR (Lukather, Baird, Gaitsch, Thompson, Paich, Denander, Porcaro) this album is a smooth as anything else out there and better produced than most. This album is better written and performed and far better produced than the first two albums and comes highly recommended to any fans of smooth Westcoast, AOR and the likes of the guests involved. Rating: 90/100

Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem - Strutterzine // The AOR Project by the French guitarist/keyboardplayer Frédéric Slama has a new CD out. It's titled 'L.A. Reflection' and is the 3rd CD of AOR. Again Frederic has a stunning list of guest musicians helping him out on his CD. None other than guitarists Michael Landau, Tommy Denander and Bruce Gaitsch, lead singers like Goran Edman, Michael Ruff and David Chamberlin and the whole TOTO band make an appearance on this CD. So, it's all quality what we get to hear and this new CD of AOR has a definite more AOR (!) approach than the Westcoast orientated processors. There are 14 tracks included (of which 2 bonustracks) and 4 of them are pure AOR. These are also the best songs of the CD. I am talking about "Sensation" (great 80s AOR a la I-TEN), "A quiet storm" (very strong big AOR rocker), "Leave her to heaven" (fantastic big uptempo AOR) and "The moon is a liar" (great AOR rocker). This is really AOR all the way and if the whole CD would sound like this, then we could speak of one of the top AOR records! Although the rest of the CD is poppier, I can still say that this is an essential release. Besides the mentioned 4 fantastic tracks, other good songs are the calmer AOR songs "If no one cared" (like FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS), "So young and innocent" (a la JOHN ELEFANTE), "Dream them away" (like DAVID ROBERTS meets TOTO), "Far away from the storm" and the very soft JOURNEY/STEVE PERRYish AOR/Pop ballads "How will she find her way back?" and "I know you too well". Furthermore there's an old recorded song called "5492" with the late great Jeff Porcaro on drums, 2 versions of the 70s orientated Soul/Poptune "Never gonna let her go" and the Popsong "Worlds away". It's not always a pure AOR record, but there are some really wonderful pure AOR tunes on this CD, so the fans of the genre know what to purchase when seeing this CD in their local record store.Rating: 8/10

                                                 F & Luke2

Review by Takeshi Ito - Adult Contemporary Music In Japan Website // Frédéric Slama has just released his project AOR's 3rd album early November. As you wish, this album also features some guest L.A players and 3 songs (+ another for bonus tracks) are produced by Tommy Denander. The new cd is called " L.A REFLECTION" which follows his 2nd album "Next Stop L.A". Frederic added that the sound would be similar to Toto's "Fahrenheit" / "Seventh One" and otherwise "Radioactive".

Review by Kenneth Bremer - Blue Desert // A very interesting West Coast music project .... What will you do if you should make the perfect west coast music collection? You will take the best from the 70´s, the best from the 80´s and of course the best songs from the 90´s and combine all this with the greatest musicians and top vocalists. Then you will have the perfect combination for a great west coast album. Actually this is what the french musician Frédéric Slama has done. His new album "L.A. Reflection" is a combination of the great sound from late 70´s to early 90´s, and he has gathered a lot of west coast musicians to put their personals touch into his songs. The lineup is impressive and you can hear these musicians on the album: Steve lukather (guitars), Jeff Porcaro (drums), Steve Porcaro (keyboards), Michael Porcaro (bass), David Paich (keyboards), Goran Edman (vocals), Michael Landau (guitars), Tommy Denander (all instruments), David Diggs (keyboards), Rick Riso (vocals), Michael Ruff (vocals), Bruce Gaitsch (guitars), Michael Thompson (guitars), James Harrah (guitars), Ed Greene (drums), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Tom Saviano (sax), Dave Boruff (sax), Mike Baird (drums), Rachel Diggs (vocals), Chris Demming (vocals), Kristoffer Lagerstrom (vocals), Eddie Watkins Jr (bass), Hussain Jiffry (bass), David Chamberlin (vocals), Tom Bailey (vocals) & Andre Harold (guitars). The album "L.A. Reflection" is produced by David Diggs, David Chamberlin, Tommy Denander and Frederic Slama himself. All producers are giving the album their own touch, so this are giving the songs a different feeling and that´s why the album are having both 70´s, 80´s & 90´s westcoast sound, and actually giving the album a perfect match to all the great musicians that are playin´ on the album. 14 songs has made the album, all new songs except for the re-release of the earlier Tommy Denander recorded song "5492", that has been re-recorded with Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Mike Porcaro and the original drum track by Jeff Porcaro. No doubt that it has been hardwork for Frédéric Slama to make this album, just to get all the musicians to into the studios, to get the songs recorded and mixed. The "L.A. Reflection" is a brilliant album, and this should not be compared with the 2 earlier releases from Frederic Slama. The new album can be a westcoast masterpiece if you look at the album in total. The work behind it is also a statement that west coast music is not dead, but it still takes a guy like "Frédéric Slama" to get the wheels running, most of the big record labels don´t release stuff like this, an that is a shame. So a big thanks to all the musicians that have played on this album, and I look forward to the next one coming.

                                                                                    rehearsal-2                                           

next stop NEXT STOP : L.A (2001)

Review by Nicky Baldrian - Strutterzine // As a rule I play an album 3-4 times before I put pen to paper, but I only played "Next Stop LA" once and I came to the conclusion that album number two from Frédéric Slama's mega AOR project is totally bigger and better than last years successful debut "LA Concession". "Next Stop LA" is one of those albums that is difficult to put into words, the songs are superbly produced west coast AOR numbers which also showcase the respectable talents of Mr.Mister's Richard Page, and Michael Thompson amongst other participants. The songs hit you in warm tidal wave of TOTO, Journey, Prisoner, King Of Hearts, Bad English, Foreigner, Talk Of The Town and Richard Marx influences such as the fantastic 'Desperate Dreams', Leave Her To Heaven', 'Can One Of Your Kiss Do All This' and the equally superb 'The Way You Love Me' which could have been on either the new Journey album, Tall Stories or the classic Diving For Pearls album. Just listen to those wonderful soothing vocal harmonies..killer pure west coast AOR.. I really loved 'Teach Me How To Love You Again', this song is a slick west coast ballad a'la Richard Marx, whilst 'It's Just To Easy' is a very catchy power pop number with sax, similar in vein to Robert Tepper. 'Can One Of Your Kiss Do All This' is even better and a song that Mark Spiro wished he's written, this track is very similar to Bad English with hints of Tommy Shaw and John Waite and is a huge song, great production sound, great guitars, chorus, vocals etc, perfect AOR song and like 'Desperate Dreams' is one of the best songs on the album and of the year in AOR. The killer ballad 'On A Distant Path' is a wonderful soft song with lyrics inspired by King Arthur and the Knights Of The Round Table, the lyrics are very strong on this song with a similar vibe to Richard Marx's "Hazard" and the first Mark Spiro CD "Care Of My Soul". Also leaning in the Richard Marx territory is the fantastic 'The Only Thing I Ask' which is another massive song, killer chorus, hooks, lyrics etc, could be a hit this one as could 'Leave Her To Heaven' which was on the debut CD and still remains a classy song. Please, please don't let songs of this calibre go unnoticed as each song like the debut album is just fantastic, check out the last song which is the ultimate AOR weepy ballad called 'Never Gonna Let Her Go' which is similar to TOTO and Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You". This song was actually on the debut CD and I'm glad they have included it on this album as it ends the album perfectly. This is indeed the best west coast AOR album of the year, the production and the songs are so massive, so buy this CD now and demand that the labels sign this band. ESSENTIAL RELEASE, AOR album of 2001, big big news folks!! Rating: ESSENTIAL

aor12    

concession L.A CONCESSION (2000)

Review by Nicky Baldrian - Strutterzine // This is really a high quality release and I can't understand why none of the AOR labels has picked it up to give it a major release. Pretty cool to call your project AOR, because that name has never been used until now. Still I have to inform you that the CD isn't pure AOR all the way, let's say it contains a lot of AOR elements. Leader of AOR is guitarist/keyboardplayer Frédéric Slama who comes out of France. He recorded this CD in L.A. with a lot of famous session musicians like Gregg Bissonette, Lenny Castro, Steve George, Richard Page, Carlos Vega and Michael Thompson. One of the main players though is a guy called Peter Hume who is playing keyboards, guitars, bass and drums on all songs (pretty impressive). John Fluker, Doug St. John and David D. Chamberlin do the lead vocals on the 12 included songs. I have to admit that the production and quality of the songs is from a very high level and this could've easily been a big hit back in the mid 80s when a lot of artists/bands produced this type of westcoast-AOR. I hear comparisons to TOTO, DAKOTA, AIRPLAY, DAVID ROBERTS and some more recent influences (ALIAS, BRETT WALKER, MARK FREE). The general sound is not really heavy and is focused on relaxing light AOR influenced Westcoast songs with some beautiful vocals and keyboard parts. Happily there are also some uptempo AOR rockers to be found on the record which makes it also interesting for the fan of pure AOR. The CD starts very soft with the early 80s westcoast AOR ballad "Never gonna let her go" that easily could've been on any album of TOTO, DAVID ROBERTS or AIRPLAY. Also pretty soft is the next track called "On dangerous ground", this song is just pure I-TEN ("Lonely in each other's arms"). Next up are two very good AOR songs ("Caught inside your heart" and "Worlds away"). The latter is a lovely AOR ballad in the style of ALIAS and MARK FREE ('Long way from love' area). Things get calmer on the following two songs ("In my crystal ball" and "The way of the night"), though we're still in AOR territory (think RICHARD MARX). Then we're down to pure AOR with the only uptempo song which is the fantastic classy 80s AOR rocker "Leave her to heaven". This is really an awesome song and reminds me a lot of DAKOTA and SYNCH with the perfect harmonies and soaring vocals. Finally a rocker and I hope there aresome more rockers like this on a future record of AOR. Next track "Only in my dreams" is another great AOR song, this song features some lovely AOR keys and ends up being a great AOR ballad in the ALIAS style. So we just had the two best songs of the CD, because the following tracks are again a bit poppier. "From L.A. to Tokyo is actually pure Pop, but I have to admit that this is high quality Pop because it's damn catchy and radio-ready. If radiostations would pick this up, then in a few weeks it could turn out to something huge, but I would rather see an AOR song making it to the airwaves. Anyway, the CD continues with the relaxing AOR song "Lost in your eyes". "Don't let her go" is the second rocker, only lighter, still good quality AOR a la 70s DAKOTA/JERRY KELLY. The CD closes nicely with the AOR ballad "Love has found it's way". Although AOR isn't pure AOR, still this is a high quality release that needs to be heard by every AOR fan. It is a total must for people who like Westcoast AOR a la DAVID ROBERTS, AIRPLAY, LA COWBOYS, TOTO, PROMOTION, HIGHER GROUND, DAKOTA etc. Rating: 8,5/10