Reviews

                                                                     

Bewitched In L.A

BEWITCHED IN L.A. (2023)

Review by Lucy Hall - Twisted Pulp // Once again Frédéric Slama is making a lot of noise all around the world and generating lots of excitement for his fans with his most recent and most 80s’ inspired album yet for 2023. Over the decades Frédéric Slama has been putting together the most exciting unions ever conceived in all the leagues of AOR rock. He has once again rejoined with the talents of Paul Sabu and Tommy Denander. These three are the hardest-working, most brilliant, and most driven composers in rock and roll. This new album is full of layered and powerful tracks consisting of some lean aggressive rockers alongside some sophisticated silky smooth, heartfelt mid-tempo tracks. It is very polished and doesn’t have a weak cut. All of Frédéric’s AOR releases are influential and essential albums but this album has become an instant favorite for me. A lot of the tracks surprised me with the harder-edged, powerful guitar, keyboards, and vocals which effortlessly could fade to a softer focus. The group’s ability to layer guitar and keyboard parts into a seamless whole is totally reminiscent of that classic 80’s rock sound that I love. I felt that some of the cuts are punchy danceable rock and roll which recalls the energy of unforgettable music that was used in epic 80’s movie montages. This is something that comes effortlessly to Paul Sabu who has created songs for movie soundtracks. He has that knack for creating songs that stand the test of time. The album opens with three consecutive tunes that take you on an emotional journey combining hard pop with melodic refrains. “Behind Closed Doors” is an opener that sets the mood and ambiance for the rest of the album. It is simply mid-tempo magic, it is loaded with rhythmic guitar, I especially enjoyed how the song fades out with dreamlike keyboards. “Dangerously Smart” is my favorite cut, it was one of the harder rock-driven songs with an aggressive chorus. Paul’s vocals soar over an infectious instrumental groove. The daring lyrics hooked me immediately. With a chorus such as this, “She makes loving you an art, she cuts you right through the heart, she is dangerously smart” how could I not be captivated? This was an authentic emotion-woven track that spoke to me.

Frédéric has always had a knack for composing good hooks and “You Don't Have to Tell Me Lies” is a prime example. The guitar chords, Paul’s crescendos, and the keyboards which built up the climax of the song perfectly complement each other and created an atmospheric backdrop of sound. Frédéric’s lyrics got their point across right from the start of this song. Paul’s crescendos were impressive. He goes from sounding soulful, regretful, and sorrowful to building up to an increase in intensity with his commanding vocal delivery. As a listener, when he belts out “You Don’t Have to Tell Me Lies!” You really believe that the song’s protagonist was disappointed in a deceitful relationship but finally came to terms with it not being worth fighting for after all. “Stolen Future” features some infectious energy with a driving rhythm, a danceable beat, memorable guitar riffs, and a catchy chorus. The memorable hooks and energetic sound will make this track a fan favorite for decades to come. “Manifestation Of Human Desires” has a catchy upbeat melody and its lyrics are uplifting and inspiring. “Frozen Soul” and “Breaking the Rules” are both power ballads that feature slow, emotional melodies, powerful guitar riffs and heartfelt lyrics. They are both relatable and timeless anthems for anyone who ever experienced the ups and downs of relationships. “Private Number” is an empowering guitar-driven rock anthem that expresses the desire to break free from the constraints of a toxic relationship. Which is a theme we all can relate to. The song’s lyrics are memorable. It features a powerful guitar solo and once again Paul’s commanding vocal delivery blew me away. Especially when he belts out at the end with such intense emotion, “I Got a Private Number!” it gave me goosebumps. This cut “Never Give Up On Love” is very lyrically touching. It deals with the strength one must have to deal with separation in your life from something you love, and the chorus reassures you, it’s all right because you, “Never Give Up On Love”

The 80s were a definitive decade for rock music. It was a time when rock anthems ruled the airwaves and AOR was one of the most popular defining genres of that decade. Frédéric Slama brings us back to that sound and those themes which never get old.  AOR rock like this rarely comes once, let alone a second time, yet Frédéric Slama has written, arranged, and produced twenty-two AOR masterpieces. Add Bewitched In L.A. to your album collection, it is required listening for anyone interested in AOR music or high-quality rock in general.

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // The Emperor of AOR sighed, He fixed the room with à rheumy eye and hoisted himself from a recumbent position to sitting up on his crushed velvet chaise longue. "My people", he said with a heavy voice, “I grow tired, I grow tired of all the multiple vocal partners, It's exhausting”. "Perhaps" sald young Swift, often called Napoleon by the Emperor himself, “You need some stability?" The room fell silent. They waited. The Emperor stared at Swift, Stared. And smiled. "Perhaps the young man ls right. One vocalist, Just one - it will be something new for me. Fetch me Paul Sabu!”. Just a little joke which Frédéric Slama, head honcho of AOR the band, and I have. And this Is different, Paul Sabu taking all of the vocals, It makes a difference. Go on, do the one-note plano and big guitar thing: ‘Behind Closed Doors’ really works with Sabu's more grizzled vocals, Then the one-note plano is even more apparent on ‘Dangerously Smart’, very simple and extremely effective. ‘Manifestation Of Human Desires’ needs a bit of a sweeter sing and perhaps sweeter emotion than Sabu's tone has, but you can't deny the reined-in power and playfulness of ‘Stolen Future' with its clean and clear short and super solo. You're always going to go to the West Coast with the Emperor and ‘Frozen Soul’ Is waiting: no worries, It meanders along, showing beauty all the way, whilst the smooth ‘Private Number’ mixes you a mojito. And then lays back on the soft, sumptuous 'Dont Give Up On Love" with its sing-along, almost soaring chorus and easy grace. This eschews (bless you!) the rockier outcrops of recent AOR albums and focuses on the fluffy, smooth AOR we love, with effectively judicious Slama‘s strong soloing. And those songs, those songs! Bewitched? Possibly. 10/10

Reviews Promo

Review by Ken Morton - Highwire Daze // Whenever Frédéric Slama’s AOR releases a new album, one could expect an auditory gem. Bewitched In L.A. is the 23rd AOR masterwork, and along for the ride this time around are two absolute legends – Paul Sabu on all lead vocals and Tommy Denander handling all guitars and co-production. Bewitched In L.A. is jam packed with melodic rock entreaties that will dazzle the senses and set the imagination in flight. Sabu’s vocal work is a standout – impassioned and profound, performing each song with a magnificent sense of urgency. From Beyond Closed Doors, Dangerously Smart and beyond, this trio of friends present a rapturous recording that is absolutely timeless. There may not be a long guest list involved this time around, but the team of Slama, Sabu, and Denander deliver the sonic goodness tenfold. This CD will give any fans of Toto, Journey and Foreigner will send music fans into the stratosphere!  Congrats AOR on another masterpiece, now available worldwide via Perris Records. 

Review by X - O Day Website // Since the year 2000, Frédéric Slama has released 22 albums with his project AOR, with the who’s who of AOR Westcoast music & Melodic Rock involved. Now in 2023, AOR is back with perhaps the most ’80s sounding album of all its career, with unforgettable arrangements reminding us the sound of the classic era recalling Journey, Le Roux, Franke & The Knockouts or Foreigner. Titled “Bewitched In L.A.“, this CD is also the most ‘band style’ album from the AOR project: while usually there were an all-star crew featuring dozen of artists, this time Slama is joined by Paul Sabu who did all the lead & backing vocals on the entire recording, and Tommy Denander performing almost all instruments. If you want to step back in time with pure AOR bliss, check out “Bewitched in L.A.”, for sure one the most consistent and melodic of all Slama albums. Indeed, this time with only one singer aboard the AOR project, the sound is closer to a real band. “Bewitched In L.A.” is mostly uptempo (with the exception of closer ‘Never Give Up On Love’) with song structures quite different from previous AOR albums – this time is more mid-Eighties melodic rock oriented and less West Coast. There’s an anthemic punch on many numbers here, accented by synths / piano stabs in the best 1983-1984 fashion, all very melodic and pretty catchy. Sabu’s voice is in good form, a bit worn-out by age but still with that ‘special touch’. Special mention to Denander to give AOR a different sonic approach, very vintage yet effective for these songs songwriting skeleton. “Bewitched In L.A.” is a welcomed change for the AOR project to avoid repeating themselves and delivering an album which on at places sounds like recorded 1984 – and that’s a good thing. Highly Recommended !

Review by Keith Abt - Discover Hubpage // Depending on which resource you consult, the term "AOR" is an abbreviation for either "Album Oriented Rock" or "Adult Oriented Rock." The term is regularly used to describe the radio-friendly, melodic pop rock music style that reached its commercial peak during the mid-1980s, when bands like Journey, Toto, and Foreigner regularly ruled the charts and sold out stadiums with slick combinations of soaring guitar heroics and epic, sing-along power ballads. "AOR" also happens to be the name of a long-running musical project headed by French guitarist and songwriter Frédéric Slama, whose mission in life, apparently, is to keep the classic '80s "West Coast" AOR sound alive. His first album under the "AOR" banner, L.A. Concession, came out way back in 2000, and he's gone on to release more than twenty albums since then, many of which refer to "L.A." in the title (I guess it's a "thing »). AOR's twenty-third (!) and latest disc, Bewitched In L.A., will be released in September 2023 through the retro-rock specialist label Perris Records, and it consists of nine ultra-polished, catchy pop/rock tracks that sound like they just fell out of a time capsule from 1986... which, of course, is the whole point. Seriously, if you own albums by Toto and Foreigner but have never heard AOR, you need to check this disc out right now! Before we begin, I must confess that my personal musical tastes tend to lean towards heavier fare. Therefore, I generally don't pay much attention to AOR (the band, or the musical genre). I have been dimly aware of AOR's existence over the years from seeing the band's name in rock magazine reviews and online forums, but Bewitched In L.A. is the first time I've actually heard their music. ...so while I may not be terribly well versed in this musical genre, I like to think that I know enough about it to tell the good stuff from the junk, and Bewitched In L.A. is definitely not junk. Slama and his frequent collaborators, American guitarist/vocalist Paul Sabu and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Tommy Denander, have crafted an album's worth of breezy, upbeat lightweight pop/rock that's smooooth as hell. Pull your neon colored spandex out of storage, spray some Aqua-Net in your hair, and ice up some wine coolers, because the '80s will come roaring back as soon as you press "play" on this album! Bewitched In L.A. kicks off with the very Toto-esque "Behind Closed Doors." and I was immediately impressed by the vocal work of Paul Sabu. I mainly know him as a producer/songwriter who's worked with everyone from Alice Cooper, John Waite, and Ann-Margret (!) but he's got a sturdy, husky voice that suits this material well. When I think "AOR singer" I usually picture someone along the lines of Journey's Steve Perry, but Sabu's delivery is closer to Lou Gramm of Foreigner, which is fine by me. "Dangerously Smart" continues to mesh catchy keyboards and guitar work and "You Don't Have To Tell Me Lies" is a full on '80s synth-rocker that has just the right amount of heavy edge. "Stolen Futures" features some particularly killer guitar work, as does the oddly titled "Manifestation Of Human Desires" (?). By the album's mid-point, I'd say that the biggest weakness of Bewitched In L.A. is that it all starts to blur into one long, sound-alike track. That might actually be a selling point to the AOR crowd, though, since they're not generally known for their patience with bands who mess with the genre's core sound (which is probably why you don't see very many AOR/black metal hybrid acts out there). So while AOR may not be re-inventing the musical wheel by any means, they definitely use the genre's tools effectively, The high-energy "Frozen Soul" and "Private Number" are additional highlights, and the album comes to a satisfactory close with the melodic one-two punch of "Breaking The Rules" and the epic length (just shy of seven minutes) power ballad "Never Give Up On Love".  I may never become a massive AOR devotee, but Bewitched In L.A. was a well produced, spotlessly performed slab of melodic rockin' that was a pleasant enough diversion for a few listens. Your mileage may vary depending on your devotion to retro '80s sounds, but if you worship at the altar of Journey, Boston, FM, John Elefante/Mastedon, and the like, then Bewitched In L.A. should be right up your alley.

Review by Steve Swift - Fireworks // Emperor of AOR tires of multiple partners shock! It’s not like that of course; Frédéric Slama, who I call the Emperor Of AOR, has used many vocalists on his albums, but he’s bucked the trend here and plumped for one. It's much-loved Paul Sabu, whose seasoned vocal with a bit of a rasp suits these tracks so well. Sometimes you wonder what they would sound like with someone else, but generally it’s a bit of a triumph. As are these songs, less rocky than recent album fare, but no problem with the one note piano pushed by a big guitar in –‘Behind Closed Doors’ and that almost Yacht Rock ‘Dangerously Smart’. Two quality tracks. Sabu is making a good fist of this until ‘Manifestation Of Human Desire’ which needs a little bit of a sweeter voice, but Frédéric’s solo in ‘Stolen Future’ is short bit stupendous. Mr S. loves a mojito on the beach deck and with ‘Frozen Soul’ we’re there soaking in the rays, not having to do anything and if you fancy a lounge, sink into ‘Don’t Give Up On Love’, as it sashays along on a sweet chorus. This is wonderful, but then when was an AOR album not? Fans of the style should love this, fans of great music should be bewitched too.

      

L.A. Suspicion

L.A. SUSPICION (2022)

Review by Aina Enix - Album Reviewz // Frédéric Slama, the giant artist with the deep soul ! Since 2000, Frédéric Slama has released 21 AOR albums full of AOR/Westcoast & Melodic Rock. His music and the way he expresses himself through his work, are now as vital elements as the breath and the pure oxygen. His musical compositions in particular, always have the beneficial property, to guide the emotions towards the inner integration in a unique way, to alleviate the existential anxieties and to sanctify the passions, making everyone's thoughts, ideas and personal experiences, to they look softer and more melodic than ever. Frédéric Slama is back with one of the most powerful and melodic album of all his career, with perfectly crafted songs & unforgettable arrangements reminding us of the classic AOR sound of the 80's ! Featuring talented musicians such as the mastermind Tommy Denander (Alice Cooper, Steve Walsh, Radioactive, ), Steve Overland (FM, The Ladder, Overland), Paul Sabu (John Waite, Silent Rage, Sabu, Only Child), Robbie LaBlanc (Fury, Blanc Faces, Find Me), Bill Kelly (Dakota), Steph Honde (Hollywood Monsters, Scream Taker), Markus Nordenberg (Coastland Ride, Pearls & Flames) & Michael Stosic. I like so much the whole album but if I must choose 2 songs, the first I choose is "Cold Logic", which could become one great radio hit ! Second, I choose the song "A Smile In My Heart". Of course a suggested release, a must have for all AOR/Melodic Rock fans all over the world !!! Well done Mr. AOR !!! Let the music play… Songwriting: 10. Musicianship: 10. Production: 10. Album cover: 10. Total rating: 10.

Review by Lucy Hall - Twisted Pulp // For those who are not familiar with Frédéric Slama, he is the heart and soul of AOR. He is a true composer in every sense of the word; joining modern music concepts and instruments with lyrics and themes of classic 70s’ and 80s’ radio rock. It can almost be hard to imagine that, Fredric has been compiling AOR albums and bringing together such diverse artists for over two decades but he is passionate about finding great art. He looks forward to highlighting the AOR artists that are breaking new ground and the classic artists who define the genre. When we look at the music from every album he has released we can easily find significance in the songs chosen and L.A. Suspicion continues that tradition. Each song selected for this album will engage the audience with storying telling voices that mirror the uniqueness of the singers. The songwriting here is pretty special as usual.  We are accustomed to Slama providing his fans with song stories that consist of relationships, careers, and social justice themes. However, this album takes on a more "romantic" quality to the lyrics. But, don't let the overall theme put you off because there are plenty of fast-paced moments and hard riffs to satisfy any rock fan. All the tracks on the album give me the feeling of watching epic movie montages. The songs are as memorable as classic dramatized 80s' film scenes that were backed by an upbeat song or inspirational love song. Those were the types of anthems that stand the test of time and you can’t seem to get out of your head. Which is exactly the feeling I get listening to this album. I feel like this album is a great summer soundtrack. It’s been a struggle in recent times to find stuff that really excites us as rock fans, that’s why L.A. Suspicion has been eagerly awaited within the Melodic Rock fan community. Released in April of 2022, Slama’s 22nd AOR album consists of ten songs. The album highlights the artists who check all the melodic rock boxes, and who are making music that is interesting and worth talking about. Along with Frédéric Slama, you will find talented musicians such as Tommy Denander (Alice Cooper, Steve Walsh), Steve Overland (FM, The Ladder, Overland), Paul Sabu (John Waite, Silent Rage, Little America), Robbie LaBlanc (Fury, Blanc Faces, Find Me), Bill Kelly (Dakota), Steph Honde (Hollywood Monsters, Scream Taker), Markus Nordenberg (Coastland Ride, Pearls & Flames) and Michael Stosic (Solo Artist). There are lots of gems on the album that strike just the right balance of melodic hard rock and softer ballads. It is a solid album with an amazing tracklist, brilliant vocals, and production. It is full of energy-driven keyboards and guitar anthems with catchy choruses. The opening track “A Smile In My Heart” is a good solid album opener with a more straight-up rock and roll sound. Steph Honde gets to really rock out a bit on this one. The track sets the pace for this album where both heavy hitters alternate with softer mid-tempo ballads. The track has a catchy hook and a chorus perfect for radio airplay. It is an upbeat rocker with some solid hard rock chords. I have to say it is one of my favorites and it is definitely a great start. “The Girl You Won't Leave Behind” is a satisfying ballad led by the fine vocal melodies of Markus Nordenberg. It has the feel of a Foreigner song. The group delivers a top-notch performance with some cool keyboards and guitar riffs set to romantic lyrics. The song softly fades into the following track, “Cold Logic”. The entire track invokes visions of the Sunstrip Strip from the slow introductory start as Robbie LaBlanc's vocals start to build into a much louder and heavier rock piece to the rest of the band breaking into potent and perfected rock riffs with melodic distortion. “Stronger Than Desire” enters into a strong majestic intro, led by Steve Overland’s rich vocal chorus. The song has some intense rock elements with the keyboards and guitar but is also the perfect example of a melodic rock ballad."Arrow Thru' My Heart" starts out rocking with some intense keyboards and guitar riffs. This is Steph Honde's second track on the album. His mesmerizing vocals and the band's rhythm carries the song along at a steady pace set to the music and lyrics which conjures up visions of redemption and love. “Scene Of The Crime” delivers some heavy keyboards set to Markus Nordenberg's sensual and dreamy voice with romantic lyrics about being disappointed in love. The beat and groove of this entry will encourage the audience to either turn down the lights for a cuddle or hit the dance floor with their lover. It is definitely a sensual song but at the same time, it will have your toes tapping. “Street Of Illusions” is a dark, dramatic hard rocker tune that is heavy on the guitar chops enhanced by the legendary Paul Sabu's flawless raspy voice. His powerful delivery, tone, and passion make him special. He definitely has a knack for storytelling in his voice. This track sweeps the listener away on a dream somewhere on a lonely street of lost dreams where that same girl he has sung about in the past continues her story. I feel that the previous AOR entries to which Sabu lent his vocals could definitely be a complete stand-alone concept album. I am not sure if Slama arranged the song storylines for Sabu to flow in this manner but it certainly feels intentional to this fan because I feel like this track is a continuation of the story of the “Girl in the News”, that girl who once again is roaming the streets of Sunset Strip searching for something. The song has some great riffs and effortlessly fades slowly into the next entry “Hold Back Tomorrow" which begins with some fast-paced rock rhythm then Billy Kelly takes the lead with intense vocal verses and uplifting choruses. It is a softer entry with a slight hint of boogie that will make you want to hold someone tight and move to the groove. The song ends with some soft fading keyboards and into another personal favorite, “Lost in Cold Heaven” which has seductive guitar riffs and actually a pretty heavy solo, with such a catchy chorus which I loved. Who could not be singing "I don't want to get lost in cold heaven" after hearing this tune? I can't seem to get it out of my head. The album closer, “A Broken Heart In Tokyo” has some nice guitar work, and Steph Honde delivers a slow soothing introduction with his vocals which quickly builds into a louder and more intense rock piece. Which demonstrates his fantastic vocal ability and range. It appears that Slama appropriately reserved a bluesy mid-tempo rocker for the album's conclusion which worked well. Frédéric Slama always provides a "timeless" quality to his albums, channeling great music from the past to the present. I would bet that he will continue to create ambitious music that is clever, creative, and always melodic for future generations as long as that classic AOR sound is still turning heads around the globe. This guy can do no wrong when it comes to AOR, and you should buy anything he puts out.

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // The Emperor of AOR propped himself up on his elbow and cast a rhuemy eye around the florid room. The velvet. The swagger. The tassels. 'I need something rougher' he declared. His musical mentors stopped, mid stuffed olive. The Emperor had spoken. 'Shall I get some hessian, sir?' The Emperor fixed him with a stare. It sent a chill through the assembled throng. A chill they thought they could only experience when Steve Perry sang 'Faithfully'. 'Vocalists. That's what I need'. And that's what Frederic Slama has done. This album is the excellent sleek West coast AOR we are used to with the Emperor of AOR. It's all here. But this time the vocals often cut against that. Nicely done. We start with sumptuous 'A Smile In My Heart' but the harsher vocals of Steph Honde cut through this nicely, it's followed by the poppier voice of Markus Nordenberg in sleek 'The Girl You Won't Leave Behind' and we have an 80's pop ditty in 'Hold Back Tomorrow', the backing could be a Jason Donovan track, the vocal from Bill Kelly is definitely organic AOR and that Slama six string solo has a jazzy touch. Robbie LaBlanc delivers a more mod 80's AOR 'Cold Logic' beautifully and 'Scene Of The Crime' twinkles and draws velvet drapes before it adds an electric piano pulse and a flowing guitar solo, one of the best things here. 'Stronger Than Desire' is another, Steve Overland adding soul to the sleek backing vocals and West coast ways. This is good. Very good. The Emperor usually is. But this time it's brilliant. I have a Suspicion that this is his best yet. 10/10 !

Review by Valeria Campagnale - Rockers & Other Animals // L.A. Suspicion is Frédéric Slama's new album for Perris Records, the 22nd AOR work by this indefatigable artist who, for the occasion, hosted many musicians such as Tommy Denander (Alice Cooper, Steve Walsh), Steve Overland (FM, The Ladder), Paul Sabu (Only Child, John Waite), Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces, Find Me), Steph Honde (Hollywood Monsters, Scream Taker) and others. As always, distinguished guests grace Frédéric Slama's albums and once again we find some truly exceptional tracks that vary between ballads and melodic hard rock all infused with catchy refrains and keyboards. The album was released on 18 April, and it took me a while to listen to it, in order to capture the atmosphere. A few years ago I had the opportunity to review one of his albums, I remember it was not a good review, Frédéric told me I should listen to it again carefully and after a while I did, he was right, I had not caught the spirit and nuances of that record. That is why I waited to express my opinion. A Smile In My Heart opens the album with Steph Honde on vocals, a catchy track with a really catchy chorus. In the ballad The Girl You Won't Leave Behind we find the second guest, Markus Nordenberg, a track with a smooth, enveloping melody. Cold Logic contains a good rock atmosphere, excellent guitars and Robbie LaBlanc's vocals are a successful addition to one of the album's best tracks. Blues veins in the delicate Stronger Than Desire, this track in my opinion is the real gem of this work, the melody plays an important role and Steve Overland's voice is perfect for this composition. Steph Honde fully manages to interpret the following Arrow Thru 'My Heart, more suited to my personal tastes, it is a piece that takes me back to the Eighties; surprising guitars and a personal style, Mr. Honde's one who render an era, for a song that managed to excite me, I wipe away the nostalgic tears and move on to the next Scene of the Crime that between markedly AOR sounds manages to embody the essence of Frederic Slama's style. Keyboard intro for Street Of Illusions, a heavier track with the hoarse voice of Paul Sabu and good melodies makes another very brilliant song while Hold Back Tomorrow has a more soulful imprint, different from the pieces heard up to now, distinguishing itself for a deeper but always catchy harmony with good guitars and the voice of Bill Kelly that he manages to carry throughout the length of the song. Lost In Cold Heaven is another good melodic track but it's A Broken Heart in Tokyo to be yet another standout piece, a fast-paced closure without being invasive, beautiful chiatar riffs, an excellent AOR song to close an album that excels from many points of view. A classic AOR album for fans of the genre who are sure to appreciate the work behind L.A. Suspicion.

Review by X - O Day Website //Since its incarnation in the year 2000, Frédéric Slama AOR project has produced more than twenty records up till now, always faithful to the classic American West Coast AOR from the ’80s made famous by acts such as Toto, Foreigner, Survivor, etc. L.A. Suspicion” is AOR‘s new installment as usual featuring high profile guests like Steve Overland (FM), Paul Sabu, Tommy Denander (Radioactive), Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces, Find Me), Bill Kelly (Dakota), Markus Nordenberg (Coastland Ride), and more. All over the years Slama proved that he’s indeed a connoisseur of the genre and could indeed make AOR music to rival the best of them. The songs works on all levels of AOR: you’ve got some hard driving rockers with finely crafted melodies and some exquisite solos. There are also plenty of delicate ballads with smooth arrangements. Song-wise “L.A. Suspicion” is perhaps the stronger and best written AOR album to date, with attention to detail. The new 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. Slama proved time and time again with consistent releases; if songs are good enough then there will always be an audience for them. Not only that, but as we all know, many trends go round in circles and what’s hot one minute will be cold the next, only to then come full circle and become flavour of the month again. Melodic rock has appealed to millions of people the world over; radio friendly giants such as Foreigner, Journey, Toto and the likes have always been accessible bands – existing on the fringes of heavy rock but subtle enough to endear themselves to the pop crowd too. AOR is most certainly inspired by just about every band of that ilk, and for his new opus Slama has enlisted the help of a few friends within the field in creating another fascinating opus, providing the perfect soundtrack to glorious sun-blessed times on hot beaches and sizzling sidewalks. It’s no coincidence that everything Slama has done has an American connection. In fact, one could just imagine some of the tunes on this new record gracing an ’80s television cop drama; Miami Vice anyone? The reality with an album of this quality is that it’s nigh on impossible to find a flaw. Although the instrumentation does have a tendency to all melt together into one big melodic showdown beneath the palm trees, Slama has collated a heavenly array of joyous numbers bolstered by those archetypal melodies and images. While we can all pick and choose our favourite vocal performances, “L.A. Suspicion” is a sum of many parts all wrapped up in the finest, most gorgeous melodic arrangements one could imagine when walking under the glittering stars that shine down on old L.A. This is great music and the fact that AOR have been producing music of this quality for so many years means that this release is sure to stay on repeat for a very long time. Highly Recommended


The Best Of Paul Sabu

THE BEST OF PAUL SABU (2021)

Review by Lucy Hall - Twisted Pulp // The legendary Paul Sabu has done it all. He is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, and recording engineer. He has a reputation for being one of the most influential AOR artists of all time. Not only has he created unforgettable hits and chart-topping albums concerning his own projects but also he is well known for his many collaborations.  In 2012, Paul teamed up with Frédéric Slama from AOR, and worked on the Chasing Violets album "Outside Heaven", and several AOR albums. His latest release from Perris Records, "The Best of Paul Sabu" collects all the songs from the collaborations with Slama and gathers material from rare tracks only found on the AOR Japanese pressings, with bonus tracks from Chasing Violets. In addition, there are two new tracks recorded for the album. Sabu has always had a knack for combining electrifying hard rock with melodic rock that has soul. This album is full of commercially accessible rock styles. It offers monumental power ballads, upbeat danceable tunes, timeless anthems, and heavier more guitar-based rock songs, which will please an array of fans. The songs are really strong thanks to the great relationship between Sabu and Slama. They have emotional content and consist of themes pertaining to love, loss, and discovering hope. I felt that the album played like a diary of particular times in life to which many of us could relate. I found them to be memorable and there are so many great ones that there might be too many to list, but I will let you know some essential tracks. Stand-out tracks that I would consider classics, although many are contenders would be "18 And Available" because it is a fun, flirty, and upbeat rocker about a girl you cannot resist who is living on the edge. It has great guitar riffs and the solo really stands out, the super catchy lyrics and chorus will be stuck in your head, “love her, kiss her, she’s 18 and available”, with lyrics like “She might be trouble!”, “Living in the 70’s” and “she’s always ready to party!” how could you not get it stuck in your head.  I felt that "18 and Available" flowed very well into the follow-up song, "The Girl in the News" which was upbeat and sounded as if it could be about the same girl. Both songs are very passionate and it makes the listener ponder, who could this girl be ? “Give Her the Moon” is very playful and danceable. The keyboards really stand out and the guitar playing is sensational. It also has very catchy lyrics, “give her the moon and she will love you forever. Give her the moon and you’ll always be together”. "Out On the Streets" is an emotion-filled ballad full of sadness about the struggles of a homeless teen, yet it makes the listener feel there is hope. I felt the band really captured the essence of the song. "Outside Heaven" is a soft ballad with memorable lyrics. It is a favorite because it is a moving song and you get two versions of it. The first track has vocals by Sabu. Chasing Violets performed the second track and the female vocals appear to switch up the dynamics and overall feel of the song. In addition, I must mention that "The Sign of Fire" is another guitar-driven ballad with great lyrics that stood out to me. Sabu naturally possessed a powerful and velvety voice range and he still sounds great and remains today to be one of the best in the business. He is the master of melodic and emotional vocal delivery. His vocal performance on this album is solid. He delivers the lyrics with energy and emotion that matches the music and makes it easy for the listener to lose oneself in the songs. Sabu is supported by his very cool and solid rhythm section and an array of talented artists who contributed to the album; they are Tommy Denander, Sarah & Mélissa Fontaine, Linkan Andersson, Martin Karlsson, and Pete Newdeck. The album was written and produced by Frédéric Slama and co-produced by Paul Sabu and Tommy Denander. "The Best of Paul Sabu" shines as a modern throwback to classic melodic rock. If you are a fan of radio-friendly AOR that combines elements of hard rock and hooky power ballads this album is definitely worth adding to your collection.

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // He propped himself up on his silk sheets and fixed his staff with a rheumy eye. 'I've gone soft', the Emperor of AOR glumly said. 'I need challenges, a harder approach, some grit! Now, bring me the Sabu tapes! And peel me a grape.' And that's what this is intended to be, AOR fave Paul Sabu's work with Mr Frédéric Slama, tougher, rockier. It isn't though, it's still smooth, even when Freddy is on his fretboard flurries, 'The Girl In The News' has a chorus which just burrows in and makes space, there could be little room left for fluffiness in 80's synth parping 'Out On The Streets', open 80's chart AOR of 'The Pride Of Strangers' is cool and nice to hear a thick tone to the guitars in the otherwise rather standard 'Outside Heaven' and that brazen chorus makes 'Name Of The Game' one of the best things here. There's also a couple of Chasing Violets tracks, the female duo Frédéric has been working with and it just adds a different appeal, same brilliant AOR though, the sinuous guitars of 'Outside Heaven' are a treat, the Belinda Carlisle chart feel a surprise. Sabu's gritty voice cuts against the music here and that's all to the good, grit in the pearl and with brilliance Tommy Denander providing help on 'all instruments', this is so well done, it's an AOR fan's dream. Is it tough though? Not really. Would we want it to be? God no, that would be melodic rock. What a knack this Emperor of AOR has with a chorus too, they aren't in any way overly large, but they just find a way to tickle your pleasure sensors; just check out that unassuming brilliance at the middle of 'The Distance Between Us'. If there's a bullet belt here, it's shiny. 9/10.

                                                                                                                

The Ghost Of L.A.

THE GHOST OF L.A. (2021)

Review by Lucy Hall - Twisted Pulp // Frédéric Slama has had a extraordinary career in music. He is a musician, composer, recording artist, arranger, producer, a renowned rock journalist, and successful songwriter. He has great skill for creating hits and writing unforgettable melodies. Although he is a eclectic artist his long time passion has been AOR melodic rock. His famous collaborations and remarkable work has earned him a reputation among the Westcoast / AOR music scene. Slama deserves much praise and respect for proving that AOR did not cease to evolve past the 80s’and 90s’. Yet, it is still capable of producing great music and thrives today. Following his solo career he decided to start his AOR project and used the best session musicians. He released the first AOR album in 2000, "L.A. Concession" which became a huge success. Twenty-one years later Slama is releasing his 20th AOR album, The Ghost of L.A. by Perris records featuring ten brand new tracks.The always sunny L.A., the city of dreams, the city of angels inspires many to chase a Hollywood dream. But is the land of endless summers, the entertainment captiol of the world, a city of broken dreams? Slama’s ”Ghost of L.A.” is a cautionary tale about the city which is both blessed and cursed with glorious dreams and a facade of hope with glitter sprinkled on top. The album will enchant the listener as it conjures images of the dreamy romance of L.A. Each song flows effortlessly from one tale of love, loss, deception, hard times, perseverance and hope to the next. I find it facinating that Slama’s AOR albums each contain ”L.A.” in the titles. He has stated in interviews that it is a way of him reminding the audience that he is doing West Coast/Melodic Rock and that L.A. has some of the best musicians in the genre. Slama has always had a knack for attracting wonderful talents with big names to his projects. As in any AOR album this one also features a impressive list of guest stars. The album features slick arrangements and tracks that both a fair mix of up tempo melodic rockers and slow ballads. Steph Honde delivers powerhouse hard rock vocals for two guitar and keyboard heavy tracks ”The Edge of the World” and opener ”The Easiest Way”. The album opens with this amazing song that sets the tone for the remainer of the album. The listener becomes fully aware that a masterful collection of music is about to come. Rick Riso’s commanding vocals is featured on four tracks, his great vibrato on ”Too Late For Tears” calls attention to the song’s chorus’ ”Too Late for Tearrrrsss” which had me quickly singing along upon my intial listening. ”Jenny’s Gone” and ”The Spiral Heart” are both sombre, tear-inducing ballads of love and loss. With his last track on the album, ”Cast Out This Wicked Dream” the mood of the album returns to a harder rock vein with heavy guitar riffs. Paul Sabu lends his distinitive and smooth melodic vocals to two emotionally intense tracks ”Give Her The Moon” and ”The Distance Between Us”. Sabu’s knack for channeling his emotions through his voice is a indefinable quality which makes his songs memorable. Markus Nordenberg lends his superb soulful vocal work to ”Sarah’s Touch”. Which is a sensual ballad of love and longing with great guitar riffs. The album concludes with a instrumental journey called ”Good Intentions” that makes the heart beat faster and gives the listener a longing for more and more. I think all the songs are really good and all possess themes that will resonate with the audience. Slama continues to effortlessly create top-notch melodies and lyrics that his fans expect to hear. He continues to write, produce and is always working on a new AOR album. We can’t wait to see what he delivers next. Pick up your copy of AOR The Ghost of L.A. at Perris Records.

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // The Emperor stared out of his barred window. The streets were deserted. The ports empty. Lands unconquered. 'Curse this plague!' He shouted, throwing his guitar across the room, 'I am an AOR conqueror, how can I reach new places of sonic superiority stuck in this room?' He looked at the wood panelled walls, the groaning CD shelves and then it came to him. He didn't need to go far, just to the places he had gone before, with new music, done differently! He flung open the door, took a deep breath and screamed 'I'll do it differently!' 'Put you mask on' a voice replied... When I tell you that this album kicks off with an easy Toto vibe butting against a dramatic vocal performance from Steph Honde for 'The Easiest Way', you may smile; Frederic Slama gives us the easy slide of 'Give Her The Moon' utilising Paul Sabu's rough range too, the chorus gently ascending, whilst The Spiral Heart' a lovely example of commercial AOR. Sabu adds extra tortured emotion to 'The Distance Between Us', the sweet, catchy melody makes the chorus of 'Sarah's Touch' a glorious moment and although Mr Slama burns those frets in 'Cast Out This Wicked Dream' it has a touch of Alan Parsons Project energy and we of course go to the West Coast, the bubbly backing and Queenly guitars in closer 'Good Intentions', light touch soaring solo, an instrumental but the best thing here. Frederic's guitar playing and Tommy Denander's soloing are fluid but never overdone, the songs are simpler than we've heard on recent AOR albums but they deliver comfort and delight; the rougher voices make a real difference in tightening up the songs and adding the emotion. This was apparently Frederic's paean to Foreigner and Survivor and that's clear in some of the tougher sounds here. Not too much of a departure, but this album shows another extension of the AOR master's work, with that quality baked in. Ghost Of LA ? Don't be scared. 9/10.

Review by Aina Enix - Album Reviewz // Frédéric Slama’s AOR release his 20th cd “The Ghost Of L.A.”. The truth is that I was thirsty for the arrival of this album. The cd's theme is about the ever changing city of Los Angeles that lost its soul for a brand new world far from the recklessness of an era long gone. But the ghost of the 80's is still haunting the streets of L.A.. The strong introduction wakes me up from the very first notes, until the vocals come in… Wow! Steph Honde reminded me of the voice of the immortal Dinos Costakis from SPITFIRE and "First Attack" (1987)! I listen to the song and wonder if the first song is so perfect, what will follow… Listening to the songs, I think that the love for everyone can be a stranger, but Frédéric is a well-known top musician who bring us the love and what his soul contains, all these years, in his own unique way & music! His compositions touch my soul. At the end of the listening the benefit is: the silky musical veil that embraced my whole inner world and the inconceivable feeling that this album awakened in me! No suggested tracks because the whole album is a musical diamond!!! I’ll just comment the track “Good Intentions” because it’s an instrumental track with jazz/funk elements. "The Ghost Of L.A." features great performers such as Tommy Denander (A.Cooper, S.Walsh), Paul Sabu (Only Child, Kidd Glove, John Waite), Rick Riso (Chasing Violets, AOR), Steph Honde (Hollywood Monsters) & Markus Nordenberg (Coastland Ride, Pearls & Flames). All the fans of quality AOR/Melodic Rock music, buy it with your eyes closed!!! Thank you great Frédéric, one more time, for your great album! God bless you… Songwriting: 10 / Musicianship: 10 / Production: 10 / Album cover: 8 / Total rating: 9,5.         

Review by Steve Swift - Fireworks // The Emperor of AOR, Frédéric Slama, loves L.A., his albums are titled after the place, but this album ? The Ghost Of L.A. ? Is he preparing to leave L.A. ? Well, this album is a paean to those melodic rock bands he loves too, so we won't find such sumptuous stuff here, but don't worry, we will find excellence. So let's accompany him with some of those ghostly LA sites. Hollywood Roosevelt: Marilyn Monroe is said to walk at this hotel and we have one of the only laidback sumptuous AOR offerings in 'The Distance Between Us', a nice piano anchoring the track, the smoky guitars in the chorus allowing that melody to dance in our pleasure centres. Then Freddy fires up the frets for a rather strutting 'Jenny's Gone' with less than airy backing vocals and a one note Toto piano backing, plus a keening chorus, that guitar solo meeting it; quite wonderful. The Hollywood Sign : Alice Cooper owns one of the letters here although there's no shock rock here, the grit of Steph Honde's vocals work with the bouncy feel of 'The Edge Of The World' to create real interest, the sinuous guitar solo a real treat. The Del Monte Speakeasy : We have a Survivor pump at the heart of easy riding 'Too Late For Tears', a harder tone on Frederic's guitar, the chorus is a keeper, the feel harder than usual AOR fare and 'The Easiest Way' has an 80's synth but a crunchier guitar too, with Honde's vocals grittier too. And then the instrumental 'Good Intentions' sashays in with a bubbling guitar and almost '79 disco feel, which is a delighful surprise; West Coast club installs mirror ball. Another triumph for Mr S, he seems to do this with disarming modesty and delighful regularity. Ghost of L.A. ? This is guaranteed to keep you in good spirits. 9/10   

Review by Roberto Martinez - Rock Angels - (In Spanish) // En este 2021 Frédéric Slama, un músico de primer nivel, vuelve a regalarnos un exquisito trabajo con su proyecto AOR, el cual lleva funcionando desde el año 2000 y por el que han pasado músicos y vocalistas de lo más florido del género. The Ghost Of L.A, es su décimo cuarto trabajo en estudio sin contar demos y recopilaciones, en el cual se vuelve a rodear de grandes músicos y vocalistas de la talla de Paul Sabu o Rick Riso y el gran Tommy Denander, multi instrumentista y compañero de fatigas de Slama a lo largo de estos 20 años de carrera. Este proyecto es una garantía segura con este nivel de artistas y manteniendo el sonido de los 80 muy vivo como en el resto de su discografía. El patrón que sigue el disco en líneas generales es homogéneo: medios tiempos muy vivos y llenos de frescura con grandes teclados, melodías y buenos estribillos cargados de emoción. Slama consigue una vez más entusiasmar con sus composiciones elaboradas con ese sabor a lo inherente a los mejores años 80. Gran músico que rara vez decepciona si eres un auténtico amante del Aor. Lo que sí es fácil de detectar es que se va alejando poco a poco, más bien tomando una leve distancia con los sonidos más suaves familiarizados con el Westcoast lo que cede margen a un mayor incremento de sensación de clasicismo de estilo. Tomemos como referencia el tema que abre el disco The Easiest Way con unos elegantes sintetizadores marca de la casa y una armoniosa guitarra que se combinan un cóctel perfecto para que Stephe Honde nos dé toda una lección de interpretación vocal, transmitiendo toda su elegancia. Con un gran “bridge” y posterior estribillo ya como grandes estandartes a airear por encima de ese lecho tan bien construido, los temas entran con facilidad a la primera escucha. Too Late For Tears es otro gran ejemplo de su personal diseño, esta vez con la voz de Rick Riso, donde las guitarras realizan un trabajo excelso (¡qué delicia de solo y que corto se hace!) y donde las melodías quedan perfectamente definidas. Give Her The Moon amplía el campo de juego para que el amigo Paul Sabu y su voz desgarrada nos deleiten de forma sobresaliente, añadiendo muy buenos coros en el estribillo y unas teclas decorativas muy chulas que dan un aura de Aor superior, relajante pero realmente vivo.The Spiral Heat, en la que Rick Riso me recuerda mucho en su manera de interpretar y en el uso de su voz a Jim Peterik, con mucha personalidad aún así, sonando tremendamente comercial, lo que atrapa en el acto. Vamos con mi tema favorito, The Distance Between Us, nuevamente con un Sabu colosal. Muy pegadiza, quizá el tema que más engancha de todo el disco consiguiendo sobresalir un poco más por encima del resto, muy completo, sin abandonar la fórmula que ejerce de guía espiritual de esta obra, pero redondeándola con totalidad. Quisiera resaltar el magnífico instrumental que cierra el disco, Good Intentions, con un sonido que ejerce de único vínculo cercano a sus esfuerzos previos al Westcoast pero sin llegar a tener esa pura profundidad de la costa oeste. Pinceladas del estilo que invitan a bajar la ventanilla de nuestro coche en un viaje placentero, delicatessen y que culmina rompiendo el molde general del redondo de forma ideal. Frédéric Slama nos hace entrega de otra pieza inconmensurable donde uno de sus puntos fuerte, la producción, dice mucho de la exigencia a la que se ha sometido a este trabajo, al igual que a sus predecesores, para que este genio consiga una vez más volver loco a cada fan del Aor. Nunca defrauda y, a tenor de la elección de sus compañías elegidas, especialmente con cada enorme vocalista, no tiene previsto hacerlo. Alzo mi copa y lanzo un brindis por Frederic Slama. 8.5/10

                                                                                                                                                                                   

The Best Of The Westcoast Spirit

THE BEST OF THE WESTCOAST SPIRIT (2020)

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // The Emperor of AOR shook his head. The gathered throng looked at each other, pensive, almost fearful. The Emperor never seemed this deep in thought before, he was always on the front foot, looking for new music, conquering peoples' musical fears and annexing their record collections. This was different. After what seemed an age, he raised his head and fixed them all with a steely glare. 'Gentlemen, this is a time for consideration, for thought. We have made our music and we will make more. Now is a time to relax, enjoy what we have done, take a break.' He stopped for a pause, to smile, to raise his voice. 'Gentleman, we are going to the West Coast!'That's what Frederic Slama, who I've always called the Emperor Of AOR, has done. The fears around sickness, the worries around money, the Boy In The Bubble longing looks at the sun outside. And the 400 rolls of toilet paper in the lounge.  Slama has seen all this and chosen some of his songs for a west coast calm. Relax, forget your troubles, just enjoy And what a delight it is. In these difficult times, 'The Way Of The Night' just waves from a hammock, Frederic firing off a quick solo, 'Worlds Away' has such air, we can breathe deeply, ready to enjoy that sax solo, then 'Burning Rainbows' from 2015's 'Return To LA' takes us to a late 80's Soul single. And just listen to that bubbling electric joanna pushed right up in the mix to 'Far Away From The Storm', sink into the harmonies 'On Dangerous Ground'. And stretching out to smooth 'LA Attraction' track 'House Of Love. 15 tracks here and for those who love the smoothness, not a loser among 'em. He can get up for a walk too, 'In My Crystal Ball' may be an exemplar of perky, bubbly west coast; brilliance. This is a musical massage. It's shinier than the original, which is,what a remastering job can do and something Mr Slama should be proud of. Now relax… 10/10 !!!

Review by Joe A. Lopez - Viri Aor Website - (In Spanish) // Nuestros vecinos franceses nunca han tenido gran éxito en todo lo que se pueda considerar Hard Rock y sus derivados o estilos afines de este gran y vasto conglomerado. Excepto alguna banda de Rock Progresivo, gracias al sello francés especializado “Musea”. Bien es cierto que el gran pope mundial de la música electrónica es francés, Jean Michelle Jarre. Quizá es en este estilo, junto al Pop, donde haya tenido mayor proyección la música gala. Quizá, como pocas veces alguien es profeta en su propia tierra, Frédéric Slama decidió un día ir a La Tierra Prometida del Rock Melódico con acento de La Costa Oeste, a emprender su gran aventura vital, “infiltrándose” desde otro negociado: El periodismo musical. Tras años en Los Angeles ejerciendo su profesión, conociendo a lo más selecto del ámbito musical de estos estilos, vio el momento para producir y posteriormente descubrir como marca su “Invento de la Coca-Cola”: Tomar el emblemático acrónimo más identificativo para millones de fans de un estilo musical, como marca propia de su proyecto en solitario a los mandos: “A.O.R.” Fue como inscribir La Luna como propiedad en un registro legal o reinventar algún elemento de protección sanitaria en estos tiempos de Covid-19. ¿Cómo no se había dado cuenta nadie hasta el año 2000 que podía utilizar esta denominación, A.O.R., para llamar la atención sobre su banda o proyecto musical? Yo fui uno de tantos otros que cuando vi el nombre de “la banda”, el proyecto, di un respingo de sorpresa ¡Eureka!. Perspicacia, audacia e ideas, hay que reconocer que no le faltan a Frédéric. Rodeado de un elenco que más quisiera el mismísimo Desmond Child es una garantía de calidad. Por nombrar alguno de los reputados músicos, por ejemplo; Michael Thompson, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Jeff y Mike Porcaro, David Paich, Tommy Denander, Steve Overland, Bill Champlin, Vinnie Colaluta y un largo etcétera que abarcaría gran parte de estas líneas. Y ya, después de este preámbulo para ponernos en situación, yendo al álbum editado por Perris Records, su último trabajo titulado “The Best Of The Westcoast Spirit”, decir que vuelve a rodearse de insignes nombres de estilos tan relacionados como son el A.O.R., el Westcoast (que es es el gran eje de este disco…) y el Melodic Hard Rock. 15 canciones remasterizadas y pertenecientes en muchos casos a anteriores trabajos de Frédéric Slama. “The way of the night” es el título que abre este disco y que, indudablemente, es un paisaje sonoro hecho como un traje a medida para recorrer ese camino de la noche. Doug St. John es la voz elegida para interpretar esta mistérica y suave canción con un gran trabajo de percusión como parte también destacable. “Lost in your eyes” cuenta con la voz de Bill Champlin, acercándonos a los ambientes de uno de esos grandes discos rescatados después de décadas, como fue “Three little words” de 213. Una buena recreación de ese sonido con un solo muy de la marca Landau. Dane Donohue, nos invita a mirar al pasado a través de “In my crystal ball”, con un sonido que te envuelve en ese clímax de finales de los años 70 y primeros años 80, surcando en un crucero a la velocidad de las guitarras Funk muteadas y las suaves olas de los instrumentos de viento y coros vocales. “Far away from the storm”, de la mano de David Chamberlin, nos adentra por ambientes suaves a la par de sentimentales. “Never gonna let her go” se basa en esos sonidos puramente Westcoast apoyados en un instrumento tan fundamental en este estilo como lo es el saxofon. Rick Riso, se encarga de dar su toque vocal a este elegante tema.“On Dangerous ground” una canción cantada por David Roberts y en este caso conducida por la percusión electrónica, como elemento destacable y que nos adentra en las melodías de la primera franja de los años 80. “Teach me how to love you again” es una canción en la que el protagonismo se le lleva instrumentalmente el “slap”, el bajo elegante, Funk, bailable y contundente. De nuevo la reconocible voz de Bill Champlin protagoniza este tema en el que él deja paso al saxo; una gran combinación. “Worlds away” suaviza de nuevo el disco con un alto contenido en armonías y acordes abiertos a la fusión, sobre todo en su introducción. Michael Ruff es la voz encargada de dar color a esta bonita canción. “On a distant path” es otra buena canción en la que de nuevo Doug St. John vuelve a ser nuestro guía por los reinos oníricos del Westcoast. “Don’t let her go” es, hasta el momento el tema más veloz, con un ambiente inspirado en las bases rítmicas del Pop Rock de los años 80, aunque no incluye bajos sintetizados para darle un carácter más típico. Vuelve a repetir la voz de Doug St. John. “The house of love”, nos devuelve a los patrones Funk en el Westcoast con una voz tan interesante como es la de J. Lynn Johnston y unos detalles más A.O.R. en los arreglos instrumentales de esta gran canción. “Only in my dreams” se abre paso tras el piano con la voz de Dane Donohue en una intensa balada con más carga de guitarras que en anteriores canciones. “So Young and innocent” es una rítmica canción, (aunque la intro engañe…) en este caso cantada por otro cantante que repite pista; David Chamberlin. Casi concluyendo este excelso y extenso trabajo, escuchamos “Love has found its way” con la reconocible voz de Doug St. John, en un tema de corte lento en el que Doug nos descubre otros matices de su voz. “Burning rainbows” despide el trabajo con una voz femenina, la de Erika Norberg. Ambiental, rítmica y suave canción para finalizar este gran trabajo. Una portada que sigue la tradición de los trabajos de “AOR”, un sonido fiel a las expectativas, producción sin fisuras (quizá la distorsión de las guitarras en algunas canciones en las que aparecen saturadas, no estará al gusto de algunos oídos, pero no es un estilo ni un trabajo en el que las guitarras con FX y contundencia tengan su espacio y no es un sonido “retro”, que busque la calidez de las grabaciones analógicas hasta su recreación absoluta…) y un elenco de músicos y cantantes que dan un marchamo de calidad a este trabajo, lo suficientemente plausible como para que compres este disco, un disco por otro lado, amplio y teniendo en cuenta que estamos hablando principalmente de Westcoast. 95/100 !

 

  HEAVENLY DEMOS (2019)                      

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // Commander Edman was confused. Was this not the Emperor ? Conqueror of AOR lands ? Had he heard correctly. He paused, finding the right words. 'But Emperor, go back ? Haven't we been there already ?' There was silence. A pin dropped. Everyone heard it. The Emperor looked up, regarded Edman with a rhuemy eye and laughed. 'Oh yes, Göran, we've been there alright. But there's more treasure and we'll find it on this second visit!' 'Oh, that's alright then, count me in !' shouted Soto. And he is. Among lots of others. It's a joke Mr AOR Frederic Slama and I share (he calls me Napoleon, if you must know), but he's definitely the man for this genre, just look at his extensive 'Westcoast Bible', books listing thousands of bands, just listen to his briliant music. He's mined his songs, changed them, taken the vocals off others and made a great fist of it. Frederic told me 'it starts well...', what an understatement, new version of 'Sensation' with Spin Gallery's Chris Antblad singing is West Coast pristine, with a flowing Slama six string solo. Elsewhere 'Brittany' shows some grandeur, remixed, remastered and sung by Philip Bardowell, it has less grit and thwack than the original, 'Waiting In The Darkness', now with new Steve Overland, could be a Pop sensation hit, the less bombast from the originalthe better here. There are even unreleased demos, 'Kimberly', all instruments by Slama and sung by Michael Kisur which is a little usual, but the same crew make unreleased 'It's Just Too Easy' a funky foray and the sax break from Colin Rodgers makes you smile. And 'Just Forget The American Dream' is smooth, but the lyrics aren't... These unreleased tracks are the real treasure and they're really enjoyable ('The Reflection Of My Heart' ? Smooth as a politician's patter) but he gets the slight reworking of songs we already know and hopefully love right too; AOR delight from an AOR master. What did you expect ?

Review by 0 Day // The AOR all star project commanded by guitarist Frederic Slama is back with a new CD titled “Heavenly Demos” just released on physical CD by Perris Records. As the album title states, these are songs pre-production demos of tracks already known but featuring different vocalists, mix, and some of them are unreleased. Curiously, some of these demo versions are better than the ones finally appeared on the different AOR official releases. The CD features 14 tracks with some legendary singers like Paul Sabu (Only Child), Steve Overland (FM), Kevin Chalfant (The Storm), Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman), Sarah & Mélissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets), Chris Antblad (Spin Gallery), Philip Bardowell (Unruly Child), Göran Edman (Street Talk) & many more. Top players also includes elite guitarists Tommy Denander, Michael Landau &, Christian Tolle, on drums there’s legendary Mike Baird, Martin Kronlund and many more. As said, many of the demo takes of the songs are better than the final versions, because there’s a lively feel and punch somehow lost in the final production / mix. This is especially noticeable on the more rocking songs such as ‘The Name of the Game’. melodic rocker ‘Brittany’ or ‘The Smartest Girl in L.A.’ Of course you will find smooth tunes on the pretty ’80s AOR ballald ‘The Reflection of My Heart’, midtempo ‘The Price to Pay’ and the radio friendly ‘Kimberly’. Mostly recorded during the 80s & 90s, “Heavenly Demos” contains never released versions of the AOR Project classic songs. All of them with different arrangements, extra instruments or different vocals. Highly Recommended !

Review by Andy Pearce // A piece of brilliance ! So here we have the third album of Demo's from Frederic Slama's AOR. This release follows on where the previous Demo albums left off. The two previous albums being Rare Tracks and Demo's and More Demo's from LA. I have been a big fan of Frederic Slama's work for many years now. I love all his releases and look forward to each release with excitement. His song writing and lyrics are exceptional and added to that is the fact he surrounds himself with outstanding musicians. I don't have any favourite tracks on this album personally. I love every single one! They all fit together beautifully. The album consists of 14 highly polished gems from the AOR back catalogue of albums from years gone by and it's great to hear them again sounding slightly different but sounding as great as they always did. The music reminds me of 3 of my favourite bands, Toto, Journey with a helping of Foreigner thrown in for good measure. Simply one not to be missed for fans of Westcoast Melodic Rock or in fact music lovers in general. A brilliant album that I will listen to and love over and over again. Outstanding !

Review by The Real Music Observer // French musician Frédéric Slama is not a household name here in the United States. But he has a worldwide audience. His passion for adult oriented rock (AOR, in the old days it was called album oriented rock) has resulted in some stunning collaborations over the years. Many of these have gone under the radar but are being brought back to life. Perris Records recently unearthed "Heavenly Demos", a collection of Slama tunes featuring an all star cast of musicians from the golden age of AOR. Fourteen tracks featuring singers like Paul Sabu (Only Child), Jeff Scott Soto (W.E.T., Journey, Sons of Appollo), Sarah and Melissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets), Chris Antblad (Spin Gallery), Phillip Bardowell (Unruly Child) and Goran Edman from Street Talk.  To go through the history behind this music would take too long. In fact it might be more interesting to come at this as something new and fresh. Think of Slama as a great arranger, writer and assembler of musical talent. Think of AOR as the ultimate project band. And then listen with all your senses. Rather than delve into each track, I will highlight the ones that make this disc worth owning. Sensation has an instant 80's groove as if it were meant for a movie soundtrack from the era. Great guitar solo and some funky guitar licks featuring vocals from Goran Edman. Journey and Toto fans will really dig The Smartest Girl In L.A., sung in part by the amazing Jeff Scott Soto. Soto handles the chorus, the rest of the track is just jamming. Hence this is why the album is called Heavenly Demos. Brittany is another arena rocker with some tasty guitar licks featuring the vocals of Phillip Bardowell. The tune smooths out into an edgy west coast rocker. One Foot In Heaven features the great Tommy Denander on guitar and the vocals of Kevin Chalfant. Again, the demo here just contains the chorus which allows the listener to really dig into the instrumental part of the song. The Price To Pay features two top notch European vocalists, Hank Erix from the band Houston and Goran Edman from Street Talk. Guitars from Michael Landau. Pure melodic rock bliss. Singer Steve Overland (FM) sounds awesome on Waiting In The Darkness, another singable gem with excellent instrumentation and harmony vocals, likely double tracked from Overland. Vocalist Michael Kisur stars on Last Days In San Francisco, a surprising acoustic/folk tune featuring Frederic Slama on all instruments. Kisur returns for the overtly political Just Forget The American Dream. Provocative lyrics and Slama doing the entire arrangement. It's part west coast and part melodic rock. Smooth west coast vibes are found on The Reflection of My Heart sung by David Chamberlin. This is one of those projects that covers a lot of ground. The demo style production is a nice throwback to the days where the mix was less cluttered and ear friendly. The guest musicians coupled with Frederic Slama's AOR vision of excellence comes through loud and clear. A very solid collection of melodic rock nostalgia for those who cherish the past while living in the present. 9/10

AOR Logo 1 - copie


 More Demos From L.A. MORE DEMOS FROM L.A. (2018)

Review by Peter - Aor Rocks // Wow ! My review could end after this simple word because the 2nd volume of these AOR demos is even better than the 1st one. Frédéric Slama did a fantastic job releasing these incredible versions of tunes that were the blueprints for future AOR songs. Among the vocalists that really shines there's Sarah And Mélissa Fontaine from Chasing Violets fame, singing their hearts out on 3 great tracks, as they did before in the previous demos CD "Rare Tracks & Demos". I can't understand why a new Chasing Violets album have not been released yet under the supervision of AOR Mastermind Frédéric Slama ? It was the perfect team ! These songs that are "only" demos sounds really INCREDIBLE ! Where are you Ladies ? Also worth of mention are the 3 tracks written by Slama for Dakota, and these versions are really awesome, rockier than on Dakota's CD. It's very cool to hear Dane Donohue on a very rock tune, quite different from his own style, but very classy. There's also the great Jesse Damon from Silent Rage teaming up with Paul Sabu for a great new version of "Blueprint For Love". And last but not least we've got 9 tracks with vocalist Michael Kisur that really rocks, even if the sound is more "demo-ish" than the one with Chasing Violets for example. But hey ! It's a demo CD so no complaint here, we know what we're getting, and once again this collection of songs are worth to be part of any serious collections. And it's nice to hear Slama plays all the instruments on his demos though some of his friends are featured on other tracks like the fantastic Tommy Denander who worked on many AOR projects. So just one advice, get this jewel pronto ! Highly Recommended !

Review by Steve Swift - Powerplay // The Emperor leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. The silence was palpable. "I have a new campaign in mind", he slowly intoned, fixing his comrades with a stare. "Major Damon, Lieutenant Sabu, tell your friends we are going old school". And the Emperor of AOR, Frédéric Slama, has raided the dusty trunks to give us demos from the past. Kicking off with "You're My Obsession" from 2003's Dreaming Of L.A, Michael Kisur might seem a little tougher, the sound is pretty fine and the hooks are in, and "Sensation" is a glorious Westcoast welcome, "So Suspicious" has a bit of 80's chart Belinda Carlisle to it, Michael Kisur reaching the notes with ease and having a little Lenny Zakatek moment. "Don't Ever Say Goodbye" is a great calm and smooth offer, whether it's polished or rough round the edges, "Blueprint For Love" doesn't vary much from demo to done. "Jenny At Midnight" written for Dakota, is sumptuous with piano play adding so much, and "Web Of Lies", uncorking some sharp guitars and an almost unbridled solo, is worth your time too. But we also have what look like unreleased Chasing Violets songs, pick of the four "Lost Souls Don't Cry" being based around a twinkle but receiving rough hewn riffs, too, and to leave us with the fluting voice of Dane Donohue among the wondrous Toto fare of "Waiting In The Darkness", actually better than the now seemingly overblown version on "Journey To L.A" is to explain the project. Let's face it, any song from Frédéric Slama is worth a listen, even if it's recycled music; as campaign go, this one should be in the history books. Powerpoints: 9/10

Review by 0 Day // After the success of the album “Rare Tracks & Demos”, the first ‘from the vaults’ CD released (and I’m sure there will be more) by AOR all star project via Perris Records, the label and AOR mastermind F. Slama put together this second high quality demos under the name “More Demos from L.A.” These never heard versions include vocals from the likes of Jesse Damon (Silent Rage, Kiss), Paul Sabu, Sarah & Mélissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets), Dane Donohue, Jerry Hludzik & Bill Kelly (Dakota) with 3 never released tracks rockier and rawer than the versions released by Dakota. Mostly recorded during the 80’s & 90’s, these songs are the blueprints for the versions that appeared in the AOR albums. The CD title make it clear: these are songs never released plus pre-production demos of tracks already known but featuring different vocalists, mix, etc. While rougher, some of these demos are better than the ones finally appeared on the different AOR official releases. Among the vocalists featured here we find Sarah & Mélissa Fontaine (Chasing Violets), Jesse Damon or Jerry Hludzik, 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 are better than the final versions, because there’s a lively feel and urgency to them. Sure, calling one of these AOR project tracks ‘raw’ is a figurative sense because all here is about melody and classy harmonies. The songs present into “More Demos from L.A.” simply are less polished, less ‘over-produced’ if you want, and most of them ‘breathe’ with a pulsating nerve. Highly Recommended !

                                      

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.

            

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

Review by James - Melodic Rock News // Frederic Slama’s AORall 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.

                         

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. 

                                      

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 !

                        

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.

             

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.

                        

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.

       

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.

                           

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

           

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 !

                           

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.  

                                  

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.