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Steel Bars - A Tribute To Michael Bolton


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From Frontiers:

Frontiers Music Srl is pleased to present a new compilation of covers paying tribute to famed singer Michael Bolton, "Steel Bars - A Tribute To Michael Bolton" on July 7, 2023. Specifically, this tribute album focuses on Bolton's earlier career, when he was known as a rock singer and features appearances by members of The Big Deal, About Us, Stormwarning, Girish And The Chronicles, Find Me, FM, and more. 

The idea for "Steel Bars - A Tribute To Michael Bolton" came about when Serafino Perugino, President & Head of A&R for Frontiers Music Srl, had the idea to pull together a mix of newer vocalists on the label with established singers on the roster and have them pay tribute to an era of Bolton's career that he is particularly fond of. And so, new names like Girish Pradhan (Girish And The Chronicles), Dave Mikulskis (a rising talent who is working with Jim Peterik), Sochan Kikon (About Us), Ana Nikolic (The Big Deal), Nevena Brankovic (The Big Deal), Santiago Ramonda (Stormwarning), Stefan Nykvist (Sarayasign), and James Robledo (Sinner's Blood) appear alongside Steve Overland (FM), Gui Oliver (Landfall), Robbie LaBlanc (Find Me), and Ronnie Romero (Michael Schenker, Rainbow). 

Each vocalist shines with their unique talent and gives their own spin to these classic songs from Bolton's rock era.

1.    Everybody’s Crazy (Girish Pradhan)
2.    Fools Game (Steve Overland)
3.    How Can We Be Lovers (Dave Mikulskis)
4.    Steel Bars (Sochan Kikon)
5.    Wait On Love (Ana Nikolic & Nevena Brankovic)
6.    Can’t Turn It Off (Gui Oliver)
7.    Save Our Love (Santiago Ramonda)
8.    Gina (Robbie Lablanc)
9.    Call My Name (Stefan Nykvist)
10.    Don’t Tell Me It’s Over (Ronnie Romero)
11.    Desperate Heart (James Robledo)

Andrea Seveso - Guitars
Saal Richmond - Keyboards
Mitia Maccaferri - Bass
Nicholas Papapicco - Drums
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Backing Vocals


Edited by Stefan
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I wonder what the idea was behind this?

Apart from Steve Overland they didn't have any real name involvement, it's a real "who's that?" of the music scene.

I suppose it ticks the box of having a new Girish Pradham and Ronnie Romero release this month, otherwise we may not have heard anything from them within a 30 day period.

It might have been better served to take some name artists and have them cover the later hits in a melodic rock style, as his melodic rock period is already well known to fans and these nameless, heavily accented vocalists add nothing to them.

Just a really pointless release...

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Since I actually got it, I wrote a review:



Being an unapologetic Bolton fan (despite Office Space being one of my favorite movies), I felt I would be remiss to not look into a tribute to the better parts of his catalog. And while Frontiers has a spotty track record when it comes to quality, I was optimistic considering the talent they've worked with.
Unfortunately, very little of that historic talent is present. While contributions from Steve Overland, Robbie LaBlanc and Ronnie Romero will always be welcome, you'll notice that the vocal talents of Strandell, Sweet, Atkins, Martensson, Hilli, Hitchcock, Castronovo, Gioeli, Laine, Nathan James, Hess, Durbin, etc. are all absent. In their place are up-and-comers and relative unknowns, so clearly Frontiers goal here was not to move units, but to showcase their other vocalists. I don't think anyone would blame you if you looked at the track listing and asked, "Who the heck are these people?" 
I don't say this to diminish the contributions from Sochan Kikon (About Us), Gui Oliver (Auras, Landfall), Stefan Nykvist (Sarayasign, Stoneface) or anybody else. I make this point to emphasize that I don't know who this release is aimed at. I doubt Bolton fans know who the majority of these people are, if the majority of the melodic rock community don't. So, if it's not aimed at Bolton fans, and it's not aimed at melodic rock fans (outside of those knowing it's a melodic rock release), who is this for? With such an impressive roster of vocal talent, why did Frontiers opt for such little name recognition? That's usually the selling point for tributes.

While highlights include the overall production on many tracks and a handful of solos by Andrea Seveso, I'm really impressed by Saal Richmond's keyboard tracks. The aforementioned contributions by Overland and Romero (singing "Fool's Game" and "Don't Tell Me It's Over," respectively), Robbie LaBlanc's take on "Gina" is just okay (I expected better) - at times it sounds like he's trying too hard to sell it, copying the "whoa-ohs" almost verbatim from the original. Maybe I'm a little too harsh because "Gina" is my favorite Bolton track. Nevertheless, I expected more than I got and it pales in comparison to the Joe Lynn Turner-led Sunstorm version, which is phenomenal. Other highlights include Girish Pradham's version of "Everybody's Crazy," which is a great start, Sochan Kikon's take on "Steel Bars" is a real breath of fresh of air as he doesn't try to sound like Bolton at all, and really puts his own spin on the song. 
The covers of "How Can We Be Lovers," "Can't Turn It Off," and "Call My Name," are okay. Nothing against any of the singers involved here, just nothing particularly impressive about their versions of these songs, either.
On the downside, however, Ana Nikolic and Nevena Brankovic (The Big Deal) team up for "Wait On Love," as is on brand for them, but unfortunately it is pretty forgettable. Santiago Ramonda's version of "Save Our Love" isn't actually bad, it's just bland. The Stormwarning singer doesn't add any of his own personality or nuance to the track. The CD closes with a really strange take on "Desperate Heart," sung by James Robledo, where the guitar track is oddly quiet in some places and Robledo seems to stumble over the lyrics in a spot or two as well? 

It's not a great CD, but it certainly isn't BAD, either. However, I don't think you're missing anything by not adding it to your collection, even if you consider yourself to be an avid Michael Bolton fan.


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3 hours ago, EnJayKay said:

I just can't help but imagine how cool it would have been with some guest solo's and better vocalists...

I can maybe give Frontiers the benefit of the doubt that Michael Bolton is still a bit of a polarizing figure for a lot of rockers.

When I was taking music history in college, we did a semester on "the history of rock & roll," which involved a lot of documentary watching (actually, the entire course did). Every time Michael Bolton would come up, the professor would apologize to the class. This was before the Lonely Island thing, so a lot of my classmates didn't really know who Bolton was. The irony of it was that the professor was apologizing and looking at me, in my Mastodon hoodie, not realizing I had a huge appreciation for Bolton's music.

To that same end, I wonder if guys like Johnny Gioeli, Deen Castronovo, James Durbin, etc. were asked to be involved, but heard Michael Bolton and politely declined. 

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Yup, to many fans of 80s rock Michael Boltons name would not even be considered.

In the UK he really was not even a known entity until Soul Provider came out and How am I supposed to live without you hit the singles chart in 1990, and by then he was considered a soul singer.

I think that is probably the case for a lot of Europeans as well. Hell, I don't even think most of his stuff in charted in the USA or charted that high prior to the late 80s.

His early stuff really is niche to most people.

10 hours ago, EnJayKay said:

I just can't help but imagine how cool it would have been with some guest solo's and better vocalists...

Better vocalists or more famous, because with the exception of one or two on here (The Big Deal comes to mind) they are some pretty great vocalists. If it is anything like the plethora of tribute albums that Cleopatra/Deadline released back in the early 2000s, the artists were not even necessarily fans of the artists or the songs they were recording, they were just doing it for the pay day. I remember an interview a friend of mine did with Mitch Malloy around the time and he recorded You could be mine, by GNR and he said he hated it. He didn't even get a choice what song to sing. And recently Phil Lewis has gone on record as saying he has never liked Motley Crues music, yet he has recorded at least one of their songs for a tribute album in the past.

As it stands, a lot of bigger artists on the Frontiers label probably do not want to involve themselves in tributes, and Frontiers is just a means to an end in getting their music released, so of course it will end up being the lesser known bands on their roster recording this stuff.

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