Category Archives: Compilations

Masters of Metal: Strikeforce, Volume 1 [Album Review]

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Masters of Metal: Strikeforce, Volume 1
(1989, Warner Special Products/JCI)

1. Mötley Crüe – Looks That Kill
2. Triumph – Follow Your Heart
3. Ace Frehley – Into the Night
4. Megadeth – Mechanix
5. Accept – London Leatherboys
6. Dio – Rainbow in the Dark
7. Helix – Rock You
8. Faster Pussycat – Don’t Change That Song
9. Beastie Boys – Fight for Your Right (To Party)
10. Great White – Lady Red Light

There’s a number of generically titled “Masters of Metal” compilations out there and this is yet another one. I guess the full title is “Masters of Metal: Strikeforce, Volume 1” but I’ve seen this album listed as “Strikeforce, Volume 1” and “Strikeforce, Volume 1: Masters of Metal” on various discography sites. I’m not sure where the Strikeforce part comes in at all. I guess they didn’t want to be confused with K-Tel’s Masters of Metal compilations. It was reissued in 1997 as “Rock the Planet: Strikeforce, Volume 1”.

Released by Warner Special Products in conjunction with a company called JCI (both labels mostly released compilations), this looks like one of those cheap compilations you might see thrown in a bin at gas station or grocery store back in the day. That says nothing about the quality of this album though. This is a great collection of ’80s metal and I’m a sucker for these types of albums when I can find them for a cheap price out in the wild.

Though it was released on CD, I paid $2 for the cassette version at a flea market recently and have already given the album a spin. Too bad I don’t have a cassette player in my car because this is nothing but first-rate headbanging metal!

Various Artists – Live and Heavy [Review]

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Various Artists – Live and Heavy
1981, NEMS Records

1. Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
2. Nazareth – “Razamanaz”
3. Motorhead – “White Line Fever”
4. Def Leppard – “Rocks Off”
5. Rainbow – “All Night Long”
6. Status Quo – “Roll Over Lay Down”
7. Whitesnake – “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”
8. UFO – “Lights Out in London”
9. Gillan – “Unchain Your Brain”
10. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

What a brutal album cover that totally screams “heavy metal”. I picked this one up on vinyl in great condition for only $1 at a local flea market annex shop called Fort Walton Beach Vintage Records. Live and Heavy is a compilation put out by the British label NEMS that, unsurprisingly, features live tracks by UK rock bands. Had this been released a year or two later, I’m sure it would’ve been full of NWOBHM bands but instead we get bands that are more closely associated with ’70s hard rock and heavy metal.

This compilation has a killer line-up: Gillan-era Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, UFO (“Lights Out” is titled “Lights Out in London” on this release), Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, Motorhead… some of the very best heavy rock bands England has to offer. Even Def Leppard makes an appearance. Pretty good deal for such a new and young band (at the time) to get a track compiled with a number of other legendary bands.

Had this been a compilation of studio tracks, I probably would’ve passed. I’m not big on live album but for a collection of live cuts from these specific bands, I figured it was worth a buck.

The inner sleeve lists the various dates and venues these tracks were recorded. Always good to have that info. I was afraid this was going to be a super low-budget compilation that wouldn’t even bother.

This is a good pick-up for fans of hard rock from the 1970s and early 1980s.

Highlights: “Smoke on the Water”, “All Night Long”, “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, “Lights Out in London”

The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years [Album Review]

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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2011, Capitol Records
Originally Released: 1988, Capitol Records
Buy the album at Amazon

1. “Under My Wheels” – Alice Cooper w/ Guns N’ Roses
2. “Bathroom Wall” – Faster Pussycat
3. “Cradle to the Grave” – Motörhead
4. “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” – Armored Saint
5. “Born to Be Wild” – Lizzy Borden
6. “In My Darkest Hour” – Megadeth
7. “Prophecy” – Queensrÿche
8. “The Brave” – Metal Church
9. “Foaming at the Mouth” – Rigor Mortis
10. “Colleen” – Seduce

Any metal-head worth their weight in steel is well aware of this documentary that was released in 1988. It’s a truly fascinating look at life as rocker in the 1980s. For better or worse, warts and all, it absolutely captures a time and a vibe & scene that can never truly be replicated no matter how “retro” a band may act.

As it stands, the soundtrack to The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a solid compilation. Sure, bands like Seduce and Rigor Mortis didn’t stand the test of time but when it comes to the ’80s metal scene, you can’t really argue against the inclusion of bands like Motorhead, Lizzy Borden, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses, Metal Church or even Faster Pussycat. It was all metal one way or another.

The documentary itself was actually what turned me on to Megadeth as they performed “In My Darkest Hour” in the film and it certainly made an impression on me.

The lack of Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Poison, KISS or W.A.S.P. is a bit odd given how their stature and appearances in the documentary but the soundtrack isn’t meant to be all encompassing. If it was, we’d be putting up with having to listen to the likes of London, Tuff and Odin, too. A few tracks either start or end with audio clips from the film.

We could argue for hours over who truly deserves to be included on a compilation of ’80s metal but this soundtrack is just a taste of what that era had to offer and is meant to tie in most closely with bands featured in the documentary. Keep that in mind and what you’ve got is a good collection of ’80s rock & metal that will fit right in with your retro denim vest.

Highlights: “Under My Wheels”, “Bathroom Wall”, “Born to Be Wild”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Prophecy”

Monster Madness

Various Artists – Monster Madness (2000, Razor & Tie Music)

1. “Dr. Feelgood” – Motley Crue – 4:51
2. “Unskinny Bop” – Poison – 3:48
3. “I Remember You” – Skid Row – 5:15
4. “Kiss Me Deadly” – Lita Ford – 4:01
5. “I Wanna Rock” – Twisted Sister – 3:04
6. “Silent Lucidity” – Queensryche – 5:49
7. “Epic” – Faith No More – 4:54
8. “Up All Night” – Slaughter – 3:47
10. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” – FireHouse – 3:58
11. “Hole Hearted” – Extreme – 3:40
12. “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – Quiet Riot – 5:20
13. “In My Dreams” – Dokken – 4:21
14. “Wait” – White Lion – 4:03
15. “Easy Come, Easy Go” – Winger – 4:03
16. “I Saw Red” – Warrant – 3:50
17. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – Giant – 4:45

Following Razor & Tie’s success with Monsters of Rock and Monster Ballads, here comes Monster Madness! Monster Madness is essentially Monsters of Rock 3 (Monsters of Rock 2 was released a few months before this album) and is certainly superior to MOR 2 (which was already scraping the bottom of the barrel) and is just as good as the original MOR album in my opinion.

I mean, just look at the songs here. “Dr. Feelgood”, “Unskinny Bop”, “I Remember You”, “I Wanna Rock”, “Wait”, “Bang Your Head”, “Hole Hearted”, “Don’t Treat Me Bad”… It’s a hair metal dream! Even the odd inclusion of Queensryche and Faith No More is welcomed because those are killer songs.

The album takes me back to my youth. No, not the ’80s but the year 2000 when I bought this album and my girlfriend at the time loved it because it had Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly” on it. I still remember her getting all excited when she heard it for the first time in years.

Just a great “feelgood” album filled with major acts and songs.

SPACEWALK: A Salute to Ace Frehley

Various Artists – Spacewalk: A Salute to Ace Frehley (1996, Shrapnel Records/Triage Records)

1. “Deuce” – Marty Friedman … 3:47
2. “Shock Me” – Gilby Clarke … 3:23
3. “Rip It Out” – Scott Ian … 3:47
4. “Hard Luck Woman” – Ron Young & Jeff Watson … 3:11
5. “Snowblind” – Snake Sabo … 4:01
6. “Rock Bottom” – Sebastian Bach … 3:07
7. “Parasite” – Tracii Guns … 3:16
8. “Cold Gin” – John Norum … 4:10
9. “New York Groove” – Bruce Bouillet … 4:52
10. “Fractured Mirror” – Dimebag Darrell … 6:35

Pretty good tribute to Ace although some of these songs choices make me scratch my head. “Deuce”? “Hard Luck Woman”?  Ace didn’t sing lead on these songs and he didn’t write them either so what’s the connection? “Deuce” is a Gene signature song and “Hard Luck Woman” belongs to Peter. They could’ve easily left those songs out and included “Strange Ways”, “Rocket Ride”, “Hard Times”, “Talk To Me” or even something from his solo days.

The songs are pretty faithful to the originals but it’s fun to hear other artists’ slight interpretations especially when you’ve got artists like Mary Friedman, Tracii Guns, Scott Ian, Sebastian Bash, etc. The artists listed aren’t necessarily the vocalists but I guess they were considered the “biggest” names to be playing on the tracks so they get their names front and center. In fact, Scott Ian (who is on vocals) has Anthrax bandmates Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante backing him up on “Rip It Out” while Dimebag Darrell and his brother/Pantera bandmate Vinnie Paul performed all of “Fractured Mirror”. Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis plays on a number of these songs.

I don’t know who Bruce Bouillet is but his version of “New York Groove” sucks. I guess he took it back to the original version that was done by Hello. Ace’s take have never been a favorite of mine and I like the original version even less.

For the few bucks I was able to snag this online for, it was well worth the purchase. It’s a good novelty disc for hardcore KISS fans and Dimebag Darrell’s “Fractured Mirror” needs to be heard.

Highlights: “Hard Luck Woman”, “Snowblind”, “Rock Bottom”, “Parasite”, “Fractured Mirror”

CLASSIC ROCK – Back in the Saddle

Classic Rock  – Back in the Saddle (September 2009, Future Publishing)

1. Alice In Chains – “A Looking in View” … 7:05
2. The Wildhearts – “John of Violence” … 3:51
3. Mott the Hoople – “One of the Boys” … 4:10
4. The Jokers – “The Big Rock and Roll Show” … 4:17
5. The Union – “Watch the River Flow” … 4:24
6. Cowboy Prostitutes – “Outrageous” … 3:36
7. The Black Crowes – “I Ain’t Hiding” … 5:58
8. Saigon Hookers – “Devil to Win” … 2:10
9. Cheap Trick – “Sick Man of Europe” … 2:10
10. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Simple Life” … 3:17
11. Porcupine Tree – “Time Flies (Edit)” … 5:23
12. We Will Have Victory – “Heretics in Vietnam” … 3:37
13. Black Spiders – “Meadow” … 6:21
14. Federal Black 40 – “The One” … 3:16
15. Emerald – “Live Forever” … 5:16

Another month, another CD insert from the UK Classic Rock magazine (the best rock magazine ever, IMO). This time the focus is on “returning heroes” (Alice In Chains, Cheap Trick, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mott the Hoople, etc.) and “young gods” (Black Spiders, We Will Have Victory, The Union, etc.). I was surprised they didn’t include KISS’ “Modern Day Delilah”, but come to find out, that’s included on the October CD from Classic Rock‘s sister publication Metal Hammer.

Typically for a collection like this, the style of rock and quality of it is all over the place. A few notes:

-Alice In Chains, despite the absence of the late Layne Staley, still sound like Alice In Chains. “A Looking in View” is plodding and dark. Good stuff, doesn’t compare to some of AIC’s better known songs though.
-The Wildhearts turn in a pretty good number that is probably one of the better songs I’ve ever heard from them.
-That Black Crowes song is just weird coming from them. It’s like some funky Fall Out Boy kind of song.
-Cheap Trick delivers with the crunch of “Sick Man of Europe”. They played this live on the Def Leppard/Poison tour this summer, I liked it then and I like it now.
-As I figured would be the case, after finally hearing them, Porcupine Tree is really boring.
-We Will Have Victory is a pretty good mix and old and new hard rock. The singer reminds me of Josh Todd.
-Emerald sounds like a band that would not have been out of place on The New Wave of Traditional Metal compilation Classic Rock issued a few months ago.

Highlights: “A Looking in View”, “John of Violence”, “Sick Man of Europe”, “Heretics in Vietnam”, “Live Forever”

www.classicrockmagazine.com
www.myspace.com/classicrockmagazine

CLASSIC ROCK – Guitarmageddon Vol. 2

Classic Rock – Guitarmageddon Vol. 2 (September 2009, Future Publishing)

1. “Fight! Smash! Win!” – Street Sweeper Social Club
2. “White Room” – Jeff Healey
3. “A Rite of Passage” – Dream Theater
4. ” Missing You” – Oli Brown Band
5. ” Baby Better Lady” – Swanee River
6. ” Still Unbroken” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
7. “Striding the Valleys of Skullumus” – Sons of Merrick
8.  “Going Home” – Joanne Shaw Taylor
9.  “Head Crusher” – Megadeth
10. “Powerful Thing” – Philip Sayce
11. “The Last Door” – Jack Bruce & Robin Trower
12. “We’re All Insane (By the End of Tonight)” – Hippys on the Hill
13. “The Last Journey Home” – DragonForce
14. “Unspoken” – Symphony Cult
15. “Mr. Toomey” – Bitches Sin

Another solid freebie compilation from Classic Rock magazine with quite a range of genres from rap-rock to ’60s rock to blues to bar bands to southern rock to thrash metal. So we’re definitely not dealing with “15 tracks of fret melting ferocity”, but there are still a few winners here. Obviously, people are familiar with Dream Theater, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Megadeth, but a few of these other bands sound like they’re worth checking out like Street Sweeper Social Club and Sons of Merrick.

Highlights: “Fight! Smash! Win!”, “A Rite of Passage”, “Baby Better Lady”, “Still Unbroken”, “”Striding the Valleys of Skullmus”, “Head Crusher”, “The Last Journey Home”, “Mr. Toomey”

www.classicrockmagazine.com
www.myspace.com/classicrockmagazine

MONSTER BALLADS

Various Artists – Monster Ballads (1999, Razor & Tie)

1. “Heaven” – Warrant … 3:58
2. “Something to Believe In” – Poison … 5:30
3. “High Enough” – Damn Yankees … 4:18
4. “Almost Paradise” – Mike Reno & Ann Wilson … 3:50
5. “Is This Love” – Whitesnake … 4:44
6. “To Be With You” – Mr. Big … 3:20
7. “Carrie” – Europe … 4:31
8. “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” – Cinderella … 5:55
9. “More Than Words” – Extreme … 4:11
10. “Headed for a Heartbreak” – Winger … 5:14
11. “When I Look into Your Eyes” – Firehouse … 4:01
12. “Wind of Change” – Scorpions … 5:12
13. “I’ll Never Let You Go” – Steelheart … 5:06
14. “When I See You Smile” – Bad English … 4:18
15. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – Kix … 4:18
16. “When I’m With You” – Sheriff … 3:54

I doubt this was the very first hair ballad compilation, but it was definitely the one that inspired tons of other compilations to come around in ’99 and ’00 (and it was the first one that I owned). I’ve never made it a secret that I’m a huge fan of ballads and this is a pretty excellent crop of songs. When coupled with VH1’s The Big ’80s Power Ballads disc, you’ve got an incredible selection of songs (with very little repeats) and either disc is a great introduction to the softer side of hair metal.

Yeah, there are tons of great deep tracks that aren’t present, but the idea of Monster Ballads is to showcase hit ballads and Razor & Tie really couldn’t have done much of a better job, even if there are a few headstratchers like “Almost Paradise” and “When I’m With You”. Nice ballads, but they don’t fit in with the rest of the bands.

This album was originally offered during thru Razor & Tie by calling their 1-800 number and ordering. It was a two disc set, but was quickly trimmed down to one disc and made available in retail stores.

CLASSIC ROCK – The New Wave of Traditional Metal

Classic Rock – The New Wave of Traditional Metal (June 2009, Future Publishing)

1. “Girls Made of Heavy Metal” by Hysterica … 3:09
2. “Chained Up In Chains” by Cauldron … 5:09
3. “Stuka Squadron” by Stuka Squadron … 7:24
4. “High Speed GTO” by White Wizzard … 3:57
5. “Dig Your Grave” by The Green River Project … 4:33
6. “Like the Oar Strikes the Water” by Grand Magus … 3:14
7. “Celtica” by Celtic Legacy … 4:29
8. “Silver Bullet” by Powerdrive … 5:57
9. “Raise Your Fist Evangelist” by Powerwolf … 4:00
10. “The Heavens Cry Out” by The Devil’s Blood … 5:22
11. “Born of Thunder” by Destroy Destroy Destroy … 3:53
12. “If Crimson Was Your Colour” by Witchcraft … 3:49
13. “We Are The Hammer” by Savage Blade … 4:36
14. “Fake” by Crowning Glory … 4:49

With bands hand picked by legendary rock journalist Geoff Barton, this is a free compilation CD that came along with June 2009 issue of the UK magazine Classic Rock and it absolutely is well worth the $9.99 cover price. If you have trouble trying to force yourself to spend $10 on a magazine, just imagine you’re spending that ten bucks on a GREAT compilation and you get a complimentary magazine to go along with it.

I’ve been aware of Classic Rock for some time, but never read it. Magazines just cost too much these days and the internet always has the quick fix for info and articles, but I took a chance on the magazine this month (I guess B&N is a bit behind on issues?). Luckily, Barnes & Noble had ONE COPY left where the CD hadn’t been peeled off the cover yet.

I’m enjoying just about all of these songs. As you might have guessed from the title, these bands have a more old school heavy metal sound that’s rooted in NWOBHM and ’80s metal in general. Perhaps “NWOTM” will become the new buzzword in the metal world (it was coined by Classic Rock’s sister publication Metal Hammer). If these bands are indeed a part of this “new wave”, then I’m ready to hang ten! Yes. That was very cheesy of me.

Seriously, I know this was a free sampler CD, but I’m loving it and I intend to track down more info and songs from each and every one of these bands (though I was already familiar with Cauldron and White Wizzard).

Highlights: “Girls Made of Heavy Metal” (The beginnings of a GMOHM movement?), “Chained Up In Chains”, “High Speed GTO”, “Dig Your Grave”, “Like The Oar Strikes The Water”, “Silver Bullet”, “Raise Your First Evangelist”, “Fake”

www.classicrockmagazine.com
www.myspace.com/classicrockmagazine

THIS IS ’80s HAIR METAL

This Is ’80s Hair Metal (2003, Deadline Records/Cleopatra Records)

Disc One: STUDIO FUELED
1. “Cherry Pie” by Warrant … 3:05
2. “Someone Like You” by Bang Tango … 4:24
3. “Cum on Feel the Noize” by Quiet Riot … 4:38
4. “Smooth Up” by Bulletboys … 5:03
5. “Pissed” by Dangerous Toys … 4:10
6. “Sex Action” by L.A. Guns … 3:53
7. “Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz” by Pretty Boy Floyd … 4:07
8. “Bathroom Wall” by Faster Pussycat … 4:58
9. “Little Teaser” by Jetboy … 3:14
10. “Love Removal Machine” by Great White … 4:29
11. “Make It Go Away” by Michael Monroe … 3:01
12. “Tooth & Nail” Lynch Mob … 3:24
13. “Mean Street Machine” by King Kobra … 4:24
14. “River Gold” by Hurricane … 4:04
15. “Black Out” by Love/Hate … 2:56

Disc Two: LIVE & DANGEROUS
1. “Gypsy Road” by Cinderella … 3:39
2. “Kiss Me Deadly” by Lita Ford … 4:21
3. “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” by Great White … 2:38
4. “One More Reason” by L.A. Guns … 3:49
5. “(You Can Still) Rock in America” by Night Ranger … 5:37
6. “Hollywood” by Junkyard … 2:50
7. “Dressed Up Vamp” by Bang Tango … 4:30
8. “Around Again” by Union … 5:53
9. “Teas’n, Pleas’n” by Dangerous Toys … 4:41
10.  “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” by L.A. Guns … 2:18
11. “Wrathchild” by Paul DiAnno … 2:48
12. “Somebody Save Me” by Cinderella … 2:57
13. “Ramble On” by Great White … 4:36
14. “What You Say” by Saigon Kick … 3:49

Disc Three: POWER BALLADS
1. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Bret Michaels … 4:49
2. “When the Children Cry” by White Lion … 6:17
3. “Headed for a Heartbreak” by Kip Winger … 2:56
4. “Ballad of Jayne” by L.A. Guns … 5:15
5. “House of Pain” by Faster Pussycat … 7:50
6. “Ready for Love” by Great White … 4:40
7. “Sometimes She Cries” by Warrant … 4:38
8. “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (‘Til It’s Gone)” by Cinderella … 5:39
9. “Dream On” by Ronnie James Dio & Yngwie Malmsteen … 4:28
10. “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger … 5:15
11. “Close My Eyes Forever” by Lita Ford … 5:02
12. “Lights” by Tuff … 3:11
13. “Still Lovin’ You” Steve Whiteman & George Lynch … 4:52
14. “Here I Go Again” by Bernie Shaw & Bernie Madsen … 4:01
15. ??? … 3:59

Oddball hair metal compilation that I picked up from FYE shortly after it’s release. I can’t remember how much I paid for it, but I don’t think it was too much. Maybe around $15 or so, which is a good thing because as you can expect from an indie hair metal compilation — these are not the original recordings. In some cases, not even the original artists are used! Ex-Dokken guitarist George Lynch and his band Lynch Mob sub for Dokken on “Tooth & Nail”, Bret Michaels stands in for his own band Poison and then there’s the odd inclusion of Great White’s cover of The Cult’s “Love Removal Machine” (this cover has apparently made its way around many a compilations). Another odd bit is that for some reason, Love/Hate’s “Black Out in the Red Room” is now simply called “Black Out”.

Back to the re-recordings, I actually like some of these versions better than the originals (though I think it’s also possible some of these songs were demos). Working on a small budget and stripped of the overproduction that was common in the ’80s, many of these songs sound fresh, raw and energetic compared to the originals. Disc One is nothing but studio recordings and Warrant’s re-recording of “Cherry Pie” is my favorite track and I think I actually like it better than the original version. Not all of Disc One is as enjoyable though– Joe Leste and Marq Torien struggle to hit their notes on “Someone Like You” and “Smooth Up”, respectively. Then there’s the awful industrialized version of “Bathroom Wall”. Look, why does this industrial garbage version of Faster Pussycat keep getting work on these hair compilations? If Taime Downe doesn’t want to represent the music in an accurate manner, I’m sure most hair metal fans would rather Faster Pussycat is not included at all.

Disc Two is nothing but live songs. The quality (and performances) vary greatly. Disc Three is power ballads, re-recordings again, but there’s some live versions as well. On Disc Three, there is a 15th track that I cannot find any info on (my slipcase/jewel case are in storage), but the song definitely does not belong here. I’ve never heard it before and it sounds like some mellow acoustic rock/pop you’d hear on the pop stations. I’m sure there’s some hair metal connection, but sonically, it’s not there. Anyone know the song title and artist?

Personally, I wouldn’t really say “this is ’80s metal”. Not when there’s so many cover songs (by Great White alone!), re-recordings and original artists are missing. The inclusion of Union alone is enough to strike down that this is a tribute to the ’80s (they didn’t formed until 1997)! Basically, the album is hit-or-miss. It’s an inconsistent three disc set, but despite the shady marketing, I still think this is a decent collection for anyone who is heavily into the hair metal scene. There’s enough gems here to make up for having to dig through the garbage to get to them.

Highlights:
Disc One: “Cherry Pie”, “Pissed”, “Sex Action”, “Love Removal Machine”, “Tooth & Nail”, “Mean Street Machine”
Disc Two: “Gypsy Road”, “(You Can Still) Rock In America”, “Hollywood”, “Ramble On”
Disc Three: “When the Children Cry”, “Ready for Love”, “Dream On”, “Still Lovin’ You”

Buy THIS IS ’80s HAIR METAL at Amazon.com

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